Sunday, October 12, 2008

4 # tpmorPrompt # 4

A lack of political unity was perhaps the biggest weakness of Germany during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and it's the main reason why Germany wasn't able to recover from it's civil war and France was. First off, the Thirty Years' War that took place in Germany, beginning with the Bohemian War (which threw any original German political unity out the window, literally) in 1618 and ending with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, was by no means a strictly German affair. The French, Spanish, Dutch, Swedish, Danish, English, Italians, and the prince of Transylvania (don't forget him) all played a part in making this war such a terribly destructive one. In essence it was an international war fought primarily in Germany. It pitted the Catholic states of Germany who were backed by the Spanish, against the Protestant States of Germany who were backed by the French, Dutch and English. In this way, what originated as a civil war was turned into a war between nations. Cardinal Richelieu was hell bent on ending the Habsburg supremacy and the Spanish kings not only disagreed but wanted to expand their family domain by reconquering modern Holland once the Twelve Years' Truce had finally expired in 1621. In short Germany's independent nobles (hmm sounds like Italy) were not very strong when they were divided and this lead to a battle royale that left Germany utterly destroyed. Even when the Peace of Prague came about and it seemed like Germany was finally satisfied, the French and Spanish were still eager to continue the fighting. In the end, what it accomplished was, in fact, favorable for the the nobles however; the Empire was dissolved and the princes obtained sovereignity over their own states.
In France the problem was more national than it was international. The dispute began with the accidental (see it was just an accident, it's not anybody's fault) death of French King Henry II who's heirs were not old enough to maintain firm rule (oldest was only fifteen). The Catholics in France (lead by the Duke of Guise and the Cardinal of Lorraine) competed with the Huguenots/French Catholics (lead by Admiral de Coligny and Henry of Bourbon, King of Navarre, Sovereign of annoying and long titles!) and this lead to a civil war within France that was driven by political and religious issues. Then Catherine d'Medici decided that she should take out the Huguenot leaders (apparently the Duke of Coligny was getting too "close" to her son... Henry III... Hmmm...) and the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre ensued (Coligny killed Henry King of Titles survived). Although this did arouse the calling in of Spanish troops and German mercenaries, foreign powers were not nearly as heavily involved in the French civil war as in the German. Luckily mom stepped in (aka the politiques) and a voice of reason was heard (Jean Bodin) "we need common law and sovereign unity to remain strong forget about religion and remember peace". Two assassinations later (Henry III and Henry of Guise) and Henry of Bourbon (do you think he drank? "we need stop to civil this war" "Sire have you been drinking tonight?" "PerHapsburgs" "ok sir get off the horse and put your hands where I can see them" ) seized power. He did a pretty awesome thing with the Edict of Nantes which gave equal rights to Catholics and Huguenots alike (he even had the guts to abjure Calvinism first to attain Catholic cooperation AND HE WAS THEIR LEADER... maybe he was drunk either way it worked out). He then set about repairing the wreckage of France.
As you can see, the French Civil war was of a lesser caliber than the Thiry years war. The centralized form of government allowed for a constant, at least glimmer, of unity in France which was rare in Germany. However, Germany's disunity failed mostly because it caused too much of a power struggle between powerful rulers and when international interests were involved it got out of control. Also, unlike the Germans the French were able to resolve their problems on their own while Germany required practically all of Europe. Either way the Thirty Years War and The French civil war injured all of the countries involved, but it was down right devastating for the Germans (Good thing they never suffered such devastation again in the future... Oh wait I forgot... about that little World War... oh yeah and that other one... umm what was it... WORLD WAR II)(but at least a bunch of countries weren't involved... uhhh yeah... good thing)

Laramie (Sorry it's so long)

1 comment:

Alexanderthegreat said...

Cote I am very glad you are in our class and that I had the opportunity to read this piece you have posted. I really enjoyed the PerHapsburg line.