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A. W. Ward



Horatio F. Brown




A. W. Ward



Stanley Leathes



W. F. Reddaway



Dr A. W. Ward.



Dr A. W. Ward.



G. W. Prothero



G. W. Prothero



G. W. Prothero.



Dr G. W. Prothero and Colonel E. M. Lloyd.



W. A. Shaw



Dr. A.W.Ward



Dr. A.W.Ward























PAPAL POLICY. 1590-1648.











The Thirty Years' War, 1618-1648

The battle-fields of Germany : from the outbreak of the Thirty Years' War to the Battle of Blenheim

The Civil and Military History of Germany, from the Landing of Gustavus to the Conclusion of the Treaty of Westphalia -1

The Civil and Military History of Germany, from the Landing of Gustavus to the Conclusion of the Treaty of Westphalia -2

The Civil and Military History of Germany, from the Landing of Gustavus to the Conclusion of the Treaty of Westphalia -3

The house of Austria in the thirty years' war

Italy from 1494 to 1790

The fall of the monarchy of Charles I (1637-1649)-1

The fall of the monarchy of Charles I (1637-1649) -2

Spain: Its Greatness and Decay (1479-1788)

The Life and Death of John of Barneveld (1547–1619) Advocate of Holland -1

The Life and Death of John of Barneveld (1547–1619) Advocate of Holland -2

The Life of Gustavus Adolphus (1564-1632) King of Sweden

The life of Wallenstein, duke of Friedland (1583-1634)

The life of Marie de Medicis, queen of France, (1573-1642) consort of Henri IV, and regent of the Kingdom under Louis XIII -1

The life of Marie de Medicis, queen of France, (1573-1642) consort of Henri IV, and regent of the Kingdom under Louis XIII -2

The life of Marie de Medicis, queen of France, (1573-1642) consort of Henri IV, and regent of the Kingdom under Louis XIII -3

England in the Mediterranean; a study of the rise and influence of British power within the Straits 1603-1713 - 1

England in the Mediterranean; a study of the rise and influence of British power within the Straits 1603-1713 -2

Ireland in the seventeenth century, or, The Irish massacres of 1641-2 -I

Ireland in the seventeenth century, or, The Irish massacres of 1641-2 -II

France under Mazarin, with a review of the administration of Richelieu -I

France under Mazarin, with a review of the administration of Richelieu - II

Memoirs of Spain during the reigns of Philip IV and Charles II _1

Memoirs of Spain during the reigns of Philip IV and Charles II _2

Portuguese In India Being A History Of The Rise And Decline Of Their Eastern Empire :I

Portuguese In India Being A History Of The Rise And Decline Of Their Eastern Empire _II

The Dutch in Java

Lives of the warriors of the thirty years' war. Warriors of the 17th century _I

Lives of the warriors of the thirty years' war. Warriors of the 17th century _II


Compendium of the Thirty Years' War


By 1600, two camps had emerged in western Europe:

France and the United Provinces

The House of Habsburg (Spain and Austria)


Phillip III of Spain attempted to continue the foreign policy aspirations of his father, Phillip II, which essentially meant that Spain had to be kept on a war footing. At the end of the Revolt of the Spanish Netherlands, the southern provinces of what had been the Spanish Netherlands (the so-called "Obedient Provinces") had remained loyal to Spain and had arranged a twelve year truce with the United Provinces (today’s Holland) in 1609 (the northern region of what had been the Spanish Netherlands but had rebelled against Spanish rule) but few believed that Spain would tamely let go of her this valuable area that contained the city of Amsterdam and its lucrative merchant industry.


After her successful campaign against the Spanish, the United Provinces had built up a powerful navy and had established herself as a powerful commercial and colonial power. The most obvious weak overseas colonies the United Provinces could target belonged to Spain. Phillip III and his advisors knew this and it is known from Spanish documentation that as early as 1618, Madrid had decided to renew the war against the United Provinces so that this threat was eradicated. Victory against the United Provinces would also allow Spain to re-occupy the region and gain access to the large sums of money being made in the state.


However, Spain was in a difficult military position. The calamity of the 1588 Spanish Armada defeat had been a shattering blow to Spain’s morale and she had never recovered from this shock. Any Spanish fleet sailing through the English Channel on its way to the United Provinces would never have been tolerated by England. Anti-Catholic feeling was rife in England after the 1605 Gunpowder Plot. Therefore, any military venture by the Spanish would have to be carried out by its army going over mainland Europe - and not by sea.


The only way to do this was to use what the Spanish referred to as the "Spanish Road". This was a route that took Spanish troops along the border of France to Luxembourg and onto the Obedient Provinces. North Italian states were relatively free of feeling threatened by the Spanish as they were Catholic; south German states were also Catholic and had little to fear from the movement of Spanish troops. France was also Catholic but she did fear any movement along her border of Spanish troops. Rivalry between France and Spain had gone back centuries and many historians believe that despite the fact that both were Catholic, neither had ever invaded the other simply because the Pyrannees impeded any form of large-scale military movement. France, therefore, remained wary of any movement of Spanish troops along her eastern border.


From the Spanish point of view, the "Road" was a far from safe route. In fact, it left the Spanish army very vulnerable to attack along many parts of it. The route near Franche-Comté and Lorraine were particularly susceptible to attack.


Another area of weakness was that the southern area of the route relied on political stability in the northern Italian states. Any crisis in any of these states would hinder the Spanish use of the "Road".


For many years, France had been fearful of Habsburg encirclement. Spain was on her southern border and the Spanish Netherlands had been on her north-east border. France had actively helped the rebels during the rebellion despite the religious differences. To the south-east, Genoa and Milan were considered to be a Spanish satellite. With the success of the Dutch rebels, France would not tolerate any attempt by the Spanish to re-assert her authority in the area. The success of the rebels had lessened the fears of the French with regards to Habsburg encirclement.


Though the French could not stop the Spanish using the "Spanish Road", they could hinder its use as in 1601 when France bullied Savoy into giving France land from which she could easily threaten Milan. The reign of Henry IV of France saw many such examples of France hindering the Spanish (though never openly declaring war as she was still suffering from the French Wars of Religion) and the evidence suggests that Spain was so irked by this that both countries were on the verge of open warfare when Henry VI was assassinated in 1610. The minority rule of Louis XIII gave France too many internal issues to concentrate on which temporarily ended the clash with the Spanish. However, both remained very wary of the other. Spain, in particular, feared for her possessions in northern Italy and the Low Countries.


The three areas considered the most important to stability in northern Italy were Venice, Savoy-Piedmont and the Papal States.


Phillip II and the popes had never had the best of relationships despite their common religion. Phillip had considered himself to be a true catholic but he did not believe that this meant that he had to allow the popes to involve themselves in internal Spanish affairs. The popes also questioned the wisdom of totally relying on Spain as an ally. Some popes had actively courted France. Clement VIII had given Henry IV absolution while Urban VIII had tried to end the influence of the Habsburgs in general - both Spanish and Austrian.


Venice had always been wary of Spanish influence in northern Italy. This rich but small state was essentially surrounded by both Austrian and Spanish Habsburgs and she feared that either would attempt to take over Venice to gain its lucrative trading links. Venice did what it could to curb Spanish influence in Italy.


The real maverick of north Italy was Duke Charles Emmanuel of Savoy-Piedmont. He was so unpredictable that even Madrid did not trust him. Unfortunately for Spain, the "Spanish Road " passed through his territory. One of the main foreign policy goals of Spain at this time, was for Spain to find an alternate route that by-passed Savoy.


In 1593, Spain had opened up a route called the Valtelline. This went from northern Milan, through the Alps and to Tyrol. The most important area of the Valtelline was owned by a family called the Grisons who were Protestant. The people who lived in the valley were Catholic. They constantly feuded with the Grisons.


In 1602, France had been given permission to use the Valtelline to get to Venice but this permission was withdrawn when the Duke of Milan, fearing an attack by the French, threatened the Grisons with war. In 1609, Charles Emmanuel expelled the Spanish garrison in Savoy and one year later, Savoy and France agreed to attack Lombardy but the assassination of Henry IV ended this.


