Chapter 5 Early modern period part 1

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The early modern period was circa 1500–1750 AD, or ending at the French Revolution (1789), or at 1800. This first chapter on the early modern period covers the rise of European dynasties and powers, including the House of Habsburg and Austria and Spain, the Dutch Golden Age, Brandenburg-Prussia and the House of Hohenzollern, the House of Bourbon in France and Spain, and the rise of Russia under the Rurik dynasty and House of Romanov.

States and territories of the early modern period[edit | edit source]

Europe in 1700
Territory of Russia in 1500 (dark green), 1600 (intermediate green), and 1700 (light green)

States and territories of the early modern period included:

Northern Europe
The Kingdom of England (which included Wales from 1284) would later become the Kingdom of Great Britain (1707–1800) by including the Kingdom of Scotland; the Kingdom of Ireland (1542–1801) was a client state of the British. The end of the Kalmar Union (1397–1523) led to two states: Denmark–Norway (1523–1533 & 1537–1814); and the Swedish Empire (1611–1721), which included Finland.
Western and Central Europe
Included France; and the Holy Roman Empire, with lands of Brandenburg-Prussia and the lands of the Austrian Monarchy. The Habsburg Netherlands (1482–1794) would become the Seventeen Provinces (1549–1581), covering the Low Countries. The Seventeen Provinces gave rise to the Dutch Republic, an independent state from 1581–1795; and the Southern Netherlands (until 1794). The Old Swiss Confederacy (c. 1300 – 1798) gained de facto independence from the Holy Roman Empire after the Swabian War (1499), where it fought against them and the Swabian League; it formally gained independence after the Thirty Years' War (1648).
Eastern Europe
The Grand Duchy of Lithuania created a bi-confederation with the Kingdom of Poland to create the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (1569–1795). The Terra Mariana (of present day Estonia and Latvia between 1207–1561) collapsed into separate states. The Duchy of Prussia (1525–1701) was a Protestant secularization of the earlier Teutonic State. The Balkans were dominated by the Ottoman Empire, with vassals such as Wallachia and Moldavia; there were also the Habsburg lands of the Hungarian crown, Venetian possessions and the Prince-Bishopric of Montenegro (1516–1852). Further east was the Tsardom of Russia/Russian Empire (1547–1721 & 1721–1917).
Iberian Penisinula
The Spanish Empire included present day Spain (Castile and Aragon); but extended over Europe, including much of Italy and the Habsburg Netherlands. Possessions in Italy and the Netherlands were lost during the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714). It would also include Portugal during the Iberian Union (1580-1640).
Italian Peninsula
Included the Papal States and Venice. Other northern Italian states were nominally within the Holy Roman Empire, but many Italian city-states had de facto independence: important ones (in the 16th century) included Genoa, Florence, and Savoy; the Duchy of Milan became part of the Spanish Empire, as well as the southern states of Naples, Sicily, and Sardinia. Lesser northern Italian states at that time included Siena, Modena, Ferrara, Lucca, Montferrat, Saluzzo, Asti, and Mantua.

Rise of Austria and Brandenburg-Prussia[edit | edit source]

     Brandenburg-Prussia (1618)      Holy Roman Empire (1618)      Connected to the Holy Roman Empire (1618)      Outside the Holy Roman Empire (1618)

Imperial Circles[edit | edit source]

In 1500 and 1512, the core of the Holy Roman Empire was divided into Imperial Circles. These included Bavarian, Franconian, Upper and Lower Saxon, Swabian, Upper Rhenish, Lower Rhenish–Westphalian, Austrian, Burgundian, and Electoral Rhenish Circles. Territories within the Imperial Circles are sometimes considered to make up the Kingdom of Germany. Outside of the Imperial Circles were the lands of the Bohemian Crown (included Silesia), the Old Swiss Confederacy (1291–1798), as well as the Italian territories.

Imperial Circles consisted of Imperial Estates, ruled by Imperial Princes. The Imperial Diet, the highest representative assembly, consisted of three colleges: an Electoral College of seven Prince-electors, who elected the emperor; a college of Imperial Princes; and a college of Free and Imperial Cities. Charles V was the last Holy Roman Emperor to be crowned by a pope, Pope Clement VII in 1530.

Decline of the Holy Roman Empire[edit | edit source]

Since the 13th century the Holy Roman Emperor had began to lose power and territory. Gradually, the Holy Roman Emperor's power became largely nominal, with real power going to the rulers of the highly autonomous Imperial Estates; they held "immediacy", meaning that they were answerable only to the emperor. Two major power-bases within the Holy Roman Empire grew in influence:

  • Austria (as a Duchy or Archduchy, 1156–1918): which would provide the basis of the Austrian Monarchy, which would later become the Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary. After 1440, the Austrian monarch usually held the office of Holy Roman Emperor.
  • Brandenburg (as a Margraviate or Province, 1157–1945): which would provide the basis for Brandenburg-Prussia and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia would de facto lead the North German Confederation of 1867, which gained a new constitution as the German Empire in 1871, under the permanent presidency of Prussia.

