"So perverse an ally" : Great Britain’s alliance with Austria in the war of the Spanish Succession
The War of the Spanish Succession saw the culmination in the development of European warfare during the “Military Revolution” period, which saw European states fielding larger armies with geographically more ambitious strategies under the umbrella of the nascent eighteenth‐century phenomenon of the “Fiscal‐Military State.” By investigating the Austro‐British alliance at the diplomatic, strategic, logistical, and operational levels during the war, greater insight can be gained into the mechanics of alliance warfare and how two allies reconcile independent war strategies in order to achieve a common goal. This is done in particular by exploring British attempts to influence Austrian war strategy through the tools of diplomacy and logistics in order to bring it more in line with British war strategy, particularly in the region of southern Europe. The chronological approach adopted by this thesis will demonstrate how the course of a war can influence strategy and, in turn, facilitate or impede allied collaboration. The early years of the war saw unsuccessful attempts at Austro‐British collaboration due to the distance between the two allies and the limited contact between them. The 1703 crisis of the Austrian monarchy following financial collapse, rebellion, and a hostile Bavaria forced a dramatic revision of British strategy, culminating the Blenheim campaign of 1704. The expansion of the war into Iberia saw a broadening of Austro‐British military contacts, and the strategic situation in Italy was the source of greater collaboration. However, this expanded collaboration could prove diplomatically damaging when strategic or operational goals diverged. The later years of the war saw Austro‐British collaboration reach its peak, but Austria had to sacrifice much of the direction of its own war effort in the Mediterranean to Britain as the price for British support. The final years of the war saw British and Austrian war strategies diverge in light of the death of Joseph I.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2025-12-15
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Print and electronic copy restricted until 15th December 2025
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