"The Alpine valleys now became a volcano of political, linguistic and religious instability………the area was one of the cross-roads of European politics, where the messengers, troops and treasures of the Habsburg-Catholic axis going one way met those of the anti-Habsburg Protestant axis going the other."  

G Parker



The area on northern Italy became more unstable with the death of the Duke of Mantua in 1612. He left no obvious heir - a recipe for potential problems. In an effort to prevent Spain taking control, Charles Emmanuel declared himself ruler of Mantua. In response to this, Milan invaded Savoy and Charles was forced to withdraw from Mantua. Charles then forwarded a legal claim to Mantua. Spain determined that Charles should not take over this territory and attacked Savoy. Charles was defeated and had to re-open the "Spanish Road" which he had shut for the duration of the conflict. Despite this apparent defeat, Charles remained a threat to stability.


In 1621, the Dutch-Spanish conflict re-started. As was common of the time, those states that could afford to use mercenaries did. The Dutch could afford to do so. To ensure that the focus of the Habsburgs was split, the Dutch encouraged the growing problems in Bohemia where the people of Bohemia were in the process of rising up against their Austrian Habsburg masters. The United Provinces became a focal point of all anti-Habsburg’s feeling.


If the Austrian Habsburg’s called on their Spanish cousins to help them out, Spain could not avoid getting involved in an east European conflict which would involve them moving more troops along the sensitive "Spanish Road". This would further antagonise the French who would give more and more help to the Dutch. The end result would lead to Europe descending into a war that would tear her apart.


Holy Roman Empire


The Holy Roman Empire was potentially Europe’s greatest state. However, by 1600 the Holy Roman Empire was a mere shadow of its former glory. The heart of the Holy Roman Empire had been Germany. But by 1600, a better term for the area would have been "Germanies" as the heart of the Holy Roman Empire had become split into a mass of princes and states who since the time of Luther had done what they could to extend their independence and power at the expense of the emperor. The real power within Germany lay with 30 secular and 50 ecclesiastical princes.


The most important states belonged to the seven Electors, men who selected the future Holy Roman Emperor. These were the Duke of Saxony, the Margrave of Brandenburg, the King of Bavaria, the Count Palatine of the Rhine and the three archbishops of Mainz, Trier and Cologne. The seven Electors were referred to as the First Estate. The Second Estate was the non-Electoral princes and the Third Estate contained the leaders of the 80 Imperial Free cities. All three Estates jealously guarded their privileges, all at the expense of the emperor. In theory, all the princes in the Holy Roman Empire were subservient to the emperor. But this was simply in theory. In practice the German princes could do what they liked free from Imperial interference and had done so for nearly 75 years since the time of Luther.


The emperor was a territorial magnate in his own right. The emperor owned land in Inner, Upper, Lower and Further Austria. The emperor also controlled Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia and Lusatia. The most valued area was considered to be Bohemia. When Rudolf II became Holy Roman Emperor in 1576, he made Prague - the capital of Bohemia - his base.


Rudolf II was a curious man. He had frequent bouts of insanity which allowed the structure of his government to be undermined. More and more of the Holy Roman Empire’s work was taken on by Matthias, the third brother of Rudolf, though he had not been given permission to do this by Rudolf. By 1600, the Habsburg Court seemed to be on the verge of breaking up under the strain of having an emperor who could not govern combined with a man who did not have a remit to rule.


The German princes tried to take advantage of this problem but in 1600 rather than combine their efforts, they were split amongst themselves. The most important German princes were :


The Elector of the Palatinate : he was considered the most important Elector of the seven. He owned the Lower Palatine - a rich wine growing area - and the Upper Palatine - a relatively poor area between the Danube and Bohemia. In 1600 the Elector was Frederick. He was a Calvinist. His state was well run and he was a firm upholder of Protestantism and did he utmost to stop the spread of the Counter-Reformation. He could have been an important leader of the German princes except that he was distrusted by them. However, Frederick was keen to build up foreign support especially from the United Provinces, England, Bohemia and Austria. He also courted support from anti-Habsburg powers such as France, Savoy and Venice. Any regional crisis involving Frederick was bound to attract international concerns.


Elector John of Saxony: John was a Lutheran. He was frequently drunk and far from cultured. His main priority was the maintenance of peace in Germany though few were clear about the methods he wanted to use. He was a strong believer in German liberty and saw the Habsburgs belief in absolute authority as a clear threat to this. He classed Calvinists and Catholics as his enemies and it was difficult to assess whose side he was actually on. John had the potential to be a destabilising factor in Germany.


Maximilian of Bavaria: he was one of the most able of German princes. His long years in power had enabled him to become an able administrator and Bavaria had a stable, solvent and modern government. He designed the Catholic League to serve his purposes but he also suggested that it could join with the Protestant Evangelical Union to preserve German princely independence against the Habsburgs. To the Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian, though a Catholic, appeared to be a rival.


The Elector of Brandenburg, John Sigismund : he owned the largest possessions in Germany but they were also the poorest. In 1618, John acquired Prussia which gave him an outlet to the sea via Konigsberg. Most of his subjects were Lutheran but John was a Calvinist. He feared a Habsburg invasion of his territories and did his best not to upset them. However, he also tended to follow the lead of the maverick John of Saxony. His territories were fragmented and future Electors were wise enough to modernise the state’s internal communications.


The divisions among the princes and the Holy Roman Emperor created an unstable situation in central Europe. Spain, in particular, wanted a strong Habsburg presence in central Europe. A number of apparently minor crises occurred which needed prompt action by the Habsburgs to ensure that their authority was maintained. Spain was drawn into a central European issue because of her family ties with Austria. However, any Spanish involvement in central Europe was bound to be provocative; in particular, countries like France would have viewed any such moves with great concern once again resurrecting her fears of Habsburgs encirclement.


One of Germany’s main problems was that the northern states were still divided over religion, though, ironically, it was division among the Protestant states. After the Religious Peace of Augsburg (1555), Protestant states had split along two different lines. There were those states that wanted a flexible approach to Protestantism - known as the Phillipists. These states saw value in some of the ideas of Calvin and Zwingli and saw no harm in adopting a combination of Protestant beliefs. Opposed to these states were the hard line Lutheran states. In 1577 these states produced the "Formula of Accord" which clearly stated their position and the Phillipist states responded to this by switching openly to Calvin. Therefore, there was an obvious spilt amongst the Protestant world in Germany and there was a failure to create a common front against the Catholic Church.


This allowed the Catholic Church some gains in Germany. In the 1580’s, the Archbishop of Cologne wanted to secularise his land in Cologne. This would have been very lucrative for him but it also broke the terms of the Imperial Reservation in the 1555 Augsburg Settlement which forbade such a move. He was removed from his position by the Holy Roman Emperor who sent Spanish troops to enforce his authority. This was a perfectly legal move by the emperor. A ‘true’ Catholic replacement was found. But Spanish troops so near to the western French border was not well received in Paris.


The Protestant Evangelical Union was founded in response to this. It was a defensive alliance of 9 princes and 17 Imperial cities. It was lead by the Elector Palatine and its general was Christian of Anhalt. This union was predominantly Calvinist and many Lutheran leaders stayed away from it as they felt that its existence could lead to anarchy.


In response to this Union, Maximilian of Bavaria founded the Catholic League in 1609. Ironically, he did not ask the Catholic Austrian Habsburgs to join it - a symbol of just how far the status of the Habsburg’s had fallen. Phillip III of Spain sent financial aid to maintain some Habsburg involvement but his involvement in a central European issue was bound to provoke the French.


A major crisis did occur over some very minor German states - a sign of just how fragile the peace of central Europe was. The crisis involved the five states of Julich, Cleves, Mark, Berg and Ravensberg. All five were owned by just one family. The five states were a rich mixture of religions with Julich and Berg being Catholic; Mark and Ravensberg were Lutheran and Cleves was Calvinist.


In 1609, the Duke of Julich-Cleves died without an heir. By law, the Holy Roman Emperor could appoint a temporary head of state until an enquiry worked out who would be the next legitimate head of state. Rudolf II appointed his nephew Leopold as Imperial Commissary to take full possession of the five states until a proper heir could be decided on. What Rudolf II did was appropriate and correct according to Imperial law.


