Mapping the Thirty Years War

This project seeks a viable way of producing the first dynamic, digital visualisation of the impact of the Thirty Years War (1618-48), Europe’s most destructive conflict prior to the 20th century. We would like to overcome the limitations inherent in previous attempts to quantify and map the war’s impact. In place of conventional military history’s preoccupation with battles, and demographers’ ‘before and after’ comparisons of population decline, the project will test ways of mapping the dynamic interaction between physical and political geography, settlement patterns, communications infrastructure, troop movements and concentrations, with seasonal variations over time and space.

The project team (PI, digital visualisation expert, and research assistant) are compiling a database of conflict actors (belligerents), conflict events (organised by type) and troop deployment by size, duration, and location. To ensure feasibility, data collection will concentrate on long-running sequential sources to gather a reasonably reliable spread of information for the whole length of the war, as well as more fine-grained detail supporting a regional case study of Franconia in the middle of the conflict.

The process of data collection will be used to resolve methodological issues surrounding definitions of the categories, and the verification of evidence. The data will be subjected to relational and quantitative analysis correlated with the existing findings from historical research on the war’s conduct and the character of the alliance systems and methods of resource mobilisation. This will inform the development of dynamic digital maps showing the temporal and spatial incidence of conflict events and their relationship to physical and political geography and the shifting structure of the rival factions. The database and maps will be valuable outputs and will provide proof of concept and demonstrate the potential for a full-scale project to map the entire war in ways that can inform the understanding of the dynamic impact of current conflicts.

Visit the project website here: