Which was the main cause of the Austrian Succession War?

Dec 2016
112
Spain
I am now reading the book: "Browning, Reed (1993). The War of the Austrian Succession" but I think I don't have in clear which was the main cause of the Austrian Succession War. Firstly, the death of Emperor Charles VI (1685-1740) and the inheritance of the Habsburg Monarchy, on the strength of the Pragmatic Sanction of 1713, lead the Austrian archduchess Maria Theresa to succeed her father, Charles VI, as ruler of Habsburg territories. But, on the other hand, Frederick II invaded Silesia, obtaining the alliance of France, Spain, Bavaria, and Saxony.

So, the main cause of this war was:

1- The inheritance of the Habsburg Monarchy?
2- The Prussian greed to gain territories for the control of the Central European region of Silesia?

Thank you in advance
 

MAGolding

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,940
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
IMHO the causes of the War of the Austrian Succession would be:

1. The death of Balthasar Charles (1629-1646), heir to the Spanish thrones, and several of his younger brothers and half brothers, leaving the feeble Charles II as the only successor.

2. The birth of Louis (1661-1711) Grand Dauphin of France, son of Maria Theresa of Spain and King Louis XIV of France. If he had not been born there wouldn't have been any potential Bourbon heirs of Spain.

3. The death of the Bavarian prince Joseph Ferdinand, compromise candidate for the Spanish thrones. This made the War of the Spanish Succession almost inevitable. And it disappointed the hopes of his father, Elector Maximilian II, who began to plot ways to increase his power, including joining the French side in future wars.

4. The French party at the Spanish court persuading the dying King Charles II to name the French candidate Philip as the heir to all his thrones. If the pro Austrian party had convinced Charles II to name Archduke Charles as his heir, the Spanish would have supported Charles in the War of the Spanish Succession and he would have been more likely to have won.

5. The death of Archduke Leopold Joseph (29 October 1700 -4 August 1701) only son of future Emperor Joseph I.

6. The fact that Emperor Joseph I contracted syphilis from a mistress and transmitted it to his wife future Empress Wilhelmine Amalia, making her sterile.

7. The Mutual Pact of Succession which Emperor Leopold I had his sons the future Emperors Joseph I and Charles VI sign:

The Mutual Pact of Succession (Latin: Pactum Mutuae Successionis) was a succession device secretly signed by Archdukes Joseph and Charles of Austria, the future Emperors of the Holy Roman Empire, in 1703.

In 1700 the senior line of the House of Habsburg became extinct with the death of King Charles II of Spain. The War of the Spanish Succession ensued, with Louis XIV of France claiming the crowns of Spain for his grandson Philip and Holy Roman Emperor Leopold Iclaiming them for his son Charles. The Pact was devised in by Emperor Leopold I, on the occasion of Charles's departure for Spain.[1][2] It stipulated that the claim to the Spanish realms was to be assumed by Charles, while the right of succession to the rest of the Habsburg dominions would rest with his elder brother Joseph, thereby again dividing the House of Habsburg into two lines. The Pact also specified the succession to the brothers: they would both be succeeded by their respective heirs male but should one of them fail to have a son, the other one would succeed him in all his realms.[3] However, should both brothers die leaving no sons, the daughters of the elder brother (Joseph) would have absolute precedence over the daughters of the younger brother (Charles) and the eldest daughter of Joseph would ascend all the Habsburg thrones.[1][4][5]
Mutual Pact of Succession - Wikipedia

8. The fact that the French candidate for the Spanish thrones, Philip, did not die childless during the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714) but lived until 1746 and was survived by children. If Philip had died for some reason before the birth of his first son in 1707, the Bourbon claim to the Spanish throne might have died with him and the possibility of a victory by the Austrian claimant Charles would have been much higher. If Charles had become ruler of the Spains as well as of the Austrian domains the position of his daughter Maria Theresa would have been much stronger.

