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Thirty Years War 1618-48

Not long after Martin Luther started the Reformation, the collection of tiny separate princedoms in Germany was plunged into religious civil war. Protestants fought Roman Catholics - each cause was supported by some of Germany's princes and bishops. But their powerful neighbour Austria, ruled by the Habsburg royal family, joined in to support the Catholics,

When it looked like Austria might gain control of the centre of Europe, Denmark, Sweden and then France joined the fight against them. In decades of bitter fighting, every town in Germany was ruined and half its population was killed. France under Louis XIV became the dominant power in Europe, while Germany remained weak and divided among local rulers for the next 200 years.

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Louis XIV