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City of “Peace of Westphalia”

City of “Peace of Westphalia”

The Thirty Years’ War was a series of wars in Central Europe between 1618 and 1648. Although it seems to be mainly based on religion (Protestant and Catholic conflict) indeed it has started the birth process of the national state. In this war the religion used by certain power of the Europe as an intervention tool. When the war ended the fighting forces needed a city to negotiate peace. The city of the peace would be Münster & Osnabrück.

Münster becomes a neutral convention town; representatives of the belligerent powers negotiate within the city as of 1643/44.The reason for the election of these cities (including Osnabrück) was to be found in the middle of the road between the Swedish and French capitals.The treaty which is made peace possible was signed by sovereigns and envoys, at Münster’s Town Hall (Friedenssaal) on October 24th 1648. That’s the story of that famous picture.

‘’The treaties became a pillar of the international law and relations that last till today. The Peace of Westphalia is a key event in European history, the end of the Thirty-Year War, which involved most of the great powers of Europe, and of the Eighty-Year war between Netherlands and Spain. The event exemplifies a moment in modern European history when peace was agreed through diplomatic negotiations, not force. Religious tolerance was accepted as the basis of international relations.’’ (EU Report)  

When I visited Town Hall as a young social scientist i felt really excited. Because what I learned as a student of political science and I will learn in the future would be related with this agreement and this place. So, what is the importance of the Treaty of Westphalia in political science and international relations? With this agreement is actually our greatest material emerged: National States.

  • Sovereign rights for peripheral states were secured. Specially, The German principalities secured their autonomy.  
  • The treaty gave the Swiss independence of Austria and the Netherlands independence of Spain.
  • The Münster and Osnabrück Agreements were not allowed to speak to the papal representative. The influence of the papacy on the kingdoms came to end. The system is secularized.
  • Catholics, Lutherans and Calvinists were granted equal rights. The ruling of Augsburg (1555) was confirmed by the ruling power to determine ‘’religion’’ on owns territory.
  • The kingdoms identifies physical boundaries mutually and the sovereignties are confirmed. In this way, tax collection became more feasible and the enriched states established regular armies.
  • Thanks to this agreements Congresses Diplomacy started. Thats way modern diplomacy conventions and rules have begun to be developed.

1776 American Revolution and 1789 French Revolution developments have strengthened understanding towards the nation state. Structures beyond the state began to gain power in international relations today.

 

References:

European Heritage Label (EU) -Münster and Osnabrück – European Heritage Label 2014

Stadt Münster

History Today : Richard Cavendish’s article

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