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War of the Grand Alliance

War of the Grand Alliance

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Encyclopedia
The Nine Years' War – often called the War of the Grand Alliance, the War of the Palatine Succession, or the War of the League of Augsburg – was a major war of the late 17th century fought between King Louis XIV
Louis XIV of France
Louis XIV , known as Louis the Great or the Sun King , was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and Navarre. His reign, from 1643 to his death in 1715, began at the age of four and lasted seventy-two years, three months, and eighteen days...

 of France, and a European-wide coalition, the Grand Alliance, led by the Anglo-Dutch Stadtholder-King William III
William III of England
William III & II was a sovereign Prince of Orange of the House of Orange-Nassau by birth. From 1672 he governed as Stadtholder William III of Orange over Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders, and Overijssel of the Dutch Republic. From 1689 he reigned as William III over England and Ireland...

, Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I
Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor
| style="float:right;" | Leopold I was a Holy Roman Emperor, King of Hungary and King of Bohemia. A member of the Habsburg family, he was the second son of Emperor Ferdinand III and his first wife, Maria Anna of Spain. His maternal grandparents were Philip III of Spain and Margaret of Austria...

, King Charles II of Spain
Charles II of Spain
Charles II was the last Habsburg King of Spain and the ruler of large parts of Italy, the Spanish territories in the Southern Low Countries, and Spain's overseas Empire, stretching from the Americas to the Spanish East Indies...

, Victor Amadeus II of Savoy
Victor Amadeus II of Sardinia
Victor Amadeus II was Duke of Savoy from 1675 to 1730. He also held the titles of marquis of Saluzzo, duke of Montferrat, prince of Piedmont, count of Aosta, Moriana and Nizza. Louis XIV organised his marriage in order to maintain French influence in the Duchy but Victor Amadeus soon broke away...

, and the major and minor princes of the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

. The Nine Years' War was fought primarily on mainland Europe and its surrounding waters, but it also encompassed a theatre in Ireland
Williamite war in Ireland
The Williamite War in Ireland—also called the Jacobite War in Ireland, the Williamite-Jacobite War in Ireland and in Irish as Cogadh an Dá Rí —was a conflict between Catholic King James II and Protestant King William of Orange over who would be King of England, Scotland and Ireland...

, where William III and James II
James II of England
James II & VII was King of England and King of Ireland as James II and King of Scotland as James VII, from 6 February 1685. He was the last Catholic monarch to reign over the Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland...

 struggled for control of the British Isles, and a minor campaign (King William's War
King William's War
The first of the French and Indian Wars, King William's War was the name used in the English colonies in America to refer to the North American theater of the Nine Years' War...

) between French and English settlers and their Indian allies in colonial North America. The War was the second of Louis XIV's three major wars.

Louis XIV had emerged from the Franco-Dutch War
Franco-Dutch War
The Franco-Dutch War, often called simply the Dutch War was a war fought by France, Sweden, the Bishopric of Münster, the Archbishopric of Cologne and England against the United Netherlands, which were later joined by the Austrian Habsburg lands, Brandenburg and Spain to form a quadruple alliance...

 in 1678 as the most powerful monarch in Europe; but, although he had expanded his realm, the 'Sun King' remained unsatisfied. Using a combination of aggression, annexation, and quasi-legal means, Louis XIV immediately set about extending his gains in order to stabilize and strengthen France's frontiers, culminating in the brief War of the Reunions
War of the Reunions
The War of the Reunions was a short conflict between France and Spain and its allies. It was fueled by the long-running desire of Louis XIV to conquer new lands, many of them comprising part of the Spanish Netherlands, along France's northern and eastern borders...

 (1683–84). The resulting Truce of Ratisbon
Truce of Ratisbon
The Truce of Ratisbon, or Truce of Regensburg, concluded the War of the Reunions between Spain and France. The Truce was signed on 15 August 1684 at the Dominican convent at Ratisbon in Bavaria between Louis XIV of France on the one side, and the Holy Roman Emperor, Leopold I, and the Spanish King,...

 guaranteed the extended borders of France for twenty years, but Louis XIV's subsequent actions – notably his revocation of the Edict of Nantes
Edict of Fontainebleau
The Edict of Fontainebleau was an edict issued by Louis XIV of France, also known as the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. The Edict of Nantes of 1598, had granted the Huguenots the right to practice their religion without persecution from the state...

 in 1685, and his attempt to extend his influence in the German Rhineland – led to the deterioration of his military and political dominance. Louis XIV's decision to cross the Rhine and besiege Philippsburg in September 1688 was intended to pre-empt a strike against France by Emperor Leopold I and to force the Holy Roman Empire into accepting his territorial and dynastic claims. But, when the Emperor and the German princes resolved to resist, and when the States-General
States-General of the Netherlands
The States-General of the Netherlands is the bicameral legislature of the Netherlands, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The parliament meets in at the Binnenhof in The Hague. The archaic Dutch word "staten" originally related to the feudal classes in which medieval...

 and William III brought the Dutch and the English into the war against France, Louis XIV at last faced a powerful coalition aimed at curtailing his ambitions.

The main fighting took place around France's borders: in the Spanish Netherlands
Southern Netherlands
Southern Netherlands were a part of the Low Countries controlled by Spain , Austria and annexed by France...

; the Rhineland
Rhineland
Historically, the Rhinelands refers to a loosely-defined region embracing the land on either bank of the River Rhine in central Europe....

; Duchy of Savoy
Duchy of Savoy
From 1416 to 1847, the House of Savoy ruled the eponymous Duchy of Savoy . The Duchy was a state in the northern part of the Italian Peninsula, with some territories that are now in France. It was a continuation of the County of Savoy...

; and Catalonia
Catalonia
Catalonia is an autonomous community in northeastern Spain, with the official status of a "nationality" of Spain. Catalonia comprises four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. Its capital and largest city is Barcelona. Catalonia covers an area of 32,114 km² and has an...

. These campaigns were dominated by siege operations, notably at Mons
Mons
Mons is a Walloon city and municipality located in the Belgian province of Hainaut, of which it is the capital. The Mons municipality includes the old communes of Cuesmes, Flénu, Ghlin, Hyon, Nimy, Obourg, Baudour , Jemappes, Ciply, Harmignies, Harveng, Havré, Maisières, Mesvin, Nouvelles,...

, Namur
Namur (city)
Namur is a city and municipality in Wallonia, in southern Belgium. It is both the capital of the province of Namur and of Wallonia....

, Charleroi
Charleroi
Charleroi is a city and a municipality of Wallonia, located in the province of Hainaut, Belgium. , the total population of Charleroi was 201,593. The metropolitan area, including the outer commuter zone, covers an area of and had a total population of 522,522 as of 1 January 2008, ranking it as...

 and Barcelona
Barcelona
Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain after Madrid, and the capital of Catalonia, with a population of 1,621,537 within its administrative limits on a land area of...

: open battles such as Fleurus
Battle of Fleurus (1690)
The Battle of Fleurus, fought on 1 July 1690, was a major engagement of the Nine Years' War. In a bold envelopment the Duc de Luxembourg, commanding Louis XIV’s army of some 35,000 men, soundly defeated Prince Waldeck’s Allied force of approximately 38,000 men comprising mainly Dutch, German, and...

 and Marsaglia
Battle of Marsaglia
The Battle of Marsaglia was a battle in the Nine Years' War, fought in Italy on 4 October 1693 between the French army of Marshal Nicolas Catinat and the Allied army of Duke Victor Amadeus II of Savoy ....

 were less common. These engagements generally favoured Louis XIV's armies but by 1696 France was in the grip of an economic crisis. The Maritime Powers (England and the Dutch Republic) were also financially exhausted, and when Savoy defected from the Alliance all parties were keen for a negotiated settlement. By the terms of the Treaty of Ryswick
Treaty of Ryswick
The Treaty of Ryswick or Ryswyck was signed on 20 September 1697 and named after Ryswick in the Dutch Republic. The treaty settled the Nine Years' War, which pitted France against the Grand Alliance of England, Spain, the Holy Roman Empire and the United Provinces.Negotiations started in May...

 (1697) Louis retained the whole of Alsace but was forced to return Lorraine back to its owner; he also had to give up any gains on the right bank of the Rhine. Louis XIV agreed to accept William III as King of England, while the Dutch garrisoned a line of fortresses in the Spanish Netherlands to help secure their border. However, with the imminent death of the childless Charles II of Spain a new conflict over the inheritance of the Spanish Empire
Spanish Empire
The Spanish Empire comprised territories and colonies administered directly by Spain in Europe, in America, Africa, Asia and Oceania. It originated during the Age of Exploration and was therefore one of the first global empires. At the time of Habsburgs, Spain reached the peak of its world power....

 (the most important unsolved question of European politics) would soon embroil France and the Grand Alliance in Louis XIV's final conflict – the War of the Spanish Succession
War of the Spanish Succession
The War of the Spanish Succession was fought among several European powers, including a divided Spain, over the possible unification of the Kingdoms of Spain and France under one Bourbon monarch. As France and Spain were among the most powerful states of Europe, such a unification would have...

.

Background 1678–87


In the years following the Franco-Dutch War
Franco-Dutch War
The Franco-Dutch War, often called simply the Dutch War was a war fought by France, Sweden, the Bishopric of Münster, the Archbishopric of Cologne and England against the United Netherlands, which were later joined by the Austrian Habsburg lands, Brandenburg and Spain to form a quadruple alliance...

 (1672–78) King Louis XIV
Louis XIV of France
Louis XIV , known as Louis the Great or the Sun King , was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and Navarre. His reign, from 1643 to his death in 1715, began at the age of four and lasted seventy-two years, three months, and eighteen days...

 of France – now at the height of his powers – set about to impose religious unity in France, and solidify and expand his frontiers. Louis XIV had already won his personal glory by conquering new territory, but he was no longer willing to pursue an open-ended militarist policy of the kind he had undertaken in 1672, and instead relied upon France's clear military superiority to achieve specific strategic objectives along his borders. Proclaimed the 'Sun King', a more mature Louis XIV – conscious he had failed to achieve decisive results against the Dutch – had turned from conquest to security, using threats rather than open war to intimidate his neighbours into submission.

Louis XIV, his chief advisor Louvois
François-Michel le Tellier, Marquis de Louvois
François Michel Le Tellier, Marquis de Louvois was the French Secretary of State for War for a significant part of the reign of Louis XIV. Louvois and his father, Michel le Tellier, would increase the French Army to 400,000 soldiers, an army that would fight four wars between 1667 and 1713...

, his foreign minister Colbert de Croissy
Charles Colbert, marquis de Croissy
Charles Colbert, marquis de Croissy was a French statesman and diplomat.-Biography:Colbert was born in Reims. Like his elder brother Jean Baptiste Colbert, began his career in the office of the minister of war Le Tellier....

, and his technical expert, Vauban, developed France's defensive strategy. Vauban had advocated a system of impregnable fortresses along the frontier that would keep Louis XIV's enemies out. To construct a proper system, however, the King needed to acquire more land from his neighbours to form a solid forward line. This rationalisation of the frontier would make it far more defensible while defining it more clearly in a political sense, yet it also created the paradox that while Louis XIV's ultimate goals were defensive, he pursued them by hostile means. The King grabbed the necessary territory through what is known as the 'Reunions': it was a strategy that combined legalism, arrogance, and aggression.

Reunions


The Treaty of Nijmegen
Treaties of Nijmegen
The Treaties of Peace of Nijmegen were a series of treaties signed in the Dutch city of Nijmegen between August 1678 and December 1679...

 and the earlier Treaty of Westphalia
Peace of Westphalia
The Peace of Westphalia was a series of peace treaties signed between May and October of 1648 in Osnabrück and Münster. These treaties ended the Thirty Years' War in the Holy Roman Empire, and the Eighty Years' War between Spain and the Dutch Republic, with Spain formally recognizing the...

 provided Louis XIV with the justification for the Reunions. These treaties had awarded France territorial gains, but because of the vagaries of the language (as with most treaties of the period) they were notoriously imprecise and self-contradictory, and never specified exact boundary lines. This imprecision often led to differing interpretations of the text resulting in long-standing disputes over the frontier zones – one gained a town or area and its 'dependencies', but it was often unclear what these dependencies were. The machinery needed to determine these territorial ambiguities was already in place through the medium of the Parlement
Parlement
Parlements were regional legislative bodies in Ancien Régime France.The political institutions of the Parlement in Ancien Régime France developed out of the previous council of the king, the Conseil du roi or curia regis, and consequently had ancient and customary rights of consultation and...

s at Metz
Metz
Metz is a city in the northeast of France located at the confluence of the Moselle and the Seille rivers.Metz is the capital of the Lorraine region and prefecture of the Moselle department. Located near the tripoint along the junction of France, Germany, and Luxembourg, Metz forms a central place...

 (technically the only 'Chamber of Reunion
Chambers of Reunion
The Chambers of Reunion were French courts established by King Louis XIV in the early 1680s. The purpose of these courts was to increase French territory. Louis had been expanding the borders of France in a series of wars. Territory was gained in the Treaty of Nijmegen in 1679 and the Treaty of...

'), Besançon
Parlement of Besançon
The Parlement of Besançon was the Ancien Regime Parlement that dealt with the Franche-Comté. It was created in 1676. The previous Parlement for much of the reason had been at Dôle, and had been created in 1422....

, and a superior court at Breisach
Breisach
Breisach is a town with approximately 16,500 inhabitants, situated along the Rhine in the Rhine Valley, in the district Breisgau-Hochschwarzwald, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, about halfway between Freiburg and Colmar — 20 kilometres away from each — and about 60 kilometres north of Basel near the...

, dealing respectively with Lorraine, Franche-Comté
Franche-Comté
Franche-Comté the former "Free County" of Burgundy, as distinct from the neighbouring Duchy, is an administrative region and a traditional province of eastern France...

, and Alsace
Alsace
Alsace is the fifth-smallest of the 27 regions of France in land area , and the smallest in metropolitan France. It is also the seventh-most densely populated region in France and third most densely populated region in metropolitan France, with ca. 220 inhabitants per km²...

. Unsurprisingly, these courts usually found in Louis XIV's favour. By 1680 the disputed County of Montbéliard
County of Montbéliard
The County of Montbéliard , also known as County of Mömpelgard , was a feudal county of the Holy Roman Empire based around the city of Montbéliard in the present-day Franche-Comté region of France...

 (lying between Franche-Comté and Alsace) had been separated from the Duchy of Württemberg
History of Württemberg
Württemberg developed as a political entity in south-west Germany, with the core established around Stuttgart by Count Conrad . His descendants managed to expand Württemberg, surviving Germany's religious wars, changes in imperial policy, and invasions from France. The state had a basic...

, and by August Louis XIV had secured the whole of Alsace with the exception of Strasbourg
Strasbourg
Strasbourg is the capital and principal city of the Alsace region in eastern France and is the official seat of the European Parliament. Located close to the border with Germany, it is the capital of the Bas-Rhin département. The city and the region of Alsace are historically German-speaking,...

. The Chamber of Reunion of Metz soon laid claims to land around the Three Bishoprics
Three Bishoprics
The Three Bishoprics constituted a province of pre-Revolutionary France consisting of the prince-bishoprics of Verdun, Metz, and Toul within the Lorraine region....

 of Metz, Toul, and Verdun, and most of the Spanish Duchy of Luxembourg
County, Duchy and Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
The County, later Duchy of Luxembourg was a state of the Holy Roman Empire, the ancestral homeland of the noble House of Luxembourg.-History:...

. The fortress of Luxembourg
Luxembourg (city)
The city of Luxembourg , also known as Luxembourg City , is a commune with city status, and the capital of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. It is located at the confluence of the Alzette and Pétrusse Rivers in southern Luxembourg...

 itself was subsequently blockaded with the intention of it becoming part of Louis XIV's defensible frontier.

On 30 September 1681, French troops also seized Strasbourg and its outpost on the right bank of the Rhine, Kehl
Kehl
Kehl is a town in southwestern Germany in the Ortenaukreis, Baden-Württemberg. It is located on the river Rhine, directly opposite the French city of Strasbourg.-History:...

