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Europe -- The Thirty Years' War

By Michael Johnathan McDonald

Important to understand that the war begun as a religious war, and half-way through the stakes changed to that of a war for trade, for boarders, and for regional influence.

The Thirty-Years' War was a benchmark in time. This is the mother of all religious wars. Some consider it the last of the middle ages wars. Some call it the first modern war. All in all, this was a transitional war. First the war starts off as a religious war between the Catholics and the Protestants. Then this progresses into a war over nation’s boundaries.

Over long wars people usually change opinions and the changes are seen in the nations involved. This war caused allot of havoc, yet significant changes come out of the result.

First there are little wars in Germany. The Lutherans

The Religious Peace of Augsburg, 1555

A truce comes and fighting stops, but the treaty left loose ends. It did not settle anything. then more fighting erupts. “ Do people have to change if a prince changes his religion. So there is a lot of jocking for power. The Thirty-Year war begins in the Holy Roman Empire ( Germany was in the empire).Ther ewere mostly Germains in the Holy Roman Empire. In Czechoslovakia there Checks and some German settlers who were middle classmen and women. The Checks were mostly peasants and thus Catholics. The Middle cases were mainly protestants ( Lutherans). The nobles were spit on the issue. The ruling population were Germans because they made up the bulk of the population, yet it was the elite ( Aristocracy - Higher than nobles) who held allegiance with the Church ( Catholics). They had the money to field troops for wars. So did the middle class, who had less money, yet were not poor. So the peasants are hired by Catholics because they were mainly Catholics and attached to the Empire of Spain. ( Note: In history the Spanish overlords used the  mainly poor Spanish to fight in their wars). Charles V, backed by the power of Spain. Catholics are only wealthy at this time because of the Spanish infusion and force of the Spanish Military to take Rome in 1524-'25 and force the Church to obey militarism.


The king of Bohemia died of old age. The accent to kingship in Bohemia did not always go threw the son or kids of the king. The Nobles elected the next king of their lands and even sometimes elected someone from the countryside. At the time both protestants and catholic were living peacefully side-by-side. So the election brought about a reason to begin to fight. Each side wanted their own religious king. “Is the new king going to be protestant or Catholics?” this causes agitation/tension between the two religions. The Protestants were the minority of the population. One of the candidates was a man from Austria who was a duke, Ferdinand. Bohemia held one of the seven electorates within the Holy Roman Empire. They didn’t want to loose their stranglehold on the Church with their European dominant family the Hapsburgs. They needed a Catholic king. Despite a protestant majority in the council of electors, Ferdinand of Habsburg was elected because of the pressure of the Church and the overwhelming Catholic peasantry had special interest groups that leech-off the money of the Church and the agriculture businesses by way of class warfare (i.e. racism of today by way of immigrant workers that sees institution that gives them free services by taxing the middle class, the Catholic Church). All hell would break loose as the tide of justice of the middle class was being forced by the hand of the demons that had taken control of the Church of God and turned it into a house of greed.

The slogans of the special interest groups was no protestant was a good person, he was a person that would kill all Catholics ( Modern day form of leftist vitriol of all conservatives [ middle classes] are NAZIs).

The protestants campaign slogan was “let it be a Turk or a devil, but not Ferdinand.”

The Hapsburg family kept its hold by intermarrying their family with the royalty of Spain. This created a powerful relationship that would band them together to fight the ‘heretics’ ( The words they used to describe anyone not making payments to them).

The election is held and Ferdinand becomes king. Ferdinand immediately says :” Kill all the protestants.” “You have a short time to pack your bags and get out. So, like the Spanish who kicked out all the Moors from Spain, so is Ferdinand’s passion of leftist policy – no peace for others who do not like centralized government in the hands of the few ( Like most leftist regimes). Ferdinand gives a short deadline for the protestants to leave. This will plant enmity in the protestants who cannot believe such a cruel hasty decision. The protestants protest for more time. The kings representatives say “ no!” The cruel Catholic council says “ get out now!” They begin to slaughter. At one location, upstairs, a king representatives is surveying the building to get the protestants out on time, or kill them ( Like the NAZIs) and some protestants thought them out the upstairs’ windows. The kings representatives land on a pile-load of manure – they were not hurt. Yet, this makes news all over the kingdom, and is remembered as a defiant reactionary position of the protestants who champion it and become new to fighting a battle now. It is like the western democracy nations going up against the NAZIs.

