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The Thirty Years' War; the First Stuarts.

Modern History. (a.d. 1492-1898). The Discovery of America to the Peace of Westphalia (1492-1648).
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On the abdication of Charles V. his brother Ferdinand became emperor from 1556 to 1564, and was a mild and tolerant ruler. His son, Maximilian II. (1564-1576), an amiable man, well inclined to the Protestants, was unable to control the angry passions of the Catholics, Lutherans, and Calvinists, who all combined in the political object of reducing the imperial authority, while they were hostile to each other on religious questions. The emperor, as head of the Catholics, became an accomplice or tool of the Jesuits, and, in the loss of one imperial privilege after another, he ceased to be a centre of governing power. Under his son Rudolf II. (1576-1612), a bigoted Catholic trained at the Spanish court, but an indolent, vacillating man, the Jesuits were very powerful, and the rival religious parties began to combine more closely against each other. The "Protestant Union," formed in 1608, was responded to in the following year by the "Catholic League," and everything pointed to a renewal of armed conflict between the religions. The Protestant House of Brandenburg gained an accession of power, foreshadowing its future greatness, in the succession of the elector of Brandenburg to the duchy of Prussia. The emperor Mathias (1612-1619) irritated the Catholics by concessions to the Protestants, and yet was obliged to favour the Jesuits in their efforts to win back Germany to the Pope. The outbreak of the dreadful Thirty Years' War was made certain by the accession to power of Mathias' cousin, Ferdinand, who was emperor from 1619 to 1637. In 1618 the struggle had already begun in Bohemia through the tyranny exercised against the Protestants, under Ferdinand's influence, and his election as emperor in the following year drove that country into open revolt. Complete religious freedom had been granted to the Bohemians by Rudolf, and they well knew what they had to expect under Ferdinand. He was a jealous, implacable bigot, skilful in policy, who aimed not only at crushing Protestantism in Germany, but at turning the German Empire into an Austrian military realm, in which the emperor should again have the Crown's full prerogative over all its vassals. Bohemia at once revolted, and chose as king the young elector of the Rhenish (or Lower) Palatinate, whose marriage with Elizabeth, daughter of James I. of England, in 1613, afterwards brought the House of Hanover (Brunswick) to the British throne. This "winter-king," as he was styled from his brief tenure of power, lost his throne at once through the defeat of the Bohemian forces in the battle of Weissenberg ("White Mountain") near Prague, in 1620, by Count Tilly, an able Catholic commander. He fled to the Hague, and was put to the ban of the empire, his Palatinate territories being held by Spanish troops under Spinola. Bohemia was thus brought to ruin. Many Protestant leaders were executed, lands were confiscated, the Protestant clergy were banished, and the Catholic worship was alone permitted. Learning and trade declined, and territorial and political influence passed into the hands of a new German and Catholic nobility. Thus ended the first phase of the war, in the utter failure of the Protestant movement in Bohemia (The details of the struggle should be sought in Mr. S. R. Gardiner's Thirty Years' War).

The war was continued, on the part of the Protestants, by the brave, active, and skilful adventurer Count Ernest of Mansfeld, commanding a large army of mercenaries who supported themselves by the plunder of all occupied territories; by Bethlen Gabor, prince of Transylvania; by Christian of Brunswick; and by other nobles heading troops who often had little regard for the religious interests involved, but were mere lovers of fighting and booty. After much manoeuvring and fighting in different regions of the hapless country, the Catholic army, under Tilly's leadership, had the better of the struggle. The Protestant Union was broken up in 1622, and two years later Catholic forces were alone in the field, and Ferdinand seemed to have attained his object. Other Protestant rulers than those of Germany viewed the position with alarm, and in 1625 Christian IV. of Denmark plunged into the war, and enabled Mansfeld and Christian of Brunswick to appear again in arms. Ferdinand, hitherto dependent almost solely on the forces of the Catholic League, led by Tilly, now called to his aid the famous Albert von Wallenstein (or Waldstein), a wealthy noble, a man of extraordinary abilities and character, ambitious in the highest degree, adventurous, superstitious, a consummate strategist and tactician, one of the most remarkable of military and political adventurers. He raised a large army, to be supported, not by regular pay, which the emperor could not possibly furnish, but by the plunder of territories conquered by its arms. Wallenstein, of an old Bohemian family, had been brought up as a Catholic, but he never had any definite faith, save in astrology, and in himself and his fortunes. In 1626 Wallenstein and Tilly had together about 70,000 men. In April the Bohemian noble severely defeated Mansfeld at the Bridge of Dessau, on the Elbe, south of Magdeburg, and in August Tilly, at the battle of Lutter, south-west of Brunswick, routed Christian of Denmark. In the same year Mansfeld and Christian of Brunswick died natural deaths. Holstein was conquered from Christian IV., its duke, in 1627, and the Protestant cause was in a desperate condition, when it was saved by the memorable and heroic defence of Stralsund, whose citizens resisted for ten weeks the utmost efforts of Wallenstein, and compelled him to retire with great loss. Peace was made in 1629 witn Christian of Denmark, and thus ended the second, or Danish, period of this disastrous struggle.

