Seven Years' War  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Seven Years' War was a major military conflict that lasted from 1756 until the conclusion of the treaties of Hubertusburg and Paris in 1763. It involved all of the major European powers of the period.

The war pitted Prussia and Great Britain and a coalition of smaller German states against an alliance consisting of Austria, France, Russia, Sweden, and Saxony. Russia temporarily changed sides in the later stages of the war. Portugal (on the side of Great Britain) and Spain (on the side of France) entered the conflict later, and a force from the neutral Dutch Republic was attacked in India.

Fighting between Great Britain, France, and their respective allies in North America had broken out in 1754, two years before the general conflict, as part of an Imperial rivalry. The fighting in North America is a separate war, known in the United States as the French and Indian War.

War in Europe began in 1756 with the French siege of British Minorca in the Mediterranean Sea, and Frederick the Great of Prussia's invasion of Saxony on the continent which also upset the firmly established Pragmatic Sanction put in place by Charles VI of Austria. Despite being the main theatre of war, the European conflict resulted in a bloody stalemate which did little to change the pre-war status quo, while its consequences in Asia and the Americas were wider ranging and longer lasting. Concessions made in the 1763 Treaty of Paris ended France's position as a major colonial power in the Americas (where it lost all claim to land in North America east of the Mississippi River along with what is now Canada, in addition to some West Indian islands). Prussia confirmed its position in the ranks of the great European powers, retaining the formerly Austrian province of Silesia. Great Britain strengthened its territories in India and North America, confirming its status as the dominant colonial power.

Because of its global nature, it has been described as the "first World War". It resulted in some 900,000 to 1,400,000 deaths and significant changes in the balance of power and territories of several of the participants.

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