A friend and occasional reader had a great time making fun of me over the weekend for my references to Westphalia and the 30 Years’ War. He found them, how can I put this? Abstruse. Arcane. Nerdy. The only thing to say to that is Welcome to the world of Joe Pastry. Yet I can’t say that the criticism didn’t get under my skin a little. He made me feel like the kind of history nerd who draws connections between the Treaty of Nantes and municipal zoning codes. I’m not that bad…am I?
I just like taking the long view. Take the 30 Years’ War. It gave us what’s known as the Treaty of Westphalia, a group of documents that created the modern nation state, not to mention the ideas of the rule of law and national sovereignty. And it just so happens to be the very treaty that Osama Bin Laden proclaimed to be null and void in his many declarations of war against us this past decade. I think that’s relevant (or am I starting to sound defensive?).
Not many people realize nowadays that when Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on Castle Church in 1517, not only did he kick off a new era of Christianity, he ignited over a century of religious war, as people all over the continent found new reasons to hate one another. Lutherans fought Catholics, Catholics fought Calvinists, and the French, well…they fought whoever then felt like fighting. It wasn’t until the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 that the continent adopted a general policy of live and let live (at least where various forms of Christianity were concerned). Nation would no longer fight nation to try to convert its inhabitants to the true faith.
Obviously Bin Laden has a problem with that, which is partly why he’s singled out the tenets of the Treaty of Westpahlia as being among the first things to go when he gets to be emperor (that and the drapery in the cloak room at the UN, which I’m told he hates). But then here’s a guy who’s still ticked about the Spanish taking back the Iberian peninsula in 1492. Wait..somehow I get the feeling I’m off my topic. Isn’t this supposed to be a food blog?