Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) 400th anniversary


Luther’s Hymn “Ein’ feste Burg ist unser Gott” (c.1529)

The Thirty Years War (1618-1648)

The devastating effects of this European war were felt long after its end. In this brief survey to mark the 400th anniversary of the outbreak, we shall examine what happened and how the economic and cultural consequences influenced what could be achieved in 17th and 18th century Germany in every particular and for decades to come. The ruler who triggered it all was Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia. The King was a catholic whose wish to bring about religious uniformity resulted in rigorous dissent by the Protestant community and ultimately led to the outbreak of what turned out to be a protracted and vicious conflict.  As the years past, more States were drawn in and the war became Europe-wide.

Meanwhile in England…

220px-James_I_of_England_by_Daniel_Mytens James I (reigned 1603-1625)

To set the Thirty Years’ War in context with what was happening here, the most notable event that coincided with the war’s outbreak  in 1618 was the execution of Sir Walter Raleigh, one of Elizabeth’s I heroes who was ultimately to fall from grace. Her successor James I (pictured) regarded the conflict emerging on the continent as essentially a European War about religion and he was reluctant to get involved. However, the pressure to do so led to his sending a troop of just 1200 men to assist Frederick of Prussia and King Christian of Denmark in 1624 at a time when King James himself was far from well. The English contingent he authorised was so under-resourced that its presence dissipated not long after arrival, the King passing away in March 1625. He was succeeded by his son Charles I, whose own turbulent reign, pre-occupied almost entirely with its survival, ended in 1649 (his Execution). England became meshed in its own Civil War between King Charles I’s Cavaliers (Royalists) and Oliver Cromwell’s Roundheads (Republicans). As the Peace of Westphalia was being signed in 1648 ending the European conflict, Cromwell was near to achieving his objective of establishing his republic (Commonwealth). So English life was in a fair measure of turmoil too. However English musical life was enriched by the superb consort music of William Lawes (1602-1645), who was appointed to the Court by Charles I as ** “Musician in Ordinary for the King’s Lutes, Viols and Voices in 1635″, and John Jenkins (1592-1678) who by contrast preferred a less sophisticated life in the country.

** from a Programme Note by Laurence Dreyfus, Wigmore Hall 14 May 2018

Devastating Effects

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