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I’ve put some videos together to try to explain the Peace of Westphalia and related concepts. My hook is that I explain each subject in 5 minutes. Some people have criticized me for trying to explain something so complicated in 5 minutes, but I think that it is essential to be able to explain anything in 5 minutes. In one minute, really. Remember when your teacher would assign you an essay on something like World War II and you’d ask how long it had to be, and she would say, “As long as you need to explain it”? Do you think you can explain World War II in a few handwritten pages? There are whole books, big fat ones, written about World War II, and they simplify things enormously. There are big fat books about one theatre in World War II; about one campaign; about one single battle. You could write books for the rest of your life and never explain World War II adequately. But, you could also explain World War II in one short essay, as long as you stuck to the essential points — the main ideas you wanted to get across.

Moreover, if someone who knew nothing about history asked you to explain World War II, you wouldn’t start them on a thousand page book on the subject. They wouldn’t understand a fraction of it. You’d start them with the briefest possible overview. Then, if they wanted to know more, you’d give them a little more detail. Then you could go into more detail, and more, and so on until you could get into great depth. But if you can’t get them past the initial, basic understanding, they will never understand the subtle points that you can communicate in a long book, or series of books. Considering that most people have no idea what the Peace of Westphalia is, I think giving a 5 minute overview is plenty to teach them the basics. Hopefully it will inspire them to learn more, but in the meantime, at least they will know something about it.

The Peace of Westphalia in 5 Minutes

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The Holy Roman Empire in 5 Minutes

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The Habsburg Dynasty in 5 Minutes

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Recipe for a Thirty Years’ War

This is “The Thirty Years’ War in 5 Minutes,” but framed like a recipe. It hits the high points, but the Thirty Years’ War is awfully complicated, so I hope to follow up with more on specific topics.

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They negotiated WHERE?

This one is actually a reading (with images) of a few pages from my book. The first video I did had terrible audio, so I created another one (YouTube won’t let you change a video once it’s uploaded) with remastered audio.

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What was the Peace of Westphalia?

This is the first video I did. It took forever, and it has many problems, including the audio. However, some people still find it useful.


Joseph I; Ferdinand III; Leopold I: Sacred Works

Rulers of the 17th century were often extraordinarily talented, although not necessarily in governance. Emperor Ferdinand III, for example, was the first of a series of Habsburgs to excel in music. Here is a section from one of his works that is so good it gives me the chills.  You can purchase the cd from Amazon, or download mp3s.

Friedens-Seufftzer Und Jubel-Geschrey: Music for the Peace of Westphalia 1648

 I don’t have this album, so I can’t include a clip.  Gotta love that 17th century Baroque German spelling.

Un Concert Pour Mazarin

Italian vocal music allegedly brought to France by Mazarin


The Holy Roman Empire in 1648
The Holy Roman Empire in 1648

The colourful but maddeningly complex map above shows the Holy Roman Empire after the territorial changes of the Peace of Westphalia.   The light blue sections bordering the Baltic and the North Seas are Swedish gains.  You can see France jutting out a little into Alsace (the actual territory and rights that France gained were ambiguous, so you may see these represented in different ways.

Here is a much plainer — but saner — version that emphasizes only the updates made in 1648:

Territorial changes of the Peace of Westphalia


There isn’t much humour related to the Peace of Westphalia, but the following video is hilarious.  You may recognize one of the characters as Hugh Laurie, who plays the title role  in the drama House.  Prior to taking on that role, he made a name for himself as part of a comedy duo with Stephen Fry in their show “A Bit of Fry and Laurie,” from which this was taken.

A friend sent me a link to the following hilarious skit on the Thirty Years’ War, which I’m afraid most of my readers will miss unless they happen to know German.  The soldiers are confused about which side they are on and who they are fighting, no surprise since it is 1646 and the war has been going on longer than some of them have been alive.  They discuss making peace, but conclude quickly that it would be impossible, because “then this war would go down in history as the 28 Year War.  How would that sound?”

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