The Peace of Westphalia

The Peace of Westphalia was signed in 1648 in Münster, Germany, thus ending a war that shattered the European community for decades to come. It was not one treaty, but a series of treaties that outlined the terms of peace in relation to religion and political matters. The Peace of Westphalia was a turning point for all of Europe and unexpectedly marked the end of the Holy Roman Empire. Smaller systems of government throughout Europe began to form, rendering the Holy Roman Empire redundant and quickly obsolete.

The Peace of Westphalia proved to be even more powerful than that. What it did was allow autonomous governments to form by terminating the strong political influence of the pope. Pope Innocent X rejected the Peace of Westphalia but was ignored by both Catholics and Protestants alike. Both religious entities relished their newfound religious and political independence. The Peace of Westphalia also corrected something that the Peace of Augsburg did not acknowledge: the acceptance of Calvinism. This was a new autonomous Europe—divided by borders and by religion.

After the war, the nations that remained Protestant were Scotland, Holland, Scandinavia, England, parts of Germany, and parts of Switzerland. All other European nations remained predominantly Catholic.

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