Seven Years War

: What would the state of the free world be today if thealliance of the war of the Austrian Succession had not reversed in the Seven
Years War? Would we speak French, still be New England, or perhaps New
Spain? The fact is that while we may not know for certain that todays world
would be different, you can rest assured that the Seven Years War set the
tone in Europe, and more importantly in North America for the next half century.

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Paper Title:
Seven Years War
The Seven Years War
What would the state of the free world be today if the alliance of the war of
the Austrian Succession had not reversed in the Seven Years War? Would we
speak French, still be New England, or perhaps New Spain? The fact is that
while we may not know for certain that todays world would be different, you
can rest assured that the Seven Years War set the tone in Europe, and more
importantly in North America for the next half century.

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The history of the 18th century in Europe was always uncertain. In fact, the
history of Europe will show that the fate of the continent, perhaps even the
world, was always on the brink. Nations constantly were maneuvering for the
upper hand looking to the highest bidder to choose sides with. The war of the
Spanish Succession and the war of the Austrian Succession will show us that this
new world war would be no different. The degree of uncertainty on the
continent in 1755 is unparalleled. Russia, Bohemia, and even France and England
could have swung in either direction. In fact France and England did change loyalties
if you will between the Treaty of Aix-la-chapelle and Fredericks invasion of
Bohemia in 1756. Maria Theresa, although agreed to the aforementioned treaty to
end the war of her accession, would always seek revenge on Frederick for the
humiliation he had inflicted on her.

If these loyalties or interests I should say hadnt changed, what would the
effect on the world be today? Would you or I be speaking some other language?
French perhaps?
The Enlightened Despots, Frederick? Was he? Maria Theresa? Hardly, Catherine
had absolutely no impact whatsoever, and William Pitt, while he was an effective
military strategist, was no despot, and surely not enlightened. Louis the XV,
who was led around by the nose by Mme de Pompadour, was as ineffective as all
the Kings of France would be after his grandfather.

Britain obtained Prussia as her ally, but you might ask, why? Surely you cant
fuel Fredericks massive army any more? Pitt the Elder argued though that
while true Prussias army was unmatched in these days, they had no Navy, and
therefore was no threat to the isles. Besides they could defend Hanover as
Brittaiinias ally, to let England deal with her main concern, colonization.

While the Hanoverian kings were by no means brilliant or very effective
furthermore, it was parliament that realized the importance of her colonies,
especially in the New World.

The treaty of Westminster sealed the deal between both England and Prussia.

Fredericks hopes were that this would deter Russia from getting involved, and
the Brits trusted Frederick in return to protect Hanover.

Frederick successfully insulted many of the rulers of Europe of his day.
The first three whores of Europe is the name he gave to Maria Theresa,
Elizaveta Petrovna, and Mme. De Pompadour. Surrounded by enemies on all sides
one would think to have a bit more taste. Will Durant put it best when he said,
It is comforting to know that even the Great can be foolish now and then.

(Rousseau and Revolution. 43) King Augustus III of Saxony, Elector of Poland,
which happened to split the mainland of Prussia down the middle, and also
happened to be quite catholic, thought of Frederick as an insolent infidel.

Nonetheless, Frederick would have none of this. Quite arrogant, or maybe only
confident in his army, knowing all the time that Maria was just maneuvering and
waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike back and regain Silesia, whose
loyalties mostly lie with Austria. While Maria claimed that she would honor the
Treaty of Dresden, it was clear to Frederick that all of Europe was taking
sides. In order to protect his western front, Frederick invaded Saxony. Thus
began the war. (On the European front)
Frederick won the first few battles of the war, but the overwhelming number
and strength of the allied forces of Europe were too much. The English hadnt
been much help to the cause thus far and until the reinstatement of Pitt, it
looked as though Fredericks fate was sealed. How can any army so greatly
outmatched in size, have lasted as long?
Outmatched and attacked on all sides, the tide of the war looked as though it
was turning in favor of the allies. Frederick and his army was worn and ragged
in less than one year of fighting. Although he was successful in the first few
campaigns, the lack of English support (in manpower), left Frederick alone and
outnumbered nearly four to one. Frederick was deeply depressed during this
period and thought that perhaps it was all for not. He actually even
contemplated suicide at times and went so far as to write to his favorite
sister, whom he loved deeply, to tell her of his wishing. However, at Rossbach,
in 1757, his ingenious victory impressed nearly the entire civilized world. Pitt
was reinstated as head of the military, and finally England stood firmly behind
Frederick, at least monetarily. The war in Europe went on for another four
grueling years and every time it seemed as though Frederick was done for, he
would somehow catch a lucky break. He thought on suicide on more than one

Louis the XV had had just about enough of the as well. Realizing that he was
losing the battle for colonial supremacy, he looked and urged for a treaty to be
signed. Frederick was in dire straits(Brassey 877), in 1762, when luck
finally came his way. The empress czarina Elizabeth who detested Frederick
died.(no luck of hers) Her nephew, Peter III, then ascended the throne. Peter,
who was an admirer of Fredericks, quickly signed for peace, and ceded all
that Russia had gained from the war. He even devoted his army to Frederick, who
thought him silly. He was deposed of shortly after and murdered by the
nobles who were aided by the soon to be great Catherine. Without the
Russians constantly attacking from the north, the Austrian army could no longer
hope to hold off Frederick. On 16 February 1763, at Hubertsburg, Maria Theresa
signed a treaty recognizing Prussias right to Silesia ending the Seven Years
War in Europe.

