October 24: A Not So Holy War

Written by Matthew Mendez, Journalist

Comic credits to Seth Knoop

October 24, 1648. The Thirty Year’s War comes to a close with the signing of the Treaty of Westphalia. Beginning in 1618 with the persecution of Protestant Christians by the Holy Roman Emperor, Ferdinand II of Bohemia, the Thirty Year’s War ravaged Central Europe. With the Reformation and the Counter Reformation occurring in Europe, Germany lay torn between Catholics and Protestants. Due to the Holy Roman Empire existing as a largely Roman Catholic collection of states, Ferdinand II decided to put an end to the so called Protestant “heresy”. The emperor initially began to curtail religious privileges enjoyed by his Protestant subjects, ultimately resulting in an intervention by leading Protestant nations such as Great Britain, the Netherlands, and Denmark. The Holy Roman Empire however, received aid from Spain and the Papacy. The Holy Roman Empire and its allies enjoyed an initial string of victories but were eventually halted by the entrance of a Protestant Sweden into the war. By 1636, France entered the war on the side of the Protestants, in fear of the Holy Roman Empire’s growing strength. Eventually, neither the Protestants or Catholics could achieve victory, resulting in the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. Though the war led to the loss of at least twenty percent of Germany’s population, the treaty firmly established the religious borders of modern day Europe.