Seven Years War

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Seven Years War
date 1756 to 1763
place Central Europe , Portugal , North America , India , the Caribbean and the oceans
output Peace treaties of 1762 ( Saint Petersburg and Hamburg ) and 1763 ( Paris and Hubertusburg ); Restoration of the status quo ante in Europe, overseas France lost large colonial territories to Great Britain
Parties to the conflict

Prussia KingdomKingdom of Prussia Prussian Monarchy Kingdom of Great Britain Kingdom of Portugal Electorate of Braunschweig-Lüneburg Principality of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel Landgraviate Hessen-Kassel Grafschaft Schaumburg-Lippe
Great Britain kingdomKingdom of Great Britain 
Flag of Portugal (1707) .svg
Electorate of Braunschweig-LüneburgElectorate of Braunschweig-Lüneburg 
Armoiries de La Falloise.svg
Flag of Hesse.svg
Flag of the Principality of Schaumburg-Lippe.svg

Holy Roman Empire 1400Holy Roman Empire Austrian Habsburg monarchy ( Imperial Army ) Kingdom France Russian Empire Kingdom of Sweden Holy Roman Empire ( Imperial Army ) Kingdom of Spain Electorate of Saxony
France Kingdom 1792France 
Russian Empire 1721Russian Empire 
Holy Roman Empire 1400Holy Roman Empire 
Spain 1506Spain 
Electorate of SaxonyElectorate of Saxony 

Alliances and territories of those involved in the Seven Years' War
  • Great Britain , Prussia , Portugal and allies
  • France , Spain , Austria , Russia , Sweden and allies
  • In the Seven Years' War from 1756 to 1763 all major European powers of that time fought with Prussia and Great Britain / Electoral Hanover on the one hand and the imperial Austrian Habsburg Monarchy , France and Russia and the Holy Roman Empire on the other . Medium and small states were also involved in the clashes.

    The war was fought in Central Europe , Portugal , North America , India , the Caribbean and on the world's oceans, which is why historians sometimes regard it as a world war . While Prussia, Habsburg and Russia primarily fought for supremacy in Central Europe, Great Britain and France also fought for supremacy in North America and India. Although at the various theaters of war , new strategies of warfare established, the Seven Years War is considered one of the last cabinet wars .

    From a global perspective, it was about the geopolitical and power political balance in Europe and the colonies assigned to it, about influencing the transatlantic sea ​​routes , about dominance over the non-European bases in Africa or India, and about trade advantages.

    From the Prussian point of view, the Seven Years' War was also referred to as the Third Silesian War ; here immediate territorial interests were initially in the foreground. In North America, the British spoke of the French and Indian War or Great War for the Empire , the French of La guerre de la Conquête . The British invasion of the Philippines in 1762 was called Ocupación británica de Manila from the Spanish perspective . The fighting on the Indian subcontinent is called the Third Carnatic War .

    The wars ended in 1763. In February of that year, the participating states concluded the peace treaties of Paris and Hubertusburg . As a result, Prussia rose to become the fifth major European power , which deepened the dualism with Austria . France lost its dominant position in continental Europe and large parts of its colonial areas in North America and India to Great Britain, which finally became the dominant world empire .


    Friedrich II of Prussia,
    portrait by Johann Georg Ziesenis , 1763

    On October 18, 1748, the Peace of Aachen ended the War of the Austrian Succession (1740–1748) without eliminating the potential for conflict between the great powers. The following goals then determined the foreign policy actions of the various states:

    • Prussia had conquered the Austrian province of Silesia under Frederick II and tried to maintain it against a possible reconquest by means of an alliance system.
    • Austria under Maria Theresa pursued the goal of reconquering Silesia. In order to ensure success, the Chancellor Wenzel Anton Graf Kaunitz (1711–1794) first tried to isolate the Prussian King Friedrich II (1712–1786) in terms of foreign policy.
    • Under the rule of Tsarina Elizabeth (1709–1762), Russia was interested in expanding to the west, with her focus on Zemgale and the Duchy of Courland . Both were under Polish suzerainty. To cede it to Russia, Elisabeth wanted to occupy Prussia (East Prussia) in order to offer it to Poland as an object of exchange. So the war against Friedrich, for which Austria was looking for allies, came at just the right time.
    • Great Britain saw France as its main competitor and tried to weaken it, especially in the colonies. Since George II was also elector of Hanover in personal union, he also had to try to secure this rule against a possible French attack.
    • France under Louis XV. For his part, saw Great Britain as its main adversary, but wished to postpone a war in order to be able to prepare better.
    Maria Theresa of Austria, portrait by Martin van Meytens , around 1759

    The Anglo-French conflict in North America came to a head in 1754 when the first skirmishes broke out in the Ohio Valley (→ see: Battle of Jumonville Glen , Seven Years' War in North America ). The British government sent a larger contingent of troops under General Edward Braddock (1695–1755) to the American colonies in January 1755 , whereupon a French fleet set out in March . In the summer of the year there was further fighting on land and sea, with a massacre by Pro-French Indians of British troops in the Battle of Monongahela in July 1755 further escalating the colonial war between the great powers France and Great Britain . The confiscation of French merchant ships began in Great Britain in August.

    Now that war seemed inevitable, both the French and British governments sought allies in Europe. France wanted to avoid a pan-European war in order to be able to concentrate entirely on Great Britain. There was already a defensive alliance with Prussia, but negotiations began with Austria in August 1755 to keep it out of the beginning war. This was very much in keeping with the diplomatic efforts of Count Kaunitz, whose aim was to break France out of its alliance with Prussia.

    Because Prussia was allied with France in the War of the Austrian Succession , there was a danger that King Friedrich II could have attacked the Electorate of Hanover , which was linked to Great Britain by personal union . Great Britain therefore signed the Treaty of Saint Petersburg with Tsarina Elizabeth of Russia on September 30 , in which Russia undertook to position 50,000 men along the borders with East Prussia for four years. For this, the Czarist Empire was an annual payment of 100,000 pounds sterling received and a further 400,000 pounds, if the Russian contingent would be increased. According to the treaty, however, the Russian troops were only allowed to intervene militarily after fighting broke out on German soil. This move was intended to prevent Prussia from attacking Hanover.

    At the same time, Great Britain negotiated with Prussia. Its intimidated monarch asked Great Britain to stop the subsidies to the Tsarist Empire and instead to enter into a joint defense of Hanover against France. In the so-called Westminister Convention , concluded on January 16, 1756 , both powers agreed to protect northern Germany from foreign troops. From the perspective of Frederick II, this agreement was not an affront to France because he still believed that France's main adversary was Austria. At the same time he assumed that in this way he had ensured that Russian troops could not act against him without violating their treaties with Great Britain. For George II, on the other hand, the treaty with Prussia meant the protection of his home countries.

    At the court of Louis XV. France saw the British-Prussian merger as a problem, because it prevented the French troops from occupying Hanover. The electorate , however, was needed as a bargaining chip in a war against Great Britain. This impression led to the conclusion of the Treaty of Versailles on May 1, 1756 , a defensive alliance between Austria and France, which is also known as the " reversal of the alliances " because of the centuries-old Habsburg-French conflict . France would now no longer assist Prussia in a war against Austria. At the same time, Austrian diplomats had already established contacts with the Russian court in March / April of that year and there determined that they were ready for joint Austro-Russian action against Prussia. With this, Austrian diplomacy succeeded in largely isolating Friedrich II from Prussia. In a war planned for 1757 to regain Silesia, Austria did not need to be involved in any other theater of war, but could count on the support of Russia and perhaps Saxony.

    In the weeks that followed, the conflict escalated. As early as April 1756, a French association, with the participation of Duke Ludwig Eugen von Württemberg , had taken the British island of Menorca and stationed troops on Corsica . This was followed by the official declaration of war by Great Britain on France on May 17, 1756 , which the French court responded to on June 9 with its own declaration of war.

    Territorial war objectives

    In contrast to the "patriotic" Prussian and Austrian historiography, Prussia and Austria pursued territorial changes beyond a mere assertion or recovery of Silesia. The occupation of Saxony played a key role for Prussia - on the one hand as a goal of possible rounding off, on the other hand as a bargaining chip for negotiations on other territorial changes. For French help in regaining Silesia, Vienna agreed to hand over the Austrian Netherlands to France.

    Rounding off wishes of Prussia

    Even as Crown Prince Frederick II had mentioned in a letter to his chamberlain Dubislav Gneomar von Natzmer in 1731 the Polish Prussia royal share (from 1773 West Prussia), the Swedish West Pomerania and Mecklenburg as targets for future acquisitions. In his (first) Political Testament of 1752, he also described the possession of Saxony as a useful and greatest possible expansion.

    The rapid occupation of Saxony and the first victories of 1756 and 1757 seemed to bring Friedrich closer to this desire for annexation, but even after the reconquest of Saxony by Austria and her allies and after the defeat of Kunersdorf, Friedrich stuck to the territorial plans formulated in his Political Testament . Instead of all of Saxony, in 1759 he wanted to at least keep Lower Lusatia and compensate Saxony for it with Erfurt (which belonged to the Electorate of Mainz). Alternatively, he hoped at least for a claim to take possession of West Prussia after the imminent death of the sick Saxon-Polish King August III. Only in the hopeless situation of 1761 did he offer an armistice and a peace without rounding demands on the basis of the pre-war possessions. Despite the peace that came about in 1763 without any territorial acquisitions, Friedrich also repeated in his (second) Political Testament of 1768 the desired rounding of Prussia with Saxony and West Prussia.

    Distribution plans of Austria

    Vienna was about a decisive weakening of the state of Frederick by reducing it to the territorial status of Kurbrandenburg from 1614, i.e. before the Thirty Years' War . The Prussian acquis in Pomerania was to fall to Sweden. Magdeburg should be added to Saxony, as well as Halberstadt and the Saale district with the city of Halle , if Saxony were to cede Upper and Lower Lusatia to Habsburg. The exclaves Kleve, Obergeldern and Mark in the west were to be united with the Electoral Palatinate, East Prussia with Poland.


    Like Prussia, Great Britain was not only concerned with defending its property in Hanover. In North America and India it wanted to finally oust its French colonial rivals, or at least acquire Louisburg and the Ohio Valley .

    The warring parties

    Alliance A (Treaty of Versailles and extensions)

    territory from to
    " Imperial Army " or Habsburg Monarchy ( Treaty of Versailles ) 1756 1763
    Kingdom of France ( Treaty of Versailles ) 1756 1763
    Electorate of Saxony 1756 1763
    Russian Empire 1757 1762
    Holy Roman Empire : Execution of the Empire by the " Imperial Army " 1757 1763
    Kingdom of Sweden 1757 1762
    Kingdom of Spain (" Bourbon House Treaty " with France) 1761 1763
    Duchy of Parma (" Bourbon house contract " with France) 1761 1763
    Kingdom of Naples and Kingdom of Sicily (" Bourbon House Treaty " with France) 1761 1763

    Alliance B (Westminster Convention and extensions)

    territory from to
    Prussia ( Westminster Convention ) 1756 1763
    Kingdom of Great Britain and the Electorate of Braunschweig-Lüneburg ("Kurhannover") ( Westminster Convention ) 1756 1763
    Kingdom of Portugal 1756 1763
    Principality of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel 1756 1763
    Landgraviate of Hessen-Kassel 1756 1763
    Duchy of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg 1756 1763
    County of Schaumburg-Lippe (Bückeburg) 1756 1763


    Europe at the time of the Seven Years' War

    The start of the fighting dates back to April 1756. The French army under Louis-Charles-Auguste Fouquet de Belle-Isle was planning a double strategy as early as February 1756: on the one hand, an invasion of the British Isles was being prepared and, on the other hand, they wanted to enter the Balearic Islands by sea . Attack the island of Menorca , which was given to Great Britain in the Treaty of Utrecht , which ended the War of the Spanish Succession in 1713 . Under the nautical direction of Lieutenant général des armées navales Roland-Michel Barrin de La Galissonière , twelve ships of the line, three frigates and a total of 173 transport units with 25 infantry battalions - all together with a troop strength of around 15,000 men - were in front of the Castillo de San Felipe de Menorca on Minorcan base at Port Mahon .

