THE SUN KING THREATENS
1676-1685: Conspicuous State, France; Conspicuous Rival, The Netherlands.
EUROPEAN INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS during the latter part of the seventeenth century were dominated by the ambition of Louis XIV to extend the frontiers of France. At the opening of the decade from 1676 to 1685, Louis was engaged in a war in the Netherlands aimed at gaining control of the border fortresses which barred his access to the lower Rhine. Meeting only partial success, Louis made peace and turned his attention to the middle Rhine. Here he utilized a rather novel procedure called the Chambers of Reunion, which contrived legal pretexts for him to claim the jurisdiction he wanted. His success provoked another war.
Opposition to Louis was led by William of Orange, stadholder of the United Provinces and, after 1689, king of England. William was soon joined by Spain, and as the French threat became widely recognized, by Austria and Prussia. By the end of the century Louis was fighting against much of Europe. The deterrence situation is clear. France was aggressively attempting to extend her frontiers. She was opposed by the United Provinces ( Holland), by Spain, and by a growing coalition of powers. Louis however, often caught his opponents off guard; moreover, the French forces were superior, both numerically and qualitatively, to those sent against them. As a result the only counter for his opponents was to attempt to bring sufficient allies into the battle to even the match, whereupon Louis usually negotiated a peace. Occasionally public opinion could be brought to bear, as when Christian Europe was supposedly