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Peace of Westphalia news

To my surprise, I was referenced in an article in Slate called The Decline of the Nation State.  The author says, “As late as the 17th century, the king of Spain was also the king of Portugal, Naples, and Sicily as well as the duke of Milan and Burgundy. The historian Derek Croxton has likened this arrangement to “the EU in reverse,” in that all these countries shared an absolute ruler and foreign policies but had their own protectionist trade policies.”  I had not remembered writing that comparison, but I checked and it is exactly what I said.  (I generally like having published views, but I’m always afraid someone will find something I said in the past that, in retrospect, looks stupid.)  In this case, it also seems like a fair analogy:  whereas today’s EU consists of countries with a common market but separate militaries, early modern composite monarchies often had a common military but distinct trade policies.

Just yesterday, I stumbled onto a site called FiveBooks.com where historian Peter Wilson recommended The Last Christian Peace as one of five books to read on the Thirty Years’ War.  I can’t find a date on the article, but I suspect it to be recent — perhaps it is responsible, in part, for the recent spike of hits on this site.

The third piece of news is an article with the surprisingly truculent title of The Peace of Westphalia also had its dark side.  The alleged “dark side” of Westphalia was that, while it created peace in Europe, it made it easier for European states to expand elsewhere — i.e., it promoted colonialism.  I am sceptical whether Westphalia actually did much to promote peace in the short term (say, the next century), and it doesn’t look to me as though Europe required peace to expand overseas:  the great Spanish, Portuguese, and Dutch overseas empires were already in place before 1648.

The more interesting part of this article relates to how Westphalia can serve as a model for a peace settlement in the Middle East, but I will leave further discussion on that point until next time.