Patterns Historical Context

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The War of Spanish Succession: 1702–1713

Although "Patterns" was written at the beginning of World War I, it is set two centuries earlier, probably during the events of the first world war of modern times, the War of Spanish Succession. When the woman in the poem reveals her lover's death, she mentions that he died "Fighting with the Duke in Flanders." The precise geographical boundaries of the region of Flanders have changed over the centuries. Now the name mainly refers to parts of the country of Belgium. In the early eighteenth century, Flanders also included parts of northeast France and the southeastern Netherlands.

In 1701, Charles II of Spain, the last of the Habsburg line, died leaving no direct heir. In anticipation of his death, both the French and the Austrian Habsburgs claimed the throne, and in 1697 after a brief war, agreed that Joseph Ferdinand, the grandson of Holy...

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