Two relatives of the dead duke’s sister took matters into their own hands when they announced that they would occupy the states. This contravened accepted Imperial law and Leopold seized Julich in Rudolf’s name.


Not wishing to see an extension of Imperial authority so far north-west in the Germany (the general rule of thumb was that the further away a state was from Vienna, the less it was loyal to the Holy Roman Emperor) France and Holland gave their support to the two relatives. Maurice of Orange lead a Dutch force to capture Julich and he installed a Dutch garrison there.


Europe looked on the verge of war but the assassination of Henry IV of France took the sting out of the situation and calmed down the situation. The tension was further reduced in 1612 when Rudolf II died. The Julich-Cleves Affair was solved in 1614 by the handing out of the states to the two relatives who had challenged Rudolf’s authority in 1609.


Some state leaders were concerned that seemingly trivial issues were pushing Europe to the verge of war. Some, such as the chief advisor to the Holy Roman Emperor, Cardinal Khlesl and the Archbishop of Mainz tried to defuse the situation. Their chances were slim. It only needed one incident to spark off a major war. That was to occur in Bohemia.


North Europe


Countries in Northern Europe were to have a marked impact on the Thirty Years War. The main countries involved in this region were Denmark and Sweden.


After 1523, Denmark continually tried to get Sweden back into the Kingdom of Denmark-Norway. She failed to do this and lost a number of Baltic outposts in the process of attempting to reconquer Sweden. However, Sweden itself was going through a dynastic struggle.


In 1587, Sigismund, son of John III of Sweden, was elected king of Poland.


In 1592, John III died and Sigismund was declared king of Sweden as well as being king of Poland.


Sigismund proved to be an unpopular king in Sweden and the brother of John III, Duke Charles, forced Sigismund to return to Poland in 1593. Charles became the effective ruler of Sweden and was crowned king Charles IX in 1604. Between 11606 and 1609, Poland was affected by the Rokosz rebellion and Sigismund had to deal with this. Therefore, he did not have the opportunity to challenge Charles over the Swedish throne.


In 1611, Denmark attacked Sweden. The Danish leader, Christian IV, was angered at the increasing prosperity of Sweden and her rapidly developing economy which would clearly challenge Denmark in future years. Charles IX died during the war and in 1611 he was succeeded by his son Gustavus Adolphus (also known as Gustav II Adolf). Aided by his chancellor, Axel Oxenstierna, he managed to end the Danish War by the Peace of Knarad in 1613. The Danes received a substantial sum of cash in return for Alvsborg, Sweden’s only port on the North Sea. However, despite this blow to Sweden’s financial reserves, Gustavus had got Sweden out of a war that was draining her economy anyway.


The dynastic feud that had characterised Sweden before the Danish War continued after it. Gustavus was forced to seek closer ties with Russia which meant that Poland was faced with potential enemies on both sides of her borders. Charles IX had already started the process of befriending Russia when he had given the tsar, Boris Gudunov, military aid in a war between Russia and Poland.


Boris Gudunov himself faced problems among the aristocracy of Russia. The huge authority tsars such as Peter the Great had, was not true for many Russian tsars who lead Russia in name but had relatively little power outside of Moscow. A link up with Sweden would advance his power and so some Russian aristocrats supported the claim of Wladislaw to be tsar of Russia. Wladislaw was the son of Sigismund of Poland. Boris was overthrown and Wladislaw became tsar of Russia. Sigismund had now ended the fear of an enemy on two borders but his son proved an unpopular ruler and in 1613 he was in turn overthrown by Michael Romanov. He asked Sweden for help as he feared a Polish invasion but Gustavus refused as he believed that it might provoke a Polish reaction against Sweden.


In 1614, Sweden allied with Holland (both were protestant and had growing economies) and in 1615, Sweden allied with the Evangelical Union of Germany - a collection of Protestant German states. With this behind him, Gustavus used his influence and the threat of military backing from his new allies, to force Russia and Poland into a truce at the Treaty of Duelmo signed in 1618.


Sweden and Poland came to a truce in 1618 with the Treaty of Tolsburg. By 1618, Gustavus had developed a reputation as a skilled diplomat and by 1620, Sweden was considered a major European power.


The one destabilising factor in the region was Sigismund. He still considered Sweden to be his and his love of Catholicism clashed with a state - Sweden - that had outlawed Catholicism. Sigismund was nick-named "Pope Phillip II" because of his zeal in converting Polish Protestants to Catholicism. Sigismund was a fervent supporter of the Counter-Reformation and Poland was known as the "Spain of the North". Sigismund had the potential to destabilise the whole region especially as Sweden was seen as a bastion of Protestantism.




Bohemia was to play a pivotal role in the outbreak of the Thirty Years War. Bohemia had been an area known to be religiously tolerant. The region was a mixture of Calvinists, Lutherans, Catholics and Anabaptists. They all lived in relative harmony. About two-thirds of the population was Protestant and just 10% were Catholic. Most of Bohemia’s senior nobility were Catholic.


Rudolf II, as the Catholic Holy Roman Emperor, wanted to remove the Protestants from the region but this was an impossible task. Bohemia was one of the more important economic regions of the empire and it was a melting pot of all religions whose people brought their respective expertise to the area.


Rudolf could not concentrate on Bohemia as he felt threatened by his brother Matthias and he needed the support of the Bohemian Estates if he was to maintain his strength within the empire. Bohemia could, if necessary, provide him with money and men in any clash with Matthias.


In July 1609, Rudolf granted the Letter of Majesty which guaranteed freedom of conscience for all; the liberty of worship for nobles and those towns belonging to the crown and the control of ecclesiastical organisation within Bohemia was to rest with the Bohemian Estates. This agreement gave Bohemia the right to effectively control their religious structure free from imperial interference. However, Rudolf did not see this agreement as being permanent.


In 1611, Rudolf attempted to assert his authority over Bohemia The Bohemian Estates called on Matthias to help them and Rudolf’s attempt came to nothing but it had marked out to the nobles in Bohemia the way events might turn in the future. In return for his support, Matthias was crowned King of Bohemia and from 1611 to 1616, there was relative peace in the region.


In 1612, Rudolf died and Matthias became Holy Roman Emperor. He remained childless and the obvious question that needed to be answered was who would succeed him? The Habsburgs wanted Archduke Ferdinand of Styria. He was a hard line Catholic who would not tolerate non-Catholics in Bohemia. The Catholic nobles of Bohemia elected Ferdinand King of Bohemia in June 1617. The Protestants of Bohemia had reason to fear this appointment as they had wanted the Elector of Saxony or the Elector Palatine. Ferdinand was offered the title on condition that he upheld the Letter of Majesty. Ferdinand  agreed to do this but did not feel obligated to be bound by the letter.


Ferdinand's approach to running Bohemia was seen in his appointment of the ten deputies he needed to help him run Bohemia. Seven were Catholic and only three were Protestant despite the Catholics only forming 10% of the area’s population.


The region’s Protestants fell out with Ferdinand over what appeared to be a trivial incident concerning two churches at Klostergrab and Brunau. This lead to two Catholic Deputies (Martinitz and Slavata) being thrown out of a window at a Prague government office - a traditional Bohemian way of showing your anger against someone in authority. This incident is known as the "Defenestration of Prague" and it was a deliberate challenge to the authority of Ferdinand.


In a direct challenge to Ferdinand, the Bohemian Protestants appointed 36 Directors to administer Bohemia. The Estates agreed to this. A national militia was set up under Count Thurn as the Estates believed that Ferdinand was sure to make a stand. The militia had no money, no military experience and only the most basic of equipment. Also support for the militia was minimal as the peasants believed that the Estates were simply trying to advance their own position in Bohemia but that they, the peasants, would have to fight if it came down to this. If the Bohemian Estates wanted to be successful, they needed foreign support as they were not likely to get it from the people of Bohemia who thought that they had nothing to gain from the venture.


Foreign support was difficult to get. The Dutch promised some help but were extremely vague as to what that help would be; Charles Emmanuel of Savoy sent 2,000 men and Ernst von Mansfeld to command them. The Evangelical Union was on the verge of breaking up so the Protestant North German states were in no position to help.


