Myths about Westphalia

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tusk of gullinbursti
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Myths about Westphalia

Post by tusk of gullinbursti »

This post is not an attack on anyone who has written or edited content with these "inaccuracies," just my attempt to hopefully limit their appearance in the future. My frustration arises both from the experience of losing points due to not being able to parse "inaccurate" clues and from an academic interest in questions being as "correct" as possible (I use quotation marks because I am not asserting the absolute truth of anything, just what I think is the most reasonable interpretation of collective knowledge about certain topics).

Some commonly reoccurring issues:

a) The Peace of Westphalia being clued as "this treaty" or called the "Treaty of Westphalia"

The Peace of Westphalia is NOT a treaty. It is a set of two treaties, Osnabruck and Munster, whose negotiation and implementation are collectively referred to as the Peace of Westphalia. Please do not mention the Peace of Westphalia as "this treaty," since that is a strictly inaccurate pronoun, and please do not refer to the "Treaty of Westphalia" in questions, since said treaty does not exist (I have encountered documents titled "Treaty of Westphalia," but this seems to simply be a misnomer for the Treaty of Munster).

b) The Peace of Westphalia was the "origin of sovereignty" or other similar statements

Westphalia is NOT the "origin of sovereignty." This is an outdated theory that has been debunked numerous times and is no longer the academic consensus amongst experts on state-building and early-modern Europe. If anything, Westphalia solidified imperial power over the principalities.

c) The Peace of Westphalia "reaffirmed the Peace of Augsburg"

Westphalia did not "reaffirm" the Peace of Augsburg. Westphalia actually revoked cuius regio eius religio, since it froze/reverted the religion of each state to 1624 and did not grant princes the right to change religion. What is did do was ensure that all parties recognized the Augsburg Confession, i.e. the right of Lutherans to be viewed as fellow Christians. It also barred Catholic states from legally discriminating against Protestants and vice versa, on pain of imperial intervention (another example of a limit on sovereignty).

In short, my ask is that writers eliminate not only these stock phrases ("origin of sovereignty, "reaffirmed the Peace of Augsburg"), but also all clues about the Peace of Westphalia that rely on these common misconceptions.

If you disagree with any of the claims made above, please do reply to this post!

Some sources:
https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/307863 ... 3eb417da76
https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.117 ... 811401459
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Re: Myths about Westphalia

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

You are indisputably correct about the facts. And many similar things could, with great accuracy, be said about the Treaty of Utrecht or the 1783 Treaty of Paris or doubtlessly many others. Unfortunately, your correctness is a bit besides the point.

Our society has, by convention, long referred to the treaties that ended the 30 Years War as the "Treaty of Westphalia" with treaty in the singular number. Not only is it what most lay people refer to that set of agreements as, but it's what a lot of sources that a budding quizbowl player might read use. I'm confident that, for example, my AP Euro textbook referred to them as "treaty" in the singular.

Here is Encyclopedia Britannica, which starts out by calling it the "Peace" of Westphalia and noting that it was multiple treaties, before slipping into the habit of referring to both agreements collectively with the singular word "treaty"

https://www.britannica.com/event/Peace-of-Westphalia
probably the most reputable encyclopedia in human history wrote: The constitutional changes made by the treaty had far-reaching effects

But if the Treaty of Westphalia pronounced the dissolution of the old order in the empire, it facilitated the growth of new powers in its component parts, especially Austria, Bavaria, and Brandenburg. The treaty was recognized as a fundamental law of the German constitution and formed the basis of all subsequent treaties until the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806.
Speaking of AP European history, let's look at the College Board's scoring guidelines for the 2018 AP European History exam

https://secure-media.collegeboard.org/d ... y-dbq1.pdf
the single most important organization in telling American high schoolers what they need to know about the 30 years war wrote: Example of acceptable explanation of the relevance of the historical situation of a document:
• (Document 7): “Document 7 is an excerpt from Pope Innocent 10th denouncing all articles of religious freedom as noted in the Treaty of Westphalia.

Question 1 — Document-Based Question (continued)
(Document 7): “In Doc 7 is the signing of the Treaty of Westphalia which is known to be the signing that ended religious conflicts.
It's not just the College Board being an ignorant and corrupt organization, but schools are describing it this way too. Here's some high school in California's study guide for AP Euro history, slide 50 does refer to it as the "Peace of Westphalia" but then conflates both treaties when listing provisions without ever mentioning that there were two separate treaties. Here is a high school in New York's study guide that interchangeably uses Peace of Westphalia and Treaty of Westphalia and conflates the two agreements in terms of their effect. In simply googling "AP Euro Treaty of Westphalia" I found many others from all corners of the country.