, which had been exploited by Imperial troops during the later stages of the Franco-Dutch war. By forcibly taking the Imperial city the French now controlled two of the three bridgeheads over the Rhine (the others being, Breisach which was already in French hands, and Philippsburg
Philippsburg
Philippsburg is a town in Germany, in the district of Karlsruhe in Baden-Württemberg.-History:Before 1632, Philippsburg was known as "Udenheim".The city was a possession of the Bishop of Speyer from 1371–1718...

, which Louis XIV had lost by the Treaty of Nijmegen). On the same day that Strasbourg fell French forces marched into Casale
Casale Monferrato
Casale Monferrato, population 36,058, is a town and comune in the Piedmont region of north-west Italy, part of the province of Alessandria. It is situated about 60 km east of Turin on the right bank of the Po, where the river runs at the foot of the Montferrato hills. Beyond the river lies the...

 in northern Italy. The fortress was not taken through the process of the Reunions but had earlier been purchased from the Duke of Mantua, which, together with the French possession of Pinerolo
Pinerolo
Pinerolo is a town and comune in north-western Italy, 40 kilometres southwest of Turin on the river Chisone.-History:In the Middle Ages, the town of Pinerolo was one of the main crossroads in Italy, and was therefore one of the principal fortresses of the dukes of Savoy. Its military importance...

, enabled France to tie down Victor Amadeus II, the Duke of Savoy
Victor Amadeus II of Sardinia
Victor Amadeus II was Duke of Savoy from 1675 to 1730. He also held the titles of marquis of Saluzzo, duke of Montferrat, prince of Piedmont, count of Aosta, Moriana and Nizza. Louis XIV organised his marriage in order to maintain French influence in the Duchy but Victor Amadeus soon broke away...

, and threaten the Spanish Duchy of Milan
Duchy of Milan
The Duchy of Milan , was created on the 1st of may 1395, when Gian Galeazzo Visconti, Lord of Milan, purchased a diploma for 100,000 Florins from King Wenceslaus. It was this diploma that installed, Gian Galeazzo as Duke of Milan and Count of Pavia...

 (see map below). All Reunion claims and annexations were important strategic points of entry and exit between France and its neighbours, and all were immediately fortified by Vauban and incorporated into his fortress system.
Thus the Reunions were carving territory from the frontiers of Germany, while annexations were establishing French power in Italy. Yet seeking to construct his impregnable border Louis XIV so alarmed the other European states that he made the war he sought to avoid inevitable: his fortresses not only covered his frontiers, they projected French power. Only two statesmen might hope to oppose Louis XIV: William of Orange, stadtholder
Stadtholder
A Stadtholder A Stadtholder A Stadtholder (Dutch: stadhouder [], "steward" or "lieutenant", literally place holder, holding someones place, possibly a calque of German Statthalter, French lieutenant, or Middle Latin locum tenens...

 of the United Provinces of the Dutch Republic and the natural leader of Protestant opposition; and Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I
Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor
| style="float:right;" | Leopold I was a Holy Roman Emperor, King of Hungary and King of Bohemia. A member of the Habsburg family, he was the second son of Emperor Ferdinand III and his first wife, Maria Anna of Spain. His maternal grandparents were Philip III of Spain and Margaret of Austria...

, obvious leader of anti-French forces in Germany and Catholic
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 Europe. But while William and Leopold I wanted to act, effective opposition in 1681–82 was out of the question: Amsterdam
Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

's burghers
Bourgeoisie
In sociology and political science, bourgeoisie describes a range of groups across history. In the Western world, between the late 18th century and the present day, the bourgeoisie is a social class "characterized by their ownership of capital and their related culture." A member of the...

 wanted no further conflict with France. They were fully aware of the current weaknesses, not only of Spain, but also the Empire, whose important German princes from Mainz
Archbishopric of Mainz
The Archbishopric of Mainz or Electorate of Mainz was an influential ecclesiastic and secular prince-bishopric in the Holy Roman Empire between 780–82 and 1802. In the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy, the Archbishop of Mainz was the primas Germaniae, the substitute of the Pope north of the Alps...

, Trier
Archbishopric of Trier
The Archbishopric of Trier was a Roman Catholic diocese in Germany, that existed from Carolingian times until the end of the Holy Roman Empire. Its suffragans were the dioceses of Metz, Toul and Verdun. Since the 9th century the Archbishops of Trier were simultaneously princes and since the 11th...

, Cologne, Saxony
Electorate of Saxony
The Electorate of Saxony , sometimes referred to as Upper Saxony, was a State of the Holy Roman Empire. It was established when Emperor Charles IV raised the Ascanian duchy of Saxe-Wittenberg to the status of an Electorate by the Golden Bull of 1356...

, Bavaria
Bavaria
Bavaria, formally the Free State of Bavaria is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of Germany. With an area of , it is the largest state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany...

 and, significantly, Frederick William I of Brandenburg, remained in French pay.

Fighting on Two fronts



Since Leopold I's intervention in the Franco-Dutch War the French King had considered the Emperor his most dangerous enemy; yet Louis XIV had little reason to fear him. Leopold I was weak in Germany, and was in grave danger along his Hungarian
Royal Hungary
The Kingdom of Hungary between 1538 and 1867 was part of the lands of the Habsburg Monarchy, while outside the Holy Roman Empire.After Battle of Mohács, the country was ruled by two crowned kings . They divided the kingdom in 1538...

 borders where the Ottoman Turks
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 were threatening to overrun all central Europe from the south. Louis XIV had encouraged and assisted the Ottoman drive against Leopold I's Habsburg lands, and had assured the Porte that he would not support the Emperor. He had also urged King Sobieski
John III Sobieski
John III Sobieski was one of the most notable monarchs of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, from 1674 until his death King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania. Sobieski's 22-year-reign was marked by a period of the Commonwealth's stabilization, much needed after the turmoil of the Deluge and...

 of Poland (unsuccessfully) not to side with Leopold I, and pressed the malcontent princes of Transylvania and Hungary to join with the Sultan's forces and free their territory from Habsburg rule. When the Turks besieged Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

 in the spring of 1683 Louis XIV did nothing to help the defenders.

Taking advantage of the Ottoman threat in the east Louis XIV invaded the Spanish Netherlands
Southern Netherlands
Southern Netherlands were a part of the Low Countries controlled by Spain , Austria and annexed by France...

 on 1 September 1683 and renewed the siege of Luxembourg, which had been abandoned the previous year. The French required of the Emperor and Charles II of Spain
Charles II of Spain
Charles II was the last Habsburg King of Spain and the ruler of large parts of Italy, the Spanish territories in the Southern Low Countries, and Spain's overseas Empire, stretching from the Americas to the Spanish East Indies...

 a recognition of the legality of the recent Reunions, but the Spanish were unwilling to see any more of their holdings fall under Louis XIV's jurisdiction. Spain's military options were highly limited, yet the Ottoman defeat before Vienna
Battle of Vienna
The Battle of Vienna took place on 11 and 12 September 1683 after Vienna had been besieged by the Ottoman Empire for two months...

 on 12 September had emboldened them. In the hope that Leopold I would now make peace in the east and come to their assistance, Charles II declared war on France on 26 October. However, the Emperor had decided to continue the Turkish war in the Balkans and, for the time being, compromise in the west. With Leopold I unwilling to fight on two fronts; with a strong neutralist party in the Dutch Republic tying William's hands; and with the Elector of Brandenburg stubbornly holding to his alliance with Louis XIV, there was no possible outcome but complete French victory.

The War of the Reunions
War of the Reunions
The War of the Reunions was a short conflict between France and Spain and its allies. It was fueled by the long-running desire of Louis XIV to conquer new lands, many of them comprising part of the Spanish Netherlands, along France's northern and eastern borders...

 was brief and devastating. With the fall of Courtrai
Kortrijk
Kortrijk ; , ; ) is a Belgian city and municipality located in the Flemish province West Flanders...

 in early November 1683, followed by Dixmude
Diksmuide
Diksmuide is a Belgian city and municipality in the Flemish province of West Flanders. The municipality comprises the city of Diksmuide proper and the former communes of Beerst, Esen, Kaaskerke, Keiem, Lampernisse, Leke, Nieuwkapelle, Oostkerke, Oudekapelle, Pervijze, Sint-Jacobs-Kapelle,...

 in December and Luxembourg in June 1684, Charles II was compelled to accept Louis XIV's peace deal. The Truce of Ratisbon
Truce of Ratisbon
The Truce of Ratisbon, or Truce of Regensburg, concluded the War of the Reunions between Spain and France. The Truce was signed on 15 August 1684 at the Dominican convent at Ratisbon in Bavaria between Louis XIV of France on the one side, and the Holy Roman Emperor, Leopold I, and the Spanish King,...

 (Regensberg) signed on 15 August by France on one side and the Emperor and Spain on the other, rewarded the French with Strasbourg, Luxembourg and the Reunion gains (Courtrai and Dixmude returned to Spain). The resolution was not a definitive peace, but only a truce for 20 years. Yet Louis XIV had sound reasons to feel satisfied: the Emperor and German princes were fully occupied in Hungary—while in the Dutch Republic, William of Orange remained isolated and powerless, particularly because of the pro-French mood in Amsterdam.

Persecution of the Huguenots


At Ratisbon in 1684 France had been in a position to impose its will on Europe; however, after 1685 its dominant military and diplomatic position began to deteriorate. One of the main factors for this diminution was Louis XIV's revocation of the Edict of Nantes
Edict of Nantes
The Edict of Nantes, issued on 13 April 1598, by Henry IV of France, granted the Calvinist Protestants of France substantial rights in a nation still considered essentially Catholic. In the Edict, Henry aimed primarily to promote civil unity...

 and the subsequent dispersal of France's Protestant
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 community. As many as 200,000 Huguenot
Huguenot
The Huguenots were members of the Protestant Reformed Church of France during the 16th and 17th centuries. Since the 17th century, people who formerly would have been called Huguenots have instead simply been called French Protestants, a title suggested by their German co-religionists, the...

s fled to England, the Dutch Republic, Switzerland, and Germany, spreading tales of brutality at the hands of the monarch of Versailles
Palace of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles , or simply Versailles, is a royal château in Versailles in the Île-de-France region of France. In French it is the Château de Versailles....

. The direct effect on France of the loss of this community is debatable, but the flight helped destroy the pro-French group in the Dutch Republic, not only because of their Protestant affiliations, but with the exodus of Huguenot merchants and the harassment of Dutch merchants living in France, it also greatly affected Franco-Dutch trade. The persecution had another effect on Dutch public opinion – the conduct of the Catholic King of France made them look more anxiously at James II
James II of England
James II & VII was King of England and King of Ireland as James II and King of Scotland as James VII, from 6 February 1685. He was the last Catholic monarch to reign over the Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland...

, now the Catholic King of England. Many in The Hague
The Hague
The Hague is the capital city of the province of South Holland in the Netherlands. With a population of 500,000 inhabitants , it is the third largest city of the Netherlands, after Amsterdam and Rotterdam...

 believed James II was closer to his cousin Louis XIV than to his son-in-law and nephew William, thus engendering suspicion, and in turn hostility, between the two states. Louis XIV's seemingly endless territorial claims, coupled with his Protestant persecution, enabled William of Orange and his party to gain the ascendancy in the Republic and finally lay the groundwork for his long-sought alliance against France.
Although James II had permitted the Huguenots to settle in England, he had enjoyed an amicable relationship with his co-religionist Louis XIV, realising the importance of the friendship for his own Catholicising measures at home against the suspicions of his Protestant majority. But the Huguenot presence gave an immense boost to anti-French discourse, and they joined forces with elements in England already highly suspicious of James II. However, conflicts between French and English commercial interests in North America had caused severe friction between the two governments: the French had grown antagonistic towards the Hudson's Bay Company
Hudson's Bay Company
The Hudson's Bay Company , abbreviated HBC, or "The Bay" is the oldest commercial corporation in North America and one of the oldest in the world. A fur trading business for much of its existence, today Hudson's Bay Company owns and operates retail stores throughout Canada...

 and the New England
New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

 colonies, while the English looked upon French pretensions in New France
New France
New France was the area colonized by France in North America during a period beginning with the exploration of the Saint Lawrence River by Jacques Cartier in 1534 and ending with the cession of New France to Spain and Great Britain in 1763...

 as encroaching upon their own possessions. This rivalry had spread to the other side of the world where English and French India companies
East India Company (disambiguation)
The East India Company, also known as the English East India Company and the British East India Company, was a historical English, and later British, company, founded in 1600, and chartered with the monopoly of trading with Southeast Asia, East Asia, and India.East India Company may also refer to...

 had already embarked upon hostilities.

Many in Germany reacted negatively to the persecution of the Huguenots, disabusing the Protestant princes of the idea that Louis XIV was their ally against the intolerant practices of the Catholic Habsburgs. The Elector of Brandenburg answered the revocation of the Edict of Nantes by promulgating the Edict of Potsdam
Edict of Potsdam
The Edict of Potsdam was a proclamation issued by Frederick William, Elector of Brandenburg and Duke of Prussia, in Potsdam on October 29, 1685, as a response to the revocation of the Edict of Nantes by the Edict of Fontainebleau.- Background :...

, and invited the fleeing Huguenots to Brandenburg
Brandenburg-Prussia
Brandenburg-Prussia is the historiographic denomination for the Early Modern realm of the Brandenburgian Hohenzollerns between 1618 and 1701. Based in the Electorate of Brandenburg, the main branch of the Hohenzollern intermarried with the branch ruling the Duchy of Prussia, and secured succession...

. But there were motivations other than religious adherence that disabused him (and other German Princes) of his allegiance to France. Louis XIV had pretensions in the Palatinate in the name of his sister-in-law, Elizabeth Charlotte
Elizabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate
Elizabeth Charlotte, Princess Palatine was a German princess and the wife of Philippe I, Duke of Orléans, younger brother of Louis XIV of France. Her vast correspondence provides a detailed account of the personalities and activities at the court of her brother-in-law, Louis XIV...

, threatening further annexations of the Rhineland. Frederick-William, therefore, spurning his French subsidies ended his alliance with France and reached agreements with William of Orange, the Emperor, and, temporarily putting aside his differences over Pomerania
Pomerania
Pomerania is a historical region on the south shore of the Baltic Sea. Divided between Germany and Poland, it stretches roughly from the Recknitz River near Stralsund in the West, via the Oder River delta near Szczecin, to the mouth of the Vistula River near Gdańsk in the East...

, King Charles XI of Sweden
Charles XI of Sweden
Charles XI also Carl, was King of Sweden from 1660 until his death, in a period in Swedish history known as the Swedish empire ....

.

The consequences of the flight of the Huguenots in southern France brought outright war in the Alpine
Alps
The Alps is one of the great mountain range systems of Europe, stretching from Austria and Slovenia in the east through Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Germany to France in the west....

 districts of Piedmont
Piedmont
Piedmont is one of the 20 regions of Italy. It has an area of 25,402 square kilometres and a population of about 4.4 million. The capital of Piedmont is Turin. The main local language is Piedmontese. Occitan is also spoken by a minority in the Occitan Valleys situated in the Provinces of...

 in Italy. From their fort at Pinerolo the French were able to exert considerable pressure on the Duke of Savoy and force him to persecute his own Protestant community, the Vaudois
Waldensians
Waldensians, Waldenses or Vaudois are names for a Christian movement of the later Middle Ages, descendants of which still exist in various regions, primarily in North-Western Italy. There is considerable uncertainty about the earlier history of the Waldenses because of a lack of extant source...

