Annus Mirabilis of 1759
The Annus Mirabilis of 1759 took place in the context of the Seven Years' War and Great Britain's military success against French-led opponents on several continents. The term is taken from Latin and is used to mean year of miracles or year of wonders.
It was particularly well received by the British public as it came following several years of disasters since the beginning of hostilities in 1756 marked by the loss of Minorca and defeats at the Battle of the Monongahela, the Battle of Oswego and the Battle of Fort William Henry. The British had entered the year anticipating a French invasion of Britain, but ended it dominant in all theatres in which they faced France.
In North America, the British captured Fort Ticonderoga, drove the French out of the Ohio Country, conquered Quebec as a result of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, and captured Guadeloupe in the West Indies. In India, they repulsed the French Siege of Madras. In Europe, British troops took part in a major Allied victory at the Battle of Minden. The victory of the Royal Navy in the sea battles of Lagos and Quiberon Bay ended any real prospect of a French invasion. Britain gained almost total supremacy of the seas and would retain it for more than a century and a half.
The succession of victories led Horace Walpole to remark, "Our bells are worn threadbare with ringing for victories". Several of the triumphs assumed an iconic place in the eyes of the British public, and this was borne out by representations in art and music such as the popular song "Heart of Oak" and the later painting The Death of General Wolfe. Frank McLynn has identified 1759 as the year which prefigured the rise of the British Empire in eclipsing France as the dominant global power. Much of the credit for the British success was given to William Pitt the Elder, who directed strategy as part of his duties as Secretary of State for the Southern Department, rather than to the Prime Minister, the Duke of Newcastle – although recent historians have portrayed the British cabinet as a more collective leadership than had previously been thought.
1762 was a similarly successful year for the British; they resisted a Franco-Spanish Invasion of Portugal, captured Martinique from France, and Havana and Manila from Spain. This led some to describe it as the "Second Annus Mirabilis".
- Anderson p.298
- McLynn p.1-5
- Anderson, Fred (2001), Crucible of War: The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754–1766, Faber and Faber.
- Longmate, Norman (1993), Island Fortress: The Defence of Great Britain, 1603–1945, Harper Collins.
- McLynn, Frank (2005), 1759: The Year Britain Became Master of the World, Pimlico.
- Middleton, Richard (1985), The Bells of Victory: The Pitt-Newcastle Ministry and the Conduct of the Seven Years' War, 1757–1762, Cambridge University Press.
- Simms, Brendan (2008), Three Victories and a Defeat: The Rise and Fall of the First British Empire, Penguin Books.