Grand Alliance


Grand Alliance

The Grand Alliance was a European coalition, consisting (at various times) of Austria, Bavaria, Brandenburg, England, the Holy Roman Empire, the Palatinate of the Rhine, Portugal, Savoy, Saxony, Spain, Sweden, and the United Provinces. The organization, which was founded in 1686 as the League of Augsburg, was known as the "Grand Alliance" after England joined the League (in 1689).

The League was officially formed by Emperor Leopold I, acting upon the advice of William III of Orange. The primary reason for the League's creation was to defend the Palatinate from France. This organization fought the War of the Grand Alliance against France from 1688 to 1697.

The Alliance was twice installed. Between 1689 and 1698 it fought the Nine Years War against France. After the Treaty of Den Haag signed on September 7, 1701 it went into a second phase as the Alliance of the War of Spanish Succession. The War ended following the Tory political victory in 1710 in Britain which led to the Peace of Utrecht - the peace with France which granted Spain's crown to the French candidate but divided Spain's external territories. In Spain the war continued until it was decided by the Battle of Barcelona, on September 11, 1714.

The Grand Alliance gained enormous cultural and political importance as an example of a possible European union supported by (most of) the German territories, Britain and the Netherlands as well as by many French intellectuals dissatisfied with the absolutist rule of Louis XIV, the eviction of the Huguenots in 1685 and the union of Catholicism and the French crown at home. In cultural terms French fashions propagated by journals, newspapers and books published in the free Netherlands became the platform of the political movement which would attack France's politics rather than the nation and its people. French fashions could under this pretext be propagated all over Europe without the usual fear that one was favouring the culture of the enemy - one would favour the culture of a civilised nation, not the culture of the political opponent Louis XIV who fought a war against Europe and against the cultural elite of his own country.

Between 1689 and 1721 - the end of the Great Northern War which had begun in 1700 - the notion a "European" fashion evolved, reflected by a mass of title pages in which Europe appeared as the central word.

The end of the Great Alliance was due primarily to a growing dissatisfaction amongst the British populace having to finance the wars abroad. The balance of power doctrine eventually resulted, however, from the wars Britain proved able to both begin and end on its own terms. The Great Alliance (and wars fought by the Alliance) also contributed to a new sense of how wars would be fought in the future. The death toll of the most important battles and sieges was enormous, yet none of the three wars fought from 1689-1721 led to a repeat of the atrocities of the Great German war (Thirty Years' War) fought in the early seventeenth century. Instead, the generals of the Great Alliance became heroes of a Europe "civilised even when at war" - an illusion which would last to the early days of the First World War.

ee also

*British military history


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