Foreign Affairs, Geopolitics, World

The Peace Treaty of Westphalia (1648) and Its Consequences for International Relations

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International relations (IR) from the mid-17th century to the mid-20th century were founded on the decisions by the Peace Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 that ended the Thirty Years War. However, from the beginning of the 21st century, the IR are once again more and more framed by the international standards established in 1648.

The Thirty Years War (1618−1648)

This (First Pan-European) war was a confessional-political conflict, in essence, between the Protestant and the Roman Catholic leaders with very catastrophic consequences in population losses and material destructions as, for instance, the German lands lost approximately one-third of its pre-war population with some regions depopulated up to 90%. From the late 16th century onward, Europe, especially her central part, was experienced by religious confrontations between, on one hand, the Roman Catholics, and, on other hand, the Protestants (the Lutherans, Calvinists, and Zwinglians), who seriously challenged the right of the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire to decide on their religion. It is estimated that almost 8 million people in Europe lost their lives during the war.[1]

The war started in 1618 as a regional conflict between the Protestants and the Roman Catholics on the territory of the Kingdom of Bohemia within the Holy Roman Empire, but soon it involved the armies of the Habsburg Monarchy, the Kingdom of England, the Kingdom of France, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Kingdom of Spain, and finally the Kingdom of Sweden. More precisely, the conflict began when the Roman Catholic archbishop of Prague destroyed several Protestant churches. The Bohemian Protestants appealed to the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire to settle this issue, but his intervention did not satisfy the Protestants and the war started when the Protestants from the emperor’s palace in Prague committed the Second Defenestration in the Bohemian history (threw two emperor’s ministers out of a window, deposed the Roman Catholic king of Boh