    The Battle of Menorca, Bataille de Minorque (1756), on May 20, 1756. La Galissonière was victorious in this battle, John Byng withdrew.
    The departure of the French fleet for the invasion of Port Mahon on April 10, 1756, by Nicolas Ozanne

    The attack on April 10, 1756 was assigned to Marshal Louis François Armand de Vignerot du Plessis , his opponent was the British William Blakeney (1672–1761) with about 5000 men. Admiral John Byng failed on May 10 of the same year with a fleet of 17 ships to break the siege ring in the sea battle off Port Mahon. The French siege or conquest was successful - on June 28, Blakeney had to capitulate. Admiral Byng was tried by a British court martial and executed on March 14, 1757 for disregarding the Fighting Instructions . As a result of the British defeat, Great Britain officially declared war on France on May 18, 1756.

    In June 1756 Frederick II received knowledge of the rapprochement between France and Russia and of Russian troop movements through his spies at the European courts. He also received copies of the Paris and Petersburg Treaties that documented the alliance between Austria, Russia, France and Saxony. Thereupon Friedrich ordered the mobilization of his regiments in East Prussia and Silesia in order to forestall the threatened attack from several sides by invading Saxony. The occupation of Saxony had a military and an economic background for Prussia (see Ephraimites and Leipzig Mint : Under Prussian Occupation ). From a military point of view, Frederick II tried to win a natural border wall to the Austrian province of Bohemia with the Ore Mountains and Saxon Switzerland . In addition, Friedrich was able to transport the necessary war materials such as cannons, ammunition, etc. up the Elbe from Magdeburg through the occupation . Economically, wealthy Saxony was supposed to fill the Prussian king's war coffers. After the swift occupation of Saxony, Friedrich wanted to move into Bohemia. There, the capture of Prague was supposed to enable the Prussian armed forces to be permanently accommodated on opposing territory and to force Maria Theresa to negotiate peace. With such a success, it was no longer to be expected that Russia would attack Prussia alone in the following year.

    Military operations in Europe in 1756


    Saxony / Bohemia

    On August 29, 1756, the Prussian army crossed the border of Saxony without prior declaration of war. The Saxon army under the leadership of Count Rutowski was surprised and gathered in a camp near Pirna , where the Prussian army locked them up on September 10th ( siege near Pirna ). On September 9th the Prussian army occupied Dresden without a fight. Rutowski refused to capitulate, however, because he expected that the Austrian army would soon terrorize him. When this actually approached at the end of September under the command of Field Marshal Browne , Frederick II advanced towards her with half of his army (the other half continued to besiege the Saxon army camp ). On October 1, 1756, the battle of Lobositz in Bohemia broke out. The battle ended with a Prussian victory, as a result of which the Austrians could no longer reach the enclosed Saxons. As a result, the Saxon troops had to capitulate on October 16, 1756. They were initially forced into Prussian services, but most of them deserted the following spring. Thus only the occupation of Saxony had been achieved, while the concept of a decisive blow against Austria had failed.

    North America

    English and French territory in North America before the war began

    The British-French conflict in the North American colonies had already led to major fighting the previous year. In 1756 the French took the offensive under the Marquis de Montcalm . On August 15, 1756, they captured the important British Fort Oswego and thus brought the entire area around Lake Ontario under their control. The regular units provided the garrison of the French forts, so that only militias and warriors of allied indigenous Indian tribes were available for further offensive operations . Therefore, the further French approach was limited to the guerrilla war, while the British rallied their troops, but without becoming offensive themselves.


    Military operations in Europe in 1757

    The situation turned out to be unfavorable for Frederick II at the beginning of 1757. On January 17, the Imperial War against Prussia was declared, because it had committed a breach of the peace by attacking Saxony. The Reich troops would therefore appear as another opponent of Prussia. Just days later, on January 22nd, Russia and Austria signed an alliance treaty, which was followed on May 1st by a Franco-Austrian offensive alliance. In addition to the long-awaited attack by the Russians and the war against Austria, French troops, as the guarantor of the Peace of Westphalia , would also move into Germany to take action against Prussia and at the same time win Hanover as a bargaining chip in the war against Great Britain. The British were under pressure in North America and India and were hardly able to protect Hanover effectively. For this reason, the German principalities allied with Prussia and Great Britain set up an army, the so-called observation army, which was supposed to operate against the French armed forces.

    Bohemia / Silesia

    August Querfurt : Battle of Kolin ( Army History Museum Vienna)

    Frederick II took up his strategic concept from the previous year, first of all to take Prague and thus lead a decisive blow against Austria. In April the Prussian troops moved into Bohemia from several sides, where the battle of Prague took place on May 6, 1757 . The Prussians were victorious, but a large part of the Austrian army escaped to the fortress. While Friedrich began the siege, an Austrian relief army under Field Marshal Count Daun moved in from the south . Frederick II opposed this with half of his troops (the other besieged Prague) in the Battle of Kolin on June 18, but was severely defeated. As a result of this defeat, the Prussians had to evacuate all of Bohemia and retreat to Saxony. In the months that followed, the opposing armies maneuvered around each other without result, until Frederick II was forced to hurry there with a large part of his troops when the Imperial Army marched into Thuringia . The now superior Austrians attacked the Prussian troops under the Duke of Braunschweig-Bevern on September 7th at the Battle of Moys and forced them to retreat. After another battle of Breslau on November 22nd and the capture of the fortresses Schweidnitz and Breslau , most of Silesia was again under Austrian control at the end of November. During this period, the Austrian general Andreas Hadik von Futak managed to occupy Berlin with a detachment of hussars for one day (October 16) before he withdrew. At the beginning of December, however, the main Prussian army under Frederick II returned to Silesia. He attacked the Austrian army in the Battle of Leuthen on December 5th and defeated them decisively. This withdrew to Bohemia, while the Prussians recaptured the Silesian fortresses by April 1758. This largely restored the initial situation from the beginning of the year.

    Central Germany

    French troop camp on July 24th and 25th, 1757 on the Weser, just before the battle of Hastenbeck. Copper engraving "No. 24 ”by Jakobus van der Schley

    The French also attacked in June. They sent an army to northern Germany, which occupied the Prussian lands on the Rhine and then proceeded against Hanover. On July 26, 1757, the French troops, led by Marshal d'Estrées, defeated the observation army under the Duke of Cumberland in the battle of Hastenbeck, which consisted of contingents from the small German states . The observation army withdrew to the North Sea, where they declared themselves neutral in the Zeven convention . This opened the way to Berlin for the French in late summer. But since they had no interest in weakening Prussia too much in relation to Austria, they contented themselves with occupying the principalities allied with Prussia. Marshal d'Estrées was replaced by the Duke of Richelieu after some intrigues at Versailles .

