After France lost the 7 Years war, they were forced to give away land. No matter how little land they are forced to give, it is most likely that they will give away French Louisiana as all other land is more profitable. Because of the fact that this will not work for my alternate series of events I want to occur.

After deliberating with a couple of Alternate Historians, they told me that the only reason they would not give French Louisiana to England is if they won the 7 Years War. It comes down to of all the territories France was willing to give up, French Louisiana was both the cheapest and the least profitable, if France has to give away land, they will give away French Louisiana.

What is the smallest change I can make to history allow France to win the 7 Years War? What would the English give to France as a result of this Alternate Result?

  • $\begingroup$ Or, couldn't they reach a ceasefire under certain terms? If you both want them to not win and not give up Louisiana. $\endgroup$
    – Ranger
    Sep 14, 2016 at 22:14
  • $\begingroup$ @NexTerren that could be an interesting solution, but that just seems like it's delaying the inevitable $\endgroup$
    – TrEs-2b
    Sep 14, 2016 at 22:21
  • $\begingroup$ I'd imagine the expulsion of the Acadians from the now Canadian maritimes wouldn't have happened either, potentially leaving French in control of Quebec and the Maritimes. $\endgroup$
    – Twelfth
    Sep 15, 2016 at 17:57
  • $\begingroup$ By "simplest," I assume you meant "smallest". The former would make this opinion based, the latter is okay IMO. $\endgroup$
    – Jax
    Sep 16, 2016 at 15:48

3 Answers 3


Alexandr Buturlin is not given command in 1760, and Empress Elizabeth of Russia doesn't die in 1762.

Elizabeth's Russia entered the war mainly due to her dislike of Frederick the Great (Prussia, who was allied with England) and therefore was allied with France (and Austria, which is important). By all measurements, Russia/France/Austria were winning the war in Eastern Europe. At the beginning of 1760, Frederick the Great wrote that "I'm at the end of my resources... the continuance of this war means for me utter ruin." Things were looking good.

Then two things happened. One, Alex Buturlin was appointed commander in chief of the Russian army, which was by all accounts a colossal screw-up. The Campaign of 1760 was a disaster for the Russian army, mainly due to Buturlin not pressing his initiative. Two, Russia and Austria signed a secret treaty in which they split up Prussia - Russia would annex East Prussia as reparations for the cost of the war. However, since it was secret (as it wasn't exactly good form to divide the spoils of war before the war was over) not many people knew about it.

Then Elizabeth died childless and was succeeded by her nephew Peter III. Peter was a great admirer of Frederick the Great, and made peace with Prussia. This peace actually involved Russia switching sides in the war, and they soon marched on their Austrian former-allies. That forced Austria to the negotiating table with Prussia, and effectively ended the war in Eastern Europe, leaving France basically on their own. At that point it was pretty much the end in all but fact.

This whole chain of events, from the mess-ups of the Campaign of 1760 to the death of Elizabeth (and her replacement with a Prussian-sympathetic Peter) is known as the Miracle of the House of Brandenburg. There is truthfully no reason why it should have played out the way it did, other than sheer luck and the idiosyncrasies of Russian succession law (Peter was actually German, hence his pro-Prussia attitude, but inherited a claim on Russia through his mother).

If you remove the Miracle of the House of Brandenburg, Prussia falls in Eastern Europe. Suddenly it would be England on their own, not France, and they'd be facing a combined French-Russian-Austrian army. Fighting one vs three isn't particularly feasible. GG, France wins.

As far as what England would give to France, they'd have no real choice but to give up their North American holdings - much of Canada and the Thirteen Colonies that became the USA. This was before major "colonization" of Africa and India took place, so there actually weren't many options for what England could have given up. They wouldn't have given anything to Russia/Austria, because they had already gotten their share of the spoils (Prussia divided between them, from earlier). They could perhaps get away with just giving France their holdings in Canada, and keeping the Thirteen Colonies, but that depends on how good their negotiators are. Ultimately, France remains a major power in the Americas and England doesn't become the global superpower that we know it as.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 good idea though it seems likely that France would have been more interested in getting England's Caribbean holdings than its north American ones $\endgroup$ Sep 15, 2016 at 0:05
  • $\begingroup$ @sdrawkcabdear Hmm. That's a good point. I hadn't considered the Caribbean holdings, and thinking about it I can see it going both ways. On the one hand, the Caribbean holdings would be more valuable from the Triangle Trade standpoint, and also likely be more defensible as they're islands. On the other hand, the mainland was more populated, which means more taxes and more production (and especially more variety of production). Both would work, and I'm unfortunately not enough of a historian to make much more than a guess. $\endgroup$ Sep 15, 2016 at 18:30

John's answer is very interesting, and I think that would have changed the turn of the war. However, it might not have saved French' Louisiana at that point. It's very likely that France would have taken lands in the Caraibbean, or even India than North America.

French Lousiana

Was a huge portion of land spanning over a large portion of the USA and Canada, effectlively connecting New Orleans to Quebec. It covered all of the Mississipi river as well as all other rivers coming to it. The West of the Saint-Laurent, in what is now the Province of Quebec.

But it was essentially unmanned. French had effectively some population in the South (in current Louisiana and Mississipi, USA) and in the North (Quebec and Montreal). The rest were possessions in name. The English colonies were much more populated. And the 7 years war established a decisive English dominance over the seas. From that point, France was left unable to defend its colonies, both by land or by sea.

It results then logical that France gave away its North American colonies to Spain and England. For similar reasons, Napoleon sold the Southern part back when they got the Spanish piece back. A lot of effort, for little profit.

