the Pragmatic Sanction
The document that guaranteed the right of Maria Theresa to ascend to the throne of Austria, but which was challenged in 1740 by Frederick II (the Great) of Prussia.
War of the Austrian Succession
(1740-1748) A war started in 1740 by Frederick II (the Great) of Prussia, whose aim was to extend Prussia into lands controlled
by the Hapsburgs. Challenging the right of Maria Theresa to ascend to the throne of Austria (which was a right guaranteed her by a document known as the Pragmatic Sanction), Frederick II marched troops into Silesia. Maria Theresa was able to rally Austrian and
Hungarian troops and fight Prussia and its allies, the French, Spanish, Saxons and Bavarians, to a stand-off.
The mid-eighteenth-century shift in European alliances, whereby the expansionist aims of Frederick II of Prussia caused old enemies to become allies. Specifically, Prussia, fearful of being isolated by its enemies, forged an alliance in 1756 with its former enemy Great Britain; and Austria and France, previously antagonistic towards one another, responded by forging an alliance of their own.
Seven Years War
(1756-1763) The conflict which pitted
France, Austrian, Russia, Saxony, Sweden, and (after 1762) Spain against Prussia, Great Britain, and the German state of Hanover. Land and sea battles
were fought in North America (where it is sometimes known as the French and Indian War), Europe, and India. The European hostilities were concluded in
1763 by a peace agreement that essentially reestablished prewar boundaries. The North American conflict, and particularly the fall of Quebec in 1759, shifted the balance of power to the British. The British had similar success in India.