Both Austria and Brandenburg would gain territories both inside and outside of the Holy Roman Empire. The rest of the Holy Roman Empire power-base was split between miscellaneous states: larger ones in the early modern period included Bavaria (north was formerly Franconia), Saxony, Hanover, and Lorraine. Furthermore, territories outside the Imperial Circles were asserting de facto independence; these included the Old Swiss Confederacy (1291–1798), and some Italian territories; the lands of the Bohemian Crown were controlled by the Habsburgs.

During the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648), religious divisions in Holy Roman Empire would further weaken it as a unified entity. The Habsburg Austrian Monarchy, which dominated the office of Holy Roman Emperor, would lose territories, although there would be territorial gains for Brandenburg-Prussia. Austria would fight against Prussia in the Silesian wars (1740–1763), and Silesia was a theater in the Seven Years' War (1756–1763). Voltaire quipped “... the Holy Roman Empire was in no way holy, nor Roman, nor an empire”, and the empire had become greatly fragmented between the semi-autonomous states by the late nineteenth century. The German mediatisation (1802–1814) reduced the number of German states from almost 300 to just 39.

The Holy Roman Empire would eventually be dissolved after the Austrian defeat by France under Napoleon in the War of the Third Coalition (1803–1806); and Prussia would be defeated by Napoleon in the War of the Fourth Coalition (1806–1807).

Houses of Habsburg and Habsburg-Lorraine[edit | edit source]

Habsburg Castle, now in Habsburg, Switzerland
Lands of the Austrian Monarchy in 1789

The House of Habsburg (or House of Austria) was one of the most important dynastic royal houses in the history of Europe. Named after Habsburg Castle (in present-day Switzerland), they were powerful monarchs of many dominions across Europe during the Middle Ages and modern period. It was succeeded by the House of Habsburg-Lorraine (a branch of the House of Lorraine) with the extinction of the male line but the continuation of the female line.

The key monarchies for the Houses of Habsburg and Habsburg-Lorraine were the following:

  • Monarchs of Austria between 1282 and 1918, as dukes, archdukes or emperors, or female equivalents. The Austrian branch gained many dominions both inside and outside of the Holy Roman Empire.
  • Monarchs of Spain (Castile and Aragon) between 1516 and 1700. The Spanish branch was mostly separate from the Austrian branch, and would have a significant presence in the New World, the Netherlands (then covering the Low Countries), and Italy and its surrounding islands.
  • Holy Roman Emperors for most of the period 1440 to 1806. It was an elective monarchy, and usually held by the Austrian monarch.

Austrian Monarchy[edit | edit source]

Austrian Monarchy, or Habsburg Monarchy (1282–1804), is an unofficial umbrella term for lands held in personal union with the monarchs of Austria, before it became the Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary. The Austrian monarchs were of the House of Hapsburg, and the House of Habsburg-Lorraine after 1765.

The Austrian Monarchy would include within the Holy Roman Empire:

  • Hereditary Lands, which included the Archduchy of Austria (1453–1806), Inner Austria, County of Tyrol, Further Austria, and Salzburg (only after 1805).
  • Lands of the Bohemian Crown (1526–1918), which early on included Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia, and Lusatia.

Outside of the Holy Roman Empire:

  • Lands of the Hungarian Crown (1527–1918): Hungary, Croatia, Slavonia (after 1699), and the Principality of Transylvania (after 1711), as well as some military frontiers. N.B. that Croatia today is Croatia proper, Slavonia, Istria and Dalmatia.
  • Spanish Netherlands, Naples, Milan and Sardinia, after the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714). Sardinia was lost in 1718, and Naples was lost in 1720. Sicily were conquered by the Spanish army during the War of the Polish Succession in 1734. Milan was lost to the French in 1796.
  • Galicia (Austrian Poland) and New Galicia, after the Partitions of Poland (1772–1795).
  • Duchy of Bukovina (from 1774) and Kingdom of Dalmatia (1797–1805, 1814–1918).
  • Some temporary 18th century occupations, including: the Banat of Temeswar, Oltenia, the Duchy of Parma, Venetia, and some Serbian occupations.

After 1804 it would be known as the Austrian Empire (as the Archduke of Austria also became Emperor of Austria), and would gain and lose further territories. From 1867 to 1918 it was known as Austria-Hungary, after the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867.

Holy Roman Emperors during the modern period[edit | edit source]

Francis II, the last Holy Roman Emperor, but the first Emperor of Austria (as Francis I)

The House of Habsburg were Holy Roman Emperors between 1440 and 1740, beginning with Frederick III, the Peaceful. During this period the Holy Roman Emperor was also the Archduke of Austria, although Charles V was only archduke for two years. This ended in 1740 after the reign of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI. The next two Holy Roman Emperors were:

  • Charles VII (Holy Roman Emperor 1742–1745) was also Elector of Bavaria, and House of Wittelsbach, and the first non-Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor for three centuries.
  • Francis I (Holy Roman Emperor 1745–1765). Francis I was of the House of Lorraine and Archduke of Austria. He was married to the Holy Roman Empress Maria Theresa (1745–1765); she was also Archduchess of Austria, and as the daughter of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI she was House of Habsburg.

