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Role of the Peace of Westphalia in Modern Day International Relations and International Law

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Also considered the “Peace of Westphalia”, these were a series of peace treaties that effectively ended the European wars of religion and this negotiation took roughly 5 years. This was and still is a very significant treaty seeing as it ended the Thirty Years War and this war was considered one of the most distractive in its time. This treaty also ended the Eighty Year War between the Spanish and the Dutch. One could argue that this treaty could have influenced our modern international relations credit by providing the foundation of the modern state system and articulating the concept of territorial sovereignty, because of how sophisticated this treaty was for its time and no wonder why we still learn and implement this treaty in our modern day International Relations and International Law.

What this treaty really did in more detail is under its terms of the peace treaty a number of countries received territories in their sovereignty over territories. There is a territorial clause that favors Sweden, France, and their allies, Sweden obtains western Pomerania and the port of Wismar, the archbishopric of Bremen and the bishopric of Verden; with this Sweden had control over the Baltic Sea and the estuaries of the Oder, Elbe, and Weser rivers seeing as this is what is considered to be along or in Sweden’s territory and making this equal divide between lands. France obtained their few cents too like obtaining sovereignty over Alsace and was confirmed in its possession of Metz Toul and Verdun, which it had been previously seized a century before this but France does gain a firm frontier west of the Rhine River.

Two other important results of the territory divisions was the confirmation of the United Provinces of the Netherlands and the Swiss Confederation as independent republics, formally recognizing a status which those two states had actually held for many decades. Aside from these territory changes, a universal amnesty to all those who had been deprived of their possessions was declared, and it was said that all secular lands with specific exceptions, should be given back to those who had had them in 1618. The main reason for all this division of land is because of what is considered “Holy Land”. This treaty brings up the ownership of spiritual lands and this was decided by a compromise and during this time these territories were deemed to be in Roman Catholic or Protestant possession. These important provisions made it so that the Prince should forfeit his lands if he changed his religion. The declaration that all protests or vetoes of the Peace of Westphalia by whoever pronounced should have to come before the intervention of the Roman Curia in German affairs.

The treaty is recognized as a fundamental law of the German constitution and formed the basis of all subsequent treaties.

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Role of the Peace of Westphalia in Modern Day International Relations and International Law. (2019, March 12). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 11, 2021, from
“Role of the Peace of Westphalia in Modern Day International Relations and International Law.” GradesFixer, 12 Mar. 2019,
Role of the Peace of Westphalia in Modern Day International Relations and International Law. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 11 Jun. 2021].
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