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The Grand Alliance was a European coalition, consisting (at various times) of Austria, Bavaria, Brandenburg, the Dutch Republic, England, the Holy Roman Empire, Ireland, the Palatinate of the Rhine, Portugal, Savoy, Saxony, Scotland, Spain and Sweden. The organization, which was founded in 1686 as the League of Augsburg, was known as the "Grand Alliance" after England and Scotland joined the League (in 1689). It was originally formed in an attempt to halt Louis XIV of France's expansions.


The League was officially formed by Emperor Leopold I, acting upon the advice of William III of Orange. The primary reason for the League's creation was to defend the Electorate of the Palatinate from France. This organization fought the War of the Grand Alliance against France from 1688 to 1697.

The Alliance was twice installed. Between 1689 and 1698 it fought the Nine Years War against France. After the Treaty of Den Haag was signed on September 7, 1701 it went into a second phase as the Alliance of the War of Spanish Succession. The War ended following the Tory political victory in 1710 in Britain which led to the Peace of Utrecht — the peace with France which granted Spain's crown to the French candidate but divided Spain's external territories. In Spain the war continued until it was decided by the Siege of Barcelona, on September 11, 1714.

The Grand Alliance gained cultural and political credibility as an example of a possible European union. It was supported by (most of) the German territories, Britain and the Netherlands, as well as by many French intellectuals who were disenchanted with the absolutist rule of Louis XIV, the eviction of the Huguenots in 1685 and the union of Catholicism and the French crown at home.


The end of the Grand Alliance was due primarily to a growing dissatisfaction amongst the British populace having to finance the wars abroad. The balance of power doctrine eventually resulted, however, from the wars Britain proved able both to begin and to end on its own terms. The Grand Alliance (and wars fought by the Alliance) also contributed to a new sense of how wars would be fought in the future. The death toll of the most important battles and sieges was enormous[peacock term], yet none of the three wars fought from 1689-1721 led to a repeat of the atrocities of the Thirty Years' War fought in the early seventeenth century. Instead, the generals of the Grand Alliance became heroes of a Europe "civilized even when at war" - an ideal which would last, with some exceptions, to the early days of the First World War.


In cultural terms French fashions propagated by journals, newspapers and books published in the free Netherlands became the platform of the political movement which would attack France's politics rather than the nation and its people. French fashions could under this pretext be propagated all over Europe without the usual fear that one was favouring the culture of the enemy - one would favour the culture of a civilized nation, not the culture of the political opponent Louis XIV who fought a war against Europe and against the cultural elite of his own country.

Between 1689 and 1721 - the end of the Great Northern War which had begun in 1700 - the notion a "European" fashion evolved, reflected by a mass of title pages in which Europe appeared as the central word.


  • Thompson, Andrew: The Grand Alliances, European History Online, Mainz: Institute of European History, 2013, retrieved: January 28, 2013.

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