International Conference "The Thirty Years War - Event and Narration" 22-23rd May 2018 at the Alpen-Adria-University Klagenfurt

Ulrich Seelbach's picture
Subject Fields: 
Cultural History / Studies, Early Modern History and Period Studies, European History / Studies, German History / Studies, Literature

In May 2018 marks the 400th anniversary of the beginning of the Thirty Years' War, that war, which overshadowed the 17th century Trojan War paradigm and asserted itself beyond the catastrophes of the 20th century.  Just as Troy's immortalization was ultimately a result of literary canonization in the wake of Homer, thus, the experiences of the Thirty Years' War are presented in literature, too, brought into a literary order.

But as we can learn from narrative designs of this major European event - from Grimmelshausen to Grass, from Schiller to Brecht - the question of its lack of alternatives remained in the room for a long time. On the contrary, it was precisely the events at the beginning of the war that revealed a whole bundle of diverging historical options.

Especially in the last years of the Habsburg Emperor Matthias, the rebellion of the Protestant estates of Bohemia against his foreseen Catholic successor Ferdinand (Prague lintel; May 23, 1618), the enthronement of Friedrich V of the Palatinate (so - called Winter King; August 26, 1619) onto the Battle at the White Mountain (November 8, 1620), for a brief historical moment, history appeared as a formable, open-ended process.

But how were these historical options perceived and reflected in the "real time"?  The short time distance is known to be a special hermeneutical problem. Only gradually certain narrative types  began to solidify – out of an amorphous mass of sedimented historical experiences. Therefore, sources from the immediate time leading up to the Thirty Years' War, its beginning and early stages, are most likely to reflect that openness of the historical situation, the great opportunities and expectations associated with it. Such early sources are the focus of the conference.

Contact Info: 

Germanic Institute at AAU in cooperation with Linguistics and Literature at University Bielefeld

Head: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Sabine Seelbach

The conference is funded by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation.

Contact Email: