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Austrian Netherlands

Subject History

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405189224.2011.x


Part of the Low Countries (see also the netherlands ), corresponding roughly to modern belgium and luxemburg . The Austrian Netherlands comprised the former Spanish Netherlands, minus the seven northern provinces which secured their independence in 1648 and some parcels of land taken over by Louis XIV. The fortunes of these small but strategically vital territories would depend heavily upon the ambitions of their larger neighbors. Under the terms of the Treaty of Rastadt (1714), part of the settlement concluding the War of Spanish Succession, the Spanish Netherlands were transferred to Austrian habsburg rule as a bar against further French aggression. During the War of the Austrian Succession (1740–8) they were nonetheless overrun by the French. Though the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748) returned them to Austrian control, France still cherished ambitions of obtaining them in the subsequent Seven Years War (1756–63). The territories prospered under the regime of benign neglect conducted by Emperor Charles VI and his daughter, Maria-Theresa. However, during the 1780s there was increasing dissatisfaction with the rationalizing policies of Joseph II. These conflicted with the linguistic diversity, local customs, and particularist privileges of the Netherlands. A secret society, “For Altar and Hearth,” was formed to resist Austrian oppression, supported by the Catholic Church ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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