The Peace of Münster between the Dutch Republic and the Kingdom of Spain on 30 January 1648, ratified in Münster on 15 May 1648; and
Two complementary treaties both signed on 24 October 1648, namely:
The Treaty of Münster (Instrumentum Pacis Monasteriensis, IPM), between the Holy Roman Emperor, France, and their respective allies.
The Treaty of Osnabrück (Instrumentum Pacis Osnabrugensis, IPO), involving the Holy Roman Empire, Sweden, and their respective allies. The treaties did not restore peace throughout Europe, but they did create a basis for national self-determination.
The Peace of Westphalia established the precedent of peaces established by diplomatic congress, and a new system of political order in central Europe, later called Westphalian sovereignty, based upon the concept of co-existing sovereign states. Inter-state aggression was to be held in check by a balance of power. A norm was established against interference in another state's domestic affairs. As European influence spread across the globe, these Westphalian principles, especially the concept of sovereign states, became central to international law and to the prevailing world order.
Peace of Westphalia
Treaties of Osnabrück and Münster
The Ratification of the Treaty of Münster, 15 May 1648 (1648) by Gerard ter Borch
Dutch envoy Adriaan Pauw enters Münster around 1646 for the peace negotiations
The Holy Roman Empire and Sweden declared the preparations of Cologne and the Treaty of Hamburg to be preliminaries of an overall peace agreement. This larger agreement was negotiated in Westphalia, in the neighbouring cities of Münster and Osnabrück.
Both cities were maintained as neutral and demilitarized zones for the negotiations. Münster was, since its re-Catholization in 1535, a strictly mono-denominational community. It housed the Chapter of the Prince-Bishopric of Münster. Only Roman Catholic worship was permitted. No places of worship were provided for Calvinists and Lutherans. Osnabrück was a bidenominational Lutheran and Catholic city, with two Lutheran and two Catholic churches for its mostly Lutheran burghers and exclusively Lutheran city council and the Catholic Chapter of the Prince-Bishopric of Osnabrück with pertaining other clergy and other Catholic inhabitants.
From 1628–33, Osnabrück had been subjugated by troops of the Catholic League. The Catholic Prince-Bishop Franz Wilhelm, Count of Wartenberg then imposed the Counter-Reformation onto the city with many Lutheran burgher families being exiled. While under Swedish occupation Osnabrücks's Catholics were not expelled, but the city severely suffered from Swedish war contributions. Both cities strove for more autonomy, aspiring to become Free Imperial Cities, so they welcomed the neutrality imposed by the peace negotiations, and the prohibition of all political influence by the warring parties including their overlords, the prince-bishops.
Since Lutheran Sweden preferred Osnabrück as a conference venue, its peace negotiations with the Empire, including the allies of both sides, took place in Osnabrück. The Empire and its opponent France, including the allies of each, as well as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands and its opponent Spain (and their respective allies) negotiated in Münster.
The reverse of this medal: Christina of Sweden as Minerva standing l., holding an olive branch in her l. arm, and grasping the tree of knowledge with her r. hand.
The peace negotiations had no exact beginning and ending, because the participating total of 109 delegations never met in a plenary session, but arrived between 1643–46, and left between 1647-49. Between January 1646 and July 1647 probably the largest number of diplomats were present. Delegations had been sent by 16 European states, sixty-six Imperial States, representing the interests of a total of 140 involved Imperial States, and 27 interest groups, representing the interests of a variety of a total of 38 groups.
The power taken by Ferdinand III in contravention of the Holy Roman Empire's constitution was stripped and returned to the rulers of the Imperial States. This rectification allowed the rulers of the Imperial States to decide their religious worship independently. Protestants and Catholics were redefined as equal before the law, and Calvinism was given legal recognition. Independence of the Dutch Republic also provided a safe country for European Jews.
The Holy See was very displeased at the settlement, with Pope Innocent X in Zelo Domus Dei reportedly calling it "null, void, invalid, iniquitous, unjust, damnable, reprobate, inane, empty of meaning and effect for all time".
The main tenets of the Peace of Westphalia were:
All parties would recognize the Peace of Augsburg of 1555, in which each prince would have the right to determine the religion of his own state, the options being Catholicism, Lutheranism, and now Calvinism (the principle of cuius regio, eius religio).
Christians living in principalities where their denomination was not the established church were guaranteed the right to practice their faith in public during allotted hours and in private at their will.
General recognition of the exclusive sovereignty of each party over its lands, people, and agents abroad, and responsibility for the warlike acts of any of its citizens or agents. Issuance of unrestricted letters of marque and reprisal to privateers was forbidden.
The independence of Switzerland from the Empire was formally recognized; these territories had enjoyed de facto independence for decades.
