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Osprey Essential Histories 29 : The Thirty Years' War 1618-1648

More than three and a half centuries have passed since the Peace of Westphalia ended the Thirty Years' War (1618-48) but this most devastating of wars in the early modern period continues to capture the imagination of readers. Beginning as a religious and political conflict within the Holy Roman Empire (the mosaic of principalities and territories that made up Germany), the war proved long-lasting both because of the complex issues at stake and because the principal European states were drawn into the conflict. It was one of the first wars where contemporaries stressed the importance of atrocities, the horrors of the fighting and also the sufferings of the civilian population. Among the kings who made the vital decisions of the war are the Habsburg Emperors, Ferdinand II and Ferdinand III, Philip IV of Spain, Louis XIII of France and the Scandinavian rulers, Christian IV of Denmark and Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, the 'lion of the north'. But the period is also noted for the significance of the kings' advisers, statesmen such as Olivares in Spain, Cardinal Richelieu and Mazarin in France, and Oxenstierna in Sweden. The war brought to the fore the talents of numerous generals but the ambitions of commanders coupled with the logistical requirements of mercenary armies ensured that the conflict was difficult to resolve. When peace finally came to be made in the years between 1643 and 1648, the rival ambitions of Protestants and Catholics, of France, Sweden and the German states, as well as of Spain and the Netherlands, had to be contained by the plenipotentiaries meeting at Westphalia. The Thirty Years' War remains a conflict of key importance in the history of the development of warfare and the 'military revolution'. It marked a turning point in the extent to which states would involve themselves in large-scale military conflicts for the sake of religious and constitutional issues in addition to their normal strategic concerns. The modern European 'states system' has been influenced decisively by the events of the Thirty Years' War and the settlement that resulted. Text by Richard Bonney.

    Contents
  • Introduction
  • Chronology
  • Background to War : The Making of Alliances
  • Warring Sides : Protestant Divisions and Unifying Issues in the Catholic Alliance
  • Outbreak : The Bohemian Rebellion 1618-1648
  • The Fighting : War in Germany 1621-1648
  • Portrait of a Soldier : The Mercenaries
  • The World around War : The Impact of War
  • Portrait of a Civilian : Witness Accounts
  • How the War Ended : Negotiating for the Future
  • Conclusion and Consequences : A Permanent Settlement?

 

Osprey Essential Histories


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