Annus Mirabilis of 1759
The Annus Mirabilis of 1759 is a term used to describe a string of notable British victories over French-led opponents during the Seven Years' War. The term is taken from Latin, and is used to denote a "year of miracles" or "year of wonders".
The war did not start well for the British; they had lost the island of Minorca, and suffered defeats in North America at the Monongahela, Fort Oswego, Fort William Henry and Fort Carillon. The British had entered 1759 anxious about a French invasion, but by the end of the year, they were victorious in all theatres against France.
In North America, the British captured Fort Ticonderoga (Carillon), drove the French out of the Ohio Country, captured Quebec City as a result of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, and captured Guadeloupe in the West Indies. In India, they repulsed French forces besieging Madras. In Europe, British troops partook in a decisive Allied victory at the Battle of Minden. The destruction of the French invasion barges and the victory of the Royal Navy over the French Navy at the Battle of Lagos and the decisive Battle of Quiberon Bay, ended any realistic prospect of a French invasion, and confirmed Britain's reputation as the world's foremost naval power.
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 mindset of the British public, reinforced 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 identified 1759 as the year which prefigured the rise of the British Empire in eclipsing France as the dominant global superpower. Much of the credit for the annus mirabilis was given to William Pitt the Elder, the minister who directed military strategy as part of his duties as Secretary of State for the Southern Department, rather than to the Prime Minister, the Duke of Newcastle. Recent historians, however, have portrayed the British Cabinet as a more collective leadership than had previously been thought.
1762 was a similarly successful year for Great Britain; the Anglo-German army again repulsed the French from Hanover at Wilhelmsthal, the army helped repulse a Franco-Spanish invasion of Portugal, captured Martinique from France, and captured Havana and Manila from Spain. This led some to describe it as a "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.