In 1700 Charles II, or Carlos II, of Spain died without children. The rest of Europe had been preparing for the event for years.
Spanish Succession War, The Battle of Winedael Sep 28, 1708,
A huge dynastic inheritance awaited Charles’s heir and everyone was attempting to get it. Though, through marriage alliances it eventually came down to the Habsburgs and Louis XIV, everyone else had some sort of stake in the matter. England was interested in the trade of Spain’s American colonies. The Dutch were curious about the Spanish Netherlands. And very few people were pleased with the huge inheritance going to either a Habsburg or a Bourbon, the French line.

Promises had been made throughout Europe, but when Louis XIV learned that Charles had left the inheritance to his grandson, Philip of Anjoy, he conveniently forgot about these promises. And the English were not pleased when he recognized James III of England as the rightful king after James had been exiled. Nor was anyone pleased with Louis uniting the French and Spanish throne and leaving Spanish trade closed to the rest of the world. The Grand Alliance between the United Provinces, England, and the Holy Roman Empire was formed, with Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I as its leader.

Louis found himself fighting everyone everywhere. In France, Spain, Canada, India, the Caribbean, and many other places in Europe. In the beginning, the Grand Alliance found itself on top, led by English John Churchill the duke of Marlborough and Austrian Prince Eugene. Famines in France increased, but Louis’s borders remained the same during the war and his grandson would still be the Spanish heir, but he couldn’t unite Spain with France.

Twelve years later the fighting ended and Louis had to bend to the wishes of the Grand Alliance. The Peace of Utretcht was signed in 1713 and 1714. The peace stated that France and Spain could not be united. A Bourbon did take the throne however. He claimed the Spanish Indies, but the Netherlands went to the Holy Roman Emperor as compensation and as an area of defense for the Dutch. France handed over some land in America to Great Britain and James was expelled from France, with Louis recognizing the Protestant ruler of England.

Works Referenced

Chambers, Mortimer; Grew, Raymond; Herlihy, David; Rabb, Theodore K.; Woloch, Isser. _The Western Experience: Sixth Edition_. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1991.
Roberts, J.M. The Making of the European Age. Ed. Joanne Leveque and Georgina Harris. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. Print. Vol. 6 of The Illustrated History of the World. 10 vols.