Gloria Bavaria! Joseph Ferdinand Lives to Become Holy Roman Emperor (story only)

Even though I'm not fully finished with my current alternate timeline Finis Austria, in doing research for the construction of the alternate timeline, I discovered that I had yet another potential alternate timeline involving the young heir who died young, before he could consolidate his claim to the Spanish Hapsburg* inheritance. The question which had been on my mind was "what if Joseph Ferdinand had survived to adulthood and gathered all the lands of the Spanish Hapsburgs under the Wittelsbach dynasty?" This brought about additional questions such as "Would the Wittelsbachs replace the Hapsburgs as Holy Roman Emperors?" "Would Prussia still reach for great power status in this new environment and further weaken the Hapsburgs?" "Would the Saxon Wettins try harder to gain the Polish Crown now that their Wittelsbach rivals have the Spanish Crown?", and "How would all this affect the expansionist policy of France?" Even before I finish the first timeline, I wish to explore this second timeline diverging from our actual timeline in which Joseph Ferdinand survives to adulthood, fathering many children, and acquiring the Spanish Crown and possibly in future the Imperial title. Keep in mind that I'm still learning all there is to know about constructing alternate timelines so I will likely make mistakes-much as I'm sure I've already done in the current alt-timeline. I can only ask that you the reader bear with me on this. I may create a separate thread solely for the purpose of allowing for comment, corrections-if any are needed, and sage advice on timeline construction, but if I don't, don't hold it against me. I do appreciate the likes my current timeline has received so far as that helps build my confidence. As I've done in my other timeline, if I have to stop because of happenings in life, I will mark the current post appropriately. I will also asterick any individual or event that is different from OTL and explain how its different.

Though I have thus far failed to address the Scientific Age and the Philosophes in my Austria timeline (which i will address very soon), I will likely not mention such periods in this timeline except as the locations of the events will be different. It can therefore be assumed that the events themselves will remain more or less the same as IOTL. Also, as I'm no expert on economics or military matters, I can only try to stay within plausible realms when using numbers in both areas, but again I will likely make mistakes, so please just bear with me. Lastly, I have yet to determine where I will end my Austria timeline, so for now i will leave it open-ended as to when this one will end. Thank you for reading my Austria timeline and giving likes on it and I hope you will enjoy this second venture into alternate timeline construction.

This is a general list and summary of the 'mini-butterflies' or smaller PODs that will be included in this timeline. i will also name the main POD
- Mini POD # 1: John Sobieski III feted as victor of the Relief of Vienna and uses Papal subsidies to expand the Polish-Lithuania state into Ruthenia and Moldavia

Let's be realistic, this scenario would likely still have turned out as it did IOTL, but perhaps because of Sobieski's heroic victory against the Ottomans at Vienna, he attracts many knights and mercenary troops from across Europe, earns the respect of the Hapsburgs and enough Papal subsidies to continue his campaign, first expanding to Moldavia (with his son Jakub gaining merits and more importantly military experience), then joining in an alliance with Charles XII to invade Russia in 1700 and conquer Ruthenia (Ukraine). Whether this delays the later Partitions, results in no Partitions, or keeps the outcome the same as IOTL remains to be seen.

- Mini POD #2: France forced for the time being to renounce Strasbourg, which remains in the HRE another decade
As a result of the War of the Peace of Ryswick, France had been forced to restore the lands seized through the Reunions, but was allowed to keep Strassburg/Strasbourg. ITTL, France would be pressured by the Emperor Leopold I and the Spanish king Charles II to restore Strassburg to the Empire, which would make it a Free City as a gesture toward Louis XIV. The Sun King would not renounce his claim to the territory, however, and in a future conflict with the Empire, could again seize the city and all of Alsace

- Mini POD #3: Jacobite Succession in England delays the Glorious Revolution by Years
In the Glorious Revolution of 1688-9 IOTL, William of Orange (William III of Great Britain) drove out James II (VII) and defeated his Irish-French army at the Battle of the Boyne, and while the Jacobites would attempt risings in 1715 (The Fifteen) and later in 1745 (The Forty-Five) would fail to overturn the coronation of William and Mary as king and queen of Great Britain. ITTL, the succession of James III(VIII) as king following the death of his father in 1701 and the defeat of William at the Boyne in 1690 would bring England and France together for a time, as James III would, like his father, be a client ruler of Louis XIV. William, surviving the Boyne and returning to Holland, would simply bide his time and wait for the moment to make another effort at driving James III from the English throne.