In March 1619, Matthias died and Ferdinand became Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia. Ferdinand made it his crusade to re-Catholicise the empire. Other eastern states in the Holy Roman Empire feared this approach and Lusatia, Moravia and Silesia agreed to support Bohemia. They believed that if they stood alone, they would be easily picked off by Ferdinand. But as a union of four, they stood a better chance. Even the Habsburg’s Upper Austria was opposed to what Ferdinand  was doing.


In July 1619, the Act of Confederation was signed between Bohemia, Lusatia, Moravia and Silesia. This agreement stated that the crown of Bohemia would remain elective; Austria and Hungary would be incorporated into the Confederation if circumstances were right; the Letter of Majesty would be upheld and that crown land and confiscated Catholic property would pay for the Confederation.


The Confederation had to appoint a new king. The rebels chose Frederick, Elector of the Palatine. Frederick’s father-in-law was James I of England and Scotland. It was hoped that this connection would give the Confederation more authority and clout. But James would have none of it - least of all did he want to get involved in an eastern European problem.


In August 1619, the Bohemian throne was declared vacant by the Estates and it was duly offered to Frederick. He arrived in Prague in October 1619 having accepted the crown. War clouds were gathering fast.


The Habsburg’s, from both Spain and Austria, could not allow Bohemia to rebel if only that the example set by a successful rebellion could spell doom for the Holy Roman Empire. If Bohemia was successful, other states could also be.


Spain improved her relations with Sigismund of Poland and sent a fleet to Flanders. Phillip III made plans to occupy the Lower Palatinate as in Phillip’s reckoning "these measures are so urgent……..Germany simply cannot be lost."


In 1620, the Spanish general Spinola, moved his forces from Flanders to the Palatinate and took over Frederick’s most prized territory - the Lower Palatinate on the left bank of the River Rhine.


Maximillian of Bavaria offered Ferdinand the armed forces of the Catholic League. Secretly, Ferdinand had offered the Electoral title held by Frederick to Maximillian so his motives were not entirely altruistic.


Ferdinand accepted Maximillian’s offer and in July 1620, 30,000 troops under Count von Tilly moved into Austria and the Austrian Estates were forced to break their alliance with Bohemia. From Austria, Tilly marched into Bohemia.


Frederick’s army faced Tilly alone. His army was lead by Christian of Anhalt and Thurn. Appeals for foreign help had not been successful. The Dutch offered 5,000 troops and 50,000 florins per month (about £5000). James I stayed outside of the problem. Most of Germany signed the Treaty of Ulm in 1620 in which they declared their neutrality.


On November 8th, 1620, Frederick’s army was destroyed at the Battle of White Mountain, west of Prague. Frederick was forced into exile. The territory of the rebels was confiscated and a Regional Commission was created by Ferdinand to establish the Holy Roman Emperor’s rights over these territories.


In June 1621, 27 rebel leaders were executed. By December 1621, 486 estates had been confiscated. All Protestant ministers were forced to leave Bohemia by 1624 and in 1627, all Bohemian families had to make a choice : Catholic or exile. Over 30,000 families emigrated. By 1650, the population of Bohemia had fallen by 50%. Those that remained found their obligations to their masters increased which provoked a short-lived revolt in 1624.


In May 1627, Bohemia was made a hereditary possession of the Habsburgs. All rights of towns and nobles were abolished. German became the official language of Bohemia and only Catholicism was tolerated.


The revolt in Bohemia had been disastrous for the Bohemians but it had also left an important strategic area of Europe in the hands of the Catholics. Protestant leaders of Europe were not willing to tolerate this.


Bohemia implications


The Bohemian crisis is usually regarded as the start of the Thirty Year War.


1. The Defenestration of Prague was symbolic that all was not well in the empire and that absolute rule did not exist. The basic issue was who ruled Bohemia - the nobles? the Estates? or the emperor? If Ferdinand re-asserted his power in Bohemia would he feel confident enough to try the same in Germany ? What would the reaction of the north German princes be to this ?


2. After the Battle of White Mountain, what happened to Bohemia? Could this be an example of what would happen to north Germany if Ferdinand tried the same ? What would happen to the Electors land if they opposed Ferdinand when the example of Frederick’s treatment after White Mountain is taken into account ? If Ferdinand was willing to do this to the most senior of Electors, what about the ‘weaker’ ones ? Did Ferdinand have the right to dole out at will Electoral land ? Did he have the right to confiscate Electoral land ? There may have been a legal right for Ferdinand to do this (as Frederick was guilty of leading a rebellion), but the other Electors and princes would not have supported this whether it was legal or not.


3. A secure Catholic block in the Palatinate was a direct threat to the region that was mainly Protestant. A Catholic Palatinate was near to Catholic Spain (ruled by a Habsburg) and relatively near to Catholic Bavaria. France, regardless of being Catholic, saw this as a direct threat to her and fears of Habsburg encirclement once again reared its head in Paris. By 1620, France was relatively stable internally and she could involve herself in European affairs if she needed to.


4. The Palatinate gave Spain the opportunity to move troops north to the Obedient Provinces (those parts of the Spanish Netherlands that had remained loyal) and threaten the United Provinces. This could only increase tension in northern Europe. England and Spain would not have tolerated any Catholic presence in the north of Europe.


The German princes had had nearly 100 years of effectively governing themselves after Luther published his 95 Theses. This era of effective self-government was all but free from Imperial interference and witnessed a time when the rule of the emperors was seriously eroded. The princes had got used to this self-government but to a man who believed in absolute rule of his territories it was completely unacceptable.


Ferdinand of Styria


Ferdinand of Styria was born in 1578. Ferdinand was educated at the Jesuit College at Ingolstadt. When he became archduke of Styria, Ferdinand ruthlessly persecuted the Protestants who lived there. Any form of disaffection was suppressed.


For Catholics, he was a conscientious and benevolent ruler and one of his great triumphs was establishing schemes of care for the sick.


His two great loves were Catholicism and hunting. He hunted at least three times a week.


"The great number of his contemporaries wrote him off as a good natured simpleton wholly under the control of his chief minister Ulrich von Eggenberg….(yet) he was one of the boldest and single-minded politicians that the Habsburg dynasty had ever produced." (Wedgwood) He ruthlessly pursued his policy of catholic reform and Habsburg advancement. He trusted Eggenberg but the polices carried out were his.


In Bohemia he upset many of his subjects there by his policy of hard Catholicism and centralisation. From 1618 there was growing unrest in Bohemia. His Spanish cousins put huge demands on him not to show any form of weakness that could encourage others in the Holy Roman Empire to rebel. The Spanish Habsburgs gave him money and troops and in return Ferdinand agreed to give them Alsace.


In August 1619, Ferdinand was elected Holy Roman Emperor. He was now emperor and king of Bohemia. The Bohemians rejected him as king and appointed Frederick of the Palatine to be their king. This was an open case of defiance. The Bohemian rebellion was ruthlessly suppressed in 1620 and Bohemia went through a decade of decline.


Why did Ferdinand treat Bohemia so ruthlessly ? Historians differ as to his intentions. It may be simply because he was angered by their defiance and felt that a suitable punishment was required. His love of Catholicism and hatred of Protestantism may have clouded his decisions. Wedgwood believes that "absolute power was his aim" and therefore any rebellion or hint of it in the Empire would not be tolerated. The Bohemian incident was an opportunity for him to re-assert the power of the emperor which had been in decline for a number of decades.


Other historians hold the view that Ferdinand was a realist and that he knew his power in Germany was on the wane and would never be recovered. He also knew that even Catholic German princes such as the Duke of Bavaria would put their independence before loyalty to Vienna. He knew that his remaining sphere of influence was in the eastern sector of his empire and that is why he could not tolerate any dissent from the Bohemians. He had to ensure that his power base - the eastern sector of the empire - remained totally loyal. This view of Ferdinand being a realist is held by historians  like  Dr Hughes.


