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Seven Years’ War

17/05/175615/02/1763

The Seven Years' War was a global conflict fought between 1756 and 1763. It involved every European great power of the time 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 Britain (including the Kingdom of Prussia, the Kingdom of Portugal, the Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg, and other small German states) on one side and the Kingdom of France (including the Austrian-led Holy Roman Empire), the Russian Empire (until 1762), the Kingdom of Spain, and the Swedish Empire on the other. Meanwhile, in India, some regional polities within the increasingly fragmented Mughal Empire, with the support of the French, tried to crush a British attempt to conquer Bengal. The war's extent has led some historians to describe it as World War Zero, similar in scale to other world wars.

Although Anglo-French skirmishes over their American colonies had begun with what became the French and Indian War in 1754, the large-scale conflict that drew in most of the European powers was centered on Austria's desire to recover Silesia from the Prussians. Seeing the opportunity to curtail Britain's and Prussia's ever-growing might, France and Austria put aside their ancient rivalry to form a grand coalition of their own, bringing most of the other European powers to their side. Faced with this sudden turn of events, Britain aligned itself with Prussia, in a series of political manoeuvres known as the Diplomatic Revolution. However, French efforts ended in failure when the Anglo-Prussian coalition prevailed, and Britain's rise as among the world's predominant powers destroyed France's supremacy in Europe, thus altering the European balance of power.

Clockwise from top left: the Battle of Plassey (23 June 1757); the Battle of Carillon (6–8 July 1758...

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Published in 3/04/2019

Updated in 19/02/2021

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