Hans Ulrich Franck, Ein Überfall (A Raid), 1643.
100 years after Martin Luther’s Reformation, the famous Defenestration of Prague of 23 May 1618 marked the symbolic beginning of a series of long-running wars in Central Europe. It wasn’t until the Peace of Westphalia was sealed in Osnabrück and Münster in 1648 that these conflicts came to an end, becoming known as the Thirty Years’ War. The clashes shook the foundations of the Holy Roman Empire, causing widespread devastation and inflicting great suffering upon those affected.
Striking visual documents from the collection convey the events and the underlying mood of the society of the time. In addition to the printed portraits and satirical pamphlets that enjoyed such popularity at the time, a number of image series depict the effects of the war on the general populace. Showing the actions of lone marauders or groups of soldiers, these print sequences shed light on the fates of individuals and small groups, and on the immediate effects that the war and its social catastrophes had on them.
(© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett. Photo courtesy of Dietmar Katz.)