The Seven Years War, 1756-1763: Part One
- When the texts of the First Treaty of Versailles were published it caused an
absolute sensation in the European body of politics.
- The immediate repercussions were felt within the United Provinces of the Dutch
Republic because the Dutch Republic was appealed by both sides in the Colonial
- Dutch Republic Political Parties: The Republicans tended to listen to French
suggestions and proposals, the Stadholderians (The House of Orange) favoured the
British and their representative if the Dutch Republic Colonel Yorke.
- The news of the conclusion of the First Treaty of Versailles ended the foreign
policy debate within the Dutch Republic in a single stroke and gave a firm victory
of the Dutch Republicans. It was impossible to fight France if Austria was now on
France’s side because they ruled the Southern Netherlands.
- The Dutch Republic offered the French absolute neutrality (both in the colonies and
in Europe) as long as they were promised immunity from an attack by the French as
well as the French promise to spare their Garrisons in the Austrian Netherlands.
- 14 June 1756, Louis XV promised that he had no hostile desires to the Dutch
Republic or the Austrian Netherlands.
- Both the Treaty of Versailles and the Convention of Westminster had very negative
repercussions for Britain: the Peripheral Powers of Britain and Russia was seriously
damaged (this partnership was very important and it would later save Europe from
Napoleon and Hitler)
- Russian Chancellor Bestuzhev supported the idea of crushing Prussia, but was very
wary of forging a French Connection, while Chancellor Voronstov was very pro-
- January 1756, the abandonment of Britain to an alliance with Prussia pushed the
slightly pro-French Empress Elizabeth to call the Conference at the Imperial Court.
- Empress Elizabeth received the advice from the Conference:
1) Russia should approach Austria with the view to an immediate joint offensive
alliance against Prussia to be concluded and to be put into practice at the earliest
2) They also recommended that France be recruited to the anti-Prussian camp.
- Kaunitz, though not entirely forthcoming with the First Treaty of Versailles while
the “talks” were going on, he was careful to send the terms of the First Treaty of
Versailles to Empress Elizabeth before Austria signed onto it.
- Faced with this Austro-French connection and the possibility of Russia in someway
being associated with this alliance Frederick felt that he had to attack first.
- 29 August 1756, Frederick the Great invaded Saxony. Militarily this attack was
successfully, however, politically and diplomatically this move was an absolute
strategic disaster that raised most of Europe against him.
- The French had been rather reluctant to change from a defensive alliance to an
active military alliance against the Prussians. The reason for this was Mme De
Pompadour and Bernis greatly influenced the French foreign policy and she didn’t
want to lose her power, which would occur if Louis XV went away to war (as her
influence was totally dependant on her “close / physical” proximity to the King). - January 1757, Russia joined the First Treaty of Versailles.
- February 1757, Austria and Russia formed an offensive alliance against Prussia.
- 1 May 1757, Austria and France formed an offensive alliance against the Prussian
- No international can withstand the level of political and diplomatic incompetence
that Frederick the Great was capable of…and it seemed indeed that Prussia would
be knocked off the map of Europe – which is
- 18 June 1757, the Austrian Imperial Army under Daun gave a terrible defeat to the
Pruthians at Kolin
- 28 August 1757, English diplomat described for his government in London
Frederick the Great and Prussia’s desperate situation: “The King of Prussia has now
against him the Russian army and fleet. He has also against him 20 000 Swedes, an
army of the Empire [being the German states also] supported by 30 000 French, and
a great Austrian army of 100 000 strong [though we now know that it was actually
about 200 000 strong].”
- These odds should have been impossible. As all battles during that time were
front-to-front / linear, the side with the longer line won the battles because they
could easily attack the flanks and roll up the enemies.
- Late 1757, Frederick the Great defeated the odds and created a new way to fight
- 5 November 1757, Frederick the Great at Rossbach stood on a hill watching a
huge anti-Prussian army attempt to out-flank and broke an 18 Century war rule: he
attacked while they were on the march and caught his opponents by surprise. This
battle lasted roughly 90 minutes.
- Hethnocked France out of the Seven Years War.
- 5 December 1757, Frederick the Great at Leuthen ran up against a formidable
Austrian force, which outnumbered him around 2-1 (Austrian = 80 000, Prussians =
33 000). The Austrians should have simply crushed the Prussians.
- Napoleon: The battle at Leuthen was a military masterpiece.
- Deception was the only way to multiply the Prussian forces. If the allies could be
persuaded to send their reinforcements where they weren’t really needed, then they
could be hit on their newly weakened line.
- It’s more profitable to wear the skin of a fox than the hide of a lion: courage and
bravery are great, but if you can outwit your enemy then you will definitely
- The Prussians killed 8 000 Austrians, captured 20 000 Austrians with only a loss of
6 000 of their own men.
- The Battle of Leuthen freed Saxony for Frederick as a buffer against invasion from
the enemy coalition and increased his worth in London; the British Prime Minister
William Pitt (The Elder) immediately provided an annual subsidy (an excess of 600
000 pounds a year). Pitt also organized the “Army of Observation” (made up of
German forces) to help Frederick the Great.
- Frederick the Great: “No one reasons, everybody executes.” through difficult
training he turned his army into “robots.” In fact such mechanical obedience freed
the commander to be much more audacious in his attacks. This meant that the
Prussian army could move faster, utterly outwit their enemy, and behave with a complexity of manoeuvres.
- Because of the closeness of the Prussian army (“Korpsgeist”) as well as the
superior clusters (“Gre