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The Surprisingly Accurately Named Thirty Years War
October 29, 2009 7:32 PM   Subscribe

The Thirty Years War is a website covers that ginormous kerfuffle that consumed Europe in the first half of the 17th Century from the Second Defenestration of Prague to the Peace of Westphalia. It has a handy map with a place locator which will help you tell your Schweidnitz from your Schweinfurt. Here are some other maps, The Religious Situation in Central Europe about 1618, Principal Seats of War, 1618-1660 and Europe in 1648 - Peace of Westphalia.
posted by Kattullus (55 comments total) 50 users marked this as a favorite

 
I am entirely sure that, at the time, there was absolutely nothing funny about the Second Defenestration of Prague.

And yet, here we are.
posted by bicyclefish at 7:33 PM on October 29, 2009 [14 favorites]


Yes, there was a first defenestration of Prague. Also, further fun fact, there was no treaty named "The Treaty of Westphalia" but the Treaty of Münster and the Treaty of Osnabrück are collectively referred to as the Peace of Westphalia.
posted by Kattullus at 7:33 PM on October 29, 2009


Yeah, people tend to not realize just how used to long wars Europe has been through history. It's a great irony of the Industrial Revolution that a technology that was supposed to make things so much cheaper, actually made them much more expensive.
posted by effugas at 7:34 PM on October 29, 2009


bicyclefish: I am entirely sure that, at the time, there was absolutely nothing funny about the Second Defenestration of Prague.

Throwing people out of windows into a pile of horse manure has always had comedic value.
posted by Kattullus at 7:35 PM on October 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


Is Chuck Biscuits alive or what?
posted by Liquidwolf at 7:50 PM on October 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Defenestration of Prague is my favorite historical event that I learned from my European History AP class. It's such a silly name, it almost sounds fun.
posted by Shesthefastest at 7:51 PM on October 29, 2009


The Thirty Years War site lists Wedgwood's book, The Thirty Years War as being out of print, but it isn't. NYRB has republished it, and it's utterly compelling. It gives you a sense of the political and religious insanity behind the war. She's especially good at character portraits of the rulers and generals involved. I really can't recommend it enough.
posted by Bromius at 7:53 PM on October 29, 2009 [4 favorites]


Needs "ginormous kerfuffle" tag.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 7:57 PM on October 29, 2009


Well, being defenestrated in prague is now on my bucket list (it sounds like fun).
posted by selenized at 8:01 PM on October 29, 2009


The little-known Thirty Years War II
posted by stbalbach at 8:01 PM on October 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


i had no idea that the thirty years war was a web site.
posted by snofoam at 8:02 PM on October 29, 2009


Does anyone have the text of the Treaty of Münster? If so, can you post it here? I seem to have trouble finding a copy on the internet. Thanks!
posted by grouse at 8:03 PM on October 29, 2009 [8 favorites]


the Peace of Westphalia.

Oh no, you dinnint!
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:05 PM on October 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


I just wanted to say how much I like the word, defenestration.
posted by cedar at 8:10 PM on October 29, 2009


STOP DEFENESTRATING PRAGUE!
posted by bicyclefish at 8:11 PM on October 29, 2009


Great post, I've been kind of curious about this but don't know much about it. I'll have to look for the Wedgwood book mentioned upthread.

Not only did you mention the Defenestration of Prague and the Peace of Westphalia, you also got to use the word "kerfluffle." That makes you aces in my book.
posted by marxchivist at 8:30 PM on October 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


I was going to come in here and make a joke about Defenestration but I see that the glass has already been broken on this particular subject.



sorry... I'll just be over here licking my wounds. *sulks*
posted by Severian at 8:38 PM on October 29, 2009


Well, being defenestrated in prague is now on my bucket list (it sounds like fun).

All jokes aside, there's probably a certain group of tourists who would pay a nominal fee for a picture of themselves falling out of (first-story) window into (soft) manure(-colored cushions). I know I would.
posted by jefficator at 8:39 PM on October 29, 2009


Oh, shit this is an awesome post.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:40 PM on October 29, 2009


Also, nthing the fact that:

1) The Second Defenestration of Prague is the Greatest Event in History.

2) The fact that a First Defenestration of Prague was followed by a Second is so wonderful.

3) The fact that sufficient numbers of people were being pushed out of windows that whoever is in charge of language decided a distinct word needed to exist to describe this event makes life worth living.
posted by jefficator at 8:42 PM on October 29, 2009


Great post.
posted by defenestration at 8:55 PM on October 29, 2009 [6 favorites]


The defenestrations highlight the compression of human history, as well.

TWO HUNDRED FREAKING YEARS separated the First and Second Defenestrations. Do you think that anything that happened today, in 2009, could possibly provoke the response, "Hey! That was just like that thing that happened in 1809! Cool!"
posted by yhbc at 9:00 PM on October 29, 2009 [4 favorites]


Also, I should have mentioned before that I can tell a katullus post from a block away, in the dark. Nice work.
posted by yhbc at 9:04 PM on October 29, 2009


In the name of the most holy and individual Trinity: Be it known to all, and every one whom it may concern, or to whom--

aw, fuck it.
posted by sourwookie at 9:10 PM on October 29, 2009


They defenestrate horses, don't they?
posted by uosuaq at 9:11 PM on October 29, 2009


The 'Thirty Years War' sounds so bland, doesn't it? But this 'ginormous kerfuffle' is estimated to have killed up to a third of the population of northern Germany. A third of the population. We moderns like to think of the great wars of the 20th Century as uniquely awful, but the Thirty Years War was arguably much worse.

