Encyclopedia > Thirty Years' War overview

  Article Content

Thirty Years' War overview

Thirty Years' War overview (1618-48: 17th)

From Thirty Years' War

The Peace of Augsburg (1555: 16th) corroborated the first Diet of Speyer and ended the violence between the Lutherans in Germany and the Catholics.

  1. It stated that the German Princes (about 360 of them) could choose the religion (Lutheranism or Catholicism) of their realms according to their conscience.
  2. The Lutherans living in an ecclesiastical state (under the control of a bishop) could remain Lutherans.
  3. The Lutherans could keep the territory that they had captured from the Catholic Church since the Peace of Passau (1552).
  4. The ecclesiastical leaders of the Catholic Church (bishops) that converted to Lutheranism had to give up their territory (archbishoprics/bishoprics).

Political and economic tensions grew among many of the powerful nations of Europe in the early 17th Century:

  1. Spain was interested in the German states, because Philip II was a Hapsburg and had the territories surrounding German states' Western border.
  2. France was interested in the German states, because it wanted to quell the growing power of the Hapsburgs since they surrounded France's easter boarder.
  3. Sweden and Denmark were interested in the northern German states boarding the Baltic Sea for economic reasons.

Religious tensions were growing throughout the second half of the 16th Century as well:

  1. The Peace of Augsburg was unraveling throughout the second half of the 16th Century (since converted bishops did not give up their bishoprics).
  2. Calvinism was spreading throughout Germany, which added yet another religion to the region.
  3. The Catholics of eastern Europe (Poland and Austrian Hapsburgs) were trying to restore the power of Catholicism.
  4. The Hapsburgs were only interested in extending their power, so they worked with the Protestants sometimes, which made tensions greater.
  5. Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II (1576-1612: 17th) and his successor Matthias did not aggressively champion Catholicism since they were more interested in furthering the power and holdings of the Hapsburgs. They were also very tolerant, which allowed the different religions to spread, creating more tension.
  6. Sweden and Denmark (who wanted control in German states on the Baltic Sea) were both mostly comprised of Lutherans.

Tensions finally broke into violence. In the German town of Donauworth (17th) was comprised of Catholics and a majority of Lutherans. The Catholics wanted to hold a precession in town and the Lutherans would not let them, so a violent riot broke out (1606). This prompted Duke Maximilian of Bavaria (1573-1651: 17th) to intervene on behalf of the Catholics in Donauworth. After the violence was ceased, the Calvinists in Germany (who were still in their infancy and quite a minority) felt the most threatened, so they banded together in the League of Evangelical Union (created 1608: 17th)) under the leadership of Frederick IV (1583-1610: 17th), the elector of Palatinate (before Frederick V husband of Elizabeth the daughter of James I of England). He had control of the Rhenish Palatinate (17th), the states that Spain wanted to get along the Rhine River. This provoked the Catholics to band together in the Catholic League (created 1609: 17th) under the leadership of Duke Maximilian of Bavaria.

The Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia Matthias died without a biological heir (1617), but he had selected his cousin Ferdinand of Styria (r. 1617-37: 17th) as his heir, who became King of Bohemia and Ferdinand II Holy Roman Emperor. Ferdinand of Styria was a staunch Catholic who was raised by the Jesuits, and he wanted to restore Catholicism, and this is why the Bohemians didn't like him because they were mainly Calvinists and wanted a Protestant (Calvinist) leader. (He was later involved in the Thirty Years' War, he fought alongside the Catholic League and periodically alongside Albert of Wallenstein. He declared the Edict of Restitution. He died during the French Period of the War).

The King of Bohemia was supposed to be elected anyway, so the Bohemians chose as their preferred leader Frederick V (a Calvinist) elector of the Palatinate and successor of Frederick IV the creator of the League of Evangelical Union. When Ferdinand II sent representatives to one of the palaces in Bohemia to make way for his arrival and kingship, the Bohemian Calvinists took them and threw them out of a palace window (and they survived by landing on a pile of manure). This began the Bohemian Revolt between Ferdinand II and Frederick V and was the spark of the Thirty Years' War (1618-48: 17th), which had 4 major periods: the Bohemian Revolt, Danish Period, Swedish Period, and the French Period.