On 11 October 1698, in The Hague in the United Provinces of the Northern Netherlands - also known as the Dutch Republic, representatives from England, the Republic and France met to discuss the succession to the Spanish Empire. While the French representative, the Duc de Tallard favored a French succession due to the marriage link between Louis XIV and Maria Teresa (not to be confused with Queen-Empress Maria Theresa of the Hapsburg Monarchy or Austria). Anthonie Heinsius, Grand Pensionary of the Dutch Republic opposed the idea on the grounds of the recent French invasion of Holland during the Nine Years War. James II (and VII of Scotland) was considered a client of Louis XIV and thus also supported the French candidacy. None of the parties involved in the talks took into consideration the other two powers interested in the succession, the Hapsburg Monarchy and Spain. Charles II defied expectations by continuing to live despite suffering the genetic maladies associated with the inbreeding of which the Hapsburgs were most famous for. Heinsius was joined in his opposition by the one man who had recently fought against Louis XIV and was opposed to James, William of Orange. He urged the other powers that a suitable treaty would need to lay down the terms of the partition so both Austria and France gained equally. Maximilian of Bavaria's son, Joseph Ferdinand was chosen to become King of Spain solely because the Wittelsbach dynasty was not considered to be a threat to the stability of Europe as the Hapsburg and Bourbon houses were. In this partition treaty, France would acquire the Italian kingdoms of Naples and Sicily and the Spanish Basque province of Gipuzkoa, while Austria would acquire the Duchy of Milan. The Spanish were so opposed to the partition treaty that on 14 November the Spanish Cortes or Diet forced Charles iI to sign his will giving the entirety of the Spanish Empire to joseph Ferdinand, as the son of the war-hero Maximilian. Maria Anna, Charles II's second wife would serve as a regent as Joseph Ferdinand had not come of age yet. The announcemeny of the succession treaty was received with at best a lukewarm response and at worst outright hostility. Four months later the succession was thrown into doubt again as Joseph Ferdinand contracted smallpox, and it was expected that he would likely not survive. But like the monarch he would ultimately succeed, Joseph Ferdinand astounded everyone by recovering from smallpox, When Charles II finally died on 1 November 1700, Joseph Ferdinand was offered the throne with his mother, Maria Anna serving as regent. Acting in the dual role of queen and regent, Maria Anna immediately began to reform the Spanish military, rightly sensing that both Austria and France would likely declare war in order to carve off pieces of the Spanish Empire in Europe, William of Orange became fearful of potential English intervention in the conflict aligned with France and now reached out to Emoeror Leopold I to contract an alliamce between the Republic and the Holy Roman Empire not just against Louis XIV but also James II.
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The Best Laid Plans
On 1 November 1700, Charles II of Spain died after a prolonged illness brought about by centuries of genetic malady resulting from inbreeding. Inbreeding had been a common feature of the Hapsburg Dynasty since the 13th century. The Hapsburgs' need to keep their royal bloodline pure was the result of the Spanish desire for 'purity of blood' or limpieza de sangre and had been applied to their forced conversion or expulsion of the Muslims and Jews living in the kingdom since the 7th century, It had been the practice of the Hapsburgs to exchange marriageable partners between the senior Central European and the junior Spanish branches and while it was primarily done to insure purity of blood, it was also done out of fear that one of the other major dynasties could easily break up the Hapsburg conglomerate. It was the mythologized ancestry of the Hapsburgs, who claimed among others King David of Israel, Julius Caesar and Nero, even Jason - who led his mythical Argonauts which allowed the Hapsburgs to rise from tiny provincial margraves to Holy Roman Emperors, as well as establish empires in the Americas and even the Pacific (the Phillippines). The death of Charles II destroyed the Hapsburg dream of ruling over the world, but worse than that introduced a new rival in southern Germany with the rise of the Wittelsbachs.

