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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Two Sides to Every Story: The Thirty Years War: Result of Religious Strife or Excessive Greed

Today I have the opportunity to present the newest Two Sides to Every Story entry in the series and it is with a guest post by author Laura Libricz.  This topic, The Thirty Years War, is interesting to me as I just covered this subject matter in my recent semester of class.  Check it out!

The Thirty Years War: Result of Religious Strife or Excessive Greed

Christianity is a religion based on the teachings of Jesus Christ and has over two billion followers, about one-third of the world’s population. Since the dawn of Christianity some 2000 years ago, major divisions have been founded, the largest of which are the Western and Eastern Christian groups. The subdivisions within these two families are numerous and diverse. Today the largest of these subdivisions include the Roman Catholic Church, the Protestant Church, the Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Assyrian Church of the East. These divisions have been everything but simple. In Central Europe, the division of  Roman Catholicism into its Protestant factions in the 15th and 16th century was one of the largest contributing factors in Europe’s bloodiest and most devastating war, the Thirty Years War.

Roman Catholicism had deep-rooted ties to the Holy Roman Empire. The Empire was the political ruling body in central Europe from the 8th century until 1806. It began when the Duke of the Franks and the grandfather of Charlemagne, Charles Martel, united the Frankish and Germanic tribes to fight the Muslims that had invaded from Spain. The conversion of the tribes of pagan folk to Christianity followed. After that, the Holy Roman Empire functioned as the non-religious counterpart to the Catholic Church and was a symbol of the unity of Western Christianity. 
Holy Roman Empire
Image Credit:Jaspe from ru [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons 

By the end of the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church had grown swollen, rich, and powerful and was sinking into debauchery. And they had ways of raising revenues to support their excesses. Relationships between the people and the church were often based on money. Positions in the church could be bought. Salvation could also be bought in the form of indulgences. The church sold relics and earned money from those on pilgrimages.

Reformers had been known to protest the excesses of the Roman Catholic Church, their worldly rule and abuse of power and money. In the early 1400’s, the preacher Jan Hus from Prague spoke out openly against the church and its decadence. Bohemian aristocracy supported Hus, even after he was excommunicated. Although he had their support, he was executed, burned at the stake, by the German king Sigismund, in 1415. 

One hundred years later, Martin Luther set out to reform the Catholic Church as well. He was not intending to create a new one. The famed story reads that he nailed a document called the 95 Theses to the door of a church in Wittenberg in 1517. The main points of the Theses disputed and condemned the practice of the church selling indulgences to people in order to insure their souls’ entrance to heaven. This famous incident is credited to be the birth of Protestantism. 

What made Martin Luther’s cause different from the other protests, giving him so much attention and splitting the Roman Catholic religion in Germany and the Holy Roman Empire into two? 

One contributing factor was the availability of printed material. Martin Luther’s teachings were able to spread quickly. Students would listen to his teachings during his lectures or his ‘Tischreden,’ and take notes. Later these lectures were printed into flyers and books for the masses to read. And during his exile he translated the New Testament into German so that the people didn’t need the clergy to interpret scripture. It was published in 1522 and the Old Testament followed in 1534, though some may differ with his interpretation of scripture. The Catholic Church differed with his interpretation and his intention, believing that only clergy could deliver the scripture to the masses to avoid misunderstanding.

Some historians believe that Germany would have wholly converted to a religion based on Protestant teachings, as did Sweden and Denmark, had not the Imperial forces of the Holy Roman Empire and the Catholic Church intervened. But the Church saw themselves as the image of Christendom and the Empire saw itself as the continuation of ancient Rome. The Roman church was the only one competent enough to interpret the word of God. Lutheran teachings claimed that the word of God should not be left to the interpretation of wayward clergy. The two sides of this story were the main conflicts that fueled the war known up until World War I as The Great War in Germany—the Thirty Years War.

Laura Libricz was born and raised in Bethlehem PA and moved to Upstate New York when she was 22. After working a few years building Steinberger guitars, she received a scholarship to go to college. She tried to ‘do the right thing’ and study something useful, but spent all her time reading German literature.

She earned a BA in German at The College of New Paltz, NY in 1991 and moved to Germany, where she resides today. When she isn’t writing she can be found sifting through city archives, picking through castle ruins or aiding the steady flood of Höfner musical instruments into the world market.

Her first novel, The Master and the Maid, is the first book of the Heaven's Pond Trilogy. The Soldier’s Return and Ash and Rubble are the second and third books in the series.  You can find Laura on her website or blog and on social media at Facebook and Twitter.

Book Blurb:

The Master and the Maid (Available Soon!)
Book One of the Heaven's Pond Trilogy
She’s lost her work, her home and her freedom. Now, harboring a mysterious newborn, she could lose her life.

In 17th Century Germany on the brink of the Thirty Years War, 24-year-old Katarina is traded to the patrician Sebald Tucher by her fiancé Willi Prutt in order to pay his debts. En route to her forced relocation to the Tucher country estate, Katarina is met by a crazed archer, Hans-Wolfgang, carrying a baby under his cloak. He tells her an incredible story of how his beloved was executed by a Jesuit priest for witchcraft right after the birth and makes Katarina—at sword point—swear on her life to protect the child. But protecting the child puts Katarina at risk. She could fall in disfavor with her master. She could be hunted by the zealots who killed his beloved. She could be executed for witchcraft herself. Can Katarina's love for the baby and Sebald Tucher's desire for her keep the wrath of the zealots at bay?

Set in Franconia, The Master and the Maid is an accurate, authentic account of a young woman's life in Germany in the 1600's, her struggle for freedom and her fight for those she loves.


Copyright © 2016 by The Maiden’s Court


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