Example History Essay: What was the significance of the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) for the relations between States?

Example History Essay: What was the significance of the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) for the relations between States?
The conflicts known as the Thirty Years' War fundamentally altered the balance of power in Europe. Indeed, it could certainly be argued that modern diplomacy is 'Renaissance diplomacy in disguise', largely as a result of this. The conflict forced into being allegiances and alliances that can still be seen today and which in part shaped subsequent conflicts within European nation states.
Initially, the Thirty Years' War was a religious conflict, though resulting from a 'complex sequence of events' , but it quickly escalated into a more comprehensive power struggle in the Holy Roman Empire:The Thirty Years' War may be viewed from two aspects--a European and a German one. In respect of the first, it was the last of the great religious wars, closing the epoch of Reformation and Counter-Reformation, proving to the Catholic Powers of Europe that their ideal unity was no longer attainable and teaching mankind, by the rudest possible process, the hard lesson of toleration. In respect of the second, it had a somewhat similar effect. Germany was a Europe in miniature; her nominal unity under the Hapsburgs was a parallel to the Catholic ideal unity of Europe under the Pope and the Emperor. This unity was blasted forever by the muskets of the opposing armies. But worse than this; when the war began Germany was a rich country, as the countries of Europe then went. She was really full of cities, which, though their main threads of commerce were fast snapping, might yet fairly be called very flourishing. When the war ended she was a desert.

The decimation is extremely significant since it gives an insight into why the proactive, even aggressive, aspect to German territorial diplomacy in modern terms can be seen to be historically traceable and Renaissance diplomacy allied to it in embryo. In addition, it can be seen that the conflict itself was an integral part of the way in which countries were perceived and in how they perceived themselves, for example

'Renaissance Denmark' was expanding and wished to gain control with Sweden over ports on the Baltic which were in German hands. This period of aggression facilitated individual concerns such as this, both within and outside of the Empire, as well as exposing entrenched grievances and Church power over lands which they were reluctant to give up even after changing religion: 'Everything depended on bringing the doubtful ecclesiastical principalities into the hands of men whose power and whose orthodoxy should alike be undoubted' . Thus, it can be seen that the Thirty Years' War is not easy to define in terms of the precise nature of its cause. Like most conflicts, its outbreak was due to reasons many and various and its progression and aftermath reflected this state of fragmented relations. In many ways, the Thirty Years' War was as much evidence of the failure of Renaissance diplomacy as anything else:

That particular moment in history, the dozen years between the Twelve Years Truce of 1609 and the fatal spreading of the Thirty Years' War, offered Spanish diplomats a unique opportunity. Between 1598 and 1609 some sort of peace was patched up, first with France, then with England, and finally with the rebellious provinces of the Netherlands so that, although many problems were left unsolved, there was again something like a community of nations in which diplomats had room to manoeuvre. At the same time, though Spanish power was little more than a husk, Spanish prestige was scarcely diminished.

The significance of the Thirty Years' War for the relations between States, therefore, is to a great extent connected with both contemporary and modern diplomacy, with the current diplomatic relations and practices amongst states very much an echo of Renaissance diplomacy 'in disguise'. The 'patched up' peace referred to above had an inherent inevitability of failure because it did not take into account the way in which individual imperatives would not only conflict with but also capitalise on the years of conflict:

In 1618, over half a century of festering religious, dynastic, and strategic tensions erupted into civil war in the Holy Roman Empire, subsequently engulfing the entire European continent in thirty years of exhausting and utterly devastating warfare. Wars are seldom simple affairs, but the Thirty Years' War was even more complex than most, prompting endless scholarly debates about its causes and the motives of the major protagonists.

Thus, it can readily be seen that as with the Danish desire to wrest Baltic control from the Germans the long held ambitions of individual states were given the capacity to develop under the umbrella of the conflicts of the Thirty Years' War. Clearly, the tensions which continue to exist within Europe and the way in which modern diplomacy operates can be seen to be rooted in the same entrenched desires. Indeed, even the ending of the protracted conflict in the terms of the Peace of Westphalia, has strong resonance for contemporary commentators on the way a diplomatic resolution at one point can evolve into further conflict, as the terms of the Treaty of Versailles are frequently seen as the root of the First World War:

Example History Essay: What was the significance of the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) for the relations between States? 6.9 of 10 on the basis of 3289 Review.