Thirty Years War & Rise of Prussia

History of Germany between 1618 - 1739

Map Thirty Years War-en
Map of the Thirty Years' War

From 1618 to 1648 the Thirty Years' War ravaged in the Holy Roman Empire. The causes were the conflicts between Catholics and Protestants, the efforts by the various states within the Empire to increase their power and the Catholic Emperor's attempt to achieve the religious and political unity of the Empire. The immediate occasion for the war was the uprising of the Protestant nobility of Bohemia against the emperor, but the conflict was widened into a European War by the intervention of King Christian IV of Denmark (1625–29), Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden (1630–48) and France under Cardinal Richelieu. Germany became the main theatre of war and the scene of the final conflict between France and the Habsburgs for predominance in Europe.

The fighting often was out of control, with marauding bands of hundreds or thousands of starving soldiers spreading plague, plunder, and murder. The armies that were under control moved back and forth across the countryside year after year, levying heavy taxes on cities, and seizing the animals and food stocks of the peasants without payment. The enormous social disruption over three decades caused a dramatic decline in population because of killings, disease, crop failures, declining birth rates and random destruction, and the out-migration of terrified people. One estimate shows a 38% drop from 16 million people in 1618 to 10 million by 1650, while another shows "only" a 20% drop from 20 million to 16 million. The Altmark and Württemberg regions were especially hard hit. It took generations for Germany to fully recover.

The war ended in 1648 with the Peace of Westphalia. Alsace was permanently lost to France, Pomerania was temporarily lost to Sweden, and the Netherlands officially left the Empire. Imperial power declined further as the states' rights were increased.

Rise of Brandenburg-Prussia

From 1640, Brandenburg-Prussia had started to rise under the Great Elector, Frederick William. The Peace of Westphalia in 1648 strengthened it even further, through the acquisition of East Pomerania. The second half of the 17th century laid the basis for Prussia to become one of the great players in European politics later on. The emerging Brandenburg-Prussian military potential, based on the introduction of a standing army in 1653, was symbolized by the widely noted victories in Warsaw (1656) and Fehrbellin (1675) and by the Great Sleigh Drive (1678). Brandenburg-Prussia also established a navy and German colonies in the Brandenburger Gold Coast and Arguin. Frederick William, known as "The Great Elector", opened Brandenburg-Prussia to large-scale immigration of mostly Protestant refugees from all across Europe, most notably Huguenot immigration following the Edict of Potsdam. Frederick William also started to centralize Brandenburg-Prussia's administration and reduce the influence of the estates.

In 1701, Frederick III, Elector of Brandenburg, succeeded in elevating his status to King in Prussia. This was made possible by the Duchy of Prussia's sovereign status outside the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, and approval by the Habsburg emperor and other European royals in the course of forming alliances for the War of the Spanish succession and the Great Northern War. From 1701 onward, the Hohenzollern domains were referred to as the Kingdom of Prussia, or simply Prussia. Legally, the personal union between Brandenburg and Prussia continued until the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806. However, by this time the emperor's overlordship over the empire had become a legal fiction. Hence, after 1701, Brandenburg was de facto treated as part of the Prussian kingdom. Frederick and his successors continued to centralize and expand the state, transforming the personal union of politically diverse principalities typical for the Brandenburg-Prussian era into a system of provinces subordinate to Berlin.

From 1713 to 1740, King Frederick William I, also known as the "Soldier King", established a highly centralized, militarized state with a heavily rural population of about three million (compared to the nine million in Austria).

References: Wikipedia

Popular sites founded between 1618 and 1739 in Germany

Dresden Cathedral

Dresden Cathedral (Hofkirche) stands as one of Dresden's foremost landmarks. It was designed by architect Gaetano Chiaveri from 1738 to 1751. The church was commissioned by Augustus III, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland while the Protestant city of Dresden built the Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) between 1726 and 1743. The Catholic Elector decided that a Catholic church was needed in order to counterbalance the Pro ...
Founded: 1738-1751 | Location: Dresden, Germany

Französischer Dom

French Cathedral (Französischer Dom) is the colloquial naming for the French Church of Friedrichstadt. Louis Cayart and Abraham Quesnay built the first parts of the actual French Church from 1701 to 1705 for the Huguenot (Calvinist) community. At that time, Huguenots made up about 25% of Berlin"s population. The French Church was modelled after the destroyed Huguenot temple in Charenton-Saint-Maurice, France. I ...
Founded: 1701-1705 | Location: Berlin, Germany

Frauenkirche

The Dresden Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) is considered an outstanding example of Protestant sacred architecture, featuring one of the largest domes in Europe. Built in the 18th century, the church was destroyed in the bombing of Dresden during World War II. The remaining ruins were left for 50 years as a war memorial, following decisions of local East German leaders. The church was rebuilt after the reunification of ...
Founded: 1726-1743 | Location: Dresden, Germany

