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1700 The Duc d’Anjou, king of Spain



12 November 1700

The Duc d’Anjou, grandson of Louis XIV, became Philippe V of Spain in 1700. The dynasty of the Bourbons succeeded that of the Habsburgs, angering Austria. A new war with France was inevitable.

Having failed to produce an heir, king Charles II of Spain made the Duc d’Anjou, his grand-nephew, his successor by testament, which his brother-in-law Louis XIV accepted on 12 November. The king hesitated a long time before making his decision. He feared a new war with Austria and its allies, 3 years after the war of the League of Augsburg. Like Louis XIV, the emperor Leopold I also had links with the crown of Spain.

In 1666, Leopold married the Infanta Margarita Theresa. This marriage was designed to counter the marriage of Louis XIV with Maria Theresa, the older sister of Margarita, in 1660. On his death in 1665, Philippe IV, their father, left a rather uncertain successor in the person of Charles II, a sickly and epileptic child. Until his death on 1 November 1700, all the hypotheses about his succession were open. It became a diplomatic issue between the European powers. France and Austria each had legitimate reasons to claim the Spanish throne. It was up to each power to choose its camp.

The stakes were high. Apart from the crown, Spain was also an empire on which, as Charles Quint said, the sun never sets! In Europe, it included the kingdom of Naples and the catholic Netherlands (today’s Belgium). The choice of the successor of Charles II would decide the balance of Europe. A sworn enemy of Louis XIV, the emperor Leopold had no intention of renouncing his rights. After a long hesitation, Charles II decided on his deathbed in favour of the Duc d’Anjou.

Then aged 17, Philippe de France was the second son of Monseigneur, son of Louis XIV, and of the Dauphine Marie-Anne-Victoire de Bavière. He was Spanish through his grandmother, queen Maria Theresa, and through his great-grandmother Anne of Austria. On 16 November 1700, Louis XIV officially presented the new king of Spain in the Hall of Mirrors. He asked him to be a good Spaniard but to remember that he was born French and should maintain the union between the two nations. This was not always to be the case, alas! Philippe nevertheless remained the ally of his grandfather in the war of Succession begun by Austria. Concluded in 1713, the Treaty of Utrecht definitively consecrated the Bourbon dynasty on the throne of Spain.

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