First Silesian War

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The First Silesian War (1740–1742) was on the one hand part of the War of the Austrian Succession , on the other hand one of the wars between Prussia and Austria for supremacy in Silesia .


The First Silesian War began after the death of the Roman-German Emperor Charles VI. (October 20, 1740), who, in the Pragmatic Sanction of April 19, 1713, had made it possible for female descendants of the family (such as Maria Theresa, who was born in 1717 ), to inherit.

Although most states applied the Pragmatic Sanction during the lifetime of Charles VI. recognized, it was challenged after his death in 1740 by Friedrich II. of Prussia and Karl Albrecht of Bavaria (later Emperor Karl VII. ).

Karl Albrecht of Bavaria claimed the imperial crown and the Habsburg lands.

With Silesia, Frederick II claimed part of the Habsburg Empire for himself. He justified his claims with the Liegnitz hereditary brotherhood of 1537, according to which the Silesian principalities Liegnitz , Wohlau and Brieg should fall to Brandenburg after the Silesian Piasts died out . However, the legality of the hereditary brotherhood was already disputed by the Bohemian King Ferdinand and was repealed in 1546. When the Silesian Piasts actually died out in 1675, Friedrich Wilhelm von Brandenburg (the "Great Elector") raised several claims against the Habsburg Emperor Leopold I to the Silesian principalities, which the latter rejected. However, when Friedrich Wilhelm was dependent on the Habsburg emperor as an ally as a result of the repeal of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 by Louis XIV, he renounced what he believed to be claims in an alliance agreement with the emperor in 1686. In return, he believed he had received military support against France and annual cash payments, including the Schwiebuser Kreis (a small area in Silesia). However, the Austrian ambassador in Berlin had concluded a secret agreement with Prince Elector Friedrich , in which the latter had undertaken to return the Schwiebuser Circle to Vienna when he took office. When, after the death of his father, he was reminded of this promise by the emperor and forced to return the area in 1695, he protested, however, claiming that he had only signed the agreement on the basis of false pretenses, hence the waiver of the original Silesian claims was invalid and this was therefore revived, a view that was subsequently consolidated at the Brandenburg court.

An alliance between Prussia and Bavaria , France , Saxony , Kurköln , Spain , Sweden and Naples came about . These powers wanted to weaken and destroy the Habsburg Empire. Great Britain , Sardinia , the Netherlands and Russia allied themselves with Habsburg .

On November 8, 1740, the troops destined for this enterprise were mobilized in Prussia . The plan of attack provided that two army corps should occupy Silesia. The first corps consisted of 20 battalions , 32 squadrons and 34 artillery pieces, the second corps of seven battalions, ten squadrons and eight artillery pieces. In October 1740 there was only one Austrian infantry regiment with 1,539 men and a 300-man free company in Silesia . By mid-December, the troops were reinforced with three infantry regiments, one free company and eight companies of dragoons with a total of 7,359 men, 1,178 of whom were destined for the Glogau fortress .


Occupation of Silesia by Prussia

On December 11, 1740, Frederick II in Prussia gave Austria an ultimatum for the cession of Silesia to Prussia. In return, he would recognize the Pragmatic Sanction and the Austrian co-regent Franz I Stephan , son-in-law of the late Emperor Charles VI. and husband of Maria Theresa, support in the election as Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation . However, Friedrich did not wait for Austria's answer, but led an army of 27,000 soldiers into Silesia on December 16. The Protestant part of the population welcomed the Prussians as liberators from religious handicaps.

At the end of January, Silesia was evacuated by Austrian troops. Only in the fortresses of Glogau , Brieg and Neisse remained weak Austrian garrisons, which were besieged by Prussian troops. The Prussian troops moved into winter quarters.

Spring campaign 1741

February 27th: Battle near Baumgarten

March 9: Prince Leopold von Anhalt-Dessau takes the Glogau fortress by storm.

In March, under the leadership of Field Marshal Count Wilhelm Reinhard von Neipperg, an Austrian army of 15,000 men, consisting of 17 battalions, eight grenadier companies and 13 cavalry regiments, gathered near Olomouc to relieve the hard-pressed fortresses of Neisse and Brieg.


See also


Individual evidence

  1. ^ Gustav Adolf Harald Stenzel : History of the Prussian State . Published by F. Perthes, 1830, pp. 320, 322-323. Google Books
  2. ^ Colmar Grünhagen : The history of Silesia . Second volume: Until the union with Prussia . Published by F. Perthes, Gotha 1886, p. 362 ff., Especially p. 367–369,
  3. ^ Secret State Archives of Prussian Cultural Heritage , IV. HA, Rep. 15 A, No. 499