Deutscher Dom

The Neue Kirche (colloquially Deutscher Dom) was originally built in the 1701-1708 by Giovanni Simonetti after a design of Martin Grünberg. It was the third church in Friedrichstadt, established in 1688, which was a town of princely domination, while the neighbouring old Berlin and Cölln were cities of town privileges. The Prince-Elector originally only provided for a Calvinist congregation, since they - the Hoh ...
Founded: 1702 | Location: Berlin, Germany

Zwinger Palace

The Zwinger is a palace built in Baroque style and designed by court architect Matthäus Daniel Pöppelmann. It served as the orangery, exhibition gallery and festival arena of the Dresden Court. The location was formerly part of the Dresden fortress of which the outer wall is conserved. The name derives from the German word Zwinger (an enclosed killing ground in front of a castle or city gate). Today, the Zwinger ...
Founded: 1710-1728 | Location: Dresden, Germany

Charlottenburg Palace

Charlottenburg Palace is the largest palace in Berlin and the only surviving royal residence in the city dating back to the time of the Hohenzollern family. The original palace was commissioned by Sophie Charlotte, the wife of Friedrich III, Elector of Brandenburg in what was then the village of Lietzow. Originally named Lietzenburg, the palace was designed by Johann Arnold Nering in baroque style. The inauguration of the ...
Founded: 1695-1713 | Location: Berlin, Germany

Nymphenburg Palace

Nymphenburg Palace is the main summer residence of the former rulers of Bavaria of the House of Wittelsbach. The palace owes its foundation as a summer residence to the birth of the long-awaited heir to the throne, Max Emanuel, who was born in 1662 to the Bavarian Elector Ferdinand Maria and his wife, Henriette Adelaide of Savoy, after some ten years of marriage. In 1664 construction began to the plans of the north Itali ...
Founded: 1664 | Location: Munich, Germany

Neumünster

According to tradition, the Irish bishop Kilian were killed with his fellows at the site of today Neumünster church. Bishop Megingoz built the first church on the site as a memorial for martyrs in the 8th century. The next church was built around 1060 and renewed in 1250. The current Baroque appearance dates from the 18th century (1711-1722). In World War II the church was partly destroyed and restored later.
Founded: 1711-1722 | Location: Würzburg, Germany

Würzburg Residence

The sumptuous Würzburg Residence was built and decorated in the 18th century by an international corps of architects, painters, sculptors, and stucco workers under the patronage of two successive Prince-Bishops, Johann Philipp Franz and Friedrich Karl von Schönborn. The Residence was essentially constructed between 1720 and 1744, decorated on the interior from 1740 to 1770 and landscaped with magnificent gardens from 1 ...
Founded: 1720-1780 | Location: Würzburg, Germany

St. Stephen's Cathedral

St. Stephen's Cathedral is a baroque church built in 1688. Since 730, there have been many churches built on the site of the current cathedral. The current church, a baroque building around 100 metres long, was built from 1668 to 1693 after a fire in 1662 destroyed its predecessor, of which only the late gothic eastern side remains. The cathedral's overall plan was made by Carlo Lurago, its interior decoration by Giovanni ...
Founded: 1688 | Location: Passau, Germany

Ludwigsburg Palace

Ludwigsburg Palace is one of the largest Baroque palaces in Germany and features an enormous garden in that style. From the 18th century to 1918 it was the principal royal palace of the dukedom that became in 1806 the Kingdom of Württemberg. The foundation stone was laid on May 17, 1704 under Duke Eberhard Ludwig of Württemberg (reigning monarch from 1693 to 1733). Begun as a hunting lodge, the project became m ...
Founded: 1704 | Location: Ludwigsburg, Germany

St. Bartholomew Church

St. Bartholomew is a Catholic pilgrimage church in the Berchtesgadener Land. It named for Saint Bartholomew the Apostle, patron of alpine farmers and dairymen. The church is located at the western shore of the Königssee lake, on the Hirschau peninsula. It can only be reached by ship or after a long hike across the surrounding mountains. The Palace and pilgrimage church were founded by the Prince-Provosts of Berchtes ...
Founded: 1697 | Location: Berchtesgaden, Germany

Karlsruhe Palace

Karlsruhe Palace was erected in 1715 by Margrave Charles III William of Baden-Durlach, after a dispute with the citizens of his previous capital, Durlach. The city of Karlsruhe has since grown around it. The first building was constructed by Jakob Friedrich von Batzendorf. The city was planned with the tower of the palace at the centre and 32 streets radiating out from it like spokes on a wheel, or ribs on a folding fan. ...
Founded: 1715 | Location: Karlsruhe, Germany

St. Andreas Church

The Church of St. Andreas was constructed between 1622 and 1629 in the South German baroque style. It was originally a Jesuit church and also served as the court church for the Counts palatine of Neuburg. After the dissolution of the Jesuit order in August 1773 it served as a parish church until 2005 when it became the monastery church of the Dominican Order. The building itself is now owned by the city of Düss ...
Founded: 1622-1629 | Location: Düsseldorf, Germany

