A brief introduction to the Thirty Years War
The Thirty Years War was fought between 1618 and 1648, principally on the territory of today's Germany, and involved most
of the major European powers. Beginning as a religious conflict between Protestants and Catholics in the Holy Roman Empire,
it gradually developed into a general war involving much of Europe, for reasons not necessarily related to religion. The war
marked the culmination of the France-Habsburg rivalry for pre-eminence in Europe, which led to further wars between France
and the Habsburg powers.
The major impact of the Thirty Years' War, in which mercenary armies were extensively used, was the devastation of entire
regions scavenged bare by the foraging armies. Episodes of widespread famine and disease devastated the population of the
German states and, to a lesser extent, the Low Countries and Italy, while bankrupting many of the powers involved. The war
may have lasted for 30 years, but the conflicts that triggered it continued unresolved for a much longer time. The war ended
with the Treaty of Münster, a part of the wider Peace of Westphalia.
Over the course of the war, the population of the German states was reduced by about 30% in the territory of Brandenburg,
the losses had amounted to half, while in some areas an estimated two-thirds of the population died. Germany's male population
was reduced by almost half. The population of the Czech lands declined by a third. The Swedish armies alone destroyed 2,000
castles, 18,000 villages and 1,500 towns in Germany, one-third of all German towns.
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Wedgewood, C.V. (1957). "The Thirty Years War". Penguin Books, Harmondsworth.