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1756

I’m now at 1,756! Man, it’s not going to take me very long at all to tear through this century.

1756 was a HUGE year! In it we have the birth of Mozart and the start of the Third Silesian War, which also marked the beginning of the Seven Years’ War.

Also, in 1755, Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna was born to Maria Theresa. I decided not to make a separate post about her, because her birth was late in the year and it seemed easier to condense it into one post.

Let’s go chronologically, shall we? 

First off the birth of Marie Antoinette:

She was born in Vienna on November 2nd, 1755 to Maria Theresa of Austria and Holy Roman Emperor Francis I, and was their 15th child.

She had a reasonably happy and comfortable childhood, where she was encouraged to play with “common” children and enjoyed a lax court atmosphere where she was known by the name of Antonia. She loved dolls and was an excellent dancer, as well as a reasonably talented musician and singer, but she neglected her other studies. 

She was very close with her older sister Maria Carolina, because, as the two youngest girls, they shared governesses. 

However, she was somewhat neglected by her mother, and said later that she feared Maria Theresa more than she loved her. Such neglect is a little understandable with the perspective that the Empress of Austria had nearly all her children during a war, and that war was, more often than not, with Prussia. For instance, at the time of Marie Antoinette’s birth, Austria was preparing to initiate the Third Silesian War, the nation’s third and final attempt to take Silesia back from Prussia.

Which brings us to 1756! 

As mentioned in my previous post on the year 1740, King Frederick the Great of Prussia leapt into action the moment he ascended and took the Duchy of Silesia. Maria Theresa had been encouraged to fight for the region rather than give in to the initial deals of the Prussians by her advisers, but the Austrian army failed dismally at protecting the region. 

Austria attempted to take Silesia back in 1744, in what is now known as the Second Silesian War, which is part of the larger War of Austrian Succession, but again failed dismally. During one of the battles, the Prussians secured such a decisive victory that one of the most famous German marches has been written about it: The Hohenfriedberg March. 

The Third Silesian war began in 1756, and it was part of the larger Seven Years’ War, which was very much a global conflict:

The green is Austria, France, Spain, Russia, Sweden, and others, while the blue is Prussia, England, Portugal, and others. 

Maria Theresa worked hard to gain more allies for this attempt at Silesia, and, while England switched sides and joined Prussia in 1756, she still had a very formidable army.

Things went very well at the beginning, and Austria faced the possibility of finally gaining the Duchy back. However, in 1763, they were abandoned by their Russian ally when a new monarch ascended to the throne, and things quickly declined from there.

Other sub-wars going on during the greater conflict of the Seven Years’ War included the French and Indian War, in which England and France battled in North America. This war is notable for its use of Native American allies on both sides, hence the name. The war initially went very badly for Britain, with several failed campaigns and heavy losses.  In the end they managed to win by sheer numbers, as France focused most of their military effort on fighting Prussia on the European continent.

The repercussions of the French and Indian War, such as the increased taxes on the colonists and the setting of boundaries to westward expansion, would later feed into the unrest that lead to the War of American Independence a few years later. 

Our final notable event for the year 1756 is the birth of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart!

Mozart was born in Salzburg, Austria, on January 27th, 1756, and his baptismal name is Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart.

From a very young age he showed musical talent, and was composing bits of music when he was only 5 years old. His father, who was deputy Kapellmeister for the Archbishop of Salzburg, recognised his son’s talents and immediately went on tour with him, billing him and his sister as musical prodigies. They visited the courts of Prague, Vienna, Paris, London, and many others, and Mozart met many composers who would influence his work.

After this three-year tour, he had a short rest before leaving with his father to Italy, where his father hoped he would gain patronage. These hopes were unfulfilled, but Mozart did grow as a composer as a result of the tour. 

He also, incidentally, became a sort of pirate. No, not the sea-faring ones of the Caribbean, but a thief of intellectual property. When he was in Rome, he heard Gregorio Allegri’s Miserere, performed in the Sistine Chapel. The piece was a closely guarded secret of the Vatican, but after hearing it just twice, Mozart was able to produce an unauthorised copy of the sheet music from memory.

So there you have it, Mozart the Music Pirate.






  1. bunniesandbeheadings a dit : Ah, the art of piracy. I’ve also read that people used to pirate Shakespeare’s plays using a similar method as Motzart but with less memorization and more smuggling in paper and pens to the theater. Still fascinating!
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