Thirty Years' War


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Tensions between Catholics and Protestants and between supporters and enemies of the Habsburg Empire sparked off a religious and political conflict. At the beginning the fighting was localized but it eventually spread beyond European limits. Spain was obliged to join the conflict, despite its King [Philip III's#PERSONAS#20] pacifist policies, in order to safeguard Hispanic hegemony, the interests of the Habsburg Empire and those of the Catholic Church. The war was triggered off by the Protestant Bohemian states' rebellion after the death of King Matthias and their refusal to recognise Ferdinand II as Emperor of Austria because of his Counter-Reformation, led by [Spinola#contexto_enS#19], at his disposal. The Protestant Union under Frederick V of the Palatinate had the support of the Bohemian states' mediocre army, the Evangelical Union, the Czechs, Venetians and the United Provinces. The United Provinces benefited from the war with Spain after the twelve years' truce and from the weakening of the Habsburg Empire. In 1620 the first phase of the war was concluded with the victory of Austro-Hispanic troops at the Battle of White Mountain. Frederick V was forced to flee and the imperial and Spanish troops took Prague. At this time [Philip IV#PERSONAS#17] was crowned King of Spain. Philip's chief minister, the Count Duke of Olivares, was in favour of a conquering policy. Ferdinand II regained control but was at the mercy of his allies, Bavaria and Spain. In the years that followed a duel took place between France and Spain which formed part of the overall European war. The two nations, with Olivares and [Richelieu#PERSONAS#35] as protagonists, fought for the control of Catholic might in Europe which up until then had been in Spanish hands. After Richelieu's death and Philip IV's withdrawal of his support for Olivares events were inclined in France's favour after her victory at Rocroi. The French painter, Nicolas Cochin, depicted the battle in a painting. In 1637 a new Emperor, Ferdinand III, came to power and there was further fighting between different powers, such as Holland and Sweden. From 1644 to 1648 there were two aspects to the conflict, on one side a desire for peace to bring the war to an end and on the other each state's desire to negotiate the best conditions and this meant that the military operations continued everywhere. The Thirty Years' War practically razed Europe to the ground, especially the central regions. The Austrian Empire reached the limit of its strength and was willing to sign a peace treaty and forget its aspirations of hegemony over Germany. The Peace of Westphalia (1648) confirmed the defeat of the Hapsburgs, the triumph of France over a divided Germany and the defeat of Catholicism. As of then both Lutheran and Calvinist doctrines were considered legal in the Austrian Empire. These treaties ended the war and confirmed the new order in Europe, marking a historical milestone. However, peace was not absolute as localised fighting still continued. For Spain the date of 1648 represented only a semi peace as it signed a treaty recognising the independence of the United Provinces which meant that French policy from then on was to slowly take possession of these territories and Spanish policy to defend them with the help of Holland who feared French expansionism. The Franco-Spanish confrontation became more and more violent, especially when England in the shape of Cromwell decided to side with the French against Spain. Finally in 1659 the Peace of the Pyrenees was signed, handing Roussillon, Cerdanya and some strongholds in the Low Countries to the French. This peace was strengthened by the marriage of [Louis XIV#PERSONAS#14] to Philip IV's daughter, Princess Marie-Therese.

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