The Risk of Peace-Making: The Example of the Westphalian Peace Congress

Date / time: 15 July, 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm

The Risk of Peace-Making: The Example of the Westphalian Peace Congress


The next seminar of the Institute of Historical Research’s Partnership seminar series “Risk and Uncertainty in the Premodern World” will run online on Thursday 15 July, 17:00-19:00 London time.

We are delighted to be hosting Dorothée Goetze and Lena Oetzel for a seminar on “The Risk of Peace-Making: The Example of the Westphalian Peace Congress”. Dorothée Goetze is a postdoctoral researcher in the department of early modern history and history of the Rhine region at the University of Bonn. Lena Oetzel is assistant professor in the department of history at the University of Salzburg.

Dorothée Goetze (Lund/Bonn): What It Costs to Make Peace: The Princes’ Perspectives

Lena Oetzel (Wien/Salzburg): Money, Honour, Career: Of the Risks of being a Diplomat at an Early Modern Peace Congress

The seminar abstract can be found at the bottom of the page. All are welcome, but registration will be necessary in advance through the Institute of Historical Research’s website:

Registration will close on Wednesday 14 at 17:00 London time.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the seminar convenors at


In theory, peace was a highly valued norm that early modern rulers had to aspire to. But it was not unchallenged, as it could come into conflict with other norms such as honour and reputation. Therefore, we propose to consider peace-making being a very risky affair on several different levels. Risks could be e.g. existential, political, normative, financial or personal.

Using the Westphalian Peace Congress as a case study we would like to examine the manifold risks of peace-making from two different perspectives: On the one hand, the risks of the rulers and their councillors who decided about war and peace and on the other hand, the risks of the diplomats who were the ones who had to practically negotiate the peace. In a first step, we want to identify and characterise the different forms of risk, before asking which risks were deemed to be worth taking by whom and which risks had to be taken. The perspective of the policy makers at court differed from the perspective of the diplomats, but both need to be considered and related to each other, if we want to approach the central question why peace-making was so difficult – and still is.