71 The Westphalia Peace Treaties and the Development of the Tradition of Great European Peace Settlements prior to 1648 RANDALL LESAFFER* 1. The triple significance of the Westphalia peace settlement According to modern scholarship, the two peace treaties signed at Munster be- tween the Empire and France and at Osnabruck between the Empire and Swe- den on October 24th, 1648 constitute a major turning point in German and Eu- ropean political, religious and legal history. The significance of the treaties is clearly triple.' The treaties were more than just normal peace settlements. They also implied important constitutional and religious settlements regarding the Empire. According to the text of the treaties themselves, the peace settlements were to be considered as imperial laws and even as part of the constitution of the Holy Roman Empire.2 In addition to the establishment of the principle of terri- torial sovereignty for each of the more than three hundred Stande that made up the Empire, the treaties recognized the right of the Stdnde to participate in all decisions regarding the Empire and restored their right to form alliances with each other or with foreign powers, as long as these alliances were not directed against
Grotiana – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1997
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