Following the Thirty Years’ War, and the pivotal French victory against the Spanish at Rocroi (1643), France’s military reputation was secured, and the period of French hegemony in Europe, under the rule of Louis XIV, began. France initially looked eastward, as a means of facilitating contact with her German allies, and cutting her enemies’ lines of communication. Following the Peace of Westphalia (1648) France annexed Haute-Alsace, the Décapole (a federation of ten Alsatian towns), and the bishoprics of Metz, Toul and Verdun. In the 1649 Treaty of the Pyrenees France gained Artois and Roussillon, consolidating the frontier with Spain. In the War of Devolution (1667–68) France occupied major parts of the Spanish Netherlands and Franche-Comté, and the resulting Treaty of Aix-le-Chapelle gave France a foothold in Flanders. Ten years later the Treaty of Nijmegen ended the Franco-Dutch War (1672–78), fought between France and the Dutch Republic. Following the Nine Years’ War (1688–97), fought between France and a European coalition, the Treaty of Ryswick (1698) determined that France would retain the whole of Alsace but had to return Lorraine to its ruler and give up any territorial gains on the right bank of the Rhine. By the end of the reign of Louis XIV, in 1715, the borders of France had been consolidated and were protected by a network of modern fortresses, constructed by Vauban, the renowned military engineer.
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