Possible outcome of winning the 7 years war

Imagine, as John's mention, that France would have effectively won the 7 years war in Europe with the support of Russia. That would have made that France would not have had to give away any land. England would have to return the occupied French Louisiana.

However the problems still remained. The naval superiority of England was still there, and its North-American colonies also more populated. Most likely, either during the American War of Independence, or French Revolution, or even ultimately during the Napoleon Wars, it would have left the French possession.

It is also interesting to note that that win would have had a huge impact on the American War of Independence. A weaken England would have been more keen on diplomatic outcome before its start. Or France would have supported England to avoid seeing the same fate.

But all in all, a win on European battle field would not have reinforced French Louisiana.

Keeping Louisiana

A single point during the 7 years war would have made a drastic change to the situation of Louisiana: that Quebec would not have fallen in 1759. And kept the English away through the rest of the war.

But ultimately, if you want to write an alternate History, you would need to make sure that France would have had more interest in keeping Louisiana. Maybe a big gold mine would have done the trick.

  • $\begingroup$ My current thoughts are that prior to the French Revolution, France sends the unhappy peasants to French Louisiana to colonize and farm, lessening both the effects of the French Revolution and the Famine. $\endgroup$
    – TrEs-2b
    Sep 15, 2016 at 15:45
  • $\begingroup$ While this is a fantastic answer, I think you're forgetting the butterfly effect in the results. If England had lost, they wouldn't have been in as much of a position to fight the American Revolution, and arguably would have looked for a diplomatic resolution ("Okay, fine, you can have representation"). If France had won, their debt would have been more manageable with less taxation, so there would have been less animosity between the upper and lower class. The French Revolution might have not happened at all, or at least when it did in our timeline. $\endgroup$ Sep 15, 2016 at 18:42
  • $\begingroup$ @JohnRobinson I'm not completely forgetting it, I did mention that England would probably not have gone to a full confrontation with the American, which might have delayed the independance war. And you're right that by winning the 7 years war, and not having to invest into the American War, France's financial situation would have been better and thus possibly not having the French Revolution. However, it still would not make Louisiana much wanted, costly to protect, and very likely to be seized by Americans and/or British. $\endgroup$ Sep 16, 2016 at 9:50
  • $\begingroup$ The proximate cause of the American Revolution was Egland was taxing the Americans heavily to pay for the North American part of the Seven Years War, but the ungrateful Americans didn't want to pay.... $\endgroup$
    – Thucydides
    Sep 17, 2016 at 4:52
  • $\begingroup$ +1 for French victory in Europe not meaning French victory in America and India. $\endgroup$
    – Pere
    Jan 15, 2017 at 13:26

There are two ways to look at this. Either the French can completely win the 7 years war in Europe, or they can win the overseas portion of it.

France wins in Europe

The fate of nations rests on the fortunes of battle. Nothing would more easily change the tide of the war than reversing one battle. In this case, the battle is Rossbach. In June 1757, France invaded Hannover, won a crushing victory, occupied the capital of Brunswick, and forced the Hannoverians to sign the Convention of Klosterzeven. Since King George of England was also the Elector of Hannover, he was not too keen about this Treaty and looked for the first opportunity to disavow it. He got his wish a few months later, when Frederick routed a French/German force at Rossbach (5 Nov), then the Austrian army at Leuthen (5 Dec). Britain disavowed the convention, Hannover re-entered the war, and the stage was set for the Anglo-Prussian convention, where England bankrolled Fredericks armies. This proved to be the winning combination.

Now lets flip the script: Frederick suffers a crushing defeat at Rossbach. There is no-one to confront the Austrian army at Leuthen, so the Austrians retake Silesia. Now Frederick is facing four major enemy armies (French/German, Austrian, Russian, Swedish) in his home territory. Hanover is still occupied by the French, and since George is from Hanover and cares about that land, he isn't willing to re-enter the war on Prussia's side. Prussia is sacked into oblivion and Frederick surrenders. France uses Hanover as a bargaining chip; to get it back un-razed, England has to give up some Caribbean Islands (Jamaica?) or pay some reparations. France keeps its significant colonial presence in the new world.

France wins in the New World

Britain was saved overseas by an 'Annus Mirablis' in 1759. Note that this is AFTER the war would have theoretically ended in the above scenario.

This war didn't have a clear turning point, but a succession of small changes would have altered the course of the war. Had the Seige of Ft. Carillon dragged on from 1759 to 1760 instead of the French abandoning it, had the British been repulsed at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, had the British been unable to take Ft. Niagara, the French would have been in a very good position after 3 years of fighting.

The war would have dragged on as a stalemate, but in this case the advantage would have been to the British. They had the naval power to support overseas fighting for years and they still could have worn down the French irregulars and their Indian allies with time. But the French could certainly hope for a stalemate and return to status quo by the end of 1760.

Don't Forget India

In the long run, the most important part of the 7 Years War, which is mostly overlooked, were the encounters in India. In 1757, Robert Clive defeated the pro-French Nawab of Bengal and replaced him with a British puppet. The French failed in a seige of Madras, lost a battle at Wandiwash in 1760, and then lost Pondicherry to the British in 1761. French influence dissapeared from India. Of the three power centers from which the British Raj in India spread (Bombay, Madras, Calcutta), two were won decisively from the French in this war.

One of the biggest alternate history swapperoos of all would be switching the British Raj out for the French Établissements. Had the French won, they would have much more interest in establishing and maintaining a world naval presence. They would not have wanted to sell French Louisiana, even had they lost Canada, and they would have built up a navy to challenge England.


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