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Reviewed by:
  • War and Religion after Westphalia, 1648-1713
  • Christian Wieland
War and Religion after Westphalia, 1648-1713. Edited by David Onnekink. [Politics and Culture in North-Western Europe, 1650-1720.] (Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing. 2009. Pp. xvi, 274. $124.95. ISBN 978-0-754-66129-0.)

The treaty of Münster has been considered a watershed of early-modern history for a considerable period of time. Whereas up to 1648 religion—or, to [End Page 816] be more precise, the confessional divide—was the determining factor of internal and external politics, it ceased to be so once the Thirty Years' War had come to an end; instead, politicians (mostly monarchs) began to form alliances and wage war purely from considerations of "reason of state"; if religion played a role in international politics at all, it merely served as a convenient means of conveying higher dignity to "Machiavellian" interests that were in need of benevolent disguise. This understanding of early-modern international relations, the conviction that war and peace underwent a rapid process of secularization after 1648 has been questioned for at least the last ten years; the diplomacy of individual nation-states such as England and France or the "international" outlook of the semi-sovereign principalities of the Holy Roman Empire have come to be interpreted as mirroring their power politics as well as the religious convictions of their princes. This reinterpretation of post-Westphalian politics, however, has not yet led to a fundamental reappraisal of the international system of that period; in so far, the eleven articles collected in this volume (together with the editor's introduction and Benjamin Kaplan's concluding remarks) represent a new approach to the political history of the second half of the early-modern age and to the complex question of the relationship between politics and religion on the eve of the Enlightenment. The majority of the contributions deal with British and Dutch phenomena; during the reign of William III of Orange (1689-1702), Great Britain and the Netherlands were, indeed, hardly distinguishable as factors of international politics. Consequently, the volume can hardly be considered a balanced account of Western European perceptions of international politics between 1648 and the end of the War of the Spanish Succession, let alone of Protestant and Catholic perspectives alike (as is suggested in the introduction); instead, the reader is presented a picture of the growing fears of Protestant Europe toward an inexorable Catholic supremacy embodied by belligerent France, which had come to supplant Habsburg Spain as the epitome of an aggressive Counter-Reformation Catholicism. Although it is, without a doubt, correct to assume that many English and Dutch politicians in that period conceived Louis XIV's France a threat to European Protestantism and, consequently, felt the need to unite against the universal aspirations of the Bourbon monarchy, this does not imply either that the cause of Protestantism was in truth at risk at the time or that Catholics did not feel more or less the same toward the emerging Protestant powers, notably Great Britain and the States General.

One of the major results of the essays collected by David Onnekink is that religion did play a considerable role in the politics of war and peace at the turn of the seventeenth century. This is the case both for the concrete ways of doing politics, fighting wars, and forming alliances, as well as for the perception and discussion of international affairs in pamphlets and manifestos. The greater part of the contributions illustrate the high degree to which politicians perceived and judged political developments in late-seventeenth-century Europe according to their religious convictions. This holds equally [End Page 817] true for English envoys at Catholic courts under the reigns of Charles II and James II, as is demonstrated by Stéphane Jettot; for aristocratic Huguenot émigrés in the service of William III, as discussed in Matthew Glozier's article; and for the "Puritan Whigs," whose convictions and political outlooks can be deduced from Roger Morrice's "Entring Book," as it is analyzed by Stephen Taylor. Public opinion in the Netherlands was very much shaped by the conviction that the defense of liberty, Protestantism, and "fatherland" were basically...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-0708
Print ISSN
0008-8080
Pages
pp. 816-818
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-27
Open Access
No
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