Beginning of the Thirty Years' War
The fundamental differences between the Catholic Church and the Lutheran Reformists became more violent as the number of Luther’s followers increased. Regional, armed conflicts occurred and were settled with the Peace of Augsburg in 1555.
The peace between Lutheran – or, as they called themselves, “Protestant” – and Catholic forces did not last very long. From 1560 on, the Vatican organized a counter-reformation, aimed to revive the catholic belief in the lost territories – if need be by force. An intense political and social struggle for the regions followed. In 1618, a local Bohemian conflict on the use of churches in rural regions culminated in the Defenestration of Prague. Two catholic aristocrats were thrown out of a window of the (Protestant) Bohemian chancellery. This 1618 event marks the start of the Thirty Years’ War.
This “30 Years War” is considered one of the most devastating wars of all time. One third of the people of Europe died during those 3 decades, either from the use of weapons, famine or epidemics. One third of Europe was devastated and remained so for another generation.
This war had essentially one goal: The right of millions of people to liberate themselves from the Dark Ages and to live life in dignity.
After the first successes for the catholic forces, the Swedish King Gustav Adolph intervened with his army, to help the protestant forces. The intervention of Sweden kept the Reformist forces from impending defeat. Gustav Adolph, who died on the battle field in 1632, has been hailed since then as the “saviour of Protestantism”.
The Thirty Years’ War ended in 1648, after seven years of peace negotiations, with the Peace of Westphalia. Despite the devastation across Europe, Wittenberg was one of the areas with limited damage. The building of the “Alte Canzley” continued to be the home of the provost of Wittenberg, playing a prominent role in the town’s history.
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