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Useful Notes / Seven Years' War

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Come cheer up, my lads, 'tis to glory we steer
To add something new to this wonderful year
Hearts of Oak are our ships, Jolly Tars are our men
We always are ready, steady boys steady
— "Heart of Oak", British patriotic song by David Garrick

I'm Frederick the Great, I am
Frederick the Great I am, I am
I got married to a woman I don't love
'Cause war is all I've time for thinking of
— satirical lyric from a history website

Fought from 1756 to 1763, this was one of the most important wars in history and the largest of the classical 18th-century power struggles. It pitted a coalition of Britain, Prussia, Portugal, and a few minor northern German states against an opposing alliance of France, Austria, Russia, Spain, Sweden, and most of the other German states. It was in a way a bipolar war, consisting of the struggle between various (mostly German) families (and the realms they ruled) for control of Central Europe and the struggle between Britain and France for control of overseas markets and colonies, mainly in North America, with more minor actions in South America and southern India. The latter aspect of the war has led some historians to label it the real "first world war", as fighting took place on every inhabited continent except Australia.note 

Its result led to the founding of The British Empire and a secessionist British state that would, two centuries later, become more populous and richer than her (via The American Revolution). On the other hand, it also marked the end of the first French Colonial Empire overseas and arguably caused her to turn inward to Europe again during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. Most notably, the war marked the ascent of Prussia to Great Power status when she finally managed to conquer just enough territory (from the Austrian Habsburgs) to be able to put up a decent fight against the other Great Powers. However, on the Prussian part, the war was a very dangerous wager that it could not possibly have survived, let alone won - they only came out on top because nobody was willing or able to test whether Prussia was still up for a fight after the war. This has been referred to as the "Miracle of the House Brandenburg", which may or may not have caused a Prussian belief in its invincible military, which was further reinforced through the Franco-Prussian War and would prove disastrous for Germany in both world wars.

There was fighting in several theaters including Central Europe, Western Europe (inc. Iberia), North America (mainland and Caribbean), and India. (Minor theaters included Brazil, West Africa, and the Philippines.) Given the nicely global spread of the fighting this has been posited as the first 'world' war, though why exactly it should get this designation when the War of the Austrian Succession, War of the Spanish Succession, or various Anglo-French colonial spats don't isn't clear. The way all three major theatres were seeing action at the same time is a biggie, though, as is the involvement of all six of the great powers simultaneously (unless one still considered China to have qualified at this point, this being around the start of the Great Divergence).

Often referred to in the US as the 'French and Indian War', what with the British North American colonies being restricted to - you guessed it - raising handfuls militia to defend against small-scale French and Indian raids, and launching little raids of their own. This small-scale conflict is actually what sparked the larger war, with the first shot being fired by a young militia officer by the name of George Washington. It also marked a crucial turning point in the history of Canada, as the colony of New France was ceded to the British by France - setting the stage for Canada's later development as a bilingual country and (with the introduction of lots of fresh immigrants to sideline them) loyalty to the national government during the next British Civil War (aka 'The American Revolution'). To French-Canadian populations this war is often referred to as La Guerre de Conquête ('The War of Conquest'), since effectively, that's what it was from a French-Canadian perspective.

Fiction set in this time period includes:

  • The war provides the backdrop to Gotthold Ephraim Lessing's classic comedy Minna von Barnhelm.
  • The Last of the Mohicans
  • Frederick the Great's soldiers and generals are commemorated in many ballads by Theodor Fontane.
  • Kenneth Roberts' Northwest Passage (adapted into a 1940 film of the same name) deals with the fighting in North America.
  • The Great King: A German film made in 1942 to inspire morale by associating Prussian tradition with guess who. Ironically the real "Great King" (Frederick the Great) of the title would have thought his alleged spiritual descendants were overlate for an appointment with the Knoutmaster.
    • Between the World Wars, films involving Frederick the Great were a boom genre in Germany, and actor Otto Gebühr played Frederick the Great in most of them. Some of the ones involving the Seven Years' War include
      • Fridericus Rex (1920-1923). A silent four-parter, part IV is about the Seven Years' War.
      • Der alte Fritz (1927-1928). A two-parter, part I covering the end of the Seven Years' War and its aftermath.
      • Das Flötenkonzert von Sanssouci (1930, "The Flute Concert of Sanssouci"), a comedy set at the eve of the war.
      • Kadetten (1931). Young military cadets fighting the Russian invaders. This film was remade in 1941 with pupils from a Napola (elite Nazi school).
      • Der Choral von Leuthen (1933), about one of Frederick's greatest victories.
      • Fridericus (1936). Set in the closing stages of the Seven Years' War.
      • Das Fräulein von Barnhelm (1940). A movie adaptation of Lessing's play Minna von Barnhelm.
  • Fanfan la Tulipe, a French comedy swashbuckler film.
  • La Tour, prends garde!.
  • Barry Lyndon.
  • The French and Indian War looms in the background of The Patriot (2000). While set during the American Revolution, Benjamin Martin and several other characters are veterans of said war. Major Jean Villeneuve, who fought for the opposite side, lost his family to the English.
  • Sachsens Glanz und Preußens Gloria (Saxony's Lustre and Prussia's Glory, 1985-1987), a sumptuous six-part TV series produced in the GDR. The Seven Years' War is covered in parts 5 and 6.
  • The Prussian campaign of Cossacks: The Art of War covers the Seven Years War, including the Russian raid on Berlin in 1760, which is treated as a massive and almost unwinnable battle.
  • Age of Empires III: Covers a small portion of it.
  • "Acadian Driftwood", a song by The Band
  • Empire: Total War features the North American theatre of this conflict in its story mode.
  • Alluded to, if not outright covered, in Hetalia: Axis Powers.
  • Assassin's Creed III features a prologue set during the French and Indian War, showing its importance in the birth of the main subject of the game, The American Revolution. It features a cameo of George Washington during his service under the notorious General Braddock on his doomed expedition.
    • Assassin's Creed Rogue features this conflict in fuller detail, and returns to the same settings with returning characters from III.
  • While none of the titular Revolutions of Revolutions happened during the Seven Years War, Mike Duncan shows how the war in its various theaters affected the situation ahead of the revolutions - it would set the ground for the American Revolution, the geopolitical situation ahead of the French Revolution and ultimately would also affect the Haitian and Latin American revolutions.
  • Look to the Hills: The Diary of Lozette Moreau is about a French slave girl and her owner who go to Canada at the beginning of the French and Indian War.

Alternative Title(s): French And Indian War