The War of the Austrian Succession

Austria has a long history of being involved in wars. The War of the Austrian Succession is one of the most famous wars that saw the country engage in fierce battles. Read on to find out more about the war.

The roots of the Austrian war of succession can be traced back to the time when Fredrick, the King of Prussia violated the Pragmatic Sanction of Prague and seized Silesia and annexed Breslau from Austria to Prussia. This instigated Maria Theresa on the other side who declared war on Prussia without any hesitation. Who was to know that the war would last for a quarter of a century and end with the Treaty of Paris and the confirmation of the succession of Silesia to Prussia?

The origins of the war

It was the initial fighting that took place between 1740 and 1748 which is known as the “War of the Austrian Succession”. In England the war is remembered as “King George’s War. The main battlefield was the disputed territory of Selesia where the two armies engaged in fierce battles. France on the other hand had invaded Bavaria. France further moved on to threaten the Austrian dominated region of Flanders. An army consisting of troops from Austria and various other German states marched forward to confront the French. The army was further aided by English troops who were sent forth for their assistance by George II of England. Although the armies were going to fight for Austria the main concern of England was to preserve Hanover.

The English forces remained at Flanders for the next six years and engaged in four historic battles namely Dettingen, Fontenoy, Rocoux and Lauffeldt. There came a great twist in the plans when Prince Charles backed by the French managed to invade England. As a result the Hanoverian crown almost crumbled and was saved when the English regiments returned home to fight them off. The rusted English army faced many obstacles along the way as it had been enjoying peace for the last twenty years and was suddenly being forced into battle.

The battle of Dettingen took place between the French Army and the Pragmatic army in 1743 towards the south of Frankfurt. The next year the Pragmatic Army sat idle as it watched the French forces take over many areas of Flanders. In 1745 the Pragmatic Army marched towards the City of Tournai which was under siege by Marshal Saxe. It was here that the battle of Fontenoy took place. The following year the British troops were needed back at home because the Jacobites decided to invade the country.

The closure

The British troops returned to Flanders in full throttle in 1747. The French forces were however dominant in the region. The two battles of Roucoux and Lauffeldt were fought after which followed a period of peace only to be overcome by a period of intense fighting for seven years.

Only in 1747 did the British troops return in numbers to the Flanders War. The pattern continued of the French under Saxe inexorably overrunning the province. The battles of Roucoux and Lauffeldt were fought and in 1748 peace came, although only as an interlude before the serious bludgeoning of the Seven Years War began in 1755. In the end the French were persuaded to give up their conquests as the Brits used the return of Louisburg as bargain to end the hostility.

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