Even as the Hapsburgs were planning a campaign to reclaim the Spanish Crown, in France the news of the survival of Joseph Ferdinand was welcomed at the Royal Court. Given the draining experience of the Nine Years War, Louis XIV had easily accepted the Wittelsbach as successor in Spain as it finally eliminated the encirclement with which the French have had to face since 1415 with the fall of Burgundy. There were many, moreover, who were calling for a second campaign against the Empire so that Strassburg/Strasbourg could be reconquered, But the Sun King was painfully aware that such a move would open the way for his sometime rival William of Orange to finally make his second bid to drive James II from the English throne. Thus he kept an army on the northern frontier, ready should William make his move to invade the Dutch Republic. In this possible action he had the support of the Rhineland archbishoprics of Mainz, Cologne, and Trier as well as the Elector of Brandenburg. Moreover, he was also aware that Leopold I would not simply accept the young Wittelsbach prince as heir to his Spanish relative's dominion without a war. So, through the Secret du Roi or the King's Men, Louis XIV reached out to the Commonwealth of Poland-Lithuania under John IV Sobieski (Jakub), who had succeeded his father in 1696, as well as the Ottoman sultan and even Peter the Great of Muscovy-Russia in a bid to apply pressure on Leopold I. He was assured by the fact that James II was a maleable client who could easily be diverted toward other areas.

But this would soon be put into question as on 16 September 1701, James II died of a brain hemorrhage at the Palace of St James*. His son James Francis Edward Stuart now ascended the throne as James III. But even as he began trying to shore up his royal title in England-having been accepted without issue in Scotland and Ireland because of his Catholicism, in the United Provinces, William of Orange saw a second chance. He was now a widower as his wife Mary had passed away in 1694 from smallpox, yet he remained determined to exercise her right as sovereign in addition to bringing England into any future coalitions against France despite the current amiable relations between them. In a secret treaty concluded in Brandenburg with the Elector Frederick William I on 25 September, it was agreed that in exchange for recognizing Frederick William as King he would receive 7,000 Brandenburg troops to serve as the bedrock of the international army he would use. He had already raised a force of 17,000 Dutch troops and had even managed to purchase mercenaries from the states of Hesse-Cassel, Brunswick, Hanover and Denmark-Norway amounting to roughly twice the number of troops he used in his first attempt. Taking nothing to chance, he persuaded Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor, to send troops to the borders with the Duchy of Lorraine in order to put pressure on Louis XIV and force him to commit troops to Alsace and free him for the Crossing. Only too eager to comply as he was ready to challenge the French-who themselves were preparing to force partition on the new Wittelsbach heir, Leopold could, however, only spare 4,000 as many of his best soldiers were still coming back from their recent victorious battles against the Ottoman Turks. Nonetheless the 4,000 serve their purpose, causing such concern in the Royal Court that the troops Louis XIV had placed to threaten the Dutch were transferred to the Alsatian front. His main army, however, was already stationed along the Pyrenees frontier with Spain. This meant that Louis XIV could either intervene should Leopold I's son the Archduke Charles press his claims to the Spanish crown, or intimidate Joseph Ferdinand and get what he wanted from the Spanish..

*The Palace of St James is located in London. It is not unreasonable to presume that James III would accept his elevation to the crown from here.
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Principal Aims of the Combatants
France: This was the one country in which the principal war aims was considered flexible. While it was believed that the army stationed along the Pyrenees could be used to intimidate the young Wittelsbach heir into conceding the territories France claimed, namely the Spanish Low Countries, the Duchy of Milan and the Kingdom of Naples. Louis XIV was also keen on preventing the Hapsburgs from attaining the Spanish Crown by force. Thus it could be easily said that this army could be used as a deterrent to any Austrian moves in this direction. Their main army remained stationed near the frontier with the Duchy of Lorraine until events elsewhere, namely William's second descent on England, prompted Louis XIV to divert troops to the island to assist James III in fighting the Stadholder. But with four reserve armies raised, the Sun King could still commit to offensive operations even while propping up James and defending Joseph Ferdinand. Though Louis XIV preferred to claim the Spanish territories in Europe for France, he was equally determined to prevent them falling into the hands of Archduke Charles.