9. The fact that Emperor Joseph I died in 1711 instead of a few years or decades later. The War of the Spanish Succession was still being fought, and Joseph was the most competent leader of his family. It is quite possible that if Joseph I lived for a few more years his brother Charles would have become the king of the Spanish Domains and would have been secure on this thrones for a few years before Joseph died. Then Charles could have succeeded to the Austrian domains and been elected emperor and also remained king of the Spanish Domains. Or if the Spanish domains were split between Philip and Charles like they were in our history, Charles might have received a much bigger piece of them, possibly including Aragon, Valencia, Catalonia, etc. But in our history when Joseph died and Charles inherited the Austrian possessions and was elected emperor, the Netherlands and great Britain had no greater desire for Charles to gain all the Spanish possessions than they had for Philip to, so they negotiated peace treaties that split the Spanish inheritance between Philip and Charles.

Or if Joseph lived decades longer, perhaps dying age 60 in 1738, he would probably have been a much more successful ruler of the Austrian lands than his brother Charles VI, and probably would have won the wars that Charles VI lost and left Austria much stronger when they were inherited by either Charles or by Joseph's older daughter and her husband, whoever he would have been.

10. The fact that Emperor Joseph I died in 1711 instead of a few years or decades later. If Joseph had lived until the end of the War of the Spanish Succession, he would have continued to have English and Dutch support and would have been a better leader than his brother Charles VI was. Thus the peace terms would have been better for the Austrian side. And possibly the treaties wouldn't have required returning Bavaria to Maximilian Emmanuel who had been deposed for treason, thus leaving Austria more powerful.

Continued in Part Two, see post number 3.
 

MAGolding

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,940
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
Part two. See post number 2.

11. Emperor Charles VI proclaimed the Pragmatic Sanction in 1713, decreeing that if he died without sons, his hypothetical oldest daughter would succeed in preference to the oldest daughter of his older Brother Joseph I, who would have been the heir according to the Mutual Pact of Succession of 1703.

Both the Mutual Pact of Succession of 1703 and the Pragmatic Sanction of 1713 had some flaws. According to the most common European succession practice, male preference primogeniture, if a ruler dies without sons, but with daughters, the succession should go to the oldest daughter in preference to brothers or other relatives of the deceased ruler. According to that rule, Archduchess Maria Josepha, older daughter of Joseph I, should have inherited the Austrian possessions when he died in 1711, instead of Charles VI. So the provision in the Mutual Pact of Succession that she would inherit them in preference to the daughters of Charles VI if Charles VI died without daughters would be given them to her later than they should have been giver to her according to the rule of male preference primogeniture.

The German and many other lands didn't practice male preference succession. Instead they practice agnatic primogeniture, in which the throne could pass only to men, and only to men descended in agnatic (male only) succession from the founder of the dynasty. So if a ruler died without sons, it didn't matter how many daughters he might have, his heir would be his closes agnatic (male lineage only) relative, a brother, nephew, uncle, first cousin, second cousin, third cousin, etc., etc. But when a dynasty became extinct in the male line and there were no more agnatic relatives, then the daughter of the last agnatic member of the dynasty would have a claim to the throne. Charles VI was the last agnatic Habsburg and thus the rightful heir of his brother Joseph I instead of Joseph's daughters. And since he was the rightful heir instead of his brother's daughters, it was only right according to agnatic primogeniture that his daughters be his heirs and not his brother's daughters. So the Pragmatic Sancton had a stronger basises in the usual succession rules in The Holy Roman Empire.

But it did have the flaw that it took the potential succession away from Joseph I's daughters Maria Josepha and Maria Amalia, possibly angering them and their mother Wilhelmina Amalia and their husbands.

The Pragmatic Sanction also had the flaw that it is possible that Emperor Charles VI was not exactly the last Habsburg. Some sources say that Landolt (Lancelin), count in Thurgau (d.991) had a son Ratbod (d. before 1045) who became the first count of Habsburg and ancestor of the House of Habsburg, and another son Lancelin (d. after 1027) who became the ancestor of the House of Zahringen, Dukes of Zahringen and Margraves of Baden, and the family of the Margraves of Baden still survives in the male line. BADEN That alleged relationship gave the Margrave of Baden a claim to be the rightful agnatic heir of Charles VI. Furthermore, another genealogy believed in that era, and not certainly disproved even today, would make the Duke of Lorraine an even more distant agnatic relative and potential heir of the House of Habsburg.

And the really big flaw with the Pragmatic Sanction was that a bunch of other rulers had female line descents from the Habsburgs and/or Habsburg wives, and thus rival potential claims to the Habsburg lands, and they didn't mean it when they agreed to the Pragmatic Sanction.