His position in Europe during the Thirty Years War depended on his own military position. For the Edict of Restitution he was in a position of strength. Yet just one year later, his position was weakened by Regensberg. At the battles of Lutzen and Nordlingen he was victorious and some consider that the height of his power in Europe was reached at the Peace of Prague signed in 1635. At this meeting, the German princes agreed to accept his authority and bound themselves to him to fight the enemies of the Austrian Habsburgs. In 1636, his son was elected King of the Romans. At this time, his lands were free of heresy (though not the empire) and he had an army that was feared.


He died in February 1637 aged 59.


From 1621 to 1626


After White Mountain, Ferdinand was in a very strong position in eastern Europe. However, his success caused alarm in western Europe. Ferdinand was known to be a hard-line Catholic who wanted to impose his authority across the Holy Roman Empire. Such an expansion would take him very near to the French border. A successful Austrian Habsburg could also stimulate a resurgence in Spain and, in France, that was seen as being against France alone. The United Provinces also had reason to fear a Spain riding on the back of the Holy Roman Emperor’s new found prestige.


In January 1621, Ferdinand imposed the Ban of the Empire on Frederick of the Palatinate. This meant that he was persona non grater in the Holy Roman Empire and all states within were forbidden to help him. Frederick, the most senior of the Electors, became an outcast. Maximillian was ordered to take over the Lower Palatinate as a reward for his support to Ferdinand during the Bohemian crisis. Such a cavalier treatment of a state greatly angered the German princes.


In February 1621, the princes and German free cities of the Protestant Union met at Heilbron and formally protested about the actions of Ferdinand. Understandably, Ferdinand ignored this complaint and ordered them to disband their army - he certainly had the military power to enforce this if needs be.


In May 1621, under the Mainz Accord, the princes and free cities complied with Ferdinand demand and on the 24th May 1621, the Protestant Union was formally dissolved.


However, three important princes refused to sign the Mainz Accord : the Margrave of Baden, Duke Christian of Brunswick and the Count von Mansfeld. None of these three were major ‘players’ in the Holy Roman Empire but Mansfeld took over what remained of the Protestant Union’s army. Many of these troops were mercenaries paid for with Dutch money. They were very undisciplined and feared by the people they were meant to be protecting.


Mansfeld fought a series of ad hoc campaigns against Tilly and defeated the victor at White Mountain at the Battle of Wiesloch in April 1622. However, this victory for Mansfeld was followed by defeats at Wimpfen and Hö chst. The army of the Catholic League occupied the Electoral lands on the right bank of the Rhine. Spain had already taken over the left bank. By the summer of 1622, the position of the rebelling German princes looked grim.


In September 1622, the ancient university city of Heidelburg fell to Tilly; Mannheim fell in November 1622 and Frankenthal in April 1623.


Maximillian took over control of these territories, re-imposed Catholicism and expelled Calvinist ministers. In February 1623, the Electoral title of the Palatinate was formally bestowed on Maximillian by Ferdinand. This action was taken at Regensburg at a meeting of the Electors and clearly threatened the German princes and their freedom. How did Ferdinand persuade the Electors to accept this decision ? Basically he appealed to their greed.


John George of Saxony was given Lusatia.


George William of Brandenburg was given rights over East Prussia.

The Catholic archbishops were told that the transfer of land gave Catholics a 5 to 2 voting majority for the position of King of the Romans (the three Catholic archbishops and the two votes held by Maximillian) and that this position would save Catholicism in Germany.


What of England ? James I remained lukewarm to intervention as Prince Charles was in the process of wooing the Spanish Infanta. Any anti-Habsburg policy would not have been very diplomatic. Also Parliament was not prepared to finance any military expedition. However, the humiliation of Charles at Madrid and the Duke of Brunswick’s heavy defeat at the Battle of Stadtholn in August 1623, changed matters. Once again, Tilly was victorious at this battle.


Mansfeld’s plea for help in London brought reward. James I gave him permission to raise 12,000 men in England. This move lead to England being far more involved in an already complicated political position.


France remained suspicious of Habsburg encirclement and did not accept Ferdinand's belief that what was good for the Habsburgs was good for Catholicism. A dominant Habsburg power in Germany was too close for France but internal problems with the Hugenots kept France out of the issues being fought over in Germany until 1622 when the Treaty of Montpellier eased the problems in France.


France had never accepted her expulsion from Italy during the Habsburg-Valois War and sought to regain her previous position there. However, any Spanish position in the Valtelline challenged this desire.


In 1623, France signed the Treaty of Paris with Savoy and Venice to eject Spanish troops from the Valtelline. For years, the Spanish had tried to keep the Grisons tied to the Holy Roman Empire in an effort to keep open the Spanish Road but the area had suffered from economic depression and radicals such as George Jenatsch had stirred up anti-Catholic feelings.


The Treaty of Madrid (April 1621) had given the Protestants in the Valtelline some rights but these had not been upheld by the Catholics there and in 1622, they overturned the power of the Grisons and left the Pass free for the Habsburg to use at will. France could not accept this and the result was the 1623 Treaty of Paris.


The Paris treaty seemed to indicate that was imminent between the French and Spanish. The Spanish asked Urban VIII for protection with the result that Papal troops were sent to Spanish forts in the Pass. Such a stance by the pope brought a temporary reprieve for the region - but it was only temporary. Cardinal Richelieu’s return to political favour in 1624 changed the situation. Richelieu had two aims a) to restore royal authority in France b) to make France great abroad.


To fulfill his second aim would require a head-on clash with the Habsburgs. In 1625, French troops aided by Swiss Protestant troops (symbolic that religion was not a barrier to alliances) drove out the Papal garrisons and closed the Pass.


This action lost Richelieu support from ardent French Catholics : how could a cardinal approve of military action against the troops of the head of the Catholic Church ? These people - known as Dévots - undermined the position of Richelieu in Paris and Spanish troops from Milan re-occupied the Pass. Richelieu could do nothing as his position in the French court had been greatly weakened. Here was a man defending the position of France (by his reckoning) undermined by other Frenchmen !!


Richelieu had to agree to the Treaty of Monzon in March 1626 which allowed the Spanish to use the Pass as they wished. However, he had shown the way he wanted France to move and when his position was more secure, the peace with Spain was bound to be more short-lived.


In 1624, the Treaty of Compiegne was signed between England, France and the Dutch. It was a reaction to a resurgent Spain. One of the most senior generals in Spain, Spinola, launched an attack on the Dutch in 1625. The head of the Spanish government was Olivares. He wanted not just a military campaign against the Dutch but a commercial one. The fall of Breda in June 1625 was a major blow to the Dutch. The Dutch needed foreign help but did not turn to Gustavus Adolphus as he wanted too much money and, more worryingly for the Dutch, complete freedom of action in northern Europe. Christian IV of Denmark had offered his services. He had a good reputation as a military leader and he was cheaper than Gustavus. Christian was also related by marriage to England so, from the Dutch point of view, he was a better bet as his involvement might bring in English help. Christian had also been elected president of the Lower Saxon Circle (an administrative area of the Holy Roman Empire) and he had agreed to raise an army to defend German liberties against Tilly.


In December 1625, England, Denmark, the Lower Saxon Circle and the Dutch formed a coalition called the Coalition of the Hague. It had moral support from Frederick of the Palatinate (he could not offer military support) and Bethlan Gabor of Transylvannia. The coalition planned a three pronged attack on the Habsburgs which lead to the Danish War of 1626 to 1629.


The Danish War


The Danish War started with the planned three-pronged attack which involved a) Christian IV marching into north-west Germany b) Christian of Brunswick marching into the Rhineland c) Mansfeld would fight with Bethlan Gabor in Bohemia.


However, the coalition had one weak line in it before it even started campaigning - Christian IV of Denmark.


Christian was a ruler of land in Holstein and as such was a German prince in his own right. His interest lay not in Bohemia or Bavaria but in gaining control of Lower Saxony and furthering his influence in that area. He was also after the bishoprics of Bremen, Verden, Minden and Halberstadt. For commercial and strategic reasons he also wanted to control the valuable Hansa towns of Hamburg and Lubeck. If Christian could gain control of all of these, then Denmark could monopolise the lucrative Baltic trade.


