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the battle a city a king a general
the cause introduction the Sun King the Duke of Marlborough
11 July 1708 the scale-model Vauban the French
the landscape of the battle beautiful people in the 18th century the allies

the allies and their armies



During the second half of the 17th century the Southern Netherlands suffered under the waning power of the Spanish monarchs and thus became a plaything in the hands of the great European powers.  On the one hand there was the pressure of the French urge for expansion towards the north, on the other hand the Seven United Provinces and England wanted to turn our regions into a buffer zone against France.  The Spanish-Habsburg monarch Charles II tolerated this policy because, this way, the advancing French troops could be countered.  The death of Charles II in 1700 changed the situation in Europe fundamentally.

Because there was no heir to the throne, the Spanish realm fell into the hands of Philip of Anjou, grandson of Louis XIV.  The Sun King now saw his country surrounded by a friendly nation to the north and to the south.  But the Dutch Republic and England did not like this.  Supported by the Austrian Habsburgers they refused to recognize Philip of Anjou, now Philip V, as the legitimate sovereign of Spain.  This prompted Louis XIV to invade our regions once more in 1701.  This was the beginning of the War of the Spanish Succession.

England, the Dutch Republic and the Austrian emperor formed a Great Alliance, reinforced by Denmark and a number of German monarchs.  In May 1706 there was an important military breakthrough in our regions when the allied armies defeated the French-Spanish troops near Ramillies and could advance further north.  On 11 July 1708 the Duke of Marlborough, assisted by Eugène of Savoye, defeated the French once more near Oudenaarde.  Immediately afterwards they started the siege of Lille, which fell later that year.

Meanwhile the Great Alliance started cracking.  In 1711 secret peace negotiations started between England and France, which would lead to an armistice in 1712.  On 11 April 1713 the Republic and France signed the peace treaty of Utrecht, which was later supplemented with peace treaties between Spain and the maritime powers England and the Republic.  In 1714 also France and Austria reached an agreement.  Our regions came under Austrian rule.