- the general title of several European wars which arose in the 18th century consequent on a failure of issue in certain royal lines, most important of which are (1) War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1713). The death (1700) of Charles II. of Spain without direct issue caused Louis XIV. of France and the Emperor Leopold I. (the former married to the elder sister of Charles, the latter to the younger sister, and both grandsons of Philip III. of Spain) to put forth claims to the crown, the one on behalf of his grandson, Philip of Anjou, the other for his second son, the Archduke Charles. War broke out on the entry of Philip into Madrid and his assumption of the crown, England and the United Netherlands uniting with the emperor to curb the ambition of Louis. During the long struggle the transcendent military genius of Marlborough asserted itself in the great victories of Blenheim, Ramillies, and Oudenarde, but the lukewarmness of England in the struggle, the political fall of Marlborough, and the Tory vote for peace prevented the allies reaping the full benefit of their successes. The Treaty of Utrecht (1713) left Philip in possession of his Spanish kingdom, but the condition was exacted that the crowns of Spain and France should not be united. The emperor (the Archduke Charles since 1711) attempted to carry on the struggle, but was forced to sign the Treaty of Rastadt (1714), acknowledging Philip king of Spain. Spain, however, ceded her Netherlands Sardinia, &c., to the emperor, while Gibraltar, Minorca, and parts of North America fell to England. (2) War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748) followed on the death (1740) of the Emperor Charles VI. without male issue. His daughter, Maria Theresa, entered into possession of Bohemia, Hungary, and the Archduchy of Austria, but was immediately attacked by the Elector Charles Albert of Bavaria and Augustus of Saxony and Poland, both rival claimants for the imperial crown, while Frederick II. of Prussia seized the opportunity of Maria's embarrassment to annex Silesia. France, Spain, and England were drawn into the struggle, the last in support of Maria. Success oscillated from side to side, but the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, which brought the war to a close, left Maria pretty well in possession of her inheritance save the loss of Silesia to Frederick.
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