The War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714) was a European conflict of the early 18th century, triggered by the death of the childless Charles II of Spain in November 1700. His closest heirs were members of the Austrian Habsburg and French Bourbon families; acquisition of an undivided Spanish Empire or Monarchy[c] by either threatened the European balance of power.
Charles left the undivided Spanish monarchy to Louis XIV's grandson Philip who was proclaimed King of Spain on 16 November 1700. Disputes over the separation of the Spanish and French crowns, division of territories and commercial rights led to war in 1701 between the Bourbons of France and Spain and the Grand Alliance, whose candidate was Archduke Charles, younger son of Habsburg Emperor Leopold.[d]
By 1710, fighting was deadlocked; Allied victories in Italy and the Low Countries had driven the French back to their borders but they could not achieve a decisive breakthrough while Philip was secure in Spain. When Archduke Charles unexpectedly succeeded as Emperor Charles VI in 1711, Britain effectively withdrew, forcing its Allies to make peace and leading to the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, followed in 1714 with Rastatt and Baden.
Philip was confirmed as King of Spain and, in exchange, renounced the French throne; Spain retained the bulk of its pre-war territories outside Europe, with their European territories divided between Austria, Britain and Savoy. Longer term impacts included Britain's emergence as the leading European maritime and commercial power, the decline of the Dutch Republic as a first-rank power, the creation of a centralised Spanish state and the acceleration of the break-up of the Holy Roman Empire.
It was also the last of Louis XIV's wars to establish defensible borders and French supremacy in Europe, the most recent being the 1688–1697 Nine Years' War when France was unable to defeat the Grand Alliance. The 1697 Treaty of Ryswick was driven by mutual exhaustion and the recognition France needed allies for a war over the Succession. Emperor Leopold initially refused to sign the Treaty since it left this issue unresolved; he reluctantly did so in October 1697 but most viewed Ryswick as a pause in hostilities.