Chiefio, someone who’s blog I frequent because I enjoy his “mind pleasers” and general thinking style, has a new post entitled, “Defenestration of Prague”, an event in European history that has been a favorite topic of mine for some time, so I am pleased whenever I see it turn up.
Naturally I felt impelled to add my two cents – which Chiefio may regret, but how was he to know? Live and learn I guess.
Basically, Chiefio takes us down a rather long winded boustrophedon from present geopolitical concerns regarding Euro-American troubles with everything going on generally East and South of the Bosporus back through history to the origins of our modern Occident/Orient conflicts in the aftermath of the Thirty Years War and the events of the Defenestration of Prague which precipitated it.
[BTW, Spengler over at Asia Times On-Line and in his various books has much to say about the Thirty Years War and its restructuring of European politics and society as well – highly recommended.]
Chiefio makes a pretty good account of the situation, so I invite you to read his informative essay and check out the related Wikipedia links if you are unfamiliar with the events. I’ll present Chiefio’s conclusions here, but the history is actually pretty important for what is going on the world today if you don’t know it, it tends to get scanted in pre-post-secondary education.
It looks to me like we have the Muslim Brotherhood working hard to rebuild the Ottoman Empire. Turkey is making sympathetic sounds toward the east, and away from the west, as well. We have Putin and Russia working to replay The Cold War, and we have a British Royal Prince on record as saying they expect to win The Great Game this time. W.W.I was started by a Royal getting assassinated, triggering a rats nest of interlocking mutual support treaties, much like we have a load of them today. The Thirty Years’ War (among many others) was in large part over religion. In all three ( 30 Years’, W.W.I and W.W.II) the Ottoman Empire was participant and part of the problem.
I don’t see how adding global oil dependency on the Middle East, US Dreams of Hegemony, and a Nuclear China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and shortly Iran; adds stability to this mix.
It looks to me like we are one Serbian Rebel or one Defenestration away from a dramatic change in Life As We Know It; and all our “Leaders” seem quite happy with this state of affairs.
But, on the bright side, I think I’ve figured out where our present circumstances had their foundations laid. Some Czech Defenestrations and the Ottoman Empire vs the European Empires & Royals… That, and I’m really coming to appreciate how the Framers of the US Constitution crafted that thing. And why ‘freedom of religion’ ranked so high, along with no titles of nobility and only Congress declaring war. Now if only we were to do what it says…
But somehow I think we’re going to have Madam Hillary toss someone out a window instead…
I couldn’t agree more except to say that we may need to be less selective and a little more Albigensian in the application of the method.
Of course Chiefio has gotten the story more or less right, but the take away from the history lesson is that the Thirty Years War represents the restructuring of the Medieval World into the Modern World, so very naturally he would have trace all of the Modern World’s ills back to that point.
The devastation and depopulation of the aftermath of the 30YW also represents the turning point at which Europeans pretty much gave up fighting over religion as fundamentally not worth it. It’s too bad they would have to keep repeating the experience over and over again for the next three centuries in their quest for secular European unity, and “unlimited power!” [to quote a much earlier Emperor].
There are a number of other possible details of the aftermath of the 30YW to consider, such as the subsequent colonization by ethnic Germans of areas of Bohemia depopulated in that war [though they had been some there since the 14th century or even earlier] which would after World War the First in the area that then became Czechoslovakia would lead to the presence of a large number of Sudeten Germans which eventually became the political pretext that precipitated World War the Second.
However, that may not be the most interesting version of the story of the Defenestration of Prague the 2nd that there is to tell. Uncle Terrence [McKenna] used to go on and on about Rudolph II [Mad Rudolph to you and me] who’s peculiar interests if continued uninterrupted may have lead to a kind of Protestant alchemical renaissance centered in Bohemia, which was unfortunately never realized due to the deposition of Rudolph by his brother Mathias in 1612 and the subsequent Hapsburg Catholic suppression in the aftermath of the unfortunate events surrounding the Winter King and Queen.
But there is more.
Uncle Terrence also used to tell the following story† [raconteur that he was] back at least as far as 1991 about how exactly it came to be that René Descartes founded modern empirical science.
Mckenna: When he was a young man of about 22 years old he [René Descartes] decided to go soldiering and wenching around Europe, which was something young men of that era did, and he joined a Hapsburg army which was on a mission to lay siege to the city of Prague in Bohemia to suppress what was essentially an alchemical revival, I won’t go into the details, but a young prince of the Northern League [Frederick, the Elector Palatine] and his queen who was the daughter of James of England and was named Elizabeth after her grandmother had managed to gain control of the Empire, had been elected in fact, he was called Frederick the Elector Palatine. And this Hapsburg army was sent to destroy this Protestant alchemical reformation, and it did so, it laid siege to the city, killed this young man and his queen fled to the Hague. And, then they retreated across Germany, and on I believe it was on the 17th of August that year which was 1619, the beginning year of the Thirty Years War, they made camp at Ulm in southern Germany – and, just as an aside, Ulm was later the birthplace of Albert Einstein – but on that night Descartes had a dream, and in the dream a radiant angel appeared to him and said, “The conquest of nature is to be accomplished through nature and measure,” and in that moment René Descartes went from being a nobody to being the founder of modern science. Modern science was founded at the direction of an angel, and the angel showed how it was, and to this day modern science has made all of its strides through the application of number – mathematical analysis and measure. That is the secret of the scientific conquest of nature, and it was a secret that was imparted to René Descartes by an angelic entity. So, I would like you leave this evening wondering, ‘who do we work for?’ [applause]
Thus the Thirty Years War represented not only the birth of modern political Europe, but the birth of modern empirical science – by angelic visitation.
† Note: This is an exact transcript of a portion of Mckenna’s 1991 “Unfolding the Stone” lecture in L.A. One must be careful with Mckenna as a source [as much as I loved the old man] especially when he is speaking live to an audience, he does occasionally make errors of fact when he is ‘on a role’, I am thinking particularly of a time he misattributed a famous alchemical woodcut of Hienrich Khunrath “The Alchemists Laboratory” to Athanasius Kircher. Mckenna was well enough read to know the correct attribution, but may have had a slip of the tongue in the heat of the moment. In this case I would consider his dates as suspect.
Pingback: Chiefest-The Club of Rome, Paranoia and the Recitivism of the Aristocratic Impulse | The Coraline Meme
Wow, W.W., I am always really impressed by your academic accuracy and adherence to the facts and the truth of accounts of history. I am also sort of wooed by your writing style, even in accounts of history.
We miss you in the wild west, especially this weekend at Mysterium. Wish you were around to give hugs to, and to listen to you wax on about things live.