As the 18th century dawned, there was no indication that the years of conflict which preceded it would end. While many of the powers involved, including Louis XIV's France, were exhausted and in desperate need of peace, events taking place in the ailing Habsburg Spain necessitated a response from all parties, which, it seemed, could only end in war. Far from a sign of things to come though, this era of European relations remains one of the most diplomatically fluid and fascinating of all.
Here we built up slowly and gradually towards the French Revolution, but do remember that more complete analyses than those found here are on the way. Poland Is Not Yet Lost will analyse the 18th century from the perspective of the declining Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, while the Ironcast will examine the history of Prussia and how it fits into the development of Europe. All of these projects are to come, but here you'll find plenty to whet your appetite. As is the case with the other episodes between 1-19, these episodes here were released as part of the Remastered project we did over May-June 2017 to mark our fifth birthday, so I hope you'll give them a listen, as they retain the classic (classic?) structure, while giving you bitesize bits of wars you wouldn't otherwise know about - let's do it!
The wars covered here are:
1) Great Northern War (1700-21..yes it lasted 21 freakin' years!)
2) War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1713)
3) War of the Polish Succession (1733-38)
4) Seven Years War (1756-63)
Great Northern War
When? The GNW lasted from 1700 for a whopping 21 years until the Treaty of Nystad in 1721! Yowza!
Where? Where was it NOT fought would be the better question...the conflict was fought all across northern and eastern Europe, from Poland to Russia to Saxony to Denmark to Norway. It's quite a tale from start to finish!
Who? Again, get ready for a laundry list of names. The war began with a three pronged attack by Russia, Denmark and Saxony (whose elector was also King of Poland) against Sweden. This then degenerated to involve only Sweden against Russia, as Charles XII of Sweden beat all rivals, and then Charles lost his army in Russia, the Ottomans helped him but everyone else - Saxony, Poland-Lithuania, Brandenburg, Hanover, Denmark - all joined Russia, and Sweden eventually lost its Empire to this coalition upon Charles' death in battle in 1718.
Released? This set was released as part of the remastered project in June 2017.
Episode 1: Remember this? While the war for the Spanish throne waged, those darned eastern Europeans just couldn't keep quite either. In actual fact, this was a war of profound significance for the future of our world, as the two empires of Russia and Sweden collided, in a contest where only one could emerge victorious. Give it a listen and let me know what you all thought!
Episode 2: It seemed as though nothing could stop the advance of Charles XII, with a Polish candidate of his choosing on the throne, Denmark peaced out and only Russia remaining a burden. Rather than make a peace though, Charles remained focused on taking the fight to Moscow, and this would prove to be the worst mistake of his life.
War of the Spanish Succession
When? This war was fought between 1701-1713, and occupied the West while the Great Northern War occupied everyone else.
Where? Mostly along the French border, be that in Flanders, along the Rhine or in Italy, but intense fighting over the Spanish Crown also took place in Spain.
Who? Louis XIV's France, joined briefly by Bavaria, fought one final coalition war against the forces of Britain, the Dutch, the Holy Roman Emperor (and most of the Empire). Spanish support for the two candidates waxed and wanes as the years went on.
Released? This remastered set was released in May 2017 to mark the 5th birthday of the podcast.
Episode 1: We return to the late 17th/early 18th century with arguably one of the most infamous examples of early modern warfare EVER! It is a fascinating conflict, and since we all know Louis XIV that much better this time around, I figured it was only right to do it justice. I hope you enjoy the journey - thanksss!
Episode 2: Welcome back to the war, herein we revisit the issues which characterised the opening phases of the war - what was the deal with Bavaria anyway? Find out here!
Episode 3: With the war entering its most grinding phase, the question seemed to be how Louis XIV's France could possibly outlast the combined resources of his enemies, though affairs in Spain remained the one bright spark. See how it all came to a head in this third installment
Episode 4: This final part of our tale bears witness to some of the most incredible scenes, as Louis final years become characterised by some of the most depressing and difficult experiences of his life. As the allies close in and his successors die off, Louis must have wondered if God had in fact abandoned him, or if this was all in fact punishment for his transgressions. As the final peace was made, nobody could deny that an era was approaching its epochal moment. As the Sun King breathed his last, nobody could argue that his had been a reign of anything other than profound significance. And here our tale of that man ends, one which we began so many years, episodes and hours ago. Thanksss for taking part!
War of the Polish Succession
When? The war was fought from 1733-38, with most of the fighting occurring up to 1736.
Where? Briefly in Poland, which I know is odd considering the name, and the rest of the conflict was fought across the Rhine and above all in Italy.
Who? France under Louis XV fought to place his father in law Stanislaus Lechynski on the Polish throne, but then got bored with that and fought the Habsburgs in Italy with the help of Bourbon Spain instead.
Released? In June 2017 as part of the remastered project.
Episode 1: A fascinating and underrated war in the 1730s, this war dragged in a surprising number of powers, and was essentially the death knell in Polish independence. From hereon in, the Poles were an unfortunate victim of their neighbours, but Louis XV would at least acquire for France a measure of success! Find out what happened within, and who exactly that Stan guy was.
Episode 2: Our coverage resumes, with a somewhat depressing examination of the fortunes of the Poles. Who could have predicted such an unfortunate outcome for the Poles, a people and nation which had once been so proud. Say, someone should really do a podcast of their history, and do it justice! Could I be your man? We shall see! Thanksss for rejoining me for this amazing ride!
The Seven Years War
When? This war was fought for 7 years from 1756-63.
Where? The war was fought in North America, in Europe and in India, reflecting the colonial aspirations of Britain and France.
Who? Britain and Prussia faced a coalition of Russia, Austria and France, as Maria Theresa sought to punish Frederick the Great for seizing Silesia a decade before, by destroying Prussia for good. Would she succeed? Hmmm...
Released? In May 2017 as per the remastered project.
Episode 1: Looking forward to this one! It's been a long time since we last delved into the world of Frederick the Great, but I'm more than ready to do so again, so come and join me as I tackle arguably one of the greatest feats of endurance of the 18th century!
Episode 2: In part 2, we ask how Frederick's Prussia, beset by enemies on all sides, could possibly endure what was to come. Meanwhile, Britain does pretty well for itself and France cries itself to sleep. I really enjoyed looking back into this war, so thanksss so much for joining me!