Devolution, War of


Devolution, War of
(1667–68) Conflict between France and Spain over possession of the Spanish Netherlands.

Louis XIV began the war on the pretext that the custom of devolution, whereby daughters of a first marriage were preferred to sons of subsequent marriages regarding property inheritance, should apply to sovereign territories also. That would mean that his wife, Marie-Thérèse (1638–1683), should succeed her father, Philip IV, in the Spanish Netherlands. The French army advanced into Flanders in May 1667 and easily secured its objectives. A peace was reached at Aix-la-Chapelle, whereby France gave up Franche-Comté but retained conquered towns in Flanders.

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▪ European history [1667-68]
      (1667–68), conflict between France and Spain over possession of the Spanish Netherlands (present-day Belgium and Luxembourg).

      Devolution was a local custom governing the inheritance of land in certain provinces of the Spanish Netherlands, by which daughters of a first marriage were preferred to sons of subsequent marriages; and Louis XIV of France began the war on the pretext that this custom should apply to sovereign territories also, so that his wife, Marie-Thérèse (Marie-Thérèse Of Austria), should succeed her father, Philip IV of Spain (d. 1665), in the majority of the Spanish possessions in the Netherlands in preference to her younger halfbrother, Charles II of Spain, a sickly epileptic unlikely to live long or produce heirs.

      The French army under Marshal de Turenne (Turenne, Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne, vicomte de) advanced into Flanders in May 1667 and easily secured its objectives. Louis then turned to diplomacy and in January 1668 concluded a treaty with the Holy Roman emperor Leopold I whereby they agreed to partition the Spanish dominions between themselves on the Spanish king's death and in which it was also stipulated how much territory in the meantime France was to annex in the Netherlands. The French had also tried to win English support for their claims, but a new ministry in England turned instead to an alliance with the Dutch and with Sweden. These allies sought to contain the French advance by persuading Spain to agree to moderate terms and by supporting Spain in war if this proved of no avail. The settlement envisaged was much the same as that on which Louis XIV and the emperor had agreed, and so peace was soon concluded at Aix-la-Chapelle in April 1668, though not before the Prince de Condé (Condé, Louis II de Bourbon, 4e prince de) had overrun Franche-Comté with a French army. The latter province was returned to Spain, but France retained Bergues, Furnes, Armentières, Oudenaarde, Courtrai, Lille, Douai, Tournai, Binche, Ath, and Charleroi.

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Universalium. 2010.

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