The 30-Year War

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The 30-Year War

The thirty years of war made a tremendous change in western Europe in regards to social, political and religious impacts (Myers). On the religious concept, one of the major consequences is that the Holy Roman Empire and the Catholic Hapsburgs at the end of the war were not able to dictate any longer the religious beliefs to a significant portion of the Europeans. After the war came to an end, the princes of Germany were allowed to announce their affiliations, and this made western Europe change to a great deal. Besides, all the princes of Germany as well had the right to declare their provinces as either Calvinist, Lutheran or Catholic and this led to the creation of divisions throughout Europe which were based on religious alignment with Calvinism taking the northern part of Europe, Catholicism in the south and Lutheran on the central part of Germany. The end of the war did not signify the end of religious disputes between the different religious groups as the separation of the faiths made it so that the event was the last real religious war front.

Socially, there were various impacts that resulted from the 30-year war, as numerous problems were evident for the peasants as well as the working individuals. Huge amounts of money were required to fund the large armies to fight in the prolonged war. Due to this, there was not enough money, and thus, the only possible solution was to heavily tax the citizens who belonged to the states that engaged in war. Another change was that agricultural production declined as people concentrated in war, and this led to troubles feeding the families. Besides low agricultural productivity, general famine as well as diseases swept across Europe being severe where the armies passed and coupled with attacks by peasants, there was massive impacts. The intermittent outbreaks, along with the war, led to the loss of thousands of lives, and this reduced the German population by one-third. Due to the fall of the Holy Roman Empire and the Hapsburg, there was a drastic change in western Europe in regards to power balance as it shifted from Rome and religion to a more securely-based set of nations which were more interested in non-religious affairs, economics and trade (Stollberg-Rilinge).

There are various reasons that led to the 30-year war. One of the reasons is, with emperor Ferdinand II’s ascension to power in the Holy Roman Empire in the year 1619, religious conflicts began (Ingrao). The emperor’s initial action after rising to power was to force the citizens of the empire to stick to a single religion, that is Catholicism, and this was against the law regarding freedom of religion in that religious freedom had been granted as part of the Peace of Augsburg. Another reason for the war is the keystone of the Reformation that was signed in 1555, in the Peace of Augsburg’s fundamental tenet was “Whose realm, his religion” that provided the princes of states within the realm to adopt either Catholicism, Calvinism or Lutheranism within the respective domains.

The thirty-year war was fought by the various protestants and catholic states in the fragmented Holy Roman Empire but graduated from involving most of the great European powers. The war was fought in different ways. The states involved in the war employed a relatively large mercenary army, and since the initial cause of the war was religious, it slowly progressed to becoming less religious and more politically motivated. The war was fought in four phases that included Bohemian, Danish, Swedish and French (Wilson). The first two that is Bohemian and Danish were local and religiously motivated while Swedish and French were continental and politically motivated.

Works Cited

Ingrao, Charles W. The Habsburg Monarchy, 1618–1815. Vol. 21. Cambridge University Press, 2019.

Myers, Kenneth A., ed. Nato–the Next Thirty Years: The Changing Political, Economic, And Military Setting. Routledge, 2019.

Stollberg-Rilinger, Barbara. The Holy Roman Empire: A Short History. Princeton University Press, 2018.

Wilson, Peter H. “The Thirty Years War, 1618–1648: A Quatercentenary Perspective.” (2019): 227-245.

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