France had been eating away at the Habsburg Netherlands for years, claiming them in the so called wars of "Reunions". The Franco-Habsburg rivalry went back to the days of the Burgundian Dukes as we have seen (see section on Burgundy). At one time only Brabant and Limburg remained under Habsburg control. The Habsburgs bounced back however regaining much of the territory that is now Belgium. When the last Spanish King from the House of Habsburg, Charles II died in 1701, a grandson of Louis XIV, King of France, who had married Charles sister, succeeded to the thrones of the Spanish-Habsburg lands as Philip V. Fears of French hegemony on the continent had already induced Stadtholder William III to form an alliance to oppose the succession of this French pretender to the Spanish throne. William III, who had also become King of England after the Glorious revolution of 1688, pushed a compromise making Joseph of Bavaria, whose grandmother had been a Spanish Princess, heir to Spain and the other lands of the Spanish Habsburgs. Joseph died however and the anti-French coalition that William had built chose to recognize Charles of Austria as heir to the Spanish throne. The war of the Spanish succession was the consequence when Philip V succeeded anyway in 1701.
William III died childless in 1702, causing another period of rule by the "Regents" class in all but the two provinces that were ruled by the Nassau-Dietz branch. These Frisian Stadtholders now claimed the Orange name, because of their descent from William’s aunt Albertina-Agnes, who had married one of the Frisian Stadtholders. Her elder sister however had a more valid claim to the Orange-title, and so it was also claimed by her son the King of Prussia. The matter was rather academic where the Principality itself was concerned, since that had been conquered by Louis XIV of France decades earlier. The two claimants agreed to share the Orange title, and the Hohenzollern heir to Prussia calls himself Prince of Orange to this very day.
The war of the Spanish succession ended with the Utrecht peace treaty in 1712. Philip V remained King of Spain but the other monarchies of the Spanish line were given to other powers. Austria got the Habsburg Netherlands, with the exeption of Gueldres. Most of that was ceded to the Kingdom of Prussia, while the city of Roermond and surroundings were ceded to the Republic.
The long minority of the Stadtholder of the Northern provinces of Groningen and Frisia (his father having drowned on his way to the Hague to assume Stadtholdership over all Dutch provinces) caused a long period of “Stadtholderless rule in all but the two Northern Provinces. The Prince of Orange only assumed the Stadtholdership over the rest of the country in 1747, when William IV became Hereditary Stadtholder of all the Provinces.