 (Valdesi). This constant threat of interference and intrusion into his domestic affairs was a source of concern for Victor Amadeus, and from 1687 the Duke’s policy became increasingly anti-French as he searched for a chance to assert his aspirations and concerns. This criticism for Louis XIV's regime was spreading all over Europe. The Truce of Ratisbon, followed by the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, was a cause of suspicion as to Louis XIV's true intentions; many were also fearful of the King's supposed designs on universal monarchy – the uniting of the Spanish and German crowns with that of France. In response, representatives from the Emperor, the south German princes, Spain (motivated by the French attack in 1683 and the imposed truce of 1684), and Sweden (in their capacity as princes within the Empire) met in Augsburg
Augsburg
Augsburg is a city in the south-west of Bavaria, Germany. It is a university town and home of the Regierungsbezirk Schwaben and the Bezirk Schwaben. Augsburg is an urban district and home to the institutions of the Landkreis Augsburg. It is, as of 2008, the third-largest city in Bavaria with a...

 to form a defensive league of the Rhine in July 1686. Pope Innocent XI
Pope Innocent XI
Blessed Pope Innocent XI , born Benedetto Odescalchi, was Pope from 1676 to 1689.-Early life:Benedetto Odescalchi was born at Como in 1611 , the son of a Como nobleman, Livio Odescalchi, and Paola Castelli Giovanelli from Gandino...

 – angered in part at Louis XIV's failure to go on crusade against the Turks – gave secret support.

Prelude: 1687–88


The League of Augsburg had little military power – the Empire and its Allies in the form of the Holy League
Great Turkish War
The Great Turkish War refers to a series of conflicts between the Ottoman Empire and contemporary European powers, then joined into a Holy League, during the second half of the 17th century.-1667–1683:...

 were still busy fighting the Ottoman Turks in Hungary, and many of the petty princes were reluctant to act, fearful of French retaliation. Nevertheless, Louis XIV watched with apprehension Leopold I's advances against the Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

ic invaders. Habsburg victories along the Danube
Danube
The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

 at Buda
Buda
For detailed information see: History of Buda CastleBuda is the western part of the Hungarian capital Budapest on the west bank of the Danube. The name Buda takes its name from the name of Bleda the Hun ruler, whose name is also Buda in Hungarian.Buda comprises about one-third of Budapest's...

 in September 1686 and Mohács
Battle of Mohács (1687)
The Second Battle of Mohács, also known as the Battle of 'Berg Harsány', was fought between the forces of Ottoman Sultan Mehmed IV, commanded by the Grand-Vizier Sari Süleyman Paşa, and the forces of Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I, commanded by Charles of Lorraine...

 a year later, had convinced the French that the Emperor, in alliance with Spain and William of Orange, would soon turn his attention towards France and retake what had recently been won by Louis XIV's military intimidation. In response, Louis XIV sought to guarantee his territorial gains of the Reunions by forcing his German neighbours into converting the Truce of Ratisbon into a permanent settlement. However, a French ultimatum issued in 1687 failed to gain the desired assurances from the Emperor whose victories in the east made the Germans less anxious to compromise in the west.
Another testing point concerned the pro-French Archbishop-Elector, Maximilian Henry
Maximilian Henry of Bavaria
thumb|154 px|Maximilian Heinrich of BavariaMaximilian Henry of Bavaria was the third son and fourth child of Albert VI, landgrave of Leuchtenberg and his wife, Mechthilde von Leuchtenberg. In 1650, he was named Archbishop of Cologne, Bishop of Hildesheim and Bishop of Liège succeeding his uncle,...

, and the question of his succession in the state of Cologne. The territory of the archbishopric lay along the left bank of the Rhine and included three fortresses of the river-line: Bonn
Bonn
Bonn is the 19th largest city in Germany. Located in the Cologne/Bonn Region, about 25 kilometres south of Cologne on the river Rhine in the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, it was the capital of West Germany from 1949 to 1990 and the official seat of government of united Germany from 1990 to 1999....

, Rheinberg
Rheinberg
Rheinberg is a town in the district of Wesel, in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is situated on the left bank of the Rhine, approx. north of Moers and south of Wesel....

, and Kaiserswerth
Düsseldorf-Kaiserswerth
Kaiserswerth is one of the oldest parts of the City of Düsseldorf. It is in the north of the city and next to the river Rhine. It houses the Deaconess's Institute of Kaiserswerth where Florence Nightingale studied....

, besides Cologne
Cologne
Cologne is Germany's fourth-largest city , and is the largest city both in the Germany Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and within the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area, one of the major European metropolitan areas with more than ten million inhabitants.Cologne is located on both sides of the...

 itself. Moreover, the archbishop was also prince-bishop of Liège, the small state astride the strategic highway of the river Meuse. When the Elector died on 3 June 1688 Louis XIV pressed for the pro-French Bishop of Strasbourg, William Egon of Fürstenberg
William Egon of Fürstenberg
William Egon of Fürstenberg was a German clergyman who was bishop of Strasbourg.He began his career as a soldier in the French service....

, to succeed him. The Emperor, however, favoured Joseph Clement
Joseph Clemens of Bavaria
Joseph Clemens of Bavaria was a member of the Wittelsbach dynasty of Bavaria and Archbishop-Elector of Cologne from 1688 to 1723.-Biography:...

, the brother of Maximilian Emanuel, Elector of Bavaria
Maximilian II Emanuel, Elector of Bavaria
Maximilian II , also known as Max Emanuel or Maximilian Emanuel, was a Wittelsbach ruler of Bavaria and an elector of the Holy Roman Empire. He was also the last Governor of the Spanish Netherlands and duke of Luxembourg...

. With neither candidate able to secure the necessary two-thirds of the vote of the canons
Canon (priest)
A canon is a priest or minister who is a member of certain bodies of the Christian clergy subject to an ecclesiastical rule ....

 of the cathedral chapter
Cathedral chapter
In accordance with canon law, a cathedral chapter is a college of clerics formed to advise a bishop and, in the case of a vacancy of the episcopal see in some countries, to govern the diocese in his stead. These councils are made up of canons and dignitaries; in the Roman Catholic church their...

, the matter was referred to Rome
Vatican City
Vatican City , or Vatican City State, in Italian officially Stato della Città del Vaticano , which translates literally as State of the City of the Vatican, is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome, Italy. It has an area of...

. There was no prospect of the Pope, already in deep conflict with Louis XIV, favouring the French candidate, and on 26 August 1688 he awarded the election to Clement.

On 6 September Leopold I's forces under the Elector of Bavaria secured Belgrade
Belgrade
Belgrade is the capital and largest city of Serbia. It is located at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, where the Pannonian Plain meets the Balkans. According to official results of Census 2011, the city has a population of 1,639,121. It is one of the 15 largest cities in Europe...

 for the Empire. With the Ottomans appearing close to collapse Louis XIV's ministers, Louvois and Colbert de Croissy, felt it essential to have a quick resolution along the German frontier before the Emperor turned from the Balkans to lead a comparatively united German Empire against France on the Rhine and reverse the Ratisbon settlement. On 24 September Louis XIV published his manifesto, his Mémoire de raisons, listing his grievances: he demanded that the Truce of Ratisbon be turned into a permanent resolution, and that Fürstenburg be appointed Archbishop-Elector of Cologne. He also proposed to occupy the territories that he believed belonged to his sister-in-law regarding the Palatinate succession. The Emperor and the German princes, the Pope, and William of Orange were quite unwilling to grant these demands. For the Dutch in particular, Louis XIV's control of Cologne and Liège would be strategically unacceptable, for with these territories in French hands the Spanish Netherlands 'buffer-zone' would be effectively bypassed. The day after Louis XIV issued his manifesto – well before his enemies could have known its details – the main French army crossed the Rhine as a prelude to investing Philippsburg, the key post between Luxembourg (annexed in 1684) and Strasbourg (seized in 1681), and other Rhineland towns. This pre-emptive strike was intended to intimidate the German states into accepting his conditions, while encouraging the Ottoman Turks to continue their own struggle with the Emperor in the east.

Louis XIV and his ministers had hoped for a quick resolution similar to that secured from the War of the Reunions, but by 1688 the situation was drastically different. In the east an Imperial army, now manned with veteran officers and men, had dispelled the Turkish threat and crushed Imre Thököly
Imre Thököly
Count Imre Thököly de Késmárk was a Hungarian statesman, leader of an anti-Habsburg uprising, Prince of Transylvania, and vassal king of Upper Hungary.- Early life :Imre Thököly was born at Késmárk, Royal Hungary Count Imre Thököly de Késmárk (Thököly/Tököly/Tökölli Imre in Hungarian, Mirko...

's revolt in Hungary; while in the west and north, William of Orange was fast becoming the leader of a coalition of Protestant states, anxious to join with the Emperor and Spain, and end the hegemony of France. Louis XIV wanted a short defensive war, yet by crossing the Rhine that summer he began a long war of attrition; a war framed by interests of the state, its defensible frontiers, and the balance of power in Europe.

Rhineland and the Empire


Marshal Duras
Jacques Henri de Durfort de Duras
Jacques Henri de Durfort, Duke of Duras was marshal of France.-Life:Jacques Henri was the oldest son of Guy Aldonce de Durfort , marquis of Duras, count of Rozan and of Lorges, maréchal de camp and of Élisabeth de La Tour d'Auvergne, sister of Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne, better known as...

, Vauban, and 30,000 men – all under the nominal command of the Dauphin – besieged the Elector of Trier's fortress of Philippsburg on 27 September 1688; after a vigorous defence it fell on 30 October. Louis XIV's army proceeded to take Mannheim
Mannheim
Mannheim is a city in southwestern Germany. With about 315,000 inhabitants, Mannheim is the second-largest city in the Bundesland of Baden-Württemberg, following the capital city of Stuttgart....

, which capitulated on 11 November, shortly followed by Frankenthal
Frankenthal
Frankenthal is a town in southwestern Germany, in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate.- History :Frankenthal was first mentioned in 772. In 1119 an Augustinian monastery was built here, the ruins of which — known, after the founder, as the Erkenbertruine — still stand today in the town...

. Other towns fell without resistance, including Oppenheim
Oppenheim
Oppenheim is a town in the Mainz-Bingen district in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. The town is well known as a wine town, the site of the German Winegrowing Museum and particularly for the wines from the Oppenheimer Krötenbrunnen vineyards.- Location :...

, Worms
Worms, Germany
Worms is a city in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, on the Rhine River. At the end of 2004, it had 85,829 inhabitants.Established by the Celts, who called it Borbetomagus, Worms today remains embattled with the cities Trier and Cologne over the title of "Oldest City in Germany." Worms is the only...

, Bingen
Bingen am Rhein
Bingen am Rhein is a town in the Mainz-Bingen district in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany.The settlement’s original name was Bingium, a Celtic word that may have meant “hole in the rock”, a description of the shoal behind the Mäuseturm, known as the Binger Loch. Bingen was the starting point for the...

, Kaiserslautern
Kaiserslautern
Kaiserslautern is a city in southwest Germany, located in the Bundesland of Rhineland-Palatinate at the edge of the Palatinate forest . The historic centre dates to the 9th century. It is from Paris, from Frankfurt am Main, and from Luxembourg.Kaiserslautern is home to 99,469 people...

, Heidelberg
Heidelberg
-Early history:Between 600,000 and 200,000 years ago, "Heidelberg Man" died at nearby Mauer. His jaw bone was discovered in 1907; with scientific dating, his remains were determined to be the earliest evidence of human life in Europe. In the 5th century BC, a Celtic fortress of refuge and place of...

, Speyer
Speyer
Speyer is a city of Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany with approximately 50,000 inhabitants. Located beside the river Rhine, Speyer is 25 km south of Ludwigshafen and Mannheim. Founded by the Romans, it is one of Germany's oldest cities...

 and, above all, the key fortress of Mainz
Fortress Mainz
The Fortress of Mainz was a fortressed garrison town between 1620 and 1918. At the end of the Napoleonic Wars, under the term of the 1815 Peace of Paris, the control of Mainz passed to the German Confederation and became part of a chain of strategic fortresses which protected the Confederation with...

. After Coblenz
Koblenz
Koblenz is a German city situated on both banks of the Rhine at its confluence with the Moselle, where the Deutsches Eck and its monument are situated.As Koblenz was one of the military posts established by Drusus about 8 BC, the...

 failed to surrender, Boufflers
Louis François, duc de Boufflers
Louis François, Duc de Boufflers, Comte de Cagny was a Marshal of France....

 put it under heavy bombardment, causing much damage, but it did not fall to the enemy.

Louis XIV now mastered the Rhine south of Mainz to the Swiss border, but although the attacks kept the Turks fighting in the east, the impact on Leopold I and the German states had the opposite effect of what had been intended. The League of Augsburg was not strong enough to meet the threat, but on 22 October the powerful German princes, including the Elector of Brandenburg
Frederick I of Prussia
Frederick I , of the Hohenzollern dynasty, was Elector of Brandenburg and Duke of Prussia in personal union . The latter function he upgraded to royalty, becoming the first King in Prussia . From 1707 he was in personal union the sovereign prince of the Principality of Neuchâtel...

, John George III, Elector of Saxony
John George III, Elector of Saxony
Johann Georg III was Elector of Saxony from 1680 to 1691.-Early life:Johann Georg was the only son of the Elector Johann Georg II and Magdalene Sybille of Brandenburg-Bayreuth....

, Ernest Augustus of Hanover
Ernest Augustus, Elector of Brunswick-Lüneburg
Ernest Augustus was duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg and ruled over the Principality of Calenberg subdivision of the duchy. He was appointed prince-elector, but died before the appointment became effective...

, and Charles I, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel
Charles I, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel
Karl I was Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel from 1670 till his death.Born at Kassel, he was the son of Wilhelm VI of Hesse-Kassel and Hedwig Sophia of Brandenburg, daughter of Georg Wilhelm, Elector of Brandenburg. After the early death of his father, his mother ruled as regent until 1675...

, reached an agreement in Magdeburg
Magdeburg
Magdeburg , is the largest city and the capital city of the Bundesland of Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. Magdeburg is situated on the Elbe River and was one of the most important medieval cities of Europe....

 that mobilized the forces of north Germany. Meanwhile the Emperor recalled the Bavarian, Swabia
Swabia
Swabia is a cultural, historic and linguistic region in southwestern Germany.-Geography:Like many cultural regions of Europe, Swabia's borders are not clearly defined...

n, and Franconia
Franconia
Franconia is a region of Germany comprising the northern parts of the modern state of Bavaria, a small part of southern Thuringia, and a region in northeastern Baden-Württemberg called Tauberfranken...

n troops under the Elector of Bavaria from the Ottoman front to defend south Germany. The French had not prepared for such an eventuality. Realising that the war in Germany was not going to end quickly and that the Rhineland blitz would not be a brief and decisive parade of French glory, Louis XIV and Louvois resolved upon a scorched-earth policy in the Palatinate, Baden
Baden
Baden is a historical state on the east bank of the Rhine in the southwest of Germany, now the western part of the Baden-Württemberg of Germany....

 and Württemberg
Württemberg
Württemberg , formerly known as Wirtemberg or Wurtemberg, is an area and a former state in southwestern Germany, including parts of the regions Swabia and Franconia....

, intent on denying enemy troops local resources and prevent them invading French territory. By 20 December 1688 Louvois had selected all the cities, towns, villages and châteaux intended for destruction. On 2 March 1689 Count of Tessé
René de Froulay de Tessé
René de Froulay, comte de Tessé was a French Marshal and diplomat.- Military career :Tessé was born at Le Mans...

 torched Heidelberg; on 8 March Montclair levelled Mannheim. Oppenheim and Worms were finally destroyed on 31 May, followed by Speyer on 1 June, and Bingen on 4 June. In all, French troops burnt over 20 substantial towns as well as numerous villages.

The Germans prepared to take back what they had lost, and in 1689 formed three armies along the Rhine. The smallest of these, initially under the Elector of Bavaria, protected the upper Rhine between the lines north of Strasbourg to the Black Forest
Black Forest
The Black Forest is a wooded mountain range in Baden-Württemberg, southwestern Germany. It is bordered by the Rhine valley to the west and south. The highest peak is the Feldberg with an elevation of 1,493 metres ....

. On the middle Rhine stood the largest army under the best Imperial general, and commander-in-chief, Charles V, Duke of Lorraine
Charles V, Duke of Lorraine
Charles V , Karl V. Leopold, , son of Nicolas François, Duke of Lorraine, and Claude Françoise de Lorraine. Karl Leopold was born in Vienna and became the brother in law of Emperor Leopold and son in law of emperor Ferdinand III...

