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Germain des Prés, but the Pope, Clement XII., gave him a dispensation to take part in the war, and he directed the principal attacks upon the fortress of Ypres. The allies were weak, divided, and incapable. In two months Ypres, Courtrai, Menin, and Furnes were taken, and the whole of the Low Countries would probably have been conquered, had not the invaders been arrested by sinister news from Alsace.

That province had been left under the protection of Marshal Coigny, and of the Bavarian General Seckendorf, whose combined armies were believed to be sufficient to guard the passes of the Rhine. General Khevenhuller had died in the previous winter; but Prince Charles of Lorraine, who commanded the Austrians, and who was accompanied by Marshal Traun, one of the ablest soldiers in the Austrian service, succeeded in deceiving his enemies, and his army in three bodies crossed the Rhine. The war raged fiercely around Spire, Weissenburg, and Saverne, in that unhappy country which has been fated in so many contests to be the battlefield of Europe. The Austrians, with an army of 60,000 men, effected a secure lodgment in Alsace, and advanced to the frontiers of Lorraine; and the French King, leaving Marshal Saxe with 30,000 men, to maintain his conquests in the Netherlands, hastened with the remainder of the army to its relief. The King fell ill at Metz, and appeared for a time at the point of death, but after a somewhat dangerous delay, his troops arrived by forced marches in Alsace, which seemed destined to be the scene of the decisive struggle of the year, when a new enemy suddenly appeared in the field, and again diverted the course of the war.

This enemy was Frederick of Prussia. No prince of his time perceived his interests more clearly, or acted on them with such combined secrecy, energy, and skill; and as he was at the head of one of the best armies in Europe, and as it cost him nothing to break a treaty or to abandon an ally, he succeeded in a very great degree in making himself the arbiter of the war. By the Peace of Breslau he had once already suddenly changed its fortunes, and brought about the almost complete

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destruction of one of the armies of the ally whom he had deserted, and he had hitherto resisted all overtures to break the peace. He calculated, as he himself informs us, that the longer the war should continue the more would the resources of the House of Austria be exhausted, while the longer Prussia remained at peace the more strength she would acquire.' But, on the other hand, it was one of his maxims that 'it is a capital error in politics to trust a reconciled enemy;' and there was much in the present aspect of affairs to excite both his cupidity and his fears. He was alarmed by the ascendency the Austrians had obtained in Alsace, and by the prospect of the annexation of Lorraine; by the growing ambition of the Queen of Hungary, which made it peculiarly unlikely that she would permanently acquiesce in the alienation of Silesia, and by intelligence that Saxony had agreed to join in the league against France. It was a suspicious circumstance that the Treaty of Worms, while enumerating and guaranteeing many other treaties, had made no mention of the Peace of Breslau, by which he held Silesia; and George II. was reported to have used some language implying that he, at least, would not be reluctant to see that province restored. Even before the close of 1743 Frederick had been in secret negotiation with France, and the events in Alsace strengthened his determination. Maria Theresa had not committed the smallest act since the peace of Breslau that could be construed into hostility to Prussia, but Frederick concluded, with reason, that she had never forgiven his past treachery, and he feared that if she became too strong, she would endeavour to drive him from Silesia. This might be the result if she were victorious in Alsace. It might be equally the result if France, alarmed at her progress, made peace, and retired from the war. On the other hand, the wars of Alsace, the Netherlands, and Italy had left the Austrian provinces almost undefended, and the King saw the possibility of effecting a new spoliation by annexing a portion of Bohemia to his dominions. After some unsuccessful negotiation with Russia, he signed secret conventions with the Emperor, France, the Elector

