A brief overview of the Thirty Years´ War

Callot, Plundering and torching of a village


Callot, Plundering and torching of a village
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Corporative and denominational differences between the Protestant Nobility and Catholic House of Habsburg´s Emperor Ferdinand II led to revolt in Bohemia in 1618. The "Prague Defenestration" and the election of a Bohemian king led to the beginning of the Thirty Years´ War.

During the first phase of the war Ferdinand II seemed to be the master of the situation and kept the upper hand supported by the Catholic princes, when Denmark´s Protestant king entered the war. The Danes were also defeated and had to conclude the Peace of Lübeck after the occupation of Holstein.

The tide turned when the Swedish king Gustavus II Adolphus landed in Pomerania in 1630. The Swedish had felt threatened by the suppression of Protestants in the Reich and by the plans for a Habsburg fleet in the Baltic. The Swedish king was able to push forward over the territories of the religious principalities of the Middle Rhine as far as Munich. On November 16, 1632, Gustavus II Adolphus lost his life in the Battle of Lützen.

The Peace of Prague of 1635 concluded this phase of the war. Meanwhile, the battle between the European Powers had lost its denominational character: Catholic France allied with Protestant Sweden against the Catholic emperor.

As it became clear that the emperor could no longer win the war, the political parties agreed on taking up negotiations in Münster and Osnabrück, which finally began in 1643. Outside these two "cities of peace" the war was raging on. After five years of negotiations the Peace of Westphalia was officially signed in October 1648. Earlier that year the Spanish-Dutch Peace had been concluded, granting national independence to the northern Netherlands.


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