The Treaty of Westphalia (1648) — The Basis of Modern Europe?

WestphaliaRecent events have made the treaty topical. The euro crisis and the influx of migrants have put into question the historical basis of European institutions.

Bringing an end to the Thirty Years’ War, which had drowned Europe in blood in battles over religion, the treaty defined the principles of sovereignty and equality in numerous sub-contracts, and in this way became the constitution of the new system of states in Europe.

Progress towards further integration has been curbed, prompting a possible return to the Westphalian system, which established the sovereignty of the nation state.


5 responses to “The Treaty of Westphalia (1648) — The Basis of Modern Europe?

  1. Did it not also determine that the king or other head of state forced his religion on his subjects?

  2. Yes it did. Cujus regio ejus religio.

  3. Elisabeth Ecker

    Forced might not be the right word. The king’s religion became the state religion and everybody else was allowed to practice the religion of their choice. It did stop the religious wars.

  4. The period can be seen as coterminous with the advent of ‘secularism’ which some historians trace to the philosophy of a medieval scholar Baruch Spinoza who ‘by laying the groundwork for the 18th-century Enlightenment[5] and modern biblical criticism, [6] including modern conceptions of the self and the universe,[7] (..) came to be considered one of the great rationalists of 17th-century philosophy.[8]’ (wikipedia)

  5. History Today has an article that disputes what it calls the myth of the Treaty of Westphalia establishing the modern state. But what do I know?