The Seven Years War

(Unit 7)
 Statesmen of the time
 Warfare could further national interests
 Wars of 18th century fought by professional armies
 Conflicts rarely affected civilians
 Periods of peace
 Seen as time to recoup strength
 Main areas of conflict
 Overseas empires
 Central and eastern Europe
 Mid-18th century West Indies
 Hotbed for smuggling and trade rivalry
 Spanish tired to maintain trading monopoly
 Spanish patrols boarded English vessels
 Search for contraband
 During a boarding in 1731
 Robert Jenkins (English captain) had ear cut off
 1738
 Jenkins went before parliament, showed severed ear
preserved in brandy jar
 British merchants and West
Indian planters
 Lobbied parliament to prevent
Spanish intervention in trade
 Late 1739
 Britain to war with Spain
 Opening to a series of
European wars across the world
until 1815
 December 1740
 Frederick II seized Austrian province of Silesia
(Habsburg territory)
 Seizing of territory weakened new Habsburg monarch,
Maria Theresa
 Maria attempted to
preserve Habsburg
 Won support of the
nobility by giving
them new privileges
 Promised Hungarian
nobility local
 Preservation
weakened central
 Never regained
 France
 Canceled plans to attack British trade with French Navy
 Decided to support Prussia, against Austria
 Drew Britain in
 Wanted Low Countries to remain under Austria, not
 1744
 British-French conflict carried into Colonies
 French military and economic resources badly divided
 Failed to bring strength to colonial struggle
 Lost colonial struggle to Britain
 War ends in stalemate
 1748
 Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle
 Dramatic shift in alliances
 January 1756
 Britain and Prussia sign “Convention of Westminster”
 Defensive alliance
 Britain now at odds with Austria
 May 1756
 France and Austria sign defensive alliance
 August 1756
 Fredrick II wages war on German state of Saxony
 Spring of 1757 France/ Austria set out to destroy Prussia
 Sweden, Russia and other small German states joined
 But Prussia remained undefeated because 1)”Britain
furnished considerable financial aid” pg. 293. 2) In 1762
Empress Elizabeth of Russia died, her successor was Tsar
Peter III, who made peace with Fredrick
 The Treaty of Hubertusburg: in 1763 ended the
continental conflict
 Fredrick became known as Fredrick the Great
 Prussia, now stood among the ranks of the great
 William Pitt “the Elder”: (1708-1778) was known for his
ego and his administrative genius
 When he became secretary of state, and in charge of
the war of 1757 he “pumped huge sums into the coffers
of Fredrick the Great” pg. 293.
 He saw the German conflict as a way to divert French
resources and attention from the colonial struggle.
 He later boasted of having won America on the Plains
of Germany
 Pitt wanted all of North America east of Mississippi for
Great Britain's possession, and he nearly succeeded
He sent ~40,000 English/colonial troops against the
French in Canada
French government was unwilling/unable to fight back
with the English, because their system was corrupt
In September of 1759, the British Army, under James
Wolfe defeated the French under Louis Joseph de
The French Empire in Canada was coming to an end
 Major islands of the French West Indies fell to British
Sugar sales helped finance the British war effort
British slave interests secured the bulk of French slave
trade for themselves. But btwn 1755-1760, the values of
French colonial trade fell by more than 80%
In India, the British forces defeated France’s Indian
allies in 1757.
Never had Great Britain of any other European power,
experienced this kind of military victory
 Then there came a new king: George III, but he fought
with Pitt over policy, and so George resigned
Then came the Earl of Bute (1713-1792), who was
responsible for the peace settlement
Britain received all of Canada, the Ohio River Valley,
the eastern half of the Mississippi River valley
To Pitts dismay, Britain returned some land back to
India, along with sugar islands back to the French
But due to all of this, Great Britain became a well
known world power
 Through the span of the Seven Years War tens of
thousands of soldiers/sailors had been killed or
 Prussia was constantly wresting with Silesia from
Austria and hand undermined the integrity of the
 Habsburg power now relied heavily on the dynasty’s
own domains--especially Hungary; along with France
finding its colonial dominion and influence reduced
 The war caused domestic crises among the European
 Due to much defeat, France saw the need for
political and administrative reforms
 All those who participated in the war had to put
high taxes on their good to compensate for their
economic loses
 Thus came about the American Revolution