The war began slowly, as Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor, fought to protect the Austrian claim to the Spanish throne. As Louis XIV began to expand his territories more aggressively, other European nations including England and the Dutch Republic entered on the Holy Roman Empire's side to check French expansion. Other states joined the coalition opposing France and Spain in an attempt to acquire new territories, or to protect existing dominions. Spain itself was divided over the issue of succession, and fell into a civil war.
The war was primarily fought in Spain and West-Central Europe, especially the Low Countries, with other important fighting in Germany and Italy. Prince Eugene and the Duke of Marlborough distinguished themselves as military commanders in the Low Countries with famous victories at Blenheim (1704), Ramillies (1706) Oudenarde (1708) and Malplaquet (1709). The allies were less successful in Spain, although the English captured Gibraltar in 1704.
The war was concluded by the treaties of Utrecht (1713) and Rastatt (1714). As a result, Philip V remained King of Spain but was removed from the French line of succession, thereby averting a union of the two kingdoms. The Austrians gained most of the Spanish territories in Italy and the Netherlands.
English foot with their superior firepower provided the foundation for Marlborough's victories.
Although heavy cavalry provided the vital offensive punch in many battles.
and their Dutch allies
The French army was the dominant military force in Europe at the end of the 17th century, 440,000 strong at its high point in 1693.
Dragoons & Hussars
See also the Austrian army of this period.