When Emperor Charles VI died, his daughter,
Maria-Theresa, mounted the imperial throne, in accordance
with the Pragmatic Sanction enacted twenty-seven years
earlier; it was at once challenged and unable to resist
both the hegemonic claims of Charles-Albert, the Elector
of Bavaria, or the territorial ones of Frederick II,
the new King of Prussia. The opening campaigns saw the
fortunes of war change sides several times.
In 1745, operations engaged
by France sought to finalise the conquest of the Austrian
Low Countries and isolate the United Provinces from
the coalition which had created the Pragmatic Army.
After a crafty diversionary movement, the French army
commanded by Maurice de Saxe, threw itself at Tournai
which it invested then besieged. Under the command of
the Duke of Cumberland, the Allies gathered their forces
then advanced towards the town with the intention of
lifting the siege and destroying the French army.