(Hubertusburg: Where the peace treaty between Austria, Prussia, and Saxony was signed)
Well...........two hundred and fifty years ago, this Sunday, and next Friday.
After a long and costly war, the belligerent powers of the Seven Years' War signed the treaty of Paris on February 10th 1763, and the Treaty of Hubertusburg on February 15th 1763. (Confused as to the why or when of the Seven Years' War? Check out the links.) Great, you say, another war from history is over. Why should you care?
The Seven Years' War gives us the modern world. Most of the major conflicts and events of the 19th and 20th centuries have their roots in this pivotal war. If you live in Canada and speak English, that is a result of the Treaty of Paris. The fact that India became a British colony comes out of the Seven Years' War. The idea that the British Navy should police the world is confirmed in the Seven Years' War.
The fact that America moves out of the British sphere in 1775 comes from the Seven Years' War. Whether you believe, like historian Fred Anderson, that the Seven Years' War directly caused the American War of Independence, or like Gordon S. Wood, see it as only a catalyst of a change that was already occurring in the hearts and minds of the people; the importance of this war to world politics, and culture cannot be overstated.
In North America, the loss of the French left Native Americans without a second major European power to slow down European expansion. The monopoly of power created by British control of North America made the Native American struggle against European expansion even more difficult.
In Germany, some historians see the roots of German militarism in this period, which would only end in 1945. While I don't necessarily agree with this view, I can definitely see the that this argument contains elements of truth. In Russia, the Seven Years' War was another effort of expansion towards Europe, which would culminate in the events of 1945-6 and the beginning of the cold war.
In fact, we can easily see that many chapters of world history which begin in 1763 don't end until 1945. In the historical tradition today, military history is viewed with disdain, and seen as unimportant. Well, this VITAL event is the Seven Years' WAR. Armies fought, men and women died, and peoples lives were vitally effected, people of every race, age, gender and creed.
People like Rafaela Herrera, the bi-racial, illegitimate daughter of a Spanish garrison commander in Nicaragua. She would use the opportunities created by the war to rise to a position of wealth and fame.
People like Prinz Johann Casmir von Isenburg, who would die on the battlefield, after facing incredible odds, caught by a stray bullet.
People like Maria Theresa of Austria, who would try to process the experience of the war and failure through a template of religion.
People like Jakob Cogniazzo, who would write of their experiences, and how the war affected their lives.
Because at the end of the day, the Seven Years' War was a part of human experience, that touched many lives, over the course of, well, seven years. And that is yet another reason why the war is important, and worthy of serious scholarly study.
As a fun aside, here is the full text of the Treaty of Paris.
Thanks for reading,
(Portions of the above are part of an academic paper by the author, his intellectual property, and have copyright pending. Do not copy without permission.)