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Europe's tragedy : a new history of the Thirty Years War - Semantic Scholar

The heavy reliance on mercenary forces also had a detrimental effect on the quality of soldiers in general, as mercenary captains would fill out their rosters by levying troops from the civilian population. Meanwhile, the moral standards of war were also vastly different from today, with it generally being accepted even among the most liberal theorists that innocent civilians are legitimate targets and that soldiers were entitled to take "spoils" from the populations they victimized.

Indeed, Albrecht von Wallenstein, one of the most influential Catholic commanders, made his personal fortune using this exact same theory. Because most of the fighting occurred on Holy Roman territory and due to the back-and-forth nature of the war, the same areas were often occupied and re-occupied for decades on end, resulting in completely razed land, thousands of depopulated villages, and desperate shortages of grain and livestock. This, shockingly, led to hideous famines. Epidemics ravaged the millions weakened by starvation.

Oh, you didn't think we could have an article about the most bullshit religious war in history without bringing witch hunts into it, did you? Unfortunately, hysteria over the existence of witches was present among both Protestants and Catholics in Europe. Against the backdrop of the war, paranoia of an attack, famine, or epidemic spurred many areas to begin hunting down witches to prevent these calamities.

The sheer volume of trials and executions marked this period as the absolute height of Europe's witch obsession.

The Thirty Years' War (1618--1648)

Witch trials targeted intellectuals and individuals society already held in suspicion, and confessions were extracted by means of torture. As the Reformation kicked into full swing, Catholics and Protestants alike fueled popular fear of witches and terrifyingly persecuted people in order to gain converts and frighten them into sticking around. Ultimately, Europe's religious wars resulted in around 40, deaths due to witch trials. This graph shows the timeline of each nation's involvement in the war.


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Timelines in red show nations fighting against the Emperor, and timelines in black show nations supporting the Emperor. Note the often changing loyalties.

As the graphic above indicates, the sides were not entirely "Catholic vs. Protestant," contrary to public opinion. While the beginnings of the conflict were indeed mostly religious, the impetus for conflict in later stages was either fear of or support for Habsburg expansion. Post French Wars of Religion France, which fought on what is commonly called the "Protestant" side, was and is a primarily Catholic nation. As such, the most accurate way to describe each side is pro- or anti-Habsburg.

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I have naught but my life, now come the Blackcoats to rob me of that. See the main article on this topic: European witch-hunts. Some out of all offices and faculties must be executed; clerics, counselors, doctors, city officials and court assessors. There are law students to be arrested.

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The prince-bishop has over forty students here who are to be pastors; thirteen or fourteen of these are said to be witches. A few days ago a dean was arrested; two others who were summoned have fled. The notary of our church consistory, a very learned man, was yesterday arrested and put to torture. In a word, a third part of the city is involved. Judge for yourself. Denmark, — the rise and decline of a Renaissance monarchy.


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Oxford University Press. ISBN Retrieved 7 August Muscovy and Sweden in the Thirty Years' War — Cambridge University Press. The History Learning Site, 25 Mar LiveScience Jessie Szalay Jul. Allen Lane. The World's History: Western Europe to Debt: the First 5, Years.

Europe's tragedy : a new history of the Thirty Years War

Melville House. Honors Thesis. Witchcraft in Europe, A Documentary History. Jensen Retrieved 5 August The Guardian.

Eyewitness Accounts of the Thirty Years War 1618-48

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