New Perspectives on Changing Conflict Patterns: The Thirty Years’ War Example

Authors: Dr. Annette Idler, Dr. Katerina Tkacova, Professor Peter Wilson • Resource type: Working Papers


​How do armed conflicts shift across time and space? We argue that identifying and analysing spatial-temporal dynamic patterns across historical and contemporary conflicts help us better understand shifts in conflict that so far remain understudied. We draw on the case of the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) in Central Europe, that involved most of the major European powers and rewrote the political map of Europe. We build the Thirty Years’ War Conflict Database consisting of the georeferenced Conflict Events Dataset and Actors Dataset. Both datasets can be combined and used for spatial-temporal and dynamic network analysis. We discuss our findings in the context of the current armed conflict in the Middle East to better understand to what extent and how the changing characteristics of the Thirty Years’ War provide insights into contemporary conflict dynamics, for example, a large number of civilian casualties and the fragmentation of political authority. Our research yields revealing similarities and differences in the patterns of organized violence and, therefore, suggests new possible avenues for the data and research of the current conflicts. For instance, treating conflict events as multi-actor rather than dyadic provides additional insight into the conflict’s development, dynamic involvement of lesser actors and the actors’ homogeneity.

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