Ars Bellica


In the last decade of the seventeenth century the great European powers have measured with the need to redefine the continental balance which had been established by the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, compared to at least two new facts that had intervened. The first consisted of the expansionary thrust of the France of Louis XIV, who had started a project for his European preponderance as to disturb England and the Holy Roman Empire. The second fact resided in the now unstoppable decline of Spain which opened the prospect of a power vacuum in some hotspots of the continent. Moreover, the lack of heirs to the throne of Madrid begun an inevitable conflict with a European dimension that involve the vast Spanish colonial empire. In the dispute over the succession in Spain interfered thus the commercial competition between France, England and the United Provinces, interested in conquering new markets and strengthen their presence on the seas. At the death of Charles II, the last Habsburg of Spain, the framework of alliances were defined by the Treaty of The Hague (1701) between England, the Empire and the United Provinces, conceived in opposition to Louis XIV, decided to impose a Bourbon on the Spanish throne. The military conflict took place on multiple fronts and lasted until 1713, the year in which the French king agreed to sign the first peace treaty of Utrecht, followed by that of Rastatt in 1714 between France and the Empire. The outcomes of the War of the Spanish Succession signed the last act of the decline of Spain, and at the same time blocked the French expansionism. On the opposite side, it emphasized the role of the protagonist who was gradually assumed by the Hapsburg monarchy.
The political balance, substantially pursued by the major European states in the eighteenth century, had the effect of abolishing war as a solution of tensions: rather meant the decline of hegemonic aspirations, the end of religious conflicts, the acceptance of a framework alliances, changing but oriented to stability, the pursuit of adjustments and compensations. All this was reflected in the same military operations mostly to avoid disruptive shocks between the armies. The War of the Polish Succession was from this point of view, a typical eighteenth-century conflict, conducted more with the tools of diplomacy than with bayonets. The problem was descended from the Polish crown elective nature and the dominant role that the great aristocratic families practiced on the state. On this reality larger as much as the territory and very weak it was oriented, since the time of Peter the Great, the pressure of Russia, which in 1733 imposed its candidate to the throne.
Like the latter, the War of the Austrian Succession ended up having a trend and a conclusion that went far beyond the reason for which they had taken up arms, namely the problem of succession to the throne of Austria and then the relative imperial crown. In this "match" in fact, entered new factors as the surprising boost military of Prussia, decided to take Silesia and the conflict between Spain, England and France for the maritime and colonial domination. As decisive was forty years before, so was now the entry into the war, alongside Maria Theresa of Austria, of the Great Britain, aware of its actual role as guarantor of the European balance. Maria Teresa saved the imperial title while Frederick II of Prussia gained Silesia: Austria and Prussia stood as the two pillars of the German order, while at the horizon appears what some historians have described as the first real worldwide conflict: the Seven Years' War (1756-63). The definition has a basis in truth since it underline the size of an authentically international conflict that developed simultaneously in Europe, Asia, America, Africa, and that in the end he sent partially shattered French colonial rule, while Britain imposed its supremacy, occupying Canada, the Philippines, Cuba (the latter two territories then returned to Spain) and forcing the capitulation of the French fleet at the base of the Indian Union Territory of Pondicherry.


Battaglie in Sintesi

Battle of Assietta

July 19, 1747

The stunning victory of the Piedmontese forces against the invading French, despite the obvious numerical inferiority, closes the 'Italian front' in the war of the Austrian Succession.

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