The protestants are not against God or Jesus. They are for the Bible and living by what the Bible and Jesus said, not by some Church who overtook the Bibles authority and plays gambling for dollars on the backs of the middle class so they can build lavish churches and exact high-rents form the middle class people because they own much of the land in Europe. So like the modern imperialist that wanted to take over the world and own it, the Church now is in the business of genocide of the middle class (Protestants) and taking over land.

Not everyone agreed with the Church, so the Protestants will have many people and kings who pledge to help them over the thirty years. The window episode is remembered as the 'the first Prague de-fenestration' In French the word fenêtre was the etymology of the word fenestration. The circumflex over the second “e” means that in Old French an “s” used to be after the “e.”

This window episode officially will start the 30 Years War ( Well at least in History they want you to think this) but in reality, the battle was forming because the plan was to get rid of all the protestants in Europe, just like the NAZI wanted everyone out of Europe that was not German or belonged to the NAZI government.

Ferdinand collects a Roman army and his side goes out for the Genocide. Middle class do their best to buy arms and places they can make into forts. The protestants will put up brave and courageous fights like patriots of the American Revolution and allied troops in WWI and WWII. The protestants will appeal to Northern Germany for troops but all they receive is food. They are afraid like the French were of the Hitler type NAZI forces of the Church. Some say they are afraid it will spill into Germany, yet this, in later periods of the war happens anyway as this war will turn out to entail almost all of Europe peoples.

There are four phases of the war in history:

The first is called the protestant revolt. 1618-30

Out numbered by the Catholic armies, the protestants are brave. By 1630 the Catholics win. The protestants are forces to leave Bohemia. From that time on this land was recovered for the Roman Catholics. They are happy and feel strong. What does this mean that they feel strong and happy. What happens next?
The second phase.

The German Phase brings in the Danish for the second phase. 1630-35

The second phase can be called the “Crazy Catholics” Like German troops were the Crazy NAZIs. They want to conquer all of Germany. Now it is an all German war and the ones who were afraid are now forced into the battle. The battles are fearsome and brutal.

The Danish intervention now enters the war and equals out the numbers in the competition numbers of troops on either side. By 1635 an even stalemate occurred, and the Catholics say they are exhausted and need a break. The emotional exhaustion is also felt as sentiment is felt for the protestants who were the victims in all of this from the beginning. So they call for meeting for a work out of a truce. The Catholics say “give us all your money to pay back all of our pain and suffering of not getting you land for our ownership so we can make you pay rent and keep you poor and we will stop the fighting.” The protestants say “ up yours” and the fighting’s back on. Meanwhile the protestants keep looking for other European supporters. Now the war enters the third stage.

Swedish intervention marks the thirds stage of the war. 1635-40

Gustave- Adolf was a benevolent king with a little aspirations on his part. His people loved him and he decides to help out under economic and territory conditions. He was trying to get lands around the Baltic Sea area ( on the European land) so that his little empire would be encompassed by that sea. At the time Sweden already went protestant and the new help was strong. The Swedes had gone strong and progressive with the middle class making huge progress in inventions and life ( Like America left the feudalistic South America in the dark).

The good leader Gustav, fair, but ambitious, brings his people on the side of the protestants. He truly wanted to help the protestants, yet wanted the lands for a reward. At that time Sweden captured every land around the Baltic Sea except for the Northern European parts ( Northernmost Germany area by the sea). Now the protestants start to win. What made this possibly the last middle age war, and sometimes called the first modern war?

