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Hubertusburg, Wermsdorf

The Treaty of Hubertusburg (German language: Frieden von Hubertusburg) was signed on 15 February 1763 at Hubertusburg by Prussia, Austria, and Saxony. Together with the Treaty of Paris, it marked the end of the French and Indian War and of the Seven Years' War. The treaty ended the continental conflict with no significant changes in prewar borders. Silesia remained Prussian, and Prussia clearly stood among the ranks of the great powers.

Austria's resolve to repossess the rich province of Silesia, which had been lost to Prussia in 1748, was the major conflict leading to the Seven Years' War. Maria Theresa, Archduchess of Austria and Queen of Hungary and Bohemia, acquired the support of Russia, Sweden, Saxony, Spain, and France, with the specific aim of waging war against Prussia and its ally, Great Britain. It was King Frederick the Great of Prussia, however, who initiated the hostilities with his attack and capture of Saxony in 1756.

The Seven Years' War started in 1756, with Prussia facing the allied forces of Austria, Russia, France, and Sweden. Although in January 1757 the majority of the colleges of the Imperial Diet (minus Hanover, Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel), Brunswick, and Saxe-Gotha) voted against the move for war, Frederick succeeded in his quest for expanding Prussian influence, power and territory.

Through the first half of the war, the Prussians continued victorious. In the Battle of Rossbach on November 5, 1757, the Prussian army not only defeated the French, but also Imperial troops who had fought on the side of the latter against Prussia. They defeated the Austrians at Leuthen in 1757 and the Russians at Zorndorf in 1758. At this point, however, with Sweden entering the war and virtually all Europe opposing Frederick, the tide seemed to turn. By 1759 eastern Prussia was in the hands of the Russians, and Berlin had been captured. The Prussian situation was desperate.

In 1758 the Anglo-Hanoverian army, an ally of Prussia, commanded by Ferdinand of Brunswick, defeated the French and occupied the town of Münster. In 1759 Imperial troops invaded Saxony, expelling the Prussians.

Two significant factors, however, led to the eventual return of Prussian dominance in the war. One was the active support of the British and Hanoverians; both, until this point ineffective combatants, now fought successfully against the French. The second, and more important, was the withdrawal in 1762 of Russia and Sweden from the war. This occurred as a result of the death of Empress Elizabeth of Russia; her successor, Peter III, an admirer of Frederick, quickly signed a peace treaty with the Prussian leader. By the Treaty of St. Petersburg in 1762 Russia made peace and restored all conquests; Sweden made peace in the same year.

Now fighting alone in the east, the Austrians were soundly defeated in the Battle of Burkersdorf (July, 1762). The French, too, had suffered severe reverses. In America they had lost Louisbourg (1758), Quebec (1759), and some possessions in the West Indies; in India, the British victories at Plassey (1757) and Pondichéry (1761) had destroyed French power; on the sea, the French took Port Mahón from the British (1757) but were defeated by Hawke in Quiberon Bay (1759). The entry of Spain into the war under the terms of the Family Compact of 1761 was of little help to France, where the war had never been popular.

After protracted negotiations between the war-weary powers, peace was made among Prussia, Austria, and Saxony at Hubertusburg, and among Great Britain, France, and Spain at Paris. The Treaty of Hubertusburg, though it restored the prewar status quo, marked the ascendancy of Prussia as a leading European power. Through the Treaty of Paris, Great Britain emerged as the world’s chief colonial empire, which was its primary goal in the war, and France lost most of its overseas possessions. The phrase "Hubertsburg Peace" is sometimes used as a description for any Treaty which restores the situation existing before conflict broke out.

See also

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