The operation of the balance of power: the war of the Austrian Succession
October 22, 2012
Key words Notes
The diplomatic instrument, the Pragmatic Sanction tried to solve the
problem of the Austrian Succession prior to the rise of the problem
itself. So that there would be no diplomatic confrontation or military
conflict over the succession.
The Pragmatic Sanction seemed to be prooftho the extent to which
international order, or better yet, the 18 century balance of power was
now functioning effectively.
The Pragmatic Sanction was The reason why the pragmatic sanction even came into being was
drafted due to the lack of direct because the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI had no male heir. The only
male descendant of Charles VI heir available was a female-Maria Theresa. And According to the
Maria Theresa, Arch Duchess,
traditional dynastic law of Europe only males could succeed to Royal
was the female heir to the Holy and Imperial titles.
Roman Empire and to Austria itself. All the powers were wiling to accept the Pragmatic Sanction as propose
Kauntiz: Senior diplomat and by the senior Austrian diplomat Kaunitz. They would suspend the male
Chancellor. only dynastic succession law that prevailed in central Europe and allow
Maria Theresa to succeed the throne and recognize her as a monarch of
The Pragmatic Sanction was The Pragmatic Succession was an impressive sanction. It showed the
thought to be successful, however, degree of census of mutual respect aboard within the system. Ensuring
with the rise of Prussia challenged its survival even through the wars during the 1730’s (polish war).
There was little that could upturn the system. It proved wrong even
against the disputed succession in one of the greatest states comprising
However, the ultimate test of a system is its ability to absorb new
comers. This is the test of the survivability of the system. To
accommodate change and shift in the hierarchy of power.
Without such an elastic capacity to accommodate the rise of the
increasing powers and to make way for the decline of the weakening
powers, the system becomes too brittle to survive.
Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI Charles VI died suddenly October 1740, hardly had he been succeeded,
died in October 1740. according to the pragmatic sanction, a challenger power posed a severe
challenge to its viability and its survival.
This great power would put the system under create system and strain
and provide it with a critical test of its ability to accept new states.
The power was Prussia.
Prussia - Medium sized German state
- German state
- Counted as an ally to other - Did not have significant influence on the past wars or so.
great powers, but didn’t have - It was general a great additional ally to other great powers.
much influence - It was a power on the increase, but hardly a heavy weight to
measure along with states such as France or Britain.
- Was poor and didn’t have large - It was a peculiar state to make a bid for great powerdom, because enough population to generate it didn’t posses the necceaey credentials.
sufficient revenue. - Its territories were widely spread out. There was no real
- Terriroties were scattered and heartland.
didn’t have one core heartland. - It lacked that physical substance that required for powerdom
- In May 1740 Fredrick II came to - Its population was small, near the eastern lands, and they were
throne. quite poor. They didn’t really generate a lot of revenue. They were
- Prussia’s greatest asset was its taxed rigorously.
army. - Prussia had one asset, which it gained few months before Maria
a. They established this by Theresa ascended her throne.
heavy taxation of its - In May 1740 Fredrick II ascended on his own throne.
peasantry population - He inherited from his father, Fredrick I, a great asset in Prussia’s
b. Efficient organization of its bid to powerdom. The establishment of an army, which Fredrick
state resources. the Great himself called him formidable and murderous.
- Army was 140,000 strong and - Prussia, by heavy exploitation peasant population, eastern and
was well trained and well central Europe, by efficient organization of resources they
disciplined. deployed sizeable forces.
- “Prussia isn’t a country with an - Not only was the Prussian army capable of punching way above its
army, but an army which has a weight, it was 140,000 strong, it moved rapidly, it was well
country” trained, and well disciplined. They were able to fire their muskets
- Fredrick the Great thought the 3 times faster then their enemy. In terms of fire power the
solution to sustaining such a Prussian army was the only one capable of standing against the
great army was through French army.
territorial expansion and by - In one of his future (accounts of war?), an man called (..?) during
increasing their population the 7-year wars described Prussia in these words with its
which they could then tax. scattered territories, no concrete base and modest population
size. , “ Prussia is not a country that has an army, an army which
has a country.”
- That was its sole plain to grace. It was its sole credential to being
regarded as a great power. Fredrick knew it in his bones in his
succession that when Fredrick II seceded the throne the only way
that military machine could be sustained through territorial gain
and by an increase in their taxing their new population.
The only way they could achieve these goals was by grabbing territories
from their neighbors.
December 1740 The Prussian Without any diplomatic relieve or anything on December 1740, the
Army invaded and occupied the Prussian simply smashed their way in and invaded and occupied the
Austrian province of Silesia. Province of Silesia, taking it from Austrian Monarch Maria Theresa
Fredrick the great actually attempted immediately to limit the political
strategic fallout from his act of international thievery. And yet he had
indulged his military ambition in that regard h proceeded to limit the
To limit the political and political fallout. He immediately offered monetary compensation for his
military fall out, Fredrick offered: taking of Silesia. He offered to support her rule of her other territories
- Monetary compensation for with the help of Prussian army. The Prussian army would conslidate her
taking Silesia away.
whole over all her other territories. He equally promised the Prussian
- Support Maria Theresa support vote for Francis of Tuscany, her husband would become the Holy with ruling her territories. Roman Emperor.
- Furthermore, Franci