    At the same time, in August, the Reich Execution Army began its operations in Thuringia against the Saxon area. The army consisted of a French corps under the Prince of Soubise and the imperial troops under the Duke of Saxe-Hildburghausen , who was also in command . Frederick II of Silesia advanced against this army and defeated it on November 5, 1757 in the Battle of Roßbach . The Imperial Army did not occur in the following years more as an independent association in appearance. Frederick II set off with the main Prussian army for Silesia to face the Austrian advance there (→ see above ).

    East Prussia

    For the defense of East Prussia, Friedrich II had provided the experienced General Field Marshal Johann von Lehwaldt with 30,000 men. On July 1, a 100,000-strong Russian army under General Stepan Fyodorowitsch Apraxin attacked . After a brief siege, they took the fortress of Memel on July 5th. The next stage destination was Königsberg . Lehwaldt opposed the Russian advance in the battle of Groß-Jägersdorf on August 30 and was defeated. However, without the port of Königsberg, the Russian supply situation was so bad that Apraxin withdrew from East Prussia. A crew remained only in Memel.

    Baltic coast

    Historical map of the Duchy of Pomerania from the 17th century

    Sweden had joined the anti-Prussian coalition in 1757 and tried unsuccessfully to recapture Szczecin until the end of the war. The fighting on the theater of war in Swedish Pomerania , Prussian Pomerania, northern Brandenburg and eastern Mecklenburg, in which there was never a battle, was referred to by the Swedes as Pommerska kriget (Pomeranian War).

    On September 12, 1757 reached Swedish Army of Stralsund , coming from Prussia. They conquered the poorly defended places Pasewalk , Ueckermünde and Swinemünde . Thereupon Frederick II ordered the Lehwaldts corps from East Prussia to operate against the Swedes. Lehwaldt conquered Wollin , Anklam and Demmin by the end of the year and stayed in Western Pomerania , while the Swedes withdrew to Stralsund.

    North America

    Marquis de Montcalm continued his strategy of destroying the main British forts in order to prevent a British offensive from these forts. The target of the attack was Fort William Henry on Lake George . After a few days of siege, the British surrendered on August 9 to free withdrawal. The French Indian allies failed to abide by the agreements and raided British forces in what became known as the Fort William Henry Massacre . The British, meanwhile, rallied troops on Cape Breton Island for an attack on the fortress Louisbourg , which was postponed.


    In January, Russian troops under Count Wilhelm von Fermor conquered East Prussia, which had almost been given up by Lehwaldt's recall. Fermor took over the administration as governor general and the country took the oath of allegiance to Empress Elisabeth. In August he penetrated the Neumark and intended to unite with the Austrians who were to advance from Bohemia. Friedrich was able to prevent this in the battle of Zorndorf . The Russians withdrew behind the Vistula to East Prussia by the end of the year . Their withdrawal caused Sweden to break off its invasion of the Margraviate of Brandenburg . Taking advantage of the absence of the main Prussian contingent, Austrian troops managed to occupy almost all of Silesia.

    With the surprising siege of Olomouc, Friedrich II planned to open a route into the Austrian core area. Thanks to the walls, which have been reinforced since the War of the Austrian Succession , the Austrians were able to successfully defend the Olomouc Fortress this time , unlike in 1741. When they attacked Domstadtl in June, they destroyed a large Prussian supply convoy for supplies to the siege army. This forced the Prussians to lift the siege and withdraw from Moravia .

    In addition, in late summer Austrian troops under Count Leopold Joseph von Daun penetrated southern Saxony, defeated the Prussians in the Battle of Hochkirch and tried to take Dresden, but did not succeed. At the end of November they withdrew to Bohemia.

    In an agreement dated April 11, 1758, Great Britain promised Prussia financial means of 4.5 million thalers and the formation of a new army in Kurhannover. Duke Ferdinand von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel was able to defeat the French in the Battle of Rheinberg on June 12, 1758 and in the Battle of Krefeld , and at the end of the year he controlled the entire area on the right bank of the Rhine.

    In North America, the French defeated a vastly outnumbered British army on July 18 at the Battle of Ticonderoga in 1758.

    In the Battle of Mehr (today Mehrhoog ) on August 5, 1758, the Prussians under General Philipp von Imhoff defeated the French. The Stolzenberg battalion hit the French in the flank. This led to the victorious outcome of the Battle of Mehr, in which 3,000 Prussians beat almost 10,000 French. An obelisk at this point still commemorates this battle with the inscription: “Germany's brave warriors who defeated the French here under General von Imhoff on August 5, 1758. Erected on August 5th, 1858 by the residents of Haffen und Mehr “. The French army fled back to the city of Wesel, which they had occupied .


    Due to the high blood toll of the previous war years, Prussia was no longer able to take offensive actions, rather it had to contend with attacks on the Prussian heartland. Again the Russians under Saltykow and the Austrians under Leopold Joseph Graf Daun tried to unite their troops in order to beat Friedrich together. This union succeeded this time in the town of Kunersdorf (east of Frankfurt (Oder) ) after the Russians from East Prussia - a Prussian association that had opposed them had been defeated on July 23 in the battle of Kay - and the Austrians over Silesia had advanced. Friedrich suffered a catastrophic defeat in an attack on the camp of the now allies in the battle of Kunersdorf (August 12), and the Prussian army had since disbanded.

    However, the Russians, Austrians and French did not seize the opportunity to advance to Berlin because of growing contradictions within the alliance. Friedrich described this circumstance, which saved the existence of the Prussian state, in a letter to his brother Heinrich as the " miracle of the House of Brandenburg ". The Russians withdrew to their starting position in the autumn and the Austrians moved to the Saxon theater of war. There in the summer the Imperial Army occupied almost all of Saxony, including Dresden, taking advantage of the absence of Prussian troops. After the unification of the Imperial Army with the Austrians, there was a meeting with a Prussian contingent in the battle of Maxen on November 20 , which led to the inclusion of the Prussian troops. The Prussian General von Finck surrendered a day later and was taken prisoner with around 14,000 men.

