Grand Alliance, War of the, or War of the League of Augsburg, 1688–97, a war in which France opposed an alliance of Spain, England, Holland, Sweden, the Holy Roman Empire, and several smaller states. The alliance, formed in 1686 by the Holy Roman Empire, Spain, Sweden, and the smaller states, was known as the League of Augsburg until 1689, when England and Holland joined and it became the Grand Alliance. The American phase of the war, in which the British and French fought over parts of New England and Canada, is called King William's War. The War started when Louis XIV of France claimed and invaded the Palatinate (Rhineland) region of Germany. He also aided the unsuccessful attempt of James II to regain the English throne from William III. On the Continent French troops won several battles, but Louis signed the unfavorable Peace of Ryswick (1697) when he was out of money.
England's first known inhabitants were cave dwellers who hunted and fished and lived under Stone Age conditions until after 2000 B.C.
The history of Europe is the story of many different peoples and cultures. Some peoples lagged behind, while others surged far ahead in the development of social, intellectual, and political institutions and ideas.