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  • Charles VI

    lang=EN-US style='font-size:10.5pt;font-family:"Meridien-Medium","serif"; color:black'>(16851740)

    Holy Roman Emperor

    Charles was the second son of Emperor LEOPOLD

    I. In 1703 he became king of Spain, and on the

    death of Emperor JOSEPH I in 1711 he was

    elected to the imperial title and the Habsburg

    dominions. In appearance he was short and

    ugly, with a typical Habsburg lip and brown hair.

    He possessed a reticent personality. So without

    the characteristics of a great emperor and, like

    his father, not fond of governing, the prospects

    for his reign did not appear to be promising. On

    the other hand, his education and interests oriented

    him toward music, and he became a talented

    musician and a patron of the opera.

    At the death of King Carlos II of Spain,

    Leopold I went to war with Louis XIV of France

    to press the Habsburg claim to the Spanish

    Empire. The Habsburg campaign in Spain was

    unsuccessful, however, in that on the death of

    Emperor Joseph in 1711, Austrias allies refused

    to support Charles VIs claims and opposed a

    personal union of Spain and the Habsburg lands.

    Every member of the Grand Alliance except the

    Habsburgs concluded the Treaty of Utrecht in

    1713. The treaty recognized the monarchys

    conquests on the Italian peninsula plus Sardinia,

    and it confirmed Philip Vs hold on Spain and its

    overseas empire. Although opposed to the Treaty

    of Utrecht, Charles realized it was hopeless to

    continue the struggle without the Netherlands

    and Great Britain. Charles acquired Milan, Naples,

    and the Netherlands. There was a renewal of

    efforts to change this settlement, and in the end

    Charles exchanged Sardinia for Sicily.

    The issuance of the PRAGMATIC SANCTION was

    one of the consequences of the impossibility of

    regaining Spain. Charles wanted to ensure that

    Habsburg territories would pass intact to his heirs.

    The Pragmatic Sanction declared that all of the

    Habsburg possessions were indivisible and could

    be inherited in both male and female lines. The

    problem concerned his eldest daughter, MARIA

    THERESA, whose succession Charles wished to

    secure through the consent of the great powers.

    Securing the Pragmatic Sanction dominated foreign

    policy for the next two decades. Concessions

    were required. For Englands consent Charles

    abandoned the Ostend Company. In the Treaty of

    Berlin (1728) Prussia accepted the female succession.

    For the consent of Frederick Augustus of

    SAXONY Charles had to support his candidacy to

    the Polish throne. Neither the War of the Polish

    Succession (173338) nor the second Turkish war

    worked to Charless advantage. In the peace

    (1738) AUSTRIA lost Naples and Sicily to Spain

    and in return received Parma and Piacenza. Francis

    Stephen of Lorraine, the husband of Maria

    Charles VI 307

    Theresa, lost Lorraine in exchange for Tuscany.

    Perhaps it would have been wiser to follow the

    advice of Prince EUGENE OF SAVOY and guarantee

    the succession with a strong army and full

    treasury.

    In contrast to the disasters of the Polish War,

    Charles did fairly well during the first Turkish

    war. Charles had formed an alliance with Venice

    against the Turks, who were trying to reverse the

    settlement at Karlowitz (1699). Charles, realizing

    that the Turkish victories against Venice would

    endanger Hungary, sent Prince Eugene of Savoy

    against the Turks; he won the battle of Peterwardein

    (1716). In the Peace of Passarowitz

    (1718) the Turks kept Morea, while the gains that

    Charles made in Serbia, Wallachia, and Bosnia

    were lost in the second of his Turkish Wars

    (173739). He retained the banat of Temesvár.

    Austrian finances were in a state of near

    bankruptcy in the 1730s, even though Charles

    had made some efforts to improve trade and

    transportation. In 1740 Charles VI unexpectedly

    died, and the WAR OF THE AUSTRIAN SUCCESSION

    began in an attempt to divide up the Habsburg

    lands.

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