    In the West German theater of war, the status quo remained largely intact until the end of the year; the French fought off an advance by the Duke of Braunschweig to the Rhine on April 13 in the Battle of Bergen . The subsequent advance of the French main contingent to Hanover was rejected by the Prussian allies in the Battle of Minden (August 1st). Due to this defeat, the French did not have a "bargaining chip" in the peace negotiations at the end of the war that they could exchange for their occupied colonies.

    The French suffered further decisive defeats in the sea ​​battle of Lagos , in September with the loss of Québec (→ Battle of the Plains of Abraham ) and in November in the sea ​​battle in the Bay of Quiberon , which is why the year 1759 is also known in Great Britain as " Annus mirabilis ”.

    On October 12, 1759, a provisional agreement on the exchange of Russian and Prussian prisoners of war was signed in Bütow in Western Pomerania .


    In 1760, too, in view of its own weakness, Prussia was primarily concerned with holding its own and the conquered territories. The allied troops in the west, which were very successful in 1759, had to support the Prussians with 10,000 men against the Imperial Army until the beginning of February; this weakened Duke Ferdinand against France.

    Austria initially wanted to regain Silesia and, together with the Russians, destroy the Prussian forces. Accordingly, Austrian troops invaded Silesia under von Laudon , conquered important fortresses and destroyed a Prussian corps at Landeshut . At the same time, Friedrich tried in vain to use strong forces to win back Dresden, which led to considerable destruction in the city center.

    The French victory on April 28 against the British in Quebec in the Battle of Sainte-Foy did nothing to change the foreseeable overall French defeat in Canada.

    In West Germany, the Allies only had winter quarters in eastern Westphalia with very reduced forces. The French were on the Lower Rhine and in southern Hesse. It was not until June that the French corps united in Hessen-Kassel. The Allied defeat at Korbach was offset by a French loss at Emsdorf . Despite the victory of the Allied troops in Warburg , Paderborn , the French were able to hold their own in Hessen-Kassel.

    When Austrian relief troops headed towards Dresden under Daun and Friedrich was alarmed by the developments in Silesia, he withdrew there and Daun followed him. Both Austrian armies, which were attacked by Friedrich on August 15th, succeeded in uniting near Liegnitz . The Prussian troops achieved a victory and thus the connection to troops under Prince Heinrich , who was able to keep the Russian forces at a distance.

    These successes were quickly put into perspective, because the opponents of Prussia succeeded at the same time in the reconquest of Saxony by the Imperial Army and the brief occupation of Berlin by the Russians under Tottleben and Tschernyshev and Austrians under Lacy. On November 3, Friedrich succeeded again in the battle of Torgau by defeating the Austrian forces who followed him under Daun and pushing them back to Saxony. Nevertheless, the situation in Prussia was catastrophic, including East Prussia, Saxony and Silesia in the hands of the enemy.

    Swedish troops simultaneously established themselves in the Prussian part of Western Pomerania. In autumn, Allied troops were defeated by the French on the Rhine in the battle of Kampen Monastery .


    Silesia was again a theater of war. Against the advancing and uniting Austrians (under Laudon) and Russians, Friedrich II moved into an entrenched camp near Bunzelwitz . The Prussian army stood with 50,000 soldiers against 132,000 soldiers of the allied Austrians and Russians. Frederick II tried hard to establish an alliance with the Turkish Empire against Russia and Austria . When the war broke out, as in the previous year, he had sent Gottfried Fabian Haude, an expert on Turkey, to Istanbul under the code name of "Secret Commerce Councilor Karl Adolf von Rexin" for the purpose of concluding a trade and a defensive agreement. In 1761, despite negotiations for a military alliance, he only achieved the conclusion of a "friendship and trade agreement" with Prussia.

    The Bunzelwitz camp could be held against the allies struggling with supply difficulties all summer. The Russians withdrew in September, but so did the Prussians, so that the important fortress Schweidnitz, together with Upper Silesia, fell into the hands of the Austrians.

    In Western Pomerania the Russians conquered Kolberg , but in Western Pomerania the Prussians managed to hold their own against the Swedes. Little happened in the West German theater of war, mainly due to the dwindling strength of the French state.

    So Prussia was lucky this year that its opponents were unable to take a decisive blow. Nevertheless, the situation in Prussia remained critical. In addition, after the fall of William Pitt in December , the British government suspended subsidy payments.


    Overview map on the history of the campaign of Duke Ferdinand of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel in 1762

    Friedrich gained relief through an event that is often erroneously associated with his two-year-old phrase of the " miracle of the House of Brandenburg ": After the death of Tsarina Elisabeth on January 5th, her nephew, an admirer of Friedrich, followed as Peter III. on the throne. After receiving the Prussian Order of the Black Eagle and other honors, he made the Peace of Saint Petersburg with Prussia on May 5 and returned the kingdom . On May 22nd, Sweden joined in the Peace of Hamburg . Tsar Peter III On June 1st the peace was followed by an alliance with Prussia. After the assassination of Peter III, the Russian corps, which had then joined Friedrich at the end of June. on July 17, his successor, Empress Catherine II, withdrew. She left the peace in force, but not the alliance. Reinforced by the forces that were released, Friedrich succeeded in driving the Austrians out of Silesia and Saxony. He defeated Daun, who was not aware of the neutralization of the Russians, on July 21 at Burkersdorf and was able to occupy Schweidnitz. The last battle between Austria and Prussia took place near Freiberg on October 29, 1762. The Prussians under Prince Heinrich triumphed, with which they succeeded in regaining Saxony.

    On November 24, 1762, an armistice ended the fighting between Prussia and Austria through Saxon mediation .

    In the summer, French troops advanced to northern Hesse for the last time, but were defeated on June 24th in the Battle of Wilhelmsthal (today part of the municipality of Calden ) and on July 23 in the Battle of Lutterberg with theaters of war on both sides of the Fulda near Lutterberg (today to Staufenberg in Lower Saxony ) and near Knickhagen (today's part of the municipality of Fuldatal ) on the Fulda tributary Osterbach defeated with great losses. A last attempt to push through north Hesse to Hanover failed with the battle of the Brücker Mühle on September 21, 1762, when the French were denied the passage over the Ohm near Amöneburg .