The uncertainty over the Austrian succession through the female-lineage of Maria Theresa led to the War of the Austrian Succession (1740–1748). The last three Holy Roman Emperors were House of Habsburg-Lorraine and archdukes of Austria:

  • Joseph II (Holy Roman Emperor 1765–1790) was the son of Francis I, and the brother of Marie Antoinette (who would marry the King of France Louis XVI). He was a leading proponent of enlightened absolutism, and a supporter of the arts, such as the composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri.
  • Leopold II (Holy Roman Emperor 1790–1792) briefly succeeded his brother Joseph II.
  • Francis II (Holy Roman Emperor 1792–1806) was the son of Leopold II, and the last Holy Roman Emperor. He proclaimed himself the first Emperor of Austria as Francis I in 1804, and later archdukes of Austria would also be emperors of Austria. He dissolved the Holy Roman Empire after the Austrian defeat by Napoleon at the Battle of Austerlitz, but continued as Emperor of Austria until 1835. He was made the first president of the German Confederation in 1815.

After the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, the House of Habsburg-Lorraine, as both emperors and archdukes of Austria, would rule the Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary. This ended in 1918 when Austria-Hungary declared itself to be the Republic of German-Austria, which became the First Austrian Republic in 1919, a much reduced state in terms of territory.

Ottoman–Habsburg wars and Suleiman the Magnificent[edit | edit source]

Suleiman the Magnificent
Suleiman the Magnificent gained territories from the Safavid Empire (1501–1736)

Ottoman–Habsburg wars (1526–1791) began with the Ottoman victory at the Battle of Mohács (1526); Suleiman the Magnificent, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, defeated Louis II of Hungary, King of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia, who died soon after. This ended the Ottoman–Hungarian wars, and would eventually result in the partition of Hungary between:

  • Royal Hungary (1526–1867), the Kingdom of Hungary of the Habsburg Monarchy, first ruled by Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor.
  • Eastern Hungarian Kingdom (1526–1551 and 1556–1570), which would become the semi-independent Principality of Transylvania (1570–1711). It was first ruled by John Zápolya, who contested Ferdinand I for the Christian rule of Hungary.
  • Ottoman Hungary (1541–1699), of the Ottoman Empire, after the seizure of Buda by the Ottomans in 1541.

It also marked the beginnings of the Ottoman–Habsburg wars, a 250-year struggle between the Habsburgs and the Ottoman Empire for European territories. It also marked the end of Hungary as an independent territory until the 20th century.

Suleiman the Magnificent was the Ottoman Sultan 1520 to 1566. He conquered the Christian strongholds of Belgrade (1521) and Rhodes (1522); but after the Battle of Mohács, he was curtailed by the Austrians at the unsuccessful Siege of Vienna of 1529. He finally captured and occupied Buda (the Hungarian capital) following a siege in 1541. He also fought with the French against the Habsburgs in the Italian Wars. With the successful Ottoman–Safavid War (1532–1555) he gained territories from the Iranian Safavid dynasty; he also expanded the North African territories. His reign ended the Classical Age of the Ottoman Empire (1453–1566), characterized by a large expansion of territories.

Great Turkish War (1683–1699): was a campaign in the Ottoman–Habsburg wars that followed a period of peace after the Long Turkish War (1593–1606). At the Battle of Vienna (1683), the Ottomans were defeated after a two month siege of the city. John III Sobieski, the King of the Poland, helped the Austrians in the battle, along with a Holy Roman Empire army; the Winged Hussars, an elite Polish cavalry, delivered a final deadly blow. The Holy League of 1684–1699 that formed afterwards consisted of the Austrian Monarchy, Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Venetian Republic, and Tsardom of Russia.

The Treaty of Karlowitz (1699) ended the Great Turkish War, and followed Ottoman defeat at the second Battle of Mohács (1687) and Battle of Zenta (1697). It confirmed the then-current territories of each power, with much of Hungary, Croatia and Slavonia held by the Austrian Habsburgs. Transylvania was nominally independent but controlled by Austria, before the Principality of Transylvania (1711–1867) became a realm of the Hungarian Crown.

The Great Turkish War was followed by the Austro-Turkish War (1716–1718), Russo-Turkish War (1735–1739), and Austro-Turkish War (1788–91). The Ottoman–Habsburg wars ended Ottomans expansion into Europe.

Habsburg Spain[edit | edit source]

Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Habsburg dominions in 1700, including Habsburg Spain (red) and the Austrian Monarchy (yellow)
Crown of Castile possessions in the 17th century

Habsburg Spain (1516–1700) began with Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor (1519–1556). He was also King of Spain (1516–1556), as Charles I of Spain (or Carlos I). Spain was technically Castile and Aragon, but included many colonial regions:

  • Crown of Castile included most of Iberia, and would eventually encompass a huge colonial empire, including territories in the Americas, Canary Islands, and Philippines.
  • Crown of Aragon included Aragon, Catalonia, Valencia, and Majorca. Further afield it included Naples, Sicily, and Sardinia; Milan was recaptured by Charles V, and this was recognized by the French in 1559.

