In 1716 the Ottoman Empire became embroiled in a war with Austria that resulted in the Treaty of Passarowitz (1718), by which Charles VI recovered the portion of Hungary still under Turkish rule, plus some other Ottoman lands in the Danube valley. Another Austro Turkish war (1735-1739) modified the Passarowitz settlement.
In this war Austria was allied with Russia, but they fell to quarreling over division of the prospective spoils. In the end there was little to divide, and Charles VI had to hand back to Turkey the Danubian lands annexed in 1718. During the negotiations leading to the Austro-Turkish settlement of 1739, France gave the Ottoman Empire powerful support. In the early 1730s Bourbons and Habsburgs also chose opposing sides in a crisis over the kingship of Poland.
The stage was set for the War of the Polish Succession (1733-1735), pitting a Polish contender, Stanislas Leszcynski, protege of Charles XII, plus France and Spain, against Augustus III, a protege of Peter the Great, who also had Austrian support. The diplomats quickly worked out a compromise settlement. Much to the satisfaction of Austria and Russia, Augustus III secured the Polish throne. Yet from
the French standpoint, Stanislas Leszcynski was well compensated for his loss. He acquired the duchy of Lorraine on the northeastern border of France, with the provision that when he died Lorraine would go to his daughter Marie, wife of Louis XV of France, and thence to the French Crown. The incumbent duke of Lorraine, Francis, future husband of the Habsburg heiress Maria Theresa, was awarded the grand duchy of Tuscany. Finally, as a by-product of the settlement, Elizabeth Farnese of Spain capped twenty years of perseverance by procuring the kingdom of Naples for her elder son.
The War of the Polish Succession may seem like much ado about a kingship possessing no real power; and the postwar settlement, which affected chiefly Italy and Lorraine, may appear to be a striking case of diplomatic irrelevance. Yet the whole Polish crisis neatly illustrates the workings of dynastic politics and the balance of power.
Statesmen regarded thrones as diplomatic prizes, to be assigned without reference to the wishes of the populations involved. The complicated arrangements of the 1730s preserved the balance of power by giving something to almost everyone. Although the diplomats had not prevented a little war over Poland, they did keep it from becoming a big one.