It may have been why my ancestors, who according to family legend came from Schleswig-Holstein, emigrated to North America. The internecine wars of the Reformation were surely why many Europeans emigrated, and probably played a role in America's (and Canada's) historic religious tolerance. The immigrants had had enough of killing for religion. I wonder if these horrific wars also resulted in contemporary Europe's irreligion, which dates at least back to the late 18th century and the philosophes. North Americans decided to tolerate each other's religions; Europeans decided to do away with religion altogether.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 9:36 PM on October 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


... I cannot tell you how useful this has suddenly been. Given I'm trying to write a paper on French Huguenots and the silk industry in England 1550-1700.
posted by strixus at 10:15 PM on October 29, 2009


A third of the population. We moderns like to think of the great wars of the 20th Century as uniquely awful, but the Thirty Years War was arguably much worse.

In all fairness, their lifespans were shorter.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:20 PM on October 29, 2009


1888 X 1245 = War of the sniffs.
posted by Mblue at 10:41 PM on October 29, 2009


This is why I kind of shrug when people talk about the unintended consequences of European contact with the Americas as being a "sucks only for the Indians" thing.

Basically, every war of any importance in Christendom or the Americas from 1492-on can be laid at the feet of Christopher-slaving-fucking-Columbus. And we still give this fucker a holiday?

(*Dude, they get pissed when you say "Native American." Actual South-Asian Indians prefer their subethnotype, anyway. Ask him/her what she/he considers himself/herself after the next staff meeting, and make yourself ready for Subcontinental-flavored awesome. Like the one time I tried to dismiss Kali as "The goddess of evil" in the presence of a woman who had actually laid a flower wreath at Kali's feet that week to help her daughter's green card go thru... no, wait, that sucked. But my co-workers probably thought it was ossum.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:45 PM on October 29, 2009


The question is did Philip Fabricius have a good or bad day.
posted by Mitheral at 11:35 PM on October 29, 2009


Slap*Happy, please tell me you didn't actually do that... oh gods -facepalm-
posted by strixus at 11:57 PM on October 29, 2009


I did. I wish I didn't. I know better now... there =is= such a thing as too much book learnin'.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:19 AM on October 30, 2009


We've always been at war with Ost-Mitteleuropas.
posted by Abiezer at 1:22 AM on October 30, 2009


I second Wedgwood's book, which is a relatively digestible account of a complex period. War was going to happen; folks were waiting for the truce between Spain and their rebellious Dutch colonies to end. It broke out a few years early because of fears that the Hapsburgs had become too strong. These fears were experienced by different people in different places in different ways, but the result was a great destruction in central Europe.
Other sources of value:
The novel Simplicius Simplicissimus by Grimmelshausen who was a combatant. Semi-complete web version here.
Etchings by a witness: Callot's The Miseries of War
posted by CCBC at 1:39 AM on October 30, 2009


Your link goes to a Chuck Biscuits page, CCBC. However, Jacques Callot stuff can be found in great quantity online. Here are some but the great motherlodes are Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon (click recherche simple and search for callot and/or guerre) and the website of The Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco also has a lot.
posted by Kattullus at 4:16 AM on October 30, 2009


Slithy_Tove: We moderns like to think of the great wars of the 20th Century as uniquely awful, but the Thirty Years War was arguably much worse.

I seem to remember reading an article where someone worked out that the 17th Century, largely due to the Thirty Years War, was the bloodiest century.
posted by Kattullus at 4:28 AM on October 30, 2009


I love that there's a word for "throw somebody out of a window."
posted by kirkaracha at 6:23 AM on October 30, 2009


There was a Third Defenestration of Prague, the suspicious death of politician Jan Masaryk in 1948.
posted by ovvl at 7:44 AM on October 30, 2009


The Defenestration of Prague is my favorite historical event

I see where you're coming from, but for puerile pleasure I think the Diet of Worms still has the edge.
posted by Phanx at 8:09 AM on October 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


From the Wikipedia entry on the Defenestrations of Prague:

"Roman Catholic Imperial officials claimed that the three men survived due to the mercy of angels assisting the righteousness of the Catholic cause. Protestant pamphleteers asserted that their survival had more to do with the horse excrement in which they landed than the benevolent acts of the angels."

That's good writing right there.
posted by nickmark at 8:29 AM on October 30, 2009


Both interpretations work if the angels are horses.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:38 AM on October 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


yhbc: Do you think that anything that happened today, in 2009, could possibly provoke the response, "Hey! That was just like that thing that happened in 1809! Cool!"

