The great conflict that broke out in 1618, in which were quickly involved almost all the states of Europe, was initiated by an antiabsburgic Bohemian revolt which followed the rebellion of the Catholic Valtellina against the domination of the Grisons, Protestants, and the end of the truce period of twelve years of war between Spain and the United Provinces. It was determined a simultaneous explosion of political claims and religious authorities, who saw the face opposite the Catholic Counter-Reformation that supported the Habsburg absolutist and hegemonic design, and the Protestant front, joined by Germany so to expand gradually to Denmark, Sweden, England and the United Provinces. The coincidence between political option and religious confession was denied instead by France, led by Richelieu into the Protestant front against Habsburg. With a substantial defeat of the Catholic Habsburg ambitions in the German world and across the continent, the war saw the emergence of new players on the European scene, such as Christian IV of Denmark and Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, involved in the conflict because of the spread of the imperial armies to the shores of the Baltic. This war also marked the triumph of France, once more united in its internal structure by the strengthening of monarchical absolutism and because of the victorious over his traditional enemies: the Hapsburg.
The Peace of Westphalia in 1648 established a new order in Europe based on the balance within Germany, where he was recognized as the political and religious independence of a myriad of small states and free cities, and, at the same time maintained, the increasingly thin Federative plot of the Austrian empire with the definitive renunciation of the Habsburgs to assume a prominent role in the continent. The criterion of stability in the division will hold up to the progressive rise of Prussia as a new European power and aggregator of Germany. Finally a further guarantee of balance came from the Hapsburg monarchy, whose cohesion process could now move from the disappearance of autonomous powers and Protestant denominations (with the exception of Hungary). By the Peace of Westphalia was closed forever the era of religious wars: the triumph of reason was heralded a period in which, removed religious hatreds at least in the context of international relations, foreign policy would definitely "material".