1759: The Year Britain Became Master of the World by Frank McLynn

By Frank McLynn

If now not for the occasions of 1759, the whole historical past of the area may were varied. known as the "Year of Victories," 1759 was once the fourth yr of the Seven Years, or the French-and-Indian warfare and defeat of the French not just prepared the ground for the worldwide hegemony of the English language but additionally made the emergence of the USA attainable. Guiding us via England's conquests (and frequently tremendous slim victories) in India, North the United States, and the Caribbean, Frank McLynn (Wagons West) controversially means that the start of the nice British Empire used to be extra as a result of success than of rigorous making plans. in addition to stirring depictions of the 2 maximum battles of 1759, Quebec and Quiberon, McLynn comprises anecdotes of the highbrow and cultural leaders of the day—Swedenborg, Hume, Voltaire—and interweaves fundamental assets, starting from fabric within the Vatican data to oral histories of local americans, in a super chronicle of a pivotal yr in international history.

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The luckless pope Clement XIII spent most of his pontificate vainly pleading for leniency for the Society of Jesus against its enemies in France, Spain and Portugal before finally accepting the political reality of superior power ruthlessly deployed. It took Frederick of Prussia and Catherine the Great of Russia to save the Jesuits from extinction. From the Anglo-French point of view probably the British were the greater losers from these events. Despite the supposedly historic ties of friendship between Lisbon and London, Pombal identified the British as the major threat to his ambitions in Latin America.

Clement’s ‘interventionism’ had already drawn the fire of Frederick of Prussia, who forged a papal brief, dated 30 January 1759, in which he congratulated the Austrian Marshal Daun for the victory at Hochkirch. The future great and good, and the notorious and controversial, enjoyed mixed fortunes in 1759. George Washington married Martha Dandridge Curtis, a wealthy, twenty-seven-year-old widow and mother of two, and proceeded to lose much of her fortune in unwise speculation in tobacco plantations.

Shawnee Indians on the Pennsylvania/Virginia border attacked settlers in October 1759 and wiped out entire families. The militia overtook the marauders in Highland County and fought a few inconclusive skirmishes before the Shawnees broke off and withdrew. The dogged militia caught up with the raiders again near the present border with West Virginia and this time managed to kill some twenty warriors. But for a time the worry was that the Shawnees and Cherokees might make common cause and set the entire south alight, thus possibly enabling the French to avoid what otherwise looked like certain defeat in North America.

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