Charles V inherited the Spanish House of Trastámara bloodline through his mother Joanna of Castile. Joanna and Charles were the first co-monarchs of both Castile and Aragon, although Joanna remained imprisoned after being pronounced insane. Joanna had married Charles's father Philip I of Castile, who was (by right of his wife) King of Castile for a short time before he died. But Charles's rule succeeded that of his mother's parents, Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon, who had brought about the dynastic union of Castile and Aragon. Ferdinand II ruled Aragon as king, and Castile as regent after the death of Isabella.

Charles V's other titles included:

  • Archduke of Austria, but only between 1519 and 1521. Charles V was heir to Austria through his father's father Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor; but after two years this passed to his brother Ferdinand I.
  • Duke of Burgundy (1506–1555), and therefore Lord of the Netherlands. Burgundy included what would become the Seventeen Provinces, roughly covering the present-day Low Countries (Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg); and the Free County of Burgundy (also known as Franche-Comté). He was Duke of Burgundy through his father Philip I of Castile, who had inherited his dukedom from his mother Mary of Burgundy.
  • By being Holy Roman Emperor he also had the titles King of Germany, and King of Italy (the last Holy Roman Emperor to claim the title).

Charles V was involved in three major conflicts: the Italian Wars (with France), the Ottoman–Habsburg wars, and the Protestant Reformation (which he opposed). He also quelled some rebellions. Charles V brought about the divergence of two ruling branches of the Habsburgs:

  • The junior branch of the Austrian Monarchy, with Charles being succeeded by his brother Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I (1556–1564), who was also Archduke of Austria after 1521, and king of Bohemia, Hungary and Croatia.
  • The senior branch of Habsburg Spain (1516–1700), with Charles being succeeded by his son Philip II of Spain.

Philip II of Spain was King of Spain (1556–98). Key points about his reign include:

  • Philip II presided over the start of the Spanish Golden Age (1556–1659), a period of flourishing in arts and literature in Spain.
  • Philip II's empire included territories appointed to the Council of Castile, Council of Aragon, Council of Portugal (after the Iberian Union), Council of Italy, Council of the Indies, and Council of Flanders.
  • Italian possessions included the Italian states of Naples, Sicily, Milan and Sardinia; Philip II also had hegemony over all of Italy, with only Savoy and Venice having true independence.
  • As Duke of Burgundy, Philip II ruled the Spanish Netherlands and other Burgundian lands; the Eighty Years' War (1568–1648) would result in the independence of the Dutch Republic.
  • Philip II financed the Holy League, who would have a great naval victory against the Ottomans at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.
  • Philip II was King of England and Ireland (1554 to 1558) during his marriage to the Catholic Queen Mary; this ended with her death and the ascension of the Protestant Queen Elizabeth I.
  • Philip II sent the Spanish Armada to invade the Protestant England of Elizabeth I in 1588, which ended in failure.
  • Philip II became King Philip I of Portugal (1581–1598) with the Iberian Union (1580-1640) which united Portugal and Spain. This lasted until the Portuguese Restoration War (1640–1668).
  • Several state bankruptcies occurred during Philip II's reign.

Philip II was succeeded by the his son Philip III of Spain (who reigned 1598–1621), who was also called Philip the Pious; he also ruled Portugal and other lands, and brought Spain into the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648). Philip III's son Philip IV of Spain (who reigned 1621–1665) succeeded him; he continued the Thirty Years' War, and lost Portugal in 1640.

Philip IV was succeeded by his son Charles II of Spain (who reigned 1665–1700), the last Habsburg ruler of ; also called "The Bewitched", he suffered from physical disabilities, and his childless death and subsequent territorial disagreements brought about the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714) and the end of Habsburg Spain.

Italian Wars[edit | edit source]

Italian Wars (also called the Habsburg–Valois Wars, 1494–1559): were principally the Habsburgs against the French Valois kings for Italian possessions, principally the Duchy of Milan and the Kingdom of Naples. It stemmed from the claim to the Kingdom of Naples of Charles VIII of France, with the death of Ferdinand I of Naples.

The leaders for the Habsburgs were the Holy Roman Emperors Maximilian, Charles V and Ferdinand I; and King Philip II of Spain; their supporters included Henry VIII of England and Mary I of England. The French Valois kings opposing them were Charles VIII, Louis XII, Francis I, and Henry II; their supporters included Suleiman the Magnificent. Various Italian states supported the factions. The wars began with Charles VIII's Italian War (1494–1498), Louis XII's Italian War (1499–1504), the War of the League of Cambrai (1508–1516), the War of Urbino (1517), and the Four Years' War (1521–1526). During the War of the League of Cognac (1526–1530), the Sack of Rome (1527) was by mutinous troops of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. It was followed the Italian War of 1536–1538, the Italian War of 1542–1546, and the Last Italian War (1551–1559).

