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The States System of Europe, 1640–1990Peacemaking and the Conditions of International Stability$
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Andreas Osiander

Print publication date: 1994

Print ISBN-13: 9780198278870

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198278870.001.0001

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The Peace of Westphalia

The Peace of Westphalia

2 The Peace of Westphalia
The States System of Europe, 1640–1990

Andreas Osiander

Oxford University Press

The history of the Thirty Years War is a complicated one, and cannot be told here in any way that does justice to its complexity. The remarks mentioned in this chapter are only intended as a reminder. The fragile political consensus of Germany, under increasingly grave strain from religious polarisation, only just survived into the seventeenth century. The vicious circle culminated in the decisive, almost tectonic, system-wide showdown that occurred early in the following century. This showdown saw both Sweden and the French dynasty, the House of Bourbon, involved in war against all of their neighbors simultaneously. Sweden succumbed. It had no chance against the awakening giant, Russia, and was reduced to a format more commensurate with its resources. The House of Bourbon, thanks to a remarkable combination of luck and diplomatic skill, scraped through.

Keywords:   Thirty Years War, political consensus, Germany, religious polarisation, France, House of Bourbon, Russia, Sweden, diplomacy

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