In global terms, the fate of Canada and India was the crucial issue in mideighteenth century European power politics. In the period 1774-87, the central issue was American independence. France played a major role in helping secure this independence in the face of sustained British attempts to regain control. It is all too easy to see this as an obvious course for France and to overlook the extent to which her government had choices, both as to whether and when to fight Britain, and as to how and with whom to do so. At present, the conventional view is that French policymakers in this period, and indeed from the 1750s, saw Britain as the major enemy, that this stemmed from concern about Britain's maritime power and the financial potential this gave Britain in European power politics, and that this led to a concentration on gaining the support of other maritime powers and on seeking to limit Britain's colonial and commercial growth.2