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The Seven Years War in a few words
Frederick II of Prussia in 1763 - Source: Wikimedia Commons

More than 250 years ago, in 1756, the major powers of Europe became entangled in a conflict now known as the Seven Years War that was to last until 1763. It involved all the major powers of Europe, with Austria, France, Russia, Saxony, Sweden, and later Spain siding against the alliance of Great Britain, Hanover, Prussia, and later Portugal.

The war had in fact started in 1754 in North America and India where France and Great Britain were struggling for colonial supremacy. In Europe, Maria Theresa of Austria had undertaken intense diplomatic efforts to forge an alliance against Prussia with the goal of wresting the lost province of Silesia from the Prussian grasp.

Frederick II of Prussia invaded Saxony in 1756 and Bohemia in 1757. However, he had to retire from Bohemia after the defeat of Kolin. Prussians were now on the defensive against Austrians in Silesia, Franco-Imperials in Saxony and Russians in East Prussia. Frederick II saved Prussia by two brilliant victories at Rossbach and Leuthen. Meanwhile France had successfully invaded Hanover but was soon pushed back to the Rhine.

In North America, the first years of the conflict turned to the advantage of France. In Asia, Bengal was virtually under British rule by the end of 1757.

From 1758 through 1761, Prussia managed to repel its enemies on all fronts. In 1762, it was on the verge of being defeated when the Tsarina Elizabeth died leaving the throne to Peter III, who held Frederick II in high esteem. Consequently, the new Tsar sided with Prussia.

Meanwhile, year after year, the struggle between France and the Anglo-Hanoverians in Western Germany remained inconclusive. By the end of each campaign the belligerents were basically back to their initial positions.

In America, Africa and Asia, the tide turned in 1758. Great Britain had successfully conquered Senegal (1758), Guadeloupe (1759), Canada (1759-60), Dominica (1761), Martinique (1762) and Cuba (1762).

In 1762, a new front opened in the Iberian Peninsula where a Franco-Spanish army vainly attempted the conquest of Portugal.

Early in 1763, all belligerents made peace, leaving the political map of Europe almost unchanged. However, Great Britain had eliminated its most important competitor for world domination, and Prussia had survived the war, a feat all by itself... (more...)

Project SYW - Annual funding campaign
Even though we are only in November, our annual funding campaign has already exceeded our initial target through your generosity. Thank you!

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Image of the week: Detail of a fresco depicting the combat of Moys
Source: Fresco of the Castle of Brezovica in Croatia, painted in 1775 at the request of FZM Josip Kazimír Count Drašković von Trakošćan
Credit: Mr. Mravlinčić and Mrs. Srdenoselec of the Castle of Trakošćan for their kind authorisation to reproduce details of this fresco

The Seven Years' War Project now offers free access to 2,693 articles and 4,234 images.

From November 16 to 22, we have created/improved the following articles:

(see News Archives...)