Wars between 1600 – 1800 that were important to American colonists: the Thirty Years War (1618 to 1648); the three English Civil Wars (1642-1651); the French and Indian War (1754-1763); and the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783).
Wikipedia has some great summaries, so, due to their rules of use, below we borrow heavily from Wikipedia.
The Thirty Years’ War
The Thirty Years’ War was a religious war fought over a thirty-year time period from 1618 to 1648, involving most of the major European powers. It mainly took place in the territory of Germany. Beginning as a religious conflict between Protestants and Catholics in the Holy Roman Empire, it gradually developed into a general war involving much of Europe, for reasons not necessarily related to religion. The war marked the culmination of the France-Habsburg rivalry for pre-eminence in Europe, which led to further wars between France and the Habsburg powers.
The major impact of the Thirty Years’ War, in which mercenary armies were extensively used, was the devastation of entire regions scavenged bare by the foraging armies. Episodes of widespread famine and disease devastated the population of the German states and, to a lesser extent, the Low Countries and Italy. Over the course of the war, the population of the German states was reduced by about 30%. The male population of the German states was reduced by almost half. The population of the Czech lands declined by a third. The Swedish armies alone destroyed 2,000 castles, 18,000 villages and 1,500 towns in Germany, one-third of all German towns.
The English Civil Wars
The English Civil War (1642-1651) was actually three distinct armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists. The first (1642-1646) and second (1648-1649) civil wars pitted the supporters of King Charles I against the supporters of the Long Parliament, while the third war (1649-1651) saw fighting between supporters of King Charles II and supporters of the Rump Parliament. It was more than a secular war, religion played perhaps the major role. For example, the First Civil War came to a head when King Charles I appointed William Laud as the Archbishop of Canterbury; Laud aggressively attacked the Presbyterian movement and sought to impose the full Anglican liturgy. The controversy eventually led to Laud’s impeachment for treason by a bill of attainder in 1645, and his subsequent execution. The Civil Wars ended with the Parliamentary victory at the Battle of Worcester on 3 September 1651.
Another complicating factor was that King Charles I was not just King of England, but also of Scotland and Ireland. For example, the English Civil Wars began when King Charles I tried imposing an Anglican Prayer Book upon Scotland, and when this was met with resistance from the Scotch Covenanters, he needed an army to impose his will. However, this forced him to call an English Parliament to raise new taxes to pay for the army. The English Parliaments were not willing to grant Charles the revenue he needed to pay for the Scottish expeditionary army unless he addressed their grievances. By the early 1640s, Charles was in a state of near permanent crisis management. For example, in August 1641, Charles finally agreed upon terms with the Scotch and their armies invading England, but two months later the Irish Rebellion of 1641 broke out, putting him back into financial and political crisis.
The Civil Wars led to the trial and execution of Charles I, the exile of his son, Charles II, and replacement of English monarchy with first, the Commonwealth of England (1649-1653), and then with a Protectorate (1653-1659), under Oliver Cromwell’s personal rule. The monopoly of the Church of England on Christian worship in England ended with the victors consolidating the established Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland. Constitutionally, the wars established the precedent that a British monarch can not govern without Parliament’s consent, although this concept was established only with the Glorious Revolution later in the century. Read more about the English Civil Wars here.
The French and Indian War
The French and Indian War (1754-1763) was the North American chapter of the Seven Years’ War. The name refers to the two main enemies of the British: the royal French forces and the various American Indian forces allied with them. The conflict, the fourth such colonial war between France and Spain on one side, and Great Britain on the other side, resulted in the British conquest of all of New France east of the Mississippi River, as well as Spanish Florida. The outcome was one of the most significant developments in a century of Anglo-French conflict. France’s colonial presence north of the Caribbean was reduced to the tiny islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon. Spain lost Florida, but to compensate its ally, Spain, for its loss of Florida, France ceded its control of French Louisiana west of the Mississippi.
The American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War (1775-1783), also known as the American War of Independence, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and (only) thirteen British colonies on the North American continent. Foreign nations, including France and Spain, later allied with the American colonists and still later declared war on Britain.
Throughout the war, the British were able to use their naval superiority to capture and occupy coastal cities, but control of the countryside (where 90% of the population lived) largely eluded them due to relatively small army that Britain put into the American campaign. England could hardly risk taking more of their troops to American, at a time when France and Spain could very well have decided to invade England.
In early 1778, shortly after an American victory at Saratoga (where an entire British army surrendered) France signed a treaty of alliance with the United States, and declared war on Britain that summer. French involvement proved decisive, with a French naval victory in the Chesapeake leading to the surrender of a second British army at Yorktown in 1781.
At that point Spain and the Dutch Republic also went to war with Britain over the next two years. In 1783, the Treaty of Paris ended the war among the countries, with all recognizing the sovereignty and independence of the United States within the territory bounded by what is now Canada to the north, Florida to the south, and the Mississippi River to the west.