: What would the state of the free world be today if thealliance of the war of the Austrian Succession had not reversed in the SevenYears War? Would we speak French, still be New England, or perhaps NewSpain? The fact is that while we may not know for certain that todays worldwould be different, you can rest assured that the Seven Years War set thetone in Europe, and more importantly in North America for the next half century.
-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-* Copyright DueNow.com Inc. *Category:HistoryPaper Title:Seven Years WarText:The Seven Years WarWhat would the state of the free world be today if the alliance of the war ofthe Austrian Succession had not reversed in the Seven Years War? Would wespeak French, still be New England, or perhaps New Spain? The fact is thatwhile we may not know for certain that todays world would be different, youcan rest assured that the Seven Years War set the tone in Europe, and moreimportantly in North America for the next half century.
The history of the 18th century in Europe was always uncertain. In fact, thehistory of Europe will show that the fate of the continent, perhaps even theworld, was always on the brink. Nations constantly were maneuvering for theupper hand looking to the highest bidder to choose sides with. The war of theSpanish Succession and the war of the Austrian Succession will show us that thisnew world war would be no different. The degree of uncertainty on thecontinent in 1755 is unparalleled. Russia, Bohemia, and even France and Englandcould have swung in either direction. In fact France and England did change loyaltiesif you will between the Treaty of Aix-la-chapelle and Fredericks invasion ofBohemia in 1756. Maria Theresa, although agreed to the aforementioned treaty toend the war of her accession, would always seek revenge on Frederick for thehumiliation he had inflicted on her.
If these loyalties or interests I should say hadnt changed, what would theeffect 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, Catherinehad absolutely no impact whatsoever, and William Pitt, while he was an effectivemilitary 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 allthe Kings of France would be after his grandfather.
Britain obtained Prussia as her ally, but you might ask, why? Surely you cantfuel Fredericks massive army any more? Pitt the Elder argued though thatwhile true Prussias army was unmatched in these days, they had no Navy, andtherefore was no threat to the isles. Besides they could defend Hanover asBrittaiinias ally, to let England deal with her main concern, colonization.
While the Hanoverian kings were by no means brilliant or very effectivefurthermore, 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.
Fredericks hopes were that this would deter Russia from getting involved, andthe 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 sidesone 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 alsohappened to be quite catholic, thought of Frederick as an insolent infidel.
Nonetheless, Frederick would have none of this. Quite arrogant, or maybe onlyconfident in his army, knowing all the time that Maria was just maneuvering andwaiting for the perfect opportunity to strike back and regain Silesia, whoseloyalties mostly lie with Austria. While Maria claimed that she would honor theTreaty of Dresden, it was clear to Frederick that all of Europe was takingsides. In order to protect his western front, Frederick invaded Saxony. Thusbegan the war. (On the European front)Frederick won the first few battles of the war, but the overwhelming numberand strength of the allied forces of Europe were too much. The English hadntbeen much help to the cause thus far and until the reinstatement of Pitt, itlooked as though Fredericks fate was sealed. How can any army so greatlyoutmatched in size, have lasted as long?Outmatched and attacked on all sides, the tide of the war looked as though itwas turning in favor of the allies. Frederick and his army was worn and raggedin less than one year of fighting. Although he was successful in the first fewcampaigns, the lack of English support (in manpower), left Frederick alone andoutnumbered nearly four to one. Frederick was deeply depressed during thisperiod and thought that perhaps it was all for not. He actually evencontemplated suicide at times and went so far as to write to his favoritesister, whom he loved deeply, to tell her of his wishing. However, at Rossbach,in 1757, his ingenious victory impressed nearly the entire civilized world. Pittwas reinstated as head of the military, and finally England stood firmly behindFrederick, at least monetarily. The war in Europe went on for another fourgrueling years and every time it seemed as though Frederick was done for, hewould somehow catch a lucky break. He thought on suicide on more than oneoccasion.
Louis the XV had had just about enough of the as well. Realizing that he waslosing the battle for colonial supremacy, he looked and urged for a treaty to besigned. Frederick was in dire straits(Brassey 877), in 1762, when luckfinally came his way. The empress czarina Elizabeth who detested Frederickdied.(no luck of hers) Her nephew, Peter III, then ascended the throne. Peter,who was an admirer of Fredericks, quickly signed for peace, and ceded allthat Russia had gained from the war. He even devoted his army to Frederick, whothought him silly. He was deposed of shortly after and murdered by thenobles who were aided by the soon to be great Catherine. Without theRussians constantly attacking from the north, the Austrian army could no longerhope to hold off Frederick. On 16 February 1763, at Hubertsburg, Maria Theresasigned a treaty recognizing Prussias right to Silesia ending the Seven YearsWar in Europe.
Had England not won the French and Indian War, which was the name of theSeven Years War in North America, the continent might well have been divviedinto three parts, New France, New Spain, and of course New England. Would thecourse of history in North America as we know it today be the same? Britain onthe other hand was mainly interested in its colonies in the Americas. Theircontributions to Frederick were mainly funds. They were looking out for theireconomic well being and for that, would prove all too important. The French onthe other hand, was too caught up in the war on the European front, and putfaith in the fact that they were allied with the Algonquin Indians. This wouldprove their economic undoing for the next century.
