The Thirty Years War: The Holy Roman Empire and Europe

A book The Thirty Years War: The Holy Roman Empire and Europe, 1618-48 is a book, written by Ronald G. Asch and published by St. Martin’s Press in 1997. The book is an introduction to the events of the Thirty Years’ War that happened on the territory of the Holy Roman Empire between the years of 1618-1648. The book is one of the very few books to discuss the events of the Thirty Years’ War period, which has mostly been neglected. Most of the events happening in the history given by Asch are scattered throughout Europe and as such the events are discussed from country to country. The book, which has been a compilation of events occuring in many countries of Europe, makes use of different languages such as Italian, Latin, Polish, German, Slovakian, French, Russian, Dutch, Czech, Spanish and Swedish in order to offer the most comprehensive and factual description of the war (Asch, 1997). Most of the book is thus a compilation from archives from different countries involved in the war.

I selected this book for several reasons, which I am going to enumerate. This is a book that analyzes one of the most important periods of European history, a period in which there was much realignment. It has to be said that the work covers the period of great power of the Holy Roman Empire, which was responsible for political realignment. I opted for this book since it also offers one of the most comprehensive analyses on the topic that has ever been offered by any other writer on such a complex topic. This is a subject that has for the most part been neglected by many modern-day historians, and yet it is a war, which had much effect on both the political and social economic life of Europe at that time. This is a war, which continues to have ramifications up to the present day. I selected to do a review of this book because it is the most comprehensive book ever written, analyzing the thirty-year war and its effects on Europe.

The book is an exceptional analysis of the work in terms of detail and objectiveness that the author uses in order to express the history of the Thirty Years’ War. Asch is more interested in debunking former theses of previous historians such as Nicola Sutherland by asserting that the Thirty Years’ War was more than an episode in Europe’s history. Asch’s thesis is that the Thirty Years’ War was a continental war that had political, social and economic ramifications on Europe not only during the time it was fought, but up to the present (Asch, 1997). The book follows a chronologic form following the war from its origin and its relation to the Catholic Church in Bohemia. He analyzes its expansion beyond Bohemia and its evolution from a political crusade into a Counter Reformation crusade by the Holy Roman Empire against nations such as France and Sweden that were non catholic. Finally, the book analyses political events leading to the treaty of Westphalia and, in the end, he concludes with an analysis of the economic effects of the Thirty Years’ War.

Ronald Asch is a secondary historian since he is a writer working in the second part of the twentieth century of a war that ended in the middle of the seventeenth century. Asch therefore does not have a primary account of the facts, but rather he has obtained his history from other sources. Asch is, however, an exceptional historian since it is evident that he has gone to great lengths to ensure that he gives the best and most objective account of the events of the Thirty Years’ War. In his explanation and expounding of his thesis, Asch comes out as quite proficient and competent. Of all the books written regarding the period, Asch’s book offers the best analysis of the Thirty Years’ War by giving a chronological account of that period. It is also the only source that is drawn from original archives; consequently, he makes an objective analysis of all his sources. Being a respected historian and political scientist, Asch’s work carries a lot of weight.

Asch is a secondary historian writing at the end of the twentieth century on a war that started in the early part of the seventeenth century and ended in the middle of it. Asch, therefore, does not have a first-hand account of the events of the war and thus has to rely on secondary sources. In this regard, Asch relied upon historical archives from various countries that were involved in the Thirty Years’ War. History written from a secondary perspective usually tends to have a biased bent since it is obtained from biased sources. Asch has, however, tackled the issue of objectivity by acquiring information from various archives of the countries that were involved in the Thirty Years’ War (Asch, 1997). The author has also ensured that he maintains objectivity by taking the views of all the sources into account.

As a secondary source of information for the Thirty Years’ War, Asch takes the approach of documenting information from various sources, which he then analyses in a chronological manner. Since he uses secondary sources, Asch’s approach is very effective in bringing out the history of the war. He asks questions of the sources such as the reasons for the war, geopolitical, economic and social considerations of the war. He is also very effective in the chronological presentation since this enables a stage by stage analysis that makes it easier to understand dynamics and reach the conclusions. The approach of using various languages of the nations involved in the war is also very effective in retaking originality of the texts, which may be lost or misinterpreted in translation (Asch, 1997). The book is, however, wanting in aspects of military analysis of the war since it is mostly concerned with aspects of economic, political and religious aspects of the war rather than the actual war.

In order to be effective as a historian, it is important that the author uses evidence for his work. Ronald Asch has mainly employed evidence from his various sources in order to come to the arguments and conclusions for his thesis. Asch’s thesis is that the Thirty Years’ War had important ramifications on the political, economic and social life of Europe in the period of the war up to the present. The approach used by Asch to obtain his evidence is by sourcing his information from a variety of sources, both protagonists and antagonists (Asch, 1997). He then analyzed these sources and offered various perspectives and then went on to make an objective analysis of the facts in the case. He has also gone ahead to analyze various happenings of the Thirty Years’ War period, such as the treaty of Westphalia, and related them to the instance of geopolitical happenings that are still and relevant in today’s world. Evidence of the ramifications of the Thirty Years’ War has been provided by the economic analysis of post-war Roman Empire and the other nations involved in the Thirty Years’ War.

My understanding of the period of the monarchic rule of Europe leading to the nineteenth century romanticism has been changed greatly after reading this book. The book offers one of the most comprehensive and detailed accounts of the period. It provides insights on the political and religious intrigues of the times that have shaped European history up to the present. The period is important since it led to most of the major events that happened in the twentieth century. The Thirty Years’ War was a period that was dominated by political intrigues of dynasties that were related to religion (Asch, 1997). This was a period that was important in bringing about enlightenment and change in scientific and philosophical thought. The period also brings to the fore the role played by religion in shaping political and economic dynamics of Europe. The Thirty Years’ War, which led to the treaty of Westphalia may be arguably said to reflect the geopolitical tensions that shaped World War I and II.

The book offers better and more detailed insights into the period of discussion. The chronological treatment of the topic makes its understanding easier to comprehend and study. Asch’s treatment of the topic has focused on the geopolitical economic and social effects of the Thirty Years’ War on Europe. Like other sources, the book has made an analysis of the political and religious events in Europe, which led to major events in Europe such as the French revolution and the two World Wars. However, unlike other sources such as Nicola Sutherland, Asch’s book offers detailed and very objective perspectives, which are supported by evidence. Classroom discussion of the topic is also not focused on one period, which makes them very generalized. Asch’s work, on the other hand, focuses on the Thirty Years’ War and as such he is able to offer much detail and better analysis of the topic.