The Seven Years' War

Article

July 5, 2022

The Seven Years 'War or the Seven Years' War was fought in the period 1756–1763 between Great Britain, Prussia and Hanover on the one hand and France, Austria, Russia, Sweden and Saxony on the other. Spain and Portugal were drawn into the conflict after the other countries, while a force from the neutral Netherlands was attacked in India. The military conflict between Great Britain and France had already begun two years earlier, in 1754, in the two countries' North American colonies. The war in North America, known as the French and Native American War, as many of the Indians joined the French, ran from 1756 in parallel with the Seven Years' War in Europe, and was considered its North American section. The conflict in India is known as the Second Carnatic War, while the conflict between Prussia and Austria is called the Third Silesian War. The war is considered one of the first global conflicts: battles were fought on every populated continent except Australia, and independent nations on three of these continents were active participants in the conflict.

Background of the war

The Seven Years' War can be seen as a continuation of the Austrian War of Succession. Frederick II of Prussia had then gained control of the rich province of Silesia. The Empress Maria Theresa of Austria had signed the Treaty of Aachen which ended the war, but only to be able to build up her military forces again, and form new alliances. The Empress succeeded very well with this, and the political map of Europe had been redrawn in a matter of a few years. The old enemies France, Austria and Russia had been united against Prussia, which had Britain as its only protector. The reason why Britain had interests in the conflict was the bond with Hanover, which was the hereditary kingdom of the ruling British duchy. The British felt that Hanover was threatened by France, and thus had a common cause with Prussia. At the same time, a colonial race between Britain and France intensified the enmity between them. The British navy was the strongest in Europe, while Prussia had the strongest land forces on the continent. The alliance with Prussia also allowed the British to focus their land forces on the colonies, as Prussia could largely stand alone on land. The Austrian army had been modernized according to the Prussian model. Maria Theresa herself had great knowledge of military affairs, and had pushed this through. Because of her care for ordinary soldiers, she also had great support among the forces.

The outbreak of war

The fighting began in Ohio Country, in present-day Ohio, USA in 1754. Two years later, the war spread to Europe, after Britain declared war on France on May 15, 1756. Frederick II decided to strike first against the alliance he was facing, and therefore crossed the border into Saxony on August 29, 1756. The battles of Europe

Fredrik II as strategist

Frederick II was very interested in the military, and Prussia was heavily militarized at this time. Although the Prussian forces were outnumbered, they were well organized, well equipped, and trained. The French philosopher Voltaire described it as Prussia being an army with a state, and not a state with an army. When Frederick II crossed the border into Saxony with his Prussians, neither the Saxon nor the Austrian army was prepared. At the Battle of Lobositz, Frederick prevented an isolated Saxon army from receiving help from an Austrian army under General von Browne. The Saxons succeeded in delaying the Prussians, so that the battle was not a pure victory for Frederick II. In the spring of 1757, Fredrik took the initiative again by marching towards Prague. After the Battle of Prague, the Prussians besieged the city, but had to give it up after suffering their first defeat at the Battle of Kolin. The Austrians were now ready to attack Prussian territories and a French army under Soubise approached from the west. The Prussians thereby in a pre