Your RDA of Irony

St. Richelieu?

October 24, 1648:  The Treaty of Westphalia

If you haven’t already sent a sympathy card to the Hapsburgs, at least offer to buy them lunch.

As you know (but I will belabor), the Treaty of Westphalia ended The Thirty Years War. The War basically was a simple, religious affair: Catholics slaughtered Protestants and Protestants returned the favor. Both sides proved very enthusiastic. Armies were paid by what they could pillage–and it is always easier to rob the dead. Central Europe was reduced to a charnel house. At least one third of the population was killed.

It looked like the Catholics–led by the Hapsburgs–were ahead on points–when France intervened. Cardinal Richelieu did not want to see a triumphant Austria unifying the German states. The brilliant statesman may have had premonitions of 1870, 1914 and 1940. Relegating his religious preferences behind his national interests, Richelieu brought France to the Protestant side, and that led the war to a stalemate.

The Hapsburgs finally realized that there were too many Protestants to kill and who certainly were not cooperating in the effort. So, Catholics and Protestants agreed to stop slaughtering each other. England did not sign the treaty, however, so Catholics were still fair game in Scotland and Ireland.

And Holland was finally granted independence from Spain. Of course, the Dutch hadn’t bothered to wait and had been governing their country for more forty years. It just took that long for Spain to notice the obvious.

The Protestants of Germany were saved. Austria was frustrated and spent. And now the greatest power on continental Europe was France. Richelieu did not live to see his triumph, succumbing to natural causes in 1643.  There has yet to be a proposal to grant him sainthood.

Learning of Richelieu’s death Pope Urban VII concluded, “If there is a God, he will pay dearly for his conduct.  If there is no God, then he was truly an admirable man.”

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