1711, England bent on peace, Death of Joseph, Bouchain


The United Kingdom

With a big Tory majority in parliament Harley off course had a lot of possibilities to do as he wanted. Sacking Marlborough was undoubtedly one thing the Tories wanted, but it soon became clear that the other partners of the alliance were very much against this. As soon as signals reached Harley that the Dutch would possibly go as far as making a separate peace, and the Prussians would retreat from the alliance this plan was stalled for the moment.

Evicting Walpole from government was not an idea of Harley, but it was set through by the radical Tories. The Queen sacked Sarah Marlborough on 27 January 1711. Abigail got her way when her brother Jack Hill was sent to command an expedition against Quebec which would soon end in a failure. Argyll was appointed in Spain.

Thus the English decided to let Marlborough go campaigning in Flanders again, while negotiating in secret with the French for a peace. Soon Harley and St. John concluded that for them to get a peace they had to fight and Marlborough got some support again

Harley then got wind of a traitor named Guiscard and had him arrested 19 March. When personally interrogating him Harley was stabbed Guiscard. Harley quickly became a national hero and was made count of Oxford and Lord Treasurer (a post vacant after Godolphin's removal). The injuries however removed him from politics temporarily and St. John held the reins for the moment. St John now organized the expedition to Quebec and its command by Jack Hill, Abigail's brother, in order to get Abigail's (and thus the queen's) favor.

When Harley returned to parliament he proposed the South Sea Company that would get the monopoly of the slave trade with Spanish America in return for taking over 10 million of the national debt. The monopoly had to be acquired in a peace treaty. Harley no doubt still led the government that summer: when two of its members died they were replaced by moderate candidates of Harley's choice.

Gaultier, a French priest in London was used by Harley to open up secret negotiations with France. He arrived in Paris 18 January 1711 and met Torcy there. Here he suggested to Torcy that England wanted peace, and to Berwick that Anne wanted the pretender to succeed her. In April the French then made a proposal: England would get trade-rights in the Indies (South Sea company!), the Dutch a barrier and the other allies satisfactory agreements. The English then sent the proposal through to Holland.

In secret Matthew Prior arrived at Versailles 21 June 1711 to convey British demands:

  • The slave trade on Spanish America
  • Gibraltar and Minorca
  • Nova Scotia and New Foundland and its fisheries worth
  • The demolition of the Dunkirk fortifications
  • Recognition of Queen Anne (not of the Protestant succession)

It now became clear that the French would agree to these demands on condition that England deserted its allies. Thus it was also stipulated in a secret agreement between France and the English government that was been made up in October alongside the official preliminaries. These official preliminaries supposedly offered by France soon leaked and were published in October. This created a row in England. The ensuing struggle in parliament would lead to Marlborough's fall early 1712.

The United Provinces

Dutch security wishes demanded that one profited from the situation by giving such a blow to the French that a peace treaty would not be followed by renewed French aggression. This because all previous treaties with Louis had proved to be only very temporary.

The empire

It was now time to end the rebellion, and to this purpose Pálffy met Rákóczy in person on 31-01-1711, but even now Rákóczy would not bend. Later on Károlyi, who replaced Rakoczy who was in Poland, then negotiated with general Pálffy and swore loyalty to Joseph on 14 March. On 29 April 1711 a peace treaty was signed at Szatmar by which the crown (Joseph had just died) agreed to respect the constitution and religious liberty of Hungary, returned confiscated lands, and restored lands and gave amnesty to all that swore loyalty within three weeks.

The peace-treaty was a triumph for Joseph I's policy, not only in that it finally put down the Hungarian rebellion, but also in that it was a successful peace-treaty. No revenge was taken, and it went a long way to reconcile the Hungarian nobility, the Protestants and other groups with Habsburg rule. In other words it solved a lot of the problems that caused the war. Maria Theresia would not soon after get the full support of the Hungarian nobility.

The death of Emperor Joseph on April 17th and his succession by Charles VI (Charles III of Spain) opened up the possibility of a restoration of Charles V's empire. All that was needed was conquering the rest of Spain.

A lot of historians have later written that the then possible Habsburg dominance in Europe made it logical to leave Philip in Spain by making peace. This is faulty reasoning because this did not play a role in the efforts of the English peace party, and the rest of the alliance did not diminish their support for Charles. Simply put: a unification of Austria and Spain did not pose a threat to the seapowers in the Mediterranean and the Americas. Leaving Philip in Spain united two naval powers.


Louis now had high hopes of breaking up the coalition before being beaten. He thus ordered to stay on the defensive in Flanders.


After the successful expulsion of the allied troops from Castillia Felipe's army stood at the borders of Aragon. Things then soon returned to apathy. While at the beginning of the year Felipe had the choice between trying to take Barcelona or first trying to take the other places left to Charles, nothing much was done

The marquis de Bonnac as the new French ambassador arrived in late summer with the mission to get Felipe's consent to the peace preliminaries with the United Kingdom. This primarily meant to get Felipe's consent to give up Gibraltar, Port Mahon and the Assiento to the United Kingdom. In this Bonnac succeeded, but in another aspect he failed: Louis and the sea-powers wanted to conclude peace without Spanish negotiators present, but Bergeik found this unbearable for the Spanish prestige. Finally the Spanish negotiators were sent on their way to Utrecht. On December 28th Felipe gave the authority to make peace with the sea-powers to Louis XIV, and not to his ambassadors.

The allied plans

The allied plan still was to break through the French lines in Flanders in order to march on Paris.


Situation of the front in June 1711

In Flanders the allies had about xxx men consisting of battalions and squadrons The French had xxx men consisting of battalions and squadrons under Villars.

The opening of the Flanders campaign of 1711

In front of the allies now lay the 'Ne Plus Ultra' lines. The allies wanted to cross them between Arras and Bouchain and capture either Cambrai (Kamerrijk) or Bouchain. Because of Joseph's death Eugen was commanded away to Germany on June 14th, leaving Marlborough with only 90,000 men to accomplish it.

The Flanders campaign of 1711: Lens

Marlborough now marched on Lens hoping that the slightly stronger Villars would attack him. Villars however just detached some troops to the Rhine and went to Arras waiting for allied action.

The Flanders campaign of 1711: Arleux

The allies now had to take action and did this by taking Arleux 6 July. It was then heavily fortified, but badly manned, and Marlborough marched west. Villars saw it as an opportunity, recaptured Arleux and razed the place. Marlborough now west of Arras then made ostentatious reparations to go to battle there. In the night of 4/5 August the allies then marched eastwards, while at the same time a considerable allied force from Douai crossed at Arleux. On August 5 the allies were within the lines. An achievement considered to be one of Marlborough's greatest feats.

The Flanders campaign of 1711 Bouchain

The siege of Bouchain was much hindered by the fact that the French still held Valenciennes to the north of it. They also had some positions that held open communication to it. These positions were conquered on 17 August 1711, and on the 30th the siege guns started firing. On 14 September the still 2,500 strong garrison surrendered unconditionally. It was Marlborough's last victory and his last command that ended the campaign.

The Spanish Campaign

The campaign of 1710 ended January 25 with Noailles taking Gerona. The English had appointed Argyll in Spain with 5,000 men. Starhemberg was also there with 21,000 men. Charles III was not to willing to leave Barcelona but finally left for Vienna.

With Felipe's forces in the state they were in a siege of Barcelona would be difficult and so Felipe set on a campaign to conquer the mountainous terrain. This meant taking the fortresses of Arens, Venasque, Castel-Leon and Pratz del Rey in which Felipe's forces succeeded. The siege of Cardonne failed however, with Felipe's forces lifting their siege on 22 December.