Second Hundred Years' War
The "Second Hundred Years' War" (c. 1689 - c. 1815) is a periodization or "historical era" term used by some historians to describe the series of military conflicts between Great Britain and France that occurred from about 1689 (or some say 1714) to 1815. The term appears to have been coined by J. R. Seeley in his influential work The Expansion of England: Two Courses of Lectures (1883).
Like "the Hundred Years' War", this term does not describe a single military event but a persistent general state of war between the two primary belligerents. The use of the phrase as an overarching category indicates the interrelation of all the wars as components of the rivalry between France and Britain for world power. It was a war between and over the future of each state's colonial empires.
The two countries remained continual antagonists even as their national identities underwent significant evolution. Great Britain was not a single state until 1707, prior to which it was the separate kingdoms of England and Scotland, albeit with a shared Crown and military establishment. In 1801, Britain was united with the Kingdom of Ireland to form the United Kingdom. The period also saw France under the Bourbon dynasty, the regimes of the French Revolution and the First Empire.
The various wars between the two states during the 18th century usually involved other European countries in large alliances; except for the War of the Quadruple Alliance when they were bound by the Anglo-French Alliance, France and Britain always opposed one another. Some of the wars, such as the Seven Years' War, have been considered world wars and included battles in the growing colonies in India, the Americas, and ocean shipping routes around the globe.
The series of wars began with the accession of the Dutch William III as King of England in the Revolution of 1688. His predecessors the Stuarts had sought friendly terms with Louis XIV: James I and Charles I, both Protestants, had avoided involvement as much as possible in the Thirty Years' War, while Charles II and the Catholic convert James II had even actively supported Louis XIV in his War against the Dutch Republic. William III, however, sought to oppose Louis XIV's Catholic regime and styled himself as a Protestant champion. Tensions continued in the following decades, during which France protected Jacobites who sought to overthrow the later Stuarts and, after 1715, the Hanoverians.
After William III, the opposition of France and Britain shifted from religion to economy and trade: the two nations vied for colonial domination in the Americas and Asia. "The Seven Years' War" was one of the greatest and most decisive conflicts. France's alliance and backing of the Thirteen Colonies' revolt against Britain was successful in undermining British colonial hegemony in North America, but in turn debts from that conflict sowed the economic seeds of France's own revolution shortly thereafter.
The military rivalry continued with British opposition of the French Revolution and the ensuing wars with first the new French Republic and then Empire of Napoleon. His defeat in 1813 at the Battle of Leipzig was followed in 1815 by the Hundred Days and his final military blunder at the Battle of Waterloo, which effectively ended the recurrent wars between France and Britain. However, Britain and her allies' goal of restoring the French Bourbon monarchy in the Treaty of Paris and the subsequent Congress of Vienna, which sought to prevent further revolutions in Europe ultimately failed with the later events of The European Revolutions of 1848.
The recurrent rhetoric used in each country shifted from references to a "natural enemy" to an agreement to tolerate one another. Common interests led the two to cooperate in the Crimean War of the 1850s. A century after fighting one another (and with the mutual interest in checking the growing power of a united Germany with its Empire), the two were able to establish the Entente Cordiale by 1904, demonstrating that the "First" and "Second" Hundred Years' Wars were in the past; cultural differences continued, but violent conflict was over.
"Carthage" and "Rome"
Many in Europe referred to Great Britain as "Perfidious Albion," suggesting that it was a fundamentally untrustworthy nation. People compared Britain and France to ancient Carthage and Rome, respectively, with the former being cast as a greedy imperialist state that collapsed, while the latter was an intellectual and cultural capital that flourished:
The republicans knew as well as the Bourbons that British control of the oceans weighed in Continental power politics, and that France could not dominate Europe without destroying Britain. "Carthage"—vampire, tyrant of the seas, "perfidious" enemy and bearer of a corrupting commercial civilization—contrasted with "Rome", bearer of universal order, philosophy and selfless values.
Wars included in the extended conflict
- Nine Years' War (1688–1697)
- King William's War (1689–1697)
- War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714)
- Queen Anne's War (1702–1713)
- War of the Austrian Succession (1742–1748)
- King George's War (1744–1748)
- Seven Years' War (1756–1763)
- American Revolutionary War (1775–1783)
- French Revolutionary Wars (1792–1802)
- Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815)
- New France & British America
- French East India Company & British East India Company
- France–United Kingdom relations
- France–Habsburg rivalry & French–German enmity
- Perfidious Albion
- Buffinton, Arthur H. "The Second Hundred Years' War, 1689-1815". New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1929.
- Crouzet, Francois. "The Second Hundred Years War: Some Reflections", article in "French History", 10. (1996), pp. 432-450.
- Scott, H. M. Review: "The Second 'Hundred Years War" 1689-1815", article in "The Historical Journal", 35, (1992), pp. 443-469.
- Morieux, Renaud: "Diplomacy from Below and Belonging: Fishermen and Cross-Channel Relations in the Eighteenth Century" article in "Past & Present", 202, (2009), p. 83.
- Claydon, "William III"
- "British and Foreign State Papers", p.281
- Tombs, That Sweet Enemy, p. 208.
- Blanning, T. C. W. The Culture of Power and the Power of Culture: Old Regime Europe 1660-1789. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.
- Buffinton, Arthur H. The Second Hundred Years' War, 1689-1815. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1929.
- Claydon, Tony. William III. Edinburgh: Pearson Education Limited, 2002.
- Crouzet, Francois. "The Second Hundred Years War: Some Reflections." French History 10 (1996), pp. 432–450.
- Scott, H. M. Review: "The Second 'Hundred Years War' 1689-1815." The Historical Journal 35 (1992), pp. 443–469. (A collection of reviews of articles on the Anglo-French wars of the period, grouped under this heading)
- Tombs, Robert and Isabelle. That Sweet Enemy: The French and the British from the Sun King to the Present. London: William Heinemann, 2006.