Travel topics > Cultural attractions > Historical travel > European history > Thirty Years' War
The Thirty Years' War lasted from 1618 to 1648 in Europe, and was one of the most destructive wars in European history, claiming around eight million lives in total. In some places half the pre-war population died and the war thoroughly influenced the Baroque Era which had prevalent themes of "vanitas" or the ultimate death and decay of all earthly things.
The war was linked to preceding and subsequent conflicts, and in the Netherlands it is known as the Eighty Years' War.
The war began as a revolt of Protestant nobles in Bohemia against the Holy Roman Empire, which was Catholic, and ruled by the King of Austria of the House of Habsburg. While the Habsburg states included the global Spanish Empire, the anti-Habsburg alliance came to include protestant nations such as the Netherlands, and Sweden, as well as catholic France.
The war ended with the Treaty of Westphalia (signed and negotiated in both Münster and Osnabrück) which established the concept of Westphalian sovereignty, the foundation of modern international relations.
Spain lost its role as a dominant power in Europe. While the Holy Roman Emperor lost his political influence, and the title became purely ceremonial for the rest of its existence, Austria became a great power in its own right.
The Netherlands rose as a sovereign nation, experiencing the Dutch Golden Age. Sweden annexed much of northern Germany, and nearly came to encircle the Baltic Sea. The Swedish dominance of the Baltic would last a century and end after the Great Nordic War.
- Lützen, Germany - the place where Gustav II Adolph of Sweden, died in battle
- Rothenburg ob der Tauber, an old town in Franconia - to this day a story of how the town was spared destruction in the war is reenacted
- The Vasa Museum (Stockholm/Djurgården), Sweden: The Vasa is a 64-gun galleon built for the Thirty Years' War, which sank in the Stockholm harbour in 1628, a few hours into its maiden voyage. Salvaged in 1961, it is the only preserved vessel of its kind.
- Magdeburg was sacked and almost entirely destroyed in an act of war so brutal even contemporary Catholics expressed outrage at the deed of their coreligionists