What factors make civil war inevitable?

Thirty Years' War

Herfried Münkler

To person

is Professor of Political Science and holds the Chair of Political Theory at the Humboldt University in Berlin. He is a member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences. His most recent publications include "The Thirty Years War. European Catastrophe, German Trauma, 1618–1648" (2017). [email protected]

Historians have always been amazed that a spectacular but bloodless event such as the Prague window lintel on May 23, 1618 is said to have triggered a war that lasted 30 years, in which almost all European states were involved and in the course of which about one Third of the population in the area of ​​what is now Germany was killed. If the death rate of the Thirty Years' War is related to the population of the territories of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, then this war affected the demographics of this area more than the two world wars in the first half of the 20th century combined.

Could the Prague window lintel really have been the cause of such a war? After all, no one was killed in the process: the two Habsburg state holders survived the fall from the windows of Prague Castle, as did their secretary, which the rebellious nobles had thrown after them. Only one of the three suffered major wounds. In principle, this demonstrative act of rebellion against the Habsburg rule in Bohemia was something like a happening, in which an earlier lintel in Prague, in which the "defenestrians" certainly died, was re-enacted. After this act of resistance, the Bohemian King Ferdinand could have negotiated with the representatives of the estates; He would probably have succeeded in breaking open their temporary unity in order to subsequently find a compromise that was acceptable to both sides. His predecessors Rudolf and Matthias had done this repeatedly. Why did Ferdinand not follow her example?