The wonders of 17th century medicine saves the day again
well saves his life but does not 'better' his life. There are of course limits, and the man is going to be living in mild pain for the rest of his life. Thankfully, one of his doctors did identify the meningitis (Dr. Gibbons), but Radcliffe the head physician ignored him OTL. Radcliffe meets a 'certain accident' ittl and Gibbons, as next in line becomes head physician stemming the meningitis. Curing and stemming meningitis was not hard in the 17th century, identifying it as meningitis was much more hard, and arguably the main issue that took lives.
 
Chapter 3: The Spanish Spark
Chapter 3
The Spanish Spark


“The situation in Spain will prove to be the spark that will set Europe alight once again"
-
King William III of England



“It is the will of Spain that see’s Philip of Anjou as their King!”
- Louis XIV of France


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Carlos II of Spain

In 1700, all of Europe watched the events unfolding in Iberia with trepidation as the question of Spanish Succession loomed. The Treaty of Partition of 1699 had intended to make peace with the succession, but Emperor Leopold I’s refusal to ratify the Partition Treaty had destroyed much work done in favor of peace. And tensions came to a head when in April, 1700, the Spanish Court officially called on Philip of Anjou as a possible and likely heir to the Spanish throne. Pope Innocent XII, who was dependent on Spanish subsidiaries for his anti-nepotism campaign in Latium and the papal dioceses in Italy, was forced to call out in favor of Philip of Anjou, despite the fact that he held a compact with the Holy Roman Emperor. In the words of Emperor Leopold I “the Pope has been forced by economics to come out in favor of the Spaniards.”

The pro-Austrian faction in the Spanish Court, headed by Queen Maria Anna decided to act hard and fast and the Queen quickly denounced the suggestion, speaking in favor of her nephew, the Archduke Charles of Austria, who she deemed to be the rightful heir to Spain, continuing the Habsburg dynasty in Spain. Here, the ambiguity of European royal marriages came into work, as genealogists at the time could not debate on whether Archduke Charles or Philip of Anjou had a closer claim to the throne, adding confusion to an already muddled and confused succession crisis. Carlos II did not take part in the bitter debate between the Spanish Council of State and his wife, believing that he would have to remain neutral towards the question if he was to remain seen as a just King, which was a wise thing to do, for if Carlos II had been involved in the debate, it is likely that in the tense atmosphere of 1700 Spain, civil war would have broken out over the succession. In that aspect, despite his physical weakness, Carlos II showed a rare amount of intelligence and shrewdness in his last month’s alive.


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Maria Anna of Neuberg
The Pro-Austrian Queen of Spain

In early June, the Spanish Council of State returned to Madrid to settle the question of succession and to take a vote in the matter. Carlos II, showing the characteristic intellectuality of his last months, did not take part in the voting, instead opting to stay outside of the Palace as a neutral mediator instead. His wife, Maria Anna put forward the argument of Archduke Charles, declaring fervently in favor of the Austrian line of Habsburgs, to continue on what she called to be the Golden Age of Spain. Certainly, history sided with Maria Anna, as under the Habsburgs the Spanish had reached their zenith, and lingering wariness from the Franco-Spanish Wars still remained. But the pomposity and arrogance of the Austrian diplomats in Madrid arguing in favor of Archduke Charles did a lot to alienate key Spanish nobles, who later voted in favor of Philip of Anjou. The vote was settled, and Philip of Anjou was voted by the Spanish Council of State to be the official heir to the Spanish Throne. All that remained was for Carlos II to accept the decision and write a formal will regarding the succession.

But before Carlos II could formally write a formal will, he fell ill, and into bouts of incoherency due to his mental illnesses, and he was retired into his palace. This created a power vacuum that was not exploited fast enough by Queen Maria Anna, as the Archbishop of Toledo, Luis Manuel Fernandez de Portocassero seized the opportunity and became the de-facto regent of Spain under the authority of the Council of State. De Portocassero, who was in the French camp in the Spanish court, isolated King Carlos II in his room, and did not allow anyone to enter the room to see the King besides his own servants and pro-French nobles and politicians in Spain. De Portocassero had seized so much power as Regent in such a short amount of time, that he even barred Maria Anna from joining her husband at his bedside, and told the Queen to remain in her own separate palace, on the outskirts of Madrid, much to the rage of the pro-Austrian faction in the Spanish court. On October 7, 1700, a new will was formally written by Carlos II in isolation, which formally named Philip of Anjou as his heir, with the Duc de Berry of France named as second heir, and Archduke Charles named as the far and solitary third in line to the succession. In case that all three princes were unable to take the throne, the Duke of Savoy was to be granted the Spanish Throne. This Will was disputed heavily by Queen Maria Anna, who declared that in isolation, and ill, her husband had been manipulated by the Archbishop of Toledo to name Anjou and Berry as heirs. Certainly, among the neutral and pro-Maria Anna leaning nobles in Spain, suspicion was aroused, as the solitary manner in which the Will was suddenly published awoke alarm bells of suspicion in many of the Spanish nobility. [1]


