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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 7 The Protestants of the Empire and the Fortunes of War At the start of the War of the Spanish Succession, the welfare of the Protestants of the Holy Roman Empire was largely a matter of indifference to the states of the Grand Alliance, including England and the Dutch Republic. For the most part, the initial hostilities in the Southern Netherlands and northern Italy appeared unlikely to destabilize the institutional arrangements that regulated relations among its Roman Catholics, Lutherans, and Calvinists, the Emperor, its territorial princes, and its peoples. However, as fighting began the Allies were not complacent about Louis XIV's hegemony, at its peak since the Dutch War of 1672-1678, among many of the imperial princes of both faiths, particularly those whose states adjoined or lay near the Rhine River. 1 After a Franco-Bavarian army invaded the Palatinate, whose population was religiously mixed, in Winter 1701, Allied concerns were galvanized when Elector-Duke Maximilian II Emanuel of Bavaria by April had forsaken his support of, and service to, the Spanish Habsburgs. He concluded a formal alliance with the French king and his second grandson the Duke of Anjou, recently enthroned at Madrid as Philip V. 2 Nonetheless, the new Versailles-Munich axis was initially seen by the Allies not as a danger to the Empire's Protestant peoples but rather as a threat to the Roman Catholic Emperor Leopold I, the weakest of the lead trio of the Grand Alliance powers. 3 However, upon the Allied defeat of the Franco-Bavarians at...

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