The Italian Wars were largely unsuccessful for the French. The Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis (1559) ended the Italian Wars, and was between France, Spain, England, and the Holy Roman Empire. In the treaty the French recognized Philip II as heir to Milan, Naples, Sicily and Sardinia, among other agreements.

Dutch Golden Age[edit | edit source]

Map of the Seventeen Provinces, the red line showing the division of the Dutch Republic and Southern Netherlands

Dutch Republic and Southern Netherlands[edit | edit source]

Habsburg Spain ruled the Seventeen Provinces, which roughly covered the present-day Low Countries (the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg). This was because Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, who had inherited the Spanish crown, had also also inherited the Habsburg Netherlands. After the Pragmatic Sanction of 1549 the Habsburg Netherlands were organized into one indivisible territory called the Seventeen Provinces.

With the Eighty Years' War (the Dutch War of Independence, 1568–1648) the Dutch Republic (of roughly the present-day Netherlands) seceded from the Spanish; religion was a major factor, as the Dutch Republic was mainly Protestant, and Habsburg Spain was Catholic. The Twelve Years' Truce (1609–1621) was a truce for twelve years between the Dutch Republic and Spain. However, Dutch involvement in the Thirty Years' War (1618—1648), in support of the Protestants, began in 1619. The Eighty Years' War ended with the Peace of Münster in 1648; it was a part of the Peace of Westphalia, which ended the Thirty Years' War.

After the loss of the Dutch Republic, the Southern Netherlands, of roughly modern day Belgium and Luxembourg, remained under Spanish rule. The larger part of the Southern Netherlands became the Austrian Netherlands (1714–1794) under the Treaty of Rastatt between France and Austria, ending the War of the Spanish Succession; Naples, Milan and Sardinia were also ceded to Austria, and Sicily was ceded to Savoy. In 1794 the armies of the French Revolution annexed the Austrian Netherlands.

Dutch Republic and Dutch Empire[edit | edit source]

The Dutch Golden Age was roughly from 1588, the birth of the Dutch Republic (officially the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands); to 1672, the Rampjaar or "Disaster Year". It was a time of Dutch preeminence in trade, science, arts, and the military; it has been termed the "Dutch Miracle".

The Dutch Empire flourished, with overseas territories and trading posts administered by Dutch chartered companies, especially the Dutch West India Company and the Dutch East India Company, and was helped by a monopoly on trade with Japan. The Dutch Cape Colony and Dutch East Indies greatly expanded, whilst other colonies remained small in scale.

Science and the arts flourished during the golden age, with painters such as Rembrandt and Vermeer, and scientists such as Christiaan Huygens and Antonie van Leeuwenhoek.

The republic was a confederation of seven provinces: Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders, Overijssel, Friesland, and Groningen; an eighth province, Drenthe, didn't have representation in the States General (the Dutch legislature). There was a constant power struggle between:

  • Orangists, who supported the stadtholders (from stadhouder, literally “city holder”), which became semi-hereditary national leaders of the Dutch Republic, from the House of Orange-Nassau (usually Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders, and Overijssel) and House of Nassau (usually Friesland and Groningen).
  • Republicans, who supported the States General (the Dutch legislature), and hoped for a government closer to republican ideals.

Colonial wars, Rampjaar, and Batavian Revolution[edit | edit source]

From 1652, rivalry with Great Britain and France intensified over colonial interests; the First Anglo-Dutch War (1652–1654) was followed by the Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665–1667). The Franco-Dutch War (1672–1678) and the Third Anglo-Dutch War (1672–1674) brought about the Rampjaar ("Disaster Year") of 1672, when France, supported by Münster and Cologne, invaded and nearly overrun the Dutch Republic. The Dutch Republic republic survived, with the Treaties of Nijmegen (1678–1679) establishing peace between France and the Dutch Republic.

After the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War (1780–1784), the Batavian Revolution (1795) replaced the Dutch Republic with the Batavian Republic/Commonwealth (1795–1801–1806), ending the stadtholders in favor of the Republicans. But this became a client state of the French Empire of Napoleon. The Kingdom of Holland (1806–1810) replaced the Batavian Commonwealth, and was a puppet kingdom of Napoleon's third brother, Louis Bonaparte; this was followed by French occupation.

Rise of Brandenburg-Prussia[edit | edit source]

House of Hohenzollern[edit | edit source]

Hohenzollern Castle

The House of Hohenzollern was a German dynasty from Hechingen in Swabia, who took their name from Hohenzollern Castle in the Swabian Alps. Most importantly, the Brandenburg-Prussian branch would rule Brandenburg-Prussia, the Kingdom of Prussia, and the German Empire

The first branch was the Swabian branch who ruled Zollern, a county in the Holy Roman Empire which from 1218 was called Hohenzollern, and whose capital became Hechingen. At first they ruled as Counts of Zollern (1061–1204) and Hohenzollern (1204–1575). They would then rule Hohenzollern-Haigerloch, Hohenzollern-Hechingen, and Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen during the period of 1576 to 1849. After 1849 to the present day they continued as Heads of the Princely House of Hohenzollern.

