Page images
PDF
EPUB

PART The male line of the Dukes of Lignitz be

Iļ. coming extinct, by the death of George-William, win in the year 1675, the duchies of Lignitz, Brieg, 1740. and Wohlau, fell to the electoral house of Bran

denburg. On this occasion, the Elector Frederic-William, surnamed the Great, did not neglect representing to the Imperial coure the right he had to the succession of Lignitz; and upon his reiterated follicitations, the Emperor Leopold ordered the Chancellor of Lignitz to examine into, and fend him his opinion on the affair: but the chancellor's report being disatisfactory to the Imperial court, in the years 1685 and 1686, endeavours were used for adjusting the contro. verted rights by an agreement; and the Imperial court, to facilitate the means of obtaining it, consented to deliver to the elector the circle of Schibus, situated in Silesia, and the cessions of the Prince of Lichtenstein's pretensions to certain lordhips of East-Frieseland, amounting to great sums. The offer was accepted, and a treaty was accordingly, concluded; but at the same time as this convention was made with the Elector of Brandenburg, the Inperial minister secretly engaged the electoral prince his son, to promise, that upon his coming to the regency of the states, he would restore all that was yielded up to the elector his father, and annul the convention that had been made after so many difficulties; and this mimifter having drawn up reverfals, or an act of security, to that purpose, after many importunities, obtained the electoral prince's hand to the faid reversals ; whereby the elector was deceived in the acquisition of Schibus, and his son, by the greatest artifice and invention, drawn into a private negotiation, to the prejudice of the whole electoral family. Frederic

· William

William dying in the year 1686, his fon Frede- CHÁP. ric III. succeeded him in the electorate, and af- I. terwards became örft King of Pruffia. As soon ni as that prince had taken poffeffion of the regen- 1740. cy, the house of Austria demanded the execution of what was contained in the reversals ; but the elector acquainting his ministers of the transaction, defired their opinion on the affair; and upon a mature deliberation, their advice was, “ That " the reversals in question, being contrary to " the conventions made in the house of Branden" burg, and having been subreptitiously obu tained, were neither binding according to “ law, nor according to natural right.” It was thus represented to the Austrian ministry, and the reversals demanded back again: but the Chancellor of Bohemia, refusing to deliver them, answered, “ That if his electoral highness would 6 not restore the country of Schibus, it should “ be re-taken by force.” Some years passed with fruitless sollicitations, and nothing being determined in the affair of Schibus, at length the elector,' growing weary of this whole negotiation, in the year 1695 re-delivered the country to the Imperialists, on payment of an inconsiderable fum, without any renunciation of the four principalities of Jagurndorf, Lignitz, Brieg, and Wohlau. Therefore his Prusian majesty affirmed, chat as soon as the house of Austria re-entered on the possession of Schibus, which had been ceded by it as an equivalent for those duchies in Silesia, the royal and electoral house of Prussia re-entered also to the rights she had on those duchies, which had been kept up by succession ; especially as the house of Austria could not perform her promise in relation to the pretentions of the house of Lichtenstein. And as a further consideration for

the

m

Part the Queen of Hungary and Bohemia, to restore II. at least to the house of Brandenburg the princi

p alities and lordships in Silesia that were devolved 1740. to it, his Prussian majesty insisted, that those

duchies are hereditary estates only in the male line, and were never transmitted to the females ; besides those states had surrendered a formal homage to the house of Brandenburg: and as the electors had never been able to obtain redress, on account of the great power to which the house of Austria had arrived by sitting on the Imperial throne; on the declension of their grandeur, his Prussian majesty embraced the opportunity of asserting his rights.

CHAPTER II. From the invasion of Silesia in De

cember 1740, to the surrender of Brieg in 1741; containing the siege of GLOGAw, and battle of MOLWITZ.

A S there were several claimants to dispute A the Inperial succession, his Prussian majetty, without conforming to the laws of the golden bull, by entering his claim to any part of Silesia, and submitting to the decision of the Ini

perial diet, with the utmost celerity assembled CHAP. an army at Berlin, and on the 4th of December II. 1740, entered Silesia at the head of 30,000 men, when his majesty made the following speech to 1740. his troops:

- Gentlemen, I do not consider you as my sub“ jects, but as my friends; you have at all times “ given marks of unconquerable valour: I shall “ be present at all your enterprizes, and you “ shall fight under my direction : and as for any " that shall distinguish themselves, by their cou, “ rage and zeal for my service, I shall reward " them, not as a king but as a father."

THOUGH his Prussian majesty had thus put himself in a capacity of acquiring his claim in the field, he did not neglect to obtain an accommodation in the cabinet : for this purpose, the Count de Gotter and the Baron de Borck, his ministers at the court of Vienna, pursuant to his instructions, grounded upon the apprehensions of an attack on the Austrian dominions by the Electors of Saxony and Bavaria, laid the following proposals before her Hungarian majesty.

ist " That his Prussian majesty was ready “ with all his forces, to guaranty the dominions « possessed by the house of Auftria in Germany, « against all invaders.

2d “ For this end he would enter into a strict " alliance with the courts of Vienna, Russia, and " the Maritime powers.

3d « He would use all his interest to procure “ the Imperial dignity for the Duke of Lor“ rain, and to support his election againit all

opposers.

4th “ To put the court of Vienna into a good “ ftace of defence, he would immediately fures nish it with two millions of florins.

« AND

PART « And that for fuch fübftantial services, his. II. " Prussian majesty expected the entire and abso

" lute ceffion of all Silesia ; not only as his right, 1749. but as his reward for the toils and hazards

“ which he might incur in the career that he 66 was entered upon, for the safety and glory of " the house of Austria.”

This proposition was looked upon with equal concern and indignation by the court of Vienna; yet his Prussian majesty instructed the Count de Gotter, to be indefatigable in his endeavours to induce the court of Vienna, to look with less prejudice upon the plans and views his majesty had proposed to himself, for the welfare and fecurity of the house of Austria, and to represent to the

Duke of Lorrain, that although his majesty had. . demanded the entire ceffion of Silesia, he mighe

perhaps make some abatement, and content himself with a part of that country; provided the Queen of Hungary would enter into a reasonable and sincere accommodation with him, and to contract strict engagements that might confift with their mutual interests. The king also authorized the Count de Gotter to declare verbally, that his Prussian majesty would be very ready to embrace every opportunity for affifting the Queen of Hungary to maintain the grandeur. of her family, and satisfy her for the loss of Silesia.

From this the court of Vienna inferred, that.. his Pruffian majesty founded the entrance of his troops into Silesiang upon the necessity of guaranteeing the house of Austria against some other powers ready to swallow it up; and on the expe- diency of sacrificing a part of their dominions for saving the rest: though it was evident that the queen's dominions enjoyed a perfect tranquility

when

« PreviousContinue »