Sadly, I can think of an analogous novelty historical re-enactment.
posted by nicepersonality at 8:53 AM on October 30, 2009


Another recommendation for Wedgwood's book, but I have to say that the Thirty Years War is the single most incomprehensible event I've tried to grasp in a lifetime of studying history. It took place in many different places over a ridiculously long span of time with a plethora of important characters who kept stabbing each other in the back; even the issues at stake kept changing over and over. Really, unless you're especially interested in the period, you might as well stick with "The Thirty Years War killed a whole bunch of people, basically got Europe good and fed up with religious wars, and gave MetaFilter the Treaty of Westphalia." (Note: there was no Treaty of Westphalia.)
posted by languagehat at 9:45 AM on October 30, 2009


languagehat: I have to say that the Thirty Years War is the single most incomprehensible event I've tried to grasp in a lifetime of studying history

The history of the area of Europe that roughly corresponds to Northern Germany (but also extending into Jutland, Holland, Poland and the Baltic States) is so ridiculously convoluted that it defies explanation. I once entertained the idea of writing a short essay reducing all events in that region in the 2nd millenium AD down to conflict over who controlled Schleswig-Holstein but then realized that the only people who'd appreciate the joke are Prince Albert, who is dead, a German professor who went mad and is also dead, and Lord Palmerston, who likewise is dead.
posted by Kattullus at 11:52 AM on October 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


I have recently heard the suggestion that 1914-1989 is best viewed as a 75-year war similar to the Thirty Year War or Hundred Year War in that the players and precise stakes kept changing, but it was ultimately the same issue of what superpower would dominate.

I'm skeptical as to whether that's a useful perspective.
posted by Zed at 12:30 PM on October 30, 2009


This is somewhat on topic, and not to dismiss the seriousness of the history, but just wanted to throw in a plug for a historical fiction book series I got turned onto by someone here at Metafilter (can't remember who, it was in an askMe question about time travel fiction). The 1632 series takes as a single science fiction premise that a modern-day small mining town in West Virginia gets swapped with a small town in the Thuringia region of Germany in mid-1631, right in the middle of the Thirty Year's war.

After that initial suspension-of-disbelief premise, the series- which now comprises about 10-12 novels and almost 30 online volumes of collaborative short story or serialized fiction (meaning, the bulk of the online work are from fans and amateurs who submit their own works and these, if they pass peer and editorial muster/editing, get accepted into canon, sometimes spawning or inspiring key plotlines in the main novels)- gets down to business of trying to somewhat believably imaging the change in history and in the Thirty Years War after this event, and how various people in the WV town, as well as the population of Europe, would react and adapt (spoiler: it doesn't go quite the same way when one group has reasonably thorough knowledge of radio technology, diesel engines, and modern rifle-making skills). It also has a fairly active online community that debate the minutiae of the history of technological development, culture, and politics to decide what would be technologically, scientifically, medically, culturally, and politically possible. Some of the most interesting items in the online volumes are the non-fiction essays investigating seemingly mundane items like diets in different regions, the economic activity of small towns of the era, as well as speculation on how the technological advantage would be expressed considering the hidden dependencies we'd take for granted.

The first two novels are available free online, linked at the bottom of that 1632 Series wiki page. Be aware that the novels/short stories do tend towards the soap-opera fluff in their plotlines at times, but are still highly enjoyable, with the added bonus of learning a little more about this time period, significant historical figures and events, while also allowing the fun "Connections"-esque fantasy of revisiting or learning how we got here (points to modern technology and social/cultural changes) from there (points to the famine, poverty, and political upheaval of that time period).
posted by hincandenza at 1:22 PM on October 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah, that seems kind of broad. On the other hand, I've also heard 1914-45 described as a second Thirty Years War, and I can see that. And then I suppose everything that happened 46-89 flows directly...
posted by COBRA! at 1:23 PM on October 30, 2009


(responding to Zed, of course. Damn you, Hal, shouldn't you be playing tennis?)
posted by COBRA! at 1:24 PM on October 30, 2009


Whoops! Thanks, Kattullus, for providing a proper Callot link.
posted by CCBC at 2:20 PM on October 30, 2009


Any other Plantagenet partisans here? Someday His or Her Majesty will once again sit upon His or Her rightful throne of France.

Also: Gustavus Adolphus. That is all.
posted by Justinian at 6:12 PM on October 30, 2009


(yes I realize the Hundred Years War and the Thirty Years War are not the same, but hey it's all old timey Europe stuff).
posted by Justinian at 6:13 PM on October 30, 2009


...but then realized that the only people who'd appreciate the joke are Prince Albert, who is dead, a German professor who went mad and is also dead, and Lord Palmerston, who likewise is dead.

At risk of causing the joke to die as well, care to explain the punchline to the rest of us?
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:11 AM on October 31, 2009


"The Schleswig-Holstein question is so complicated, only three men in Europe have ever understood it. One was Prince Albert, who is dead. The second was a German professor who became mad. I am the third and I have forgotten all about it." - Lord Palmerston
posted by Kattullus at 1:29 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


Hat der Teufel einen Sohn...
posted by Abiezer at 9:53 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


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