Wherein Treachery begets Opportunity, the Concert of Europe reaches a Crescendo, Ink proves thicker than Blood
The Ottomans suffered a tremendous defeat in the Battle of Beirut--one they hoped to avenge immediately. Two Ottoman armies marched on Dampier’s position; one from Egypt, the other from Anatolia. Unfortunately for them, Dampier denied an engagement. He would not fight on their terms.
Meanwhile, after months of blockade, the Mughals agreed to a white peace. They were defeated at sea, like the Moroccans before them.
Hudson had to port at Calicut, for Madras was still under siege. The Danish war in the south of the peninsula neared conclusion. They were the only hope for Madras.
Just as the war with the Mughals ended, it was revealed to be completely fruitless. Despite the fact Tripoli was subordinate to the Commonwealth, they honored their military access treaty with the Ottomans. After securing Egypt, the Turks marched for North Africa.
However, this betrayal created an opening that Dampier was eager to exploit. He sailed for Tunis.
Dampier would reinforce while his enemy marched through the desert. When battle came, Dampier was sure he could remove another Ottoman army from the map.
Though any such battle would be months away. In the mean time, another war captured the attention of the Commonwealth. On February 2nd, 1680, France declared war against Spain.
Portugal, formerly an ally of both France and Spain, sided with their Iberian neighbors. Out of respect for England’s current struggle, France did not call her cross-channel ally to arms. In truth, France felt England’s efforts were better directed against the Turk. France needed help on the battlefield; help that never arrived from England in the previous war. This time, however, the Commonwealth would circuitously help the French war on the ground. By engaging the Ottoman Empire, England freed the armies of Austria to join France in her war against Spain.
House Habsburg, divided
It was an unthinkable turn of events. The Habsburg cousins were at arms, and one on the side of France! To understand this shift of allegiance, one must first look to the Imperial election of the previous year: On February 22nd, 1679, the princedoms of the Holy Roman Empire rebuked Austria and granted the Imperial crown to Savoy.
Denied their long-held and much-enjoyed hegemony, Austria had to redefine its regional diplomacy. With a weak Holy Roman Emperor, conflict between France and Austria would be the only check on their respective expansion. The Archduke of Austria sought to subvert this with an alliance--though he had in mind something more in the nature of a nonaggression pact.
However, France was wary of a fairweather friendship with Austria. The French considered their biggest threat to be Spain. An alliance with a power almost certain not to war with them yielded no benefit. Therefore, the cunning French king demanded a secret provision in the treaty with Austria: one that obligated them to war with Spain within a year.
The Habsburg ruler of Austria was loathe to fight his kin, but practicality won the day. France was his neighbor, and denied the power of the Imperial title this was his new diplomatic reality. Austria and France signed their treaty of allegiance not long after the Imperial election. Thus, a year later, they warred with Spain.
Together they were more than a match for the Spanish Empire.
The early months of the war were familiar for the French. They enjoyed supremacy while securing the Spanish Netherlands, and at the same time were at a disadvantage on the southern frontier.
However, echos of the past were silenced with the introduction of 29,000 Austrians in Franche-Comte.
Already, just three months into the war, French prospects were overwhelmingly promising. They hoped to reverse their previous loss, but they weren’t the only nation with a score to settle. The Dutch Republic viewed this conflagration between France and Spain as their best hope to reclaim their homelands.
On May 18, 1680, the Netherlands declared war on France. Being caught unawares, France called England to arms.
However, England was not quick to answer. There was some debate among the Commonwealth leadership. Rodney was in favor of denying their request and terminating the alliance with France. It existed, he argued, purely as an aggressive alliance against Spain. If France was to war with Spain on their own initiative, with a powerful ally in Austria, the Anglo-French alliance ceased to serve a purpose.
On the other hand, many argued against the dishonorable act of breaching an alliance, especially whilst France waged a monumental war against a mutual foe.
Yet honoring or dishonoring the alliance was only one facet of the debate. The Dutch were the potential enemy. The battlefield would be North America.
Ever since the United Provinces were reduced by France, there had been a segment of Parliament arguing for an Anglo-Dutch War. They reasoned the Dutch no longer had the means to defend their considerable colonial holdings. There was a particular desire to incorporate the New Netherlands, which bisected the Massachusetts Bay Colony from the Chesapeake Bay Colony.
However, again there was a dissenting viewpoint. It was known that the Dutch had a considerable military presence in the New World, a holdover from their campaign against the French. There were questions as to the ability of the Colonial Army to deal with the Dutch Leger.
Furthermore, the Chesapeake Bay Colony was in a precarious state. The provinces therein were developed enough to support an economy, and thus be valuable targets, yet were not developed enough to fortify.
After much debate, Commonwealth leaders reached a compromise. They decided to honor the treaty and engage the Dutch. However, the Anglo-French alliance was to be canceled honorably in peacetime.
Thus the Commonwealth of England found itself in yet another war.