7 Years War Summary
7 Years War Summary : The Seven Years’ War (1756–1763) was a global conflict, “a struggle for global primacy between Britain and France”, which also had a major impact on the Spanish Empire. In Europe, the conflict arose from issues left unresolved by the War of the Austrian Succession, with Prussia seeking greater dominance. Long standing colonial rivalries between Britain against France and Spain in North America and the Caribbean islands (valuable for sugar) were fought on a grand scale with consequential results. In Europe, the war broke out over territorial disputes between Prussia and Austria, which wanted to regain Silesia after it was captured by Prussia in the previous war. Britain, France, and Spain fought both in Europe and overseas with land-based armies and naval forces, while Prussia sought territorial expansion in Europe and consolidation of its power.
In a realignment of traditional alliances, known as the Diplomatic Revolution of 1756, Prussia became part of a coalition led by Britain, which also included long-time Prussian competitor Hanover. At the same time, Austria ended centuries of conflict by allying with France, along with Saxony, Sweden, and Russia. Spain aligned formally with France in 1762. Spain unsuccessfully attempted to invade Britain’s ally Portugal, attacking with their forces facing British troops in Iberia. Smaller German states either joined the Seven Years’ War or supplied mercenaries to the parties involved in the conflict.
Anglo-French conflict over their colonies in North America had begun in 1754 in what became known in North America as the French and Indian War, a nine-year war that ended France’s presence as a land power. It was “the most important event to occur in eighteenth-century North America”. Spain entered the war in 1761, joining France in the Third Family Compact between the two Bourbon monarchies. The alliance with France was a disaster for Spain, with the loss to Britain of two major ports, Havana in the Caribbean and Manila in the Philippines, returned in the 1763 Treaty of Paris between France, Spain and Great Britain. In Europe the large-scale conflict that drew in most of the European powers was centered on Austria’s desire to recover Silesia from Prussia. The Treaty of Hubertusburg ended the war between Saxony, Austria and Prussia, in 1763. Britain began its rise as the world’s predominant colonial and naval power. For a time France’s supremacy in Europe was halted until after the French Revolution and the emergence of Napoleon Bonaparte. Prussia confirmed its status as a great power, challenging Austria for dominance within the German states, thus altering the European balance of power.
7 Years War Summary