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Thread: Was the Seven Years' War the actual First World War?

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    3 out of 3 members found this post helpful.

    Post Was the Seven Years' War the actual First World War?



    According to Wikipedia, 'the term "World War I" was coined by Time magazine on page 28b of its June 12, 1939 issue. In the same article, on page 32, the term "World War II" was first used speculatively to describe the upcoming war. The first use for the actual war came in its issue of September 11, 1939.'

    The reason why the Great War of 1914-18 and the ensuing war of 1939-45 were labelled 'world wars' was because they really did involve nations from every continent, including soldiers drafted from European colonies in Africa and Asia and contingents from former British colonies like Australia and New Zealand.

    The Seven Years' War (1756-1763), fought by the great European powers of the time on five continents, is often referred to by modern historians as "World War Zero". It caused over a million deaths and was fought in many parts of Europe, India, North America, the Caribbean isles, the Philippines, and coastal Africa. This map shows the scale of the conflict, with the blue team representing Great Britain, Prussia, Portugal, with their allies and the green team France, Spain, Austria, Russia, Sweden and their allies (including the Mughal Empire, the Bengal Sultanate and the Abenaki Confederacy, although the Mughal Empire isn't shown on the map).



    In its geographic scope, the Seven Years' War was more global than the war of 1914-18, in which most of the fighting took place in small parts of Europe (northern France/Flanders, Northeast Italy, parts of the Balkans, Marmara Sea, western Russia).

    The terms First and Second World Wars were not coined by historians but by journalists. I believe that this should be rectified and that the term World War I should be applied to the Seven Years' War, World War II to the Great War, World War III to the 1939-1945 War. I would even go further and say that the Cold War (1947–1991) was really World War IV as that conflict was on a truly global scale and was not as passive as its name suggests. The Cold War included brutal bloodsheds like the Korean War (1950–53) and the Vietnam War (1955–75).

    It could be argued that the current War on Terror (since 2001) is in fact World War V. This war encompasses the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, which altogether have cost the lives of between 1.3 and 2 million people based on present estimates.

    It's time that historians stand up to journalists and redefine the meaning of world war and consider which historical conflicts fit that definition. If, as I believe, it means a major conflict fought on a global scale, then there should be 5 world wars to date. Not all major wars can be called world wars. I excluded the Napoleonic Wars as they were fought almost exclusively in Europe, although one side effect was the independence of Spanish colonies in the Americas.
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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    In these five global wars, Britain, France, Germany (incl. Holy Roman Empire, Prussia, other German states), Austria, Russia and the USA (or 13 colonies in the Seven Years' War) were always major protagonists. India and Belgium (Spanish Netherlands) were minor players in all five wars too.

    Italy, Turkey (Ottoman Empire), China, Japan and Australia participated in all wars except the Seven Years' War, while Mexico was engaged in all but the 1914-18 war and Portugal and Brazil in all but 1939-45.

    Great Britain was the only country that was always on the winning side (+ the USA if we include the 13 colonies that weren't independent yet during the Seven Years' War).

    The Seven Years' War was a major victory for Great Britain and helped established the British Empire by gaining hegemony over most of Canada and India.

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    According to Wikipedia, 'the term "World War I" was coined by Time magazine on page 28b of its June 12, 1939 issue. In the same article, on page 32, the term "World War II" was first used speculatively to describe the upcoming war. The first use for the actual war came in its issue of September 11, 1939.'

    The reason why the Great War of 1914-18 and the ensuing war of 1939-45 were labelled 'world wars' was because they really did involve nations from every continent, including soldiers drafted from European colonies in Africa and Asia and contingents from former British colonies like Australia and New Zealand.

    The Seven Years' War (1756-1763), fought by the great European powers of the time on five continents, is often referred to by modern historians as "World War Zero". It caused over a million deaths and was fought in many parts of Europe, India, North America, the Caribbean isles, the Philippines, and coastal Africa. This map shows the scale of the conflict, with the blue team representing Great Britain, Prussia, Portugal, with their allies and the green team France, Spain, Austria, Russia, Sweden and their allies (including the Mughal Empire, the Bengal Sultanate and the Abenaki Confederacy, although the Mughal Empire isn't shown on the map).



    In its geographic scope, the Seven Years' War was more global than the war of 1914-18, in which most of the fighting took place in small parts of Europe (northern France/Flanders, Northeast Italy, parts of the Balkans, Marmara Sea, western Russia).

    The terms First and Second World Wars were not coined by historians but by journalists. I believe that this should be rectified and that the term World War I should be applied to the Seven Years' War, World War II to the Great War, World War III to the 1939-1945 War. I would even go further and say that the Cold War (1947–1991) was really World War IV as that conflict was on a truly global scale and was not as passive as its name suggests. The Cold War included brutal bloodsheds like the Korean War (1950–53) and the Vietnam War (1955–75).

    It could be argued that the current War on Terror (since 2001) is in fact World War V. This war encompasses the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, which altogether have cost the lives of between 1.3 and 2 million people based on present estimates.

