Saturday, February 28, 2015

The English verb of the Thirty Years War

The verb plunder means “to rob or take by force”. Plunder is often used in the context of warfare: The enemy troops plundered the town.

Plunder comes from the Middle High German word plunderen, which means, “to take away household furniture”.

English mercenaries became familiar with the word plunderen during the Thirty Years War of 1618 to 1648, the Catholic vs. Protestant conflict that produced approximately 8 million civilian and military casualties. (The Thirty Years War reduced the civilian population of the German states by some 25% to 40%.)

The anglicized plunder entered common usage in England during the English Civil War of 1642 to 1651. This conflict was not as deadly (probably about 190,000 dead), but it was nonetheless crucial in the development of British parliamentary democracy.