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New in our coin shop: History in Coins – 10th September 1702: Maximilian II. Emanuel captures Ulm

 

September 10th 1702, Ulm

Maximilian II Emanuel of Bavaria, scion of the house of Wittelsbach, son-in-law to the Holy-Roman Emperor and successful commander in the Ottoman wars, has conquered the Imperial city Ulm in a surprise attack. In doing this he has broken the constitution of the Empire even though as an elector he should be a „pillar of the realm“ and „use his voice in the name of the realm“.

What has happened?

July 15th 1685, Vienna

Leopold I of Habsburg, Emperor of the Holy-Roman Empire had a problem: The French Sun King Louis XIV was of the opinion that some parts of the Empire like Alsace and Luxembourg historically belonged to France and therefore should be reunited with their “homeland”. The French king therefore put pressure on the possessions of the Electors of Cologne, Mainz and the Palatinate. With much success: The electors turned away more and more from the Empire.

In order to not lose more electors to the ambitions of France the Emperor acted with calculus. He bestowed his last living child Maria Antonia of Austria to the ambitious elector Maximilian II Emanuel in marriage. Because of her mother she was entitled to the Spanish crown should it ever be free. And this heritage was also entitled to her husband.

Leopold hoped to gratify Maximilian’s lust for power and to make sure that Maximilian was on his side against France. Because the French were entitled to the Spanish crown, too. Philip V, Duke of Anjou and son of the French heir apparent had a Spanish grandmother, who has been a Habsburg.

November 1st 1700, Madrid

Charles II of Spain died without offspring. The huge empire with its colonies in the New World needed a sovereign. In Europe the rulers armed themselves for a race to the throne, first of all the Habsburgs and France.

For Maximilian Emanuel this situation was an especially bitter one. His son from Maria Antonia – Joseph Ferdinand – was named Karl‘s heir in 1698 but died one year later, aged six. Shortly before his death Charles named Philip V as his heir apparent. Louis XIV accepted the inheritance and appointed his grandson as king of Spain. 1701 he moved triumphantly to Madrid. Leopold I didn’t want to accept this and so the War of the Spanish Succession started.

Maximilian Emanuel’s efforts to make his house grand seem to have failed. But after all he didn’t want to bury his dreams. After several secret meetings he offered the French king to start a war in the middle of the Holy Roman Empire to tie the Emperor’s strength. Louis XIV was to guarantee him that France would accept his claims on the conquered areas and he could rule there as king. The Sun King agreed and Maximilian Emanuel went to capture Ulm.

In the so called Bavarian-German War Maximilian had in the beginning lots of military successes. Besides Ulm he also conquered Memmingen and Dillingen. He seized Neuburg an der Donau, Augsburg and Regensburg. The French king sent troops to Bavaria to support his ally. The Wittelbach’s plans seem to make ends meet and the long awaited crown came nearer and nearer.

But the Emperor wasn’t lazy at all: Leopold united with the Netherlands, England and Prussia to oppose France. The so called Great Alliance of Den Haag where the Union was agreed upon overcame the Bavarians and the French at last. The Battle of Blenheim in 1704 ended in a devastating defeat for Maximilian Emanuel. The Bavarian-German War was over.

The defeated elector fled into exile to the Netherlands and he lost all his conquered areas. The Electorate of Bavaria and his other possessions were administered the next years by the Emperor. The Wittelsbach didn’t show any regret despite these developments. He didn’t turn away from the union with Louis XIV. He still hoped that his loyalty to France would be worthwhile one day. But at the end of the War of the Spanish Succession in 1714 the French king was only interested in securing his own interests.

After all his machinations Maximilian Emanuel was reinstated as an elector in 1714 but his great dream to be a king was never to become true.


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