- War of the Quadruple Alliance
Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=War of the Quadruple Alliance
Battle of Cape Passaro, 11 August 1718 by Richard Paton(oil on canvas, 1767)
Sicily, Sardinia, Spain, Scotland, Florida
Pyrrhic Victory; Treaty of The Hague
combatant2=flag|Holy Roman Empire
flagicon|France|royal Kingdom of France
flagicon|UK|1606 Great Britain
commander1= Marquis of Lede
Duke of Montemar
Duke of Ormonde
commander2= flagicon|France|royal Duke of Berwick
flagicon|Holy Roman Empire Count de Mercy
flagicon|UK|1606 Sir George Byng
flagicon|Savoy Duke of Savoy
casualties1=4,350 killed and wounded [http://users.erols.com/mwhite28/wars18c.htm Eighteenth Century Death Tolls ] ]
casualties2=11,250 Austrians killed and wounded
6,000 British killed and wounded
3,000 French killed and wounded
2,250 Sardinians killed and wounded
1,500 Dutch killed and wounded
The War of the Quadruple Alliance (
1718– 1720) was a result of the ambitions of King Philip V of Spain, his wife, Isabella Farnese, and his chief minister Giulio Alberoni to retake territories in Italy and to claim the French throne. It saw the defeat of Spainby an alliance of Britain, France, Austria, and the Dutch Republic.
War of the Spanish Succession(1701-1714), Philippe of Anjou, grandson of Louis XIV of France, was recognized as King Philip V of Spain, but on the condition that the French and Spanish crowns would never be united. In addition, in the Treaty of Utrecht, Spain lost all its possessions in Italy and the Low Countries. The Spanish Netherlands, Duchy of Milan, Naples and Sardiniawere given to Habsburg Austria, while Sicilywas awarded to the Duke of Savoy.These lands had been under Spanish control for nearly two centuries, and their loss was a great blow to the country.
However, the first priority for Spain was the restoration of the country after 13 years of war, which had also been fought on Spanish territory. The main architect of this operation was
Cardinal Alberoni. He had arranged in 1714 the marriage of the widowed Philip V with the 21 year-old Italian Isabella Farnese, and he became the personal adviser of the new Queen. In 1715 he became prime minister, stabilised the Spanish economy and reformed finances. He also initiated the rebuilding of the Spanish fleet (50 ships of the line built in 1718) and reformed the army.
Isabella Farnese, who had several dynastic claims to advance in Italy, stimulated the Italian ambitions of King Philip V of Spain and his sons, supported by Alberoni.
In France, Louis XIV had died in 1715, leaving only one infant great-grandchild, the future
Louis XV, as his successor. Philip V, the only surviving grandchild of Louis XIV, and his sons were in fact excluded from succession to the crown of France by the Treaty of Utrecht. Philip V nevertheless claimed the French throne, in the event of the death of the infant Louis. Opposition to Philip's ambitions led France (where Louis XIV's nephew, the Duc d'Orléans, served as regent), Great Britain, and the Dutch Republic, to join together in the Triple Allianceon January 4, 1717.
The war begins
Later in the year, to strengthen the
Treaty of Utrecht, Britain, France and Austria contemplated ceding Sicilyto the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI. This arrangement displeased Spain, who wanted to recover the island.
In August 1717 Philip began hostilities against Austria by invading the island of
Sardinia, taking advantage of the fact that Austria was tied up in the Austro-Turkish War of 1716-18. A fleet of 100 transport ships, protected by 15 war vessels, carried 9,000 men under command of the Marquis of Lede sailed from Barcelona to Sardinia, which was subdued by November 1717.
The Austrian reaction to this invasion was weak, as the Austrian Supreme Commander
Prince Eugene of Savoywanted to avoid a major war in Italy as long as the war in the Balkans wasn't finished. Finally, on July 21, 1718 the Treaty of Passarowitzended the war with Turkey and on August 2, this led to the formation of the Quadruple Alliance, with the Emperor now joining the Triple Alliance.
Meanwhile, in July 1718 the Spanish, this time with 30,000 men again led by the Marquis of Lede, had also invaded Sicily, which had been awarded to the Duke of Savoy. They took Palermo on July 7 and then divided their army in two. De Lede followed the coast to besiege
Messinabetween July 18 and September 30, while Montemar conquered the rest of the island.
The French, Austrians, and British now demanded Spanish withdrawal from Sicily and Sardinia. The attitude of Victor Amadeus II of Savoy was ambiguous, as he accepted to negotiate with Alberoni to form an anti-Austrian alliance.
August 11, at the Battle of Cape Passaro, a British fleet, led by Sir George Byng, captured much of a decrepit Spanish fleet, and in the autumn this British fleet landed a small Austrian army, assembled in Naples by the Austrian Viceroy Count Wirich Philipp von Daunnear Messina, to lift the siege by the Spanish forces. This effort was not successful when the Austrians were defeated in the First Battle of Milazzo on October 15, and only held a small bridgehead around Milazzo.
17 December 1718, the French, British, and Austrians declared war on Spain. The Dutch would join them later, in August 1719.
After the discovery of the
Cellamare Conspiracy, the Duc d'Orléans ordered a French army under the Duke of Berwick to invade the Basque provinces of Spain in April 1719. This army almost met no resistance, but was forced back by disease. A second attack in Catalonia suffered the same fate. In the colonies the French were more successful and took Pensacola in Florida.
In Sicily, the Austrians started a new offensive under
Count Claude Florimond de Mercy. They first suffered a defeat in the Battle of Francavilla(June 20, 1719). But the Spanish were cut of from their homeland by the British fleet and it was just a matter of time before their resistance would crumble. Mercy was then victorious in the Battle of Milazzo, took Messina in October and besieged Palermo.
It was also in this year that the Irish exile, the Duke of Ormonde, organized an expedition with extensive Spanish support to invade England and replace the British king with James Stuart, the "Old Pretender." However, his fleet was disbanded by a storm near Galicia in 1719, and never reached England. A small force of 300 Spanish marines under George Keith, tenth
Earl Marischaldid land near Eilean Donan, but they and the highlanders who supported them were defeated in the Battle of Glen Shiel.
As retaliation for this attack, a British fleet captured
Vigoand Pontevedrain October 1719.
End of the war
Displeased with his kingdom's military performance, Philip dismissed Alberoni in December 1719, and made peace with the allies at the Treaty of The Hague on
February 17, 1720.
In the treaty, Philip and Isabella were forced to relinquish all territory captured in the war. However, their eldest son's right to the
Duchy of Parma and Piacenzaafter the death of Isabella's childless half-cousin, Antonio Farnese, was recognized.
France returned Pensacola and the remaining conquests in the north of Spain in exchange for commercial benefits.
Included in the terms of this treaty, the Duke of Savoy was forced to exchange his throne in Sicily for that of the less important Kingdom of Sardinia - which would have an important bearing on the course in which the
unification of Italywould later take, in the nineteenth century.
*Translation/Ref|de|Krieg der Quadrupelallianz
* [http://www.ingenierosdelrey.com/guerras/1717_cuadruple/1717_cuadruple.htm#01 GUERRA DE LA CUÁDRUPLE ALIANZA (1717 - 1721) (in Spanish)]
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