Seven Years’ War: A Global Conflict among European Imperialist

Britain vs. France: Rivalry for Global Dominance

The Seven Years' War (1756–1763) was a global conflict involving many European powers, fought mainly in Europe, the Americas, and Asia-Pacific. It happened at the same time as the French and Indian War (1754–1763), the Carnatic Wars (1744–1763), and the Anglo-Spanish War (1762–1763). Two main sides were led by Great Britain and France, each trying to become the world's top power. 


Seven Years’ War: A Global Conflict among European Imperialist
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Spain was with France, and they battled Britain in Europe and overseas with armies and navies. Prussia, Britain's ally, wanted more land in Europe, while Austria wanted to get back Silesia, taken by Prussia in the last war and limit Prussian influence. In North America and the West Indies, Britain, France, and Spain fought because of their old conflicts, and it had massive consequences. Today we will focus on that historic Seven Years War, which Winston Churchill argued as the First World War.


💻Table of Contents

  1. Roots of Conflict and Historical Background
  2. The Threat of War: A Global Conflict
  3. Ottoman Empire and Persia: Neutrality amidst European Conflict
  4. The Treaty of Paris 1763


Roots of Conflict and Historical Background:

To understand the Seven Years' War, we must first clarify its origins, which can be traced back to the multifaceted network of European diplomacy and competitions. During the mid-18th century, several key factors laid the base for this historic conflict.

Colonial Competition: One of the primary reasons of the war was the colonial competition among European powers. Britain, France, and Spain, in particular, were competing for control over massive external territories in North America, the Caribbean, and India. They wanted these territories because they held valuable resources that could significantly enrich and empower their nations.


Seven Years’ War: A Global Conflict among European Imperialist
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Conversion in Diplomacy: In 1756, something important happened in Europe. Before that, countries had certain friends they worked with in wars. But in 1756, they switched things up. Austria, who used to be friends with Britain, started being friends with France. The Dutch Republic, who had been friends with Britain for a long time, didn't like Britain as much and decided to stay out of things. Prussia, on the other hand, became friends with Britain. It was all about trying to keep the balance of power in Europe, sometimes by making new friends and sometimes by leaving old ones behind.

Territorial Ambitions: The Seven Years' War started because France and Britain wanted more land in North America, like the Ohio Territory. At the same time, Prussia, under the leadership of Frederick the Great, wanted to grow its influence in Central Europe. Meanwhile, Austria aimed to get back Silesia, a region they had lost to Prussia in the War of Austrian Succession (1740-1748). After the war, Prussia emerged as a formidable continental power, while Great became the most powerful empire in Europe.

Global Power Struggle: The Seven Years' War was a dispute between France and Great Britain, which commenced in 1754 due to disagreements regarding land claims in North America, particularly in the region around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. As the conflict unfolded, it eventually extended its reach to various other regions worldwide, encompassing Europe, Africa, and Asia.


Seven Years’ War: A Global Conflict among European Imperialist
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The Threat of War: A Global Conflict

The Seven Years' War was a significant threat to global peace because it involved major European powers, including France and Great Britain, and intensified from a regional dispute in North America to a worldwide conflict.

European Front:  The Seven Years' War in Europe was a complicated and crucial conflict that transformed the political scene of the continent. The official start of the Seven Years' War occurred when Frederick the Great of Prussia invaded Saxony on August 29, 1756. Subsequently, in 1757, he launched an invasion of Bohemia. By combining strategic acumen with fortunate events, Prussia succeeded in preserving its territorial boundaries and enhancing its stature. Ultimately, the war had a long-lasting influence on the politics and power balance in Europe.

This war was (1756 to 1763), marked the final major conflict before the French Revolution that engaged all of Europe's major powers. To conclude the war, a treaty was inked between Prussia and Austria, recognizing Prussia as a significant European force. Meanwhile, Prussia's adversaries, Russia, entered into an agreement not to back Austria.

North American Threat: In North America, they commonly call it the French and Indian War. This part of the war was marked by several battles between British and French troops, with Native American allies supporting both sides. A crucial event occurred in 1759 known as the Battle of Quebec, where British forces led by General James Wolfe triumphed over the French. This victory effectively put an end to French hopes of having colonies in North America.

Caribbean and West Indies: The Caribbean and West Indies witnessed fierce naval battles and struggles over sugar-producing islands. The British Royal Navy's supremacy played a crucial role in securing these vital territories. The war was successful for Great Britain, which gained some individual Caribbean islands in the West Indies.


