17th Century European Society
The Great Chain of Being: tiered structure of humanity that provided an ordered,
permanent arrangement of all things in the universe.
Generally, people encountered familiar faces on a daily basis - limited population.
Crowded conditions, one room houses, without many possessions.
Family life was central to most people: many worked in the fields, men doing heavy
labour and women raising poultry and livestock. Children also valued for their labour.
Diet was bread, dairy, simplistic.
Demographic decline - "little Ice Age" - compounded by constant warring during this
period. Natural birth rate fell too. Life expectancy was less than 30 years.
New demands from central government, adding to instability:
1648 came at the culmination of the 30 Years War. Two main phases:
1. Religious war: 1618 - 1635
2. Dynastic conflict: 1635 - 1648
Religious war: Protestant reformation coupled with ongoing conflicts between
Catholics and Protestants formed the background of the 30 Years War.
By 1600s, authority of Holy Roman Empire was in decline. Peace of Augsburg, 1555,
is being undone, as the Holy Roman Emperor cannot maintain his empire.
Acts of intolerance begin to rise - Catholics and Protestants are interfering with rights
of succession, etc.
Erupted into open warfare in 1618, followed by 30 years of war.
Social cost of the war was 30 years of barbarity. Destruction of property, atrocities
committed against civilians - rape, 'Swedish cocktail', etc.
Jacques Callot's etchings demonstrate violence against civilians - Les Grandes
Misères de la Guerre in 1633.
Dynastic conflict: dynastic interests overrode alliances after a time, with two major
combatants emerging. Austrian and Spanish Habsburgs against the Franco Swedish
Becoming clear that it is an issue of dynasties - demonstrated by Swedish-French
By 1648, French crown is eager to continue the war - power on the rise, etc - by
nobles refuse and Peace of Westphalia emerges.
Peace of Westphalia: an end to religious war in Europe