Other than the Swabian branch, other ruling branches were:

  • Brandenburg-Prussian branch, which included the Electors and Margraves of Brandenburg, 1415 to 1806. They also included the rulers of Prussia (1525–1918), and the German Emperors (1871–1918): these were the Dukes of Prussia (1525–1701), the Kings in Prussia (1701–1772), and the Kings of Prussia (1772–1918). They also included Margraves of Brandenburg-Küstrin, and Brandenburg-Schwedt.
  • Franconian branch, which included some Burgraves of Nuremberg; Margraves of Brandenburg-Kulmbach, Brandenburg-Ansbach, and Brandenburg-Bayreuth; and Dukes of Jägerndorf.
  • Kings of the Romanians (1866–1947), of the Kingdom of Romania (1881–1947).

Brandenburg-Prussia and Frederick the Great[edit | edit source]

Frederick the Great

Brandenburg-Prussia (1618–1701): was formed from territories that initially included, within the Holy Roman Empire, the Margraviate of Brandenburg, the Duchy of Cleves, and the counties of Ravensberg and Ravenstein. Outside of the Holy Roman Empire it initially included the Duchy of Prussia. It would later considerably expand its territories, both inside and outside the Holy Roman Empire. Prussia had developed from the State of the Teutonic Order, a state founded after the Teutonic Knights had conquered the lands of the Old Prussians (who were pagan Balts), after the Prussian Crusade of 1217–1274 (one of the Northern Crusades). It then became the Duchy of Prussia (1525–1701), a protestant state; it then entered personal union with Brandenburg in 1618, when John Sigismund, Elector of Brandenburg, became Duke of Prussia.

Kingdom of Prussia (1701–1918) succeeded Brandenburg-Prussia, and was established after Frederick III, Elector of Brandenburg, crowned himself "King in Prussia" as Frederick I on 18 January 1701. Early kings would be styled as "King in Prussia" rather than "King of Prussia"; this continued until 1772. It would gain much territory both inside and outside of the Holy Roman Empire and successors. It would eventually form the nucleus of the German Empire (1871–1918).

Frederick the Great (or Frederick II or "The Old Fritz") ruled the Kingdom of Prussia 1740–1786; he was the first Elector of Brandenburg to claim to be "King of Prussia" in 1772, rather than "King in Prussia". He had many military successes, particularly in the Silesian Wars (of 1740–1763) where he gained Silesia (a Bohemian territory) from the Austrian Monarchy. He also acquired Polish territories during its partition. Apart from his military successes, he was seen as a leading monarch of the Enlightenment.

Frederick fought in three Silesian wars against Austria. In a demonstration of Austria–Prussia rivalry, Prussia sought to increase its territory at the expense of Austria.

  • The First Silesian War (1740–1742) and the Second Silesian War (1744–1745) were theaters of the War of the Austrian Succession (1740–1748), in which Prussia fought against Austria and its allies. This led to the annexation of Silesia from the Habsburgs.
  • The Third Silesian War (1756–1763) was a theater of the Seven Years' War (1756–1763), where Prussia was part of the Great Britain coalition, and was opposed by Saxony (who he occupied), and Austria, France, Russia and Sweden. The Prussians maintained all their territories, and it was considered as the "Miracle of the House of Brandenburg".

The victory of Prussia damaged the prestige of the House of Habsburg. Later on, victory for Prussia in the Austro-Prussian War (1866) would ensure that Prussia became the nucleus of the German Empire (1871–1918), with Austria-Hungary sidelined in the rule of Germany.

House of Bourbon and France[edit | edit source]

Louis XIV

The House of Bourbon was a branch of the Capetian dynasty; it succeeded the House of Capet (987–1328) and Valois kings (1328–1589) as French monarchs. Branches would also become Spanish monarchs (see below), and Grand Dukes of Luxembourg (1964–present), as well as holding many other titles.

Henry IV, the Great (1589–1610) was the first Bourbon monarch, who ascended during the turmoil surrounding the French Wars of Religion. He was succeeded by Louis XIII, Louis XIV, Louis XV, and Louis XVI. Louis XVI was deposed in 1792 by the Great French Revolution (1789–1799). The Bourbons were later restored 1815–1830, with Louis XVIII and Charles X; and Louis-Philippe I (of the House of Orléans cadet branch) ruled 1830–1848. Cardinal Richelieu, King Louis XIII's chief minister between 1624–1642, helped transform France into a modern state.