. Charles V cleared away the French threat on Frankfurt and opened trenches around Mainz on 22/23 July. After a bloody two months siege the Marquis of Huxelles
Nicolas Chalon du Blé
Nicolas Chalon du Blé, marquis d'Uxelles and Cormatin was a French general and Foreign Minister. He was also created a knight and Marshal of France by Louis XIV, and was a diplomat for Louis XIV and Philippe II, Duke of Orléans.-Biography:-Early years:du Blé was born at Chalon-sur-Saône.His...

 finally yielded the town on 8 September. Meanwhile on the lower Rhine stood the Elector of Brandenburg who, aided by the celebrated Dutch engineer Menno van Coehoorn
Menno van Coehoorn
Menno, Baron van Coehoorn was a Dutch soldier and military engineer of Swedish extraction. He made a number of influential weaponry innovations in siege warfare and fortification techniques...

, besieged Kaiserswerth. Kaiserswerth fell on 26 June before the Elector led his army on Bonn, which, having endured a heavy bombardment, finally capitulated on 10 October. The invasion of the Rhineland had united the German princes in their opposition to Louis XIV who had lost more than he had gained that year along the Rhine. The campaign had also created a diversion of French forces and sufficient time for William of Orange to invade England.

Britain and Ireland



James II's ill-advised attempts to Catholicise the army, government and other institutions had proved increasingly unpopular with his (mainly Protestant) subjects. His open Catholicism and his dealings with Catholic France had also strained relations between England and the Dutch Republic, but because his wife Mary was the Protestant heir to the English throne William of Orange had been reluctant to act against James II in case it ruined her succession prospects. Yet if England was left to itself the situation could become desperate for the Dutch Republic: Louis XIV might intervene and so make James II his vassal; or James, wishing to distract his subjects, might even join with Louis in a repetition of the attack made on the Dutch Republic in 1672. By the end of 1687, therefore, William had envisaged intervention, and by early 1688 he had secretly began to make active preparations. With the French busy creating their cordon sanitaire in the Palatinate (too busy to consider serious intervention in the Spanish Netherlands or to move against the south-eastern Dutch provinces along the Rhine) the States-General
States-General of the Netherlands
The States-General of the Netherlands is the bicameral legislature of the Netherlands, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The parliament meets in at the Binnenhof in The Hague. The archaic Dutch word "staten" originally related to the feudal classes in which medieval...

 unanimously gave William their full support in the knowledge that the overthrow of James II was in the security interests of their own state.
Louis XIV had considered William's invasion as a declaration of war between France and the Dutch Republic (officially declared on 26 November); but he did little to stop the invasion – his main concern was the Rhineland. Moreover, French diplomats had calculated that William's action would plunge England into a protracted civil war that would either absorb Dutch resources or draw England closer to France. However, after landing his forces unhindered at Torbay
Torbay
Torbay is an east-facing bay and natural harbour, at the western most end of Lyme Bay in the south-west of England, situated roughly midway between the cities of Exeter and Plymouth. Part of the ceremonial county of Devon, Torbay was made a unitary authority on 1 April 1998...

 on 5 November (O.S
Old Style and New Style dates
Old Style and New Style are used in English language historical studies either to indicate that the start of the Julian year has been adjusted to start on 1 January even though documents written at the time use a different start of year ; or to indicate that a date conforms to the Julian...

) 1688, many welcomed William with open arms, and the revolution that shortly followed, commonly known as the 'Glorious Revolution
Glorious Revolution
The Glorious Revolution, also called the Revolution of 1688, is the overthrow of King James II of England by a union of English Parliamentarians with the Dutch stadtholder William III of Orange-Nassau...

', ended James II's reign. On 13 February 1689 (O.S) William of Orange became King William III of England – reigning jointly with his wife Mary
Mary II of England
Mary II was joint Sovereign of England, Scotland, and Ireland with her husband and first cousin, William III and II, from 1689 until her death. William and Mary, both Protestants, became king and queen regnant, respectively, following the Glorious Revolution, which resulted in the deposition of...

 – and bound together the fortunes of England and the Dutch Republic. Yet few people in England suspected that William had sought the crown for himself or that his aim was to bring England into the war against France on the Dutch side. The Convention Parliament
Convention Parliament (1689)
The English Convention was an irregular assembly of the Parliament of England which transferred the Crowns of England and Ireland from James II to William III...

 did not see that the offer of joint monarchy carried with it the corollary of a declaration of war, but the subsequent actions of the deposed king finally swung Parliament
Parliament of England
The Parliament of England was the legislature of the Kingdom of England. In 1066, William of Normandy introduced a feudal system, by which he sought the advice of a council of tenants-in-chief and ecclesiastics before making laws...

 behind William's war policy.
James II had fled to France to the welcoming arms of Louis XIV. In March 1689 (supported by French gold, troops, and generals) he sailed from his exile at St Germain
Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye
The Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye is a royal palace in the commune of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, in the département of Yvelines, about 19 km west of Paris, France. Today, it houses the Musée d'Archéologie Nationale ....

 to rally Catholic support in Ireland as a first step to regaining his thrones. The French King supported James for two reasons: first, Louis XIV fervently believed in his God-ordained right to the throne; and second, he wished to divert William III's forces away from the Low Countries. James II's initial aim, and that of his deputy the Duke of Tyrconnell, was to pacify the northern Protestant strongholds. However, his ill-equipped army of around 40,000 could do little more than besiege Londonderry
Siege of Derry
The Siege of Derry took place in Ireland from 18 April to 28 July 1689, during the Williamite War in Ireland. The city, a Williamite stronghold, was besieged by a Jacobite army until it was relieved by Royal Navy ships...

. After encountering a determined defence that lasted 105 days, he finally lifted the siege at the end of July. In the meantime the first major naval engagement of the war was fought off Bantry Bay
Battle of Bantry Bay
The Battle of Bantry Bay was a naval engagement fought on 11 May 1689 during the Nine Years' War. The Allied fleet was commanded by Arthur Herbert, 1st Earl of Torrington; the French fleet by François Louis de Rousselet, Marquis de Châteaurenault...

 on 11 May (O.S) – before England's declaration of war—resulting in a minor French success for Châteaurenault
François Louis de Rousselet, Marquis de Châteaurenault
François Louis de Rousselet, marquis de Châteaurenault was a French vice-admiral, maréchal, and nobleman....

, who managed to land supplies for James II's campaign. For their part, Williamite forces were supplied from the north, and in August the Duke of Schomberg
Frederick Schomberg, 1st Duke of Schomberg
Friedrich Hermann , 1st Duke of Schomberg , KG , was a marshal of France and a General in the English and Portuguese Army....

 arrived with 15,000 Danish, Dutch, Huguenot, and English reinforcements. However, after taking Carrickfergus
Carrickfergus
Carrickfergus , known locally and colloquially as "Carrick", is a large town in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It is located on the north shore of Belfast Lough, from Belfast. The town had a population of 27,201 at the 2001 Census and takes its name from Fergus Mór mac Eirc, the 6th century king...

 his army stalled at Dundalk
Dundalk
Dundalk is the county town of County Louth in Ireland. It is situated where the Castletown River flows into Dundalk Bay. The town is close to the border with Northern Ireland and equi-distant from Dublin and Belfast. The town's name, which was historically written as Dundalgan, has associations...

, suffering through the winter months from sickness and desertion.

On 30 June 1690 (O.S) the French navy secured victory off Beachy Head
Battle of Beachy Head (1690)
The Battle of Beachy Head was a naval engagement fought on 10 July 1690 during the Nine Years' War. The battle was the greatest French tactical naval victory over their English and Dutch opponents during the war...

 in the English Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

 where Admiral Tourville
Anne Hilarion de Tourville
Anne Hilarion de Costentin, comte de Tourville was a French naval commander who served under King Louis XIV. He was made Marshal of France in 1693.-Military career:...

 defeated Admiral Torrington
Arthur Herbert, 1st Earl of Torrington
Arthur Herbert, 1st Earl of Torrington was a British admiral and politician of the late 17th and early 18th century. Cashiered as a rear-admiral by James II of England in 1688 for refusing to vote to repeal the Test Act, which prevented Catholics from holding offices, he brought the Invitation to...

's inferior Anglo-Dutch fleet. However, Louis XIV's decision not to use his main fleet as a subsidiary to the Irish campaign had enabled William III to land in Ireland with a further 15,000 men earlier that month. With these reinforcements William III secured decisive victory at the Battle of the Boyne
Battle of the Boyne
The Battle of the Boyne was fought in 1690 between two rival claimants of the English, Scottish and Irish thronesthe Catholic King James and the Protestant King William across the River Boyne near Drogheda on the east coast of Ireland...

 on 1 July (O.S), and once again forced James II to flee back to France. Following the Earl of Marlborough
John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough
John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, Prince of Mindelheim, KG, PC , was an English soldier and statesman whose career spanned the reigns of five monarchs through the late 17th and early 18th centuries...

's capture of the southern ports of Cork
Cork (city)
Cork is the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland and the island of Ireland's third most populous city. It is the principal city and administrative centre of County Cork and the largest city in the province of Munster. Cork has a population of 119,418, while the addition of the suburban...

 and Kinsale
Kinsale
Kinsale is a town in County Cork, Ireland. Located some 25 km south of Cork City on the coast near the Old Head of Kinsale, it sits at the mouth of the River Bandon and has a population of 2,257 which increases substantially during the summer months when the tourist season is at its peak and...

, thus confining French and Jacobite troops to the west of the country, William III now felt confident enough to return to the Continent at the beginning of 1691 to command the coalition army in the Low Countries, leaving Baron van Ginkell
Godert de Ginkell, 1st Earl of Athlone
Godert de Ginkell, 1st Earl of Athlone, or in his own country of the Netherlands born Baron Godard van Reede was a Dutch general in the service of England....

 to lead his troops in Ireland. After Ginkell's victory over the Marquis of Saint-Ruth
Marquis de St Ruth
Charles Chalmont Marquis of St Ruth was a French general. Early in his military career, he fought against Protestants in France...

 at the Battle of Aughrim
Battle of Aughrim
The Battle of Aughrim was the decisive battle of the Williamite War in Ireland. It was fought between the Jacobites and the forces of William III on 12 July 1691 , near the village of Aughrim in County Galway....

 on 12 July (O.S), the remaining Jacobite strongholds fell in rapid succession. Without prospect of further French assistance the capitulation at Limerick
Siege of Limerick (1691)
Limerick in western Ireland was besieged twice during the Williamite War in Ireland . The city, held by Jacobite forces was able to beat off a Williamite assault in 1690. However, after a second siege in August-October 1691, it surrendered on terms....

 finally sealed victory for William III and his supporters in Ireland with the signing of the Treaty of Limerick
Treaty of Limerick
The Treaty of Limerick ended the Williamite war in Ireland between the Jacobites and the supporters of William of Orange. It concluded the Siege of Limerick. The treaty really consisted of two treaties which were signed on 3 October 1691. Reputedly they were signed on the Treaty Stone, an...

 on 3 October (O.S). English troops could now return to the Low Countries in strength.


War aims and the Grand Alliance


The success of William's invasion of England rapidly led to the coalition he had long desired. On 12 May 1689 the Dutch and the Holy Roman Emperor had signed an offensive compact in Vienna, the aims of which were no less than to force France back to her borders as they were at the end of the Thirty Years War (1648), and the Franco-Spanish War (1659), thus depriving Louis XIV of all his gains since his assumption of power. This meant for the Emperor and the German princes the reconquest of Lorraine, Strasbourg, parts of Alsace, and some Rhineland fortresses. Leopold I had tried to disentangle himself from the Turkish war in order to concentrate on the coming struggle, but the French invasion of the Rhineland had encouraged the Turks to stiffen their terms for peace and make demands the Emperor could not conceivably accept. Leopold I's decision to side with the coalition (against the opposition of many of his advisers) was, therefore, a decision to intervene in the west while continuing to fight the Ottomans in the Balkans. Although the Emperor's immediate concerns were for the Rhineland, the most important parts of the treaty were the secret articles pledging England and the States-General to assist him in securing the Spanish succession should Charles II die without an heir, and to use their influence to secure his son's
Joseph I, Holy Roman Emperor
Joseph I , Holy Roman Emperor, King of Bohemia, King of Hungary, King of the Romans was the elder son of Emperor Leopold I and his third wife, Eleonor Magdalene of Neuburg....

 election as King of the Romans
King of the Romans
King of the Romans was the title used by the ruler of the Holy Roman Empire following his election to the office by the princes of the Kingdom of Germany...

.

William III regarded the war as an opportunity to reduce the power of France and protect the Dutch Republic, while providing conditions that would encourage trade and commerce. Although there remained territorial anomalies Dutch war aims did not involve substantial alterations to the frontier; but William did aim to secure his new position in Britain. By seeking refuge in France and subsequently invading Ireland, James II had given William III the ideal instrument to convince the English parliament that entry into a major European war was unavoidable. With the support of Parliament, William III and Mary II declared war on 17 May 1689 (O.S). This Anglo-Dutch alignment was the basis for the Grand Alliance, ratified on 20 December by William III representing England, Anthonie Heinsius
Anthonie Heinsius
Anthonie Heinsius was a Dutch statesman who served as Grand Pensionary of Holland from 1689 to his death in 1720.- Life :...

 and Treasurer Jacob Hop representing the Dutch Republic, and Königsegg and Stratman representing Emperor Leopold I. Like the Dutch the English were not preoccupied with territorial gains on the Continent, but were deeply concerned with limiting the power of France in order to defend against a Jacobite restoration (Louis XIV threatened to overthrow the Glorious Revolution and the precarious political settlement by supporting the old king over the new one). William III had secured his goal of mobilizing Britain's resources for the anti-French coalition, but the Jacobite threat in Scotland and Ireland meant only a small English expeditionary force could be committed to assist the Dutch States Army
Dutch States Army
The Dutch States Army was the army of the Dutch Republic. It was usually called this, because it was formally the army of the States-General of the Netherlands, the sovereign power of that federal republic...

 in the coalition in the Spanish Netherlands for the first three years of the war.

The Duke of Lorraine also joined the Alliance at the same time as England, while the King of Spain (who had been at war with France since April 1689) and the Duke of Savoy signed in June 1690. The Allies had offered Victor Amadeus handsome terms to join the Grand Alliance, including the return of Casale to Mantua (he hoped it would revert to him upon the death of the childless Duke of Mantua) and of Pinerolo to himself. His adhesion to the Allied cause would facilitate the invasion of France through Dauphiné
Dauphiné
The Dauphiné or Dauphiné Viennois is a former province in southeastern France, whose area roughly corresponded to that of the present departments of :Isère, :Drôme, and :Hautes-Alpes....

 and Provence
Provence
Provence ; Provençal: Provença in classical norm or Prouvènço in Mistralian norm) is a region of south eastern France on the Mediterranean adjacent to Italy. It is part of the administrative région of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur...

, where the naval base of Toulon
Toulon
Toulon is a town in southern France and a large military harbor on the Mediterranean coast, with a major French naval base. Located in the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur region, Toulon is the capital of the Var department in the former province of Provence....

 lay. In contrast Louis XIV had embarked on a policy of overt military intimidation to retain Savoy in the French orbit, and had envisaged the military occupation of parts of Piedmont (including the citadel of Turin) to guarantee communications between Pinerolo and Casale. French demands on Victor Amadeus, and their determination to prevent the Duke from achieving his dynastic aims, were nothing less than an attack on Savoyard independence, convincing the Duke that he had to stand up to French aggression.

The Elector of Bavaria consented to add his name to the Grand Alliance on 4 May 1690, while the Elector of Brandenburg joined the anti-French coalition on 6 September. However, few of the minor powers were as devoted to the common cause, and all protected their own interests; some never hesitated to exact a high price for continuing their support. Charles XI of Sweden
Charles XI of Sweden
Charles XI also Carl, was King of Sweden from 1660 until his death, in a period in Swedish history known as the Swedish empire ....

 supplied the contingents due from his German possessions to the Allied cause (6,000 men and 12 warships), while in August 1689 Christian V of Denmark
Christian V of Denmark
Christian V , was king of Denmark and Norway from 1670 to 1699, the son of Frederick III of Denmark and Sophie Amalie of Brunswick-Lüneburg...

 agreed to a treaty to supply William III with 7,000 troops in return for a subsidy. However, in March 1691 Sweden and Denmark put aside their mutual distrust and made a treaty of armed neutrality for the protection of their commerce and to prevent the war spreading north. To the annoyance of the Maritime Powers the Swedes now saw their rôle outside the great power-struggle of the Nine Years' War, exploiting opportunities to increase their own maritime trade. Nevertheless, Louis XIV at last faced a powerful coalition aimed at forcing France to recognize Europe's rights and interests.