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The Archbishop of Toledo
The Man who arguably started the War of Spanish Succession

But before the dispute could go into legal hands in Spain, King Carlos II died on November 1, 1700 much to the alarm of the pro-Austrian faction in Spain. Almost immediately, de Portocassero asserted his power as Regent of Spain and called the Council of State, with the Will of Carlos II declared was legitimate and the Queen’s disputation of the Will considered illegitimate. De Portocassero had maneuvered himself faster and more efficiently than the former Queen and the pro-Habsburg faction in Spain had failed to see Archduke Charles made king through legal and domestic measures. The will and the news of Carlos II’s death was immediately dispatched to France whilst de Portocassero forced Queen Maria Anna into solitary house arrest in a palace in Cordoba, alongside a small group of retainers for the former Queen. Maria Anna, enraged at what she deemed to be the subversion of her late husband’s ‘true’ will, she began intriguing and plotting in secret in favor of her nephew with pro-Habsburg elements in Spain. The Spanish Inquisition tore itself apart as pro-French and pro-Austrian elements of the Inquisition fought against each other openly, with the pro-French elements led by Froilan Diaz and the pro-Austrian elements led by Baltasar de Mendoza.

On the 13th of November, news arrived in the French court regarding the death of Carlos II and the Spanish Ambassador, Castel De Rey handed over the will of the now late King to Louis XIV, which called for Philip of Anjou to ascend to the crown as King of Spain. Louis XIV immediately regathered his royal council to discuss the issue of the Spanish Succession. The Grand Dauphin, Foreign Minister Torcy, Chancellor Pontchartrain, and the Duc de Beauvilliers were all called for advice. Torcy was ferocious in his support for Philip of Anjou’s succession, with him pointing out to Louis XIV “Should Archduke Charles ascend to the Spanish Throne, then France will be surrounded by the Habsburg Compact once again, a dagger at France’s very heart. All that France has obtained in Italy in the past century will be for naught should Archduke Charles become King of Spain.” Much to the surprise of Louis XIV and the Royal Council, the Grand Dauphin was uncharacteristically robust in his assertion of his son’s rights to the Spanish throne by virtue of the Dauphin’s Spanish mother Maria Theresa. The Duc de St. Simon, Louis de Rouvoir, the recorder of the meeting wrote down that “To the great surprise of the King and his key ministers, when it was his turn to speak, the Grand Dauphin expressed himself with force in favor of accepting King Carlos’s Will. He took the liberty of asking for his inheritance, that the monarchy of Spain belonged to the Queen his mother, and consequently to him; which he surrendered willingly to his second son for the tranquility of Europe, but that to no other would he yield an inch.” [2]


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The Proclamation of Philip of Anjou as Felipe V of Spain

Louis XIV was perfectly aware of the dilemma now falling onto him and he morosely confided into the Princess of Conti that “no matter what decision I make; history will damn me.” Finally, with the Royal Council firmly in favor of accepting the will, and unable to say no to his unusually assertive son, Louis XIV accepted the will on November 16, 1700, and the Spanish Ambassador, Castel del Rey bowed and kissed the young Philip of Anjou’s hands and proclaimed him King of Spain in Versailles. The next day, Philip of Anjou began preparing for his journey into Spain. On hearing of the French acceptance of the Will, Emperor Leopold I began preparing the Imperial Army for war, insistent on the right of his son to the Spanish throne, and continuing the Habsburg Dynasty in Spain. In The Hague and Westminster, though the two maritime powers were wary of a new conflict, they too began making preparations for war.