Louis XIV (the Great or the Sun King) ruled France between 1643–1715. An absolute monarch, he greatly expanded the Palace of Versailles, and revoked the Edict of Nantes (leading to persecution of Protestants). Louis fought the Habsburgs and Dutch in the Franco-Dutch War (1672–1678), which resulted in some territorial gains for France. Louis also fought the Grand Alliance (of the Habsburgs, English and Dutch) in the Nine Years' War (1688–97), which resulted in some territorial changes. He also fought in the War of the Spanish Succession (see below).

Second Hundred Years' War: the French had a great rivalry with the British during this period, mirroring that of the Habsburgs. As well as the Nine Years' War and War of the Spanish Succession, they also fought the British in the War of the Austrian Succession (1742–1748), Father Le Loutre's War (1749–1755), 2nd Carnatic War (1749–1754), Seven Years' War (1756–1763) and Anglo-French War (1778–1783). These wars, along with later wars after the fall of the Bourbons, the French Revolutionary Wars (1792–1802) and Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815), are sometimes considered to be the Second Hundred Years' War. With the Diplomatic Revolution of 1756, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette married, and Austria went from an ally of Britain to an ally of France, while Prussia became an ally of Britain.

Bourbon Spain[edit | edit source]

Philip V of Spain

Bourbon Spain: from 1700, members of the House of Bourbon dynasty ruled Spain, beginning with Philip of Anjou, who would rule as Philip V of Spain; the Spanish Empire included territories in the New World and Europe. The Bourbons would be Spanish monarchs for much of its subsequent history, continuing to the present-day.

War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714) had France (under Louis XIV) and their allies fighting the Grand Alliance, which included Austria, England and the Dutch Republic. The war was precipitated by the Habsburg ruler Carlos II of Spain (or Charles II) dying childless, and naming his successor as Philip of Anjou (later Philip V), the Bourbon grandson of Louis XIV and Carlos's half-sister Maria Theresa of Spain. The caused consternation for the Habsburgs, and the risk of a France–Spain superstate if both monarchies fell to a single ruler; therefore the Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI claimed the throne. The Battle of Blenheim (1704) was a notable victory for the Grand Alliance. The war confirmed the Bourbon rule of Spain over the previous Habsburg monarchs; but Philip V had to renounce his place in the French succession; he also lost the Spanish Netherlands, Naples, Milan and Sardinia to Austria, and Sicily to Savoy.

The Spanish Bourbons were allies with the French Bourbons for some of their wars against the British: the War of the Spanish Succession, the War of the Austrian Succession, the Seven Years' War, and the Anglo-French War. But during the War of the Quadruple Alliance (1718-1720) France fought against Spain (and Great Britain, the Holy Roman Empire, and the Dutch Republic).

Rise of Russia[edit | edit source]

Russian Tsardom and Empire[edit | edit source]

Ivan the Terrible
Peter the Great
Catherine the Great, with Peter III of Russia

Tsardom of Russia (1547–1721) became a new name for Muscovy, also known as the Grand Duchy of Moscow. Ivan the Terrible (Ivan IV Vasilyevich) the grandson of Ivan III, was declared "Tsar of All Rus'" (1547–1584), after ruling as Grand Prince of Moscow (1533–1547). Ivan the Terrible conquered the Khanate of Kazan, Astrakhan, and Sibirean khanates. Later on, the rest of Siberia would fall to the Russians, and by the mid-17th century Russia had expanded to the Pacific Ocean.

The Rurik dynasty were rulers of Kievan Rus' (after 882), as well as the successor principalities of Galicia-Volhynia (after 1199), Chernigov, Vladimir-Suzdal, and the Grand Duchy of Moscow; they also ruled the Tsardom of Russia. The Time of Troubles was between the death of Feodor I in 1598 and the accession of Michael I in 1613; during this time the Russian famine of 1601–1603 devastated Russia. Vasili IV was tsar between 1606 and 1610, but this was disputed, and there was numerous other usurpers and imposters. After the Time of Troubles, the House of Romanov ruled Russia, beginning with Michael I, and ending with Nicholas II, the last tsar of Russia who was deposed in 1917. By the 18th century, many Cossacks (an East-Slavic people) had been transformed into a special military estate of Russia.

Russian Empire (1721–1917): was declared by Peter the Great (Peter I), who reigned 1682–1725; as well as being emperor he retained the title of tsar. Peter the Great moved the capital to St. Petersburg in 1712, which remained there until 1917; he also won the Great Northern War in 1721. The Empress Catherine the Great (Catherine II), who reigned 1762–1796, presided over a golden age, with rapid expansion of the empire, and the Russian Enlightenment with advancement particularly in the arts. Alexander Suvorov was an outstanding general for the Russians, particularly during the Russo-Turkish Wars during the late 18th century; the Russo-Turkish Wars continued from the 16th to 20th centuries.

The Russian Empire continued until the 20th century, until the Russian monarchy was deposed, and the empire was succeeded by the Russian Republic (1917). It then became the Russian SFSR (Soviet Federative Socialist Republic) (1917–1991), which became a part of the Soviet Union or USSR (1922–1991).

