The Peace Of Augsburg, By Charles V, Emperor Of The Holy Roman Empire

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As Charles V, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, lifted his quill and signed the Peace of Augsburg, he hoped to solve the great religious tensions of his region; little did he know it was this very document that would lead to one of the longest and most devastating wars in European history. The Peace of Augsburg (1555) may have solved the immediate conflicts, but it did little to resolve the underlying problem. Within 60 years, a new religious war would break out, forever changing religion 's role in politics. Dubbed the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648), it would drag Europe into a bloody conflict that would have everlasting effects on European history. Its social, economic, and political consequences would fundamentally change the path of Europe. The Thirty Years’ war ravaged the German countryside, and it is here that it had its most profound social impacts. The war left the German populace decimated, with anywhere between 25% to 45% of the population dead ("Thirty Years ' War (1618-1648)."). In some areas the male population was cut in half. To go along with this rise in casualties, agricultural production decreased leading to famine among the poorer classes. Brandenburg, which was hit particularly hard in this regard, saw population losses “so great that as many as 50%-60% of the farms were deserted.” (Knox) It certainly did not help that invading armies would continually perform raids on the countryside. The Swedish army alone “destroyed up to 2,000 castles, 18,000 villages and 1,500 towns in Germany, one-third of all German towns.” (“Thirty Years ' War (1618-1648)”) These marauding armies caused the social collapse of many German regions, leaving them largely in anarchy. With no food, little money, and the constant threat of r... ... middle of paper ... ...won the war, was forced to spend about 38 million livres by the end of the war which led to extraordinary tax hikes. These tax hikes, which were common to all European nations involved in the war, would lead to a rising ideology of absolutism that would grip Europe for little less than a hundred years. This rise in absolutism was followed by a change of power within Europe. Spain, once a dominant European power, had been toppled; and “Austria, which had begun the period as the wonder of the age, was reduced to being just one German state among many.” (Davies). Religion and politics, which previously went hand and hand, had been permanently severed. No longer did a pope control the way Europe was allowed to think. Post-war Europe was radically different from its pre-war counterpart, and its ramifications would ultimately change the course of European history forever.

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