War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714): Causes, Consequences, and Impact

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War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714)

The War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714) was fought among several European powers, principally the Holy Roman Empire, Great Britain, the Dutch Republic, Portugal, and the Duchy of Savoy, against the Kingdoms of France and Spain and the Electorate of Bavaria, over a possible unification of the Kingdoms of Spain and France under a single Bourbon monarch. Such an unification would have drastically changed the European balance of power.

Recognition of Bourbon Philip V as King of Spain

It resulted in the recognition of the Bourbon Philip V as King of Spain while requiring him both to renounce any claim to the French throne and to cede much of the European Spanish Crown's possessions.


In 1700, the last Spanish Habsburg King, Charles II of Spain, died without issue, leaving his possessions to Philip, duc d'Anjou, grandson of his half-sister and King Louis XIV of France. Philip thereby became Philip V of Spain.

Conclusion of the War

The war was concluded by the treaties of Utrecht (1713) and Rastatt (1714). As a result, Philip V remained King of Spain but was removed from the French line of succession, thereby averting a union of the two kingdoms. The Austrians gained most of the Spanish territories in Italy and the Netherlands. As a consequence, France's hegemony over continental Europe was ended, and the idea of a balance of power became a part of the international order.

Impact on Spanish Society

  • From 8 until 12 million inhabitants
  • Urban bourgeoisie, minority
  • Clergy and nobility, privileged classes

Reign of Philip V (1700-1746)

Philip V ruled as an absolute monarch, implementing the Nueva Planta decrees and pursuing a centralized government following the Castilian model.

Reign of Ferdinand VI (1746-1759)

Ferdinand VI focused on public works, reorganization of the Treasury, and strengthening the navy.

Reign of Charles III (1759-1788)

Charles III implemented inside reforms, including free trade among Spanish and American ports, infrastructure development, and colonization efforts.

Reign of Charles IV (1788-1808)

Charles IV's reign was marked by a lack of interest and competence, with the government largely in the hands of Prime Minister Manuel Godoy.

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