The longed-for peace
The war, which began with the local rebellion of the Bohemian estates, soon gained a European dimension. Its extensiveness in terms of both place and time made the steps towards peace extraordinarily difficult. Anyway the destructive effects of the war prevailed on leaders to seek peace again and again. During all periods of the war official and secret negotiations and exploratory talks took place between the adversaries. However, the powers which relied on military force and superiority determined politics and diplomacy right to the end.
During the war the people’s wish and longing for peace manifested itself with growing intensity. It is, however, hard to establish the impact of this on political decisions. In some shape or other all these hopes and efforts eventually entered the peace agreement of Münster and Osnabrück.
The treaties which ended the state of war between Spain and the United Netherlands (January 1648) and between the Emperor (and the Reich) and the Swedish and French Crowns (October 1648) reflected the relative strength brought about by the war in the Reich and all over Europe. These treaties solved the problems by a universal renunciation of the maximum aims of the war and by transferring the matter for conflict into a legal sphere.
Due to the given facts of power and society the Peace of Westphalia could not redeem the promise of “pax perpetua”, but it showed the way toward handling future situations of warlike conflict.