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Thirty Years War - Essay Example

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The Thirty Years War in Europe left a lasting impression that can be traced as the beginning of several modern concepts and ideals. Individualism, secularism, humanism, and rationalism, all ideals commonly associated with the Renaissance, can be traced back to an origin in the Thirty Years War…
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Download file to see previous pages The Thirty Year War marks the last of its kind-a religious conflict fought under political guises. Unlike other religious wars, however, the Thirty Years War is known much more for its destruction, destitution, and lingering consequences:
All this was effected by religion. Religion alone could have rendered possible all that was accomplished, but it was far from being the SOLE motive of the war. Had not private advantages and state interests been closely connected with it, vain and powerless would have been the arguments of theologians; and the cry of the people would never have met with princes so willing to espouse their cause, nor the new doctrines have found such numerous, brave, and persevering champions. The Reformation is undoubtedly owing in a great measure to the invincible power of truth, or of opinions which were held as such. The abuses in the old church, the absurdity of many of its dogmas, the extravagance of its requisitions, necessarily revolted the tempers of men, already half-won with the promise of a better light, and favourably disposed them towards the new doctrines. The charm of independence, the rich plunder of monastic institutions, made the Reformation attractive in the eyes of princes, and tended not a little to strengthen their inward convictions (Schiller, 2006, p. 2).
UndoubtedUndoubtedly, Europe had suffered through centuries of warfare before the Thirty Years War started in 1618; and the history of warfare, sadly, did not end after the Thirty Years War ended in 1648. In fact, shortly after the war in 1945, some historians tried to revise the traditional image of the Thirty Years War by:
...suggesting that the numerous complaints about the destruction of towns, the cruelty of soldiers and in general about unmitigated plunder, pillage and atrocities should not really be taken seriously. Rather, it is argued, they are so many cases of special pleading by farmers and citizens in order to get taxes and other impositions reduced (Asch, 2000, p. 291).
Essentially, historians have attempted to scale down the level of destruction and destitution caused by the Thirty Years War by claiming that these farmers and citizens raised complaints and exaggerated their claims regarding the war in an effort to receive tax waivers and reductions (Asch, 2000). However, many historians have dismissed these claims. This dismissal may be partially due to a treatise released during the height of the Thirty Years War written by Franciscus Bonbra in which he describes some of the atrocities committed by mercenary soldiers: "They would rape any woman who seemed halfway attractive, plunder the houses, destroy the crops and beat and torture the peasants to extort money. In the end they would set the entire village on fire" (Asch, 2000, p. 292). Bonbra's treatise helped to lend credibility to the argument that the claims of destruction were valid; since Bonbra's treatise was written as a theoretical treatise rather than a petition seeking support or tax waivers (Asch, 2000).
In truth, the Thirty Years War left a wave of destruction unmatched until the 20th Century's World Wars. The destruction, whether caused through poor militaristic strategies, army composition, or overall famine and disease, led to several changes ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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