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18th Century

18th Century

At the beginning of the 18th Century, France under Louis XIV was Europe’s dominant military power. However, defeats during the War of the Spanish Succession and resultant financial strains prefigured a decline that would continue throughout much of the century. At the same time, the rise of Prussia under Friedrich-Wilhelm I and Friedrich II, and the emergence of Russia as a modern military power, changed the balance of power in central Europe and led to the bloody clashes of the War of the Austrian Succession and Seven Years War. Although sometimes characterised as a period of limited-objective ‘cabinet wars’, the casualties in some of these battles were staggering.

For much of the first half of the century, Britain was plagued by dynastic uncertainties that led to the Jacobite rebellions of 1715, 1719, and 1745; only after the Jacobite defeat at Culloden in 1746 did this threat disappear. Nevertheless, this era saw considerable British imperial expansion, and this continued at an even greater rate in the 1750s and 1760s as France was driven from Canada and India. Triumph was short-lived, however; imperial hubris and a French desire for revenge soon saw Britain lose her American colonies to their own rebellious inhabitants.

Revolution in the new world soon spread back to the old, with American ideals of liberty adding to years of financial mismanagement to throw France into revolutionary turmoil from 1789. By 1793 France was at war with most of Europe, but coalition infighting and the brilliance of young and inspired generals saw France beat off her continental adversaries by 1797. By the turn of the century, Napoleon Bonaparte had achieved dominance over his internal allies and, as First Consul, was well on the way to completing the defeat of the allied Second Coalition.

Irish Rebellion (1798)

Invasion of France 1795 (1795)

French Revolutionary Wars (1792-1802)

War of the Bavarian Succession (1778-1779)

American War of Independence (1775-1783)

First Anglo-Maratha War (1775-1782)

Seven Years War (1756-1763)

French & Indian War (1754-1763)

Second Silesian War (1744-1745)

First Silesian War (1740-1742)

War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748)

War of the Polish Succession (1733-1735)

War of the Quadruple Alliance (1718-1720)

Turkish Wars with Austria and Russia (1716-1791)

Russo-Ottoman War (1710-1711)

War of Spanish Succession (1701-1714)

Great Northern War (1700-1721)

Jacobite Risings (1688-1746)

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