• 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 ...

    According to Pope Pius XI "The first, the greatest and now the general peril is certainly Communism in all its forms and degrees." Francisco Franco was a very important political figure during the Spanish Civil War. He had great strengths, which involved leadership, power and his facility to make promises

  2. Post-Cold War Realities

    undermine U.S. regional hegemony, 5) deter Israel from attacking, 6) counter the overall military buildup of other Arab states and the U.S. since 1991.[19] A main point of contention on the international scene however, has not been Iran?s conventional buildup, but their ?alleged? search for weapons of mass destruction.

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

    His negotiating stance grew tenuous, however, after Lebanese leaders, who had previously expressed solidarity with the PLO, petitioned him to abandon Beirut to spare the civilian population further suffering. Arafat informed Habib of his agreement in principle to withdraw the PLO from Beirut on condition that a multinational peacekeeping force be deployed to protect the Palestinian families left behind.

  2. Vietnam War.

    Later, in September 1967, elections were held and Thieu became president of South Vietnam. Deepening US Involvement Unlike conventional wars, the war in Vietnam had no defined front lines. Much of it consisted of hit-and-run attacks, with the guerrillas striking at government outposts and retreating into the jungle.

  1. Moon Landing: Conspiracy or Reality?

    Much of the evidence supporting the claims that the moon landing was a hoax comes from the photographs brought back by astronauts who have been there. All the pictures that were shown to the public were completely controlled by the federal government before they were broadcast or distributed.

  2. The Spanish Civil War

    As Franco was the sole beneficiary of foreign aid this greatly strengthened his armies and was another key factor in him eventually emerging as leader of the Nationalists; his many victories had been due to the superior arms and advice he was receiving rather than any exceptional military abilities.

  1. ‘In origins andoutcome, the Spanish Civil War was a Spanish and not a European ...

    The foreign influence on the outbreak of the revolt appears to have been minimal. The history of origins indicates that civil war was a consequence of the deep polarisation in the population. The next phase of the assessment aims to analyse the influence of foreign intervention in the process of the Civil war.

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

    marked a sharp increase in the state actors compared to the end of World War II.National emancipation which started in the 1950s saw a lot of former colonies getting independence and this brought an increase in the number of actors in the international system.

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