Holy Roman Emperor Charles the VI had no sons and spent his life securing the inheritance of his daughter, Maria Theresa Walburga Amalia Christina, commonly known as Maria Theresa. On Charle’s death in 1740, the nations of Europe repudiated their signed treaties and took up arms to dismember her realm. They realized too late that Maria Theresa was no mere slip of girl, but one of the toughest women in history and a bloody eight year war was the result.
This war ended just six short years before Washington’s expedition and the battle of Fort Necessity. It took a heavy toll in the Northern British colonies and would be as relevant to the men of Massachusetts as the first Persian Gulf war is to Americans today.
In Europe, Saxony, Prussia, Bavaria, France and Spain all made war upon Austria. Extensive and bloody battles were fought across southern Germany and in the Low Countries. This potential upset to the balance of power greatly alarmed Britain but a formal declaration of war did not come until 1744, even though King George II entered the war in his capacity as elector of Hanover in 1742 and personally won a great victory against the French at Dettingen in 1743. The appointment of Marshal de Saxe reversed all of this for the French. In 1745, the lily banners rapidly overran Belgium (one of Maria Theresa territories at that time) and French ships returned Bonnie Prince Charlie to Scotland. His rebellion forced the British Army to withdraw from Europe and Hanover, King George II’s ancestral home, quickly fell to the French.
The war reach North America in the summer of 1744. Indian’s allied to the French raided the fishing port of Canso and the capital of British Nova Scotia, Annapolis Royal and besieged Fort Ann. The fort was saved by the arrival of troops and supplies from Massachusetts. In 1745 William Pepperrell took command of a force of about 3,500 Massachusetts, 500 Connecticut and 450 New Hampshire troops to capture the fortress of Louisbourg after a six week siege. The following November, French and Indian forces raided and destroyed the village of Saratoga, New York and caused all settlements north of Albany to be abandoned. Extensive and devastating raids took place along the both the Massachusetts and New York frontiers in 1746, including attacks on Schenectady, New York and Fort Massachusetts in Western Massachusetts. The French Navy attempted to retake Louisbourg that year, but was decimated by storms and disease and never reach Cape Breton Isle. Indian Raids would continue until the war ended in 1748. Fighting in Acadia and Nova Scotia continued until the expulsion of the Acadians in the opening stages of the French and Indian War.
Conflict ended with the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748. The Massachusetts actions at Louisbourg represented the only bargaining chip in British hands during the negotiations. Britain traded Louisbourg back to the French for the return of Madras in India and withdrawal of French troops from the Low Countries and Hanover, restoring English positions in Europe. News of this decision was bitterly received in the Colonies. Border disputes in the Ohio country and Nova Scotia and concerns of colonial security against Indian raids went unresolved making a new colonial war inevitable.