    It's time that historians stand up to journalists and redefine the meaning of world war and consider which historical conflicts fit that definition. If, as I believe, it means a major conflict fought on a global scale, then there should be 5 world wars to date. Not all major wars can be called world wars. I excluded the Napoleonic Wars as they were fought almost exclusively in Europe, although one side effect was the independence of Spanish colonies in the Americas.

    A very much appreciated post and a long needed historical clarification. Couldn't agree more with you. Three major consequences of this WWI:
    1) England emerging as a global superpower
    2) English set the basis to become the predominant language in north america
    3) The burden of military expenditures and debts of the British government triggered the process that led to the raise of taxes in the 13 colonies and so paved the way for the American Revolution

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    I agree that the Seven Years' War should be considered the first "World War".

    Interesting fact:

    On this day in 1754, a 22-year-old lieutenant colonel of the Virginia militia named George Washington successfully defeats a party of French and Indian scouts in southwest Pennsylvania as Virginia attempts to lay claim to the territory for its own settlers. The action snowballed into a world war and began the military career of the first American commander in chief.

    https://www.history.com/this-day-in-...even-years-war

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jovialis View Post
    I agree that the Seven Years' War should be considered the first "World War".

    Interesting fact:
    Indeed. It also opened the way to a westward expansion that ultimately reached the Pacific.


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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Italy, Turkey (Ottoman Empire), China, Japan and Australia participated in all wars except the Seven Years' War, while Mexico was engaged in all but the 1914-18 war and Portugal and Brazil in all but 1939-45.
    Incorrect about Brazil. Brazil participated in 1939-45 World War II, though it got into the war only late (1944) after a lot of hesitation (the Brazilian dictator Getúlio Vargas had an ideology with a lot of fascist affinities). But Brazil had Brazilian ships bombed by German and Italian U-boats, and soon later after increasing US pressure (and by the Brazilian citizenry too) they decided to participate in the war and took part in some war campaigns in Italy. In total 1,400 Brazilian people died in sunken ships and around 500 people in land battlefields. It was a minor participation, but certainly more decisive (and deadly) than the participation of Brazil in the World War I, where Brazil only helped logistically after having some ships sunken (with a few deaths) by German U-boats in 1917.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ygorcs View Post
    Incorrect about Brazil. Brazil participated in 1939-45 World War II, though it got into the war only late (1944) after a lot of hesitation (the Brazilian dictator Getúlio Vargas had an ideology with a lot of fascist affinities). But Brazil had Brazilian ships bombed by German and Italian U-boats, and soon later after increasing US pressure (and by the Brazilian citizenry too) they decided to participate in the war and took part in some war campaigns in Italy. In total 1,400 Brazilian people died in sunken ships and around 500 people in land battlefields. It was a minor participation, but certainly more decisive (and deadly) than the participation of Brazil in the World War I, where Brazil only helped logistically after having some ships sunken (with a few deaths) by German U-boats in 1917.
    Thanks for the clarification.

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    The disadvantage of calling the conflicts of 1914-1918/1939-1945 the first and second world war is that it suggests that previously no other wars had been fought on a global scale, which is of course not true. But I think calling the Seven Years War WW I suggests too much of a difference between the Seven Years War and earlier conflicts, and too much of a similarity between this war and the wars of 1914-1945. Europeans have fought wars on a global theater since the 16th century. What is the fundamental difference between the Seven Years War and the wars of Philip II, III & IV or Louis XIV? These wars and the Seven Years War have important things in common: they take place in a time when European influence in the world is expanding, and are fought in part to decide which European country will be the main beneficiary of that development; these wars led to the rise of the protestant seafaring nations, in particular England, and laid the foundations of the British Empire. On the other hand, there are some important differences between the wars of 1914-1945 and the Seven Years War: some of the most important actors are not European, we see power shift away from Europe, we see the transformation of Britain of a global power into a US vassal. Besides that, these wars are connected with revolutions, mass murder and a decline of civilization that one generally does not associate with the Seven Years War.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Groninger View Post
    The disadvantage of calling the conflicts of 1914-1918/1939-1945 the first and second world war is that it suggests that previously no other wars had been fought on a global scale, which is of course not true. But I think calling the Seven Years War WW I suggests too much of a difference between the Seven Years War and earlier conflicts, and too much of a similarity between this war and the wars of 1914-1945. Europeans have fought wars on a global theater since the 16th century. What is the fundamental difference between the Seven Years War and the wars of Philip II, III & IV or Louis XIV? These wars and the Seven Years War have important things in common: they take place in a time when European influence in the world is expanding, and are fought in part to decide which European country will be the main beneficiary of that development; these wars led to the rise of the protestant seafaring nations, in particular England, and laid the foundations of the British Empire. On the other hand, there are some important differences between the wars of 1914-1945 and the Seven Years War: some of the most important actors are not European, we see power shift away from Europe, we see the transformation of Britain of a global power into a US vassal. Besides that, these wars are connected with revolutions, mass murder and a decline of civilization that one generally does not associate with the Seven Years War.
    and what about the Napoleon wars?
    they were not global, that is true, because they were restricted to Europe and Northern Africa
    but it's not a war to be lightly forgotten somewhere between WWI and WWII either
    these were the first wars being fought on such large scale

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