Seven Years War

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The Seven Years' WarThe first true World War. ..Cause and effects! Jeff BrownThe History of Western Civilization IIProfessor Zarrillo 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 today's 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. 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 Frederick's 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 hadn't 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 can't fuel Frederick's massive army any more? Pitt the Elder argued though that while true Prussia's 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. Frederick's 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 hadn't been much help to the cause thus far and until the reinstatement of Pitt, it looked as though Frederick's 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 occasion. 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 Frederick's, 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 Prussia's 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...

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