On the 18th of February, 1701, Philip of Anjou reached Madrid after a pompous and luxurious (and slow) march to the city. There, the Council of State formally named him Felipe V of Spain, and as His Most Catholic Majesty, as supported by the Papacy and the Catholic World. Most Catholic realms were quick to recognize his ascension as King, with Bavaria, Savoy, Poland, Brunswick, Malta, Danzig, and Hesse-Darmstadt recognizing Felipe V as king before he even left French soil for Spanish. Almost immediately in Spain, a purge was carried out. Maria Anna’s ministers were all removed from offices, and the pro-Austrian Governor of Catalonia, George of Hesse-Darmstadt was relieved of his position and replaced by the nephew of Cardinal de Portocarrero, alarming many pro-Habsburg nobles of personal favoritism and nepotism. French influence was increased in Spain with the inclusion of French advisors for Felipe V, who could not understand anything beyond rudimentary Spanish at this point in his life. Even William III had bowed to popular pressure in England and Holland to stave off war and had sent a letter of congratulations to Felipe V, acknowledging him as the King of Spain.

Louis XIV remained personally active in Spain’s affairs, much to the growing trepidation among the pro-Austrian nobility of Spain, as he arranged the marriage of Felipe V with Maria Luisa, the thirteen-year-old daughter of Duke Victor-Amadeus II of Savoy. Though the early love of this couple was entirely one-sided with the Savoyard princess unhappy with her early marriage, the two would grow to become fond of one another throughout the course of the inevitable war that was looming over Europe. At the insistence of the Grand Dauphin, Felipe V set out in June for Naples to greet the Neapolitan subjects of the Spanish Crown, but the welcome that he received in Naples was far more frigid than the one he received in Spain. The Neapolitans cared less for whether or not a Habsburg or Bourbon candidate for the Crown in Madrid, but longed for a King and a monarchy of their own, and they deemed the Spaniards as oppressors to the point that Archbishop Vincenzo Maria Morelli of Otranto stated “Me and many peoples here in Naples would rather greet the Turks as liberators than welcome the Spaniards as our Kings.[3] Felipe V, feeling homesick of his new home, returned from Naples quickly, unwilling to stay in an unwelcome environment.


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The Spanish Netherlands was occupied in a highly provocative move


But where Felipe V was touring Naples, Louis XIV had conducted several blunders. In February 28, 1701, in a highly provocative manner, French troops were deployed from France to occupy the principal towns in the Spanish Netherlands. This was done at the invitation of the Governor of the Spanish Netherlands, Maximilian II, the Elector of Bavaria. Nominally owing his allegiance to Emperor Leopold I, Maximilian II was a very ambitious individual, with him planning to overthrowing the Habsburg grip on the title of Holy Roman Emperor with the aid of both France and Spain. Certainly, Maximilian II received large and delusional promises from Versailles and subsequently Madrid of a grand Bavarian Empire stretching from Southern Germany all the way into Northern Italy and Hungary. The official reason given to the European world for the French occupation was to afford protection for Felipe V’s domains in the region against a succession crisis enabled by some discontents in the region, but the only real result this occupation garnered was inflaming the opinions of the Dutch government and people. As per a previous agreement between Habsburg Spain and the Dutch Republic, 15,000 Dutch troops garrisoned Luxembourg, Namur, Mons, Charleroi, Oudenarde, Ath and Nieupoort to protect the ethnic Dutch people in the region and the Dutch government’s officials and commerce in the region. All of these troops were detained and the Prince-Bishop of Liege defected to the French occupiers, exposing Dutch Brabant squarely to a possible French attack. These provocations inflamed the opinions of the Dutch people and the Dutch Estates against the Bourbons.

Due to William III’s reign, the interests of London and The Hague were in 1701, mostly similar, and the outrage spread into London as well. With the Dutch, and by proxy, English, detained in the Spanish Netherlands, it was clear to the two maritime powers that they were being shut out of the global trade nexus of the Spanish Empire and that their previous shares were going to go more readily to the French instead. Despite this fact, however, William III was unable to persuade Parliament to declare preparations for war, due to the unpopularity of going to war among the common English (and Scottish) population. But another blunder by Louis XIV quickly changed opinions. Louis XIV aggravated the international situation by going to St. Germain, where he stood at the sickbed of the exiled James II & VII of England and Scotland. Due to the personal nature of the friendship between James II and Louis XIV, the French King was feeling particularly emotional, and he declared solemnly that France would regard James II’s son, James Edward Stuart as the rightful heir to the English and Scottish thrones with Louis XIV proclaiming in front of a diplomatic entourage that “I am come, sir, to acquaint you that whatever it shall please God to call Your Majesty out of this world, I will take care of your family under my protection, and treat your son, the Prince of Wales, in the same manner that I have treated you, and will acknowledge him as he then will be the King of England.” [4]


