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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

And in the spring of 1742 he marched into Bohemia


II. saw his opportunity, and was first in the field. His pretext was the right of Brandenburg to four principalities in Silesia, which had been relinquished to Austria under the pressure of circumstances. The real reason was, as he afterwards confessed, his determination to strengthen Prussia by the acquisition of more territory. The kingdom was divided into so many portions, separated so widely from each other, that it could not become powerful and permanent unless they were united. He had secretly raised his military force to 100,000 men, and in December, 1740, he marched into Silesia, almost before Austria suspected his purpose. His army was kept under strict discipline; the people were neither plundered nor restricted in their religious worship, and the capital, Breslau, soon opened its gates. Several fortresses were taken during the winter, and in April, 1741, a decisive battle was fought at Mollwitz. The Austrian army had the advantage of numbers and its victory seemed so certain that Marshal Schwerin persuaded Frederick to leave the field; then, gathering together the remainder of his troops, he made a last and desperate charge which turned defeat into victory. All Lower Silesia was now in the hands of the Prussians.


France, Spain, Bavaria and Saxony immediately united against Austria. A French army crossed the Rhine, joined the Bavarian forces, and marched

to Linz, on the Danube, where Karl Albert was proclaimed Arch-Duke of Austria. Maria Theresa and her Court fled to Presburg, where the Hungarian nobles were already convened, in the hope of recovering the rights they had lost under Leopold I. She was forced to grant the most of their demands; after which she was crowned with the crown of St. Stephen, galloped up "the king's hill," and waved her sword towards the four quarters of the earth, with so much grace and spirit that the Hungarians were quite won to her side. Afterwards, when she appeared before the Diet in their national costume, with her son Joseph in her arms, and made an eloquent speech, setting forth the dangers which beset her, the nobles drew their sabres and shouted: "We will die for our _King_, Maria Theresa!"

While the support of Hungary and Austria was thus secured, the combined German and French force did not advance upon Vienna, but marched to Prague, where Karl Albert was crowned King of Bohemia. This act was followed, in February, 1742, by his coronation in Frankfort as Emperor, under the name of Karl VII. Before this took place, Austria had been forced to make a secret treaty with Frederick II. The latter, however, declared that the conditions of it had been violated, and in the spring of 1742 he marched into Bohemia. He was victorious in the first great battle: England then intervened, and persuaded Maria Theresa to make peace by yielding to Prussia both Upper and Lower Silesia and the principality of Glatz. Thus ended the First Silesian War, which gave Prussia an addition of 1,200,000 to her population, with 150 large and small cities, and about 5,000 villages.

[Sidenote: 1742.]

The most dangerous enemy of Austria being thus temporarily removed, the fortunes of Maria Theresa speedily changed, especially since England, Holland and Hannover entered into an alliance to support her against France. George II. of England took the field in person, and was victorious over the French in the battle of Dettingen (not far from Frankfort), in June, 1743. After this Saxony joined the Austrian alliance, and the Landgrave of Hesse, who cared nothing for the war, but was willing to make money, sold an equal number of soldiers to France and to England. Frederick II. saw that France would not be able to stand long against such a coalition, and he knew that the success of Austria would probably be followed by an attempt to regain Silesia; therefore, regardless of appearances, he entered into a compact with France and the Emperor Karl VII., and prepared for another war.

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