The Thirty Years' War was a series of wars in Central Europe between 1618–1648. It was one of the most destructive conflicts in European history, and one of the longest.
Initially a war between Protestant and Catholic states in the fragmenting Holy Roman Empire, it gradually developed into a more general conflict involving most of the great powers of Europe, becoming less about religion and more a continuation of the France–Habsburg rivalry for European political pre-eminence.
The Thirty Years' War saw the devastation of entire regions, with famine and disease significantly decreasing the population of the German and Italian states, the Kingdom of Bohemia, and the Low Countries. The war also bankrupted most of the combatant powers. Both mercenaries and soldiers in armies were expected to fund themselves by looting or extorting tribute, which imposed severe hardships on the inhabitants of occupied territories.
The Thirty Years' War ended with the treaties of Osnabrück and Münster, part of the wider Peace of Westphalia.