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Lecture 12

HIS103Y Lecture 12 October 26th The Operation of the Balance of Power: The War of the Austrian Succession, 1740-1748

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Vasilis Dimitriadis

HIS103Y Lecture 12 October 26th The Operation of the Balance of Power: The War of the Austrian Succession, 1740-1748 • European powers had concluded that the Austrian Succession shouldn’t force them into a conflict. They wanted to maintain the balance of power • Only heir to Austrian thrown was Maria Theresa but Salic law prevented a woman from succeeding to the thrown • So Charles VI asked the other powers through the Pragmatic Sanction to ignore the Salic law. This is a testimony to the will for peace • By 1725, most states signed the Pragmatic Sanction. o Habsburg king suddenly died 1740  Bavaria & Saxony’s claim for succession did not bring crisis.  Maria Theresa had earned sympathy from everyone (even from France) • October 1740 Maria succeeds to the Austrian thrown, Francis Stephen planned to become Holy Roman Emperor • Frederick II of Prussia continued his father, Frederick I, militaristic ideals. This candidate with great power would see if there was any room in the balance of power • The Prussian army was very well trained and disciplined. It was said it could fire three times faster and to be a moving fortress • Frederick II realized that if Prussia was to keep up its military expenditure it would need more people and more resources • So he invaded Silesia, hereby challenging the existing international order o Initiated the War of Austrian Succession. o the invasion was very unexpected as Prussia just gained the title of kingdom and Frederick wanted preservation of his territory. • However he did not want to recognize Maria Theresa as the ruler of Austria, also supported the election of Francis Stephen and offered monetary compensation for the seizure of Silesia • However Austria declined and counter invaded Silesia • April 1741 Battle of Mollwitz – Austria breaks against the Prussian frontlines and are routed o Maria did not want to negotiate with Prussia. “No Silesia to Prussia ever!” o Maria Theresa used diplomacy to convince Hungary to fight for Austrian survival and the Hungarians came to the aid of Austria and defeated the French forces outside the city of Vienna • Frederick once again offered peace which they signed at Breslau, July 1742 effectively ceding Silesia to Prussian • The Second Silesian War 1744-1745 the Prussians once again won • December 1745 second treaty was signed in Dresden to take complete control over Silesia • Meanwhile, British and France were going to
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