Spain: Spain's main objective was to maintain the unity of their empire at all costs. Spain had been the greatest military power of the late 15th-16 centuries and even colonized or conquered large parts of the Americas and the Phillippine Islands. Briefly, they even controlled the Portuguese Empire as a result of a personal union which lasted until 1640. Despite losing the Portuguese Crown-and nearly the province of Catalonia as a result of the Thirty Years War, the Spanish Empire still remained powerful, and a powerful symbol for the Hapsburg kings-as it would also prove powerful to the Wittelsbachs who succeeded them. Because of their ingrained worldview that theirs was an empire "on which the sun never set", the Spanish were determined to hold it together, even if it meant war with the Hapsburgs and Bourbons who both sought to divide it amongst them. To that end, Spanish troops in the Low Countries (Belgium), Catalonia, and Naples were ready to face either the Austrian Hapsburgs or the French. The Queen-Regent even saw opportunity for further expansion of Spanish power, particularly in Italy, but for the most part, Spanish aims were majority on defense.

Austria/Holy Roman Empire: Leopold I had not fully resigned himself to the nomination of Joseph Ferdinand as successor to Charles II primarily as the loss of Spain would be a blow to Hapsburg prestige, and award a valuable kingdom to a dynasty with the history of collusion with France. The Wittelsbach already controlled Cologne and Liege in addition to Bavaria and it was feared that the addition of Spain with its European and American-Pacific empire would tilt power in their favor (and hence increasingly favor France). The remaining states of the Empire had either declared their neutrality or were only willing to offer token support as it was believed that a war for the Spanish crown was not in the best interests of the Empire and merely a means by which the Hapsburgs could increase their power within the empire. It was also the leading factor behind a few of the more ambitious German states such as Hanover, Saxony and Brandenburg-Prussia seeking ways to counterbalance the Hapsburgs. Saxony had already tried and failed once to attain the Polish Crown, while George I, Elector Hanover was looking to enter negotiations with William of Orange on a possible succession to the English Crown should William fail to find a bride and sire an heir*. Frederick William I hoped to elevate his status using the independent Duchy of East Prussia as his foundation.

William of Orange: The main objective of William of Orange was to either curb the ambitions of James III (by forcing him to promise protection to the Anglican establishment and end his status as a client of Louis XIV, or failing that, remove the king from the throne) and bring England-with Scotland, into the war in opposition to France. While the Dutch States-General funded his second expedition, as they had his first, his motives and agenda were different from that of the Dutch in that he hoped by aligning England with the Hapsburgs he could guarantee that Louis XIV would not use his Army of the Pyrenees to overthrow Joseph Ferdinand and place himself or his son or grandson on the Spanish throne. Personally, he was no more supportive of the Hapsburg claimant Archduke Charles as to a Bourbon claimant and he held little regard for Joseph Ferdinand as anything but another puppet of Louis XIV like James III. Beyond changing the Jacobite policies, William had no other objectives in mind.

Savoy: An opportunistic state in northwest Italy, Savoy consisted of the Principality of Piedmont, the Duchy of Aosta, the Duchy of Savoy and the County of Nizza (Nice). The House of Savoy had always been able to balance between the French and Hapsburgs, often siding with France when the Hapsburgs-both Spanish and Austrian-threaten to overturn the balance of power in the peninsula. Victor Amadeus II, the current duke, welcomed the prospect of a Wittelsbach succession to the Spanish Crown primarily because he hoped thus to acquire the Duchy of Milan. But as the French and Austrians soon cast their eyes on the duchy as well, he was convinced that only by supporting the Wittelsbach could Savoy hope in future to acquire all or even part of the duchy. But feeling trapped between the French on one side and the Austrian Hapsburg Monarchy on the other side, he decided for the time being to play the waiting game, declaring Savoy neutral.