    A Spanish invasion of Portugal ( Guerra Fantástica ) failed on the Iberian Peninsula : In May, Spaniards had invaded northern Portugal from Galicia and occupied Braganca; troops advancing from Zamora captured the Portuguese border town of Almeida in August. In return, the Portuguese, reinforced by a British contingent under Count Wilhelm von Schaumburg-Lippe , occupied the Spanish border town of Valencia de Alcantara. Overseas, after the siege of Havana and the capture of Manila, two key strategic Spanish positions fell to the British. After further smaller, mostly unsuccessful attacks by both sides, an armistice was agreed between Spain, Portugal and Great Britain at the end of November 1762.

    The war in the colonies

    Under Robert Clive , the British conquered the French possessions in India (→ Third Carnatic War ). The war also took place on the Indian subcontinent, more precisely: between the troops of the British East India Company and French armed forces.

    Hostilities began in North America (→ Seven Years War in North America ) as early as 1754. After initial setbacks (French victory in the Battle of Monongahela in 1755), the British first conquered the Ohio area, then pushed forward to the Great Lakes and finally began the invasion of Canada. Québec was cut off from Europe by the destruction of the French fleet in two sea battles . The British then conquered Québec in 1759 and Montreal in 1760 .

    On September 23, 1762, British troops landed in Manila and began the British invasion of the Philippines . In the ensuing battle for Manila, large parts of the city fortress Intramuros were destroyed. The British operation did not end until February 1764 with the return of Manila to the Spaniards. In the Ilocos region , in the northwest of the country on the main island of Luzon , local rebels under Diego Silang used the opportunity to revolt against the occupation.

    Great Britain captured the trading posts in French Senegal on April 30, 1758 during the Seven Years' War. On September 24, 1762, it concluded a preliminary peace with France in Fontainebleau without having consulted Prussia - an open violation of the Westminster Convention. Great Britain had dropped its mainland sword.

    The peace treaties of 1763

    Great Britain and Portugal made the Paris Peace with France and Spain on February 10th .

    On February 15, 1763, Prussia concluded the Treaty of Hubertusburg with its opponents Austria and Saxony . Prussia's King Friedrich II. The Great signed the final act of the peace agreement on the Seven Years War on February 21, 1763 in Dahlen Castle , where he resided during the negotiations. The status quo ante bellum was restored.


    Political Consequences

    The begging soldier's woman , copper engraving by Daniel Chodowiecki , 1764

    As a result of the war, Prussia had established itself as the fifth major power in the European concert of powers. The opposition to Austria that began with the Silesian Wars remained, apart from the phase of mutual opposition to Napoleon , fundamental to German politics until the war of 1866 ( German dualism ) and soon culminated in the War of the Bavarian Succession .

    France, which was heavily indebted by the war, failed to acquire the Austrian Netherlands (now Belgium ), which Austria had promised to compensate for help in regaining Silesia. The peace agreements also resulted in the loss of most of the first French colonial empire . All North American possessions east of the Mississippi and all Indian possessions and zones of influence except for isolated settlements had to be ceded to the British. The resulting French revanchism was one reason for supporting the rebelling colonies in the American War of Independence . Last but not least, the national debt in France, which could no longer be managed since the Seven Years' War, was one of the reasons for the outbreak of the French Revolution .

    Great Britain has been increasingly involved in European continental politics since the war. In North America, the newly acquired areas between the Allegheny Mountains and Ohio or Mississippi were not released for settlement in order to protect the North American Indian societies who lived there and were allied in the war with Great Britain . That, and the new taxes through which the settlers in the colonies should share in the costs of the war, led to conflicts with the colonial power which eventually culminated in the American War of Independence.

    According to historian Ute Planert , German nationalism emerged in the years of the Seven Years' War and afterwards , even if a German nation did not yet exist. The fatherland (under which Enlightenment groups such as Thomas Abbt (1738–1766) viewed Prussia) had been constructed as an “exclusive and homogeneous community ” that could claim to be of higher rank than other communities such as religion or family and henceforth as the highest authority of legitimation applied.

    Economic consequences

    For the population of the participating states in the war zones, the war had sometimes catastrophic effects. The loss of soldiers was immense - Prussia alone lost 180,000 men. The civilian population has also been decimated, particularly in the hardest hit areas such as Saxony and Pomerania. As an area occupied by Prussia, Saxony also suffered a lot from looting , forced recruitment and contribution payments .

    For the Kingdom of Great Britain, the war expenditures were put at 161 million pounds (converted 1932 million livres ), for France 700 million livres and for Prussia 120 million Reichstaler (converted 360 million livres) were calculated.

    Étienne de Silhouette was French general controller of finances, contrôleur général des finances under Louis XV. He held this administrative function from March 4 to November 21, 1759. He was supposed to put the finances shattered by the Seven Years War back in order. However, after he introduced taxes on land and other signs of wealth for rich nobles - the nobility and the church were not taxed at the time - the pensions of the nobles had been cut and other measures such as the melting down of gold and silver goods were enforced under martial law, he received fierce opposition and became Released from office on November 21, 1759. His successor in office was Henri-Léonard Bertin .

    With the beginning of the war, a Vingtième or Twentieth was used a second time in France . Originally introduced by the general controller of finances contrôleur général des finances Jean Baptiste de Machault d'Arnouville , it was a direct tax of the absolutist Ancien Régimes . In the course of the war, a third Vingtième was introduced in 1760 . At the end of the war in 1763, the last Vingtième was dropped , while the other two were replaced.

    The Seven Years' War, so the later finance minister under Louis XV. and Director General of Finance, Jacques Necker , toppled the Kingdom of France into bankruptcy after three years of struggle (October 1759).

    Population policy implications

    Although the Seven Years' War was not one of the long-running military conflicts, enormous human losses were recorded. For the European theater of war alone, a total of 550,000 dead and fatally wounded by the fighting are recorded. If you break down the numbers of soldiers who died in the war by individual nations, the result is 180,000 for Prussia, 140,000 for Austria, 120,000 for Russia, 70,000 for France and 40,000 for the Kingdom of Great Britain and the other nations such as the German principalities, Sweden, Spain and Portugal. In contrast, the numbers for those who did not fight or for the civilian population were 320,000 for Prussia and 160,000 for Austria. The population losses were quickly compensated for in Prussia, in 1767 the population was already 111,000 higher than before the war. The reasons for this were the high birth rate, the return of war refugees and displaced persons as well as immigration from abroad, which was promoted by the government as part of its peuplication policy .