12. Archduke Leopold John, only son of Emperor Charles VI, died in 1716, but two of his younger sisters survived to be Charles VI's legal heirs when he died in 1740.

13. King Louis V of France didn't die before 1740, leaving a regency to rule for his young son.

14. King Philip V of Spain didn't die before 1740.

15. The future King Charles III of Spain didn't die before 1740.

16. Augustus III, Elector of Saxony, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania didn't die before 1740.

17. Elector Charles Albert of Bavaria didn't die before 1740.

18 And above all, King Frederick William I of Prussia died in 1740,, and his her Frederick II didn't die before 1740.

If enough of those factors changed, the War of the Austrian Succession would never have happened.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,504
I am now reading the book: "Browning, Reed (1993). The War of the Austrian Succession" but I think I don't have in clear which was the main cause of the Austrian Succession War. Firstly, the death of Emperor Charles VI (1685-1740) and the inheritance of the Habsburg Monarchy, on the strength of the Pragmatic Sanction of 1713, lead the Austrian archduchess Maria Theresa to succeed her father, Charles VI, as ruler of Habsburg territories. But, on the other hand, Frederick II invaded Silesia, obtaining the alliance of France, Spain, Bavaria, and Saxony.

So, the main cause of this war was:

1- The inheritance of the Habsburg Monarchy?
2- The Prussian greed to gain territories for the control of the Central European region of Silesia?

Thank you in advance
Frederick's the Great (hmm what is the correct use of ' here, seems wrong no matter where I put it it) desire to expand Prussia by siezing Silesia is realythe only direct reason for war. Teh Sucession cerated the opptunty. There was no direct cause for war otherwise, sure the succession was problematic and no other major power was going to just follow the pragmatic sanction just for the sake of going along and the turbelance created may have lead to some sort of otehr war, but by Fredericks immediate and brazen action defined the shape of events pretty much.
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,477
Dispargum
So, the main cause of this war was:

1- The inheritance of the Habsburg Monarchy?
2- The Prussian greed to gain territories for the control of the Central European region of Silesia?
It was both. Frederick attacked Silesia because Maria Theresa wasn't strong enough to keep it. If the Austrian monarchy had been in a stronger position, Frederick would not have attacked.
 

MAGolding

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,940
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
Frederick's the Great (hmm what is the correct use of ' here, seems wrong no matter where I put it it) desire to expand Prussia by siezing Silesia is realythe only direct reason for war. Teh Sucession cerated the opptunty. There was no direct cause for war otherwise, sure the succession was problematic and no other major power was going to just follow the pragmatic sanction just for the sake of going along and the turbelance created may have lead to some sort of otehr war, but by Fredericks immediate and brazen action defined the shape of events pretty much.
France, Spain, Bavaria, and Saxony/Poland/Lithuania also attacked Austria, planning to split up the various provinces, despite having committed themselves to respect the Pragmatic Sanction.

It was both. Frederick attacked Silesia because Maria Theresa wasn't strong enough to keep it. If the Austrian monarchy had been in a stronger position, Frederick would not have attacked.
Frederick of Prussia was only one of the several attackers of Austria. Thinking of the War of he Austrian uccession as a purely Prussian-Austrian war is a gross oversimplification.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,504
France, Spain, Bavaria, and Saxony/Poland/Lithuania also attacked Austria, planning to split up the various provinces, despite having committed themselves to respect the Pragmatic Sanction.



Frederick of Prussia was only one of the several attackers of Austria. Thinking of the War of he Austrian uccession as a purely Prussian-Austrian war is a gross oversimplification.
All true enough. But Frederick jumped the gun. it was the primary cause of the outbreak of war. Yup all sorts of other things were simmering away and how the other powers aligned was all to do with their own stories. But Frederick started it. Dirven pretty much by his desire for more territory and the calculation of what he could get away, the succession was just cover as far as Frederick went, he wanted Silesia, he thought he could take it and Austria would not be strong enough to stop him given the political alignments.

maybe there might of been a different war some time later but Frederick's actions were the sole direct cause of the outbreak of war. Sure there is more complex framework and situation, but cause of the war. Simple enough.