Seven Years' War (may 17, 1756 – feb 15, 1763)
In 18th Century Europe the balance of power was in constant flux as various nations allied with each other and various territories were captured, then lost, then recaptured to varying extents. By the 1750s two nations that were struggling over each other's land was that of Prussia and Austria. Both nations were small kingdoms that made up part of the Holy Roman Empire and both wanted to be the most dominant in Central Europe.
At the same time, Britain wanted to start expanding Westwards from their Thirteen American colonies so they could send more colonists and further expand their trading activities. Expanding West however meant breaching into the territory of New France, and so when British troops ambushed a small French force in the May of 1754, this started a major conflict between Britain and France across their American colonies, with both sides being supported by various Native peoples.
Back over in Europe, the nation of Prussia invaded the German state of Saxony in September 1756, which at the time was an ally of Austria. The result of this caused uproar across Europe and soon nations were quickly allying themselves with each other in preparation for war. Austria for their part were supported by France, and Prussia allied themselves with Britain.
With the colonial battles already going on in America, these conflicts now became politically connected into what historians refer to as the Seven Years' War.
Britain and Prussia were soon joined by other nations such as Ireland and Portugal; and France and Austria gained allegiance with Spain, Russia, and even the Mughal Empire in India. Because of this, battles not only broke out in the American colonies and Central Europe, but also small oversees territories elsewhere in the world. Britain at the time had started to expand their colonies in India and West Africa, which meant now these were being attacked by the Mughal Empire and France respectively. Because of the global reach of these conflicts, the Seven Years' War is often cited as being the first World War, or World War Zero.
Finally, after the deaths of over 600,000 people, the fighting finally came to an end in the February of 1763. In Europe, a treaty was signed establishing the borders to stay the same as they were before the beginning of the war. However outside of Europe, many territorial changes were made - in North America, France gave all of it's land east of the Mississippi River, as well as in Canada over to the British. West of the Mississippi River, France gave it's land over to New Spain in exchange for Spain giving Florida to Britain. As well as this France and Britain divided four Caribbean Islands between themselves.
In Africa Britain took control of Senegal and the Gambia from the French, and in India the Mughal Empire was slowly declining from losses to not only Britain but also rising Sikh and Hindu empires that managed to gain portions of India. Britain for their part actually won a decisive battle in North-East India, bringing the entire Bengal region under control of the East India Company.
Britain's success and gains after the Seven Years' War completely ended France's colonial power and made the British Empire the most powerful maritime empire in the world.
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