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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

Which thereby became quadruple


of Parma and Tuscany and a

vague suggestion of England's willingness to restore Gibraltar and Minorca. The English proposal was rejected, and in 1718 an expedition was sent into Sicily (then in the possession of Savoy, although the already mentioned exchange with Austria had been discussed). The Spaniards were received with enthusiasm, and soon had a mastery of the island. Meanwhile, Austria entered the triple alliance, which thereby became quadruple, on the basis of the emperor's offers to renounce his pretensions to the throne of Spain and to consent to the succession of Charles, son of Isabel Farnesio and Philip V, to the duchies of Parma, Plasencia, and Tuscany in exchange for Philip's return of Sicily and Sardinia and his renunciation of all dominion in Italy and the Low Countries. These terms were offered to Philip, who refused them, despite the English ambassador's insinuation of his country's willingness to return Gibraltar and Minorca if Philip would accept. While the British government was thus negotiating for peace through diplomatic channels it also took steps in another way to insure Spanish acquiescence in the allied proposals. An English fleet under Admiral Byng was ordered to attack the Spanish fleet without previous announcement of a warlike intent, managing the affair, if possible, so as to cast the blame on the Spanish commander. Byng found the Spanish fleet in Sicilian waters, destroyed it, and landed Austrian troops in Sicily. Several months later, in December, 1718, England declared
war on Spain, which was followed in January, 1719, by a declaration of war against Philip V on the part of France. Hopelessly outnumbered, Spain nevertheless displayed a surprising capacity for resistance. Defeat was inevitable, however, and late in 1719 Alberoni, whose extraordinary web of intrigues was deemed responsible for the existing situation, was dismissed from power, a condition exacted by the allies, and in 1720 peace was made on the basis of the earlier proposals of the quadruple alliance. Philip was ready to comply with these terms, but the emperor was now unwilling to grant what had been required of him. The result was a new alliance in 1721 of England, France, and Spain, of which the most noteworthy terms were England's definite promise to restore Gibraltar to Spain and an agreement for a double matrimonial alliance between the French and Spanish courts; a Spanish princess aged three was betrothed to Louis XV, then eleven years old, while a French princess was to marry Philip's eldest son, Luis. In addition the rights of Isabel's son Charles to the Italian duchies were reaffirmed. The marriage of Luis and the French princess was duly celebrated in 1722, and the Spanish princess was sent to the French court to be educated.

[Sidenote: Abdication of Philip V and reasons therefor.]

[Sidenote: Brief reign of Luis I and Philip's resumption of the throne.]

For several years Philip had been expressing a desire to abdicate. In January, 1724, he carried his previously announced intention into effect, declaring that he proposed to consecrate the remainder of his life to the service of God and the important work of maintaining his own health. There has been much speculation as to whether these were his real designs,--all the more so, since the ambitious queen at no time protested against this step. Although there is no direct evidence to that effect, it is more than probable that Philip and Isabel wanted to be ready to take advantage of the situation which might arise if Louis XV should die, as was expected. At any rate Philip's eldest son was proclaimed king, as Luis I, but the reign was of brief duration. In the same year 1724 Luis contracted smallpox and died. As there was a general disinclination to the succession of Philip's second son, Ferdinand, then a minor, the former king was asked to accept the crown again, and despite certain compunctions he felt in the matter he at length agreed to do so.


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