Seven Years’ War: A Global Conflict among European Imperialist
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Indian Subcontinent: The Battle of Plassey took place in northeastern India on June 23, 1757, as part of the Seven Years' War (1756-1763). Troops from the British East India Company, under the leadership of Robert Clive, faced off against the forces of Siraj-ud-Daulah, the final Nawab of Bengal, and his French allies.

West Africa: In 1758, responding to the advice of American merchant Thomas Cumming, Prime Minister Pitt authorized an expedition aimed at capturing the French settlement of Saint-Louis in Senegal. The British seized Senegal effortlessly in May 1758, reaping substantial spoils from their conquest. This triumph so impressed Pitt that he approved two additional campaigns: one to secure the island of Gorée and another to seize the French trading post on the Gambia River.

The conflicts in West Africa essentially constituted a series of British military operations against the affluent French colonies in the region. The British and French had long been engaged in a rivalry for supremacy in the Gambia area, dating back to the English acquisition of James Island from the Dutch in 1664. The loss of these valuable colonies to the British further eroded the French economy.

Philippines and Southeast Asia: The Battle of Manila took place during the Seven Years' War, spanning from September 24, 1762, to October 6, 1762. It was a conflict between the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Spain in and around Manila, which was the capital of the Philippines, then a Spanish colony. The British emerged victorious, leading to a twenty-month occupation of Manila.

As a result of this victory, Britain gained more from the treaty than France did, establishing itself as a superpower. This encouraged Britain to expand its influence into Southern Asia, seeking colonies in countries such as Thailand, China, and others in the region. This had both positive and negative effects on the fortunes of Southern Asia.

Ottoman Empire and Persia: Neutrality amidst European Conflict

During the Seven Years' War, the Ottoman Empire and Persia maintained a stance of neutrality amidst the tumultuous European conflict. Despite being significant powers in their own right, both empires opted to refrain from direct involvement in the war raging across Europe, the Americas, and parts of Asia-Pacific. The Ottoman Empire, while possessing considerable military strength and strategic importance, was focused on internal affairs and maintaining stability within its vast territories. Additionally, the Ottomans were wary of being drawn into European power struggles, preferring to safeguard their own interests and territories in Southeast Europe, Anatolia, and the Middle East.


Seven Years’ War: A Global Conflict among European Imperialist
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Similarly, Persia, under the rule of the Zand dynasty during this period, chose to remain neutral throughout the duration of the Seven Years' War. Despite internal political changes and challenges, Persia sought to avoid entanglement in European conflicts and instead focused on consolidating power within its own borders. The Zand dynasty, which came to power in Persia in the midst of the war, faced internal rivalries and regional tensions but maintained a policy of non-interference in European affairs.

Both the Ottoman Empire and Persia recognized the potential risks and consequences of aligning themselves with either Britain or France, the two main European powers involved in the conflict. Neutrality allowed them to avoid potential conflict with European powers and focus on their own domestic affairs and regional interests. While Europe was embroiled in a struggle for supremacy, the Ottoman Empire and Persia navigated the complex geopolitical landscape of the time with a cautious approach, prioritizing stability and self-preservation.

The Treaty of Paris:

The Treaty of Paris, also referred to as the Treaty of 1763, was signed on February 10, 1763, by the United Kingdom, France, and Spain, with Portugal in concurrence. This came after the United Kingdom and Prussia won against France and Spain in the Seven Years' War.

Under Choiseul's plan, Britain would get all the French land to the east of the Mississippi River. Spain would keep Cuba but give Florida to Britain. The French land to the west of the Mississippi River would become Spanish, and Spain would also get the city of New Orleans. So, in this plan, the British and Spanish were getting different parts of what was once French territory in North America.

Conclusion:

The Seven Years' War was a pivotal moment in history, reshaping the global balance of power, influencing the course of colonialism, and planting the seeds of future conflicts and revolutions. The war also known as the French and Indian War commenced in 1754 and concluded with the Treaty of Paris in 1763. The victories of Britain across the globe during the Seven Years' War bolstered the strength of the 'First British Empire.' Conversely, Prussia established itself as a new major power in Europe. This war resulted in significant territorial expansions for Great Britain in North America.

However, disagreements over how to handle the frontier and cover the war's costs sparked dissatisfaction among the colonies, ultimately culminating in the American Revolution. 

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