In 1643, negotiations began on a general peace to end the Thirty Years War. The Peace of Westphalia, signed five years later, was actually two treaties, each negotiated in a different seat of an Imperial prince-bishop in the land of Westphalia. On October 14/24, 1648, the treaty between Emperor Ferdinand III and Queen Christina of Sweden and their respective allies was signed at Osnabrück (see part A, below); on the same day, the treaty between Ferdinand III and King Louis XIV of France and their respective allies was signed at Münster (see part B). For the Holy Roman Empire, the Peace meant a settlement to the political and territorial disputes that had begun with the German Reformation and an end to the conflicts sparked by the Bohemian conflict of 1618 and the Swedish invasion of June 1631.
The excerpt from the Treaty of Osnabrück confirmed: the Empire’s character as aristocratic-corporate state governed by the emperor and the Imperial estates, which enjoyed a new but limited right to relations with foreign powers (Art. VIII, §2); the international expansion of the Imperial estates with the admission of Sweden (Art. X, §9), whose monarch acquired territorial reparations in the form of half of Pomerania and other lands (Art. X); Brandenburg’s acquisition of the prince-archbishopric of Magdeburg and the other half of Pomerania (Art. XI-XIV); Bavaria’s retention of the Upper Palatinate and the electoral title from the Palatine line of the Wittelsbachs (Art. IV, §§3, 5). With regard to confessional relations, the Peace restored and improved the Religious Peace of 1555; it created confessional parity in Imperial collegial institutions and replaced majority rule in the Diet with two confessional caucuses of estates; it recognized the ownership of confessional lands and incomes according to the benchmark of January 1, 1624 (Art. V, §2); it canceled the rulers’ right to order subjects to choose between religious conformity and emigration (Art. V, §34). In addition to Catholicism and Lutheranism, the Peace extended religious toleration to a third confession, the Reformed faith (Art. II), and it recognized the formal dissociation of the Swiss Confederation with the Imperial corporate order (Art. VI). These provisions, even when enforced, by no means lifted the burdens the war had placed on the populations of the German lands. Following the provisions from the Treaty of Osnabrück is a much briefer excerpt from the Franco-Imperial Treaty of Münster, whose special provisions largely dealt with territorial concessions and the French king’s relationship to the Empire. The Peace would govern the Empire’s political relations for more than 150 years.
* Please note: Both the Julian calendar (Old Style) and the Gregorian calendar (New Style) were used in Europe between 1582 and 1752. Protestants retained the Julian calendar while Catholics used the Gregorian one. At the time, the two calendars differed by ten days. October 14, 1648, is the date of the signing of the Peace Treaties of Westphalia according to the Julian calendar; October 24, 1648 is the date according to the Gregorian calendar.