The Seven Years War
The Seven Years War
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The siege and taking of Quebec, 1759 (detail). (National Archives of Canada, C-77769)
In 1756, war broke out between France and Great Britain. In North America, hostilities between American and Canadian colonists had erupted two years previously. The war led to the fall of New France.

Historical context
In Europe, the conflict pitted Great Britain (allied with Prussia and Hanover) against France, which was supported by Austria, Sweden, Saxony, Russia and Spain. In America and Asia, British colonies confronted French colonies. New France and New England fought each other for possession of the continent and control of the fur trade. Although separate, the conflicts between the two colonies were directly connected to the victories or defeats of the Motherland.

Summary of Conflict
Though the Seven Years War officially began in 1756 in Europe, hostilities had erupted two years earlier, in 1754, in America's Ohio Valley when a Virginian major of militia, George Washington, ambushed a small French detachment. This was the catalyst for the great war to come. From that moment on, both Motherlands dispatched troops, albeit not in equal numbers. For France, the war in Europe was the top priority, so the country sent just a few troops. It also considered it was more important to protect its colonies in the West Indies, since sugar cane was more lucrative than the fur trade in New France. But Great Britain was determined to destroy France's colonial empire, and it sent more than 20,000 soldiers to America. It must also be noted that American colonists were unable to defend themselves against their Canadian counterparts, who excelled in the art of the guerilla warfare. For New England, it was imperative to obliterate New France and its Native allies, which were preventing the States from acquiring and occupying new land (New England had a very large population and sought new land to occupy and farm.) Although New France did well in the war until 1757, the tide proceeded to turn - in favour of the British troops, who won several victories right up until the battle on the Plains of Abraham in 1759, when James Wolfe defeated the army of Montcalm. The following year, Vaudreuil was forced to capitulate in Montreal. Things were far from over, however, because the final result depended on whether France was victorious or defeated. In the end, France was defeated on all fronts (West Indies, the subcontinent of India, Europe and America). In a bid to save the colonies which brought in the most money, France ceded New France in a Treaty signed in 1763 in exchange for keeping the West Indies. This move angered the Native allies, who were the Canadians' allies. Some of them regrouped under the leadership of Pontiac and attempted to continue the war.

New France
A colony of France located over a vast part of North America. New France was a rival of New England for control of the fur trade and the territory. With a smaller population, New France's policy was to forge a series of alliances with the Native peoples.

New England
Territory in North America belonging to Great Britain. Densely populated, it was divided into 13 separate colonies, each with their own government. They were the rivals of New France, and the Seven Years War was the fourth conflict between the Canadian and American colonies.

Settlement founded by a Motherland. The colony is controlled by the Motherland and cannot at any time take action that might negatively impact the metropolis. Colonies can be exchanged under the terms of treaties, and are used merely to increase the power and prestige of the metropolis.

A country that founds colonies in foreign countries for its own interests. The Motherland kept a fairly strict hold on the doings of its colonies, controlling their foreign trade, economy, diplomatic relations and political structures.

Battle of the Plains of Abraham
A battle that took place near Quebec City on September 13, 1759. The British army, led by Wolfe and a considerably larger number of troops (accompanied by American soldiers) broke up the attack of the French troops led by Montcalm, which were made up mainly of militiamen accustomed to Guerilla Warfare and unfamiliar with the tactics of
European-style war.

An agreement by which a fort and an army lay down their arms and surrender to the enemy. In exchange, the enemy agrees to uphold certain rights and privileges of the defeated opponent.

Legal agreement between two governments to establish laws and decisions.

Guerilla Warfare
Military tactics inspired by the Native peoples. Small armed groups make hit-and-run attacks and raids along the borders, and even on enemy ground, attacking remote outposts.

European-style war
Military tactics used in Europe. They involve laying siege of fortresses and leading rows upon rows of vast, highly trained armies meet and fight on the battlefields.