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The so called James III and VIII of England and Scotland

This declaration was a gaping breach of the 1697 Treaty of Ryswick and a very provocative attempt to interfere in the internal affairs of England, Scotland and Ireland. The possibility of a French invasion (the age old enemies of the English) and a Papist force landing in Southern England, backing the claims of the exiled King and his family caused an explosion of anger both in the English and Scottish Parliaments, and their common populace. Louis XIV’s acknowledgment of James Edward Stuart as ‘James III’ of England after James II died only aggravated the situation in the British Isles. Louis XIV later argued that the acknowledgment had no importance on the ground situation, with him comparing the acknowledgment with polite forms, like the style ‘King of France’ that English monarchs still retained as an aftermath of the Hundred Year’s War and King Henry VIII’s shenanigans on the continent. This comparison satisfied no one, as it hinted at best, and outright stated at worst that Louis XIV was working in favor of a Jacobite Restoration in England, Ireland and Scotland. The peace party in Westminster, the Tories nearly very collapsed due to Louis XIV’s declarations and was quickly being forced into a corner by the Whigs and King William III. After a particularly appealing speech by William III after Louis XIV’s comparison, Parliament had no way forward except to declare War on France in tandem with the Holy Roman Emperor. The English declaration was soon followed by Scottish and Irish declarations of war soon after.

But while all of Europe prepared for the consequences of the forming war, actual hostilities had only started in Northern Italy in actual earnest. Emperor Leopold I had gathered an army 30,000 strong under the command of Eugene of Savoy, which crossed the Tyrolean frontier into the plains of Lombardy in May. Milan was a key stratagem of the French military strategy, as holding it would effectively keep Austria bottled up in the region away from France proper and the rest of Italy. Marshal Nicolas de Catinat was in command of the Franco-Spanish forces in the region and Louis XIV quickly sent Catinat orders to secure Mantua and the Po River Valley, thereby ensuring a defensive position for the French forces. Eugene, on news of the strong French defensive positions, feinted an advance towards Milan. Catinat immediately moved to secure the city whilst Eugene purposefully ignored Venetian neutrality by moving his army over Vicenza to cross the Adige and Po Rivers next to Carpi on the 9th of July, 1701, completely exposing the right flank of the French forces to Imperial attack. French troops panicked, but Catinat, to his credit, organized a steady retreat back to the Peschiera near Lake Garda without losing too much men in the ensuing attacks. Though prestige and honor forced Louis XIV to fire Catinat from his position in Italy for the reverse, Louis XIV was thankful for Catinat for saving much of the army.


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Prince Eugene of Savoy

The new commander of the French armies in Italy was named to be Francois de Naufville, the Duc de Villeroi. With the French routes of communication and access with Milan threatened by Eugene’s positioning, many were caught off-guard by Villeroi’s appointment as commander, for no one expected the mediocre general that Villeroi was to reverse the situation in Italy. Eugene meanwhile had marched forward and made camp near Zanano on the banks of the Mella River. With wrong intelligence that was so characteristic of intelligence gathering during warfare in that day and age, Villeroi received false intelligence that Eugene was commanding an advanced guard of only ~6000 men near Zanano. Believing said reports, Villeroi commanded a Franco-Spanish force 14000 strong to attack the Zanano region. In reality, Eugene was indeed commanding an advanced guard, but of 12000 in strength with the remainder of his forces scouting next to the Oglio River up north. French problems were compounded by the fact that Duke Victor-Amadeus II of Savoy and Marshal Catinat were also in presence in the army, thereby splitting the command of the troops. The Franco-Spaniards attacked headlong into the Imperial lines, and only received death as their results as their attacks were repulsed by Eugene of Savoy, who kept the lines steady and strong. The French were forced to abandoned the Battle of Zanano after heavy losses. Villeroi was able to keep his position as French Commander in Italy due to his personal relationship with the King, but this unwise decision would later come to haunt Louis XIV in the future.