Expanding war: 1690–91


The main fighting of the Nine Years' War took place round France's borders: in the Spanish Netherlands
Southern Netherlands
Southern Netherlands were a part of the Low Countries controlled by Spain , Austria and annexed by France...

; the Rhineland
Rhineland
Historically, the Rhinelands refers to a loosely-defined region embracing the land on either bank of the River Rhine in central Europe....

; Catalonia
Catalonia
Catalonia is an autonomous community in northeastern Spain, with the official status of a "nationality" of Spain. Catalonia comprises four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. Its capital and largest city is Barcelona. Catalonia covers an area of 32,114 km² and has an...

; and Piedmont-Savoy
Duchy of Savoy
From 1416 to 1847, the House of Savoy ruled the eponymous Duchy of Savoy . The Duchy was a state in the northern part of the Italian Peninsula, with some territories that are now in France. It was a continuation of the County of Savoy...

. The Spanish Netherlands' importance was the result of its geographic position, sandwiched between France and the Dutch Republic. Initially Marshal Humières
Louis de Crevant, Duke of Humières
Louis de Crévant, Duc d'Humières was a Marshal of France and Governor of Compiègne, Bourbonnais and Lille.He was present at the Battle of the Dunes, and participated in the Franco-Dutch war under Turenne. He was made Marshal of France in 1668...

 commanded French forces in this theatre but in 1689, while the French concentrated on the Rhine, it produced little more than a stand-off – the most significant engagement occurred when William's second-in-command, the Prince of Waldeck
Prince Georg Friedrich of Waldeck
Prince Georg Friedrich of Waldeck was a German and Dutch Field Marshal .In 1641, Waldeck entered the service of the States-General of the Netherlands; later in 1651, in the service of Brandenburg, he reached the highest rank as minister...

, defeated Humières in a skirmish at the Battle of Walcourt
Battle of Walcourt
The Battle of Walcourt was fought on 25 August 1689 during the Nine Years' War. The action took place near the ancient walled town of Walcourt near Charleroi in the Spanish Netherlands, and brought to a close a summer of uneventful marching, manoeuvring, and foraging...

 on 25 August. However, by 1690 the Spanish Netherlands had become the main seat of the war where the French formed two armies: Boufflers' force on the Moselle, and a larger force to the west under Humières' successor – and Louis XIV's greatest general of the period – Marshal Luxembourg. On 1 July Luxembourg secured a clear tactical victory over Waldeck at the Battle of Fleurus
Battle of Fleurus (1690)
The Battle of Fleurus, fought on 1 July 1690, was a major engagement of the Nine Years' War. In a bold envelopment the Duc de Luxembourg, commanding Louis XIV’s army of some 35,000 men, soundly defeated Prince Waldeck’s Allied force of approximately 38,000 men comprising mainly Dutch, German, and...

; but his success produced little benefit – Louis XIV's concerns for the dauphin on the Rhine (where Marshal de Lorge
Guy Aldonce de Durfort de Lorges
Guy Aldonce de Durfort, duc de Lorges, marshal of France, , was a French nobleman and soldier.Guy Aldonce was the fourth son of Guy Aldonce de Durfort , marquis of Duras, count of Rozan and of Lorges, maréchal de camp, and Élisabeth de La Tour d'Auvergne, daughter of Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne and...

 now held actual command) overrode strategic necessity in the other theatres and forestalled a plan to besiege Namur or Charleroi. For the Emperor and the German princes, though, the most serious fact of 1690 was that the Turks had been victorious on the Danube, requiring them to send reinforcements to the east. The Elector of Bavaria – now Imperial commander-in-chief following Lorraine's death in April – could offer nothing on the lower or upper Rhine, and the campaign failed to produce a single major battle or siege.

The smallest front of the war was in Catalonia. In 1689 the Duke of Noailles had led French forces there aimed at bringing further pressure to bear on the Spanish by re-igniting a peasant rising
Revolt of the Barretinas
The Revolt of the Barretines also known as the Revolt of the Gorretes, was a Catalan rebellion fought against the government of King Charles II of Spain. The most salient complaint was against the government's quartering of soldiers. Other issues of contention were tax protests and Catalan...

 against Charles II, which initially broke out in 1687. Exploiting the situation, Noailles captured Camprodon
Camprodon
Camprodon is a small city in the comarca of Ripollès in Catalonia, Spain, located in the Pyrenees, near the French border.-History:The settlement of Camprodon was in 1118, when Ramon Berenguer III allowed the building of a market near the monastery of Sant Pere de Camprodon, which is located the...

 on 22 May, but a larger Spanish army under the Duke of Villahermosa forced him to withdraw back to Roussillon
Roussillon
Roussillon is one of the historical counties of the former Principality of Catalonia, corresponding roughly to the present-day southern French département of Pyrénées-Orientales...

 in August. The Catalan campaign settled down in 1690, but a new front in Piedmont-Savoy proved more eventful. A ferment of religious animosities and Savoyard hatred of the French produced a theatre characterised by massacres and atrocities: constant guerrilla attacks by the armed populace were met by draconian reprisals. In 1690 Saint-Ruth
Marquis de St Ruth
Charles Chalmont Marquis of St Ruth was a French general. Early in his military career, he fought against Protestants in France...

 took most of the Victor Amadeus II's exposed Duchy of Savoy, routing the Savoyard army in the process until only the great fortress of Montmélian
Montmélian
Montmélian is a commune in the Savoie department in the Rhône-Alpes region in south-eastern France.-Population :-External links:*...

 remained in ducal hands; while to the south in Piedmont, Nicolas Catinat
Nicolas Catinat
Nicolas Catinat was a French military commander and Marshal of France under Louis XIV. The son of a magistrate, Catinat was born in Paris on 1 September 1637...

 led 12,000 men and soundly defeated Victor Amadeus at the Battle of Staffarda
Battle of Staffarda
The Battle of Staffarda was fought during Nine Years' War in Piedmont-Savoy, modern-day northern Italy, on 18 August 1690. The engagement was the first major encounter in the Italian theatre since Victor Amadeus, the Duke of Savoy, had joined the Grand Alliance in opposition to France earlier that...

 on 18 August. Catinat immediately took Saluzzo
Saluzzo
Saluzzo is a town and former principality in the province of Cuneo, Piedmont region, Italy.The city of Saluzzo is built on a hill overlooking a vast, well-cultivated plain. Iron, lead, silver, marble, slate etc...

, followed by Savigliano
Savigliano
Savigliano is a comune of Piedmont, northern Italy, in the Province of Cuneo, c. 50 kilometers south of Turin by rail....

, Fossano
Fossano
Fossano is a town and comune of Piedmont, Italy, in the province of Cuneo. It is the fourth largest town of the Province of Cuneo, after Cuneo, Alba and Bra....

, and Susa, but lacking sufficient troops, and with sickness rife within his army, Catinat was obliged to withdraw back across the Alps
Alps
The Alps is one of the great mountain range systems of Europe, stretching from Austria and Slovenia in the east through Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Germany to France in the west....

 for the winter.
French successes in 1690 had checked the Allies on most of the mainland fronts, yet their victories had not broken the Grand Alliance. With the hope of unhinging the coalition French commanders in 1691 prepared for an early double-blow: the capture of Mons
Siege of Mons (1691)
The Siege of Mons, 15 March–10 April 1691, was a major operation fought during the Nine Years' War, and was the main French objective for the 1691 campaign in the Spanish Netherlands. The city was besieged and captured before the normal commencement of the campaigning season with minimal losses...

 in the Spanish Netherlands, and Nice
Nice
Nice is the fifth most populous city in France, after Paris, Marseille, Lyon and Toulouse, with a population of 348,721 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Nice extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of more than 955,000 on an area of...

 in northern Italy. Boufflers invested Mons on 15 March with some 46,000 men, while Luxembourg commanded a similar force of observation. After some of the most intense fighting of all of Louis XIV's wars the town inevitably capitulated on 8 April. Luxembourg proceeded to take Halle
Halle, Belgium
Halle , is a Belgian city and municipality in the district Halle-Vilvoorde of the province Flemish Brabant. The city is located on the Brussels-Charleroi Canal and on the Flemish side of the language border that separates Flanders and Wallonia...

 at the end of May, while Boufflers bombarded Liège
Liège
Liège is a major city and municipality of Belgium located in the province of Liège, of which it is the economic capital, in Wallonia, the French-speaking region of Belgium....

; but these acts proved to have no political nor strategic consequence. The final action of note in the Low Countries came on 19 September when Luxembourg's cavalry surprised and defeated the rear of the Allied forces in a minor action near Leuze
Battle of Leuze
The Battle of Leuze took place on 18 September 1691, and was a famous French cavalry victory in the Nine Years' War, against a superior allied force....

. Now that the defence of the Spanish Netherlands depended almost wholly on the Allies William III insisted on replacing its Spanish governor, the Marquis of Gastañaga
Francisco Antonio de Agurto, Marquis of Gastañaga
Francisco Antonio de Agurto y Salcedo, first Marquis of Gastañaga was a Spanish nobleman, viceroy and governor of Basque origin. He became first Marquis de Gastañaga in 1676 and was Governor of the Habsburg Netherlands between 1685 and 1692...

, with the Elector of Bavaria, thus overcoming delays in getting decisions from Madrid.

In 1691 there was little significant fighting in the Catalan and Rhineland fronts. In contrast, the northern Italian theatre was very active. Villefranche
Villefranche-sur-Mer
Villefranche-sur-Mer is a commune in the Alpes-Maritimes department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region on the French Riviera.-Geography:...

 fell to French forces on 20 March, followed by Nice on 1 April, forestalling any chance of an Allied invasion of France along the coast. Meanwhile to the north, in the Duchy of Savoy, the Marquis of La Hoguette took Montmélian (the region's last remaining stronghold) on 22 December – a major loss for the Grand Alliance. However, by comparison the French campaign on the Piedmontese plain was far from successful. Although Carmagnola
Carmagnola
Carmagnola is a comune in the Province of Turin in the Italian region Piedmont, located 29 km south of Turin. As of July 11, 2007, it had a population of 27,043 and an area of 96.4 km²....

 fell in June, the Marquis of Freuquèires
Antoine de Pas de Feuquières
Antoine de Pas de Feuquières was a French soldier. He was the son of diplomat Isaac de Feuquières.He was conspicuous for his bravery in the army of Louis XIV, serving under Luxembourg, Turenne and Catinat....

, on learning of the approach of Prince Eugene of Savoy
Prince Eugene of Savoy
Prince Eugene of Savoy , was one of the most successful military commanders in modern European history, rising to the highest offices of state at the Imperial court in Vienna. Born in Paris to aristocratic Italian parents, Eugene grew up around the French court of King Louis XIV...

's relief force, precipitously abandoned the Siege of Cuneo
Siege of Cuneo (1691)
The Siege of Cuneo was fought on 28 June 1691 during Nine Years' War in Piedmont-Savoy, modern-day northern Italy. The siege was part of King Louis XIV’s campaign against Victor Amadeus, the Duke of Savoy, who had sided with the Grand Alliance the previous year...

 with the loss of some 800 men and all his heavy guns. With Louis XIV concentrating his resources in Alsace and the Low Countries, Catinat was forced onto the defensive. The initiative in northern Italy now passed to the Allies who, as early as August, had 45,000 men (on paper) in the region, enabling them to regain Carmagnola in October. Louis XIV offered peace terms in December, but anticipating military superiority for the following campaign Amadeus was not prepared to negotiate seriously.

Heavy fighting: 1692–93


After the sudden death of the influential Louvois in July 1691 Louis XIV had assumed a more active role in the direction of military policy, relying on advice from experts such as the Marquis of Chamlay
Jules Louis Bolé, marquis de Chamlay
Jules-Louis Bolé de Chamlay was a French military and diplomat.He was born in a noble family, his father was procureur of the Paris Parlement....

 and Vauban. Louvois' death also brought changes to state policy with the less adventurous Duke of Beauvilliers and the Marquis of Pomponne
Simon Arnauld, marquis de Pomponne
Simon Arnauld de Pomponne, Seigneur and then Marquis of Pomponne was a French diplomat and minister.-Early life:...

 entering Louis XIV's government as ministers of state. From 1691 onwards Louis XIV and Pomponne pursued efforts to unglue the Grand Alliance, including secret talks with Emperor Leopold I and, from August, attempts of religious solidarity with Catholic Spain. The approaches made to Spain came to naught (the Nine Years' War was not a religious war), but the Maritime Powers were also keen for peace. Talks were hampered, however, by Louis XIV's reluctance to cede his earlier gains (at least those made in the Reunions) and, in his deference to the principle of the divine right of kings, his unwillingness to recognise William III's claim to the English throne. For his part William III was intensely suspicious of Louis XIV and his supposed designs for universal monarchy.

Over the winter of 1691–92 the French devised a grand plan to gain the ascendancy over their enemies – a design for the invasion of England in one more effort to support James II in his attempts to regain his kingdoms; and a simultaneous assault on Namur
Namur (city)
Namur is a city and municipality in Wallonia, in southern Belgium. It is both the capital of the province of Namur and of Wallonia....

 in the Spanish Netherlands. The French hoped that Namur's seizure might inspire the Dutch to make peace, but if not, its capture would nevertheless be an important pawn at any future negotiations. With 60,000 men (protected by a similar force of observation under Luxembourg), Marshal Vauban invested the stronghold
Siege of Namur (1692)
The Siege of Namur, 25 May–30 June 1692, was a major engagement of the Nine Years' War, and was part of the French grand plan to defeat the forces of the Grand Alliance and bring a swift conclusion to the war...

 on 29 May. The town soon fell but the citadel – defended by van Coehoorn – held out until 30 June. Endeavouring to restore the situation in the Spanish Netherlands William III surprised Luxembourg's army near the village of Steenkirk
Battle of Steenkerque
The Battle of Steenkerque was fought on August 3, 1692, as a part of the Nine Years' War. It resulted in the victory of the French under Marshal François-Henri de Montmorency, duc de Luxembourg against a joint English-Scottish-Dutch-German army under Prince William of Orange...

 on 3 August. The Allies enjoyed some initial success, but as French reinforcements came up William III's advance stalled. The Allies retired from the field in good order, and both sides claimed victory: the French because they repulsed the assault; the Allies because they had saved Liège from the same fate as Namur. However, due to the nature of late 17th century warfare the battle, like Fleurus before it, produced little of consequence. (See below).
While French arms had proved successful at Namur the proposed descent on England was a failure. James II believed that there would be considerable support for his cause once he had established himself on English soil, but a series of delays and conflicting orders ensured a very uneven naval contest in the English Channel. The engagement was fought at the tip of the Cherbourg peninsula
Cherbourg-Octeville
-Main sights:* La Glacerie has a race track.* The Cité de la Mer is a large museum devoted to scientific and historical aspects of maritime subjects.* Cherbourg Basilica* Jardin botanique de la Roche Fauconnière, a private botanical garden.* Le Trident theatre...

, and lasted six days. At the action off Cape Barfleur on 29 May, the French fleet of 44 rated vessels under Admiral Tourville put up stern resistance against Admirals Rooke
George Rooke
Admiral of the Fleet Sir George Rooke was an English naval commander. He is known for his service in the wars against France and particularly remembered today for his victory at Vigo Bay and for capturing Gibraltar for the British in 1704.-Early life:Rooke was born at St Lawrence, near Canterbury...

's and Russell
Edward Russell, 1st Earl of Orford
Admiral of the Fleet Edward Russell, 1st Earl of Orford, PC was the First Lord of the Admiralty under King William III.-Naval career:...

