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Enemies of the Habsburgs

An alliance between Louis XIV and a Transylvanian prince was just one aspect of the Sun King’s ambition to dominate Europe.

Louis XIV after Charles Le Brun,17th century © Bridgeman Images

Louis XIV was a national leader committed to expanding the borders of France: the acquisition of Alsace, Franche-Comté and half of Flanders are among his most lasting achievements. Equally he was a European, dedicated to improving France’s position in what was then called ‘the system’ or ‘the balance’ of Europe. Through embassies, subsidies and military alliances, he reinforced his kingdom’s relations with Sweden; Poland, where his cousin the Prince de Conti was briefly elected king in 1697, but was rapidly replaced by his wealthier rival the Elector of Saxony; Bavaria; and France’s longstanding ally, the Ottoman Empire.

These allies helped France in its struggle for supremacy in Europe against its great diplomatic and military rival: the house of Austria, or Habsburgs, Archdukes of Austria, kings of Bohemia and Hungary and Holy Roman Emperors. The principality of Transylvania, an Ottoman tributary opposed to the House of Austria, was to play a key role in Louis XIV’s European endeavours.

 

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