From the Peace of Westphalia to the Congress of Vienna 1

Germany History: From the Peace of Westphalia to the Congress of Vienna (1648–1815) Part I

Creation of absolutist princely states

The Reichstag, which met in Regensburg in 1663, developed into a permanent conference of ambassadors (“everlasting Reichstag”) of the imperial estates, v. a. of the sovereigns, in whose territories the focus of political life shifted. Here emerged – favored by the resolutions of the “Youngest Reichs Farewell” of the Regensburg Reichstag of 1654, which did not bring about any reform of the Imperial Constitution – states shaped by princely absolutism (Austria, Brandenburg- Prussia, but also Hanover, Bavaria, Baden and Sachsen-Weimar), in which the state estates mostly lost their previous power (tax permits), but the social structure of the estates remained largely untouched. Even where the estates lost their rights in financial policy, they knew how to defend their interests. In place of the state parliaments, there were often more effective estates committee organs. The empire as a whole did not go along with the development of the dynastic princely state and fell behind with the development of the modern state. Learn more about Germany and Europe, please click

The dynastic princely state was shaped by the defensive constitution of the standing army and the administrative activities of a new civil service, through which the state intervened in many areas that had hardly found its interest until then. For the new state tasks, which arose not only from the princes ‘striving for power, but also from the necessities after the devastation of the Thirty Years’ War, great and v. a. regular income and a systematically promoted economic policy required, which led to the development of mercantilism and cameralism. Fiscal policy created the system of modern taxes: property tax, property tax, excise tax (consumption tax) and others. The industrial and trade policy was recognized as an instrument of economic control and raised to a state sovereign right. The exploitation of domestic raw material sources and the promotion of productive forces were the main goals of mercantile policy. When it comes to processing, the state itself sometimes acted as a large-scale entrepreneur and founded or subsidized factories (centralized large-scale operations). Above all, however, the subsidized commercial production was the field for the bourgeois entrepreneur. The main areas of the manufactories were partly bulk goods (army supplies), partly luxury goods. The primary aim of trade policy was to activate the trade balance. The currency metal could only be procured with the help of an active trade balance. That is why export was consistently promoted (with textiles still in the foreground) and imports limited by the development of in-house production. V. L. von Seckendorff became an early theorist of this development (“Teutscher Fürsten Stat”, 1656).

European politics

In European politics, the empire was under the constant political influence of France, which was temporarily allied with Sweden and Poland and had good relations with the Turks (Ottoman Empire) and in the Holy Roman Empire via a French-minded party (especially the Wittelsbachers and the Rhenish ones Princes, until 1686 also Brandenburg) decreed. In the Peace of Nijmegen (February 5, 1679) after the end of the First Imperial War against the French King Louis XIV, France received the conquered Freiburg im Breisgau; through the subsequent unauthorized reunions it appropriated the whole of Alsace piece by piece and occupied Strasbourg in 1681.

From the Peace of Westphalia to the Congress of Vienna 1

In 1688, Louis XIV invaded the Palatinate, triggering the Second Imperial War against France (War of the Palatinate Succession), which ended on September 20, 1697 with the Peace of Rijswijk, without Alsace and Strasbourg returning to the Empire. The French expansion towards the east against the empire weakened Louis XIV’s clientele in Germany. In contrast, the emperor, whose position had clearly strengthened since the 1650s, gained considerable political weight in the Holy Roman Empire (“return” of the emperor into the empire) through his role in the defense against the French and Turks.

Vienna was besieged for the second time after 1529 in 1683, and Leopold I (1658–1705) was able to use Polish troops under Johann III. Liberate Sobieski and various contingents from the Reich (Sieg am Kahlenberg, September 12, 1683); In the “Great Turkish War”, which lasted until 1699 (Peace of Karlowitz, January 26), the Emperor was able to win Hungary, Transylvania and large parts of Slavonia and Croatia. Austria was thus on the way to becoming a major European power and achieved a position that it had achieved after the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-14) in the Peace of Rastatt (March 6, 1714) through the regain or gain of the Spanish Netherlands, Milan and Naples further expanded. The north and east of the empire were against it in the 2nd Northern War (1700-21) Charles XII. was drawn into it by Sweden, in which Brandenburg-Prussia, however, remained neutral and thus prevented a link between the wars in western and eastern Europe. With the defeat of Charles XII. In the two Stockholm peace treaties of 1719/20, the Swedish possessions at the mouth of the Weser came to Hanover and the greater part of Western Pomerania to Brandenburg-Prussia. The Saxon Elector Friedrich August I (August II, the Strong),who converted to Catholicism , had acquired the Polish royal crown in 1697 (personal union until 1763), Elector Georg Ludwig von Hanover succeeded the British kings (as George I) in1714(personal union until 1837).