's 82 rated English and Dutch vessels. Nevertheless, the French were forced to disengage: some escaped, but the 15 ships that had sought safety in Cherbourg and La Hogue were destroyed by English seamen and fireships
Fire ship
A fire ship, used in the days of wooden rowed or sailing ships, was a ship filled with combustibles, deliberately set on fire and steered into an enemy fleet, in order to destroy ships, or to create panic and make the enemy break formation. Ships used as fire ships were usually old and worn out or...

 on 2–3 June. With the Allies now dominant in the English Channel James II's invasion was abandoned. Yet the battle itself was not the death-blow for the French navy: the subsequent mismanagement and underfunding of the fleet under Pontchartrain, coupled with Louis XIV's own personal lack of interest, were central to the French losing naval superiority over the English and Dutch during the Nine Years' War.

Meanwhile in southern Europe the Duke of Savoy with 29,000 men (substantially exceeding Catinat's number who had sent some troops to the Netherlands) invaded Dauphiné via the mountain trails shown to them by the Vaudois. The Allies invested Embrun
Embrun, Hautes-Alpes
Embrun is a commune in the Hautes-Alpes department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region in southeastern France.-Description:...

, which capitulated on 15 August, before sacking the deserted town of Gap
Gap, Hautes-Alpes
Gap is a commune in southeastern France, the capital of the Hautes-Alpes department.-Geography:An Alpine crossroads at the intersection of D994 and Route nationale 85 the Route Napoléon, Gap lies above sea level along the right bank of the Luye River...

. However, with their commander falling ill with smallpox, and concluding that holding Embrun was untenable, the Allies abandoned Dauphiné in mid-September, leaving behind seventy villages and châteaux burned and pillaged. The attack on Dauphiné had required Noailles give up troops to bolster Catinat, condemning him to a passive campaign in Catalonia. But on the Rhine the French gained the upper hand. De Lorge devoted much of his effort imposing contributions on German lands, spreading terror far and wide in Swabia and Franconia. In October the French commander relieved the siege of Ebernburg
Bad Münster am Stein-Ebernburg
Bad Münster am Stein-Ebernburg is a municipality in Germany in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, district of Bad Kreuznach. The town has about 4000 inhabitants as of 2004 and covers an area of 9.53 square km and lies on the Nahe....

 on the east bank of the Rhine before returning to winter quarters.

By 1693 the French army had reached an official size of over 400,000 men (on paper), but Louis XIV was facing an economic crisis. France and northern Italy witnessed severe harvest failures resulting in widespread famine, which, by the end of 1694, had accounted for the deaths of an estimated two million people. Nevertheless, as a prelude to offering generous peace terms before the Grand Alliance Louis XIV planned to go over to the offensive: Luxembourg would campaign in Flanders, Catinat in northern Italy, and in Germany, where Louis XIV had hoped for a war-winning advantage, Marshal de Lorge would attack Heidelberg
Heidelberg
-Early history:Between 600,000 and 200,000 years ago, "Heidelberg Man" died at nearby Mauer. His jaw bone was discovered in 1907; with scientific dating, his remains were determined to be the earliest evidence of human life in Europe. In the 5th century BC, a Celtic fortress of refuge and place of...

. In the event, Heidelberg fell on 22 May before Luxembourg's army took to the field in the Netherlands, but the new Imperial commander on the Rhine, Prince Louis of Baden
Louis William, Margrave of Baden-Baden
Louis William, Margrave of Baden was the ruler of Baden in Germany and chief commander of the Imperial army. He was also known as Türkenlouis...

, provided a strong defence and prevented further French gains. Luxembourg had better luck in Flanders, however. After taking Huy
Huy
Huy is a municipality of Belgium. It lies in the country's Walloon Region and Province of Liege. Huy lies along the river Meuse, at the mouth of the small river Hoyoux. It is in the sillon industriel, the former industrial backbone of Wallonia, home to about two-thirds of the Walloon population...

 on 23 July, the French commander outmanoeuvred William III, catching him off-guard between the villages of Neerwinden and Landen. The ensuing engagement
Battle of Landen
The Battle of Landen , in the current Belgian province of Flemish Brabant, was a battle in the Nine Years' War, fought in present-day Belgium on 29 July 1693 between the French army of Marshal Luxembourg and the Allied army of King William III of England...

 on 29 July was a close and costly encounter but French forces, whose cavalry once again showed their superiority, prevailed. Luxembourg and Vauban proceeded to take Charleroi on 10 October, which, together with the earlier prizes of Mons, Namur and Huy, provided the French with a new and impressive forward line of defence.

In northern Italy Catinat marched on Rivoli (with reinforcements from the Rhine and Catalan fronts), forcing the Duke of Savoy to abandon the siege and bombardment of Pinerolo (25 September–1 October) before withdrawing to protect his rear. The resultant Battle of Marsaglia
Battle of Marsaglia
The Battle of Marsaglia was a battle in the Nine Years' War, fought in Italy on 4 October 1693 between the French army of Marshal Nicolas Catinat and the Allied army of Duke Victor Amadeus II of Savoy ....

 on 4 October 1693 ended in a resounding French victory. Turin now lay open to attack but further manpower and supply difficulties prevented Catinat from exploiting his gain, and all the French could get out of their victory was renewed breathing-space to restock what was left of Pinerolo. Elsewhere, Noailles secured the valuable sea port of Rosas in Catalonia on 9 June before withdrawing into Roussillon. When his opponent, Medina-Sidonia, abandoned plans to besiege Bellver
Bellver de Cerdanya
Bellver de Cerdanya is a town in the comarca of Cerdanya, province of Lleida, Catalonia, Spain.-References:*Panareda Clopés, Josep Maria; Rios Calvet, Jaume; Rabella Vives, Josep Maria . Guia de Catalunya, Barcelona:Caixa de Catalunya. ISBN 84-87135-01-3 . ISBN 84-87135-02-1 ....

, both sides entered winter quarters. Meanwhile, the French navy achieved victory in its final fleet action of the war. On 27 June Tourville's combined Brest
Brest, France
Brest is a city in the Finistère department in Brittany in northwestern France. Located in a sheltered position not far from the western tip of the Breton peninsula, and the western extremity of metropolitan France, Brest is an important harbour and the second French military port after Toulon...

 and Toulon squadrons ambushed the Smyrna convoy
Battle of Lagos (1693)
The Battle of Lagos was a sea battle during the Nine Years' War on 1693-06-27 , when a French fleet under Tourville defeated an Anglo-Dutch fleet under George Rooke...

 (a fleet of between 200–400 Allied merchant vessels travelling under escort to the Mediterranean) as it rounded Cape St. Vincent
Cape St. Vincent
Cape St. Vincent , next to the Sagres Point, on the so-called Costa Vicentina , is a headland in the municipality of Sagres, in the Algarve, southern Portugal.- Description :This cape is the southwesternmost point in Portugal...

. The Allies lost approximately 90 merchantmen with a value of some 30 million livres.

War and diplomacy: 1694–95


French arms at Heidelberg, Rosas, Huy, Landen, Charleroi and Marsaglia had achieved considerable battlefield success, but with the severe hardships of 1693 continuing through to the summer of 1694 France was unable to expend the same level of energy and finance for the forthcoming campaign. The crisis reshaped French strategy, forcing commanders to redraft plans to fit the dictates of fiscal shortfalls. In the background Louis XIV's agents were working hard diplomatically to unhinge the coalition but the Emperor, who had secured with the Allies his 'rights' to the Spanish succession should Charles II die during the conflict, did not desire a peace that would not prove personally advantageous. The Grand Alliance would not come apart as long as there was money available and a belief that the growing strength of their armies would soon be much greater than those of France.

In the Spanish Netherlands Luxembourg still had 100,000 men; but he was outnumbered. Lacking sufficient supplies to mount an attack Luxembourg was unable to prevent the Allies garrisoning Dixmude and, on 27 September 1694, recapturing Huy, an essential preliminary to future operations against Namur. Elsewhere, de Lorge marched and manoeuvred against Baden on the Rhine with undramatic results before the campaign petered out in October; while in Italy, the continuing problems with French finance and a complete breakdown in the supply chain prevented Catinat's push into Piedmont. However, in Catalonia the fighting proved more eventful. On 27 May Marshal Noailles, supported by French warships, soundly defeated the Marquis of Escalona's Spanish forces at the Battle of Torroella
Battle of Torroella
The Battle of Torroella, also known as Battle of the river Ter, was a battle in the Nine Years' War, fought on 27 May 1694 along the banks and fords of the Ter River near the Puente Mayor in the vicinity of the important town of Girona, Catalonia, Spain.- Prelude :In the year 1694 the French king...

 on the banks of the river Ter; the French proceeded to take Palamós
Palamós
Palamós is a town and municipality in the Mediterranean Costa Brava, located in the comarca of Baix Empordà, in the province of Girona, Catalonia, Spain....

 on 10 June, Gerona
Girona
Girona is a city in the northeast of Catalonia, Spain at the confluence of the rivers Ter, Onyar, Galligants and Güell, with an official population of 96,236 in January 2009. It is the capital of the province of the same name and of the comarca of the Gironès...

 on 29 June, and Hostalric
Hostalric
Hostalric is a village in the province of Girona and autonomous community of Catalonia, Spain.-References:...

, opening the route to Barcelona. With the Spanish King threatening to make a separate peace with France unless the Allies came to his assistance William III prepared the Anglo-Dutch fleet for action. Part of the fleet under Admiral Berkeley
John Berkeley, 3rd Baron Berkeley of Stratton
John Berkeley, 3rd Baron Berkeley of Stratton was an English admiral.- Biography :He was the second son of John Berkeley, 1st Baron Berkeley of Stratton, and succeeded to the title on March 6, 1681, by the death of his elder brother Charles, a captain in the navy.On December 14, 1688 he was...

 would remain in the north, first leading the disastrous amphibious assault on Brest
Attack on Brest
The Battle of Camaret was an amphibious landing at Camaret Bay on 18 June 1694 by the English and Dutch in an attempt to seize the French port of Brest and destroy part of the French fleet stationed there, as part of the Nine Years' War...

 on 18 June, before bombarding French coastal defences at Dieppe
Dieppe, Seine-Maritime
Dieppe is a commune in the Seine-Maritime department in France. In 1999, the population of the whole Dieppe urban area was 81,419.A port on the English Channel, famous for its scallops, and with a regular ferry service from the Gare Maritime to Newhaven in England, Dieppe also has a popular pebbled...

, Saint-Malo
Saint-Malo
Saint-Malo is a walled port city in Brittany in northwestern France on the English Channel. It is a sub-prefecture of the Ille-et-Vilaine.-Demographics:The population can increase to up to 200,000 in the summer tourist season...

, Le Havre
Le Havre
Le Havre is a city in the Seine-Maritime department of the Haute-Normandie region in France. It is situated in north-western France, on the right bank of the mouth of the river Seine on the English Channel. Le Havre is the most populous commune in the Haute-Normandie region, although the total...

, and Calais
Calais
Calais is a town in Northern France in the department of Pas-de-Calais, of which it is a sub-prefecture. Although Calais is by far the largest city in Pas-de-Calais, the department's capital is its third-largest city of Arras....

. The remainder of the fleet under Admiral Russell was ordered to the Mediterranean, linking up with Spanish vessels off Cadiz
Cádiz
Cadiz is a city and port in southwestern Spain. It is the capital of the homonymous province, one of eight which make up the autonomous community of Andalusia....

. The Allied naval presence compelled the French fleet back to the safety of Toulon, which, in turn, forced Noailles to withdraw to the line of the Ter, harassed en route by General Trinxería's miquelets
Miquelet (militia)
Miquelets or Micalets were irregular Catalan and Valencian militia. The name is a diminutive of Michael; it is claimed it comes from Miquel or Miquelot de Prats, a Catalan mercenary captain in the service of Cesare Borgia...

. By shielding Barcelona in this way the Allies kept Spain in the war for two more years.
In 1695 French arms suffered two major setbacks: first was the death on 5 January of Louis XIV's greatest general of the period, Marshal Luxembourg (to be succeeded by the Duke of Villeroi
François de Neufville, duc de Villeroi
François de Neufville, 2ème duc de Villeroy was a French soldier.-Biography:Villeroy was born in Lyon into noble family which had risen into prominence in the reign of Charles IX....

); the second was the loss of Namur
Siege of Namur (1695)
The Siege of Namur, 2 July–1 September 1695, was the second siege of the city of Namur in the Nine Years' War. The Allied forces of the Grand Alliance retook the city from the French, who had captured it in the first siege in 1692...

. In a role reversal of 1692 Coehoorn conducted the siege of the stronghold under William III, and the Electors of Bavaria and Brandenburg. The French had attempted diversions with the bombardment of Brussels
Bombardment of Brussels
The bombardment of Brussels by French troops of King Louis XIV on August 13, 14 and 15, 1695 and the resulting fire were together the most destructive event in the entire history of Brussels. The Grand Place was destroyed, along with a third of the buildings in the city...

, but despite Boufflers' stout defence Namur finally fell on 5 September. The siege had cost the Allies a great deal in men and resources, and had pinned down William III's army through the whole summer campaign; but the recapture of Namur, together with the earlier prize of Huy, had restored the Allied position on the Meuse, and had secured communications between their armies in the Spanish Netherlands and those on the Moselle and Rhine.

Meanwhile, the recent fiscal crisis had brought about a transformation in French naval strategy – the Maritime Powers now outstripped France in shipbuilding and arming, and increasingly enjoyed a numerical advantage. Suggesting the abandonment of fleet warfare, guerre d'escadre, in favour of commerce-raiding, guerre de course
Commerce raiding
Commerce raiding or guerre de course is a form of naval warfare used to destroy or disrupt the logistics of an enemy on the open sea by attacking its merchant shipping, rather than engaging the combatants themselves or enforcing a blockade against them.Commerce raiding was heavily criticised by...

,
Vauban advocated the use of the fleet backed by individual shipowners fitting out their own vessels as privateer
Privateer
A privateer is a private person or ship authorized by a government by letters of marque to attack foreign shipping during wartime. Privateering was a way of mobilizing armed ships and sailors without having to spend public money or commit naval officers...

s, aimed at destroying the trade of the Maritime Powers. Vauban argued that this strategic change would deprive the enemy of its economic base without costing Louis XIV money that was far more urgently needed to maintain France's armies on land. Privateers cruising either as individuals or in complete squadrons from Dunkirk, St Malo and the smaller ports, achieved significant success. For example, in 1695, the Marquis of Nesmond
André, marquis de Nesmond
André, marquis de Nesmond was a French naval commander from the seventeenth century.He was the second son of Henri de Nesmond...

, with seven ships of the line, captured vessels from the English East India Company that were said to have yielded 10 million livres. In May 1696, Jean Bart
Jean Bart
Jean Bart was a Flemish sailor who primarily served the French crown as naval commander and privateer.-Early life:...

 slipped the blockade of Dunkirk and struck a Dutch convoy in the North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

, burning 45 of its ships; and in May 1697, the Baron of Pointis
Bernard Desjean, Baron de Pointis
Bernard Desjean, Baron de Pointis was a French admiral and privateer.He took part in naval operations in the 1680s under Duquesne, like the bombardment of Algiers and the punitive action against Genoa...

 with another privateer squadron attacked and seized Cartagena
Raid on Cartagena (1697)
The Raid on Cartagena was a successful attack by the French on the fortified city of Cartagena, Colombia, on May 6, 1697, as part of the War of the Grand Alliance....

, earning him, and the king, a share of 10 million livres.

For their part, the Allied navy expended more shells on St Malo, Granville, Calais, and Dunkirk; likewise on Palamos in Catalonia where Charles II had appointed the Marquis of Gastañaga as the governor-general. The Allies sent Austrian and German reinforcements under Prince George of Hesse-Darmstadt
Prince George of Hesse-Darmstadt
Prince George Louis of Hesse-Darmstadt was a Field Marshal in the Austrian army. He is known for his career in Habsburg Spain, as Viceroy of Catalonia , head of the Austrian army in the War of Spanish Succession and governor of Gibraltar in 1704...

