Seven Years War (1756-1763)
The Seven Years War
In an effort to win back the rich province of Silesia Austria formed a new alliance with France, Saxony, Sweden and Russia against Prussia, Hanover and Britain.
By the summer of 1756, the Austrian alliance was ready to attack Prussia, but Prussia, attacked first by invading Saxony in August 1756 in an attempt to detach Saxony from its alliance with the Austrians.
The Prussians occupied Dresden and Saxony capitulated.
In the spring of 1757 Prussia advanced into Bohemia and defeated the Austrians at the Battle of Prague in May 1757.
The so-called Seven Years War had raged for more than a year when the Austrian army, under the command of Prince Karl von Lothringen, (Lorraine) having already lost the Battle of Prague, had withdrawn to the city of Prague with the remaining units of his army.
Maria Theresia gave the order “…the army shall face the enemy and wage a battle”.
An Austrian counter-attack a month later in the Battle of Kolín, led by the Austrian Field Marshal Graf von Daun, forced the Prussians to retreat from Bohemia.
Frederick II of Prussia
Prussia was facing a war on several fronts.
- The French advanced towards Prussia’s western frontier.
- Sweden joined the Austrian alliance and attacked the Prussians.
- Austria moved into Silesia and the Russian army entered into East Prussia.
In November 1757 Prussia faced a Franco-German army at Rossbach in Thuringia. Although the Prussian army was only half the size of their opponents the Prussian losses were only 550 compared to their enemies 7 000.
The Prussian army then turned to meet the Austrians in Silesia and although again heavily outnumbered they still managed to win the Battle of Leuthen at the end of that year.
Between 1758 and 1761 the fortunes of war swung back and forth between the adversaries.
Empress Elisabeth of Russia
After the death of the Russian Empress Elisabeth and the succession of Tsar Peter III, Russia made peace with Prussia and negotiated a peace treaty between Prussia and Sweden.
Russia joined with Prussia in an attempt to push the Austrians out of Silesia.
The assassination of Tsar Peter made way for Tsar Catherine The Great, who immediately put an end to the conflict.
Prussia was still able to make gains against the French and Saxons and captured the important town of Göttingen, finally managing to drive the Austrians out of Silesia.
Eventually, in February 1763, the Treaty of Hubertusburg, in which Silesia (Schlesien) fell to Prussia, brought an end to the Seven Years War.
The assassination of Tsar Peter made way for Tsar Catherine
who immediately put an end to the conflict.