The Thirty Years‘ War

prager-fenstersturz_2-06-cThis bloody war started when some protestants throw two imperial councilors from the window of the Prague Castle. The protestants demonstrated against the prohibition of their religions. Therefore, after this dispute history got his famous Prague lintel and it was the beginning of a terrible chapter in the history of humanity.

 

Clash of Denominations

As in many wars, again religion only was a pretext of the war. Rather dynasties had interests in reshuffling the pack power politically in whole Europe. Especially because of the reason that the area of the Holy Roman Empire of German nation was separated between two catholic powers. The Spanish-Austrian troop formed one war party, whereas the other side was the French, Dutchmen, Dansk and Swedish one.

After the Thirty Years‘ War erupted the tension between the dynasties and denominations have reached the peak of intensity. Therefore, a clash was a predestination. The scenario of the war lost then control totally between 1618 and 1648. As always the first victim of the war again was the defenseless civilian population.   

Nomads of the War

The hosts of all powers attacked each other in a brutal and barbaric way and bulldozed anything they reached. They took hundreds of civilians in tow. By supporting the hosts people were expecting physical protection and also an economic basis of life. These civilians were living from the supply of their troops during the military campaign and were eating all the food what remained after the robbery.

So, in such crowd of people you were able to find families, individual persons but also criminal gangs. The fictional character „Mother Courage“ of Bertolt Brecht symbolizes this people who were sticking to the heels of the soldiers like the „Nomads of the War”. People were fleeing from poverty and incident troops. But not only to the next principality, but where one could hope for peace and food. It was simple: They were walking as far as possible. Often parents sent their children to unknown places to protect them and sacrificed themselves the bloody attacks of the soldiers. During the war people lost anything they had, therefore often the only remaining thing was the clothing on them and their lives.

The devastations of this war were immeasurable. The population and with it whole towns in many country parts were eradicated. This is also why some genealogical researches are only able to trace back to times after this war. The war and its effects destroyed and burned church books.

The Westphalian Peace

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“The Westphalian Peace”

As in many wars the troops raised the white flag when they de facto were eradicated and no victories were able to register. And this situation was the same for all participants of the war. Afterwards the participants came together to make peace in Westphalia and this is why it has the name “The Wetsphalian Peace”.  So, the clash of denominations ended and all of them including the Catholic, Lutheran and reformed denomination were treated the same.

The territorial consequences of the peace agreement are still marking the picture of Europe today. Therefore, even little political dynamics and balances of power are characterizing this historical event.

After the war the great power now had a new member: Sweden. From now on Western Pomerania and Bremen were part of this Scandinavian country. At the same time Spain was not a part of the great power in Europe anymore due to the loss Netherlands.

Germany was now just an accumulation of principalities. In succession a political and cultural epicenter was missing like the French neighbor had one in Paris. Furthermore, nearly all of the coastal regions now were belonging to Sweden. The effect of this geographic reorganization was enormous for Germany. Since it had no more access to the sea Germany did not have any colonies. Not being a colonial power in turn was effecting the upswing of the liberal bourgeoisie.

As you can imagine easily apart from that there were no flourishing landscapes in Germany. Unlimited poverty, extreme famine and depopulated areas were the daily schedule. To get a better imagination: Before the war the empire hat about 20 Mio. inhabitants whereas the war decimated this number by 15 to 20 per cent.