Seven Years' War

Tuesday, 29 June, 1756 - Thursday, 10 February, 1763

The main conflict occurred during the seven-year period 1756–1763. Most of the great powers of Europe were involved and the conflict ranged across Europe, North America, Central America, South America, Africa and Asia. The two major belligerents were the British and the French. The war is also known as the French and Indian War in the United States and Canada and in French-speaking Canada, the ‘War of the Conquest’. The term ‘Seven Years' War’ is also used by many English-speaking Canadians. In India, the war resulted in the renewal of conflict between French and British trading companies.

Conflict in North America broke out in 1754 when The British attacked disputed French held possessions in North America and seized French merchant shipping. The boundary between their territorial claims in North America had been unclear in the 1750s and although France had long claimed the entire Mississippi River valley, this was disputed by the British. In the early 1750s the French then began constructing forts along the Ohio River to support the establishment of their territorial claims and to prevent the spread of British influence over indigenous American nations. The British regarded the Ohio River Valley as fertile farming land ripe for their expanding settlements and that French possesions were now too close to their colonies. They also believed that the French would encourage their allied Native American nations to attack British settlements. News of these hostilities reached Europe and both countries sent forces to support their claims.

The war concluded with the Treaty of Paris, signed on 10 February 1763, between France, Spain and Great Britain, the Treaty of Hubertusburg (1763) between Saxony, Austria and Prussia, the Treaty of Saint Petersburg (1762) between Prussia and Russia, and the Treaty of Hamburg (1762) between Sweden and Prussia. All these treaties involved a complex agreement on exchanges of possessions and in Europe a general return to the status quo ante bellum. A significant outcome was that France ceded the New France possession (in Canada) to Britain. As Spain ceded Florida to Britain this meant that the British now controlled North America east of the Mississippi, a potent potential that would be undone by the American War of Independence.