Initially, the Thirty Years War was precipitated in 1618 by religious conflicts between Protestants and Catholics in the Holy Roman Empire. But the conflict soon spread beyond religion to encompass the internal politics and balance of power within the Empire, and then later to the other European powers. By the end, it became simply a dynastic struggle between Bourbon France and Habsburg Spain. And almost all of it was fought out in Germany. After 30 years of conflict, entire regions of Germany and Bohemia were depopulated and destroyed by marching armies, fire, famine, and disease. It bankrupted most of the participants while leaving thousands of German villages, towns, and even cities in smoldering ruin.
Because of the political and geographical complexity of the early 17th century, an understanding of The Thirty Years War can be difficult to grasp in the beginning. Listeners will be rewarded by patience. As an aid to comprehension, we recommend the online Wikipedia article "The Thirty Years War" for maps and overviews of the geography, principle leaders, and major battles.
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