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These events caused widespread fears throughout northern and central Europe, and triggered the Protestant Bohemians living in the then relatively loose dominion of Habsburg Austria to revolt against their nominal ruler, Ferdinand II.After the so-called Prague Defenestration deposed the Emperor's representatives in Prague, the Protestant estates and Catholic Habsburgs started gathering allies for war.The war was preceded by the election of the new Holy Roman Emperor, Ferdinand II, who tried to impose religious uniformity on his domains, forcing Roman Catholicism on its peoples.The northern Protestant states, angered by the violation of their rights to choose that had been granted in the Peace of Augsburg, banded together to form the Protestant Union.Apart from Austria and perhaps Bavaria, none of those entities was capable of national-level politics; alliances between family-related states were common, due partly to the frequent practice of partible inheritance, i.e.splitting a lord's inheritance among his various sons.The Austrian domain was thus a major European power in its own right, ruling over some eight million subjects.

As he was an imperial elector, this could have produced a Protestant majority in the College that elected the Holy Roman Emperor, a position that was always held by a Roman Catholic.The southern states, mainly Roman Catholic, were angered by this.Led by Bavaria, these states formed the Catholic League to expel Frederick in support of the Emperor.Religious tensions remained strong throughout the second half of the 16th century.The Peace of Augsburg began to unravel: some converted bishops refused to give up their bishoprics, and certain Habsburg and other Catholic rulers of the Holy Roman Empire and Spain sought to restore the power of Catholicism in the region.

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