Palatine, and the Landgrave of Hesse; and engaged to invade Bohemia, stipulating that a considerable portion of that country which adjoined Silesia should be annexed to his dominions. In August 1744 he issued a manifesto, declaring that he had taken arms to support the rights of the Emperor, to defend the liberty and restore the peace of the Germanic empire. He marched through Saxony, in defiance of the wishes of the Elector, invaded Bohemia, captured Prague, with its entire garrison, on September 16, and speedily reduced all Bohemia to the east of the Moldau. At the same time a united army of Bavarians and Hessians expelled the Austrians from the greater part of Bavaria, and on October 22 reinstated the Emperor in Munich. At this point, however, his usual good fortune abandoned Frederick. Maria Theresa again fled to Hungary, and was again received with an enthusiasm that completely disconcerted her enemies. An army of 44,000 men was speedily equipped in Hungary, while on the other side Prince Charles of Lorraine and Marshal Traun hastened to abandon Alsace, effected, with scarcely any loss, a masterly retreat over the Rhine, in the presence of the united French army, and marched rapidly upon Bohemia. The irregular troops, which played so prominent a part in Austrian warfare, assisted as they were by the good wishes of the whole population, and by the nature of the country, soon reduced the Prussians to extreme distress. The villages were deserted. No peasant came to the camp to sell provisions. The defiles of the mountains that surround Bohemia swarmed with hussars and Croats, who intercepted convoys and cut off intelligence; and their success was so great that on one occasion the King and army remained for four weeks absolutely without news. To add to their disasters, 20,000 Saxon troops marched to the assistance of Prince Charles, while a severe winter greatly aggravated the sufferings of the invaders. A rapid retreat became necessary, and the Prussians were compelled to abandon all their conquests, and to retire broken, baffled, and dispirited into Silesia. The French and

the Emperor were the only gainers. Marshal Saxe maintained his position in the Netherlands. Alsace was freed from its invaders, and the French, crossing the Rhine, laid siege to the important town of Friburg. The Austrian General Damnitz defended it for thirty-five days, till it was little more than a mass of ruins, and till half the garrison and 15,000 of the besiegers had been killed; and its capture concluded the campaign.


While these events were happening in Germany, Italy also was the theatre of a bloody, desolating, but utterly indecisive Maria Theresa and the King of Sardinia were now professedly united, but they insisted on pursuing separate ends. The interests of the King were in the north, and his immediate object was the conquest of Finale. The Austrians, on the other hand, drove the Spaniards southwards from near Rimini to the Neapolitan frontier, when the King of Naples, breaking the neutrality he had signed, marched to the war with an army of 15,000 men. The Austrians, outnumbered and baffled, made one daring effort to retrieve their fortunes, and succeeded, in the night of August 10, in surprising the head-quarters of the King of Naples at Velletri. The King and the Duke of Modena were all but killed, and a long and most bloody fight ensued. At last the Austrians, who had been disorganised by the opportunities of plunder, gave way, and the victory remained with the allies. The malaria arising from the Pontine marshes soon did its work among the German soldiers, and in November the army retired, in a greatly reduced condition, to the neighbourhood of Rimini, while their enemies were quartered between Viterbo and Civita Vecchia. The King of Sardinia, in the meantime, was engaged in a desperate contest with an invading army of French and Spaniards, which forced its way through Nice, fighting almost at every step, invested Coni, and defeated a large force that was sent to its relief. Genoa would have assisted the invaders, but was intimidated by the English fleet; and, in spite of many successes, the French were unable to take Coni, and on the approach of winter they

recrossed the Alps, having lost, it is said, not less than 10,000 men in the campaign.

So ended the year 1744, during which a fearful sum of human misery had been inflicted on the world. Bohemia, Bavaria, the Austrian Netherlands and Italy had been desolated by hostile forces. Tens of thousands of lives had been sacrificed, millions of pounds had been uselessly squandered, all the interests of civilisation and industry had been injured or neglected, but it can scarcely be said that a single important result had been achieved. The relative forces of the belligerents at the end of the year were almost the same as they had been at the beginning, and there was as yet no sign of the approach of peace.

In 1745, however, the clouds began in some degree to break. On January 8, an offensive alliance was concluded between England, Holland, Austria, and Saxony, by which the King of Poland agreed, as Elector of Saxony, to furnish 30,000 troops for the defence of Bohemia on condition of receiving a subsidy of 100,000l. from England, and of 50,000l. from Holland. On January 20 the Emperor Charles VII. died, broken alike by sorrow and by sickness; and the young Elector, refusing to become a candidate for the Imperial dignity, made earnest overtures for peace. The Duke of Lorraine, the husband of Maria Theresa, was candidate for the Empire, and the Elector agreed to support him, to withdraw his troops from the war, and to recognise the Pragmatic Sanction, provided his Bavarian dominions were secured, and the validity of his father's election was recognised. On April 22 a peace between Austria and Bavaria was signed on these conditions at Fuessen, and in September, to the great disappointment of French politicians, the Imperial dignity reverted to the House of Austria by the almost unanimous election of the Duke of Lorraine as Emperor of Germany. Still more important was the peace between Austria and Prussia, which was negotiated at the end of the year. As may very easily be understood, Maria Theresa felt towards Frederick more bitterly than towards any other enemy. The recovery of Silesia was the object now nearest her heart. Upon the failure of Frederick's

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