During the Bohemian Revolt (1618-25: 17th), Ferdinand II fought alongside (but separately from) the Catholic League led by Duke Maximilian of Bavaria, who was aided by the military help of General Tilly. The Catholic League and Ferdinand II defeated Frederick V at the Battle of White Mountain/White Hill (1620). That defeat caused the falling apart of the League of Evangelical Union, and the destruction of Frederick V's holdings: He was outlawed from the Holy Roman Empire, and his territories (the Rhenish Palatinate) were given to Catholic nobles; his title of elector of the Palatinate was given to Duke Maximilian of Bavaria. This caused the German Protestantism to almost collapse.

The Protestants received aid from Holland, France, England, Denmark, and Sweden. The Danish Period (1625-29: 17th) began when Christian IV (1577-1648: 17th) the King of Denmark helped the Germans since he was a Lutheran and wanted influence in the German territories along the Baltic Sea. To fight him off, Ferdinand II employed the military help of Albert of Wallenstein (who pledged his army of between 30k and 100k soldiers to Ferdinand II for free as long as he had the right to plunder the captured territories). Albert of Wallenstein defeated the Danes at the Battle of the Bridge of Dessau (1626: 17th) and General Tilly defeated the Protestants at the Battle of Lutter (1626: 17th). This led to the Treaty of Lubeck (1629) in which Christian IV had to abandon the Protestants in order to keep his control over Denmark.

The Thirty Years' War could have ended with the Danish Period, but the Catholic League persuaded Ferdinand II to take back the Lutheran holdings that were rightfully the Catholic Church's according to the Peace of Augsburg (these included 2 Archbishoprics, 16 bishoprics, and 100s of monasteries). Thus, the Edict of Restitution (1629: 17th) was made, which called for the capturing of these holdings and began the Swedish Period since the Lutherans fought back due to to the severity of its demands.

There were beliefs that Albert of Wallenstein wanted to take control of the German Princes (about 360 of them) and restore the power of the Emperor over Germany (though the Emperor was to be under Albert of Wallenstein). Therefore, Ferdinand II initially dismissed Albert of Wallenstein for the next part of the Thirty Years' War.

During the Swedish Period (1630-35: 17th), King Gustavus Adolphus (r. 1611-32: 17th) of Sweden landed in Germany with an army because he was a Lutheran and came to aid the German Lutherans, and because he wanted economic influence in the German states around the Baltic Sea. Adolphus was subsidized by Richelieu the Chief Minister of King Louis XIII of France, and by the Dutch. Ferdinand II depended on the Catholic League since he had dismissed Albert of Wallenstein. At the Battle of Breitenfield (1631: 17th), Adolphus defeated the Catholic League led by General Tilly. A year later, they met again, and this time General Tilly was killed (1632). With General Tilly dead, Ferdinand II turned to the aid of Wallenstein and his large army. Wallenstein and Adolphus clashed in the Battle of Lutzen (1632: 17th), but they came to a draw (though Adolphus was killed (1632)). After that, Albert of Wallenstein began to control the direction of the Thirty Years' War, and he called for the toleration of Protestants. Ferdinand II feared Wallenstein would switch sides, so he hired an Irish mercenary who was one of Wallenstein's soldiers to kill Wallenstein. The Irish mercenary killed Wallenstein while he camped at in the town of Eger (24 Feb 1643). After that, the two sides met for negotiations, and they ended the Swedish Period with the Peace of Prague (1635: 17th), which:

  1. Reestablished the date that the Peace of Augsburg established to be the date (1552) from which the landholdings of the Protestants (Lutherans) and Catholics was to remain the same from 1552 to 1627, effectively nullifying the Edict of Restitution.
  2. Legalized Calvinism.
  3. Effectively dissolved the religious issues of the Thirty Years' War.
  4. Didn't make the French happy, because the Hapsburgs remained powerful, thus they began the last period of the Thirty Years' War called the French Period.

