Third Silesian War
Date 1756–1763
Location Europe
Result Formation of the German Empire. Austrian Army reduced.
  • Treaty of Berlin
  • Treaty of Bern
* Flag of Prussia Kingdom of Prussia
  • Flag of Hanover 1837-1866 Electorate of Hanover
  • Brunswick Flag Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
  • Hesse-KasselLandgraviate of Hesse-Kassel
  • Flag of the Kingdom of Bavaria The Kingdom of Bavaria
  • Schaumburg-Lippe Schaumburg-Lippe
* AustriaFlag Austria
  • Flag of Saxony (state) Kingdom of Saxony
Commanders and leaders
* Flag of PrussiaFrederick the Great * AustriaFlag Prince Charles Alexander of Lorraine

Frederick II of Prussia crossed the border of Saxony on 29 August 1756, one of the small German states in league with Austria. He intended this as a bold pre-emption of an anticipated Austro-French invasion of Silesia. The Saxon and Austrian armies were unprepared, and their forces were scattered. At the Battle of Lobositz, King Frederick prevented the isolated Saxon army from being reinforced by an Austrian army under General Browne. The Prussians then overran the Electorate, resulting in the Prussian occupation of Saxony and the surrender of the Saxon Army at Pirna in October 1756 which was then forcibly incorporated into the Prussian forces. The attack on the neutral Electorate of Saxony caused outrage across Europe and led to the strengthening of the anti-Prussian coalition. The only significant Austrian success was the partial occupation of Silesia. In early 1757, Frederick II again took the initiative by marching into the Kingdom of Bohemia, hoping to inflict a decisive defeat on the Austrian forces. After winning the bloody Battle of Prague in which both forces suffered major casualties, the Prussians laid siege to the city, but had to lift the siege after a major Austrian counterattack and Frederick's first defeat at the Battle of Kolín. That summer, the Russians had invaded East Prussia and defeated a smaller Prussian force in the fiercely contested Battle of Gross-Jägersdorf. Further defeats followed. Frederick was forced to break off his invasion of Bohemia, and withdraw back into Prussian-controlled territory. Things were looking very grim for Prussia at this time, with the Austrians mobilising to attack Prussian-controlled soil. In November and December the whole situation in Germany was reversed. Frederick routed a vastly superior Austrian force at the Battle of Leuthen. With these great victories, Frederick once again established himself as Europe's finest general and his men as Europe's finest soldiers. Meanwhile a combined force from smaller German states had established under Austrian leadership—and this threatened Prussian control of Saxony.

By 1763, Frederick had Silesia under his control and had occupied parts of Austria. Austria had been weakened from the war and was facing a severe financial crisis. In 1763 a peace settlemen

German Empire post-Third Silesian War

t was reached at the Treaty of Bern ending the war. The Treaty of Berlin created the German Empire.

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