Anglo-Habsburg Relations in the War of the Spanish Succession, 1701-14
This thesis considers the relationship between the British polity and the Habsburg dynasty in the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-14). During this conflict, the government of Queen Anne (r. 1702-14) engaged with the Habsburg dynasty in the latter’s capacity as claimants to the Spanish monarchy, possessors of the Holy Roman Imperial mantle and potentates of the Monarchia Austriaca. This complex diplomatic relationship has received limited consideration by historians. Nevertheless, it is the contention of this study that the Anglo-Habsburg alliance made a significant contribution to the emergence of the British polity as a European power between 1702 and 1714. The importance of the alliance to Anne’s regime was underlined by British efforts to establish an effective diplomatic presence at the Viennese Kaiserhof. This was achieved in the face of numerous political, ceremonial and confessional challenges. Anne’s regime cultivated an alliance with the Habsburg dynasty to achieve multiple ends.
First, the regime pursued a policy of restoring Habsburg rule to an unpartitioned Spanish Monarchy. This strategy was intended to secure a preferential Anglo-Spanish commercial relationship and preserve a European political equilibrium. Secondly, Anne’s government attempted to manipulate Habsburg Imperial authority in the Holy Roman Empire, as a means of inducing Imperial princes to participate in the anti-French coalition known as the ‘Grand Alliance’. Thirdly, the regime sought to project military and diplomatic power through utilising the Monarchia Austriaca as an anti-French instrument. Between 1702 and 1710, Anne’s government attempted to set a strategic agenda for the Monarchy’s military resources while acting to remove threats to the latter’s war effort. Furthermore, the regime attempted to prevent the Monarchy from becoming a possible threat to a European ‘Balance of Power’. Between 1710 and 1714, Robert Harley’s Tory ministry reversed a pro-Habsburg alliance. However, this should not disguise the role played by the alliance in advancing Britain’s continental influence. Between 1702 and 1710 Anne’s regime successfully projected British military, financial and diplomatic power, partly through manipulation of the resources of the Monarchia Austriaca and Habsburg authority in the Holy Roman Empire. By the time of Anne’s death in 1714 a Habsburg alliance had played an important part in Great Britain’s emergence as a European great power.