Peter H. Wilson
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Atrocities in the Thirty Years War
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This chapter focuses on the continental experience of the Thirty Years War. Gustav Drosyen, in his biography of Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, labelled the process the 'Magdeburgisation' of the war. The nationalist gloss has long fallen from fashion, but many still explain the level of violence in the Thirty Years War by presenting it as the culmination of a supposed 'age of religious wars'. Two terms existed for what were considered abuses of legitimate violence: Excess and Kriegsgreuel. Unlike the twentieth-century propaganda, there was little attempt to use atrocity allegations for ideological mobilisation by fanning hatred of a demonised enemy. Magdeburg served to mask later Swedish atrocities. Massacre as understood today was subsumed as an atrocity on a large scale involving multiple deaths. Twentieth-century massacres and genocide have often involved sustained, systematic killing over prolonged years in the case of the Nazi Holocaust.

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Ireland, 1641

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