Sunday, July 06, 2008

Today In History: Holy war, Batman!

The Holy Roman Empire had been minding its own business, ruthlessly crushing uppity Protestants in Germany and otherwise keeping to itself, when some nosy Swedish king just had to play buttinski.

On this day in 1630, Gustavus Adolphus landed with both feet (and a thoroughly modern army) in the middle of what was destined to be known as the Thirty Years' War. What had been a one-sided stomping turned into a bloody see-saw that raged across the continent and largely depopulated Germany. So savage was the conflict that for the next two centuries, Europe reduced war to an almost kabuki-like exercise of ritualized meetings off in conveniently out-of-the-way battlefields.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget that the Swedish King was being subsidized by his most Catholic French majesty, and his minister Cardinal Richelieu.

TBeck said...

And then the Ring of Fire really threw a wrench in thw works!

George said...

The Ring of Fire books are great ... but more so if you know your history of the period.

Kudos to Eric Flint and his co-writers.

Anonymous said...

Hakkaa päälle!

Er, I'm a Finn...

Ed Foster said...

So, here we are (were) in the early 15th century. The Pope is a figurehead, the various national churches are pretty much run as extensions of their respective governments, and there is a High Church, venial as all getout, providing abbeys and bishoprics to the junior sons of the nobility, thus keeping the little devils from starting revolutions.
There's a Low Church, staffed by the brightest and best of the peasantry, doing a decent job taking care of their families and immediate neighbors. Low church priests rarely make monseigneur, never higher than that.
Everyone thithes the church in money or grain, and that thithe gets everyone over the bad times in poor harvest years. Nice stable system,it kept the taxes down, and lasted for a thousand years.
Then, along comes the bubonic plague, the Low Church types get killed off tending their flocks, and scripture gets read by any crank who can cypher the letters.
Buttheads in the High Church hire mercenaries to put down the burning started by the butthead self ordained fundamentalist ministers.
Howlingly funny thought: At his death, Martin Luther, terrified of the Baptist armies gutting the Rhineland, was in communication with the Pope, hopeing to reestablish a universal Catholic Church.
The massacre of peasant armies keeps the soldiers employed for a decade or two, then the entire mess is resorbed by the national governments, all of whom (suprise)have reestablished the National Cathlic Church Inc. of the middle ages.
An Episcopalian is a latin praying Catholic with a different head bishop than the other bead rattlers. Likewise a Lutheran, be he Swede or German. And let's not forget those Greek praying Orthodox Catholics.
So all the various "Catholic" armies trashed each other for the better part of a century, until the Turkish invasions of Europe saw Catholic and Protestant fighting side by side on the walls of Vienna, with volunteers from all of Europe and a magnificent collection of Polish Catholic cavalrymen hitting the Turkish flank like the hammer of hell, backed up by German artillery borrowed from the mostly Lutheran Hanseatic League. Confusing, ain't it?