In the first half of the seventeenth century the intertwining of political upheaval, social turmoil, religious conflicts, variously localized but concentrated in a defined time span, seemed fully justified the opinion of contemporaries historians who believed to live in a "century of iron". The simultaneity of crises between states and within the states, was emphasized by the economic depression and the demographic contraction that, in different ways, crossed the European society. Against this backdrop exploded serious institutional conflicts, such as peasant, urban and aristocratic revolts in France, the Cossack uprisings in Russia, rebellions for autonomy in Catalonia, Portugal, Naples, Ireland and Scotland, the political revolution of the English Parliament and finally the bloody Thirty Years' War, which involved almost the entire continent. The crucial decades were those between 1618 (the beginning of the Thirty Years War) and 1661 (seizure of power in France by Louis XIV). This periodization is confirmed in the economic analysis which showed that, starting from the downturn of 1619-22, for many areas of Europe interrupted the long development century cycle. A sensitive indicator is provided by the movement of prices that indicates for those years, the slowdown in inflation followed by a deflationary deficit. The decrease of the prices is not correlated to imports of precious metal from America, whose shares are maintained to an excellent standard, but rather to a combination of factors, which refer to a period of worsening climate, the demographic fall, the military clashes and the political struggles that affect the European states.
The economic crisis strengthened the re-classification of production areas that had emerged at the end of the sixteenth century. This crisis, in fact, penalized Mediterranean Europe and advantaged Atlantic Europe the center of this economy, so world capitalism was centered on the Anglo-Dutch area as mentioned by the historian Fernand Braudel. For subject and weaker areas, like the Italian one, the crisis of the seventeenth century involved a general strengthening of the traditional elements associated with the feudal social relations, although it should not be overlooked new activities found in the processes of production conversion (the displacement of the manufactures of the wool and silk from the cities to the countryside, for example). The great epidemics of plague in the seventeenth century, which affected mainly Italy and Germany, associated with mortality caused by wars, caused gaps in population that would require more than fifty years to be canceled. In the German regions, most affected by this dramatic sequence of war, famine and epidemics, more than two-thirds of the population was lost. On the east of the Elbe, abandoned by peasants of the countryside or depopulated by disease, the feudal lords acquired vast territories in which disappeared forever the small property and returned the serfdom.
December 4, 1759
The clash between Austrians and Prussians nearby the Elbe River, brings the reign of Frederick II one step from final defeat in the Seven Years War.