The Thirty Years War 1618-1648 The Lead-Up


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The Thirty Years War

  • 1618-1648


The Lead-Up

  • The Peace of Augsburg (1555), passed by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, ended war in Germany between Lutherans and Catholics.

  • What was the main thing that the Peace did?

  • This Peace did not last, because the root cause was not addressed…this was more of a band-aid solution.

  • There was unrest among and between territories and tensions were at a boiling point.



  • Protestant areas had formed into a “Protestant Union” and allied themselves with other enemies of Spain (England, the Dutch, the French).

  • Why would the French have been interested in fighting for the Protestants?





  • By 1617, the Holy Roman Emperor was close to death and there was no apparent heir. His cousin, Ferdinand II of Austria was the next in line.

  • He was very Catholic (educated by Jesuits). The Protestant population in Bohemia was angered by this.



  • Ferdinand II sent representatives to Prague in 1618 to meet with some Protestant lords about abuses of the religious freedoms they had previously been promised.

  • The representatives were being accused of being responsible for the abuses. The representatives tried to stall the meeting.

  • The protestant delegation grabbed the representatives and threw them out of the third-story window into a pile of manure down below. This is known as the Defenestration of Prague.





  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7d/Holy_Roman_Empire_1648.svg



Outbreak of War

  • A) General Details

  • 1) The war is usually divided into four periods:

  • a) Bohemian (B)

  • b) Danish (D)

  • c) Swedish (S)

  • d) Swedish – French (S –F)

  • 2) The B and D periods were fought by Protestants (P) and Catholics over the practice of religion.

  • 3) The S, and S – F periods were political. The first was to diminish the power of the Hapsburg house and the second was an attempt by S and F to take land from Germany,



Bohemian Period

  • 1618-1625

  • 1) Bohemia is in modern day Slovakia and Czech Republic

  • 2) P churches were attacked and power in the area shifted to the C’s

  • 3) Count Mathias of Thurn led a P revolt in Prague.

  • 4) The “Protestant Union” sent Count Mansfeld to assist.

  • 5) The Holy Roman Emperor (HRE) sent imperial forces from Silesia and Lusatia to assist the Catholics but were defeated by Mathias and Mansfeld

  • 6) Thurn marched twice on Vienna while developments kept bringing more entrants to the war.

  • 7) The Spanish attacked the County Palatine which resulted in the Treaty of Ulm in 1620 which made the Protestant Union neutral while Lutherans retook Silesia and Lusatia.



  • 8) The “Catholic League” and HRE joined forces in B where they won the Battle of the White Mountain. This resulted in the defeat of the P’s and a counter-reformation in B followed by Austria.

  • 9) The County Palatine was occupied by Spanish forces and the Protestant League was dissolved.

  • Danish Period

  • 1) The centre of fighting moved from Bohemia and Southern Germany to north-western Germany and Denmark.

  • 2) The leader of the “Lower Saxon Circle” (A protestant group) was the King of Denmark, (Christian IV, Duke of Holstein)

  • 3) The Duke of Freidland was born a P in B, but was raised a C and was the commander of an Imperial army, also known as Albert of Wallenstein.

  • 4) Wallenstein beat Mansfeld in 1626 at the Bridge of Dessau and then chased him into Hungary where, with reinforcements, he killed him.

  • 5) Later in 1626, Tilly defeated Christian IV in Brunswick.

  • 6) The next year Tilly and Wallenstein occupied Holstein, Schleswin, Jutland and forced Pomerania to submit to them



7) In 1628, Wallanstein laid siege to Straslund but he had to stop because CITIZENS put up a very strong defence

  • 7) In 1628, Wallanstein laid siege to Straslund but he had to stop because CITIZENS put up a very strong defence

  • 8) This second phase was brought to an end through the:

  • a) Edict of Restitution

  • b) Treaty of Lubeck

  • c) Electoral Assembly of Regensberg

  • 9) The “Edict of Restitution” saw all confiscated religious estates returned. This affected 2 archbishoprics, 12 bishoprics, and 120 monasteries, while only recognizing the areas who agreed to the Augsburg Confession. All other areas were killed by Wallenstein’s troops.

  • 10) The Treaty of Lubeck was signed in 1629 by Christian IV and the Emperor who agreed that Christian IV would get his lands back while abandoning his allies and accepting that some cities would be given to Wallenstein.

  • 11) The Electoral Assembly of Regensberg assumed a determined position in opposition to Wallenstein’s methods in Germany which included tax extortion and cruelty that led the Emperor to dismiss the commander and much of his army.



Swedish Period

  • 1630-1635

  • 1) King Gustavus II Adolphus of Sweden used the excuse of protecting the P’s to justify invading Pomerania

  • 2) King Gustavus had other concerns which included, among other things, concerns about the HRE’s naval plans

  • 3) Politically, S controlled most of the territory around the Baltic Sea, but they wanted to make the Baltic a Swedish sea.

  • 4) Gustavus reached a monetary agreement with France (Cardinal Richelieu) and used the funds to drive the Imperial towards the Rhine

  • 5) In May 1631, Tilly captured Magdeburg but his troops sacked and burned the city to the ground against Tilly’s orders – only the Cathedral survived.