Asam Church

St. Johann Nepomuk, better known as the Asam Church was built from 1733 to 1746 by the brothers Egid Quirin Asam and Cosmas Damian Asam as their private church. Due to resistance of the citizens, the brothers were forced to make the church accessible to the public. The church is considered to be one of the most important buildings of the main representatives of the southern German Late Baroque. The church was built witho ...
Founded: 1733-1746 | Location: Munich, Germany

Electoral Palace

The Electoral Palace (Kurfürstliches Schloss) in Bonn is the former residential palace of the Prince-Electors of Cologne. Since 1818, it has been the University of Bonn"s main building in the city center, home to the University administration and the faculty of humanities and theology. The palace was built by Enrico Zuccalli for the prince-elector Joseph Clemens of Bavaria from 1697 to 1705. The Hofgarte ...
Founded: 1697-1705 | Location: Bonn, Germany

St. Martin's Church

St. Martin"s Church is located in the heart of Bamberg. Built by the Dietzenhofer brothers, it is Bamberg"s only baroque church. The creation of this church is closely linked with the Jesuits as it was originally constructed as the university church and the church of the Jesuit College. After a construction period of just seven years, the house of worship was consecrated in 1693. The trompe d"oeil dome by ...
Founded: 1693 | Location: Bamberg, Germany

Bensberg Palace

Bensberg Palace (Schloss Bensberg) is a former hunting lodge of the Counts Palatine of the Rhine (the House of Wittelsbach). The palace was commissioned by Johann Wilhelm, Elector Palatine for his wife Anna Maria Luisa de" Medici. Anna Maria Luisa enjoyed the site"s elevated scenery and views onto the River Rhine, Rhine Valley and Cologne Bight. The building was designed by Italian Baroque architect  ...
Founded: 1711 | Location: Bensberg, Germany

Bruchsal Palace

Bruchsal Palace (Schloss Bruchsal) is the only Prince-Bishop’s residence on the Upper Rhine. It is famous for its opulent Baroque staircase constructed by Balthasar Neumann. Bruchsal Palace was constructed in 1720 as a residence for the Prince-Bishops of Speyer. The then Prince-Bishop, Damian Hugo von Schönborn, an avid art collector, played an important role in planning the complex. The three-wing palace is bu ...
Founded: 1720 | Location: Bruchsal, Germany

Saarbrücken Castle

The existence of Saarbrücken was first documented in 999 under the name 'Castellum Sarabrucca'. In the 17th century the castle was rebuilt in the style of the Renaissance, but later destroyed and now only the cellars of this construction remain. In the 18th century Prince Wilhelm Heinrich had his architect Stengel build a new Baroque residence on the same site. Since then the castle has suffered various bou ...
Founded: 18th century | Location: Saarbrücken, Germany

Pillnitz Castle

Pillnitz Castle is located on the bank of the River Elbe in the former village of Pillnitz. It was the summer residence of many electors and kings of Saxony. The castle complex consists of three main buildings, the Riverside Palace (Wasserpalais) on the riverfront; the Upper Palace (Bergpalais) on the hillside, both Baroque with Chinoiserieelements; and the later Neoclassical New Palace (Neues Palais), which links ...
Founded: 1720 | Location: Pillnitz, Germany

Goethe House

The Goethe House is the main house where poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe lived in Weimar, though he did live in several others in the town. Goethe House is one of sites in a UNESCO World Heritage Site consisting of multiple structures related to Weimar Classicism. Johann Wolfgang Goethe lived in the house on Frauenplan for 50 years until his death in 1832, apart from his journeys and a lengthy stay in Italy. He first mov ...
Founded: 1709 | Location: Weimar, Germany

Poppelsdorf Palace

The design of a new structure to replace the old ruined castle of Poppelsdorf commenced in 1715 at the request of the owner, Joseph Clemens, Archbishop-Elector of Cologne, who engaged the French architect Robert de Cotte. Clemens wanted a maison de plaisance that would be near his remodeled Bonn Palace one-half mile to the north. There was to be a canal between the two, following the example of the Palace of Versail ...
Founded: 1715-1746 | Location: Bonn, Germany

Leineschloss

The Leineschloss, situated on the Leine in Hanover, is the former residence of the Hanoverian kings and the current seat of the Landtag of Lower Saxony. The first building on the site was a Franciscan friary, constructed in about 1300, which was abandoned in 1533 after the Protestant Reformation. In 1636, George, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, began construction of the palace on the site as his residence. In 1 ...
Founded: 1636 | Location: Hanover, Germany

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Cháteau Comtal

The Château Comtal (Count’s Castle) is a medieval castle within the Cité of Carcassonne, the largest city in Europe with its city walls still intact. The Château Comtal has a strong claim to be called a 'Cathar Castle'. When the Catholic Crusader army arrived in 1209 they first attacked Raymond-Roger Trencavel's castrum at Bèziers and then moved on to his main stronghold at Carcassonne.

The castle with rectangular shape is separated from the city by a deep ditch and defended by two barbicans. There are six towers curtain walls.

The castle was restored in 1853 by the architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc. It was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1997.