In the 17th century one of history's most devastating wars took place - the Thirty Years’ War took place in central Europe. It remains one of the longest and most brutal wars in human history, with more than 8 million casualties resulting from military battles as well as from the famine and disease caused by the conflict. The war lasted from 1618 to 1648, starting as a battle among the Catholic and Protestant states. It gradually developed into a more general conflict involving most of the European great powers. These states employed relatively large mercenary armies, and the war became less about religion and more of a continuation of the France–Habsburg rivalry for European political pre-eminence.
From the war, poverty and disease spread and thousands died as a result of the Bubonic Plague. In the small village of Oberammergau, the death rate among adults had risen from one person per 1000 per year in October 1632. During this time the suffering the citizens of Oberammergau made a sacred that every 10 years they would perform
“The Play of the Suffering, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ”
if God would protect them from the plague. After their vow, the adult death rate slowly subsided to one in the month of July 1633. The villagers believed they had been spared and thus kept their part of the vow when the play was first performed in 1634.