The 30 Years War

Maddie Dolz-Lane and Jordan Good

In Summary...

It spanned from 1618-1648 and as with many wars in this time period, the 30 Years War was sparked by religious conflict. It all began when Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II of Bohemia attempted to truncate the religious activities of his subjects. This naturally lead to a rebellion of the subjects and later the involvement of major powers of Europe. Many of the battles took place on German Soil and the war is often knows for the horrific acts committed by mercenary soldiers. After, yes, 30 years, the war was ended with a series of treaties know as the Peace of Westphalia. The result of the 30 Years War caused a reshaping of the religious and political map of Europe, paving the way for the sovereign states that we know today.

Course of the War

Four Periods

1. Bohemian Period

  • War broke out in 1618 when Ferdinand ascended to the throne of Bohemia.
  • He revoked all Protestant religious freedoms.
  • 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 Lutheran 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 was defeated, Protestant resistance was broken enough that Ferdinand was able to issue the Edict of Restitution in 1629.
  • The Edict reasserted Catholic values as dominant and outlawed Calvinism.
3. Swedish Period

  • Gustavus II of Sweden became the new leader of the Protestant forces.
  • Gustavus was under the power the French and the Dutch.
  • Gustavus military genius kept the Protestant army mobile.
  • Gustavus died in battle, revealing that the Thirty Years War was a war without honor.
  • Peace of Prague in 1635 created peace between German Protestant states and Ferdinand, but not France and the Netherlands.
4. Swedish-French Period

  • French openly entered the war.
  • French, Swedish, and Spanish looted Germany.
  • Germans wanted peace but by the time the Treaty of Westphalia was made in 1644, and estimated 1/3 of the German population had been killed.


The Treaty of Westphalia

  • Signed in 1648
  • Written in French
  • Ended all hostilities within the Holy Roman Empire
  • Ended Ferdinand's Edict of Restitution
  • The ruler of a land determines the official religion of that land
  • Calvinism legally recognized
  • Switzerland, Netherlands, and Bavaria gained independence
  • France and Spain remained at war until 1659
  • Germany still consisted of many sovereign territories

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Main Significance

The Thirty Years War ended with the recognition of rights for minority religions and guaranteed the traditional boundaries of political sovereignty.