Swedish Empire[edit | edit source]

Swedish Empire (1611–1721) was a great power in Europe and a rival to Russia in Eastern Europe. The Swedish Empire was founded by Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden (or Gustav II Adolf, who reigned 1611–1632); he led Sweden to military supremacy during the Thirty Years' War, including great victories such as the Battle of Breitenfeld (1631), before dying at the Battle of Lützen (1632). Gaining territories after the Thirty Years' War, they would be a military might during the Northern Wars, before losing the Great Northern War.

Following the Great Northern War, Sweden would decline; eastern Sweden would be lost to Russia in 1809, which became the highly autonomous Grand Principality of Finland. During the Napoleonic Wars, Sweden allied itself with France; and after the Battle of Leipzig (1813), and a military campaign, the Swedish King Charles XIII managed to force Denmark–Norway, an ally of France, to cede Norway, in exchange for northern German provinces; Sweden–Norway lasted from 1814 to 1905. The 1814 campaign was the last time Sweden was at war.

Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth[edit | edit source]

The Kingdom of Poland created a bi-confederation with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania to create the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (1569–1795). During this period the King of Poland would also be the Grand Duke of Lithuania, although this personal union had existed since 1386. The "Golden Liberty" meant that the king was elected, and that the nobles held considerable power. The Poles were mostly West-Slavic, and the Lithuanians were mostly Balts.

During the Polish–Muscovite War (1605–1618), the Poles occupied Moscow between 1610 and 1612. During the Swedish-Russian Deluge (1648–1667), approximately one third of its population was lost, as well as its status as a great power, due to invasions by Sweden and Russia. The Polish King John III Sobieski allied with Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I; in 1683, at the Battle of Vienna, they defeated the Ottomans Empire, marking a turning point in the Ottoman–Habsburg Wars and Polish–Ottoman Wars.

After the Great Northern War, the Commonwealth would further decline. The War of the Polish Succession (1733–1735) turned into a conflict between the Bourbons (of France and Spain) and Habsburgs (of Austria). Poland–Lithuania became a protectorate of the Russian Empire in 1768. The Partitions of Poland (1772–1795) was the partition of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth between Russia, Prussia, and the Austrian Monarchy; it was instigated by Catherine the Great of Russia, Frederick the Great of Prussia, and Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor. Poland would cease to be, until resurrected by Napoleon as the Duchy of Warsaw in 1807; after a tumultuous history it finally became the present-day Third Polish Republic, established 1989–1991. Lithuania would not become finally independent of Russia until 1990.

Northern Wars[edit | edit source]

Swedish Empire at its greatest extent (1658)
Poland–Lithuania in 1655, occupied by Sweden (light blue) and Russia (light green)

Between the late sixteenth and early eighteenth centuries, a series of wars would be fought for supremacy in north-eastern Europe. The main adversaries were Sweden and Russia; the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and Denmark–Norway also fought in the wars, as well as other states, in particular Prussia.

The Northern Wars began with began with the Russo-Swedish War of 1554–1557, in which the status quo was preserved. But after Russian defeat in the Livonian War (1558–1583), Terra Mariana (also called Old Livonia) was divided between the victors: Sweden, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, and Denmark–Norway. Not involving Russia, with the Northern Seven Years' War (1562–1570), Sweden clashed with the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and Denmark–Norway, without territorial changes.

During the Second Northern War (1655–1660), Sweden and its allies fought against many opponents; these included the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, Russia (Muscovy), Brandenburg-Prussia (at times an ally), the Austrian Monarchy, and Denmark–Norway. Major aspects included:

  • Swedish Deluge (1655–1660) was the partial occupation of Poland–Lithuania by Sweden. The Russo-Polish War of 1654–1667 (also called the Thirteen Years' War or Russian Deluge) also resulted in partial occupation. Both caused widespread destruction and looting, and a huge loss of life in Poland–Lithuania; it ended with significant Russian territorial gains.
  • Russo-Swedish War (1656–1658); Russia and Sweden clashed without territorial changes.
  • Dano-Swedish Wars of 1657–1658 (with Swedish victory); and 1658–1660 (with Denmark–Norway victory).

Sweden mostly gained territories as a result of this war. Note that the "First Northern War" can refer to a number of conflicts, including the Second Northern War. Later on, the Scanian War (1674–1679), also called Swedish-Brandenburgian War; it ended with Sweden losing some Pomeranian areas to Brandenburg-Prussia.

The Great Northern War (1700–1721) had a Russian coalition fighting against a Swedish coalition, for supremacy in Northern Europe. It began when Russia, Denmark–Norway, Saxony, and the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth sensed an opportunity and declared war on the Sweden, then ruled by the young Charles XII. The Caroleans (the soldiers of the Swedish kings Charles XI and Charles XII) had some great victories against Russia and other countries during this period, in many cases defeating far larger armies. But eventually there was victory by the Russian coalition; Russia, Prussia, Denmark-Norway, and other states would gain territories.

After the Northern Wars, Sweden, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, and Denmark–Norway would decline. But Russia and Prussia would continue to rise to become major powers in European affairs.

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