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The Huguenots, the Protestant Interest, and the War of the Spanish Succession, 1702-1714


Laurence H. Boles

By 1700, the Protestants of Europe, above all the Calvinists (Reformed), felt threatened anew by Roman Catholicism. Activists, especially Huguenot émigrés, pleaded to friendly rulers to restore Protestantism in France and to protect it in the Holy Roman Empire as aims in their wars against Louis XIV. This activism peaked during the War of the Spanish Succession, 1702-1714, but to no avail. The peace of 1713-1715 brought only token gains for the continental Protestant interest; both the Allied and the Bourbon powers were absorbed in such secular concerns as state sovereignty, dynasticism, collective security, and trade. The activists were victims of the maturing European states system and of their own archaic world-view.


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CHAPTER 1 Europe and the Protestant Interest War is both a military and political undertaking. It tends to elicit among the belligerent states and peoples aims that may not have been enunciated, or even foreseen, when hostilities began. Wartime stresses upon the belligerents' resolve and resources and upon trust among allies can engender new objectives of fighting that may have been unconceived, have lain dormant, or been given up as futile during the preceding formal peace. In addition, the capacity or motivation of the belligerents to perceive, act toward, or actually achieve these subsidiary war aims may depend intrinsically on the political nature of the alliance systems characteristic of their particular historical period. 1 These features of wartime coalitions may have been especially typical of early modern Europe, specifically in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. 2 The War of the Spanish Succession of 1702-1714, a struggle over the global royal inheritance of the Spanish Habsburgs, was fought largely for the dynastic and commercial issues that dominated the concerns of the rulers and statesmen of western Europe at that time.3 The anti-Bourbon Grand Alliance headed by England, the Dutch Republic, and Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I sought to bar Louis XIV from extending French hegemony though assertion of the Bourbon family's valid claims to the crowns of Spain and its many possessions in Europe, North and South America, the West Indies, and the Philippines. For the Allies, the war was also a parallel struggle to assert the likewise-substantial claims...

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