European History Pt. 10 — 30 years’ war aftermath

Last time, we looked at how Protestantism was largely saved by the actions of Gustavus Adolphus from Sweden. Further manipulation by France ensured that Germany would remain isolated, fragmented, and protestant.

Now peace finally had to be secured. The negotiation were wide ranging and constituted the greatest assemblage of European power interests since the Council of Constance in 1415. France and Sweden insisted that all of the Germany princes be represented, a clever move that ensured the collapse of the Holy Roman Empire — if all the parts of the empire had to be represented individually, then what sense was there in speaking of the empire as a sovereign political body. Furthermore, the Dutch and Swiss carved out their own sovereignty at the edges of the empire. Princes carved out the center — the new constitution of the Holy Roman Empire required all acts of sovereignty to be unanimous, a hopeless goal.

Protestants won large gains. The counter reformation ended in Germany and protestant lands seized by the edict of restitution were completely returned.

The book I’m reading also uses the peace negotiations, which eventually resulted in the Peace of Westphalia, as the high tide of religious conflict in Europe. Going forward, wars and conflicts would be much more secular, spurred by the new identities of people as “French” or “Dutch.”

Next time, we’ll look at how the smashed Spanish and the decimated German princes left things open for the Dutch, the English, and the French. And especially the French.



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