History: Christian/ Thirty Years War term paper 13425

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The Thirty Years' War was a defining moment in the 17th century of Europe. The dynastic ambitions of many countries resulted in war over certain land. Religion also played a similar factor in the Thirty Years' War. When the war was being fought at first it began as a religious war but as it progressed it became more political. The importance of religion was secondary to the dynasties will to control certain areas of Europe.

When the Peace of Augsburg was signed in 1555, it settled the disputes between the Lutherans and Catholics. It said nothing about the practice of Calvinism. The two Holy Roman emperors, Matthias and Ferdinand II, were determined to rid of Protestantism and to rule Germany.

In Bohemia the Hugenots, (Protestants) rejected the idea of having a Habsburg as a king. Frederick of Palatinate who was the Calvinist ruler in Bohemia went to war with the Habsburgs. When two of the Kings governors came to visit, Bohemia Protestant noblemen threw them out of a window. This was known as the Defenestration of Prague. In response to this Ferdinand of Habsburg, soon to be elected Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II decided to take action against Frederick V. Since both sides were convinced that they were fighting for a holy cause each leader began to gain some allies. In the end, however, Bohemia was made Catholic, and the Spanish took over Frederick of Palatinate's land.

Another religious cause for fighting the war the Catholic Counter Reformation was making an impact on Germany. Protestant Germans were worried about the influence of the Catholic Church on the Lutheran states. Cardinal Richelieu wanted to defeat the Habsburgs. He was sending diplomats everywhere to gain allies against the Habsburgs. When Adolphus was attacking Germany, Richelieu was negotiating with the German Catholic states. He wanted to make them feel that if they cooperated that they would be fine as they were.

After Ferdinand had taken Bohemia, he invaded northern Germany. The Protestants were in fear. Christian IV, the king of Denmark, led an army into Germany in defense of the Protestants but was easily defeated. After defeating Christian, the Holy Roman Emperor sought to recover all church lands secularized since 1552 and establish a strong Habsburg presence in northern Germany.

There were also major political motives for fighting this war. The Dynasties had goals to conquer certain lands that others had. This would evolve as the major reason for fighting the war.

When Emperor Ferdinand needed a leader to lead his private army he hired Albert of Wallenstein. Wallenstein fought for him, then over time used the army for his personal goals. In fear of Wallenstein having too much power Ferdinand fired him as commander of the army. After time, however, Wallenstein was hired again. When Wallenstein defeated Christian IV, Emperor Ferdinand issued the Edict of Restitution. This meant that all the land that was taken by the Protestants in 1552 now belonged to the Catholic Church.

Political motive is being established by the issuing of the Edict of Restitution.

When Sweden joined the war in 1629 Adolphus wanted to control the whole Baltic trade route and wanted the Habsburgs to be defeated. Leading one of the most advanced armies with the mobile cannon, the Swedish were able to defeat Wallenstein. When they fought at the battle of Lutzen in 1632 Adolphus was killed and Wallenstein withdrew. The German princes were now siding with Ferdinand. The Emperor annulled the Edict of Restitution, which left the Swedes isolated in Germany.

When the war was going on the Catholic kings of France were willing to join anyone of any religion to defeat the Habsburgs. Cardinal Richelieu was paying many people to keep armies in Germany to hold off the Habsburgs. The French, Dutch, Swedes, Protestant Germans were attacking the lands that the Habsburgs had control owning.

In itself the France and Spain were having a huge war. The ambitions of the dynasties were to control as more than the other. When it came time to go to the bargaining table, each side wanted to have the upper hand over the other. When the war was coming to an end there was a treaty signed in 1648 known as the Peace of Westphalia. The Peace of Westphalia blocked the Counter Reformation and blocked the Habsburgs. It renewed the Peace of Augsburg, and added Calvinism as an acceptable practice of faith. Each German state became independent.

At the end of the Thirty Years' War the main outcome was the division of lands. The whole concept of fighting the war was lost. Religion, instead of being number one priority became number two. The dynastic ambitions of the Monarchies were more important. This was the last and final religious war. There would be no more in Europe after this. By the end of the seventeenth century Protestants and Catholics expected to gain no more land by fighting.


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