Was WW1 really the First World War?
The 7 Years War... (French and Indian War)
From 1756 to 1763 a war raged between the great European powers. Britain, Prussia and a number of small states including Portugal on the one side and the larger powers of France, Austria, Russia, Spain and a few other small states on the other.
It was a war that was to shape the world to come, in the end it bankrupted the French leading to the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Spain and Portugal, once great powers in their own right were already reduced by the time the war started but were forced to watch their once large empire recede. The Prussians were the rising Central European power and Britain, though a major player was not yet the dominant Naval and Colonial Superpower it would become by the end of the war; a status it would hold well into the 20th Century
Defining a World War
Defining what is a World War as opposed to a regular or regional war is not as some might expect; judged by the death count or a particularly large amount of destruction. It is defined by a simple Geographic Question... Was it fought in every part of the globe? Or more precisely; did it affect every continent?
Theatre's of War
- Before the official outbreak of war in Europe the French and British were raiding and killing each other for at least 2 years!
- George Washington set up the first ambush of the conflict in 1754 after the French attacked a British civilian population who were the French felt encroaching upon their sovereignty.
- Hostilities continued right up until 1762 and the French surrendering much of their colonial territory.
- Buoyed by the reported skirmishes in the colonies and British Support the Prussians began the war in Europe in 1756 in a move designed to cut off their various enemies from each other.
- The Battle of Minorca began the major sea campaigns of the long war and though it was a French Victory it led to perhaps one of the most far reaching court martial's in modern European History with the trial and execution of Admiral John Byng.
- Long running British and French competition in India arguable came to a head from 1757 in several sieges resulting in the British effectively ending any chance of French dominance in India permanently.
- This was a commercial war as much as a war between states. The respective 'East India companie' of each nation playing their own part at sea and on land.
- The British famously captured Senegal with little resistance leading to further embarrassing losses for the French in the area.
- Although no actual fighting went on in the region during this time it arguable led to the British being in the strongest position, financially, and militarily to establish a strong colony after the war.
Territorial changes in South America between the Spanish and Portuguese and eventually a British intervention in modern Cuba played their part in the final peace negotiations.
On the European continent victory led to defeat for both sides, the decisive point here though was the British managing to establish effective blockades on France and Spain as well as being able to focus her land armies in the colonies effectively won the war. Without the Prussians holding their ground with little British intervention the war would have dragged on and fortunes may have changed.
- The Treaty of Paris in 1763 ended the war which resulted in a decisive British Victory who gained far more out of the fighting than their Prussian Allies.
- Up to 1.5 million people were killed during the war as a result of fighting, sieges and arson by the respective sides. An extremely high number in comparison to other wars up until that point and through to WW1.
- Each continent bears the marks of this war today.
- The formation, language and culture of all of the American States as well as arguable the Australasian.
- The future formation and wars of India and Asia as a whole including British dominance that would last until the 20th Century.
- The spread of African colonies including language and future wars were affected up until WW2 in which the ex European colonies held by the same powers managed to expel the Nazi's.
- Borders were drawn, Islands changed hands and the economical, geographical and ideological conditions were created for the French Revolutionary Wars which would once again sweep most of the globe.
- Throughout the worlds Oceans a Naval force that in scale would arguably become the most dominant in history had seized control. It would not be out fought, out traded or truly rivaled for another 250 years. The British Navy would secure what had now become the largest Empire in history.
- The Colonies and commanders who considering themselves British had helped win the war had also learned many lessons from their victories and defeats. Soon those very same loyal subjects would rebel, and spurred on by their embarrassing losses during the Seven Years War would receive vital help from The French and Spanish. Without the Seven Years War there would be no USA.