Total Armies of the Belligerent Powers
France - 255,000–400,000 men
Spain - 70,000 troops
Bavaria - 20,000 troops*
Holy Roman Empire - 260,090 troops
United Provinces - 119,000 troops**
England - 70,000 troops***

* As Joseph Ferdinand was traveling to Madrid to take up the Spanish Crown, his mother the Queen-Regent paid for an additional 40,000 troops mainly from Cologne and the Palatinate to serve both as honor guard for the young heir and as additional auxiliaries for the Spanish army

** The Dutch Republic of the United Provinces contributed 19,000 of the 119,000 total to assist William of Orange in his Second Expedition to England.
*** This number does not include the initial 19,000 that arrived with William, nor does it include Scottish or Irish brigades that fought in support of James III, which numbered some 40,000 total.
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Divisions in Spain
On the eve of the War of the Spanish Succession, opinion was divided as to who the crown should be bestowed on upon the death of Charles II. While his wife and some of his ministers were of the opinion that a Wittelsbach prince would allow the Spanish to keep their empire intact and would only mean open war with both the Bourbons and Hapsburgs, there were many in the constituent kingdoms of Aragon, Navarre, Catalonia and the former Muslim state of Granada (Andalusia) that believed that only one of the two most powerful families in Europe could assure the limpieza de sangre (purity of blood) that was required if Spain was to remain the champion of Catholic Christianity against both the Protestant heretic and the Islamic infidel. The decision in favor of Joseph Ferdinand was not received well in the constituent states, and in the case of Catalonia even led to renewed talk of separation. As tensions built and armies began to assemble, the Cortes of Aragon and Navarre declared opnely for Philip of Anjou, the grandson of Louis XIV, while Catalonia and the Balearic Islands declared for Archduke Charles of Hapsburg. The almost-immediate arrival of a French army on the Pyrenean frontier further emboldened Aragon and Navarre, leading to discussions of separation from Castile-which was in favor of Joseph Ferdinand. The alarm felt in Catalonia at the prospect of a Bourbon succession in which the Catalans would be even further integrated forcefully into Castile made their demand for a Hapsburg succession more urgent. Already, before the arrival of Archduke Charles just after the start of hostilities, the Catalans had raised a substantial militia which immediately pledged themselves to the Hapsburg. Joseph Ferdinand's arrival in Madrid, at the head of a team of Bavarian bureaucrats and mercenary soldiers now stirred the Catalans into action. While the first full-scale battles were still some time away, the Catalans began raiding the Castilian coast, pillaging Valencia on 7 November 1701. Roused by the raid on Valencia, Joseph Ferdinand now began calling for a Spanish army to be formed, with the Bavarian auxiliaries attached, to strike back against the Catalans. Meanwhile a Navarese militia was formed with French assistance and they launched their own raid against the Catalans, attacking Roussillon five days after the Catalan raid on Valencia. Before the professional armies had even traded shots, militias representing the three contenders for the Spanish crown were already engaging in hostilities, and it was certain that once the three major players entered the fray, Spain would be ripped apart in the resulting civil war and regardless of whoever came out on top in the end would have a larger and more painful task of reconstructing Spain.
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The War Begins
In July 1701, French troops, acting to prevent an Austrian passage across northern Italy, occupied the cities of Milan and Mantua, winning an ally in the Duchy of Savoy in the process. Despite this alliance, Victor Amadeus II was unwilling to allow a large French presence in northern Italy and by October of 1703 had declared war on France. In between, an Imperial army under Prince Eugene of Savoy advanced into northern Italy in May 1701, winning battles at Carpi, Chiari and Cremona and driving the French army back toward the Adda River. When the Duc de Vendome arrived in February 1702 he was able to fight Eugene of Savoy to a draw in the Battle of Luzzara, winning back most of the territory the Imperial commander had seized in his intial invasion. This was not enough to prevent Victor Amadeus II-likely at the urging of the Imperials, to break his alliance with France and declare war. Nevertheless by May 1706, the French held all the territory except Turin while the Imperials were forced back to the Trentino region of northern Italy.

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