• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The Thirty Years War was a war over religion rather than politics. Do you agree?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

The Thirty Years War was a war over religion rather than politics. Do you agree? 'During the whole of the seventeenth century there were only six years in which there was no war in some area of Europe; in the first half of the century there was no year of peace at all'1. During these fifty years Europe was embroiled in a period of conflict known as the Thirty Years War. The main conflicts of this period were; the war in Germany (1618-1648), conflict between Spain and the Dutch Republic (1621-48) and war between France and Spain (1635-59). Though only four European nations are mentioned here these conflicts eventually spread and overlapped to involve every European nation to some extent. Viewed at face value the alliance division of the war into Catholic and Protestant nations lends itself to the interpretation that this was a war fought over religion. However it could be argued that though religious factors were prominent political factors too were highly important. Moreover religious and political issues can often overlap and combine to create a more complex picture. The aim of this essay will be to analyze the circumstances surrounding the three principle struggles referred to above and, using historians' interpretations, arrive at a conclusion as to whether or not these wars were fought over religion rather than politics. ...read more.

Middle

The progressive escalation of potential disasters appeared to be a dominant factor in the decision to attack a neighbor for the sake of defense. This occurred in Sweden for example where Gustavus Adolphus persuaded his government that Ferdinand II's success over the Protestant rebels and their allies presented a major threat to Swedish security. However, after winning important victories this justification for war was further modified as political ambitions took hold of Adolphus. In a sense 'defense had been transformed into a new imperialism'11. Though Adolphus' death put a damper on his more radical plans Sweden continued to fight for economic and political control of the great Baltic river estuaries. Furthermore, Koenigsberger argued that although the Protestant-Catholic antagonism remained the basic determinant, it was not the over-riding one12. As fighting progressed armies were recruited almost indifferently from Catholics and Protestants. Their generals often had private ambitions and fell foul of their employers, so much so that regiments and even whole armies would change sides13. What this shows is that as the conflict in Germany continued religious persecution was no longer the main cause of bloodshed. Instead, as time progressed, political factors such as territorial expansion, national security and personal aggrandizement became increasingly apparent. ...read more.

Conclusion

From the evidence presented in this essay it is apparent that the conflicts of the period were fought over a multitude of issues which varied depending on the particular nation in question. Yet due to the nature of the conflict between Catholics and Protestants religious factors were ever present in the motivations of Europe's leaders. It can be said that the period certainly began as a primarily religious conflict as a Catholic monarch attempted to halt Protestant rebels. The argument that this element of the conflict was fought over religion is cemented by the fact that at the post-war settlement the German princes were confirmed in the right to determine the religion of their subjects26. Though as the conflict in Europe widened it can be said that war was pursued for more economic and political reasons including personal aggrandizement and imperial expansion. Yet into these political factors were woven strands of religious fervor and conflict and vice versa. This ultimately highlights the complexity of the situation because as secular governments did not begin to develop until after 1648 religion and politics were always influencing each other. Due to this it is possible to conclude that the nature of the Thirty Years War cannot be attributed to solely Religion or Politics rather a symbiotic combination of the two. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 essays

  1. To what extent did the foreign intervention influence the outcome of the Spanish Civil ...

    During the Civil War, the Church divided into two parts, where the lower clergy supported the Republicans and the higher clergy supported the Nationalists. The lower clergy supported the Republicans mainly because they wanted to preserve democracy and for social reasons.

  2. The Prelude to the 1975 War and the Cairo Agreement.

    In the first months of 1983, approximately 5,000 government troops were deployed throughout Greater Beirut. Most important, the government began to build a strong national army. Lebanese optimism was bolstered by changing Israeli politics and policies. Minister of Defense Ariel Sharon, the architect of Israel's war in Lebanon, had resigned

  1. Post-Cold War Realities

    Due to sanctions, Iran has been fueled by a desire to gain self-sufficiency. While it would prefer conventional weaponry from the West, its lack of industry means that locally produced arms are of low quality. Therefore, Russia is regarded as the major source of needed military hardware and simply its best option.

  2. The role of partisan politics in the spread of McCarthyism

    the Communist Party working in the State Department (he later changed this number to 57). 8 After this speech, McCarthy gained widespread support, unsurprisingly from right-wing anti-communist groups such as the American Legion and Christian fundamentalists 9 and with the backing of conservative Republicans, who wielded the expedient issue of Communist infiltration to gain Congress in 1950.

  1. History of the United States

    In 1903 he aided Panama in becoming independent of Colombia, then secured from Panama the right for the United States to build and control a canal through the isthmus. In 1904, in the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, he asserted the right of the United States to intervene in

  2. Timothy W., Luke 'Museum politics: Power plays at the exhibition'

    The Washington exhibition was staged - ironically Luke says - in the aftermath of the Bush administration's victory of the Gulf War over Iraq and just before the final collapse of the Soviet Union. ' At this unique historical conjuncture, one might have thought that an America flush with

  1. Russia: a Century of Upheaval.

    and helped political refugees escaped. They also had access to printing presses, which they used to produce propaganda. However, the big men in the party had differing ideas, and when they held a conference in London, the debates were stormy.

  2. The aim of this essay is to evaluate if the end of the Cold ...

    its dynamics into the other parts of the globe such as Asia, Middle East and Africa where the hot wars within the Cold War were fought. The conflicts were fought in most parts of the world with the West backing one side and the East supporting another side.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work