Under the command of Richelieu the Chief Minister of King Louis XIII, France continued the Thirty Years' War to its last part, the French Period (1635-48: 17th). He did this for political reason since he thought that the Hapsburgs were still too powerful (they were surrounding the eastern border and had influence in the Netherlands). France allied itself with the Dutch and Sweden. Spain ravaged France's provinces of Champagne (17th) and Burgundy (17th) and even threatened Paris. A French General Henri Turenne (17th) defeated the Spanish at the Battle of Rocroi (1643: 17th), which led to negotiations. At the negotiations met Holy Roman Emperor/King of Hungary and Bohemia Ferdinand III (the son and successor of Ferdinand II), the French, the Spanish, the Dutch, the Swiss, the Swedes, the Portuguese and representatives of the Pope. The Peace of Westphalia (1648: 17th) was a result of these negotiations. The major tenets of the Peace of Westphalia:

  1. The Peace of Prague was incorporated into the Peace of Westphalia (which incorporated the Peace of Augsburg, though its landholdings date that was reestablished by the Peace of Prague was again reestablished from 1627 to 1624, which aided the Protestants. The Calvinists were thus recognized internationally, and the Edict of Restitution was again rescinded. The first Diet of Speyer was accepted internationally).
  2. There were also territorial adjustments:
    1. France got the bishoprics of Metz, Toulon, Verdun, and all of Alsace except Strasbourg (17th).They also got to vote in the Imperial German Diet (they got to elect the Holy Roman Emperor).
    2. Sweden got Western Pomerania (17th) and the bishoprics of Bremen and Stetten (17th). They also got control of the mouth of the Oder, Elbe, and Weser Rivers (17th). They also got to vote in the Imperial German Diet (they got to elect the Holy Roman Emperor).
    3. Bavaria also got to vote in the Imperial German Diet (they got to elect the Holy Roman Emperor).
    4. Brandenburg (Prussia) (17th) got Eastern Pomerania (17th), and the bishopric of Magdeburg.
    5. Switzerland was recognized as a fully independent nation (it was a property of the Hapsburg family).
    6. Holland (Netherlands) was recognized as an independent nation (it was a territory of Spain and thus a property of the Hapsburg family).
    7. The German Princes (about 360) were recognized as sovereign leaders over their states, but they could not wage war against the Holy Roman Emperor.
    8. The Rhenish Palatinate was divided between Frederick V and Duke Maximilian of Bavaria (thus it was split between the Protestants and the Catholics).

The Thirty Years' War devastated the previous allotment of power:

  1. The Peace of Westphalia destroyed the Hapsburgs' power.
  2. Spain's decadence became truly visible.
  3. While Spain was preoccupied with France during the French Period, Portugal declared itself independent (it was under Spanish control since Philip II had taken control through a weak claim for it after its king had died without an heir). The Braganza family (17th) became the new leaders of Portugal and produced King John IV (r. 1640-56: 17th) of Portugal as its leader.
  4. German holdings were diminished and Germany itself was destroyed: 2/3 of its population perished in the struggle (mainly of famine and disease. 80% of the population of the German town of Magdeburg was killed in the siege of Magdeburg during the Swedish Period).
  5. France was now the dominating power in Europe.

General Tilly (1559-1632: 17th) was a military leader in the Catholic League, who Ferdinand II depended upon (since Wallenstein was a threat). He defeated the Protestants at the Battle of Lutter (1626) during the Bohemian Revolt. He was defeated by King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden at the Battle of Breitenfield (1631) and then killed when they met again a year later.

Albert of Wallenstein (1583-1634: 17th) was a powerful noble that gave his services (an army of 30k to 100k men) during the Danish Period to Ferdinand II for no charge except the right to plunder the territories that he conquered. He defeated the Danes at the Battle of the Bridge of Dessau (1626). Then Ferdinand II suspected Albert Wallenstein of planning to take control of the Holy Roman Empire (see 101), so he dismissed him from helping. When General Tilly was killed (1632) during the Swedish Period, Ferdinand II was forced to turn to him again for help. After the Battle of Breitenfield in which Wallenstein fought King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden (which came to a draw, but King Gustavus Adolphus was killed), Wallenstein took control of the direction of the war and began calling for the toleration of the Protestants. Ferdinand II feared that Wallenstein would switch sides, so he had one of Wallenstein's own solders kill Wallenstein while camped in the town of Eger (24 Feb 1634).

All Wikipedia text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

  Search Encyclopedia

Search over one million articles, find something about almost anything!
  Featured Article

... and the Tapajós[?] rivers. Situated along the equator, Brazil's climate is predominantly tropical[?], with little seasonal variation, though the subtropical south ...

This page was created in 75.3 ms