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Causes of The Thirty Years War

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Religion. Ferdinand II attempted to impose Roman Catholic absolutism on his domain.

The protestant nobles of Austria and Bohemia rose up in rebellion. Ferdinand II won after five years of struggling. King Christian of Denmark saw an opportunity to gain territory to make up what was lost to Sweden. His defeat in 1692 finished Denmark as a European power, but Sweden invaded Poland and won many princes to his anti-Roman Catholic, anti-imperial cause. The conflict fueled the ambitions of various powers. The rise of Protestantism spreads and knocks Europe significantly. They were under constant civil war between the German states who embraced Protestantism and the others who were loyal the Roman Catholic Church. Most of Europe’s power underwent problems as a result of the protestant reformation.

The execution of Jan Hus (1415).

Jan Hus was born in 1357 and was ordained to priesthood in 1401. Spent most of his career teaching. Hus copied the works of john Wycliffe’s work for his own use. He stressed the role of the bible in Church, and consequently he lifted biblical preaching to an important status in church services. Many of the clergy felt that their lifestyles were being questioned. But his was popular with the masses. He was thrown out of Church; they told Hus to stop preaching and asked the church to burn the Wycliffe’s books. Hus refused to comply, and the church condemned him. Hus continued to preach about indulgences of the pope. Eventually the pope excommunicated Hus and placed Prague under an interdict. Huis left Prague, but continued to preach. Hus only ran into trouble with his teachings. 1415 he was summoned to the Council of Constance., to defend his teachings. He was promised safe conduct by Emperor Sigismund. He was arrested soon after he arrived. The council condemned the teachings of Wycliffe. Hud was condemned for teaching his beliefs. Formally condemned, he was handed over to the secular authorities to be burned at the stake, July 16th, 1415. Hua had been popular with many people, and his heroic death only increased his prestige. His followers came out in rebellion against the Catholic Church, thus starting a conflict that would soon lead to the Thirty Years war.

Rudolph II and the letter of majesty.

In 1611, Rudolph tried to assert his authority over bohemia. The bohemian Estates called to Matthias to help them with Rudolph’s attempted authority. Rudolph’s attempt came out to nothing and failed. In return for his support Matthias was crowned king of Bohemia from 1611 to 1616. In 1612 Rudolph died and Mathias became Holy Roman Emperor. He remained childless, but nobody knew who would rule after he died. The Bohemian Nobles elected Ferdinand of Styria to become king in June 1617. He was a strict catholic and would not tolerate non-Catholics in Bohemia. The Protestants feared his appointment as they wanted the elector of Saxony or Palatine. Ferdinand was offered the title on condition that he upheld the letter of majesty. Ferdinand needed ten deputies to help him run Bohemia. Seven were catholic and only three were protestant. In March 1619, Matthias died and Ferdinand became Holy Roman Emperor and king of Bohemia. Ferdinand made it his crusade to re-Catholicism the empire. Other Holy Roman Empires feared this approach, believed that if they stood alone they be easily picked off. The revolt in Bohemia had been disastrous for the Bohemians but it had also left an important area in the hand of the Catholics.

Protestant church building.

The Protestants were unhappy with Ferdinand II. They enjoyed the freedom under his rule, but the emperor was cracking down on Catholicism. Ferdinand was a devout catholic and closed down one of the protestant churches and destroyed another. He was determined to make the land thoroughly catholic. The violence began on May 23rd 1618, with the defenestration of Prague. Bohemian rebels stormed the royal palace and threw Ferdinand’s governors out the window. The presidents elected Frederick V as their new king. Ferdinand was Hapsburg, part of the destiny had held the throughout Europe.

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