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Previously, Catholic Europe had been united in a single political, cultural, and religious entity known as Christendom.
It also recognized the rights of the heads of state to determine the religious situation within their own lands and which denomination would be their state religion.
After over 100 years of political, religious, and social discord, a new political order had been established in the West.
Four hundred years ago last month on May 23, 1618, the Second Defenestration of Prague took place.
By throwing the representatives of the Austrian emperor out a window, the Bohemians (Czechs) started the Thirty Years’ War, the apocalyptic culmination of the religious and political divisions created by the reformation.
The norms and practices of international diplomacy, the unwritten laws which govern affairs between nations, are not naturally fixed or universal among mankind.
They are rather a consensus built upon centuries of commerce, political dialogue, ideological disputes, and war.This theological dispute quickly took a political dimension as the pope and local Catholic bishops refused to debate Luther on theological grounds.Rather, they argued that the pope, as archbishop of Rome and the heir to Saint Peter, had final jurisdiction over theological issues and that, since previous popes considered the practice to be consistent with Christian theology, the authority to issue indulgences was valid regardless of perceived abuses.This naturally concerned his new subjects in the Kingdom of Bohemia, who were overwhelmingly Protestant.An elected monarchy, the Bohemian estates assembled and elected Ferdinand as king but also demanded that he recognize their rights, privileges, and religious liberties, granted to them by his uncle.Catholic and Protestant diplomats, staying in different cities and sending messages via riders because the pope had condemned the peace talks, hammered out the Peace of Westphalia after five years of negotiations.It established the state with “Westphalian sovereignty” as the basis of a new Western European order and recognized diplomatic equality among all participating states.This single event changed the course of world history and, 30 years later, led to the Peace of Westphalia and the beginnings of the nation-state world order.The seeds of this conflict were sown in 1517 when a monk named Martin Luther nailed a document called the Ninety-Five Theses to a church door in Wittenberg.Those who were not members of the Catholic Church, such as Orthodox Christians, Jews, and Muslims, were not considered to be part of Christendom and often existed on the margins of society.Thus, the split between those who would later be called Protestants and Catholics could not remain strictly a theological dispute.