The Effects of The Thirty Years' War - Germany
"The often chaotic way in which armies were recruited and financed was at least in part responsible for the widespread lack of discipline among soldiers often remarked upon by contemporaries. Although some of the accounts of wartime atrocities, such as most or all tales of cannibalism, for example, have to be dismissed as unreliable, the excesses soldiers regularly committed when dealing with the local population in friendly as much as in enemy provinces were sufficient to severely disrupt civilian life. Combined with the rapid spread of infectious diseases among soldiers and civilians alike and the partial breakdown of trade, commerce, and agriculture, these effects of warfare had serious demographic consequences. This was true in particular or the Holy Roman Empire but to a lesser extent also for some areas of northern Italy and of France. In the empire population figures were reduced by at least 25 percent and possibly by up to 35 to 40 percent (about 6 million) during the course of the war. Some regions in northeastern Germany such as Pomerania and parts of Brandenburg, but also Wurttemberg in the southwest, had hardly more than a third of their prewar population in 1648. It took Germany almost a hundred years to recover demographically from the war. Nevertheless, older accounts that have seen the war, and also the Peace of Westphalia, as responsible for a general decline of the Holy Roman Empire and the German states no longer command widespread assent. Not only did the empire survive as a political and legal system providing reasonably effective protection and security to its members, but the rise of the Habsburg Monarchy after 1648, for example, and the flourishing baroque culture of many German courts in the later seventeenth century, show that in some areas at least the war had brought about changes that stimulated rather than stunted new growth once peace had been regained."
Source: Jonathan Dewald - Editor in Chief, Europe 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of The Early Modern World (Thomson Gale, 2004), Volume 6, Thirty Years’ War, pages 32-33
Map Source: University of Texas at Austin, Perry-Castaneda Library, Map Collection
From "The Cambridge Modern History Atlas" edited by Sir Adolphus William Ward, G.W. Prothero, Sir Stanley Mordaunt Leathes, and E.A. Benians. Cambridge University Press; London. 1912.