War of the Quadruple Alliance

War of the Quadruple Alliance

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=War of the Quadruple Alliance

caption=The Battle of Cape Passaro, 11 August 1718 by Richard Paton (oil on canvas, 1767)
place=Sicily, Sardinia, Spain, Scotland, Florida
result=Allied Pyrrhic Victory; Treaty of The Hague
combatant1= Spain
combatant2=flag|Holy Roman Empire
flagicon|France|royal Kingdom of France
flagicon|UK|1606 Great Britain
flagicon|Netherlands|pri Dutch Republic
flagicon|Savoy Savoy
commander1= Marquis of Lede
Duke of Montemar
Duke of Ormonde
Antonio Castañeta
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 (17181720) 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 Spain by an alliance of Britain, France, Austria, and the Dutch Republic.


After the 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 Sardinia were given to Habsburg Austria, while Sicily was 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 Alliance on January 4, 1717.

The war begins

Later in the year, to strengthen the Treaty of Utrecht, Britain, France and Austria contemplated ceding Sicily to 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 Savoy wanted 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 Passarowitz ended 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 Messina between 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.

On 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 Daun near 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.

On 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 Marischal did 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 Vigo and Pontevedra in 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 Piacenza after 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 Italy would 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)]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Quadruple Alliance — The term Quadruple Alliance refers to several historical military alliances; none of which remain in effect. # The Quadruple Alliance of August 1673 was an alliance between the Holy Roman Empire, the Kingdom of Spain, Charles IV, Duke of Lorraine …   Wikipedia

  • War of the Spanish Succession — Philip V of Spain and the Duke of Vendôme commanded the Franco Spanish charge at the Battle of Villaviciosa by Jean Alaux (1840) …   Wikipedia

  • War of the Austrian Succession — The Battle of Fontenoy by Édouard Detaille. Oil on canvas …   Wikipedia

  • Quadruple Alliance — I (1718) Alliance between Austria, Britain, the Dutch Republic, and France, formed to prevent Spain from altering the terms of the Peace of Utrecht (1713). When Philip V of Spain seized Sardinia and Sicily, the British fleet brought Austrian… …   Universalium

  • Declaration of war by the United Kingdom — A declaration of war is a formal declaration issued by a national government indicating that a state of war exists between that nation and another. In the United Kingdom, only the Monarch has the power to declare War and peace, under the Royal… …   Wikipedia

  • War of Jenkins' Ear — Infobox Military Conflict name= War of Jenkins Ear image description=Map of British operations in the Caribbean sea during the War of Jenkins Ear. conflict= War of Jenkins Ear date= 1739–1748 place= the Caribbean, Florida and Georgia. result=… …   Wikipedia

  • The Hague —     The Hague     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► The Hague     (Fr. LA HAYE; Dutch s GRAVENHAGE, the Count s Park ; Lat. HAGA COMITIS)     Capital and seat of Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands as well as of the (civil) Province of South… …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • alliance — /euh luy euhns/, n. 1. the act of allying or state of being allied. 2. a formal agreement or treaty between two or more nations to cooperate for specific purposes. 3. a merging of efforts or interests by persons, families, states, or… …   Universalium

  • Alliance — /euh luy euhns/, n. a city in NE Ohio. 24,315. * * * I In international politics, a union for joint action of various powers or states. Examples include the alliance of the European powers and the U.S. against Germany and its allies during World… …   Universalium

  • Military history of the peoples of the British Isles — The military history of the peoples of the British Isles is long and varied, extending from the prehistoric and ancient historic period, through the Roman invasions of Julius Caesar and Claudius, with the subsequent Roman occupation of most of… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.