The Peace of Utrecht & The 18 th Century
Balance of Power
- The full agenda of the Grand Alliance had been fulfilled. The war should have
ended then and there with peace, but the Austrians announced that they were not
prepared to make peace unless Philip V was actually driven out from Spain.
- The Austrians wanted Louis XIV to recognize Archduke Charles VI (the younger
son of Leopold I) as the true heir to the Spanish throne; basically Austria wanted
“no peace without Spain”.
- Karl Von Clausewitz, what should be the golden rule for war and international
relations: “War is a continuation of policy with / by other means.” (prescriptive
statement not descriptive) War should always be seen as a means only to the
foreign policy or political end defined by political leaders. Violence should be
controlled and kept in proportion in its extent and intensity to the aims / ambitions
inspiring and dictating the war.
- Marlborough and Godolphin agreed with the new Holy Roman Emperor Joseph I
(who succeeded his father Leopold I when he died on 5 May 1705) in the sense of
giving Spain to Charles VI.
- Louis XIV denied their request because he knew that even with French
recommendation it would be difficult to remove Philip V from Spain; furthermore,
itthould be a huge humiliation to the integrity of France.
- 11 July 1708, French effort to retake the Spanish Netherlands was bloodily
rebuffed at the battle of Oudenarde.
- 1708 to 1709, there was a savage winter causing a huge famine in France.
- Now, not only did the Allies demand that Louis XIV remove his political support
from Philip V they also demanded that the French army be left to their disposal to
drive his grandson out of Spain.
- That was unacceptable to Louis XIV, so he placed himself at the mercy of his own
people and appealed to them to fight for their own country. He turned to the Duke
de Villars and his battered army.
- The French commander Villars was a little rebellious for Louis XIV, but he was the
only one who was able to stand up to the brilliance of Marlborough and Eugene.
- 1th September 1709, battle of Malplaquet would determine the extinction or
survival of the French. Though the French were outnumbered, they were
determined and their resistance were able to shake the alliance to the core.
- A canon ball struck down Villars just as he was about to strike Marlborough and
the Allied army with his hidden troops. Villars’ men were not as militarily strong
as him, which is why instead of striking the Allies they retreated. The Allies were
left exhausted and drained.
- Though the Allies technically won this battle, they suffered the greatest casualties
from both sides. The Dutch Republic was thoroughly defeated and from this point
forward they would no longer be a Great Power in Europe, let alone the world.
- Pyrrhic Victory is a victory that comes at devastating costs to the victor. The
phrase is a reference to King Pyrrhus of Epirus, who during the Pyrrhic War
defeated the Romans at Heraclea and Asculum in 279 BC, but suffered severe and irreplaceable casualties in the process.
- Villard wrote to Louis XIV as his wounds were being treated, “Your majesty, if
God gives us the grace to lose another similar battle, your majesty can count on his
enethes being destroyed.”
- 16 September 1709 (Townshend) Treaty of Succession and Barrier, the Dutch
asked for support from England by providing barriers along the Spanish
Netherlands and France.
- However, the problem with this was that the Dutch formed this treaty with the
WHIG faction in England and not the British government.
- The war looked as if there would be no total victory over France, and the
landowners in Britain saw no possible gains for England so they pushed the crown
to make peace.
- August 1710, Queen Anne dismissed Marlborough and Godolphin from their
- Prime Minister Robert Harley (First Earl of Oxford) became the Prime Minister
- Philip V began to win big in Spain itself. The kingdom of Castile had progressively
grown more supportive of their new French King. Catalonia, the rivals of Castile,
backed Charles VI so they felt they had to support Philip V.
- December 1711, Philip V swept back to recapture Madrid, which is why the British
realized that the “No Peace Without Spain” policy would be absurd.
- Furthermore, in April 1711, Emperor Joseph I died without producing any heirs and
Charles VI became the new Holy Roman Emperor.
- Now, Charles VI controlled Austria, much of Germany, the Spanish Netherlands,
and parts of Italy. This threatened the balance of power and the possibility of
Austria inheriting Spain further pushed Britain’s cause to partition Spain. France
was no longer the only threat of complete European dominance.
- November 1711, Jonathon Swift wrote the Conduct of the Allies, “The insolence,