    Reception in art

    Numerous compositions were written for the peace celebrations of 1763. For example, an oratorio-like “sing poem” by Georg Philipp Telemann , which was performed “at the Hamburg Peace Festival”, with the title God, one praises you in silence (TVWV 14:12) has been preserved. On the occasion of the Peace of Paris, the comedy poet Charles-Simon Favart wrote the play The Englishman in Bordeaux on behalf of the French Foreign Minister , which premiered in March.

    In 1763 Gotthold Ephraim Lessing began to write the comedy Minna von Barnhelm or the soldiers' luck , which appeared and was performed in 1767. The play takes place immediately after the war and deals with the fate of a soldier.

    Battle on the Plains of Abraham: Death of General Wolfe . Painting by Benjamin West, 1770.

    The plot of the novel The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper , published in 1826, is set in North America at the time of the so-called massacre of Fort William Henry in 1757. With the history painting Death of General Wolfe (1770), the painter Benjamin West created one of the most famous depictions of the Seven Years' War in the visual arts .

    The title character of William Makepeace Thackeray's novel The Memoirs of Junkers Barry Lyndon (from 1844) gets caught up in the turmoil of the Seven Years' War as a British mercenary. Stanley Kubrick filmed the novel in 1975 ( Barry Lyndon ).

    The artist Adolph Menzel handed down views of the remains of fallen officers of the war. His corpse portraits , which were made in 1873 on the occasion of the opening of the tombs under the garrison church in Berlin , show, among other things, the mummified body of Field Marshal James Keith .

    The feature films Fridericus - Der alten Fritz (1937) and Der große König (1942), both with Otto Fee as Friedrich II., Made for propaganda purposes during the time of National Socialism , glorify the Prussian king and portray the Seven Years War from a Prussian perspective.


    • Wolfgang Adam, Holger Dainat (ed.): "War is my song". The Seven Years' War in the contemporary media. Wallstein, Göttingen 2007, ISBN 978-3-8353-0197-9 .
    • Ewa Anklam: Knowledge by eye. Military observation and reporting in the Seven Years War. Lit, Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-8258-0585-2 .
    • Daniel A. Baugh: The Global Seven Years War, 1754-1763. Britain and France in a great power contest. Pearson, Harlow 2011, ISBN 978-0-582-09239-6 .
    • Eberhard Birk , Thorsten Loch , Peter Andreas Popp (eds.): How Friedrich became "the great". A little history of the Seven Years' War 1756 to 1763 . In cooperation with the Military History Research Office and the Military History Museum of the Bundeswehr. Rombach, Freiburg im Breisgau a. a. 2012, ISBN 978-3-7930-9711-2 .
    • Klaus-Jürgen Bremm : Prussia moves the world. The Seven Years War. Theiss, Darmstadt 2017, ISBN 978-3-8062-3577-7 .
    • Johannes Burkhardt : Farewell to the religious war. The Seven Years War and Papal Diplomacy. Niemeyer, Tübingen 1985, ISBN 3-484-82061-6 .
    • Horst Carl : Occupation and regionalism. The Prussian western provinces in the Seven Years' War. Mainz 1993, ISBN 3-8053-1344-6 .
    • Sven Externbrink: Frederick the Great, Maria Theresa and the Old Empire. Image of Germany and diplomacy in the Seven Years' War. Academy, Berlin 2006, ISBN 978-3-05-004222-0 . ( Review )
    • Sven Externbrink (ed.): The Seven Years War (1756–1763). A European World War in the Age of Enlightenment. Academy, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-05-004310-4 .
    • Marian Füssel : The price of fame. A world history of the Seven Years' War. CH Beck, Munich 2019 ( comprehensive bibliography online ).
    • Marian Füssel: The Seven Years War. A world war in the 18th century (= CH Beck Wissen , Volume 2704). 2nd revised edition. Beck, Munich 2012, ISBN 978-3-406-60695-3 .
    • Daniel Hohrath : Frederick the Great and the Uniforms of the Prussian Army from 1740 to 1786 [A publication of the German Historical Museum] . 2 volumes, Verlag Militaria, Vienna 2011, ISBN 978-3-902526-50-2 .
    • Eberhard Kessel , Thomas Lindner (ed.): The end of the seven years war 1760–1763. 2 volumes: Torgau and Bunzelwitz, Schweidnitz and Freiberg. Schöningh, Paderborn 2007, ISBN 978-3-506-75706-7 .
    • Johannes Kunisch : Frederick the Great. The king and his time. CH Beck, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-406-52209-2 .
    • Johannes Kunisch: The miracle of the House of Brandenburg. Studies on the relationship between cabinet politics and warfare in the age of the Seven Years' War. Oldenbourg, Munich / Vienna 1978, ISBN 3-486-48481-8 .
    • Johannes Kunisch (ed.): Enlightenment and war experience. Classic contemporary witnesses to the Seven Years' War. Deutscher Klassiker-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1996, ISBN 3-618-66690-X .
    • Thomas Lindner: The Peripetie of the Seven Years' War: the autumn campaign of 1760 in Saxony and the winter campaign of 1760/61 in Hesse (= sources and research on Brandenburg and Prussian history , volume 2). Duncker and Humblot, Berlin 1993, ISBN 3-428-07784-9 (dissertation University Cologne 1992).
    • Ingrid Mittenzwei : Friedrich II of Prussia. Deutscher Verlag der Wissenschaften, Berlin 1990, ISBN 3-326-00400-1 .
    • Sascha Möbius : More afraid of the officer than of the enemy ?. A study of the history of mentality on Prussian tactics in the Seven Years War . VDM Verlag Dr. Müller, Saarbrücken 2007, ISBN 978-3-8364-4860-4 .
    • Matt Schumann, Karl W. Schweizer: The Seven Years War. A Transatlantic History. Routledge, New York et al. a. 2008, ISBN 0-415-39418-X .