The independence of the Dutch Republic was formally recognized (having declared its independence in 1581).
Whether or not the city of Bremen was included in Swedish Bremen-Verden remained disputed. Facing the Swedish take-over, Bremen had claimed Imperial immediacy, which was granted by the emperor and thus separated the city from the surrounding bishopric with the same name. Sweden understood that Bremen was nevertheless to be ceded to it, and started the Swedish-Bremen wars in 1653/54.
The treaty ruled that the Dukes of Mecklenburg, owing their re-investiture to the Swedes, cede Wismar and the Mecklenburgian port tolls. While Sweden understood this to include the tolls of all Mecklenburgian ports, the Mecklenburgian dukes as well as the emperor understood this to refer to Wismar only.
Barriers to trade and commerce erected during the war were abolished, and "a degree" of free navigation was guaranteed on the Rhine.
The treaty did not entirely end conflicts arising out of the Thirty Years' War. Fighting continued between France and Spain until the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659. The Dutch-Portuguese War had started during the Spanish occupation of Portugal, as part of the Eighty Years' War, but went on till 1663. Nevertheless, it did settle many outstanding European issues of the time. Some of the principles developed at Westphalia, especially those relating to respecting the boundaries of sovereign states and non-interference in their domestic affairs, became central to the world order that developed over the following centuries, and remain in effect today. In several parts of the world, however, sovereign states emerged from what was once imperial territory only after the post-World War II period of decolonization. More significantly, one of major principles—the balance of power—was undermined in the Twentieth century. Referring to the Soviet Union, Adolf Hitler said that without Wehrmacht, a "wave would have swept over Europe that would have taken no care of the ridiculous British idea of the balance of power in Europe in all its banality and stupid tradition—once and for all." During World War II, the multipolar balance became bipolar, between the Axis and the Allies, followed by the United States and NATO nations against the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact nations during the Cold War. (1967: 332) In his chapter entitled "The New Balance of Power", Hans Morgenthau opened with the words:
The destruction of that intellectual and moral consensus which restrained the struggle for power for almost three centuries deprived the balance of power of its vital energy that made it a living principle of international politics … The most obvious of these structural changes which impairs the operation of the balance of power is to be found in the drastic numerical reduction of the players in the game.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, power was seen as unipolar with the United States in absolute control, though nuclear proliferation and the rise of Japan, the European Union, the Middle East, China, and a resurgent Russia have begun to recreate a multipolar political environment. Instead of a traditional balance of power, inter-state aggression may now be checked by the preponderance of power, a sharp contrast to the Westphalian principle.
^Konrad Repgen, 'Negotiating the Peace of Westphalia: A Survey with an Examination of the Major Problems', In: 1648: War and Peace in Europe: 3 vols. (Catalogue of the 26th exhibition of the Council of Europe, on the Peace of Westphalia), Klaus Bußmann and Heinz Schilling (eds.) on behalf of the Veranstaltungsgesellschaft 350 Jahre Westfälischer Friede, Münster and Osnabrück: no publ., 1998, 'Essay Volume 1: Politics, Religion, Law and Society', pp. 355–72, here pp. 355 seq.
^Konrad Repgen, 'Negotiating the Peace of Westphalia: A Survey with an Examination of the Major Problems', In: 1648: War and Peace in Europe: 3 vols. (Catalogue of the 26th exhibition of the Council of Europe, on the Peace of Westphalia), Klaus Bußmann and Heinz Schilling (eds.) on behalf of the Veranstaltungsgesellschaft 350 Jahre Westfälischer Friede, Münster and Osnabrück: no publ., 1998, 'Essay Volume 1: Politics, Religion, Law and Society', pp. 355–72, here p. 356.
^Böhme, Klaus-R (2001). "Die sicherheitspolitische Lage Schwedens nach dem Westfälischen Frieden". In Hacker, Hans-Joachim. Der Westfälische Frieden von 1648: Wende in der Geschichte des Ostseeraums (in German). Kovač. p. 35. ISBN 3-8300-0500-8.
^Leffler, Melvyn P. (1992). A Preponderance of Power. Stanford University Press.
Croxton, Derek, and Anuschka Tischer. The Peace of Westphalia: A Historical Dictionary (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002).
Croxton, Derek (1999). "The Peace of Westphalia of 1648 and the Origins of Sovereignty". International History Review. 21 (3): 569–591. doi:10.1080/07075332.1999.9640869.
Mowat, R. B. History of European Diplomacy, 1451–1789 (1928) pp 104–14 online
Schmidt, Sebastian (2011). "To Order the Minds of Scholars: The Discourse of the Peace of Westphalia in International Relations Literature1". International Studies Quarterly. 55 (3): 601–623. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2478.2011.00667.x. Historiography.
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