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Thirty Years' War caused by religious tensions - Essay Example

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The period of European history between 1500-1750 was filled with events and tendencies which to a large degree defined the later history of the whole world. Maybe that is why this period is also often called early modern history. Indeed, during this period the Renaissance concluded, new forms of science and philosophy emerged and laid grounds for the Enlightenment and for the appearance of the modern scientific methods, the great geographic discoveries opened up a multitude of new lands for exploration…
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Thirty Years War caused by religious tensions
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Thirty Years' War caused by religious tensions

Perhaps the most significant outcome of the religiously coloured tensions between adherents of the Protestantism and the Roman Catholic Church, that ensued from the actual religious division within Germany, was represented by the devastating Thirty Years' War of 1618-48. Indeed, it is estimated that up to one-third of the German population was lost due to military activities and ensuing diseases and famine. Historians suppose that the pre-war population level was reached only in almost a century after the end of Thirty Years' War. Economy of Germany was also in disarray due to the ruin brought in by the Thirty Years' War, so that the economic deterioration that already was significant in the second half of the 16th was further worsened. The prosperous economies that some German towns had in the late Middle Ages and in the beginning of the 16th century declined, and Germany was about to face a long period of economic depression that would end only in the second half of the 19th century (Bonney, 2002, p.74).
Considering the long-lasting consequences of the devastating Thirty Years' War, it is important to understand what factors caused its outbreak. We have already mentioned the religious factor, and it is hardly a coincidence that such an important development as the spread of Protestantism preceded the war. But to what extent was the Thirty Years' War caused by religious tensions and to what degree such factors as a struggle for power or for territories within the Holy Roman Empire were involved To answer this question let us overview the historical developments that occurred before the 17th century, and try to establish the link between the religious factor and the causes of the Thirty Years' War.
All too often it happens in history that the connection between the studied events that seems to be self-evident is by far not the only explanation but rather just a part of the general picture. In the same vein, the effect that the Protestant Reformation seems to have had on Germany was equally just a part of the story. The other characteristic of the Germany before the beginning of the Thirty Years' War, which is important for our study, was inherited from an earlier time. This characteristic is the so-called German particularism - the presence of numerous states of different types, like free cities, electorates, principalities, and ecclesiastical territories. The roots of this peculiarity of Germany go back to the Carolingian Dynasty (752-911), when Charlemagne's empire was separated into three kingdoms, but in the East Kingdom regional duchies (namely Franconia, Saxony, Bavaria, Swabia, and Lorraine) strengthened and obtained form of small kingdoms. Such eastern subdivision initiated the German particularism, when territorial sovereigns pursued their particular interests without consideration of interests of the kingdom. When the Carolingian line ended in 911 such duchies were further reinforced because now there was no direct blood heritage of the ... Read More
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