England vs. France in Queen Anne’s War
Unresolved disputes resulted in bloodshed on the American front.
What is known as the War of Spanish Succession, which took place in Europe, eventually made its way across the Atlantic Ocean. The rivalries and disagreements between the powerful monarchies peaked when Spanish King Charles II died childless and chose a French royal as his successor.
The British not only disproved of this but also felt threatened because the Spanish held specific strongholds in Italy and the Netherlands which it desired to gain control of. The only method to fight this growing power of the combined Spanish and French was to wage war—and that is precisely what Queen Anne of Great Britain did.
The American front of the War of Spanish Succession
Queen Anne’s War, which took place from 1702-1713, was simultaneously fought on many North American fronts ranging from the Caribbean all the way north to present-day Canada. Control of the new American continent was at stake and resulted in years of bloody massacres and raids.
The New England colony borders were continuously being threatened by the French and their Native American allies. Small and inconsistent attacks of these settlements ultimately led to retaliation by the British. The constant dispute about territory control took a turn when Port Royal in French Acadia was first in the line of fire in 1704.
While several failed attempts were made to take control of this New France stronghold, the British eventually succeeded. A fleet led by Francis Nicholson arrived at Port Royal on October 12, 1710, and the city surrendered the following day. The British changed the name to Annapolis and the whole of French Acadia became known as Nova Scotia.
An unsuccessful siege by British South Carolina forces in 1702 left St. Augustine, a Spanish fortress in Florida, destroyed. This led to a retaliatory attack on Charleston by the French. However, as with most of the battles they fought during this war, they were unsuccessful.
Bloodshed and Armistice
The most brutal battle in Queen Anne’s War was the French raid on Deerfield, Massachusetts in 1704. Teaming up with Indian tribes, the French-led forces of Jean-Baptiste Hertel de Rouville burned the town and massacred the villagers. Over 50 people were killed and 111 were taken as prisoners and forced to trek to Canada in the winter. Many died during this 300-mile journey due to the harsh conditions.
The British colony of St. John’s, the capital of Newfoundland, was captured by French forces in 1709. They were unable to maintain the city due to a lack of resources and proceeded to burn down the forts. St. John’s was left abandoned and French efforts were sent to defend other areas, such as Quebec, a strategically protected stronghold. Although attempts were made, the British and New England forces were unable to take control.
The most brutal battle in Queen Anne’s War was the French raid on Deerfield, Massachusetts in 1704
The war came to an end in 1713 in the form of the Treaty of Utrecht when the European countries came together and signed a series of agreements. Terms were in favor of the English and forced France to cede Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and St. Christopher to the British. The Spanish were also forced to cede Minorca and Gibraltar to the British crown.
Although this truce provided some peace on the American continent, it was rather short-lived. While the French and Spanish lost key strongholds, the Native Americans were almost entirely excluded from the Treaty of Utrecht. Inevitably, this resulted in an uprising and the stage was set for more conflict.
A deeper dive — Related reading from the 101:
- Fun facts you never knew about the UK’s Queen Victoria | History 101
Lesser known facts about Queen Victoria who was quite possibly one of the most iconic independent women in British history.
- September 20, 1565: Spain attacks France in Florida | History 101
War on the New America front in Jacksonville, Florida where France and Spain battle it out.