1902 Encyclopedia > Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor

Charles VI
Holy Roman Emperor

CHARLES VI. (1685-1740), emperor, was the second son of Leopold I. As the only male representative of the house of Hapsburg, he claimed the throne of Spain, which was left by Charles II. to Philip, duke of Anjou, grandson of Louis XIV.; and in order to prevent the predominance of the house of Bourbon, England, Holland, Prussia, _Germany, and Portugal gave him their support. In 1703 he was proclaimed at Vienna ; and having, after a visit to England, invaded Spain, with the assistance of an English fleet under Peterborough and an English land-force under the earl of Galway, he was proclaimed king in Madrid in 1706. He himself remained at Barcelona ; and the war continued with varying success, till the death of his brother, the Emperor Joseph I., in 1711, produced the most im-portant changes in the policy of the allied European powers. They became as much afraid of the supremacy of the house of Hapsburg as they had formerly been of that of Bourbon; and in 1713, by the treaty of Utrecht, they made peace with France. In the next year Charles was obliged to follow their example, and by the treaty of Bastadt he gave up all to Philip except the Spanish possessions in the Netherlands and Italy. In 1715 Charles undertook the defence of Venice against the Turks ; his general, Prince Eugene, gained some considerable successes, including the victory of Belgrade ; and, at the conclusion of peace in 171S, he added Belgrade, and parts of Servia, Slavonia, Bosnia, and Wallachia to the empire. He was next engaged in meeting an attack on his Italian territory made by Spain, whose policy was then directed by Alberoni; and, with the assistance of England, France, and Holland, he was speedily successful. After this for several years all his efforts were spent in endeavouring to obtain the recognition by the European powers of his Pragmatic Sanction of 1713, which settled the succession on his daughter, Maria Theresa, and her heirs. By ceding Parma and Piacenza, Charles purchased the favour of Spain, and he afterwards in a similar manner acquired the alliance of Bussia and Prussia. But England, France, Denmark, and Holland united to oppose him ; and it was only at the cost of considerable sacrifices that he at length, in a conference held at Vienna in 1731, obtained their recognition of his scheme. One of the promises which he then made was to secure the succession to the crown of Poland to the son of the reigning king ; and on the death of the latter he was consequently involved in a war with France, Spain, and Sardinia, which supported a rival claimant. In this struggle he lost Milan, Lorraine, and most of Lombardy, which were seized by the French, together with the two Sicilies, which were conquered by the Spaniards. His last war, against the Turks, was equally unfortunate. He died in 1740, leaving the empire considerably weakened by his reign.

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