This Day in the Law
October 24

Peace of Westphalia Signed (1648)

On October 24, 1648, the Peace of Westphalia was finalized in writing and ended the Thirty Years War. The Peace of Westphalia, also referred to as the Treaty of Westphalia, created the legal framework for political and religious practice within the Roman Empire until it was dissolved in 1806.

The Peace of Westphalia refers to several different treaties linked together that finally brought an end to the Thirty Years’ War in the Roman Empire and the Eighty Years’ War between Spain and the Netherlands. Westphalia is a region in Germany near the cities of Münster and Osnabrück where two of the main peace treaties were signed in 1648.

The Treaty redefined many territories in Europe and formally recognized many countries including the Netherlands and Switzerland, and smaller states including Tuscany, Milan, Savoy, and Parma. The Treaty also allowed greater religious freedom for Protestants and Catholics, officially recognized Calvinism as a religion, and granted hundreds of princes almost complete liberty to rule their independent tiny states however they saw fit.

Overall, the Peace of Westphalia de-centralized the Roman Empire which eventually led to its dissolve and set the foundation for the birth of modern Europe.