, a cousin of the Queen of Spain, while the French replaced the ailing Noailles with the Duke of Vendôme who would become one of Louis XIV's best generals. But the balance of military power was turning dangerously against the French. In Spain, in the Rhineland, and in the Low Countries, Louis XIV's forces only barely held their own: the bombardment of the French channel ports, the threats of invasion, and the loss of Namur were causes of great anxiety for the King at Versailles.

In the meantime the diplomatic breakthrough was made in Italy. For two years the Duke of Savoy's Minister of Finance, Gropello, and the Count of Tessé
René de Froulay de Tessé
René de Froulay, comte de Tessé was a French Marshal and diplomat.- Military career :Tessé was born at Le Mans...

 (Catinat's second-in-command), had secretly been negotiating a bi-lateral agreement to end the war in Italy. Central to the discussions were the two French fortresses that flanked the Duke's territory – Pinerolo and Casale, the latter now completely cut off from French assistance. By now Victor Amadeus had come to fear the growth of Imperial military power and political influence in the region (now more than he feared the French) and the threat it posed to Savoyard independence. Knowing, therefore, that the Imperialists were planning to besiege Casale the Duke proposed that the French garrison surrender to him following a token show of force, after which the fortifications would be dismantled and handed back to the Duke of Mantua. Louis XIV was compelled to accept, and after a sham siege and nominal resistance Casale surrendered to Amadeus on 9 July 1695; by mid-September the place had been completely razed.

Road to Ryswick: 1696–97


Most fronts were relatively quiet throughout 1696: the armies in Flanders, along the Rhine, and in Catalonia, marched and counter-marched but little was achieved. Louis XIV's hesitancy to engage with the Allies (despite the confidence of his generals) may have reflected his knowledge of the secret talks that had begun more than a year earlier—with François de Callières
François de Callières
François de Callières, sieur de Rochelay et de Gigny was a member of the Académie française, a diplomat and writer, a special envoy of Louis XIV who was one of three French plenipotentiaries who signed the Peace of Ryswick in 1697; his De la manière de négocier avec les souverains, 1716 François...

 acting for Louis XIV, and Jacob Boreel
Jacob Boreel
Jacob Boreel was an ambassador in France, sheriff and burgomaster of Amsterdam in 1696. Between 1664 / 65 he travelled through Russia with his friend Nicolaes Witsen. In 1679 he became the ambassador in Paris...

 and Everhard van Weede Dijkvelt
Everhard van Weede Dijkvelt
Everard van Weede van Dijkvelt was a Dutch member of the Knighthood of Utrecht and ambassador at the court of Charles II of England....

 representing the Dutch. By the spring of 1696 the talks covered the whole panorama of problems that were proving an obstacle to peace. The most difficult of these were the recognition of the Prince of Orange as the King of England and the subsequent status of James II in France; the Dutch demand for a barrier against future French aggression; French tariffs on Dutch commerce; and the territorial settlements in the Rhine–Moselle areas regarding the Reunions and the recent conquests, particularly the strategically important city of Strasbourg. Louis XIV had succeeded in establishing the principle that a new treaty would be fixed within the framework of the Treaties of Westphalia and Nijmegen, and the Truce of Ratisbon, but with the Emperor's demands for Strasbourg, and William III's insistence that he be recognized as King of England before the conclusion of hostilities, it hardly seemed worthwhile in calling for a peace conference.

In Italy the secret negotiations were proving more productive, with the French possession of Pinerolo now central to the talks. When Amadeus threatened to besiege Pinerolo the French, concluding that its defence was not now possible, agreed to hand back the stronghold on condition that its fortifications were demolished. The terms were formalised as the Treaty of Turin on 29 August 1696, by which provision Louis XIV also returned, intact, Montmélian, Nice, Villefranche, Susa, and other small towns. Amongst other concessions Louis XIV also promised not to interfere in Savoy's religious policy regarding the Vaudois, provided the Duke prevents any communication between them and French Huguenots. In return, Amadeus agreed to abandon the Grand Alliance and join with Louis XIV – if necessary – to secure the neutralisation of northern Italy. The Emperor, diplomatically outmanoeuvred, was compelled to accept peace in the region by signing the Treaty of Vigevano of 7 October, to which the French immediately acceded. Italy was neutralized and the Nine Years' War in the peninsula came to an end. Savoy had emerged as an independent sovereign House and a key second-rank power: the Alps, rather than the River Po, would be the boundary of France in the south-east.

The Treaty of Turin started a scramble for peace. With the continual disruption of trade and commerce politicians from England and the Dutch Republic were desirous for an end to the war. France was also facing economic exhaustion, but above all Louis XIV was becoming convinced that Charles II of Spain was near death and he knew that the break-up of the coalition would be essential if France was to benefit from the dynastic battle ahead. The contending parties agreed to meet at Ryswick
Rijswijk
Rijswijk is a town and municipality in the western Netherlands, in the province of South Holland. It is a suburb of The Hague and covers an area of 14.48 km² ....

 (Rijswijk) and come to a negotiated settlement. But as talks continued through 1697, so did the fighting. The main French goal that year in the Spanish Netherlands was Ath
Ath
Ath is a Belgian municipality located in the Walloon province of Hainaut. The Ath municipality includes the old communes of Lanquesaint, Irchonwelz, Ormeignies, Bouvignies, Ostiches, Rebaix, Maffle, Arbre, Houtaing, Ligne, Mainvault, Moulbaix, Villers-Notre-Dame, Villers-Saint-Amand, Ghislenghien...

. Vauban and Catinat (now with troops freed from the Italian font) invested the town on 15 May while Marshals Boufflers and Villeroi covered the siege; after an assault on 5 June the Count of Roeux surrendered and the garrison marched out two days later. The Rhineland theatre in 1697 was again quiet: the French commander, Marshal Choiseul (who had replaced the sick de Lorge the previous year), was content to remain behind his fortified lines. Although Baden took Ebernberg on 27 September, news of the peace brought an end to the desultory campaign, and both armies drew back from one another. In Catalonia, however, French forces (now also reinforced with troops from Italy) achieved considerable success when Vendôme, commanding some 32,000 troops, besieged and captured Barcelona. The garrison, under Prince George of Hesse-Darmstadt, capitulated on 10 August. Yet it had been a hard fought contest: French casualties amounted to about 9,000, and the Spanish had suffered some 12,000 killed, wounded or lost.

North American theatre



The European war was reflected in North America, where it was known as King William's War
King William's War
The first of the French and Indian Wars, King William's War was the name used in the English colonies in America to refer to the North American theater of the Nine Years' War...

, though the North American contest was very different in meaning and scale. The European war declaration arrived amid long-running tensions
Beaver Wars
The Beaver Wars, also sometimes called the Iroquois Wars or the French and Iroquois Wars, commonly refers to a series of conflicts fought in the mid-17th century in eastern North America...

 over control of the fur trade
Fur trade
The fur trade is a worldwide industry dealing in the acquisition and sale of animal fur. Since the establishment of world market for in the early modern period furs of boreal, polar and cold temperate mammalian animals have been the most valued...

, economically vital to both French and English colonies, and influence over the Iroquois
Iroquois
The Iroquois , also known as the Haudenosaunee or the "People of the Longhouse", are an association of several tribes of indigenous people of North America...

, who controlled much of that trade. The French were determined to hold the St. Lawrence country and to extend their power over the vast basin of the Mississippi
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

. Moreover, Hudson Bay
Hudson Bay
Hudson Bay , sometimes called Hudson's Bay, is a large body of saltwater in northeastern Canada. It drains a very large area, about , that includes parts of Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Alberta, most of Manitoba, southeastern Nunavut, as well as parts of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota,...

 was a focal point of dispute between the Protestant English and Catholic French colonists, both of whom claiming a share of its occupation and trade. Although important to the colonists the North American theatre of the Nine Years' War was of secondary importance to European statesmen. Despite numerical superiority, the English colonists suffered repeated defeats as New France
New France
New France was the area colonized by France in North America during a period beginning with the exploration of the Saint Lawrence River by Jacques Cartier in 1534 and ending with the cession of New France to Spain and Great Britain in 1763...

 effectively organised its French troops, New France militia and Indian
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 allies (notably the Algonquins and Abenakis), to attack frontier settlements. Almost all resources sent to the colonies by England were to defend the English West Indies
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

, the crown jewels of the empire.

Friction over Indian relations worsened in 1688 with French incursions against the Iroquois in upstate New York, and with Indian raids against smaller settlements in Maine
Province of Maine
The Province of Maine refers to several English colonies of that name that existed in the 17th century along the northeast coast of North America, at times roughly encompassing portions of the present-day U.S. states of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, as well as the Canadian provinces of Quebec...

. The Governor General of New France, Louis de Buade de Frontenac
Louis de Buade de Frontenac
Louis de Buade, Comte de Frontenac et de Palluau was a French soldier, courtier, and Governor General of New France from 1672 to 1682 and from 1689 to his death in 1698...

, capitalising on disorganization in New York and New England following the collapse of the Dominion of New England
Dominion of New England
The Dominion of New England in America was an administrative union of English colonies in the New England region of North America. The dominion was ultimately a failure because the area it encompassed was too large for a single governor to manage...

, expanded the war with a series of raids on the northern borders of the English settlements: first was the destruction of Dover, New Hampshire
Dover, New Hampshire
Dover is a city in Strafford County, New Hampshire, in the United States of America. The population was 29,987 at the 2010 census, the largest in the New Hampshire Seacoast region...

, in July 1689; followed by Pemaquid
Bristol, Maine
Bristol is a town in Lincoln County, Maine, United States. The population was 2,644 at the 2000 census. A fishing and resort area, Bristol includes the villages of New Harbor, Pemaquid, Round Pond, Bristol Mills and Chamberlain. It includes the Pemaquid Archeological Site, a U.S. National...

, Maine, in August. In February 1690 Schenectady
Schenectady massacre
The Schenectady Massacre was a Canadien attack against the village of Schenectady in the colony of New York on 8 February 1690. A party of more than 200 Canadiens and allied Mohawk nation, Sault and Algonquin warriors attacked the unguarded community, destroying most of the homes, and killing or...

 in New York
Province of New York
The Province of New York was an English and later British crown territory that originally included all of the present U.S. states of New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Vermont, along with inland portions of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Maine, as well as eastern Pennsylvania...

 was attacked; massacres at Salmon Falls and Casco
Casco, Maine
Farmers found the surface of the town uneven, its hard and rocky soil "tolerably productive." Outlets of ponds, however, provided Casco with good sites for water powered mills. The town had four sawmills, four gristmills, a shook mill, a barrel stave mill, four shingle factories, a carriage factory...

 followed. In response, on 1 May 1690 at the Albany
Albany, New York
Albany is the capital city of the U.S. state of New York, the seat of Albany County, and the central city of New York's Capital District. Roughly north of New York City, Albany sits on the west bank of the Hudson River, about south of its confluence with the Mohawk River...

 Conference, colonial representatives elected to invade Canada
Canada, New France
Canada was the name of the French colony that once stretched along the St. Lawrence River; the other colonies of New France were Acadia, Louisiana and Newfoundland. Canada, the most developed colony of New France, was divided into three districts, each with its own government: Quebec,...

. In August a land force commanded by Colonel Winthrop set off for Montreal
Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

, while a naval force, commanded by the future governor of Massachusetts
Province of Massachusetts Bay
The Province of Massachusetts Bay was a crown colony in North America. It was chartered on October 7, 1691 by William and Mary, the joint monarchs of the kingdoms of England and Scotland...

, Sir William Phips
William Phips
Sir William Phips was a shipwright, ship's captain, treasure hunter, military leader, and the first royally-appointed governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay....

 (who earlier on 11 May had seized the capital
Battle of Port Royal (1690)
The Battle of Port Royal occurred at Port Royal, the capital of French Acadia, during King William's War , the first of the four French and Indian Wars. A large force of New England provincial militia arrived before Port Royal, which was surrendered without resistance not long after...

 of French Acadia
Acadia
Acadia was the name given to lands in a portion of the French colonial empire of New France, in northeastern North America that included parts of eastern Quebec, the Maritime provinces, and modern-day Maine. At the end of the 16th century, France claimed territory stretching as far south as...

, Port Royal
Port Royal, Nova Scotia
Port Royal was the capital of Acadia from 1605 to 1710 and is now a town called Annapolis Royal in the western part of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. Initially Port Royal was located on the north shore of the Annapolis Basin, Nova Scotia, at the site of the present reconstruction of the...

), set sail for Quebec
Quebec City
Quebec , also Québec, Quebec City or Québec City is the capital of the Canadian province of Quebec and is located within the Capitale-Nationale region. It is the second most populous city in Quebec after Montreal, which is about to the southwest...

 via the Saint Lawrence River
Saint Lawrence River
The Saint Lawrence is a large river flowing approximately from southwest to northeast in the middle latitudes of North America, connecting the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean. It is the primary drainage conveyor of the Great Lakes Basin...

. They were repulsed in Battle of Quebec
Battle of Quebec (1690)
The Battle of Quebec was fought in October 1690 between the colonies of New France and Massachusetts Bay, then ruled by the kingdoms of France and England, respectively. It was the first time Quebec's defences were tested....

 and the expedition on the St Lawrence failed, while the French retook Port Royal.

The war dragged on for several years longer in a series of desultory sallies and frontier massacres: neither the leaders in England nor France thought of weakening their position in Europe for the sake of a knock-out blow in North America. By the terms of the Treaty of Ryswick the boundaries and outposts of New France, New England, and New York remained substantially unchanged. In Newfoundland
Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador is the easternmost province of Canada. Situated in the country's Atlantic region, it incorporates the island of Newfoundland and mainland Labrador with a combined area of . As of April 2011, the province's estimated population is 508,400...

 and Hudson's Bay French influence now predominated but William III, who had made the interests of the Bay company a cause of war in North America, was not prepared to hazard his European policy for the sake of their pursuit. The Iroquois Five Nations
Iroquois
The Iroquois , also known as the Haudenosaunee or the "People of the Longhouse", are an association of several tribes of indigenous people of North America...

, abandoned by their English allies, were obliged to open separate negotiations, and by the treaty of 1701
Great Peace of Montreal
The Great Peace of Montreal was a peace treaty between New France and 40 First Nations of North America. It was signed on August 4, 1701, by Louis-Hector de Callière, governor of New France, and 1300 representatives of 40 aboriginal nations of the North East of North America...

 they agreed to remain neutral in any future Anglo-French war.

When the news of the European war reached Asia, English, French, and Dutch colonial governors and merchants quickly took up the struggle. In October 1690 the French Admiral Abraham Duquesne-Guitton
Abraham Duquesne-Guitton
Captain, later Admiral, Abraham de Bellebat de Duquesne-Guitton, also spelled Duquesne-Guiton , was a French naval commander....

 sailed into Madras
Chennai
Chennai , formerly known as Madras or Madarasapatinam , is the capital city of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, located on the Coromandel Coast off the Bay of Bengal. Chennai is the fourth most populous metropolitan area and the sixth most populous city in India...

 to bombard the Anglo-Dutch fleet. It proved to be a foolhardy attack, but initiated the extension of the war to the Far East. In 1693 the Dutch launched an expedition against their French commercial rivals at Pondicherry on the south-eastern coast of India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, overwhelming the small French garrison under François Martin
François Martin
François Martin was the first Governor General of Pondicherry. He founded Pondicherry, the future capital of French India in 1674. He was Commissioner of French East India Company before holding this post and was preceded by François Baron and succeeded by Pierre Dulivier. There is a street named...

 who surrendered on 6 September. Elsewhere, in the Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

, Saint Kitts
Saint Kitts
Saint Kitts Saint Kitts Saint Kitts (also known more formally as Saint Christopher Island (Saint-Christophe in French) is an island in the West Indies. The west side of the island borders the Caribbean Sea, and the eastern coast faces the Atlantic Ocean...

 changed hands twice; Jamaica
Jamaica
Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, in length, up to in width and 10,990 square kilometres in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about south of Cuba, and west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states Haiti and the Dominican Republic...

, Martinique
Martinique
Martinique is an island in the eastern Caribbean Sea, with a land area of . Like Guadeloupe, it is an overseas region of France, consisting of a single overseas department. To the northwest lies Dominica, to the south St Lucia, and to the southeast Barbados...

, and Hispaniola
Hispaniola
Hispaniola is a major island in the Caribbean, containing the two sovereign states of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The island is located between the islands of Cuba to the west and Puerto Rico to the east, within the hurricane belt...

 saw sporadic conflict. The Allies had the naval advantage in these isolated areas, though it proved impossible to keep the French from supplying their colonial forces.

Treaty of Ryswick


The peace conference opened in May 1697 in William III's palace
Huis ter Nieuwburg
Huis ter Nieuwburg or Huis ter Nieuburch was a palace in Rijswijk, Holland, Dutch Republic. The symmetrical French Classicist building was probably designed by the French architect Jacques de la Vallée and was built between 1633 and 1636 for stadtholder Prince Frederick Henry.The palace with...

 at Ryswick near The Hague
The Hague
The Hague is the capital city of the province of South Holland in the Netherlands. With a population of 500,000 inhabitants , it is the third largest city of the Netherlands, after Amsterdam and Rotterdam...

. The Swedes were the official mediators, but it was through the private efforts of Boufflers and William Bentinck, the Earl of Portland
William Bentinck, 1st Earl of Portland
Hans William Bentinck, 1st Earl of Portland, Baron Bentinck of Diepenheim and Schoonheten, KG, PC was a Dutch and English nobleman who became in an early stage the favourite of William, Prince of Orange, Stadtholder in the Netherlands, and future King of England. He was steady, sensible, modest...

 that the major issues were resolved. William III had no intention of continuing the war or pressing for Leopold I's claims in the Rhineland or for the Spanish succession: it seemed more important for Dutch and British security to obtain Louis XIV's recognition of the 1688 revolution.

By the terms of the Treaty of Ryswick
Treaty of Ryswick
The Treaty of Ryswick or Ryswyck was signed on 20 September 1697 and named after Ryswick in the Dutch Republic. The treaty settled the Nine Years' War, which pitted France against the Grand Alliance of England, Spain, the Holy Roman Empire and the United Provinces.Negotiations started in May...

, Louis XIV kept the whole of Alsace, including Strasbourg. Lorraine returned to its duke (although France retained rights to march troops through the territory), and the French abandoned all gains on the right bank of the Rhine – Philppsburg, Breisach, Freiburg
Freiburg
Freiburg im Breisgau is a city in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. In the extreme south-west of the country, it straddles the Dreisam river, at the foot of the Schlossberg. Historically, the city has acted as the hub of the Breisgau region on the western edge of the Black Forest in the Upper Rhine Plain...

 and Kehl
Kehl
Kehl is a town in southwestern Germany in the Ortenaukreis, Baden-Württemberg. It is located on the river Rhine, directly opposite the French city of Strasbourg.-History:...

. Additionally, the new French fortresses of La Pile, Mont Royal and Fort Louis were to be demolished. To curry favour with Madrid over the Spanish succession question, Louis XIV also evacuated Catalonia (despite the Spanish military disasters) and restored Luxembourg, Chimay
Chimay
Chimay a Walloon municipality located in the Belgian province of Hainaut. On January 1, 2006, Chimay had a total population of 9,774. The total area is 197.10 km² which gives a population density of 50 inhabitants per km²...

, Mons, Coutrai, Charleroi and Ath in the Low Countries to Spain. The Maritime Powers asked for no territory, but the Dutch were given a favourable commercial treaty, of which the most important provision was to relax regulations to favour Dutch trade and return to the French tariff
Tariff
A tariff may be either tax on imports or exports , or a list or schedule of prices for such things as rail service, bus routes, and electrical usage ....

 of 1664. Although Louis XIV continued to shelter James II he now recognised William III as King of Protestant England, and undertook not to actively support the candidature of James II's son. He also gave way over the Palatinate and Cologne issues. Beyond this, the French gained recognition of their ownership of the western half of the island of Hispaniola.

The representatives of the Dutch Republic, England, and Spain signed the treaty on 20 September 1697. Emperor Leopold I, desperate for a continuation of the war so as to strengthen his own claims to the Spanish succession initially resisted the treaty, but because he was still at war with the Turks, and could not face fighting France alone, Leopold I also sought terms and signed on 30 October. The Emperor's finances were in a bad state, and the dissatisfaction aroused by the raising of Hanover to electoral rank had impaired Leopold I's influence in Germany. The Protestant princes had also blamed him for the religious clause in the treaty, which stipulated that the lands of the Reunions that France was to surrender would remain Catholic, even those that had been forcibly converted—a clear defiance of the Westphalia settlement. However, the Emperor had netted an enormous accretion of power: Leopold I's son, Joseph
Joseph I, Holy Roman Emperor
Joseph I , Holy Roman Emperor, King of Bohemia, King of Hungary, King of the Romans was the elder son of Emperor Leopold I and his third wife, Eleonor Magdalene of Neuburg....

, had been named King of the Romans
King of the Romans
King of the Romans was the title used by the ruler of the Holy Roman Empire following his election to the office by the princes of the Kingdom of Germany...

 (1690), and the Emperor's candidate for the Polish throne, August of Saxony
Augustus II the Strong
Frederick Augustus I or Augustus II the Strong was Elector of Saxony and King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania ....

, had carried the day over Louis XIV's candidate, the Prince of Conti
François Louis, Prince of Conti
François Louis de Bourbon, Prince of Conti was Prince de Conti, succeeding his brother Louis Armand I, Prince of Conti in 1685. Until this date he used the title of Prince of La Roche-sur-Yon. He was son of Armand de Bourbon and Anne Marie Martinozzi, niece of Cardinal Jules Mazarin...

. Additionally, Prince Eugene of Savoy's decisive victory over the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Zenta
Battle of Zenta
The Battle of Zenta or Battle of Senta, fought on 11 September 1697 just south of Zenta , on the east side of the Tisza river, was a major engagement in the Great Turkish War and one of the most decisive defeats in Ottoman history...

 – leading to the Treaty of Karlowitz
Treaty of Karlowitz
The Treaty of Karlowitz was signed on 26 January 1699 in Sremski Karlovci , concluding the Austro-Ottoman War of 1683–1697 in which the Ottoman side had been defeated at the Battle of Zenta...

 in 1699 – consolidated the Austrian Habsburgs and tipped the European balance of power in favour of the Emperor.

The war had allowed William III to destroy militant Jacobitism and helped bring Scotland and Ireland under more direct control. England emerged as a great economic and naval power and became an important player in European affairs, allowing her to use her wealth and energy in world politics to the fullest advantage. William III also continued to prioritise the security of the Dutch Republic, and in 1698 the Dutch garrisoned a series of fortresses in the Spanish Netherlands as a barrier to French attack – future foreign policy would centre around the maintenance and extension of these barrier fortresses. However, the question of the Spanish inheritance was not discussed at Ryswick, and it remained the most important unsolved question of European politics. Within three years Charles II of Spain would be dead, and Louis XIV and the Grand Alliance would again plunge Europe into conflict – the War of the Spanish Succession
War of the Spanish Succession
The War of the Spanish Succession was fought among several European powers, including a divided Spain, over the possible unification of the Kingdoms of Spain and France under one Bourbon monarch. As France and Spain were among the most powerful states of Europe, such a unification would have...

.

Military developments


The campaign season typically lasted through May to October; due to lack of fodder campaigns in winter were rare, but the French practice of storing food and provisions in magazines brought them considerable advantage, often enabling them to take to the field weeks before their foes. Nevertheless, military operations during the Nine Years' War did not produce decisive results. The war was dominated by what may be called 'positional warfare' – the construction, defence, and attack of fortresses
Star fort
A star fort, or trace italienne, is a fortification in the style that evolved during the age of gunpowder, when cannon came to dominate the battlefield, and was first seen in the mid-15th century in Italy....

 and entrenched lines. Positional warfare played a wide variety of roles: fortresses controlled bridgeheads and passes, guarded supply routes, and served as storehouses and magazines. However, fortresses hampered the ability to follow success on the battlefield – defeated armies could flee to friendly fortifications, enabling them to recover and rebuild their numbers from less threatened fronts. Many lesser commanders welcomed these relatively predictable, static operations to mask their lack of military ability. As Daniel Defoe
Daniel Defoe
Daniel Defoe , born Daniel Foe, was an English trader, writer, journalist, and pamphleteer, who gained fame for his novel Robinson Crusoe. Defoe is notable for being one of the earliest proponents of the novel, as he helped to popularise the form in Britain and along with others such as Richardson,...

 observed in 1697, "Now it is frequent to have armies of 50,000 men of a side [who] spend the whole campaign in dodging – or, as it is genteelly called – observing one another, and then march off into winter quarters." In fact, during the Nine Years' War field armies had waxed to nearly 100,000 men in 1695, the strain of which had reduced the Maritime Powers to a fiscal crisis while the French struggled under the weight of a shattered economy.
Yet there were aggressive commanders: William III, Boufflers, and Luxembourg had the will to win but their methods were hampered by numbers, supply, and communications. The French commanders were also restricted by Louis XIV and Louvois who distrusted field campaigns, preferring Vauban, the taker of fortifications, rather than campaigns of movement.

Another contributing factor for the lack of decisive action was the necessity to fight for secure resources. Armies were expected to support themselves in the field by imposing contributions (taxing local populations) upon a hostile, or even neutral, territory. Subjecting a particular area to contributions was deemed more important than pursuing a defeated army from the battlefield to destroy it. It was primarily financial concerns and availability of resources that shaped campaigns, as armies struggled to outlast the enemy in a long war of attrition
Attrition warfare
Attrition warfare is a military strategy in which a belligerent side attempts to win a war by wearing down its enemy to the point of collapse through continuous losses in personnel and matériel....

. The only decisive action during the whole war came in Ireland where William III crushed the forces of James II in a campaign for legitimacy and control of the British Isles. But unlike Ireland, Louis XIV's Continental wars were never fought without compromise: the fighting provided a foundation for diplomatic negotiations and did not dictate a solution.

The major advancement in weapon technology in the 1690s was the introduction of the flintlock
Flintlock
Flintlock is the general term for any firearm based on the flintlock mechanism. The term may also apply to the mechanism itself. Introduced at the beginning of the 17th century, the flintlock rapidly replaced earlier firearm-ignition technologies, such as the doglock, matchlock and wheellock...

 musket
Musket
A musket is a muzzle-loaded, smooth bore long gun, fired from the shoulder. Muskets were designed for use by infantry. A soldier armed with a musket had the designation musketman or musketeer....

. The flintlock firing mechanism provided superior rates of fire and accuracy over the cumbersome matchlock
Matchlock
The matchlock was the first mechanism, or "lock" invented to facilitate the firing of a hand-held firearm. This design removed the need to lower by hand a lit match into the weapon's flash pan and made it possible to have both hands free to keep a firm grip on the weapon at the moment of firing,...

s. But the adoption of the flintlock was not initially universal. Until 1697 for every three Allied soldiers that were equipped with the new flintlocks, two soldiers were still handicapped by matchlocks: French second-line troops were issued matchlocks as late as 1703. These weapons were further enhanced with the development of the socket-bayonet
Bayonet
A bayonet is a knife, dagger, sword, or spike-shaped weapon designed to fit in, on, over or underneath the muzzle of a rifle, musket or similar weapon, effectively turning the gun into a spear...

. Its predecessor, the plug-bayonet – jammed down the firearm's barrel – not only prevented the musket from firing but was also a clumsy weapon that took time to fix properly, and even more time to unfix. In contrast, the socket-bayonet could be drawn over the musket's muzzle and locked into place by a lug, converting the musket into a short pike
Pike (weapon)
A pike is a pole weapon, a very long thrusting spear used extensively by infantry both for attacks on enemy foot soldiers and as a counter-measure against cavalry assaults. Unlike many similar weapons, the pike is not intended to be thrown. Pikes were used regularly in European warfare from the...

 yet leaving it capable of fire. The disadvantage of the pike came to be widely recognised: at the Battle of Fleurus (1690) German battalions armed only with the musket repulsed French cavalry attacks more effectively than units conventionally armed with the pike, while Catinat had abandoned his pikes altogether before undertaking his Alpine campaign against Savoy.

Naval developments


In 1688 the most powerful navies were the French, English, and Dutch; Spanish and Portuguese navies had suffered a serious decline in the 17th century.
The largest French ships of the period were the Soleil Royal
French ship Soleil-Royal (1670)
Soleil Royal was a French 104-gun ship of the line, flagship of Admiral Tourville.She was built in Brest between 1668 and 1670 by engineer Laurent Hubac, was launched in 1669, and stayed unused in Brest harbour for years...

 and the Royal Louis
French ship Royal Louis (1668)
The Royal Louis was a first-rate ship of the line of the French Royal Navy. She was constructed at Toulon between 1666 and 1670 under the direction of Rodolphe Gédéon and served as flagship of the French fleet in the Mediterranean...

. Both these were rated for 120 guns but never carried their full complement. These ships were too large for practical purposes. The former only sailed on one campaign and was destroyed at La Hogue; the latter languished in port until sold in 1694. By the 1680s, French ship design was at least equal to English and Dutch counterparts, and by the Nine Years' War they had surpassed ships of the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

, whose designs stagnated in the 1690s. Innovation in the Royal Navy, however, did not cease. At some stage in the 1690s, for example, English ships began to employ the steering wheel, greatly improving their performance, particularly in heavy weather. The French navy did not adopt the wheel for another thirty years.

Combat between naval fleets was decided by cannon duels delivered by ships in line of battle
Line of battle
In naval warfare, the line of battle is a tactic in which the ships of the fleet form a line end to end. A primitive form had been used by the Portuguese under Vasco Da Gama in 1502 near Malabar against a Muslim fleet.,Maarten Tromp used it in the Action of 18 September 1639 while its first use in...

; fireships were also used but were mainly successful against anchored and stationary targets while the new bomb vessel
Bomb vessel
A bomb vessel, bomb ship, bomb ketch, or simply bomb was a type of wooden sailing naval ship. Its primary armament was not cannon —although bomb vessels carried a few cannon for self-defence—but rather mortars mounted forward near the bow and elevated to a high angle, and projecting their fire in a...

s were best used as shore bombardment. Yet sea battles were rarely decisive and it was almost impossible to inflict enough damage on ships and men to win a clear victory: ultimate success depended not on tactical brilliance but on sheer weight of numbers. Here, Louis XIV was at a disadvantage: without as large a maritime commerce as benefited the Allies, the French were unable to supply as many experienced sailors for their navy. Most importantly, though, Louis XIV had to concentrate his resources on the army at the expense of the fleet, enabling the Dutch, and the English in particular, to outdo the French in ship construction. However, naval actions were comparatively uncommon and, just like battles on land, the goal was generally to outlast rather than destroy one's opponent. To Louis XIV, his navy was an extension of his army whose most important role was to protect the French coast from enemy invasion. He used his fleet to support land and amphibious operations or the bombardment of coastal targets, designed to draw enemy resources from elsewhere and thus aid his land campaigns on the continent.

Once the Allies had secured a clear superiority in numbers the French found it prudent not to contest them in fleet action. At the start of the Nine Years' War the French fleet had 118 rated vessels and a total of 295 ships of all types. By the end of the war the French had 137 rated ships. In contrast the English fleet started the war with 173 vessels of all types, and ended it with 323. Between 1694 and 1697 the French built 19 first to fifth rated ships; the English built 58 such vessels, and the Dutch constructed 22. Thus, the Maritime Powers were outbuilding the French at a rate of four to one.

Further reading

  • Baxter, Stephen (1966). William III and the Defence of European Liberty. London
  • Childs, John (1980). The Army, James II and the Glorious Revolution. Manchester University Press
  • Childs, John (1987). The British Army of William III 1698–1702. Manchester University Press
  • Lynn, John A (1997). Giant of Grand the Siècle: The French Army 1610–1715. Cambridge University Press
  • Symcox, Geoffrey (1974). The Crisis of French Sea Power 1688–1697: From the guerre d'escadre to the guerre de course. The Hague