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The Battle of Zanano

With the French in retreat in Italy, and the Grand Alliance between the Netherlands, England (and by proxy Scotland & Ireland) and Austria completed in September, the other powers began focusing on the Low Countries as a new front in the fighting as well. Almost immediately, General John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough was deployed to The Hague with 11,000 Anglo-Scottish troops to join up with the 10,000 Dutch forces that were forming up. There, Marlborough was to take command of the joint Anglo-Dutch Army, which was to fight against the Franco-Spaniards in the Low Countries for years to come. As the Anglo-Dutch formed up in Holland, southern Spain exploded into rebellion as Maria Anna made her move.

From The Spanish Succession: 1690 – 1709 © 2018




The beginning of the Spanish War of Succession was seen with glimmers of opportunity in the Swedish Court as Charles XI began to move himself into a position of mediating the entire conflict again. He had successfully expanded Swedish power and influence when Sweden mediated the Treaty of Ryswick throughout 1696, and indeed like Charles XI had expected, many European leaders turned to him again for mediation during the War of the Spanish Succession. Charles XI and his capital quickly became the household through which neutral messages between warring states were exchanged and Charles XI promised to be a neutral great power mediator in the conflict that was engulfing Europe. Both France and England hoped to use their marriages as trump cards against Sweden to force them to enter the conflict. Certainly, Swedish invasion into Northern Germany would change the entire calculations of the power, but Charles XI was adamant in his position to remain neutral, and subtly reminded the French and English ambassadors that pushing too much on the matter would have consequences to the country’s trade in the Baltic Sea, forcing London and Versailles to seek other means of pushing Sweden into the conflict. The only thing that Charles XI did was allow the Swedish Army garrisons in Germany and Swedish naval forces in Pomerania to be sold as mercenary forces to the warring sides in the conflict, with the French buying most of the offered naval squadrons and the Austrians buying up most of the offered Swedish German garrisons.

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Garrison troops of Sweden from Germany were rented out during the Spanish War of Succession

After this, Charles XI turned his attention to other matters, such as reorganizing the recently pacified Estonia and Livonia. But far more importantly, Charles XI turned towards the issue of trading and the growing economic apparatus of the Swedish Empire in relation to the global trading routes. In relation to this idea, the partial opening of the Chinese to European traders under the new ascendant Qing Dynasty had changed the entire focus of European trading powers. Though the Qing are sometimes lambasted as isolationists, and indeed they only allowed trade with European powers through a few ports in South China, the volume of trade they possessed and used for European traders dwarfed the previous Ming Dynasty considerably. Tea, which was once a commodity so rare in Europe that it was worth its weight in gold and diamonds, was now becoming commonplace due to the Chinese Partial Opening of the 1690s and 1700s. This new encouraged trade between China and Europe, especially in tea thus attracted the eyes of European chartered companies in East Asia, with the Ostend Company, Dutch East India Company and English East India Company monopolizing the trade coming from China to the point that in 1696, Sweden was buying ~600 crates of Anglo-Dutch goods from China at the expense of their own coffers and monetary situation. [5]

With imports from China, through the proxy of the VOC and English growing every year (683 crates in 1697, 702 crates in 1698, 728 crates in 1699 and 757 crates in 1700 [5]), Charles XI was of the opinion that something needed to be done to right the economic situation. His later decision to create a chartered company for the issue was also intrinsically linked with the commodity of Salt. Salt was a commodity that Sweden was always particularly dependent on imports for. The cold climate of the Baltic Sea hindered sea salt harvesting and Sweden usually imported salts from Portugal, France, Germany and England. In the 17th century under the reign of Gustav II Adolf ‘the Lion of the North’, Dutchmen established themselves as the one who monopolized salt imports into Sweden. As strategic as the commodity was until the late 19th century, the Swedish government’s policy regarding the commodity was the ‘first welfare state’ policy, which prioritized keeping salt prices low and supplies up to date. Since the reign of Queen Christina, the Swedish government had accused the Dutch of increasing salt prices and pocketing freight money and though no substantial evidence regarding these claims ever cropped up, they were regarded seriously by the Swedish government. [6]

In addressing the plights of the Estonian and Livonian traders (many of whom had sided with the Rebels during the Baltic Rebellion), Charles XI decided to discuss about this growing trade nexus from the east. After a drawn out debate with members of the Riksdag and Royal Council, Charles XI passed the Navigation Trade Poster of 1701, which is perhaps the most important decree of Swedish shipping and trading policy throughout the Absolutist Era of Sweden. Modeled along the several Navigation Acts passed by England and Scotland in the mid-seventeenth century, the Navigation Trade Poster prohibited imports of goods on ships that did not belong to the producer’s country and the ships that were not registered in Sweden themselves. In doing so, Charles XI was essentially allowing Swedish shipping manufacturers and industrialists to develop in isolation from the rest of the Baltic naval powers, and severely limiting the proxy payments that Sweden had to pay to London and The Hague and Ostend, thereby driving the prices of valuable commodities (like silk, tea and salt) downwards making them more accessible for the common Swede.


