This week for my Western Civilization course on the Ron Paul Curriculum, I learned about the Thirty Years War. It all happened in Europe, from 1618-1648, in the countries under Holy Roman Empire rule. It is said this war has a religious basis, but I believe that it slowly developed into a contest of who had the most power. Now I am going to answer this question from my instructor, Dr. Tom Woods:
“What was the key issue that led to the outbreak of the Thirty Years’ War? What religious accommodation was reached by Catholics and Protestants in the Peace of Westphalia?”
Did you know that we actually have a word in the english language that means throwing an object or thing out of a window? We do and this is the word: defenestration. This word is how the Thirty Years War started. The Defenestration of Prague happened in the early summer of 1618. Archduke/King of Bohemia, and Catholic Ferdinand II was not being very kind towards his Protestant subjects in Bohemia and revoked some of their rights. They were very upset so they came right up to Ferdinand and threw him and three others out of a window!
Ferdinand survived but was later deposed as king of Bohemia because of the incident. He was elected to become Holy Roman Emperor, soon after though so he didn’t really miss out on anything. He was replaced by Frederick V of England. Frederick was Protestant so you can imagine that all the Bohemian Protestants were very happy! As soon as Fred became king though, he created an anti-catholic campaign and defaced Catholic churches and items. This made Ferdinand very angry and so, as the Holy Roman Emperor, he declared war on Frederick. The war continued for years! The Catholics won a vast majority of these wars and battles, but in a war, not just one side suffers. All those involved, or in the way, suffer from war.
After thirty years of terrible fighting had passed, a meeting was called and what is known as the Peace of Westphalia was created and ratified in 1648. This gave each territory, state or country the liberty to choose which religion they want to practice.
So, what happens when you throw someone out of a window? You get a thirty year long war over religion, the deaths of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children, and a peace treaty to cap it all off.