Had England not won the French and Indian War, which was the name of the
Seven Years War in North America, the continent might well have been divvied
into three parts, New France, New Spain, and of course New England. Would the
course of history in North America as we know it today be the same? Britain on
the other hand was mainly interested in its colonies in the Americas. Their
contributions to Frederick were mainly funds. They were looking out for their
economic well being and for that, would prove all too important. The French on
the other hand, was too caught up in the war on the European front, and put
faith in the fact that they were allied with the Algonquin Indians. This would
prove their economic undoing for the next century.

The importance of the European conflict would plays a second fiddle with
regards to importance to historians today. The war for supremacy on the North
American continent, however, was for Britain, a vital victory, and plunged them
into an economic bliss. They ruled the high seas and because of this were
unchallenged in the trade market, (esp. in slaves, and rum). Had they donated
too much time, money or manpower to the struggle for Europe, the French would
have likely remained dominant in America. The nobles knew this all too well. The
only problem was convincing Pitt. When Pitt came to lead the royal army along
with the colonist militia, the tide of the French and Indian war turned for
good. His leadership and generalship would prove invaluable to the British cause
in North America. Lets face it, the English were by no means concerned about
the affairs of Europe, lest Hanover be protected. They needed access to the lush
Ohio Valley in order to expand their colonies, not to mention their Gross
National Product.

Wrote Voltaire upon the outbreak of the Seven Years War, These two
nations have gone to war over a few acres of snow in Canada, and in it they have
spent a great deal more than Canada is worth. (Leckie 271) Again upon hearing
afterwards that Canada was no longer French but British, he said to Louis, After
all sire, what have we lost- a few acres of snow? Poor Voltaire, Im sure
he was trying hard to console Louis. (Or the usual royal hiney kissing) Either
he was naive or just ignorant of how important North America was to France. Up
to his neck in his fathers debt, Louis was sinking in a river of IOUs. The
colonies, and Canada were far more important, a quite a bit more than a few
acres of snow. This was the most important event to occur in eighteenth
century North America. (Anderson XV) Could it be that the American Revolution
is not the most important event of this era? Many will argue no.

On June 8 1755, the two mother countries formally entered the squabble of
colonial superiority when Captain Howe intercepted two French ships en route to
Quebec with two battalions of troops. According to Captain Hocquart, of the
Alcide, when he asked if we were at peace of war, the reply came from Howe, La
paix, La paix. Seconds later fire from the British ship Dunkirk overcame the
two weaker vessels. They all surrendered. This was the real start of the Seven
Years War.

She sent a hundred thousand troops to help Maria but could spare only
twelve hundred for the New World. (Leckie 297) Mme De Pompadours feelings
were hurt too bad by Frederick to back down now. Louis, although hesitant,
listened to her as always. Had Louis any inkling of the importance of New
France, he would have set his nitwit mistress straight and sent sufficient
troops to the New World. If this had happened, the fate of North America would
no doubt be in question. Instead of sending off hundreds of thousands of
Frenchmen to be slaughtered by Frederick, for no gain at all, they might have
suppressed the British expansion in North America. The colonies showed no sign
of unity, and were being soundly driven back until Pitt took charge. This
happened only when Frederick staggered from the bloody grips of defeat to turn
the tide in the war. Only when England saw gain for herself did she start
listening to Pitt. Had the British regulars met a more formidable French army,
(Instead of fighting off the Indians), it would have been nearly too much to

The British had defeated the French in Europe, in the Atlantic at Quiberon
bay, in the war for India, and after victories at Duquesne (later named Fort
Pitt, Pittsburgh), and Quebec on the Plains of Abraham, had undoubtedly won the
war for world supremacy. France, accepting defeat from all sides, was forced
later to sign the Treaty of Paris to finally end the Seven Years War. France
was left in shambles. The country was financially a wreck, in an economic crises
that led to the French Revolution a mere three decades away.

There were many players in this true global war. Volumes could, and have been
written on the war for Empire. What ifs could be pondered from here to eternity
on the decisions and outcomes of many particulars of the war. Should France have
remained loyal to the treaty ending the War of the Austrian Succession she would
have been allied to Frederick instead of her ancient foe Austria. England would
most likely have focused more on the European front for the sake of Hanover no
doubt, leaving the fate of America to Spain and France. The American Revolution
no doubt would have ever came about, and you and I may be French. All theories I
know, but admittedly an argument can be made.

The fundamental struggle not merely for the Ohio and Mississippi valley
regions, but for Canada the Caribbean, India, nay the entire extra-European
world was underway. (Kennedy 111) The war did pave the way for Britain to
climb the ladder of Empire in the world. They emerged from the war masters of
the sea, and ready to cash in. Britain would be well repaid for the protection
of the colonies shortly. The economic strain of the war had to be paid by
someone. We will later find that the newly liberated colonials would have none
of that.

The war would lead Prussia to the forefront on the European continent,
however Britain clearly gained much more than any other did. France would not
recover, and Louis knew all too well what lay in store when he said After
me, the deluge.

Works Cited
1. Anderson, Fred Crucible of War, The Seven Years War and the fate
of Empire in British North America. Random House: New York, NY 2000
2. Durant, Will and Ariel Rousseau and Revolution The Story of
Civilization. Simon and Schuster: New York, NY 1967
3. Kennedy, Paul The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers Random House:
New York, NY 1987
4. Leckie, Robert A Few Acres of Snow, The Saga of the French and
Indian Wars. John Wiley & Sons: New York, NY 1999
5. Margiotta, Franklin D., Ed. Brasseys Encyclopedia of Military
History and Biography, Washington: Brasseys, Inc. 1994