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HM King Felipe V of Spain 

Last week I examined the lineage of King Carlos II of Spain (1665-1700). Because of his inbreeding he had many physical and metal difficulties and despite two marriages he never fathered and heir leaving the succession to the Spanish throne contested by the major European powers. In this post I will examine the genealogical aspect to the War of the Spanish Succession and I won’t delve too deeply into the political aspect except only when it is necessary.

In 1700 when Carlos II died Spain was still a major European power so the vacancy to the throne left two rival dynasties, the French royal house of Bourbon and the Austrian house of Habsburg, eager to claim the prize of the crown of Spain. One branch of the Habsburg family had ruled Spain since Philipp the Fair (Felipe I) mounted the throne of Castile in 1506. The French house of Bourbon claimed the throne from their descent from Felipe III of Spain (1578-1621). King Louis XIV of France and Navarre had a strong claim to the Spanish crown being a grandson of Felipe III. However, with the rules of male preferred primogeniture, Louis XIV’s son, Louis, the Grand Dauphin (1661-1711) actually had the better claim being the nephew of King Carlos II via his eldest sister, Maria Theresa, wife of Louis XIV. Since the Grand Dauphin was also heir to the throne of France he would have united the crowns of France and Spain creating an enormously powerful empire which would have dominated Europe. To the other powers of Europe this was not acceptable.

The Habsburg heir to the Spanish throne was Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I (1658-1705) who was the grandson of Felipe III of Spain via his younger daughter, Maria Anna of Spain, who was also the second wife of King Felipe IV of Spain. Leopold was married to his cousin Margaret Theresa of Spain (1651-1673) sister to King Carlos II. If Leopold I had become king of Spain this would have reunited the great Empire held by Holy Roman Emperor Karl V who was also King Carlos I of Spain (1516-1558). This too was unacceptable to the European powers. Even though Carlos II and Leopold I were both from the Hapsburg dynasty the French Bourbons, Louis the Grand Dauphin specifically, held the better claim in that both Louis XIV and his son were descended via older daughters of the Spanish kings than were their Hapsburg rivals. Since both Louis the Grand Dauphin and Leopold I were unacceptable a compromise had to be found.

Both Leopold and Louis XIV were willing to pass their claims to others in their respective dynasties. Louis desired his grandson, Philippe Duc d’Anjou (1683-1746, second son of the Grand Dauphin to succeed to the crown of Spain. The Duc d’Anjou was even favored by Carlos II (the struggle to solve this problem occurred prior to the kings death). Leopold desired that the Spanish crown would go to his younger son, Archduke Karl of Austria. Even those these options reduced the likelihood that the Spanish crown would be united to either France or the Holy Roman Empire neither were acceptable to the other European powers specifically King William III of England and Scotland, Stadholder of the Netherlands.

A candidate was finally found which all parties could agree on. He was not a member of either the Hapsburg or Bourbon dynasty, he was a member of the German Wittelsbach family of Bavaria. Joseph Ferdinand of Bavaria, (1692-1699) was the son of Maximilian II Emanuel, Elector of Bavaria (1679-1726) and his first wife, Maria Antonia of Austria. Joseph Ferdinand’s mother, Maria Antonia of Austria, was the daughter of Leopold I and a maternal granddaughter of King Felipe IV of Spain. Carlos II formally recognized Joseph Ferdinand as his heir and Joseph was given the title Prince of Asturias, the title typically held by the heir to the Spanish crown. This matter of the Spanish crown was not settled for long. On February 3, 1699 the young Prince of Asturias died at the age of seven. There were rumors that he had been poisoned.

This left the major powers all scrambling once again. Treaties were made up signed and ignored. At one point the succession was agreed to go to Archduke Karl as long as Spain’s Italian possessions were not included. The Austrians were not happy with this option. In Spain feelings were mixed as to who their next king should be but they did not want their Spanish possessions in Italy to be divided. However, many statesmen within Spain favored the Duc d’Anjou. Carlos II made a Will bequeathing the crown to the Duc d’Anjou and stipulated that should the Duc d’Anjou inherit the French throne the succession would pass to his brother, Charles Duc de Berri. After the Duc de Berri the Archduke Karl was in line for the succession.

When Carlos II died in 1700 the Duc d’Anjou was proclaimed King of Spain as Felipe V (1700-1746). In violation of one of the treaties all of the Spanish territories in Italy went to Felipe. Despite agreements with England, France placed pressure on England by cutting them off from Spanish trade. With the death of the exiled King James II-VII of England and Scotland in France, Louis recognized his son, James, as the rightful King James III-VIII of England and Scotland. This greatly angered William III. The Austrians were also angered by the inclusion of the Italian territories in the Spanish succession and within the year sent troops into Milan headed by Prince Eugene of Savoy.

War broke out in 1701 and was to last until 1714. Leopold I died in 1705 and was succeeded as Emperor by his eldest son Josef I (1705-1711). In 1711 when Josef I died his brother, Archduke Karl, Austrian claimant to the Spanish throne, succeed as Holy Roman Emperor Karl VI. With the possibility of Karl become King of Spain this created the same problem, of uniting the two Empires, that had been so unacceptable to the majority of the European powers in the first place. England found themselves in a precarious position in that their  ally, Karl VI, was in a position they thoroughly opposed.  Because of this change of circumstances the war was ended. In signing the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 Felipe V was recognized as King of Spain and renounced his place in the succession for the french Crown for himself and his descendant. This renunciation has ripple effects through today as the heir of the Spanish descendants of Felipe V, Louis Alphonse, Duc d’Anjou, claims the vacant French throne on the grounds that the Treaty of Utrecht violated French laws governing the succession.