Kavita Makadia `
European History: Thirty Years War
The Thirty Years War is said to be “the last and most destructive of the wars of religion.”(Kagan. The Western Heritage. Pg.408) There were many occurrences in the years preceding the war that unavoidably caused the fighting. There was conflict between the Catholics and the Protestants and the Calvinists and the Lutherans, who all believed in sacrificing for their religious beliefs and expansion of their political control. This caused strife because of people s powerful pride in their religion. At this time, Protestants in the Roman Empire were worried over the existence of an imperial and papal conspiracy to re-establish the Catholic Europe of before. The population was divided between Catholics and Protestants in Europe by the years of the War. Lutherans had gained political control in some Catholic areas as had the Catholics in Lutherans in some areas, causing them to be on edge and aware of each others threat. Catholic rulers called for the return of land to them by these Lutherans and many Calvinists, but their demands were ignored. Also, at this time Calvinism gained strong influence after the Peace of Augsburg causing the Lutherans to begin to fear their power. This intertwined with the inner conflicts in the religions between liberal and conservative followers. The Jesuits were winning back major cities for the Catholics after Maximilian, duke of Bavaria, organized a Catholic League to counter a new Protestant alliance. There was also inner turmoil in the 360 German autonomous states. The Peace of Augsburg had granted each sovereignty within its borders making trade and travel between the cities difficult. Other problems surrounded the scientific and material culture was brought to intellectuals and politicians creating anxiety of religious people. In the 1600 s the governments did not possess the proper social skills to work out international problems verbally. The tension surrounding the political and religious dilemmas was too great for these problems to have ever been solved without a war.
The political corruption is often times overlooked when discussing the Thirty Years War because of the publicity of the internal religious hostility within the Holy Roman Empire. A major battle broke out around the disputes brought about by King Ferdinand. The Bohemian kind revoked the religious freedoms of all the Bohemian Protestants. The Protestant nobilities in Prague rebelled against him by throwing his officials out the window. Later, Ferdinand became the Holy Roman Emperor, causing a Bohemian revolt, which later turned into an international war. Ferdinand, in return conquered Bohemia, and converting all of the people Catholic. This caused fear around the entire Empire that Ferdinand s mission would center on turning everyone in the Empire Catholic. The Emperor later hires Wallenstein, a Protestant, to break Protestant resistance. With the Empire leaning towards re-catholicizing, Ferdinand issues the Edict of Restitution, reasserting Catholic safeguards of the Peace of Augsburg, reaffirming the illegality of Calvinism, and ordering the return of all the church lands acquired by the Lutherans. Adolphus of Sweden became the ruler of Protestant forces in the Empire and won a fight a Breitenfeld in 1630, which changed the course of the war. In battle, Wallenstein kills Adolphus and is soon followed by Ferdinand s order to assassinate Wallenstein. “Even allies that owed one another their success were not above treating each other as mortal enemies.” (413) The evil and immorality within the governmental system of the Roman Empire only created an uncontrollable amount of bitterness amongst all of the inhabitants within Europe. By the end of the war in 1644, one third of the German population had died as a direct result of the war.
The Treaty of Westphalia, created in the several years after the end of the war “brought all hostilities within the Holy Roman Empire to an end.” (413) The Edict of Restitution was declared unlawful. This act was greatly supported and appreciated by the non-Catholic residents of the Empire. Also, as a result of the Treaty, Calvinists were given legal recognition and Protestantism s legal status was broadened, bringing religious toleration to all of Europe. All of the political entities in Germany were recognized officially and legally given sovereignty. None of these resolutions would have come about had the people not recognized the urgency of the problems that were being created within the Empire. The only way for this realization to have occurred was to break out in an international war. The pride that people felt in their religion and in their nation or state caused a great deal of hatred for the opposers of their beliefs. The Holy Roman Emperor, seeing his power and control, immediately took advantage of this by attempting to convert all of his people to believing his own beliefs. For the last four hundred years, much of Europe has remained as it had been divided in the Treaty of Westphalia, a direct result of the war. Had the war not have occurred, Europe would not as successful as today in its economic and political power.