War of the Spanish Succession

The War of the Spanish Succession (1701-14) was the first world war of modern times with theatres of war in Spain, Italy, Germany, Holland, and at sea.

Charles II, king of Spain, died in 1700 without an heir.
In his will he gave the crown to the French prince Philip of Anjou.
Philip's grandfather, Louis XIV of France, then proclaimed him king of Spain, and declared that France and Spain would be united.

French power was already feared in Europe and a Grand Alliance of England, Holland, Prussia, and Austria aimed to put the Archduke Charles of Austria on the Spanish throne instead of Philip. War broke out and the French were defeated in several battles. The English general, the Duke of  Marlborough (Churchill), and the imperial general, Prince Eugene, commanded the forces of the Grand Alliance.

In 1711, Emperor Joseph I of Austria died. His successor as emperor of the Holy Roman Empire was the Habsburg Archduke Charles of Austria. Immediately it became obvious that the European balance of power would be even more seriously threatened if Charles got Spain as well as Austria than it would be if Philip became king of Spain.

The renewed threat of Habsburg world power enabled Louis XIV of France to obtain favourable Peace terms in the Treaty of Utrecht (1713).

His grandson, Philip, became after all king of Spain on the condition that Spain and France would never be united. Great Britain received Gibraltar, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, the Hudson Bay territories and the monopoly of the slave trade with Latin America. The Austrian emperor at first refused to sign but a year later recognized the new order in the Peace of Rastatt (1714)