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This article is about the European mid-18th-century war. For other wars of the same name, see Seven Years' War (disambiguation).

The Seven Years' War was fought between 1754 and 1763, the main conflict occurring in the seven-year period from 1756 to 1763. It involved most of the great powers of the time and affected Europe, North America, Central America, the West African coast, India, and the Philippines. The two major opponents were Great Britain and France. In the historiography of some countries, the war is named after combatants in its respective theatres: the French and Indian War in the United States as well as among many English-speaking Canadians. In French-speaking Canada, it is known as the War of the Conquest, while it is called the Seven Years' War by others in English-speaking Canada (North America, 1754–1763), Pomeranian War (with Sweden and Prussia, 1757–1762), Third Carnatic War (on the Indian subcontinent, 1757–1763), and Third Silesian War (with Prussia and Austria, 1756–1763).

Conflict between Great Britain and France broke out in 1754–1755 when the British attacked disputed French positions in North America and seized hundreds of French merchant ships. Meanwhile rising power Prussia was struggling with Austria for dominance within and outside the Holy Roman Empire in central Europe. In 1756, the major powers "switched partners"; Prussia established an alliance with Britain while traditional enemies France and Austria formed an alliance of their own with the Treaty of Versailles. The Anglo-Prussian alliance was joined by smaller German states (especially Hanover) and later Portugal, which therefore suffered a Franco-Spanish invasion. The Austro-French alliance included Sweden, Saxony and later Spain. The Russian Empire was originally aligned with Austria, but switched sides upon the succession of Tsar Peter III in 1762. The taxation needed for war caused the citizens of Russia considerable hardship, being added to the taxation of salt and alcohol by Empress Elizabeth in 1759 to complete her addition to the Winter Palace. Like Sweden, Russia concluded a separate peace with Prussia.

The war ended with the Treaty of Paris among France, Spain and Great Britain and the Treaty of Hubertusburg among Saxony, Austria and Prussia, in 1763. It was characterized in Europe by sieges and arson of towns as well as open battles with extremely heavy losses; overall, some 900,000 to 1,400,000 people died.

The war was successful for Great Britain, which gained the bulk of New France in North America, Spanish Florida, some individual Caribbean islands in the West Indies, the colony of Senegal on the West African coast, and superiority over the French trading outposts on the Indian subcontinent. The native American tribes were excluded from the settlement; as allies of France, it is unlikely that being a party to the treaty would have been beneficial to them. A subsequent conflict, known as Pontiac's War, was also unsuccessful in returning them to their pre-war status. In Europe the war began disastrously for Prussia, but a combination of good luck and successful strategy saw King Frederick the Great manage to retrieve the Prussian position and achieve the status quo ante bellum. The involvement of Portugal, Spain and Sweden did not return them to their former status as great powers. While France was deprived of many of its colonies and saddled with heavy war debt, Spain lost Florida but gained French Louisiana and regained control of its colonies, e.g., Cuba and the Philippines, which had been captured by the British during the war.


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