The French Navy and the Seven Years' War

The French Navy and the Seven Years' War

The French Navy and the Seven Years' War

The French Navy and the Seven Years' War

Synopsis

The Seven Years' War was the world's first global conflict, spanning five continents and the critical sea lanes that connected them. This book is the fullest account ever written of the French navy's role in the hostilities. It is also the most complete survey of both phases of the war: the French and Indian War in North America (1754- 60) and the Seven Years' War in Europe (1756- 63), which are almost always treated independently. By considering both phases of the war from every angle, award-winning historian Jonathan R. Dull shows not only that the two conflicts are so interconnected that neither can be fully understood in isolation but also that traditional interpretations of the war are largely inaccurate. His work also reveals how the French navy, supposedly utterly crushed, could have figured so prominently in the War of American Independence only fifteen years later. A comprehensive work integrating diplomatic, naval, military, and political history, The French Navy and the Seven Years' War thoroughly explores the French perspective on the Seven Years' War. It also studies British diplomacy and war strategy as well as the roles played by the American colonies, Spain, Austria, Prussia, Russia, Sweden, and Portugal. As this history unfolds, it becomes clear that French policy was more consistent, logical, and successful than has previously been acknowledged, and that King Louis XV's conduct of the war profoundly affected the outcome of America's subsequent Revolutionary War.

Excerpt

The Seven Years' War consisted of two great conflicts, each containing seven years of hostilities. The bloodshed in the first of these conflicts, which Americans often call the French and Indian War, began in Pennsylvania in 1754 and largely concluded in 1760. The bloodshed in the second began in Bohemia in 1756 and concluded at the end of 1762. The conflicts resulted in a set of treaties in 1763, whose impact was perhaps even greater on American history than on European. Few wars prior to the twentieth century were as complex as these two or involved as many combatants—Great Britain, France, Prussia, Russia, the Austrian Empire, Spain, Sweden, dozens of American Indian nations, and numerous principalities in Germany and on the subcontinent of India. What makes their history so challenging is that they were so closely interconnected that they must be studied as a single war. It has been eighty years since the great historians Richard Waddington and Sir Julian Corbett did so. (Intervening histories of the “French and Indian War” by Lawrence Henry Gipson, Guy Frégault, Francis Jennings, Fred Anderson, and others largely have neglected Europe.) With the 250th anniversary of the war having arrived, another such attempt is overdue.

The most important link between the wars in Europe and North America (and for that matter in Asia and Africa) was the conflict between Great Britain and France. Fighting between the two occurred on all these continents and interacted with the conflicts between the other combatants, although with strange gaps, France fighting but never declaring war on Britain's ally Prussia and Britain carefully avoiding even the hint of hostilities against France's allies Austria and Russia. The French navy played a critical part in the war between France and Britain, particularly in North America. Moreover, after 1760 the dominant issue in the Franco-British conflict became the question of whether France would continue to be a major naval power or for the indefinite future . . .

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