Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Theological Studies (MATS)



First Advisor

Dr. Daniel Brunner

Second Advisor

Dr. Nell Becker Sweeden


The following thesis is an examination of the Thirty Years’ War. This conflict, from 1618-1648 in the “Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation,” was the culminating conflict of the Reformation era and set the stage for the modern world. Much scholarly debate in recent years has centered on whether or not the Thirty Years’ War was a “religious” conflict. A great deal of recent work has tended to minimize or discount the religious element of the conflict. This current thesis attempts to engage this debate and to argue that the war’s origins did indeed lie in religious concerns. This is so because the Thirty Years’ War was the final conflict necessitated by the Reformation challenges to the church-state nexus of Corpus Christianum (Christendom). The war was the final struggle for the shape and future of Christendom and its origins were decidedly religious. Yet, as this work shows, its effects were, paradoxically, the birth of the “irreligion” of the Enlightenment era as well as the launch of the ascendancy of nation-state structures and concerns in early modern Europe.