Joseph McCabe (1867-1955) was one of the most prolific authors of all time. He was brought up as a Roman Catholic, worked on Latin documents, and made himself very well-informed about Christianity, but turned against it. But he was extremely naive about Jews; bear this in mind.

Click for Detailed notes on McCabe - scroll down for selections from A Rationalist Encyclopaedia (1948).

Here's the full A Rationalist Encyclopaedia (about 1.3 MBytes; Word format; includes notes on some of its limits)

Thirty Years War

J. McCabe, Rationalists Encyclopaedia

Thirty Years War, The. A war, or connected series of wars, from 1618 to 1648, which all historians admit to have been in very large part religious - most authorities say primarily or mainly religious - and to have been one of the most savage and destructive in history. Even the Catholic reviser (X) has not ventured to delete this sentence from the opening paragraph on it in the Encyclopaedia Britannica: "It was primarily a religious war, and was waged with the bitterness characteristic of such wars." Starting in Bohemia, it raged as far north as the Baltic, and from the frontiers of France to those of Russia; and, says the new Encyclopaedia Americana (which is saturated with Catholic influence), "few wars have been more calamitous in their general effect on the mass of the people, and the happiness and progress of mankind." The Cambridge Modern History (Vol. IV, 417-25) says that it furnished "the most appalling demonstration of the consequences of war to be found in history." No historian has been able to tell us the total loss, but the best estimate puts the deaths in the German (Roman) Empire alone at 10,000,000 (out of 16,000,000). In some provinces only a tenth of the population survived. In Bohemia 24,000 out of 30,000 villages, 600 cities out of 730, and more than 2,000,000 out of 3,000,000 people, were destroyed. Moral principle was suspended for a generation, and religion, for which the war was fought, was "trodden underfoot." Catholic writers of the time tell of armies of 100,000 German women following armies of 50,000 men and selling their services for a little food. The rival armies devoured Europe like swarms of locusts, and the overwhelming majority of the deaths were due to famine, disease, and outrages on civilians. There were parts of Alsace which had to be left uninhabited for a year because of the stench of the unburied dead (J. B. Ellerbach, Der dreissigjährige Krieg in Elsass, 1912). It is of incidental interest to note that half the hundreds of thousands of soldiers who raped or otherwise used German women without the least restraint for a generation were not Germans, but Scandinavians, Spanish, etc., so that the historian smiles at the modern racial theory of "pure German blood." Whether the soldiers were Catholic or Protestant made no difference to their behaviour.
      We are here chiefly concerned with the religious character of the war. Seeing that the Powers engaged were Catholic on the one side and Protestant on the other, and that the Catholic leaders appealed to the Pope throughout for subsidies on the ground that it was a war to destroy Protestantism, older historians, even Catholic, would have been astonished if any writer had hesitated to call it a religious war. In our age, however, when the Inquisition is defended in our most scholarly encyclopaedia, the Reformation is described as a socio-political phenomenon, and the Dark Age is said to be a myth, there has been the inevitable attempt to represent the savage Thirty Years War as mainly or to a most important extent a political struggle or series of struggles. No one ever questioned that political antagonisms embraced the opportunity to assert themselves, but writers of this new school omit facts of primary importance. One such point is the undisputed fact that the Popes of the later sixteenth century, seeing the failure of all propaganda and of local armed conflicts, stored in the vaults of Sant'Angelo a vast sum, equivalent to millions in modern money, for the purpose of a comprehensive military campaign to destroy the heretics. A second point of vital relevance is that the Jesuits, who were now the special fighters against Protestants and dictated the policy of Popes and princes, were convinced that the heresy could be extinguished only by violence, and they were the teachers and confessors of the Catholic nobility everywhere, preparing them for the struggle. Maximilian of Bavaria, who provoked the outbreak, the Emperors Ferdinand II and Ferdinand III, and the great Catholic generals Wallenstein and Tilly, were pupils of the Jesuits and very docile to them. Jesuits abounded in the camps - there were eighteen in one camp-fired the troops, and at times, as in the siege of Prague, joined in the fighting. Interesting as it may be to disentangle the political elements, though even these were generally complicated by religion, the monstrous struggle stands out in history as the final effort of the Papacy and the Jesuits and their aristocratic and military pupils to crush Protestantism and freedom of conscience. One of the most ironic features of it is now rarely noticed. Near the end, in the years of exhaustion, the Catholic leaders, pleading that the aim of the war was precisely to extinguish Protestantism, called for the Papal treasure in Sant'Angelo, which would, they said, give them victory. The miserable Pope of the time, Urban VIII [see], who had already incurred the anger of Catholics by secretly supporting France in its alliance with the Protestants, refused to grant any subsidy and squandered the whole treasure on his family. So even some Catholic historians now admit, for L. von Ranke gives documents in the Appendix to his Popes of Rome (Vol. III) which put it beyond question. See Urban VIII and McCabe's History of the Popes (1939, Book IV, Ch. II). Of the two most important recent English works on the subject, C. V. Wedgwood's Thirty Years War (1938), fairly appreciates the share of sectarian hatred, while H. G. R. Reade's Sidelights on the Thirty Years' War (3 vols., 1924) is remarkable for the vast amount of research it expends on political and military aspects, and the skill with which it overlooks the most salient religious features and the conduct of the Jesuits and the Pope.

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