Monday, 14 April 2014

War of the Austrian Succession (part III)

War of the Austrian Succession (part III)

To round off my introduction to this war I thought an overview of the main states and their leaders would put into context the series of battles we will be playing.


Louis XV; the weak King of a powerful state.

France is the dominant power in Europe.  Well populated and with an efficient bureaucracy it can field huge armies.  Its colonial territories and overseas trade challenges Britain and its Bourbon dynastic ambitions are a direct threat to Austria.  However, Louis XV, the most absolute ruler in Europe, is ruled by his mistresses and easily bored by the demands of running his state.  France is not neccessarily looking to increase its territory in Europe but is determined to ensure its dominance is unchallenged.


Maria Theresa; One hell of a mother!

Austria is used to being the dominant state in Germany and Italy and its head expects to be the Holy Roman Emporer.  Maria Theresa is Arch-Duchess of Austria and Queen of Hungary but her fathers death has robbed her of her expectation of the Imperial throne and France has taken the opportunity of backing Bavaria's claim.  Seemingly attacked on every border her first instinct is to preserve the inheritance of her father for her children.  Poorly educated and inexperienced she surprises everyone with her iron determination to wreak vengeance on her enemies.


Philip V of Spain; A Frenchman ruled by his wife.

Spain is probably the most aggressive state in Europe during the eighteenth century as it tries to win back the power it lost in the seventeenth century.  Its decline is not apparent until the Napoleonic wars.  However, it struggles to maintain an independent foreign policy from its fellow Bourbon state, France and is in continual colonial dispute with Britain.  Austria's weakness has given it an opportunity to reassert it's control of Italy where it already has another Bourbon client in the King of Naples, the son of Philip V.  However, what gives an added steel to Spain's foreign policy is the Queen of Spain.  She is Philip's second wife and her children will not inherit the Spanish throne and so she is determined to conquer kingdoms for them in Italy.  She is of the Farnese family who have produced mistresses to the pope, generals for many states and Princes that have schemed against all; she will brook no opposition to the advancement of her boys!


Frederick the not yet great.

Prussia is the most powerful and militarised state within the Holy Roman Empire.  Historically constrained by Austria, its new King Frederick sees an opportunity to advance Prussia to the rank of a first class power.  His seizure of Silesia has triggered the war and his sole object is to hold onto this prize.  Allied with France he hopes Britain will force Austria to agree to this conquest so that the Austrians will concentrate against France.

Piedmont Sardinia

Charles Emmanual III; one of a long line of cunning Italians.

Piedmont-Sardinia straddles the Italian northwestern Alps.  Like Prussia it seeks to achieve first rank power status by dominating the Italian peninsular.  However it has to maintain a precarious balance between the demands of Austria, France and Spain none of whom it wants to see expand its power.  Charles Emmanuel is seen as slippery as he successively plays one power off against another for maximum gain.

Great Britain

George II of Great Britain and Prince Elector of the Holy Roman Empire
Great Britain is the up and coming power in Europe and is determined to dominate world trade.  Already at war with Spain in the Americas it is set for a colonial collision with France.  Its chief objective in Europe is to keep a balance of power to enable it a free hand overseas.  Austria's weak position has removed a counter balance to France.  Therefore Britain will support the Pragmatic Sanction and funds an army to aid Maria Theresa.  George II as King of Britain and elector of Hannover loudly supports Maria Theresa's claims and sets himself up as her champion.  However, secretly, he is trying to broker a neutrality for his beloved Hannover with Prussia and France behind the backs of his ministers.  This is risky as the Hannoverians are not well liked in Britain as only their Protestantism is compensates for them being foreign!


  1. The game of houses, got to love them,
    land and power

  2. Reading the history of Frederick at the moment and have just reached this bit!