Christian also found foreign help from the coalition lacking in material kind. The Dutch and English only offered moral support while the Danish king found it very difficult to co-ordinate a military policy with Brunswick and Mansfeld.


How did Ferdinand react to the Coalition’s threat ? As early as 1624, Ferdinand had appointed a military leader who was directly answerable to the emperor. This man was Albert on Waldstein though he is better known as Wallenstein. Tilly was head of the Catholic League which was answerable to Maximillian of Bavaria. If Maximillian decided to pull out of the war now that he was an Elector twice over, Ferdinand could find himself without a known military leader.


Wallenstein was an astute choice. In April 1625, he was created Generlissimo of all the Imperial troops. After recruiting 24,000 troops to fight for the emperor, he was made Duke of Friedland in June 1625. Wallenstein was a complex man but a ruthless tactician. He and Tilly made for a formidable combination and in the Danish War the three-pronged attack of the coalition stuttered to a halt.


In April 1626, Mansfeld was defeated by Wallenstein at the Battle of Dessau Bridge. In April of the same year, Christian was heavily defeated by Tilly at the Battle of Lutter.


In late 1627, Christian was driven back into Denmark. Holstein, Schleswig and Jutland were occupied by Tilly.


After Dessau Bridge, Mansfeld tried to link up with Bethlan Gabor but Gabor had already come to terms with Ferdinand. Mansfeld was left wandering in Balkans with his army. His unpaid troops deserted him and Mansfeld himself died in Sarajevo in November 1626.


In 1628, Wallenstein occupied Mecklenburg. He was made Duke of Mecklenburg and Ferdinand appointed him "General of the whole Imperial Fleet and Lord of the Atlantic and Baltic". Wismar and Rostock, important and lucrative Baltic ports, fell under Imperial control.


The fall of these two ports gave Olivares the opportunity to put into effect his almirantazgo policy. The plan was simple. By uniting the trading towns of Flanders and the Hansa, Habsburg forces could wrest control of the carrying trade from the Baltic to the ports of Flanders. Dutch sea borne trade would be strangled as the Habsburgs would control movement in the seas off north Europe. This would be a massive boost to Spain’s economy as once again she had gone bankrupt in 1627. It would also undermine the ability of the Dutch to defend themselves as investment in their military would dry up and they would not have the financial clout to pay for mercenaries or buy in foreign troops from the likes of Sweden, for example.


Olivares wanted his plan organised by an Inspectorate for Commerce (Almirantazgo de los paises septentrionales). On paper his plan was good. By bankrupting the Dutch and controlling mercantile trade in the Baltic and the north coast of western Europe, he would re-establish Spain’s economy and elevate the status of the Habsburgs once again throughout Europe. But it had one flaw - the plan depended on the co-operation of Wallenstein and he was not in favour of the plan simply because it took power away from him in the Baltic.


Wallenstein saw the Baltic as his ‘territory’ and he did not want Spanish interference in the region. It was one of Europe’s most lucrative regions and any money made there, Wallenstein wanted to keep. In support of him were the trading towns of Danzig and Lubeck. Wallenstein was also concerned that the building of an Imperial navy to protect Hansa trade, might provoke a response from Sweden. He feared that Gustavus might invade northern Germany to assert his authority in the area. Wallenstein saw north Germany as his and he did not want the region devastated by war as he would lose a great deal of money if this occurred.


This example shows the difficult position Ferdinand was in. The Spanish Habsburg’s via Olivares had what was potentially an excellent plan to re-assert Habsburg power throughout Europe. But the Austrian Habsburg’s , under Ferdinand, seemed to have lost control of their highly successful general Wallenstein who had begun to see himself as a law unto himself.


In July 1628, Wallenstein attacked Stralsund in Pomerania. His claim was that it would extend the emperor’s power - but it would also greatly increase his own as Stralsund was a wealthy city. The attempt failed as Stralsund called on Denmark and Sweden to aid it. Both did, and Wallenstein had to withdraw from besieging Stralsund.


Christian IV - believing that Wallenstein’s forces were weakened - followed up this success by landing a force in Pomerania. In fact, Wallenstein’s force was still very strong and Christian’s army was heavily defeated at Wolgast in September 1628.


However, Wallenstein realised that such a victory might provoke a response by Gustavus of Sweden and he persuaded Ferdinand to agree to generous peace terms with Christian despite the fact that Denmark was incapable of continuing a military campaign.


In the Treaty of Lubeck (June 1629), Denmark was allowed to keep her possessions including the valuable state of Holstein; Christian had to give up his claims on the north German bishoprics and his leadership of the Lower Saxon Circle. He also had to formally withdraw from the war.


Ferdinand was now in a position where he felt he could ignore the wishes of the German princes. In March 1629, he introduced the Edict of Restitution.


The Edict of Restitution


The Edict of Restitution was Ferdinand’s attempt to restore the religious and territorial settlement after the Peace of Augsburg (1555). The "Ecclesiastical Reservation" forbade the secularisation of Catholic land (i.e. being converted to some form of Protestant belief) after 1555. However, during the decades of weak emperors, princes had secularised Catholic land simply because it was so valuable and they had got away with it as no emperor was powerful enough to enforce the "Ecclesiastical Reservation".


The main proposal of the "Edict of Restitution" was to ensure that the "Ecclesiastical Reservation" was enforced and it affected the secularised archbishoprics of Bremen and Magdeburg, 12 bishoprics and over 100 religious houses. The Edict resulted in a great transfer of power and property away from the Protestants to the Catholics. Thousands of Protestants had to leave where they lived and go to states that were Protestant.


The greatest impact of this was in north-east Germany. It was in this area that Ferdinand's power was at its weakest, so this move was very understandable and potentially very rewarding for him. Ferdinand appointed Imperial administrators to take over the secularised states/cities. By doing this, he was re-establishing Imperial authority to an area that had enjoyed freedom from Imperial rule for nearly 100 years. The threat was implicit to the German princes. It was a move that alarmed the French - though Ferdinand was well within his rights to do what he did.


The German princes could do nothing. They had seen the Coalition destroyed and Wallenstein had a massive army in the field - 134,000 troops - to enforce Imperial authority if required.


Ironically, Wallenstein disliked the Edict as it trespassed into the region his considered his own but he played his part for the emperor to the full. He stated that "he would teach the Electors manners. They must be dependent on the emperor, not the emperor on them." Ferdinand would have approved of such words. The response of the princes was to group behind Maximillian of Bavaria to pressurise Ferdinand into dismissing Wallenstein.


Their chance came in 1630 when Ferdinand had to call a meeting of the Electors because he wanted his son, also called Ferdinand, elected King of the Romans. Ironically, the man with so much apparent power, had to rely, by law, on the votes of the Electors to maintain his dynasty in power. The meeting was held in Regensburg. Ferdinand also hoped to persuade the Electors to approve greater Imperial involvement in the wars that were being fought in Europe.


John of Saxony and George William of Brandenburg (both Protestant) stayed away in protest at the Edict of Restitution. Those Electors present realised that they had little to gain from involvement in wars that meant little to them. However, Maximillian still asked Ferdinand for the dismissal of Wallenstein.


To win over the Electors, Ferdinand sacked Wallenstein in August 1630 though Wallenstein argued that he was allowed to resign to save face. To get dismissed the most powerful military figure in Europe was a major victory for the Electors and Regensburg must be seen as a defeat for Ferdinand. However, all of this was overshadowed by an event that had happened in July 1630 - Gustavus Adolphus had landed in Pomerania with 4,000 men. No-one knew what his intentions were, but without Wallenstein, Ferdinand  had to turn to Maximillian and Tilly once again.


Gustavus Adolp in Sweden.


In 1627 Gustavus Adolphus , the "Lion of the North", had compared the revived Roman Catholic Church to the sea : "as one wave follows another in the sea, so the Papal deluge is approaching our shores." Gustavus Adolphus saw himself as the protector of Protestantism in Germany and if north Germany was safe then so was Sweden. Gustavus Adolphus was an accomplished soldier and with the help of Catholic France, he freed himself from the war against Poland with the Treaty of Altmark of September 1629. By the end of 1629, Gustavus Adolphus controlled much of the east Baltic coast and effectively controlled Baltic trade.


