Ideas of the renaissance can be traced back to lead to the Thirty Years War. Humanism, individualism, rationalism and most of all secularism first appeared in popular culture during that time period and are the core ideas. These ideas gave Luther the ideas for his reforms of the church and cause the protestant reformation which will then lead to a main force in the Thirty Years War which is secularism at the beginning. Protestant reformation drove Europe into a time a chaos such as the Middle East in today's world. The war raged all over Europe but most severely in what is now Germany. Although the war did not just cause mass destruction, but it also made countries such as France and Sweden emerge as greater powers. Religions of Calvinism and Lutherans were able to spread.
Territorial and dynastic disputes were a large part of the extended part of the war not early. After the initial fighting over religious intolerance was over it quickly was common war of war lords for land and power. These causes of power resist make disputes that religion was ever a cause of the war hard to make however, religion can not be dismissed.
Initial start of the war was through Catholic king Ferdinand and his religious intolerance, Protestant revolted. The Protestant leader was the Fredrick V of Prussia, a very powerful state for its size (figure 2 shows how diverse Europe had become religiously). This hatred fire would spread throughout Europe by way of the Holy Roman Empire. Holy Roman Empire is a group of states loosely held together by a weak constitution. Ambitious war lords of large states wanted more territory and this power vacuum of the Holy Roman Empire was a perfect place to nip away at the country side.
Once Sweden joined the war it was becoming ever clearer the motivation for war was becoming territorial. Sweden is not protestant but becomes a powerful ally for protestant revolt. They strictly joined for more land and power. This was most prevalent once France and Sweden united against Austria, a worry that the Hapsburg dynasty was gaining too much power drove the alliance. That worry was great enough to unite Catholics and Protestants together.
Austria had become incredible powerful after the marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella to combine Austria with Spain. Spanish colonies in the Americas brought in enormous wealth. A long with wealth Hapsburg family were stanch supporters of Catholicism. A new found power brought them ever closer to borders of the Holy Roman Empire, which they wanted to take control of. This made their fight in the war even fiercer and gave worry to France who has been fighting for supreme power in Europe against Hapsburgs for many years.
This time period has changed the geography of Europe a great deal. Looking at figure 1 you can see that most of the fighting took place in the power vacuum of the Holy Roman Empire from 1618 to 1635 very few attacks happened else where. Wittstock, Breitofeld, and Lutzen are famous battles. All of those also happened close to the Elbe River. Breitofeld and Lutzen were absolute victories for the Sweden's. Lutzen was by far the largest battle with over 100,000 men fighting on each side. Wittstock was more of a tie. Soldiers fought on the field and then camped out; the next morning brought one army left leaving behind its materials. This war was one of the longest and bloodiest till World War 1. The largest and most prominent scare left geographically was the dramatic decrease in human population. Men were carted off to fight and most never came back. Soldiers while on duty could be told to commit horrific atrocities by killing thousands of innocent people. Towns started to build walled defenses to keep out armies (today they are mistaken for medieval towns). Those who were no killed, due to a lack of males to farm the land many died of starvation. Situation is made worse by the fact that the bubonic plague had only recently been...
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