First, because armies had not been disciplined into units like we see today, so they are still fighting like in the middle ages in bands of men. But fire arms make their appearance, and the musket is revolutionary tool for killing of men. The cannons already in use are made better and this results in mass casualties. Much of Germany’s population was wiped out. These are accurate types of muskets used in the war. So this is a gunpowder war.

The Modern Argument:
1. a gunpowder war
2. muskets are more accurate. This means there are firearms
3. Great victories won on both sides

The middle age argument:
1. No uniforms
2. Disorganization
3. no clear lines of commands as officers

Camps of people follow the soldiers and act like scavengers taking all the goods from the dead soldiers. A fad begins to torture the almost dead soldiers or severely wounded ones. Some say that it was a thrill to torture these soldiers, and this included women who conducted the gruesome scenes. Protestants act in high honor on the battle field but the Catholics do not. Some say that both sides showed forms of barbarism, like raping people and pillaging the villages when they passed. “ Crows and Wolfs” are bywords of troops. In order to devastate the lands Catholics would burn the agriculture of the enemy and run off leaving the towns people to starve to death. Some of this went on with the protestants, yet most of the fighting at first was in protestant regions. Meanwhile the iron and lead mines keep churning out weapons and is a economic boom because of the demand for the materials, making onlookers, people in power only feel benefited by the war ( What has changed?).

The result is that 1/3 of the population is wipe-out.

The Rome situation had a man named Wallenstien who was a brilliant leader and strategist. There was only one problem with him. He like to do things his way ( They should have let him, some say). He would always say “ give me a free hand, or let me go.” At that time Rome was trying to think of ways of negotiation ( You see how that went before). Most possibly the Roman Catholic controllers had Wallenstien assassinated and that turned out to be bad new for them. Now in 1640 the Catholic side looks totally defeated. Then something unusual happens in their favor. Gustav riding in the war gets shot on his horse and the Swedes pull out. Now the Catholics regroup and start making advances on the territories they had once held. Later the Catholics look like they are going to win the war.

The French Intervention is the fourth stage of the War. 1640-48

France was a prosperous nation at the time of the war. It had a population of 15 million people. They had great agriculture lands – not too many mountainous ranges in the main body of the country. Ever since the Huguenots got their peace the country had been developing at a good pace. Things were going well for the French. A king who loved not to be bothered because women, hunting, parities, entertainment ruled his daily existence, gave his daily reins over to a Cardinal who was only looking out for Frances best interests and not the protestants or the catholics.

The king Louis XIII was in a mode of don’t bother me I’m parting. Cardinal Richelieu was the personal confessor to the king and also given the duties of the day-to-day administration of the country. Other words, he was Frances main policy maker. He wanted to expand France to its natural defensive boundaries. The Pyrenees protected France for the Spaniards, the Alps from the Italians, Mediterranean sea flanked Frances southern borders and the Eastern-northern portion ( The English Channel) of its boarders need a natural defensive boundaries. Richelieu wanted to make France the most powerful country on the Continent.

His plan:

1. Secure the natural boundaries for defensive purposes
2. natural geographic structures as mountains and rivers are the objects
3. Alps, Pyrenees, English Channel, and Rein River.

Richelieu wanted a reef-valley that the Rein River was like to be the new defensive boundaries for France. In order for him to get this he didn’t care what side of the war to be on or his allegiance to the Church. Remember at this time he certainly feels life the ruler of France as the party-boy Luis XIII was off playing on a permanent vacation. “Sp what I need to do is to make the Rein River my N. Eastern Border of France.” This was his number one objective. The only obstacle was the Hapsburg family ( Who were the richest/strongest family in Europe at the time). The Hapsburg family had holdings in Austria and family members married to Spanish royalty. In southern Italy they had territories and also in Switzerland. Also, they had some territories in Holland and the Spanish Netherlands. So they are strong, but not for long.

“I need a weaker Hapsburg family, “ said Richelieu. The Hapsburg being the most rich , of course, sides with the left ( The Catholics) whose plan was to rid the Protestants and tax the populace again to economic servitude. So Richelieu, whose original name was Italian and had been change by the French so they could say it, decided to side with the protestants.

