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Peace of Westphalia

1648. Collective term for the decisive treaties concluding the Thirty Years' War.* Discussions began in two Westphalian towns in 1643-at Münster with France, and at Osnabrück with Sweden. Little progress was made until in January 1648 Spain unexpectedly made peace with the Dutch (granting them de iure independence), whereupon the emperor negotiated settlements with France and Sweden. The settlements, based upon the principle of the sovereignty and independence of individual states, mark the practical end of the Holy Roman Empire and of the medieval age wherein religion and the concept of respublica christiana had dominated. They represented major triumphs for France and Sweden, opening the way for France to dominate completely European affairs for nearly two centuries. Germany was doomed to decentralized impotency for two centuries as some 343 separate sovereign states were confirmed within her borders. Religion was determined on the principle cuius regio, eius religio among Catholic, Lutheran, and Calvinist.

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