Sunday, November 11, 2012

Charles II´s testaments

As we studied in the introductory unit, Charles II had physical and mental problems and he didn´t have direct successors. His succession soon became a European matter and the big dynasties connected to the king (the Habsburgs in Austria the Bourbons in France) started pulling strings to be Charles II´s   beneficiaries. 

As time went by without any descendants and his health was so fragile, Charles II wrote a testament in 1696, where he designated his grandnephew Joseph Ferdinand of Bavaria, a four-year old child, as his sucessor. This testament was considered as a compromise solution in order to try to avoid a war in Europe if Charles II appointed either a member of the Habsburgs or a member of the Bourbon dynasty as his successor. But the European powers had different thoughts. In 1698 Louis XIV, king of France, signed an agreement with some European powers in the Hague  in order to distribute the Hispanic Empire if Charles II died: the Peninsular kingdoms and the Indies would be for Joseph Ferdinand, Archduke Charles of Austria (heir of the Habsburg Empire) would receive Milan and Louis XIV´s son would receive Naples and Sicily. The French king was trying to avoid an excessive concentration of territories in the Habsburgs´ hands. 


Joseph Ferdinand of Bavaria

But in 1699 Joseph Ferdinand suddenly died. There were rumours about the causes of his death: he might have been poisoned. But nothing could be proved. Charles II had to write a new testament. He received a lot of pressures to designate a French prince as his successor: Philip of Anjou, Louis XIV´s grandson and Charles II´s grandnephew. 

Philip of Anjou (left) and Archduke Charles of Austria (right)

Charles II died on the 1st November 1700. His heir, Philip of Anjou, arrived in Madrid in February 1701. This situation wasn´t accepted by Austria and the same happened with other European powers: England, the Low Countries, Portugal and Savoy signed an alliance to expel the Bourbons from the throne of the Hispanic Monarchy and the War of Spanish Succession started. 

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