Established 1976  


Gallery: Catalog: Details List 108-21

Rapin / Tindal, Plan of the City of Barcelona. 14 x 18. Colored. VG. Depicts joint operations under the Earl of Peterborough and Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell in October of 1705 during the War of Spanish Succession (1701-14). The capture of Barcelona is considered one of Peterborough's "most brilliant achievements." $450.00

The prolonged dynastic war between the Bourbons and the Hapsburgs pitted France against Austria, Britain and their respective allies over the heir to the Spanish throne. Louis XIV espoused the claims of his grandson; however the British victory at Barcelona allowed Charles III, the Austrian claimant, to be proclaimed in that city. Charles (1685 - 1740) later became Charles VI of the Holy Roman Empire. Catalonia changed hands more than once but by the end of the war the French claimant gained Spain, and the Hapsburgs took Naples, Milan and the former Spanish Netherlands as consolation prizes. After the Treaty of Utrecht French colonial possessions were redistributed and Britain became a leading power.

The conflict which became known as the War of Spanish Succession was triggered by the death in 1700 of the childless Hapsburg King of Spain, Charles II, who in his will named the Bourbon Prince Philip his successor. The prospect of a Franco-Spanish superpower caused alarm throughout Europe.

Always concerned about the balance of power on the continent and considering France a hereditary enemy, Britain, with the Dutch Republic and other smaller powers, joined Austria in supporting the claims of Leopold II, the younger son of the Emperor. The Hapsburg prince was proclaimed Charles III, King of Spain, in Barcelona (where he then married a popular princess). This show of strength, along with an earlier promise by Queen Anne to support their cause, encouraged the Catalonians to rise in favor of Charles and the Allies.

However, when the short reign of Emperor Joseph ended in 1711, his younger brother Charles became heir to the Holy Roman Empire. Ultimately, Charles withdrew his claim to Spain, Philip was installed as King, and the war was concluded with the Treaty of Utrecht (1714). Unfortunately Charles was not yet finished with succession problems. With no surviving sons, he spent the rest of his life promoting diplomatic means known as the Pragmatic Sanction to assure his daughter Maria Theresa would succeed him. The Sanctions were not honored and the Empire was again plunged into a costly war after his death.

Britain was the great gainer by the Treaty of Utrecht. The Encyclopedia Britannica informs us (11th edition, Vol. XXVI, p. 287) it "is second to none in importance in English history. Its provisions were a potent factor in assisting the expansion of England's colonial empire and also in the building of the country's commercial greatness." Indeed, France was forced to concede Nova Scotia, the Hudson Bay Territory and Newfoundland to the Brits who also kept Gibraltar. However, the war-weary British abandoned their commitment to the people of Catalonia who remain a part of Spain and where the independence movement is still active.

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