The War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714) was fought among several European powers, including a divided Spain, over the possible unification of the Kingdoms of Spain and France under one Bourbon monarch. As France and Spain were among the most powerful states of Europe, such a unification would have drastically altered the European balance of power. The war was fought primarily by forces supporting the unification, the Spanish loyal to Philip V, France and the Electorate of Bavaria, against those opposing unification, the Spanish loyal to Archduke Charles, the Holy Roman Empire, Great Britain, the Dutch Republic, Portugal and the Duchy of Savoy. The forces were known as the Two Crowns and Grand Alliance, respectively.
The war was fought mostly in Europe but included Queen Anne's War in North America and it was marked by the military leadership of notable generals including the Duc de Villars, the Jacobite Duke of Berwick, the Duke of Marlborough and Prince Eugene of Savoy.
It is also marked by several battles that are considered classics in history, notably the overwhelming Grand Alliance victories at Blenheim (1704) and Ramillies (1706) which drove the French forces from Germany and the Netherlands. Inconclusive fighting and skirmishing followed in Spain with little result, and the action turned to France.
After considerable maneuvering and inconclusive action, the French were once again decisively defeated at the Battle of Oudenarde (1708). This string of losses prompted Louis XIV to start negotiations, but the terms were humiliating and he decided to press the war to its end.