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"The War Over Plunder: Who Owns Art Stolen in War?" Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP31 Jan 2020 10:08 p.m. PST

"The Swedes came at night, rushing through a gap in the walls protecting the Mala Strana neighborhood at the foot of Prague Castle. By the break of day on July 27, 1648, the invaders had captured the entire western side of the city, including the castle, with its famous collections of art, rare books, and astronomical instruments. Over the coming weeks, the Swedes tried several times to cross the Charles Bridge to seize the Old Town on the opposite bank of the Vltava River, but were repelled by a ragtag force of townspeople and Jesuit priests. Despite receiving reinforcements, the Swedes were stuck on their side of the river in November when news of the Peace of Westphalia reached the city. The Thirty Years War, one of the bloodiest conflicts in European history, had finally come to a close, ending Sweden's campaign against the Holy Roman Empire. N The Swedish army had been denied control of the commercial side of town but had achieved its main objective: the capture of the renowned trove of art, treasure, and curiosities collected in Prague Castle by the late Holy Roman Emperor, Rudolf II. For decades prior to his death in 1612, Rudolf had directed a small army of agents to scour the known world for unusual objects. There were paintings by Albrecht Dürer and Pieter Brueghel, jewels, precious stones, and ancient coins from Italy, the Balkans, and the Middle East, exquisite clocks from the four corners of Europe, and statues in stone and bronze. There was a horn allegedly taken from a unicorn, the jawbone of one of the Sirens who tempted Ulysses, and even a pair of iron nails supposedly salvaged from Noah's ark. Rudolf had commissioned a greenhouse in which his staff maintained a collection of exotic plants and a menagerie where they tended unusual beasts, including a live lion. His paintings alone took up seven halls of Prague's sprawling castle complex…"
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Thresher01 Supporting Member of TMP01 Feb 2020 5:10 a.m. PST

"To the winner(s) go the spoils…..", or so I've read.

Raynman Supporting Member of TMP01 Feb 2020 2:50 p.m. PST

If the Swedes hadn't emptied the castle by the time they heard about the peace, someone wasn't doing their job. That stuff should have been crated and on it's way back to Sweden by the end of the second day!

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP01 Feb 2020 3:20 p.m. PST



Blutarski03 Feb 2020 9:51 a.m. PST

A visit to the British Museum will answer any questions on this point.


Puster Sponsoring Member of TMP04 Feb 2020 4:15 a.m. PST

In "modern" times its relatively easy. Ownership previous to a conflict creates ownership afterwards. No transfer by force (even if nominally per sale) is allowed by international law.
Before that, having custody of the items in question is often the only aspect that counts, so stealing (or plundering) was accepted. From a modern morale viewpoint cultural artifacts should belong to the culture that produced them, so in the case of the "Silver Bible" created for the Goths the Swedes have probably as much of a claim as the Czechs or Germans. Any work created in Prague or Bohemia should probably be reinstated, though it would be a gesture of goodwill rather then a compensation.

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