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Great Powers in the 17th and 18th Centuries In the 17th and 18th centuries Great Britain France and the Hapsburg Empire were all competing for the fate of Europe France in particular was caught between being a continental power or a world power taking control of the Rhine and most of Central Europe or taking control of The New World Frances primary goal at the time was for control of the Rhine but this goal was not without obstacles Great Britains main concern was to keep the balance of power in Europe on their side while expanding overseas The Hapsburg Empires goals were dealing with conquering the Holy Roman Empire and the Germanic states in turn taking over the entire continent from the inside out All 3 of these great powers were being opposed from their pursuits and survival was always the top concern Also after 1660 a growing multipolar system of European states made decisions within each state based more on national interest than before when most conflicts and militaristic decisions were based on religion Louis XIV1661-1715 is responsible for a considerable gain in the power of France He had huge armies at some points reaching up to half a million troops that were organized with barracks hospitals parade grounds and depots to support them Along with an organized enormous fleet at sea France became a true hybrid power Its energies were diverted between continental aims and maritime and colonial ambitions For two decades with no real competition France was successful but other powers soon built up enough recourses and power to challenge it By 1713 and the Treaty of Utrecht Frances boundaries were established covering the Saint Lawrence River valley the Ohio and Mississippi river valleys the West Indian islands of Saint Domingue Guadeloupe and Martinique Constantly defending these territories with the navy and wars on land with Italy and other states split French energy into the navy and military Never putting
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