Richelieu of France, a cardinal, wanted an alliance with the protestant Gustavus Adolphus to form a counter-weight to Habsburg power in Europe. If he could enlist the help of Maximillian of Bavaria and the Catholic League then so much the better. Both Gustavus Adolphus and Richelieu were pragmatists. Though they held opposite views on religion, they both realised that they needed each other if they were to form a realistic opposition to Ferdinand.


When Gustavus Adolphus landed on Peenemunde in Pomerania in June/July 1630 with 4,000 men, no alliance had been made. This worried Richelieu as he had no control over what Gustavus Adolphus might do. Gustavus Adolphus captured Stettin and the Neumark area in Brandenburg thus securing his communication lines with Sweden. With this done, he could push further into Germany. His task was made easier by the five year Treaty of Barwalde signed with France in January 1631. This treaty gave Sweden 1 million livres a year to fight her war while Sweden agreed to provide the men to do the fighting. Richelieu was happy with this arrangement as France did not have to do any of the fighting; Gustavus Adolphus’ army was far enough away not to threaten France itself; Ferdinand’s army would have to track Gustavus Adolphus’ and that would mean most of the time, the emperor’s army would be in Germany and away from the French border; Sweden had also promised to protect the commercial interests of France and not to interfere in Saxony and Bavaria.


One point in the Treaty of Barwalde did embarrass Richelieu. Neither side could formulate a separate peace treaty for the duration of Barwalde (1631 to 1636) and to many of Richelieu’s enemies in France (and he had many) this looked as if he had tied France to an ally that was Protestant. Many of the devots in France found this hard to accept even if they did have a common enemy in Ferdinand.


Not all of Germany’s northern princes welcomed Gustavus Adolphus. Both John George of Saxony and George William of Brandenburg saw his position in northern Germany as a threat to their own possessions. Both men called for a Protestant conference to be held at Leipzig. This took place between February and April 1631 where Protestant princes were persuaded to raise their own independent army. This they duly did and put it under the control of Hans George von Arnim - an able soldier who had served under Wallenstein but had left his services in disgust after the Edict of Restitution. Gustavus Adolphus had a problem. What would happen if the Protestant force allied itself to the Catholic League in defence of German liberties ? Would he have to fight two forces ?


The situation was resolved by Tilly. Before any Protestant agreement could be signed, the catholic League lead by Tilly besieged and destroyed the important city of Magdeburg. This city was also a great Protestant centre. Somehow the city - its freedom guaranteed by Gustavus Adolphus - caught fire and 20,000 civilians died. This cause much anger throughout the whole of Protestant Europe. The Dutch made an agreement with Sweden to supply the army of Gustavus Adolphus and with this assistance, Gustavus Adolphus marched on Berlin. From Berlin he completed his occupation of Pomerania. Gustavus Adolphus conquered Meckenburg where he restored the dukes whom Wallenstein had expelled and replaced with himself. His actions did much to restore Protestant confidence that had been weakened after Magdeburg.


Tilly found it very difficult to react to this as Maximillian of Bavaria had signed the secret Treaty of Fontainebleau in May 1631 with France. Maximillian promised not to aid the enemies of France while France recognised his Electoral rights. As Sweden was a recognised ally of France via Barwalde, Tilly (his master was Maximillian) could not attack Gustavus Adolphus as this would aid the enemies of France.


Tilly was in a dangerous position. His army was quartered in the Duchy of Friedland - land owned by Wallenstein. He was short of supplies and Wallenstein deliberately withheld them as he hoped that Tilly’s failure could lead to his own return to power. To escape from his predicament, Tilly mistakenly attacked Saxony. There was a logical reason for him to do so - the area was well stocked with food and other provisions. His excuse for carrying out the attack was two-fold


John George had refused to enforce the Edict of Restitution which Tilly claimed was an insult to Ferdinand. He had defied the emperor by raising an army after Leipzig.


Leipzig quickly fell and John George was forced into seeking an alliance with Gustavus Adolphus (the Treaty of Coswig September 1631). Their combined forces heavily defeated Tilly at the Battle of Breitenfeld in September 1631. Gustavus Adolphus’ army stood at 24,000 while John George had 18,000 soldiers in the field. Tilly had a force of 35,000 men. Tilly lost all his artillery and nearly 18,000 men. He could only retreat towards Bavaria.


With nothing to stop him, Gustavus Adolphus occupied the Lower Palatinate and the bishoprics of Mainz, Bamberg and Wurzburg. The Saxon force marched into Bohemia and captured Prague (November 1631)


Breitenfeld transformed the military and political set-up of Europe. After this battle no decent army stood in the way of Gustavus Adolphus. The speed and extent of his victories alarmed Richelieu who had always considered Gustavus Adolphus and Sweden the junior partner in the alliance. German princes in general were alarmed at the success of the Swedish king especially when he spent the winter of 1631-32 wintered in Germany and treating the area he had conquered effectively as his own. Gustavus Adolphus doled out land rewards to his successful generals and Oxenstierna was made governor-general of the region.


In December 1631, to counter the obvious power of Gustavus Adolphus, Richelieu offered French protection to any prince who asked for it. Only the Elector-Archbishop of Trier asked for it and French troops were garrisoned at Phillipsburg.


But nothing could disguise the fact that Gustavus Adolphus was the master of Germany. Maximillian rejected the claims by Richelieu that Bavaria was safe and openly sought the protection of Ferdinand. Maximillian also asked for the re-instatement of Wallenstein as he saw this as the only way to counter Gustavus Adolphus. This re-instatement duly took place in December 1631. Gustavus Adolphus used Mainz as his capital and planned for the invasion of the rest of the Holy Roman Empire. Richelieu could do nothing to stop him. After the devastating victory at Breitenfeld, Ferdinand considered withdrawing the Edict of Restitution and fleeing to Italy.


Wallenstein - ever the opportunist - saw the situation as a way to further extend his power. In April 1632, he was promised regular subsidies from Ferdinand and Spain under Phillip III; he was confirmed as Duke of Mecklenburg; he was given financial compensation for his help and he could make peace with any prince when he felt like it - but not the Duke of Saxony (this had to be vetted by an Imperial Diet). The one tie-back in this deal was that Wallenstein could not use Spanish or Catholic League troops without the proper permission.


In March 1632, Gustavus Adolphus had started his invasion of Bavaria. He defeated Tilly at the Battle of Lech in March 1632 - Tilly was fatally wounded at this battle and so the Holy Roman Empire (via Bavaria) lost one of its most experienced generals. By May 1632, Augsburg and Munich had fallen to Gustavus Adolphus. This was the peak of his power though.


After the fall of Munich, Gustavus Adolphus was less successful. He failed in his attempt to take Regensburg and in May 1632, Wallenstein had driven the Saxons out of Prague. To aid John George, Gustavus Adolphus marched north thus ending his projected drive to Vienna. He was also fearful that John George would suddenly join the forces of Wallenstein. Loyalty amongst allies then was never particularly strong,


In the summer of 1632, Gustavus Adolphus published his plans for a German settlement. His idea was to create two Protestant leagues - the Corpus Bellicum (which would be responsible for military affairs) and the Corpus Evangelicorum (which would run the civil administration). His purpose in producing these was to preserve the existing structure of states in Germany and to confirm the security of Protestants in Germany. He did not envisage himself as the head of a Protestant empire.


For Sweden he wanted to preserve the acquired territory in the south Baltic from the Vistula to the Elbe. This would satisfy Sweden’s future security and the profits from port revenues and the expansion of Swedish trade would help to pay for the huge outlay Sweden had made in assisting northern Germany against the Holy Roman Emperor. Ferdinand had no interest in the plan and the plan could only succeed if Gustavus Adolphus continued to be successful at a military level.


Wallenstein had placed himself in a strategically very strong position - the Alte Fetse near Nuremburg. In September 1632, Gustavus Adolphus launched an unsuccessful attack on the Alte Feste. This failure lead to many mercenaries deserting the Swedish force. Wallenstein then marched north to Saxony and Gustavus Adolphus could do nothing about it. Wallenstein captured Leipzig - though the attack on the city was merely bait to attract Gustavus Adolphus to him.


