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The Thirty Years War

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss a topic suggested by listeners: the war which was centred on the Holy Roman Empire from 1618 and was unequalled in scale until C20th

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the war in Europe which begain in 1618 and continued on such a scale and with such devastation that its like was not seen for another three hundred years. It pitched Catholics against Protestants, Lutherans against Calvinists and Catholics against Catholics across the Holy Roman Empire, drawing in their neighbours and it lasted for thirty gruelling years, from the Defenestration of Prague to the Peace of Westphalia of 1648. Many more civilians died than soldiers, and famine was so great that even cannibalism was excused. This topic was chosen from several hundred suggested by listeners this autumn.

The image above is a detail from a painting of The Battle of White Mountain on 7-8 November 1620, by Pieter Snayers (1592-1667)


Peter Wilson
Chichele Professor of the History of War at the University of Oxford

Ulinka Rublack
Professor of Early Modern European History at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of St John’s College


Toby Osborne
Associate Professor in History at Durham University

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Available now

51 minutes

Last on

Thu 6 Dec 2018 21:30


Ulinka Rublack at the University of Cambridge

Peter Wilson at the University of Oxford

Toby Osborne at Durham University

‘Who Won the Thirty Years War?’ by Peter H. Wilson, History Today (2009)

‘Europe’s apocalypse’ by Peter H. Wilson, BBC History Magazine (2018)

Thirty Years' War - Wikipedia



Olaf Asbach and Peter Schröder (eds.), The Ashgate Research Companion to the Thirty Years’ War (Ashgate Press, 2014)

Ronald G. Asch, The Thirty Years War: The Holy Roman Empire and Europe, 1618-1648 (Palgrave, 1998)

Richard Bonney, The Thirty Years War 1618-1648 (Osprey Publishing, 2002)

Thomas A. Brady, German Histories in the Age of Reformations, 1400-1650 (Cambridge University Press, 2009)

Klaus Bussmann and Heinz Schilling (eds.), 1648: War and Peace in Europe (Westfälisches Landesmuseum, 1998)

Derek Croxton, Westphalia: The Last Christian Peace (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013)

J. H. Elliott, Richelieu and Olivares (Cambridge University Press, 1991)

Hans Jakob Christophell Grimmelshausen, The Adventures of Simplicius Simplicissimus (first published 1668; Penguin, 2018)

Tryntje Helfferich (ed.), The Thirty Years War: A Documentary History (Hackett Publishing Co, 2009)

R. Po-chia Hsia (ed.), A Companion to the Reformation World (Wiley-Blackwell, 2003), especially ‘The Thirty Years War’ by Johannes Burkhardt

Hans Medick and Benjamin Marschke, Experiencing the Thirty Years War: A Brief History with Documents (Bedford Books, 2013)

Geoff Mortimer, Wallenstein: The Enigma of the Thirty Years War (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010)

Michael Roberts, Gustavus Adolphus: A History of Sweden 1611–1632 (Longmans, 1953)

Ulinka Rublack, The Astronomer and the Witch: Johannes Kepler´s Fight for His Mother (Oxford University Press, 2015)

Ulinka Rublack, Reformation Europe (Cambridge University Press, 2017)

Joachim Whaley, The Holy Roman Empire: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2018)

Peter H. Wilson, The Thirty Years War: A Sourcebook (Palgrave, 2010)

Peter H. Wilson, Lützen: Great Battles (Oxford University Press, 2018)

Peter H. Wilson, Europe’s Tragedy: A History of the Thirty Years’ War (Allen Lane, 2009)



  • Thu 6 Dec 2018 09:00
  • Thu 6 Dec 2018 21:30

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