The importance of the European conflict would plays a second fiddle withregards to importance to historians today. The war for supremacy on the NorthAmerican continent, however, was for Britain, a vital victory, and plunged theminto an economic bliss. They ruled the high seas and because of this wereunchallenged in the trade market, (esp. in slaves, and rum). Had they donatedtoo much time, money or manpower to the struggle for Europe, the French wouldhave likely remained dominant in America. The nobles knew this all too well. Theonly problem was convincing Pitt. When Pitt came to lead the royal army alongwith the colonist militia, the tide of the French and Indian war turned forgood. His leadership and generalship would prove invaluable to the British causein North America. Lets face it, the English were by no means concerned aboutthe affairs of Europe, lest Hanover be protected. They needed access to the lushOhio Valley in order to expand their colonies, not to mention their GrossNational Product.
Wrote Voltaire upon the outbreak of the Seven Years War, These twonations have gone to war over a few acres of snow in Canada, and in it they havespent a great deal more than Canada is worth. (Leckie 271) Again upon hearingafterwards that Canada was no longer French but British, he said to Louis, Afterall sire, what have we lost- a few acres of snow? Poor Voltaire, Im surehe was trying hard to console Louis. (Or the usual royal hiney kissing) Eitherhe was naive or just ignorant of how important North America was to France. Upto his neck in his fathers debt, Louis was sinking in a river of IOUs. Thecolonies, and Canada were far more important, a quite a bit more than a fewacres of snow. This was the most important event to occur in eighteenthcentury North America. (Anderson XV) Could it be that the American Revolutionis not the most important event of this era? Many will argue no.
On June 8 1755, the two mother countries formally entered the squabble ofcolonial superiority when Captain Howe intercepted two French ships en route toQuebec with two battalions of troops. According to Captain Hocquart, of theAlcide, when he asked if we were at peace of war, the reply came from Howe, Lapaix, La paix. Seconds later fire from the British ship Dunkirk overcame thetwo weaker vessels. They all surrendered. This was the real start of the SevenYears War.
She sent a hundred thousand troops to help Maria but could spare onlytwelve hundred for the New World. (Leckie 297) Mme De Pompadours feelingswere hurt too bad by Frederick to back down now. Louis, although hesitant,listened to her as always. Had Louis any inkling of the importance of NewFrance, he would have set his nitwit mistress straight and sent sufficienttroops to the New World. If this had happened, the fate of North America wouldno doubt be in question. Instead of sending off hundreds of thousands ofFrenchmen to be slaughtered by Frederick, for no gain at all, they might havesuppressed the British expansion in North America. The colonies showed no signof unity, and were being soundly driven back until Pitt took charge. Thishappened only when Frederick staggered from the bloody grips of defeat to turnthe tide in the war. Only when England saw gain for herself did she startlistening to Pitt. Had the British regulars met a more formidable French army,(Instead of fighting off the Indians), it would have been nearly too much toovercome.
The British had defeated the French in Europe, in the Atlantic at Quiberonbay, in the war for India, and after victories at Duquesne (later named FortPitt, Pittsburgh), and Quebec on the Plains of Abraham, had undoubtedly won thewar for world supremacy. France, accepting defeat from all sides, was forcedlater to sign the Treaty of Paris to finally end the Seven Years War. Francewas left in shambles. The country was financially a wreck, in an economic crisesthat led to the French Revolution a mere three decades away.
There were many players in this true global war. Volumes could, and have beenwritten on the war for Empire. What ifs could be pondered from here to eternityon the decisions and outcomes of many particulars of the war. Should France haveremained loyal to the treaty ending the War of the Austrian Succession she wouldhave been allied to Frederick instead of her ancient foe Austria. England wouldmost likely have focused more on the European front for the sake of Hanover nodoubt, leaving the fate of America to Spain and France. The American Revolutionno doubt would have ever came about, and you and I may be French. All theories Iknow, but admittedly an argument can be made.
The fundamental struggle not merely for the Ohio and Mississippi valleyregions, but for Canada the Caribbean, India, nay the entire extra-Europeanworld was underway. (Kennedy 111) The war did pave the way for Britain toclimb the ladder of Empire in the world. They emerged from the war masters ofthe sea, and ready to cash in. Britain would be well repaid for the protectionof the colonies shortly. The economic strain of the war had to be paid bysomeone. We will later find that the newly liberated colonials would have noneof that.
The war would lead Prussia to the forefront on the European continent,however Britain clearly gained much more than any other did. France would notrecover, and Louis knew all too well what lay in store when he said Afterme, the deluge.
Works Cited1. Anderson, Fred Crucible of War, The Seven Years War and the fateof Empire in British North America. Random House: New York, NY 20002. Durant, Will and Ariel Rousseau and Revolution The Story ofCivilization. Simon and Schuster: New York, NY 19673. Kennedy, Paul The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers Random House:New York, NY 19874. Leckie, Robert A Few Acres of Snow, The Saga of the French andIndian Wars. John Wiley & Sons: New York, NY 19995. Margiotta, Franklin D., Ed. Brasseys Encyclopedia of MilitaryHistory and Biography, Washington: Brasseys, Inc. 1994-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
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