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Seal of the Swedish East India Company

The Navigation Trade Poster proved to be a precursor to Charles XI’s November 1701 declaration of the establishment of the Swedish East India Company, to further trade at minimal prices for Sweden in the orient. Established under the presidency of Charles De Geer, a prominent Swedish Industrialist and Landlord, and the illustrious son of Louys De Geer, the Swedish East India Company’s first charter gave it 30,000 Riksdalers as a starting fund, and the sole right to all Swedish trade and shipping east of the Cape of Good Hope with all sailing ships being based in Gothenburg. Establishing the SEIC in peacetime could have garnered heavy opposition from the English, Dutch and French, however in wartime, with the French, Dutch and English ships attacking each other instead of trading and profiteering with the side business of war, London, The Hague and Versailles looked at the SEIC as a possible wartime alternative to their own chartered companies in the orient regions. As the first batch of Swedish trading ships left Gothenburg in November, 1701, Charles XI received the first requests from England, The Hague, France and Spain to use the SEIC during the war for trade. Charles XI, like with the trading compacts in Northern Germany during the 9 Years War had maneuvered shrewdly, and Sweden stood to reap the economic benefits of the Spanish War of Succession, a precedent that would see Sweden throughout the Spanish Crisis.

From The Swedish Empire: A Definitive History © 2025 AD.




Chapter 3 Footnotes:-

[1] – Our first divergence from OTL. Maria Anna did not dispute the Will until far too late. Here she acts faster.

[2] – OTL Quote.

[3] – A quote that brought Morelli a lot of trouble from the Papacy, but he survived and retained his position somehow. But his statement does go a long way to show the antipathy that the Neapolitans felt.

[4] – A perhaps exaggerated quote from OTL from a French memoir from the Jacobite exiles.

[5] – Number from Silk and Tea in the North: Scandinavian Trade and the Market for Asian Goods in the Eighteenth Century

[6] – Info from Swedish Trade and Shipping in the Mediterranean

Sources for the Spanish Succession War is from The War of Spanish Succession 1701 – 1714 by James Falkner

NEXT CHAPTER: THE STRELTSY COUP
 
1. I know that Charles XI and XII will be good rulers but there's always a chance of a terrible one later down the line...

2. Even though I dislike the Hapsburg, I dislike the France a lot more (at least pre-napoleon) due to the fact that they make more enemies than allies, like invading northern Italy a century or so earlier, but that's mostly because of the nobility and it's ruler.

3. I don't feel right about Sweden still having most of the Baltics.
 
1. I know that Charles XI and XII will be good rulers but there's always a chance of a terrible one later down the line...

2. Even though I dislike the Hapsburg, I dislike the France a lot more (at least pre-napoleon) due to the fact that they make more enemies than allies, like invading northern Italy a century or so earlier, but that's mostly because of the nobility and it's ruler.

3. I don't feel right about Sweden still having most of the Baltics.
Well, most of the Estonian peasantry were mildly pro-Swedish, so it's not like they're being oppressed. Certainly, most of the reductions give more power to them
 
@सार्थक (Sārthākā) , am really enjoying your TL so far. 've always had a soft-spot for Charles XII and Sweden, so anything that has the Empire survive is a definite watch for me. However, there's two problems I simply can't get over: your chosen marriages for Charles XI's children.

First off, the idea that post-Nantes Louis XIV (who was basically in "more Catholic than the Pope" mode and heavily under the influence of Madame de Maintenon) would allow his niece to marry a heretic is simply unbelievable. In OTL Elisábeth was considered as as second wife for William III, but his Protestantism was why he was rejected. Furthermore, the suggestion that the Sun King would be OK with his niece converting to Luthranism is basically ASB (as is the idea that a French Princess, raised in one of the most Catholic courts in Europe, would be open to converting and "risking her immortal soul") If the Sun King was OK with his relatives converting for political reasons then he would have supported the push for James III to convert to Anglicanism in the early 1710s, so that he could succeed Queen Anne on her death. Obviously, he was not. So IDK what source you've found that suggests Louis was religiously pragmatic post-1692, but its totally wrong. If your really aiming for a French connection, then your best bet is a French proxy among the German Princes.

