Reformation and the Thirty Years' War
In the 16th century the teachings of Luther, the distribution of which was aided by early book-printing, gave the impulse for a reform of the church that resulted in profound religious and political changes in the Empire. The political powers split into followers and opponents of the Reformation. The Religious Peace of Augsburg in 1555 brought decades of peace and encouraged the growth of urban culture in many places. Around 1600 increased confessional differences and political conflicts led to the Thirty Years’ War, from 1618-1648. The Empire became the theatre of this war; testimony to its horrors can be found not only in drawings and reports of the time, but also in the armour and weapons in the historical collection of the Zeughaus. The battles were soon joined by other European powers that were less concerned with the religious issues than with their own interests in power politics. Not until 1648 could the Peace of Westphalia create a new European order, which was then to guarantee peace for the next halfcentury.