Protestant factions met in Osnabrück’s Rathaus for over four years to broker their half of the Peace of Westphalia (the Catholics were in Münster) and unpick the knotted conflicts of the Thirty Years’ War that had brought German cities to their knees. Once signed by both, city fathers stood on the Rathaus steps on October 25, 1648, and proclaimed the carnage over, a declaration greeted at first with disbelief by the crowd, then by tears and a spontaneous outburst of hymns. As a contemporary pamphlet relates: “Osnabrück and all the world rejoices, the joyful people sing, Flags fly bravely … I am only sorry for the poor swordsmiths for they have nothing to do.”

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