30 Years War

Alex Dobbins, David Kim, and Muqsit Buchh

The War as we know it

A series of wars (1618-1648) fought by various nations for various reasons including religious, territorial, and commercial rivalries in western Europe. Ended with the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. The war began when Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II attempted to impose Roman Catholic absolutism on his domains, and the Protestant nobles rose up in rebellion. The war mostly took place on German Soil. Peace of Westphalia ended the war, and this caused religious and political map of Central Europe to be reshaped. Almost 20% of Germany’s population perished during the war, many towns and cities saw their population and trade decrease significantly, and it eliminated a major destabilizing influence in European politics.

Direct Cause

The direct cause of the 30 Years War was the House of Haspsburg's desire to bring Catholicism back to power over Protestantism.

Root Cause

The root cause of the 30 Years War was the building tension between regions of Europe over the decision to stay with the feudal system or leave it for sovereign states.

The Course of the War

. Bohemian Period

  • War broke out in 1618 when Ferdinand became the king of Bohemia.

  • He revoked all Protestant religious rights.

  • The Protestant nobility in Prague responded by injuring some of Ferdinand's regents. This is known is the "defenestration of Prague".

  • Spain sent troops to Ferdinand.

  • Spain and Bavaria enter the war.

2. Danish Period

  • Fears that Catholicism would rise to power again.

  • With English, French, and Dutch encouragement, Christian IV, King of Denmark, entered the war in 1626.

  • When Christian IV was defeated, Protestant resistance was weak enough for Ferdinand to be able to issue the Edict of Restitution in 1629.

  • The Edict centered on Catholic values and law. it Also outlawed Calvinism.

3. Swedish Period

  • Gustavus II of Sweden became the new leader of the Protestants.

  • Gustavus was influenced by the French and the Dutch.

  • Gustavus's genius military tactics kept the Protestant army together.

  • Gustavus died in battle, showing that the Thirty Years War was a dishonorable war.

  • Peace of Prague in 1635 created peace between the German Protestant states and Ferdinand. However, France and the Netherlands did not make peace.

4. Swedish-French Period

  • France officially entered the war.

  • Swedish, French, and Spanish forces looted Germany.

  • By the time the Treaty of Westphalia was signed in 1644, around 1/3 of the German population had been killed.

Important people and Groups

The Outcome


The Treaty of Westphalia

  • Netherlands gained independence from Spain

  • Sweden gained control of the Baltic and France

  • The power of the Holy Roman Empire was broken

  • German states were again able to determine the religion of their lands

  • Calvinism was legally recognized

  • France became the dominant European power

  • Holland and Switzerland confirmed as fully independent countries

  • German population decrease

Main Significance

The end of Thirty Years War brought about recognition for the rights for minority religions and guaranteed traditional boundaries of political sovereignty.