And as for the Gloucester/Ulrika match, while its more believable its ignoring the vast health problems Gloucester had. Many of us here on the site have discussed the possibility of his survival multiple times, and sadly have came to the conclusion that he would have been the English version of Carlos II: physically disabled, suffering constant ill-health and likely unable to produce children. So if your angling for his survival, then you might want to have a POD involving the Duke never contracting meningitis at birth . The meningitis caused hydrocephalus, which basically destroyed his long-term health.

Again, not meant as mean and I hope it doesn't come across as such. It's just that I've extensively studied the Court of the Sun King due to my interest in the reigns of Charles II and James II, as well as the Jacobites, so these details can really take me out of an otherwise good TL.
 
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First off, the idea that post-Nantes Louis XIV (who was basically in "more Catholic than the Pope" mode and heavily under the influence of Madame de Maintenon) would allow his niece to marry a heretic is simply unbelievable. In OTL Elisábeth was considered as as second wife for William III, but his Protestantism was why he was rejected. Furthermore, the suggestion that the Sun King would be OK with his niece converting to Luthranism is basically ASB. If the Sun King was OK with his relatives converting for political reasons then he would have supported the push for James III to convert to Anglicanism in the early 1710s, so that he could succeed Queen Anne on her death. Obviously, he was not. So IDK what source you've found that suggests Louis was religiously pragmatic post-1692, but its totally wrong. If your really aiming for a French connection, then your best bet is a French proxy among the German Princes.
The marriage proposal of Elisabeth to Karl XII otl is recorded in Karl XII. in Bedrängnis by J. O. Åberg. Elisabeth was willing to convert in person, and well 'pragmaticism' of Louis XIV extended that if Elisabeth converted on her own free will after setting foot in Sweden then that was fait accompli and Louis XIV mentions to Charles XI that there was nothing he could do about it once she was there and he would not let it hinder his political machinations in Sweden, even if he personally was distasteful of the idea. Elisabeth was more than willing to convert, according to her handmaidens, which Louis XIV was extremely upset about OTL, which led to his conversation with Charles XI regarding the topic. And he had mellowed out slightly in his old age to the point he stopped the overall systematic persecution of the Norman protestants after just calling it the quits and working with them.
And as for the Gloucester/Ulrika match, while its more believable its ignoring the vast health problems Gloucester had. Many of us here on the site have discussed the possibility of his survival multiple times, and sadly have came to the conclusion that he would have been the English version of Carlos II: physically disabled, suffering constant ill-health and likely unable to produce children. So if your angling for his survival, then you might want to have a POD involving the Duke never contracting meningitis at birth . The meningitis caused hydrocephalus, which basically destroyed his long-term health.
Meningitis is not *hard* to live through during this time period, if it can be identified properly. The victim will remain weak throughout his/her entire life, and probably won't have more than 1 child, if at all, but a constant healthy intake of Garlic, Olive Leafs, Astragalus, Soybean milk, and coconut oil was used for meningitis patients to live a pretty middle aged live periods during this time period. Jochmann's immunization of the disease came partially through interviewing old Cornish & English medicine which prescribed these goods to patients. He will be weak and sickly through his entire life, and won't have more than a single child, but the chances of surviving, if his meningitis is identified as more than a simple 'bad air', are pretty good. Many people at the time lived their lives with it pretty well, alongside the disease by taking a regular diet of garlic, especially in the 1670s outbreak of Meningitis in northern England.
 
any predictions?
Sweden is in a very tough position diplomatically; France is probably the single best ally for it due to Sweden's goals in northern and eastern Europe putting it on a collision course with Denmark and eventually Austria, but England and the Netherlands have a lot of sway economically and are pushing the Austrian cause. however, given the moves to establish greater independence, as Karl XI has been doing, I think that he'll move in favor of France, but with concessions (mostly to the Dutch, since from what i understood of the chapter they're the bigger exporter to Sweden.) i know jack diddly squat about Carl XI, but I would absolutely use this situation to aim France and Austria at each other, hopefully without england, so as to give stockholm a better position to maneuver in the southern baltic
 
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