Westphalia, Peace of

Westphalia, Peace of (also known as the Peace of Münster). This title designates the treaty which brought the Thirty Years' War (q.v.) to a conclusion in 1648, and which was drawn up in the Westphalian cities of Münster and Osnaburg. The Peace of Prague, May 20 (30), 1635, concluded between the emperor Ferdinand II and the elector John George of Saxony, was designed to extend amnesty to Protestants over the whole empire, excepting Bohemia, the Palatinate, and various individual princes and nobles (see the imperial patent of June 12,1635); but these exceptions, and the successes of the Swedish armies, together with the direct intervention of France in the war, prevented the consummation of the proposed peace, and constrained the emperor to convoke a general diet to meet at Ratisbon in 1840. A more important congress of deputies from the different contending powers was assembled, however, at about the same time in Hamburg, whose deliberations resulted in the signing of preliminaries of peace, Dec. 15 (25), 1641. The settling of these preliminaries was rendered difficult by the conflicting views of the French and Swedes, and the suspicions they entertained respecting each other; and the preliminaries themselves merely designated the places and dates for the holding of a definite peace convention, and determined rules to be observed with respect to the safe- conduct and powers of deputies. The sanction of the representatives of the empire and of the emperor himself to these arrangements was not obtained until 1644, and the proposed congress was delayed until April, 1645. The representatives of the emperor, the states of the empire, and the Swedes met at Osnaburg, and those of the emperor, the, French, and other foreign powers at Münster. Each convention was to become a party to whatever decisions might be reached in either place, and neither convention was authorized to conclude a separate peace. The negotiations, which were protracted during more than three years, were greatly influenced, of course, by the varying fortunes of the war, which was incessantly prosecuted; but the Osnaburg convention succeeded in settling terms of peace, Aug. 8, and the Münster convention reached a like conclusion, Sept. 17, 1648. The treaty was then adopted and signed in a general assembly of both conventions, Oct. 14 (24), 1648. Spain and the United Netherlands had previously (Jan. 20 [30], 1648) reached an agreement at Münster by which the independence of the latter country was recognized and its league with Germany dissolved. The independence of the Swiss Confederation, already pronounced by the Peace of Basle, Sept. 22,1499, was confirmed by the Treaty of Westphalia.

The provisions of this peace belong to our field only in so far as they involve religious or ecclesiastical interests. In these respects they:

1. Ordain that the demands of France, Sweden, and Hesse-Cassel be satisfied. This confirmed the supremacy of France over the cities of Metz, Toul, and Verdun, and established it over Alsace and the principality of Hagenan. Sweden obtained jurisdiction over Pomerania and the archbishopric of Bremen. These arrangements involved a transfer of ecclesiastical power also, though with certain exceptions which were particularly specified.

2. Compensate Brandenburg, Mecklenburg, and Brunswitk-Lueburg for territory lost by the arrangement made to satisfy France, etc., and thereby bring about similar ecclesiastical changes as are above described.

3. Declare a general amnesty and restitution of ecclesiastical property. The year 1618 was' agreed upon as the year to whose conditions a return should be made; but in the application of this rule important exceptions were made, by which the Roman Catholic party was benefited. A majority of the electors was secured to this party; a portion of the Palatinate was transferred to Bavaria in the same interest; and a somewhat similar disposition was made of Baden-Durlach. In the hereditary states of Austria the amnesty was practically deprived of all effect by the numerous clauses and provisos with which it was hampered. Würtemberg, on the other band, secured the return of all Church property of which it had been deprived as a Protestant state. Mecklenburg also, and a number of estates which had been excepted from the amnesty of Prague, were benefited by the, Treaty of Westphalia. A special provision ordered that the ecclesiastical status of all adherents to the Augsburg Confession should be conformed to the conditions of 1624.

4. Arrange for the removal of occasions for dispute between churches. To this end the treaty of Passau (1552) and the religious peace of Augsburg were ratified, adherents to the Reformed confessions were accorded equal recognition with Lutherans and Roman Catholics, and the rights of Protestants and Roman Catholics were placed upon an equal footing; the right to the possession of church property was accorded to the party which held such property on Jan. 1, 1624; the traditional right of reformation within their own territories claimed by rulers was regulated, and also the status of persons who belonged to one Church while the government under which they lived adhered to another faith; and the limits of ecclesiastical jurisdiction were particularly defined.

5. Do away with political abuses growing out of the preference previously accorded the Roman Catholic over the Protestant Church. The according of territorial sovereignty to the different rulers impaired the summum imperium previously inscribed to the emperor, especially as similar rights and privileges were bestowed on the cities, etc., of the empire ("communnitatibus etpagisimmediatis").

6. Take measures for tile execution of the treaty and the preservation of the peace. The emperor issued edicts designed to give effect to the treaty Nov. 7, 1648, and the parties to the treaty exchanged the documents involved in its consummation Feb. 8,1649. The leaders of the respective armies also had, since the close of 1648, conducted negotiations at Prague looking towards a realization of the peace, and this led to a congress at Nuremberg at which the three estates of the empire (electors, princes, and cities) were represented and which passed, June 16, 1650, a general recess of execution. The papal legate, cardinal Fabius Chigi, had protested against the peace, Oct. 14 and 26, and Innocent X followed with the bull Zelo Domus Dei of Nov. 26, 1648. It is asserted that these protests were only designed to perform a duty, which the pope owed to his position and his conscience, since they could under no circumstances exercise authoritative influence over the execution of the peace. The treaty was confirmed by the diet of-1654 and often afterwards. Its execution was, as respects particulars, secured only through many disputes, and its provisions have often been violated; but it has preserved its authority in general down to the present day.

The very copious literature may be found collected in the list of Pitter, in Literatur d. Staatsrechts, 2, 420 sq., 492 sq.; 3, 69 sq.; 4:128 sq., 140; id. Geist d. westphal. Friedens, p. 77, a complement of Senckenberg, Darst. d. westphdl. Friedens (Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1804);. Woltmann, Gesch. d. westphdl. Friedens (Leips.1808, 2 vols. 8vo). For sources see Meiern, Acta Pacis Publica. oder. westphil.. Friedensverhandliungen u. Geschichte (Hanov and Gött. 1734-36); id. Acta Pacis Execut. Publica, etc. (Nuremb. 1736 sq.), and index to both collections; id. Acta Comitalia

Ratisbon. Anno 1654 (1738 sq.); id. Instrumenta Pacis, etc. (Gött. 1738 fol.), preface; Urkunden der Friedensschliisse zu Münster u. Os'iabriick, etc. (Zurich, 1848). — Herzog, Real Encyklop., s.v.

Topical Outlines Nave's Bible Topics International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Online King James Bible King James Dictionary

Verse reference tagging and popups powered by VerseClick™.