So now, on the side of the protestants, France brings in its big armies to battle the corrupted Church. This decision was for territory and not for religion. Now the Catholics are defeated again. 1648.

The peoples attitudes changed with the realization of territory battling of the French and people said “Look were not battling over religion anymore lets stop this.”

Peace Treaty of West Phalia

Precursors of what ideas will form nationalism, an idea of identification of state symbols, and state cultures.
This treaty brings the most bloodiest religion war to an end. There were large significance things that came out of this “mother of all battles.”

1. Protestants are now accepted ( because France was continuing to war as long as the Catholics wanted to make them servants to the rich).
2. No more fighting wars over religion.
3. France conjured up areas by the Rein.
4. New French weapons make war more powerful.
5. Live and let live mentality
6. Safety from persecution of ones religion.
7. Hapsburgs had been weakened
8. everyone was horrified by how bad that war had really been.
9. Germany recovered their depopulation quicker than normal.
10. Cultural changes emerged.
11. Kings will take into account discipline and lines of commands for their armies. More efficiency.
12. Uniforms for soldiers so each side can know who they are shooting at ( from a distance).
13. The creation of generals ( again in history). A line of command that you do what you are told to do but do not question in the army ( Something that is standard today in America’s Army. You had to either, in the army, take orders or get shot by your superiors. This was not laughing matter anymore. Today you are court-martialed. So there are clear lines of commands and each of the European kings take these plans into account.

Summery and Significance of the Middle Age and the End of the Religious Wars

After the Thirty-Years War kings solidify their sovereignty. Now it is back to absolute power of ruler ship. This didn’t mean that they were tyrannical, as in totalitarianism, where the absolute dictator has no regard for his people, like Saddam Hussein made up his ruler ship.

In the middle ages the nobles became the aristocracies that dictated much of the policy. It was the rich and the poor. There was no middle class to make up the conservative views. It was a leftwing power grab that lasted over 900 years. It was a sad time for the western world, yet now they are becoming right-winged and progress will follow not far behind. This is the case with all middle classes of the western civilizations. When people are given some types of freedom they excel in progress. Many of the entertainment communities who champion left-wing ideals somehow manage to become like nobles ( rich and star struck) and somehow loose reality of the hard working middle class. The peasants, for the most part, who could not become middle class because of some form of mental discrepancy always will remain left as the aristocracy ( nobles) of the middles ages and even today cater to their basic needs thought tax programs charged to the middle classes so that they can keep their power. To keep the poor ( Peasants) without an education was the number one weapon of the nobles of the middle ages to keep them dependant and left-wing throughout the period. So some opportunist tradesmen who saw their political empire devastated by the Mongols and then their own infighting managed to perk up Northern Italy, which sparked of the Renaissance to bring back education that made for the weapon to defeat the demons ( left-wing) that had take over the Church and subdued the middle classes.

After the reawakening of the Classical Times ( Renaissance) there were opportunist that said, hey I’m a noble, I cannot be taxed. The Architect of the Victory of the war ( France involvement) , Richelieu, wanted absolute power. He died during the war (Cardinal Richelieu had died in 1642).. He promised that it would be fulfilled. Another Cardinal Mazarin, an Italian, takes the position of fulfilling Frances future of greatness, but starts looting the treasures of France. The problem was that Louis dies and left a boy king who would not be of age for many years to come. The Cardinal decides to punish the boy by keeping him hidden away wearing rag-clothes and not great food; although, he manage to give him an adequate education. The boy became to resent the fiend. The difference with Mazarin and Richelieu was that the former wanted the best for France and looked out for it, while the newcomer to the position wanted absolute power of robbery of its treasures.

Marzairn’s stinginess to the boy king kept him in rags, but in the public appearances he was trotted out like a divine dove in jewels. The significance of this is that the boy-king grows up resenting him, yet garners a street sense most other kings never had. This will help him out in dealing with reality in the future as he becomes of age to rule.

Copyright © 2004 Michael Johnathan McDonald
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