Seven Years' War
Â was aÂ warÂ fought between 1754 and 1763, the main conflict occurring in the seven-year period from 1756 to 1763. It involved every EuropeanÂ great powerÂ of the time except theÂ Ottoman EmpireÂ and spanned five continents, affecting Europe, the Americas, West Africa, India, and the Philippines. The conflict split Europe into two coalitions, led by the Kingdom of Great BritainÂ (inc.Â Prussia,Â Portugal,Â Hanover, and other small German states) on one side and theÂ Kingdom of FranceÂ (inc.Â Austria-led Holy Roman Empire,Â Russia,Â Spain, andÂ Sweden) on the other. Meanwhile, in India, theÂ
Empire, with the support of the French, tried to crush a British attempt to conquerÂ Bengal.Slide3
IN NORTH AMERICA
The boundary between British and French possessions in North America was largely undefined in the 1750s. France had long claimed the entireÂ Mississippi RiverÂ basin. This was disputed by Britain. In the early 1750s the French began constructing a chain of forts in theÂ Ohio River ValleyÂ to assert their claim and shield the Native American population from increasing British influence.
The British settlers along the coast were upset that French troops would now be close to the western borders of their colonies. They felt the French would encourage their tribal allies among the North American natives to attack them. Also, the British settlers wanted access to the fertile land of the Ohio River Valley for the new settlers that were flooding into the British colonies seeking farm land.Slide4
For much of the eighteenth century, France approached its wars in the same way. It would let colonies defend themselves or would offer only minimal help (sending them limited numbers of troops or inexperienced soldiers), anticipating that fights for the colonies would most likely be lost anyway.Â This strategy was to a degree forced upon France: geography, coupled with the superiority of the British navy, made it difficult for the French navy to provide significant supplies and support to overseas colonies.Â Similarly, several long land borders made an effective domestic army imperative for any French ruler.Â Given these military necessities, the French government, unsurprisingly, based its strategy overwhelmingly on the army in Europe: it would keep most of its army on the continent, hoping for victories closer to home.Â The plan was to fight to the end of hostilities and then, in treaty negotiations, to trade territorial acquisitions in Europe to regain lost overseas possessions (as had happened in,Â e.g., theÂ Treaty of Saint-
(1632)). This approach did not serve France well in the war, as the colonies were indeed lost, but although much of the European war went well, by its end France had few counterbalancing European successes.Slide5
William Pitt The Elder, who entered the cabinet in 1756, had a grand vision for the war that made it entirely different from previous wars with France. As prime minister, Pitt committed Britain to a grand strategy of seizing the entire French Empire, especially its possessions in North America and India. Britain's main weapon was the Royal Navy, which could control the seas and bring as many invasion troops as were needed. He also planned to use colonial forces from the thirteen American colonies, working under the command of BritishÂ regulars, to invade New France. In order to tie the French army down he subsidized his European allies. Pitt was head of the government from 1756 to 1761, and even after that the British continued his strategy. It proved completely successful.Â Pitt had a clear appreciation of the enormous value of imperial possessions, and realized the vulnerability of the French Empire.Slide6
During the war, theÂ Seven Nations of CanadaÂ were allied with the French. These were Native Americans of the Laurentian valleyâtheÂ Algonquin, theÂ
, theÂ Huron, and others. Although the Algonquin tribes and the Seven Nations were not directly concerned with the fate of the Ohio River Valley, they had been victims of the Iroquois Confederation which included the Seneca, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Tuscarora tribes. The Iroquois had encroached on Algonquin territory and pushed the
west beyond Lake Michigan.
Â Therefore, the Algonquin and the Seven Nations were interested in fighting against the Iroquois. Throughout New England, New York, and the North-west Native American tribes formed differing alliances with the major belligerents. TheÂ Iroquois, dominant in what is nowÂ Upstate New York, sided with the British but did not play a large role in the war.Slide7
In South America (1763), the Portuguese conquered from Spain most of theÂ Rio NegroÂ valley,Â and repelled a Spanish attack onÂ
Â (in theÂ
Between September 1762 and April 1763, Spanish forces led byÂ don Pedro Antonio de
, Governor of Buenos Aires (and later
of the Rio de la Plata) undertook a campaign against the Portuguese in Uruguay and South Brazil. The Spaniards conquered the Portuguese territories ofÂ Colonia do SacramentoÂ andÂ Rio Grande de SÃ£o PedroÂ and forced the Portuguese to surrender and retreat.
Under the Treaty of Paris (1763), Spain had to return to Portugal the colony of Sacramento, while the vast and rich territory of the so-called âContinent of S. Peterâ (the present day Brazilian state ofÂ Rio Grande do
) would be retaken from the Spanish army during the undeclared Hispano-Portuguese war of 1763â1777.