He made a halfhearted attempt to enlist the Saxon Elector as an ally, offering him Maria Theresa’s Bohemia as a bribe. Augustus scorned this vicarious philanthropy; he ordered his generals to stop Frederick’s advance, and fled to Warsaw. The Saxon force was too small to resist the finest army in Europe; it withdrew to the citadel at Pirna; Frederick entered Dresden unopposed (September 9, 1756). At once he bade his agents open the Saxon archives and bring him the originals of those documents that had revealed Saxony’s participation in the plan to chasten, perhaps to dismember, Prussia. The aging Electress-Queen with her own person barred access to the archives, and demanded that Frederick should respect her royal inviolability; he ordered her to be removed; she fled; the documents were secured.
Maria Theresa sent an army from Bohemia to dislodge the invader; Frederick met it and defeated it at Lobositz, on the road from Dresden to Prague (October 1). He returned to besiege Pirna; it surrendered (October 15); he impressed the fourteen thousand captive Saxon soldiers into his own divisions, arguing that this was cheaper than feeding them as prisoners; the German appetite was notorious. He declared Saxony a conquered country, and applied its revenues to his own needs. During the winter he published the Saxon documents to the world. Maria Theresa called them forgeries, and appealed to France, Russia, and all God-fearing Christians to aid her against the man who, by flagrant aggression, had again plunged Europe into war.
Europe generally agreed in condemning Frederick. The German principalities, fearing a fate like Saxony’s if Frederick should triumph, declared war upon Prussia (January 17, 1757), and raised a Reichsarmee, or Imperial Army, for action against the Prussian King. Kaunitz lost no time in reminding Louis XV that France had promised help in case Austria should be threatened. The Dauphine, daughter of the Saxon Elector, pleaded with her father-in-law to rescue her father. Mme. de Pompadour, who had hoped to enjoy her reign in peace, now inclined to war. In appreciation of her aid Maria Theresa sent her a royal portrait decorated with gems valued at 77,-278 livres;24 Pompadour became martial. Louis, usually slow to decide, decided with impetuous vigor. By a second Treaty of Versailles (May 1, 1757) France bound herself in defensive-offensive alliance with Austria, pledged her an annual subsidy of twelve million florins, agreed to equip two German armies, and proposed to devote a French force of 105,000 men to the“destruction totale de la Prusse.” She promised never to make peace with Prussia until Silesia had been restored to Austria. When that restoration had been consummated France was to receive five frontier towns in the Austrian Netherlands, and these southern Netherlands were to be transferred to the Bourbon Infante of Spain in return for Spanish duchies in Italy. Perhaps France was knowingly writing off her colonies to British conquest by devoting nearly all her resources to absorbing “Belgium.” Kaunitz could feel that he had won a vital diplomatic victory.
He found it easy now to draw Russia into active aid. The Convention of St. Petersburg (February 2, 1757) committed Russia and Austria each to put eighty thousand troops into the field, and to make war until Silesia had been reunited with Austria, and Prussia had been reduced to a minor power. Turning to Sweden, Kaunitz brought her into the alliance by guaranteeing to her, in the event of victory, all that part of Pomerania which had been conceded to her in the Treaty of Westphalia. Sweden was to contribute 25,000 men, Austria and France were to finance them. Poland, under its refugee King Augustus III, pledged her modest resources to the Franco-Austrian alliance. Now nearly all of Europe except England, Hanover, Denmark, Holland, Switzerland, Turkey, and Hesse-Cassel was united against Frederick.
And England was tempted to leave Frederick to his fate. George II saw with horror that his beloved Hanover, the electorate from which his father had come to rule Britain, lay defenseless in the path of overwhelming armies, with Frederick too distant and harassed to send substantial aid. The temptation was made almost irresistible when Kaunitz offered to leave Hanover inviolate if England would keep out of the Continental war; at that moment Frederick’s fate was touch and go. Pitt, who was appointed secretary of state on November 19, 1756, was at first inclined to let Prussia and Hanover shift for themselves, while England would concentrate all her martial resources upon the contest for colonies; little wonder that George II, loving Hanover, hated Pitt. Soon Pitt changed his mind, and declared that a France victorious against Frederick would be master of Europe, and soon of England too; Parliament must vote money for Frederick and troops for Hanover; France must be made to spend herself in Europe, while England would pluck colonies and markets out of the conquered seas.
So in January, 1757, Britain signed a second alliance with Prussia, promising subsidies to Frederick and soldiers to Hanover. But then, suddenly, Pitt was dismissed (April 5), politics befuddled policy, help to Frederick was delayed, and for almost a year he stood alone, with 145,000 men, against armies converging from every quarter upon him: in the west 105,000 troops from France and 20,000 from the German states; in the south 133,000 from Austria; in the east 60,000 from Russia; in the north 16,000 from Sweden. And on that same day which saw Pitt fall, the Emperor Francis I—the usually amiable and docile husband of Maria Theresa—officially branded Frederick as an outlaw, and called upon all good men to hunt him out as an impious enemy of mankind.