Wednesday, 31 January 2018

The Thirty Years' War (Czech Republic, Germany)

In the early 17th century the confessional map of Europe was quite stabilised, but there were still many political, dynastic, internal and still confessional problems. In this tense situation the Bohemian estates started to revolt against the Habsburg rule after Matthias, the King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor, repealed a law of religious freedom. In the following war the Bohemian estates were supported by various Protestant states, most notably the Electorate of the Palatinate, against the Habsburg Emperor, but were finally defeated in the Battle of White Mountain in 1620. The most Protestant states were defeated by Catholic states in the following time. In 1621 the Eighty Years' War or Dutch War of Independence restarted after a 12-year truce. Starting in 1624 France renewed its anti-Habsburg politics and initiated a union between Denmark, England and the Netherlands. In 1625 Albrecht von Wallenstein started to raise a large army to further the Imperial cause. By 1629 the Protestantism in the Empire seemed to be lost, but when Emperor Ferdinand II was at the peak of power, he provoked again the Protestant resistance and Sweden under Gustav II Adolf joined the war in 1630. The Swedish marched in the following time through the Empire until they were forced to retreat in 1632. In the Battle of Lützen in November 1632 Gustav II Adolf lost his life and a time of Swedish defeats followed. In 1635 the Protestant states and the Emperor signed the Peace of Prague and decided to join forces against France and Sweden, which subsequently formed an alliance. French and Swedish attacks on German soil continued until 1648 when the Peace of Westphalia was proclaimed. 

This Thirty Years' War, which was accompanied by famines and epidemics, had horrible consequences for the civilian population and some areas were completely depopulated and devastated, but did not have a big impact on the political map of Empire. The Peace of Westphalia is widely considered to be the end of the Reformation.

This is the last post in the series about the Reformation. Thanks to everyone for reading! The next big themes on this blog will be World War I, Modern Art and the Federal Chancellors of Germany. So stay tuned!

1618: The Thirty Years' War begins with the Second Defenestration of Prague.

1631: The Protestant city of Magdeburg is destroyed during the Sack of Magdeburg.

1632-1634: Regensburg is considered to have a key role in the war.

1648: The Thirty Years' War ends with the Peace of Westphalia.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Reformation in Franconia (Germany)

Franconia was a centre of the Reformation in Bavaria. Martin Luther visited the region several times and Nuremberg became a centre for the spread of the Lutheran ideas. During the Counter-Reformation big parts of the region were recatholicized and during the Thirty Years' War the region suffered from heavy devastations.

Lazarus Spengler became a member of Nuremberg's city council in 1516. He was an early supporter of Martin Luther and became the leader of the Reformation in Nuremberg. In 1526 Spengler and Philipp Melanchthon opened a Lutheran gymnasium in Nuremberg. In 1530 he attended the Diet of Augsburg. He also helped to design the Luther rose and wrote some popular hymns. Lazarus Spengler died in 1534. 

Georg Spalatin was born in Franconia in 1484 and got his early education in Nuremberg. He later studied in Erfurt and became a member of a little band of German humanists. In 1509 he started to work for Frederick the Wise. First he was the tutor for his nephews, his librarian and secretary, but later he became his confidential adviser in all the troubled diplomacy of the earlier years of the Reformation and there is scarcely any fact in the opening history of the Reformation which is not connected in some way with Spalatin's name. He also remained an adviser for Frederick's successors. Georg Spalatin died in 1545. 

Friday, 12 January 2018

The Counter-Reformation (Germany, Vatican)

The Counter-Reformation was the response of the Catholic Church to the Protestant Reformation. It began with the Council of Trent between 1545 and 1563 and led to reforms such as the foundation of seminaries for the proper training of priests and the foundation of new spiritual movements. Its main aims were the repression of the Protestantism and the Recatholisation of Protestant territories. The Counter-Reformation was one of the factors that led to the Thirty Years' War. 

Pope Leo X (1475-1521) had not taken seriously
the demands for church reform that would quickly
grow into the Protestant Reformation

Art played an important role for the propaganda
of the Counter-Reformation

Ingolstadt - a bastion for the traditional Catholic faith
in southern Germany and place of activity for Johann Eck

Monday, 1 January 2018

European History in a Small Village (Luxembourg)

Schengen is a small village near the meeting place of the French, German and Luxembourgian border. In 1985 representatives from Belgium, France, West Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands came together in Schengen to sign the Schengen Agreement, which led to the creation of Europe's borderless Schengen Area. 

