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The Shaping of Modern Europe Index

Introduction to the Reformation

The English Reformation

The English Reformation : Introduction

17th Century Europe

The Conflict Begins
Sweden and France
Germany, Spain and Sweden after 1648
The United Provinces
Beginning of the Decline
Prussia
Russia
Social Conditions in Russia
Peter the Great and the Rise of Russia (1682-1725)

History Chapters Main Index

 

Chronology of the Thirty Years' War

1618 The Defenestration of Prague

1619 Protestant Bohemia refuses to offer the crown to the Emperor Ferdinand II. The Emperor defeats the Bohemians and imposes the Catholic religion.

1623 Protestant states go to war against the Emperor. Wallenstein leads the Emperor's victorious army.

1624 Protestant Dutch join the conflict closely followed by Catholic Spain.

1625 The Protestant Danish army moves into imperial territory to try to stop Wallenstein. The Danes are unsuccessful and give up their effort in 1629.

1630 The Protestant Swedish Army, financed by Catholic France, moves into imperial territory. Gustavus Aldolphus leads his troops in many victories.

1631 The Battle of Breitenfield (a Swedish Victory)

1632 The Battle of Lüten (another Swedish victory) Gustavus Aldolphus is killed in battle.

1633 Battle of Steinan (an imperial victory)

1634 Arrest and murder of Wallenstein

1635 Catholic France finances Protestant Holland as well as Sweden in the war. French troops are sent into battle against Imperial troops.

1639 Catholic Spain loses control of the Atlantic sea route.

1643 Spanish army defeated by French at Rocroi.

1648 Emperor capitulates: Treaty of Westphalia

 

 

THE SHAPING OF MODERN EUROPE

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17th Century Europe

Historians often describe this period of European history as a century of war. There were wars of conquest and liberation, civil wars and (so-called) wars of religion which dramatically changed the relationships between countries. These wars produced the decline of Spain, which was replaced by France as the major continental power. Sweden emerged as the great power of the Baltic region. Two revolutions in England produced a unique form of government, and the creation of the United Provinces introduced into Europe an energetic and powerful center of trade as well as a major cultural center.

 

The Thirty Years' War (1618 - 1648)

This conflict dominated the first half of the 17th century. In order to understand how a local quarrel within the Holy Roman Empire rapidly developed into a general European war it is necessary to look back to the period of Emperor Charles V (1519-1556).

 

Charles V

Portrait of Charles V by Titian

 

The Protestant Reformation spread first to some of the German states of Charles V's empire. He was a devout Catholic with the dream of creating a European empire with one ruler and one Church (Charlemagne had the same dream), and so he went to war against his own subjects in order to crush the Lutheran and Calvinist heresies. By 1555, Charles had to admit defeat and was forced to sign a peace treaty with the Protestants of the Empire. "The Peace of Augsburg", as it came to be known, said that the ruler of each state within the Empire could impose his own religion on all of his subjects. The Catholic princes were content because this meant that Protestantism could not spread any further, whereas the Protestants were pleased because it guaranteed the future of their faith and even gave it official recognition for the first time. It was the Peace of Augsburg that finally convinced Charles that he had failed as the greatest Catholic ruler of Europe, and he abdicated the following year. The Peace of Augsburg, nevertheless, did bring peace to the Holy Roman Empire for over fifty years, a quite remarkable achievement when we think of what was happening in the rest of Europe.

 

 

 

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