The Histories

Article Title

The Thirty Years War


The Thirty Years War was a major European conflict that claimed the lives of eight million people and ushered in great change in European states in the form of the “birth of absolutism, of the standing army, and of an international order based on sovereign states.”1 Author Peter Wilson in his article The Causes of the Thirty Years War 1618-48 writes on the causes of said war while focusing on four areas in particular. The first was whether the war actually lasted 30 years or whether it could be classified as being part of a much larger European conflict. Secondly he attempts to determine if the war was inevitable and if so, could it have at least been contained more than it was. The third was whether the war could be classified as a German war in which other powers joined or if it was truly part of a larger international conflict. Finally he addresses if the causes for the war were primarily religious or if there were a number of secular ulterior factors at play. While the author writes primarily in regards to Germany, much of his article contains analysis of the situations of other European powers at the time and the conflicts aside from the Thirty Years War which they participated in and why those wars occurred.