400 years ago, Europe’s Thirty Years’ War began

This summer, four centuries ago, three characters were thrown out of a window in Prague – they all survived – and, from this bizarre incident, a war began than ran for 30 years and caused utter devastation throughout Central Europe. The Holy Roman Empire was convulsed by a bitter conflict between the Catholic Austrian Habsburgs and the Protestant statelets with interventions by Denmark, Sweden and France.

The war resulted in eight million fatalities, not only from military engagements but also from violence, famine and plague, as up to a third of the largely German population died. Britain was expected to back the ‘Protestant Cause’ but James VI and I of Scotland and England refused to become involved.

When you wonder why Germany is so keen on European integration and Britain is so insular in its attitude to continental Europe, you could do worse that recall the legacy of the Thirty Years’ War.

if you are interested in learning about a film depicting the war, click here.

If you would like a three-minute summary of the war and its consequences, you’ll find it here:


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