In the same year the bigoted Ferdinand did much harm by his Edict of Restitution. He had already made an end of Protestantism in Austria and Bohemia, and, holding himself, through recent successes, to be virtual master of all Germany, he now decreed the transference, to the Catholic clergy, of the lands of two archbishoprics, 12 bishoprics, and over 100 smaller church-benefices, which had come into Protestant hands since the Treaty of Passau. Only the adherents of the Augsburg Confession were to have free exercise of religion, and all other " sects " were to be abolished. The troops of Wallenstein and of the League had begun to put the Edict into execution, when the Catholic princes, jealous of Wallenstein's influence, and with complaints of the extortion and cruelty practised by his army, induced Ferdinand to dismiss him. Part of his fine force was disbanded, and part was handed over to Tilly. This was a fatal step for Ferdinand. The Protestant cause was on the verge of ruin, when the third or Swedish period of the struggle began with the appearance on the scene of Gustavus Adolphus, king of Sweden. This Protestant champion, born at Stockholm in 1594, and king of Sweden from 1611 to 1632 was grandson of the great Gustavus Vasa. He is one of the noblest characters in history, one of the most illustrious men of modern days. Carefully trained, he was highly accomplished in modern languages and classical learning, and in all athletic exercises. On coming to the throne in his 18th year, he remedied the disorders of his country, securing the adhesion of the nobles by wise concessions of privilege on condition of military service, and reforming the whole administration. It is only in romances that we find unmixed single motives of action, and the historical fact is that the great Swede, devotedly attached to the Protestant faith, and eager to restore the fallen cause in Germany, and being husband of the elector of Brandenburg's daughter, was jealous of the revived strength of the German Empire, and aimed at dominion on the southern Baltic coast, where he had already won territory in war with Russia. He desired chiefly, however, in Germany, to prevent a union of the Jesuit and the soldier which would be fatal to the religion which he loved. His operations were undertaken with the approval of the French statesman Richelieu, whose policy had, as a chief object, the depression of the House of Austria. In the summer of 1630, at the head of 15,000 men, the best disciplined, best trained, and best equipped soldiers of the time, Gustavus landed in Pomerania. The Protestant people hailed him as a coming deliverer; the princes at first held aloof, in a jealous suspicion of his designs. The admirable conduct of the Swedish veterans, in strong contrast to that which had been displayed by the licentious and ruffianly troops of Tilly and Wallenstein, and the influence of the Swedish king's noble character, won by degrees the confidence of the Protestant leaders, and he was soon regarded with universal admiration by those whose faith and freedom he had come to save. Pomerania and Mecklenburg were quickly cleared of the imperialist forces; Richelieu, in 1631, signed a treaty guaranteeing substantial help in funds for five years on condition of his maintaining an army of 36,000 men, refraining from change in the political system of Germany, and respecting the Catholic religion. On these terms Gustavus set to work. Tilly was driven back to the Elbe; the fortresses on the Baltic were captured, and Frankfort-on-the-Oder, with a large imperialist garrison, fell. The emperor's army had been reinforced, and while the Swedish king waited for help from the electors of Saxony and Brandenburg, there came, in May, 1631, the storming of Magdeburg by Pappenheim, a general under Tilly, who was in no wise responsible for the horrors which occurred. The "sack of Magdeburg," ruined for resisting the Edict of Restitution, became a proverb for atrocious cruelty. Thousands of citizens were murdered, and the whole place, with the exception of the cathedral, was destroyed by fire. Thus encouraged, Ferdinand refused to withdraw the Edict, and haughtily commanded the Protestant princes to disband their troops. A reply soon came from Gustavus Adolphus, who had been joined by Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar, and by the elector of Saxony, after Tilly had forced the surrender of Leipzig. The power of the Swedish army lay in its flexibility of movement, and its quickness of fire with musket and cannon, owing to improvements made by the king. Tilly was an able commander of the old Spanish school, waiting until he had a superiority of numbers, and then using the heavy-column system of attack. In September, at the great battle of Breitenfeld, a village five miles north of Leipzig, Gustavus and his men showed their quality, gaining a splendid victory, after a contest in" which Tilly left 6,000 men on the field. This success, a triumph, in the military way, of intelligence over routine, of individual spirit over the mechanical order and obedience of the Catholic system, had great political importance, in virtually making an end of Ferdinand's Edict of Restitution. The joy of Protestant Germany was great. The victor then marched for the Rhine, and enabled the Swedish troops, much enfeebled by disease and want, to gain new strength in the richest part of German territory. The Palatinate was recovered, and Gustavus held court at Mainz (Mayence), surrounded by Protestant princes and envoys. In April, 1632, Tilly was again defeated, and mortally wounded, at the battle of the Lech, in which Gustavus, with the fire of his terrible artillery, forced the passage of the river in the teeth of his foe. He was now master of all Germany, except the emperor's hereditary dominions in the east and south, and Ferdinand, in his trouble, was obliged to have recourse to the discarded Wallenstein.