    Web links

    Commons : Seven Years War  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
    Wikisource: Seven Years War  - Sources and Full Texts


    1. Marian Füssel: The Seven Years War. A world war in the 18th century. CH Beck Verlag, Munich 2010, ISBN 3-406-60695-4 , p. 7
    2. What was meant was the Kingdom of Prussia , on which Frederick's royal dignity rested; the name East Prussia was not created until 1773.
    3. ^ The Battle of the Monongahela . In: World Digital Library . 1755. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
    4. Leonhard Horowski : The Europe of the Kings: Power and play at the courts of the 17th and 18th centuries . 4th edition. 2017, ISBN 978-3-498-02835-0 , pp. 789 ff .
    5. ^ Daniel A. Baugh : The Global Seven Years War 1754-1763: Britain and France in a Great Power Contest . Routledge, New York 2014, ISBN 978-0-582-09239-6 , pp. 153 .
    6. ^ Daniel A. Baugh: The Global Seven Years War, 1754-1763. Britain and France in a great power contest. Harlow 2011, p. 195; Winfried Baumgart: The outbreak of the Seven Years' War. On the current state of research (1972). P. 157–165 ( Memento of the original from January 6, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF; 585 kB) @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
    7. Ingrid Mittenzwei (ed.): Friedrich II. Of Prussia - writings and letters. Reclam, Leipzig 1987, pp. 102 and 122
    8. Mittenzwei, p. 119
    9. Mittenzwei, p. 109
    10. Mittenzwei, p. 26
    11. Mittenzwei, p. 92
    12. Mittenzwei, p. 121f
    13. Mittenzwei, p. 124
    14. Mittenzwei, pp. 133f
    15. Mittenzwei, p. 107
    16. Marian Füssel: The Seven Years War. A world war in the 18th century. CH Beck Verlag, Munich 2010, ISBN 3-406-60695-4 , pp. 32-34.
    17. The attached map "The Seven Years War" gives the wrong impression: The Prussian army actually marched in three columns, with the king in the middle. However, contrary to what has been shown, the route led from Potsdam via Beelitz - Jüterbog - Seyda - Elster - Wartenburg - Pretzsch to Torgau (cf., among other things, Political Correspondence, Vol. 13). Wittenberg was only touched by a detachment from Moritz von Dessau.
    18. ^ Peter Mast : East Prussia and West Prussia and the Germans from Lithuania . Langen Müller, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-7844-2796-0 , p. 88.
    19. For the Swedish incursion from August to September 1758 see Curt Jany : History of the Prussian Army. Vol. 2. Frederick the Great's army. 1740-1763 . Biblio-Verlag, 2nd extended edition, ed. by Eberhard Jany, Osnabrück 1967, ISBN 3-7648-1472-1 , p. 506
    20. Seven Years War . In: Meyers Konversations-Lexikon . 4th edition. Volume 14, Verlag des Bibliographisches Institut, Leipzig / Vienna 1885–1892, p. 945.
    21. 1759: Britain's Annus Mirabilis. National Maritime Museum Greenwich website , accessed December 27, 2016.
    22. ^ Contributions to recent state and war history . Danzig 1760, No. 91-94, pp. 161-168 .
    23. ^ Friedrich II. University of Trier.
    24. Volker Tschapke: Prussia and Islam. Lecture by the Prussian Society Berlin-Brandenburg eV (PDF; 184 kB)
    25. PLOETZ Great Illustrated World History in 8 Volumes , Volume 6 (The non-European world until 1945), page 96. Ploetz Publishing House, Freiburg / Würzburg 1994
    26. For the events from January to July 1762 see Christopher Duffy : Frederick the Great: A Soldier Life. Weltbild, Augsburg 1994, ISBN 3-89350-558-X , pp. 335-344
    27. Helmut Neuhaus (ed.): German history in sources and representation. Volume 5. Age of Absolutism 1648–1789 . Reclam, Stuttgart 2017, ISBN 978-3-15-017005-2 , p. 319
    28. Tracy, Nicholas; Manila Ransomed: The British Assault on Manila in the Seven Years War. University of Exeter Press (1995), ISBN 978-0-85989-426-5 .
    29. ^ Karl Quirin: British Interlude-Part 2 , for The Bulwagan Foundation Trust , accessed May 20, 2019.
    30. Michel Renaudeau; MEJ Gore; F. Beyler: The Gambia: La Gambie. Delroisse (1978), ISBN 2-85518-036-8 .
    31. ^ Heinz Duchhardt : balance of forces, convenience, European concert. Peace congresses and peace agreements from the age of Louis XIV to the Congress of Vienna. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1976, pp. 115–118;
      Sven Externbrink: Frederick the Great, Maria Theresa and the Old Empire. Image of Germany and French diplomacy in the Seven Years' War. Akademie-Verlag, Berlin 2006, ISBN 978-3-05-004222-0 , p. 304 (accessed from De Gruyter Online).
    32. ^ Heinrich August Winkler : History of the West: From the beginnings in antiquity to the 20th century. CH Beck, 2011, 1343 pages, pages 170-171.
    33. Ute Planert: When does “modern” German nationalism begin? Plea for a national saddle time . In: Jörg Echternkamp and Oliver Müller: (Ed.): The politics of the nation. German nationalism in war and crises 1760 to 1960 . Oldenbourg, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-486-56652-0 , pp. 25–60, the quotation p. 51 (accessed via De Gruyter Online)
    34. Great Britain 1754–1763 War in a Globalized Economy. Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf Historical Institute Term paper in the advanced seminar "History of Globalization" (PDF; 106 kB)
    35. František Stellner: final results of the Seven Years War in Europe. P. 86 (PDF; 7.36 MB)
    36. ^ David Arthur Ross: The Early Career of Etienne de Silhouette. University of California, Los Angeles 1973.
    37. Jacques Necker: Compte rendu. In: Œuvres complètes. II, 23-24.
    38. Christopher Duffy: Frederick the Great: A soldier's life. Weltbild, Augsburg 1994, ISBN 3-89350-558-X , p. 329.
    39. František Stellner: final results of the Seven Years War in Europe. P. 86 (PDF; 7.36 MB)
    40. Gerd Heinrich : History of Prussia. State and dynasty. Propylaeen, Frankfurt am Main 1981, pp. 220 and 235 ff.