Monday, August 16, 2021

Thirty Years War

The Thirty Years' War, which raged from 1618 until 1648, embroiled most of Europe in a conflict that dramatically changed not only the map but also the balance of European power.

It remains one of the longest and most brutal wars in human history, with more than 8 million casualties resulting from military battles as well as from the famine and disease caused by the conflict.

In 1609, Holy Roman emperor Rudolf II had granted religious freedom in Bohemia in an attempt to curb rising tensions between different sects. With Emperor Ferdinand II’s ascension to head of state of the Holy Roman Empire in 1619, religious conflict began to foment. One of Ferdinand II’s first actions was to force citizens of the empire to adhere to Roman Catholicism.

What began as an attempt to correct abuses within the Catholic Church eventually led to a number of violent conflicts within that institution as well as between nations.

While there were underlying issues which set the stage for the Thirty Years' War, the immediate cause was the expulsion of two Catholic officials by Protestants from a window in Bohemia's capital, Prague. That event, known as the Defenestration of Prague, was the result of a meeting between Bohemian Protestants upset over Catholic oppression.

The Thirty Years War was primarily fought in the Holy Roman Empire. Its destructive campaigns and battles occurred over most of Europe, and, when it ended with the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, the map of Europe had been irrevocably changed.

By the end of the war much of Germany was in ruins, the Habsburgs were no longer masters of the continent, and the wars of religion which had ravaged Europe since the early 16th century were finally over.
Thirty Years War

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