The Nine Years' War was a major war fought in Europe and Colonial America from 1688 until 1697 between France and the League of Augsburg (renamed the Grand Alliance in 1689 when England and other European powers joined). The War is also known as the War of the Palatine Succession, the War of the League of Augsburg, the War of the Grand Alliance, the War of the English Succession, King William's War, the Williamite War, and the Orléans War, depending on where the focus was on.
Table of Contents
- 1 Initial Campaign in Germany (1688 - 1689)
- 2 The War began in 1688 when King Louis XIV of France invaded the Rhineland in support of his sister-in-law, Elzabeth Charlotte, to succeed her dead nephew, the Palatine Elector Charles, instead of the Neuburg line. This is despite the Palatinate having whereby women were barred from inheritance. Immediately the League of Augsburg, formed in 1686 between the most powerful princes of the empire to defend Germany from French aggression, declared war.
- 3 War in the Netherlands (1689 - 1697)
- 4 War in Italy and Spain (1690 - 1696)
- 5 War in Ireland (1690 - 1691)
Initial Campaign in Germany (1688 - 1689)
The War began in 1688 when King Louis XIV of France invaded the Rhineland in support of his sister-in-law, Elzabeth Charlotte, to succeed her dead nephew, the Palatine Elector Charles, instead of the Neuburg line. This is despite the Palatinate having whereby women were barred from inheritance. Immediately the League of Augsburg, formed in 1686 between the most powerful princes of the empire to defend Germany from French aggression, declared war.
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Although there had been devastations in previous wars to terrify the population of local princes, the devastation caused by the French in the Nine Years' War was purely a military tactic to delay the advance of the enemy. This destruction of both the Palatinate and neighbouring states which had no interest of the quarrel succeeded in uniting almost the entirety of Germany behind the Holy Roman Emperor, who was busy fighting a war against the Turks in Hungary. During April and May of 1689, England, Portugal, Savoy, Spain, Sweden, the United Provinces, and several Italian states also joined the alliance against France by the Treaty of Vienna.
As a military measure, however, the move proved an unprofitable disaster. It was impossible for Marshal Duras of the French to hold out on the eastern bank of the Middle Rhine, so he ordered the destruction of southern German lands such as Baden and the Breisgau. These measures left the allied advance in the north practically unopposed. Duke Charles IV of Lorraine and Duke Maximilian II of Bavaria besieged Mainz, while the Brandenburg elector Frederick III besieged Bonn. Mainz was forced to surrender on 9 September, but the governor of Bonn refused to surrender, leaving the Brandenburg elector to mercilessly shell the city until the armies from Mainz reinforced him. Of the French army of 6000 stationed in Bonn, only 850 were alive to surrender on the 16th, and the Duke of Lorraine escorted them to Thionville. Marshal Boufflers, with another French army stationed in Luxembourg, was unable to assist the French in Mainz or Bonn despite a minor victory at Cochem.
War in the Netherlands (1689 - 1697)
Following the repel of the French from Germany in 1689, the theatre of the war moved to the Netherlands. After the Battle of Walcourt in August 1689 where the French were defeated by Prince George Frederick of Waldeck-Wildungen, the French under Marshal Luxembourg won the Battle of Fleurus in July 1690 although King Louis prevented him from capitalising on his victory. The Turkish recapture of Belgrade in October 1690 prevented the Emperor from sending his full forces to the Netherlands, providing another advantage to the French. The French also had success at sea, at the Battle of Beachy Head they defeated the English, although they didn't attempt to control the English Channel or funnel support to the Jacobites in Ireland.
In 1691 Luxembourg captured Mons and Halle and defeated Prince Waldeck-Wildungen at the Battle of Leuze. The following year an army under the direct command of King Louis captured Namur, and a Dutch counter-offensive lead by William of Orange was defeated at the Battle of Steenkerque. Luxembourg defeated William in 1693 at the Battle of Landen and captured Charleroi. The death of Luxembourg in 1695 significantly handicapped the French. The summer of 1696 saw William of Orange capture Namur and repel further offensive efforts by the French who could bring more soldiers to the front once Savoy was defeated.
War in Italy and Spain (1690 - 1696)
Savoy had long held a policy of armed neutrality against France. The position of Savoy and the strength of its army had long disquieted the French. King Louis sent an ultimatum in 1690 to choose a side in the Nine Years' War and demanded access to the citadel in Turin. The result was that Duke Victor Amadeus threw his lot in with the allies. Savoy's part in the Grand Alliance allowed a second front to open in the war in Italy and the Alps, although Savoy was dependent on English and Dutch aid to maintain itself in the war. The French Marshal Capitat defeated the Savoiards at the Battle of Staffarda in 1690, but the arrival of Spanish and Austrian reinforcements prevented the French from taking Savoy out of the war.
The French were again successful against Savoy at the Battle of Marsaglia in 1693. The following year the French advanced across the Pyrenees and besieged Barcelona, until the arrival of an English fleet forced their surrender. The Treaty of Turin in 1696 took Savoy out of the war, and the French sent the soldiers there north to the main front in the Netherlands.
War in Ireland (1690 - 1691)
To restore king James II to the throne and take England out of the war, King Louis XVI sent soldiers, supplies and money to the Jacobites in Ireland. William of Orange was forced to travel to Ireland and fight the subsequent war. The Jacobites were soundly defeated at the Battle of the Boyne in July 1690, although the war continued until the final defeat of the French and Jacobites at the Battle of Aughrim in 1691.