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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

Especially those growing out of the asiento


[Sidenote:

The War of the Austrian Succession and the acquisition of the North Italian duchies for Isabel's son Philip.]

The various princes of Europe had guaranteed Charles VI's Pragmatic Sanction one or more times, but when the emperor died, in 1740, each of them proceeded along the line of political interest. Urged on by Isabel Farnesio, Philip V renewed his pretensions to the duchies in northern Italy and to other Italian territories in Austrian hands which had formerly belonged to Spain. France, Prussia, and other states of lesser importance also made certain claims. England's interest lay with the opponent of France and Spain, wherefore she joined with Austria. In a military way the war was very nearly indecisive, and there was a general desire for peace by the year 1746. This attitude received a fresh impulse by the accession of Ferdinand VI to the Spanish throne in that year, for he was a determined partisan of peace. The treaty of 1748 was entirely favorable to Isabel Farnesio in that she obtained the duchies of Parma, Plasencia, and Guastalla for her son Philip; Tuscany was no longer available, having been in other hands since the agreement of 1735. The dispute with England was settled by a recognition of commercial advantages in favor of that country, especially those growing out of the _asiento_; two years later the _asiento_ was annulled in exchange for a heavy payment by Spain. Meanwhile, the voyage of Anson around the world, 1739-1742, had

in fact dealt a blow to Spain in America, revealing the Spanish secrets of the Pacific. The peace of 1748 marked the culminating point in the aspirations of Isabel Farnesio. After more than thirty years of effort she had almost completely attained her ends. Spain had paid the bills, with little to compensate her except glory and at the cost of losses in the colonies, which though not translated into cessions of territory were to have ultimate effects to the disadvantage of Spain.

[Sidenote: Importance of the peaceful reign of Ferdinand VI.]

The reign of Ferdinand VI (1746-1759) looms little in external narrative, because it was an era of peace, but on that very account it was important in institutions. The achievements of Charles III were made possible by the policies of economic regeneration which were so strongly to the fore in the reign of Ferdinand VI. Ferdinand, who may have been deficient enough in some respects, who took very little part himself in affairs of government, and who displayed tendencies to melancholia and even insanity, was firmly of the opinion that Spain needed peace, and at a time when Europe was engaging in another great conflict, the Seven Years' War, he declined the overtures of both France and England, the leading opponents in the struggle, even when accompanied by such tempting bait as the latter's offer of the restitution of much-desired Gibraltar and Minorca. In 1759 he died without issue, and his half-brother, Charles, son of Isabel Farnesio, came to the throne of Spain, after a long experience as a ruler in Italy. Thus did the "Termagant of Spain" achieve yet a new victory to reward her maternal ambition,--and meanwhile the Two Sicilies were not lost to her line, for that kingdom passed to her grandson Ferdinand, the third son of Charles.


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