Striking Map of Europe at the Bellicose Beginning of the Eighteenth Century
Rare map of the theater of war in Europe, published by Carol Allard in Amsterdam. It shows southern Europe as it looked during the War of Spanish Succession.
The wide map shows Europe from the Netherlands south, with part of the British Isles peeking out in the northwest. A good portion of the Atlantic Ocean is included, so as to show the European possessions there, and the map stretches to the Black Sea and western Asia. The map’s main features are the many towns and cities marked, showing its political, rather than its topographical function. Borders are also emphasized.
The European side of the Mediterranean is shown in great detail, while the African coast includes many ports and a few rivers. Most of the African hinterland is filled with a stunning cartouche showing Europa. The personification of the continent, a fair woman being crowned by a cherub, is sitting atop a bull. Europe is often shown riding on a bull, a reference to the myth of Zeus and Europa. To her right is a milk maid in a pastoral scene, a church spire in the distance. To her left are prosperous merchants making deals and overseeing ships at a bustling port, a stately town hall in the background. The cartouche is meant to symbolize the peace and prosperity that could reign in Europe, if only the fighting would cease.
Two more cherubs hold a large banner to the right. A hemisphere, showing Europe and Africa between the Americas and Asia, is at the bottom, providing wider geographic context for the area shown in detail. The cherubs’ banner contains a paragraph that outlines the places from which longitude had historically been derived. These include Corfu, Tenerife, and the Canary Islands.
War in Europe in the 1690s
A simple cartouche in the bottom left explains that this is a map of the theater of war in southern Europe. But which war?
The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were a particularly bellicose period for Europe. This map could be referring to one of several wars, including the Nine Years War (1688-1697) or the Great Turkish War (1683-1699). The former was a global war fought in Ireland and Scotland, Europe, the Americas, and Asia. It pitted France’s Louis XIV against a Grand Alliance of the Dutch Republic, England, Scotland, the Holy Roman Empire, the Spanish Empire, the Duchy of Savoy, Portugal, and the Swedish Empire.
The conflict, also called the War of the Grand Alliance or the War of the League of Augsburg, was essentially an effort to limit Louis XIV’s expansionary actions. Under the umbrella of the war was also the Jacobite rising in Scotland, the Williamite War in Ireland, and fighting between French and English settlers and indigenous peoples in North America (King William’s War).
The European fighting took place in the Spanish Netherlands, the Rhineland, Savoy, and Catalonia. It ended in 1697 with the Treaty of Ryswick. France was allowed to retain Alsace and regained Pondicherry in India, as well as Acadia in North America. They had to return Freiburg, Breisach, and Philippsburg to the Holy Roman Empire, as well as give Spain back control of Catalonia.
Although the Dutch played a prominent part in the Nine Years War, and this map was published in Amsterdam, the main areas of fighting, particularly Savoy, are not emphasized on this map. Rather, it seems more likely that this map was meant to show the theater of battle of another conflict, possibly the Great Turkish War.
The Great Turkish War, or the War of the Holy League, was fought between the Ottoman Empire and the Holy League, which consisted of the Habsburg Empire, Venice, Russia, and Poland-Lithuania. This war was significant because it handed a considerable loss to the powerful Ottoman Empire and marked the first time Russia had been drawn into a continental European alliance.
The Ottoman Empire had been making territorial gains in central Europe, until they were halted at the gates of Vienna in 1683. Such a bold offensive on such an important city alarmed the Central European powers, and the Pope, Innocent XI, organized the Holy League to oppose the Ottoman advance.
After over a decade of fighting, the Turks were defeated. They had to cede large portions of Hungary and Transylvania, as shown here. Podolia was also returned to Poland, also shown on this map. The gains for the Holy League in Greece are exaggerated here, as in reality they only gained the Peloponnese Peninsula, not large portions of the mainland as well. The war significantly rewrote the political borders of Central and Eastern Europe, as well as added to the already considerable power of the Hapsburgs.
War of the Spanish Succession
However, the map shows territory as it was at the end of the Great Turkish War, not during the fighting. The inclusion of this map in Allard’s Atlas major ex novissimus selectissimisque a quovis auctore editis cùm general. omnium totius orbis terrarum regnorum, rerumpublic. et insularum, published in Amsterdam in 1705, points to yet another war. The map’s creation was in the middle of one of the largest conflicts of the eighteenth century, the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714).
When Charles II of Spain died in November 1700, he left no issue; the Spanish throne was vacant. The most likely contenders were members of the Austrian Hapsburg or the French Bourbon families, both of which were related to the Spanish royal line. Louis XIV, ever ambitious, sought to install his grandson Philip on the throne, and Philip was crowned on November 16, 1700. This gave the Bourbons power over the majority of Western Europe. The threat a Bourbon succession posed to the balance of power was enough to send most of Europe into war.
The Bourbon Alliance, consisting of France, Bourbon Spain, Bavaria, Cologne, Liege, Portugal (before 1703), Savoy (before 1703), and Hungary, faced off against the Grand Alliance of the Holy Roman Empire, Britain, the Dutch Republic, and those loyal to a Hapsburg monarchy in Spain. They were also supported by Prussia, Portugal (after 1703), Savoy (after 1703), and Danish auxiliaries.
After initial French gains, the Grand Alliance pushed them back into their borders. Interestingly, the Netherlands are shown as a unified body here, a result that was not assured until the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, and the Treaties of Rastatt and Baden in 1714. The mapmaker is showing some of his own political allegiances. Others areas of fighting included northern Italy, Spain, and what is today Germany, all areas shown in great detail.
After fighting to a stalemate that saw the Grand Alliance victorious at sea yet unable to make significant land gains, the Holy Roman Emperor, Joseph, died in 1711. His brother, Charles, succeeded him. However, Charles had already been named as the Hapsburg contender for the Spanish throne. If he was also Holy Roman Emperor, the balance of powers was again tilted, this time in favour of Austria.
To avoid either France or Austria gaining too much influence, Britain, who was financing the Grand Alliance, forced peace negotiations. These resulted in the Treaties of Utrecht, Rastatt, and Baden. Philip was recognized as the rightful king of Spain. However, he had to renounce any claim to the French throne. Spain had to cede the Spanish Netherlands, Naples, Milan, and Sardinia to the Hapsburgs, while they lost Sicily to Savoy. Gibraltar and Menorca were handed to Britain and France made modest gains as well. The real winners of this war were the British, who proved their naval might, gained trade rights in Asia, and secured important naval fortresses.
All of Europe was gripped by the battles and negotiations associated with this war, as a clear victor would rewrite the political and economic reality of the continent. Merchants, politicians, and others in would have been eager to know about this war and its results, providing a ready market for a map such as this. However, the map also shows the results of other recent wars, reminding the reader how pugnacious European politics were during this time.
This map is very rare on the market. OCLC locates just one example (Harvard).