The War of The Spanish Succession, 1702-1713

Queen Anne succeeded her brother-in-law William III in 1702, and this conflict is sometimes known as "Queen Anne's War". As in the Nine Years' War, the underlying problem was the expansionary aims of France under Louis XIV. Britain was again allied with the United Provinces (the modern Netherlands) and the Emperor - the ruler of Austria, Hungary and Bohemia. The allies wanted to force France to leave the Spanish Netherlands (modern Belgium and part of northern France), and the Spanish possessions it had seized in Italy. In addition, they wanted to prevent a union of the French and Spanish crowns - Louis' son had a claim on the Spanish throne.

Expressed in these terms, the war was about maintaining the balance of power in Europe - ensuring that France did not become too powerful. But it was also about trade. The English and the Dutch feared that if France were to control the Spanish possessions in America, for instance, they would lose valuable commercial opportunities. Newfoundland was not a major war theatre, but the French used their military base at Plaisance to launch several raids on English settlements on the Avalon Peninsula and further north.

So far as the British were concerned, the war was a considerable success - though their allies were less certain of this, and came to believe that Britain could not be trusted. The Treaty of Utrecht , which ended the war in 1713, contained an important article relating to Newfoundland. For the first time the island was recognised as a British possession, and the French gave up Plaisance and the fort there. The French retained the right to fish on part of the Newfoundland coast, but their main fishing effort in the region moved to Cape Breton.

©1998, J.K. Hiller


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