The European Museum in Schengen was opened in 2010 and shows exhibitions about the Schengen Agreement. In 2017 the Village of Schengen got the European Heritage Label. 

Maxicard with a Personalised Stamp about the 30th anniversary
of the Schengen Agreement

Thanks to the Schengen Agreement there are today no borders anymore between

Czech Republic

Sunday, 31 December 2017

War, Peace and the Interim - The Reformation from 1530 to 1555 (Germany)

After Charles V rejected the Confessio Augustana, there were dicussions among the Protestant Princes and Imperial Cities of the Holy Roman Empire if they should form an alliance against the Emperor. On 22nd December 1530 Elector Johann of Saxony invited representatives of the Protestant territories to Schmalkalden and on 27th February 1531 they founded the Schmalkaldic League, a defensive military alliance with the obligation of support in the case of a Catholic attack. The founding members included Saxony, Hesse, Brunswick-Lüneburg, Strasbourg and Ulm. In the following time more cities and territories joined the league and it became an important factor of power. At the beginning Charles V was not able to take action against the alliance, as he needed the support of all Princes in the war against the Turks, but in the early 1540s differences between the members of the Schmalkaldic League became more difficult to settle and it was effectively petrified. 

On 10th July 1546, after Charles V had assured himself the neutrality of the other European powers and the support of the Pope, the Schmalkaldic War began. At the beginning the war was fought in Southern Germany, but was later shifted to Central Germany. After the capture of Elector John Frederick I of Saxony and Philip of Hesse and the victory of Charles V in the Battle of Mühlberg on 24th April 1547, the Schmalkaldic War was over and the Schmalkaldic League was dissolved. In May 1548 Charles V ordered the Augsburg Interim, which forced Protestants to readopt traditional Catholic beliefs and practices, but also allowed some Protestant practices like the right to marry for clergyman.

This is not a postcard, but a picture from the Internet.
Both Catholics and Protestants were unsatisfied with the Interim. In January 1552 Maurice of Saxony, one of Charles V's most important supporters in the Schmalkaldic War, formed an alliance with other Princes and the French King and forced Charles V to retreat to Austria. In August 1552 Charles V guaranteed Lutheran religious freedoms in the Peace of Passau and cancelled the Augsburg Interim. The Peace of Passau effectively surrendered Charles V's lifelong quest for European religious unity. The religious freedoms were assured with the Peace of Augsburg on 25th September 1555. It officially ended the religious struggle between the Catholics and Lutherans and made the legal division of Christendom permanent within the Holy Roman Empire, allowing rulers to choose either Lutheranism or Roman Catholicism as the official confession of their state (Cuius regio, eius religio). After the Peace of Augsburg followed one of the longest periods of peace in the history of the Holy Roman Empire.

Friday, 29 December 2017

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam)

The time after World War II changed the political map of Southeast Asia permanently. Indonesia declared its independence from the Netherlands in 1945, which they accepted just in 1949 after the War of Indonesian Independence. The Philippines became independent from the USA in 1946. The Federation of Malaya became independent from the United Kingdom in 1957 and in 1963 Malaysia was founded when Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore were added to the Federation. Indonesia did not accepted its new neighbour and started the Konfrontasi and also the Philippines raised a claim to Sabah. Singapore was expelled from the Federation in 1965 due to ideological differences and became an independent state. But despite all these conflicts representatives of the four states and of Thailand came together in Bangkok in August 1967 and founded the Association of Southeast Asian Nations with the Bangkok Declaration. Its main aims were and still are economic growth, social progress, sociocultural evolution and the protection of regional stability, but it was also founded as reaction against the Vietnam War and the Communism. In 1984 Brunei joined the ASEAN barely a week after gaining independence from the United Kingdom. Myanmar and Laos joined in 1997. In the same year the ASEAN was also hit hard by the Asian financial crisis. Cambodia joined the community as last new member in 1999. In 2007 the ASEAN- Charter was signed, which turned the ASEAN into a legal entity and aimed to create a single free-trade area with the purpose of moving closer to an EU-style community. Today the ASEAN is an active global partner and works together with other parts of the World to promote World peace and stability.

To commemorate the 48th and 50th anniversary of the ASEAN its member states issued joint stamps in 2015 and 2017 (without Brunei). I have all stamps from 2015, but still miss many stamps from 2017. If anybody can help me to get the stamps from Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos or Vietnam please write it in the comments.