[America, around 1740] Andy and Cathy, now husband and wife, own a country inn, the “Merry Dragon”. They have two children, Ambrose and his little sister Betty, named after Anton’s beloved wife Lizbeth.
Both children were proud of their “Merry Dragon” inn. Every so often, they showed the guests their rooms or laid the breakfast table for them. They were over the moon to meet people from different parts of America, and sometimes people who came from even farther away places.
Why do they shoot at each other in America? (1741-1748, Europe and America)
Then, in spring 1744, the guests’ faces were aggrieved, and the conversations were about serious issues. Up in the north of America, Great Britain and France fought bitterly over the St. Lawrence River. Ambrose’ and Betty’s hearts went out to the people who had settled there. “Why do Great Britain and France not allow the Americans to live in peace?” they asked their father, “why do they shoot at each other even here in North America?”
Andy was aggrieved, too. When the major powers were at war, the civilians suffered most, he and Anton had gone through that.. “The great powers in Europe, which are Great Britain, France, Austria and Russia, have been fighting for decades already against each other,” he explained, “each country strives to be the most powerful, or at the least to prevent another country from gaining more power. Therefore, they do not want others to have colonies either.” Anton added, troubled with worries, “they are fighting again in Europe too. Frederick II of Prussia has attacked Austria.”
War of the Austrian Succession
Another war over a European crown had broken out, this time over the Austrian succession. Emperor Charles VI (1711-1740) in Vienna had no son, so he had pushed through an edict called the Pragmatic Sanction to ensure that his daughter Maria Theresa could inherit the Archduchy of Austria. Only after many years of negotiations and concessions the European princes had finally consented. Frederick William I of Prussia on the other hand, the “Soldier King” (1713-1740), had even spoken in a favor of the Pragmatic Sanction.
In return, the Emperor had promised him the Duchy of Jülich-Berg*. He was also Prince-Elector of Brandenburg and as such a loyal subject to Emperor Charles VI. But the Emperor had played with marked cards, neither he nor the Netherlands, England, or France wanted a strong presence of Prussia in the west of Germany. He had kept the King of Prussia interested until he could take the Pragmatic Sanction for granted, then he had given the Duchy of Jülich-Berg to the House of Pfalz-Sulzbach.
In 1740 died in quick succession Frederick William I in Potsdam and Charles VI in Vienna. Now Frederick II was King of Prussia (1740-1786). After the Emperor’s betrayal, he felt that he did not owe the House of Habsburg anything. At the head of his troops, he invaded Austria’s rich land Silesia. In the following two Silesian wars (1741-1742 and 1744-1745) he could keep it.
Farewell to Anton
In late summer, Anton felt that the end of his life was not far off. Andy and Cathy, Ambrose and Betty, his entire family wanted to say goodbye to him. Hesitantly, they walked to his bedside. Betty gave him a posy of Black-eyed Susan. “These are for your Lizbeth up there in heaven,” she said softly, “so she’ll know immediately that it’s you.” Surrounded by all his dear ones, Anton went for his last journey.
* For a long time already Prussia and the dynasties of the Palatinate had been fighting over the Duchy of Jülich-Berg. Back then, large parts of our region belonged to Berg.