European History Pt. 25 — Diplomatic Revolution of 1756

Last time we looked at how Austria survived at attempt at partition by France, Spain, and Prussia. With some help from Holland and the British, Austria remained an empire.

Remember, after the war of austrian succession from 1740-48, there was a brief interlude  before the 7 years war of 1756-1763. During this interlude, something amazing happened. If you have been following these history posts, then you know how amazing it is. France and Austria became allies. Bourbon bedded down with Hapsburg.

After losing Silesia to Prussia, Austria was terrified of Prussia and so approached France, promising Belgium (which remember they didn’t care about that much and kept primarily out of duty to Britain) to them in exchange for aid in holding Prussia down.

This was  a chain reaction. The British wanted Belgium out of French hands and so made Austria-France their enemies, now allying with Prussia.  The belligerents still fought their main rivals, but now on different sides in a wider alliance

Before revolution of 1756

Britain    vs. France

Austria   vs. Prussia

After revolution of 1756

Britain vs. France

Prussia vs. Austria.

The 7 years war

The battle in Europe was all about Frederick the Great. He was a military genius and won battles against France, Austria, Russia, and more. He took all comers with a tiny state and his ruthlessly trained army.

The real story of the 7 year phase of the war took place across the Atlantic. Both France and England had roughly equal holdings in the new world and the future of each depended on this continent.

As the two great powers clashed in the new world, many of the foundations for the American revolution were laid. For instance, British troops tried to take fort Dusquene (now Pittsburgh) but failed due to the commander ignoring advice from a George Washington.

When war proper broke out, the British were led by the capable William Pitt who said, I think hilariously, “I know that I can save the country and I know that no one else can.” haha. At least he’s humble.

England financed Frederick aggressively so that it might “win an empire on the plains of Germany.” Chilling words.

The British basically kicked the French off the continent by taking Louisborg and then pressing up the St. Lawrence to Quebec, finally forcing a confrontation with French troops on the plains of Abraham.

Note: The book also makes the point that things were changing drastically in India at this time for both the French and the British who started to become imperialistic where before they explicitly avoided territorial entanglements in India. I didn’t have time to learn this section very well.


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