That very able man quickly gathered a large force, and drove the Saxons out of Bohemia. The Swedish sovereign advanced to meet him, and found him a difficult man to deal with. Wallenstein, declining battle, formed a fortified camp near Nuremberg, and there, for 11 weeks, from July to September, 1632, he kept behind his strong intrenchments. A Swedish attack was then repulsed with heavy loss, and Gustavus advanced to the Danube, while Wallenstein, turning upon defenceless Saxony, ravaged the country with ruthless cruelty Then the Swedish king, reinforced by Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar, attacked his enemy at Lutzen, ten miles south-west of Leipzig. After a desperate battle, Wallenstein was defeated, but the victory was very dearly purchased by the death of Gustavus, who, in the prevailing fog, rode almost alone into the midst of a party of the enemy, and was dispatched by several wounds. He left a stainless and deathless name, and the fall of the hero ended for the time the hopes of the German Protestants. The Swedish forces came under the command of Bernhard, now duke of Weimar, and of Generals Horn and Baner, while the able statesman Oxenstierna, the Swedish chancellor, directed home and foreign affairs in the minority of Christina, the infant daughter of Gustavus. During 1633 the war continued, with general success for Wallenstein, but his career ended in the following year with his murder by a party of his officers. He had been already deposed from his command on a charge of designs to gain supreme power in Germany, and his slayers were richly rewarded by the emperor. In the same year, 1634, the imperialists severely defeated the Swedes, under Bernhard and Horn, at the great battle of Nordlingen, with the loss of 10,000 men killed and wounded, and of 6,000 prisoners, including Horn. The elector of Saxony and other princes then made peace with Ferdinand, and the war seemed about to collapse, with the submission of all southern Germany to the emperor early in 1635, when the struggle entered on another phase with the active intervention of Cardinal Richelieu. The great French statesman had made a treaty with Oxenstierna, by which France was to receive, in the event of success, some German territory in return for aid to the Protestant cause. Duke Bernhard, gathering a fine army in the Rhine-territory, entered the French service, and Baner, the Swedish general, carried on the war in Saxony and elsewhere. On Ferdinand's side, the Treaty of Prague, concluded in May, 1635, nad practically given up the Edict of Restitution, so that the Protestants had the chief part of the northern bishoprics, while the Palatinate became Catholic. Lutheranism was to be the only privileged form of Protestantism: the Calvinist states had no concessions. Brandenburg and most of the Protestant states accepted these terms.

The Thirty Years' War now entered on its fourth and last period, the Franco-Swedish. The ideals of Ferdinand, the recovery of Church-property; of Gustavus Adolphus, a Protestant political union; and of Wallenstein, a national unity on a military basis, had all disappeared, and the contest became a political one, in which the French and the Swedes were pitted against the Austrians and Spaniards. The struggle had by this time assumed a horrible character, owing to the utter want of discipline in the armies, and the suffering inflicted by their outrages on the people. Augsburg, after the victory of Nordlingen, was reduced by the imperialists in a siege of seven months' duration, and, when the city fell, her 70,000 inhabitants had dwindled away to 10,000 starved wretches, and a great commercial place had become a poor country-town. The death of Ferdinand in 1637 brought to the empire his son Ferdinand III. (1637-1657), who desired peace, but was unable to obtain it. A great French army had been put into the field. Attacks on the Spanish possessions in the Netherlands and in northern Italy had failed: the Swedish general, Baner, had some success. On his death in 1641, the new Swedish commander, Torstenson, gained a victory in the second battle of Breitenfeld or Leipzig, and then, called away by Danish attack on Sweden, he conquered Holstein and Schleswig, and invaded Jutland. Bern-hard had gained some victories and towns in Alsace, but in 1639 his services were lost by his death, and in 1643 the French were completely beaten by an Austro-Bavarian army. Richelieu had died in the previous year, and some new and very able French commanders appeared in Marshal Turenne, and the Bourbon prince, the Due d'Enghien, better known as the prince of Conde, or "the great Conde." These two commanders, in 1644, captured the chief places in the Rhine-country, after the splendid victory of the young Conde, in May, 1643, at the battle of Rocroy, north-west of Sedan, over the Spanish troops, a final blow to the glory of Spanish arms. In 1645 Torstenson gained victories over the imperialists at Magdeburg and in Bohemia, and in August of that year, at the second battle of Nordlingen, north-east of Ulm, Turenne and Conde, after a severe struggle, won another victory, and were then driven back to the Rhine by the reinforced enemy. Thus the hideous contest went on. The French could not be driven from Alsace. The Swedes, after advancing nearly to Vienna, had retired. The imperialists could not force Sweden from her hold on northern Germany. All parties saw that a continuance of the murderous work was useless, and after long negotiations, the Peace of Westphalia, concluded in October, 1648, ended the Thirty Years' War.

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