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The Thirty Years War Society

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Brief History of the Thirty Years War

Two skulls from mass grave at Sharfenberg
Source: Welt Online

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.

Source: Wikipedia

Select Bibliography

Parker, G. (1984). "The Thirty Years' War". Routledge & Keegan Paul, London.

Polisensky, J.V. (1974). "The Thirty Years War". New England Library, Barnard's Inn.

Steinberg, S.H. (1966). "The Thirty Years' War and the Conflict for European Hegemony 1600 -1660". W.W. Norton, New York

Wedgewood, C.V. (1957). "The Thirty Years War". Penguin Books, Harmondsworth.

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