  • 6) Tilly went on to capture and sack several other cities resulting in Gustavus forming an alliance with the Elector of Saxony



  • 7) The Swedish-Saxon alliance put 40,000 troops against an equal force of Imperial troops near Leipzig under Tilly

  • 8) At the Battle of Leipzig, Tilly put the Saxons to rout but was defeated by Gustavus’s brilliant leadership.

  • 9) Following the Battle of Leipzig the Saxons occupied B and Prague while Gustavus occupied Thuringia, Franconia, and the City of Mainz on the Rhine River

  • 10)Emperor Ferdinand II attempted to negotiate with the Saxons without success which resulted in him reactivating Wallenstein.

  • 11)Wallenstein was given permission to raise an army that he would control without any limits placed upon his command by the Emperor

  • 12)The Saxons were driven from Prague and Bohemia by Wallenstein

  • 13)In 1632 Gustavus first defeated Tilly, who died from his wounds, and then attacked Maxmillian near Munich

  • 14)Gustavus attacked Wallenstein’s trenches and was bloodily beaten.

  • 15)Following this battle, Gustavus moved to the Danube River while Wallenstein invaded and sacked Saxony



  • 16)The Elector of Saxony called upon Gustavus for help and a battle was fought between 18,000 Imperial troops and 20,000 Swedish troops near Lutzen.

  • 17)The Battle of Lutzen was won by the Swedish but Gustavus was killed

  • 18)Following Gustavus’s death, military operations continued but with Wallenstein trying to create an independent position for himself, possibly the rulership of Bohemia. Afterwards, he purged his officer corps

  • 19)The Imperial court was under the influence of the “Spanish Party,” which wanted Wallenstein removed from his command.

  • 20)Wallenstein was opposed to the “Spanish Party” influence and began planning to “liberate” the Emperor from their influence through foreign alliances and even open revolt.

  • 21)Emperor Ferdinand II restricted Wallenstein’s powers through two proclamations

  • 22)Wallenstein was assassinated on February 24, 1634



  • 23)May 30, 1635 the Elector of Saxony and the Emperor agreed to the Treaty of Prague which:

  • a) gave Lusatia and the Archbishopric of Magdeburg to the Elector

  • b) returned confiscated lands to their owners

  • c) offered an extensive amnesty

  • d) established a common cause against the Swedes,

  • e) and once again established Lutheranism as the only version of Protestantism afforded freedom of religion



Swedish – French Period

  • 1635-1648

  • 1) The leadership of many of the protagonists changed:

  • a) Cardinal Richelieu was succeeded by Mazarin in France

  • b) Ferdinand II died in 1636 and was succeeded by his son Ferdinand III, who wanted peace

  • c) Baner, the commander of the Swedish army, died and was replaced by Torstenson

  • d) George William, the Elector of Brandenburg was succeeded by Frederick William “the Great Elector” of Brandenburg

  • 2) Initially, the French remained out of the war but signed a treaty of subsidy with Bernhard of Saxe-Coburg, who sought to replace the Dutchy of Franconia, which he had lost in 1638, with Alsace.

  • 3) Bernhard died in 1639 and France took command of his army

  • 4) It was agreed that a congress of peace be held.

  • 5) Torstenson directly attacked the lands of the Emperor in 1642 and was very successful thus gaining the jealousy of King Christian IV



  • 6) This resulted in war between the D and S which drew Torstenson’s forces to northern Germany

  • 7) A series of marches in 1643 resulted in Torstenson being able to capture Schleswig, Holstein, and Jutland while the F pushed into southern Germany until their commander was killed and they defeated.

  • 8) Peace negotiations begun in 1643 all over the area.

  • 9) Fighting continued through 1644 with Torstenson nearly annihlating the Imperial forces in a very rare winter battle near Magdeburg in January 1645

  • 10)D sued for peace with S after several defeats and was agreed to in May.

  • 11)Torstenson and his army were sick from plague and he chose to retire to B and give his command to Wrangel

  • 12)Wrangel unified the various protestant/anti-Hapsburg armies and invaded Bavaria where forced the Treaty of Ulm

  • 13)Under this treaty, Maximillian was forced to abandon the Imperialist cause which he took up again as soon as the army had been returned to different parts of Europe.

  • 14)This resulted in F and S launching the second invasion of Bavaria where the ravages were fierce and resulted in terrible losses of men, the destruction of towns and trade, and an increase in poverty



Treaty of Westphalia

  • October 24, 1648

  • 1) Negotiations lasted five years (1643-1648)

  • 2) Several treaties were the result with the following major points:

  • a) Indemnities – various nations received lands and titles in payment for damages

  • b) Secular Affairs of the Empire – a general amnesty was put into place that extended back to 1618, with a further exchange of titles and lands internally to the HRE

  • c) Ecclesiatical Affairs

  • i) the Treaty of Augsburg was confirmed

  • ii) C and P states were accepted as equals within the empire

  • iii) the Imperial court was restored with equal numbers of C and P members

  • iv) some states (B and Austria) remained C by force while others were allowed to revert to P (Lower Palatinate, Wurtemburg, Baden…) if they had been P by 1618

  • v) property was to be restored if taken after Jan. 1, 1624 (annus normalis)

  • vi) the “jus referandi” stated that rulers could decide the religion of their subjects by fiat with the citizens having the right to emigrate for religious freedom.






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