Essay by saeasleyHigh School, 11th grade November 2014

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Sarah Easley



The Religious Wars of Europe

Though the Thirty Years' War, the French Huguenot Wars, and the Dutch Revolt are all considered "religious wars", they started as religious conflicts only to develop into political and economic conflicts. While the degree of success varied, the underlying battle between a Protestant minority and a Catholic majority ended in increased toleration for the Protestant minority.

Political and religious power was a key motivating factor for the ignition of the brutal religious wars. Though all of the wars had been caused by religious motives, they did not share economic and political motives. For example, the Dutch Revolt in the Netherlands was primarily prompted by economic gains. The predominately protestant Dutch who were merely held together politically by Philip II of Spain, were angered by Philip's push to Catholicize the Netherlands, his desire to control the Netherland for economic gains, and his use of Dutch taxed for Spanish interests.

What sparked the bloodshed in the Dutch Revolt was the Council of Troubles, a tribunal of Catholic noble who tried and punished Calvinist nobles. This now organized revolt even executed powerful aristocrats. Unlike the Dutch Revolts, the French Huguenot War was deeply influenced by political motives, especially conflict between monarchs and nobles. The immediate political cause of the French Huguenot War was the sudden death a strong monarch, Henry II, his feeble sons who replaced him, and towns and princes who resisted centralization. Despite these characteristics, the religious forces, rather than the political ones, were most crucial. Because of the spread of Calvinism in France, French monarchs feared the power of the Huguenots and began to persecute them with little success. Huguenot nobles sought to influence the weak Valois king and gain political religious power in France. The Thirty Years' War...