Writers of quizbowl questions are morally obligated to be factually correct, but they are also morally obligated to write in clear English. Words are defined by speakers of the language: many words have indisputable common meanings that are facially absurd. To the extent that our society ever collectively agrees on anything, it agrees that you can say "Treaty of Westphalia" as a singular noun to mean "all treaties, collectively, that ended the Thirty Years War". Referring to that set of treaties as "This Peace" or "This set of agreements" is probably going to do more harm by confusing the marginal quizbowl player than do good by not confusing a budding scholar of early modern European history. Of course, answerlines should clearly accept "Peace of Westphalia" or "The Treaties of Munster and Osnabruck" or other such more technically correct answers.
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Re: Myths about Westphalia

Post by alexdz »

Was I very briefly confused that I was going to learn myths about the hometown of the Fatima High School quizbowl team? I'm not ashamed to admit that yes.

But more to the point, what Bruce has said is true:
...Words are defined by speakers of the language...
And thus in the perennial game of telephone that is human communication, we've arrived at a new, clearly commonly accepted name for this document, which should be at minimum acceptable as an answerline.
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Re: Myths about Westphalia

Post by joshxu »

The original post didn't explicitly argue against the acceptability of "Treaty of Westphalia" as an answer given by a player, so apologies that I may be straw-manning this paragraph (though I think the points are relevant nevertheless). I agree with the previous posters that while the term "Treaty of Westphalia" may not be the most technically accurate, usage of the term among scholars, students, and the general public is so widespread and unambiguous that rejecting it as an acceptable answer would be unfair to players. This reminds me of when a player objected to the acceptance of terms like "Latter-Day Saints [Church]", "Mormon [Church]", etc. for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints because the church itself dictates that it should only be referred to by its full name or as "the [restored] Church of Jesus Christ" and not by any other name*. Even though all these terms like "Treaty of Westphalia" or "Mormons" or "LDS" might be improper, a player giving one of these answers has (at least in my opinion) demonstrated sufficient and unambiguous knowledge of the answer and should not be penalized for being unaware that the commonly used terms for these entities don't adhere to proper stylistic conventions.

I sympathize with the argument that questions themselves should use "this peace" as an indicator instead of "this treaty", but ultimately as Bruce said that would likely be more confusing than helpful to the average quiz bowl player, and it would simultaneously be much more easily fraudable for experienced players since the possible answer space for "this peace" is much smaller than for "this treaty".
tusk of gullinbursti wrote:c) The Peace of Westphalia "reaffirmed the Peace of Augsburg"

Westphalia did not "reaffirm" the Peace of Augsburg. Westphalia actually revoked cuius regio eius religio, since it froze/reverted the religion of each state to 1624 and did not grant princes the right to change religion. What is did do was ensure that all parties recognized the Augsburg Confession, i.e. the right of Lutherans to be viewed as fellow Christians. It also barred Catholic states from legally discriminating against Protestants and vice versa, on pain of imperial intervention (another example of a limit on sovereignty).
I completely agree with Tasis here. The Peace of Westphalia definitely did not "reaffirm" Augsburg (for the reasons Tasis already listed, and also since Calvinism was prohibited by Augsburg but recognized by Westphalia), and this is not a matter of mere naming conventions; accordingly, it should absolutely not be referred to as such.

*https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/style-guide "the Church" is technically also listed as an acceptable name, but for obvious reasons that should never be used or accepted in a quiz bowl context.
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Re: Myths about Westphalia

Post by tusk of gullinbursti »

To be clear, I 100% think "Treaty of Westphalia" should be an acceptable answer, just not the primary answer nor the term that is used in questions. Besides, I'm one of those people who always says "Midsommer's Night Dream" so I'm not exactly in a place to be arguing for excessive prescriptivism in answerlines.
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Re: Myths about Westphalia

Post by Sima Guang Hater »

Just wanted to post this, having seen it today and remembering this thread https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-WO73Dh7rY
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Re: Myths about Westphalia

Post by at your pleasure »

Sima Guang Hater wrote: Fri Dec 03, 2021 4:08 am Just wanted to post this, having seen it today and remembering this thread https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-WO73Dh7rY
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