Front Page Titles (by Subject) 88.: Powers and Society in Europe Before the Thirty Years' War - Judgments on History and Historians
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88.: Powers and Society in Europe Before the Thirty Years’ War - Jacob Burckhardt, Judgments on History and Historians 
Judgments on History and Historians, ed. Alberto R. Coll (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1999).
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Powers and Society in Europe Before the Thirty Years’ War
The three powers which had defended themselves against Spain in world-historic struggle were the following:
France. It was highly problematical how long beyond Henry IV’s lifetime it would be able to maintain an independent policy.
England. It was capable of remaining neutral in a great new contest.
Holland. It alone would have to participate on the Protestant side if war broke out again. On the seas its opposition to Spain had already become a colossal business.
The North was still dormant. Did anyone at the outbreak of the Thirty Years’ War have any inkling of the impending world position of Sweden?
Only one thing was to be foreseen with certainty: when war among the political and religious adversaries began, Germany would be the object and the chief battleground.
If one examines the Catholic-Spanish forces one by one, they seem scarcely adequate for a great contest. Neither in strength of inner impetus nor in resources would they have been at all equal to the opposition if the latter had stuck together. But there, too, the inner impetus had been extinguished, and there was no unity.
A branch of the Hapsburg dynasty, allied with many Catholic individual interests and the house of Bavaria, then finds itself strong enough to risk the combat.
To what extent were the Protestant countries principally dominated by middle-class culture and outlook, the Catholic countries mainly by aristocratic culture and mentality? The difference between the two was not as great as it seems to have been.
The seventeenth century is substantially aristocratic on the Protestant side, too—more so than the period 1500–1550 had been.
The more middle-class character of the sixteenth century had given way before a reaction of the privileged. Italian private life, in particular, had been Hispanicized. The middle class existed everywhere, but no longer with a culture of its own; it now adopted modes of living and ways of thinking more from the upper classes. Even in Holland the life of the upper classes was much more aristocratic than is believed.