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The Silesian Wars (1740–1742, 1744–1745 and 1756–1763) were a series of wars between Prussia and Austria (and their changing allies) for control of Silesia. They formed parts of the larger War of the Austrian Succession and Seven Years' War. They eventually ended with Silesia being incorporated into Prussia, and Austrian recognition of this. It foreshadowed a wider struggle for control over the German-speaking peoples that would culminate in the Austro-Prussian War of 1866.
First Silesian War (1740–1742) 
The First Silesian War inaugurated, and is generally seen in the context of, the wider ranging War of the Austrian Succession. It owed its origins to the Pragmatic Sanction of 19 April 1713 whereby the Emperor Charles VI decreed the imperial succession arrangements as set out in his will, according precedence to his own daughters over the daughters of his (by now deceased) elder brother Joseph I. This proved prescient: in May 1717 the Emperor’s own eldest daughter was born and on his death in 1740, she duly succeeded to the thrones of lands within the Habsburg Monarchy as the Queen Maria Theresa.
During the emperor’s lifetime the Pragmatic Sanction was generally acknowledged by the German states: following his death it was promptly contested both by Frederick II, the new king of Prussia, and by Bavaria's king Charles Albert. The Bavarian king launched a claim to the imperial throne and to the Habsburg territories while Prussia demanded Silesia and a part of the Habsburg territories for itself.
Frederick II of Prussia based his demands on a breach of the 1537 Treaty of Schwiebus whereby the Silesian princedoms of Liegnitz, Wohlau and Brieg were to pass to Brandenburg on the extinction of the Piast dynasty. In 1675, with the death of George William of Legnica the Piast line had died out: at that time no attempt had been made to implement these old treaty provisions, and the Prussian Elector (ruler) had been persuaded to renounce the claim in return for a payment.
Sixty-five years on, an extensive alliance formed in support of Prussia’s newly asserted claims on Silesia. Prussia was supported by France, Bavaria, and Sweden along with various smaller European powers. The shared objective within the alliance was the destruction or at least the diminution of the Habsburg Monarchy and of its dominant influence over the other German states. The Habsburgs found themselves supported by the Russians along with the maritime powers, the Dutch and the British/Hanoverians whose imperial aspirations beyond Europe always inclined them to join available eighteenth century European wars on the anti-French side. Britain and Austria were bound by the Anglo-Austrian Alliance which had existed since 1731.
After a 2-month campaign, Prussian forces occupied Silesia, which belonged to the Bohemian Crown of the Habsburg possessions. In 1741 the Prussians defeated the Austrians in the Battle of Mollwitz near Brieg. In the Peace of Breslau of 1742 most of Silesia was ceded to Prussia and was organized into the Silesian province.
The southern portion of Silesia (with Jägerndorf/Karniow, Troppau and Teschen) remained under Habsburg control and was called Bohemian Silesia, and after 1849 Austrian Silesia. Small portions of Polish Silesia (Oświęcim, Zator, Żywiec and Siewierz) were not involved in this war.
Second Silesian War (1744–1745) 
The Second Silesian War took place from 1744 to 1745. The Austrians had lost Silesia to Prussia in the Battle of Mollwitz. This was the time when the Austrians, under the command of Field Marshal Otto Ferdinand von Abensberg und Traun, made the attempt to gain control of Silesia once again. The Prussians were again led by King Frederick the Great who had continued the expansionist policy of his father.
The Battle of Hohenfriedeberg on June 4, 1745 was fought through a “series of separate actions”, with each part of the Prussian army fighting its own uncoordinated battle. Because the Saxons and Austrians were unable to support each other during the battle they “Allowed the Prussians time to recover from their own tactical lapses and win a victory that was significant enough to give the battle’s name to one of Germany’s greatest marches”, After the Prussian victory, Frederick did not pursue the opposing armies.
In the Battle of Soor on September 29, 1745, Frederick's Prussians faced an Austrian army led by Prince Charles Alexander of Lorraine with 39,000 men. Frederick tried to obtain Graner-Koppe from Prince Charles where the Prussians met with cannon fire. The Prussians won after a closely fought battle consisting of a series of attacks and regimental fighting.
As soon as Frederick was sure the war was over the Empress, Maria Theresa, had not given up. “She became even more determined to put Prussia in its proper place by force of arms.” Seeking peace with France and Russia, she hoped to beat Prussia and gain control of Silesia once again. Frederick was informed of her movements to regain control and “responded with a pre-emptive strike.” This was known as the Battle of Kesselsdorf which was in fact won by the Prussian general Leopold I, Prince of Anhalt-Dessau; the Austrians were led by Frederick Augustus Rutowsky.
The signing of the Treaty of Dresden on December 25, 1745 ended the Second Silesian War between Austria, Saxony, and Prussia. Maria Theresa recognized Frederick the Great’s “sovereignty over Silesia in return for Prussian recognition of Francis as Holy Roman Emperor.”
Third Silesian War (1756–1763) 
This was a part of the all European Seven Years' War; Austria once more tried to get back Silesia (for the second time). The collapse of the Anglo-Austrian Alliance in 1756 meant that Britain had now changed sides, and in this war they supported Prussia against their former allies the Austrians.
After battles in 1761–1762 went well for Russian and Austrian forces, in January 1763 Austria was suddenly abandoned by her ally with the ascension of Peter III of Russia who recalled his army from within Berlin and Pomerania upon the death of Empress Elizabeth of Russia (d. 5 January 1762 [O.S. 25 December 1761]).
While Peter was assassinated himself the next summer, before Catherine the Great succeeded him and could once again bring Russia into an alliance, peace talks that were already in progress about the wider war had concluded in February 1763 — and, worse for Austria, Peter had mediated an agreement between Prussia and Sweden, allowing Frederick II's forces to consolidate his position and bolster Prussia's claims in January and February. All these events were against Austria's interests. Consequently, Prussia was then confirmed with her Silesian possessions in the Treaty of Hubertusburg.
See also 
- Showalter, 84
- Showalter, 86
- Showalter, 86
- Showalter, 86
- Showalter, 88
- Browning, Reed (2005). "New Views on the Silesian Wars". Journal of Military History 69 (2): 521–534. doi:10.1353/jmh.2005.0077.; historiography focused on scholarship in German
- Citino, Robert (2005). The German Way of War. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas. ISBN 0700614109.
- Craig, Gordon (1955). The Politics of the Prussian Army. New York: Oxford University Press.
- Duffy, Christopher (1996). The Army of Frederick the Great (2nd ed.). Chicago: Emperor's Press. ISBN 188347602X.
- Showalter, Dennis (1996). The Wars of Frederick the Great. New York: Longman. ISBN 0582062608.
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Silesian Wars". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.