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Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Peace Treaty of Műnster and Osnabrűck

When traveling through Germany from North to South, the most convenient motorway is the A1. It takes you straight from Hamburg down 732km to the State of Saarland in the southwest on the french border. After leaving Bremen, the next two stops of interests are the cities of Osnabrűck and Műnster. They're medium-sized towns of about 200,000 inhabitants surrounded by agricultural countryside and hilly forests are well suitable to bicycle rides. Both have a lovely old city center with the typical timber framed houses you find in many in German towns, pedestrianized areas where you can hang out in a street cafe and watch the world go by -- something I so miss about life in a city. When one is mentioned the other one comes up as well, like twins,because it was here, in these two cities, where the peace treaty ending the third the year war was signed. It was a religious war that raged from 1618 to 1648 dividing almost the whole of Europe between Protestants and Catholics. The Protestants occupied the Netherlands, the northern territories up to Sweden and along the Baltic coastline. The Catholics had their allies among the Spanish and French nations.It also marked the 80 year long war of independece of the Netherlands. 

The town halls in both cities are well worth the visit to see the artifacts deriving from that. The documents signed to end a horrible time and in European history that plagued the whole continent. Both sides had utterly spent their resources. Millions of people had died, farmers were destitute and the land had been pilfered by marauding soldiers. Peace negotiations had taken five years.

In this Treaty, the whole of northern Germany, including the eastern parts I wrote about on our travels (Mecklenburg, Pommern, Brandenburg) and the area down to Bremen were handed over to Sweden and became Swedish territory. Even the town outside Bremen where my family is still living belonged to Sweden for over 100 years after the armistice. This peace treaty  is also called  The Westphalian Peace.

The land south of Műnster became part the holy Roman  Empire of German nations . Coincidentally, Műnster was my hometown and where I went to university (WWU) and Osnabrűck is where my parents lived during my college years.  It used to have the second biggest university before Reunification in 1990. Műnster is the town where I spent the first ten years of may married life, had two babies and from where we emigrated to Ireland. You can read about that on another blog of mine: www.InandoutofIreland.blogspot.com.

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