The Great War for Empire was one of the most important factors in shaping the economic and political futures for all of Europe in the eighteenth century and for all time to come. In this essay I will discuss the causes, the events, and finally the results of this important war, which consisted of the War of Austrian Succession and the Seven Years' War.
The War of the Austrian Succession began as King Frederick II gained the throne to Prussia, and in less than a year ordered his troops to take and occupy the large Austrian province of Silesia. The leader of Austria was Maria Theresa; Although she was an inexperienced leader, she was capable of arousing other groups (like the Magyars of Hungary) to help her not re-take Silesia, but to maintain the Hapsburg dynasty as a major political power. France was also one of these powers to fight, they did not want a powerful army to emerge in Prussia and to ever become an strong enemy (ironically, that's just what happens). The wealthy British merchants pushed England to financially assist the Prussian aggressors, in the hope of weakening France and winning other fights off-continent.
The causes which led up to the Seven Years' War, were very similar to those just eight years previously. King Frederick invaded another province, Saxony, and this triggered another alliance between Austria and France with the goal to totally destroy Prussia. There was also a growing conflict facing France and Great Britain that would continue to increase in momentum. This war was the prelude to what American would call "The French and Indian War" in which these two European countries would fight for land in the Americas.
The events of the War of Austrian Succession, fortuitously for France, worked out exactly as Great Britain planned it. The French resources of war were divided between the Americas and the fight against Prussia. The eight year war was a fight between the superior army and resources of Great Britain and the strategic mastery of French generals, like Marshal Maurice de Saxe, who led many successful battles. The war eventually ended in a stalemate, with Austria not regaining Silesia, but it definitely proven itself able to fend off any other battles from Prussia--thanks to Great Britain's help. The war brought to a peace by the Treaty of Aix-la- Chapelle.
In the Seven Years' War, the issues was simply the survival of Prussia, surrounded by three powerful enemies, Austria, France, and Russia. Prussia began winning the war for many battles, but eventually it began to suffer great defeats from being overwhelmed by enemies. Prussia survived, however, because of Great Britain's financial help, and the enemy-turned-friend empire of Russia, thanks to a new leader. Prussia managed to stay strong again and the war ended with the Treaty of Paris.
These two wars resulted in changing or putting many major countries involved in a different level of power. Austria was without major land it once had, but had not developed more independence. Prussia had gained land and turned the Holy Roman Empire into an empty shell. France was put in a minor disorder, and was much worse off then previously. England benefitted the most by "distracting" French forces in the Americas and gaining a great amount of land; England became known as a true world power.
The results of the Great War for Empire changed the economic and political destinies of many countries of Europe. I believe that this entire war completely changed the destiny of the United States in the long term, and thankfully it did.