Master of Arts (MA)
30 Years War, Balthasar Denner, Europe
The scars of the Thirty Years War had only begun to heal when Balthasar Denner was born in 1685. The war started in 1618 to determine whether the German States would be dominated by Catholic interests or by Protestantt . Entwined, however, with the religious alliances were a myriad of political and feudal quarrels in which external European powers were quick to meddle. Eventually, the affairs of the soul and conscience of Germany were left to foreign mercenary troops to settle. By 1634, all semblance of unity in both the Protestant Union and the Catholic League had vanished; Germany became a battleground onto which descended armies from France, Austria, Sweden and Spain. To feed the soldiers, the Germans were left to starve. The loss of life from the combined effects of battle and lack of food was staggering. Even more horrible was the exhaustion and deprivation afflicting the survivors.
Peace negotiations in 1648 brought an end to the fighting. The terms were expedient. The negotiators adopted partial solutions and untenable provisions with a potential for disastrous repercussions. For our purposes, the most significant effect of the Treaty of Westphalia was the weakening of imperial power. The Holy Roman Empire became little more than a name. This assured that the hundreds of princely states, independent and imperial towns, were free to pursue their separate interests and practice local political absolutism. The sovereignty permitted by this provision went so far as to grant the provincial seats the right to negotiate foreign treaties. The terms of the peace upheld the principle, "cujus regio ejus religio." This evolved in practice to mean "cujus regio ejus cultus," for given this political diffusion, the development of a distinctive national culture in Germany was unthinkable.
Feigenbaum, Gail, "Head Studies by Balthasar Denner" (1975). Honors Papers. 739.