Wallenstein planned to make his winter quarter’s at Lutzen and Gustavus Adolphus attempted to make a surprise attack on the Catholic forces there. On the 16th November 1632, the Battle of Lutzen took place. There had been no surprise attack and Wallenstein had succeeded in drawing Gustavus Adolphus out into a full-scale battle. Wallenstein was defeated at this battle and he retreated into Bohemia. But Sweden had lost 15,000 men at this battle including Gustavus Adolphus.


Without their figurehead, the Protestant forces seemed to lack direction. Count Horn and Bernard of Weimar took over the Protestant forces - but their names did not have the aura of Gustavus Adolphus.


After Lutzen, many wanted a peace settlement. War had dragged on and with no obvious results for all those who had been fighting in it. Gustavus Adolphus was dead; Queen Christina of Sweden supported a peace plan; John George of Saxony wanted one. Even the original cause of the problem - Frederick of the Lower Palatinate - had died in November 1632. So why was there no settlement?


Oxenstierna still feared a resurgent Habsburg force and he used his influence to call for a meeting of Sweden, the Lower Saxon Circle and Saxony itself to discuss matters. They met in Heilbronn in March 1633 and the end result was a defensive alliance - the Heilbronn League - which existed to defend Protestantism in north Germany. John George did not join as he had reverted to supporting the Holy Roman Emperor. Catholic France and Protestant Sweden became the joint protectors of the new organisation. In November 1633, the Heilbronn League had its first victory when it invaded Bavaria and captured Regensburg - something that Gustavus Adolphus had failed to do.


Wallenstein by now had started to exceed his authority within the Holy Roman Empire. He started secret negotiations with France and Sweden which was outside of his jurisdiction. There were those in Vienna who disliked Wallenstein and when news reached the capital of the Holy Roman Empire of what Wallenstein was doing, it confirmed to them that he was unstable and unpredictable. As an example, Wallenstein had defeated the Swedish at Steinau but had released the captured generals in exchange for some fortresses in Silesia. Swedish troops were good but they needed decent commanders. Here was Wallenstein releasing their generals in exchange for castles !!


Wallenstein then ordered one of his generals to Bavaria to help Regensburg and Breisach but the general, Aldringen, was ordered not to fight the Swedish army there. This greatly angered Aldringen as the Swedes were the enemy of the Holy Roman Empire. In fact, Aldringen disobeyed his command and took on the Swedes. Disquiet about Wallenstein was not only being heard in Vienna - it was also spreading to his army.


It is difficult to account for Wallenstein actions in 1634. He was ill with gout and depression and this may have affected his decisions. He may also have been playing a very complex strategy game which no-one else understood. In early 1634, Ferdinand ordered Wallenstein’s arrest. This order was made redundant when he was murdered by some of his officers in February 1634. At the time of his death, he only had 1500 men loyal to him.


The command of the Imperial army went to Ferdinand, the son of the emperor. He was married to the Spanish Infanta - thus bringing both houses of the Habsburgs even closer together. Ferdinand the son had also cultivated a friendship between himself and the brother of his wife - the Spanish Infante. He was the nominal head of the Spanish Netherlands. Both men were able military leaders and their friendship regenerated the Austrian-Spanish alliance. Both men were dedicated to turning back the tide of Protestantism in Europe.


In September 1634, both Catholic armies joined at Nordlingen. They were opposed by the Protestant army under Horn. Horn’s plan was to break both armies into two separate parts and take each one on accordingly. It was a disaster. The Swedes were heavily defeated and Horn was captured. This one victory re-established Ferdinand in Europe. The Heilbronn League was in total disarray; the Protestants had no army while the Catholics had two armies in the field that had already proved themselves to be a potent force. By the Spring of 1635, all Swedish resistance in the south of Germany had ended. A peace package which had been started in 1634, ended with the Peace of Prague signed in May 1635.


The Peace of Prague


The Peace of Prague was signed in May 1635. It stated that:


The Edict of Restitution would be repealed for 40 years after which the emperor would decide on the issues that it covered. This was a way of repealing it for good but with the emperor not losing face.


Lutherans would retain those possessions they held on November 12th 1627.


There would be no amnesty for the Bohemian exiles of the family of Frederick of the Palatinate. However, there would be a general amnesty for all those who fought against Ferdinand.


The Palatinate remained the possession of Maximillian of Bavaria.


The dukes of Mecklenburg and Pomerania regained their territories.


Ferdinand promised to revive the Reichskammergericht - the symbol of Imperial justice. All disputed cases could be referred to it.


Alliances between the separate states of the Holy Roman Empire were to be forbidden.

All armed forces in the empire were to be integrated into an Imperial army. This would be financed by the states but would be under Imperial control.

Only the Electors could lead troops in the Imperial army as Imperial generals.


This peace enabled German princes to unite behind the Holy Roman Emperor on the basis that "German liberties" were now protected especially concerning land rights. The major states signed the peace - Saxony, Bavaria, Brandenburg etc - but the Heilbronn League did not, though they were unimportant at this time. Maximillian went as far as dissolving the Catholic League as a sign of good faith and keeping in line with the Peace of Prague. The peace was a major victory for the ‘politiques’ in Germany - those who put the well-being of Europe above the individual gains of just one nation.


In 1635, it seemed as if the German princes were behind Ferdinand and that stability had been restored to central Europe.


 France and the Thirty Years War


Up to the Peace of Prague, France had played a minimal part in the Thirty Years War. What participation France had committed herself to involved just diplomatic and political measures. Only in the relatively minor Mantuan episode did France have any military involvement but this was short-lived and did not involve the major European powers.


The Peace of Prague, arranged on Ferdinand’s terms, alarmed France, Sweden and the United Provinces. Sweden wanted to gain more territory to pay for her expenses up to the Peace and she decided to carry on fighting. However, Sweden was too poor to continue the campaign against Ferdinand by herself. In April 1635, Sweden and France signed the Treaty of Compiegne. France in the mid-1630’s was fearful of a strong and unchallenged Holy Roman Empire. She had an inadequate supply of men, money and commanders to sustain a long military campaign. France was also out-of-touch with the more modern methods of fighting that were coming to the surface in the Thirty Years War. Sweden could provide France with the necessary military expertise.


In the early months on 1635, France have vacillated over a wholesale military involvement in Europe. In February 1635, France had provided the Dutch with 20,000 men to deploy as the Dutch saw fit. In March 1635, France had once again cut off the Valtelline. The hand of France was forced for her when Spanish troops marched into Trier and captured the Archbishop Elector. Though a German state, Trier had been under French protection since 1631. In May 1635, France declared war on Spain. No-one throughout Europe was particularly surprised by this as in October 1634, the Holy Roman Emperor, King of Spain and the Roman Catholic princes of Germany had agreed to a joint attack on France. Louis XIII was simply pre-empting the inevitable : attack before France itself was attacked.


The military prospects of France were not good. Her troops were undisciplined and lacked experience in the more modern forms of fighting. France, therefore, needed alliances. In July 1635, France signed a treaty with Savoy, Parma and Mantua for a joint campaign in north Italy. The French Huguenot general, Rohan, was sent to help the Swiss Protestants in a campaign to overthrow the Valtelline. In October 1635, Bernard of Weimar and his army were taken into French service.


To sustain the above, Richelieu needed favourable finances. France was not in such a favourable position and Richelieu had to raise loans, sell government offices to the highest bidder (though not necessarily the most talented) and to place government tax inspectors (Intendants) on permanent location in the provinces to ensure that taxes that were due for Paris actually got there.


French military involvement in the Thirty Years War got off to a poor start. The Spanish made timely and generous concessions to the Swiss Protestants in the Valtelline and therefore stability was brought back to the area. Rohan was abandoned by the Swiss rebels and had to withdraw to France.


In 1636, came the expected attack on France by the major catholic powers of Europe. The high taxes in France had made Richelieu a very unpopular man and the invading Catholic forces hoped to capitalise on this and be seen as a liberating force with religion not being compromised. France had to endure a three-pronged attack.


The Cardinal-Infante attacked through Picardy. An Imperial army lead by Gallas attacked through the Vosges and Phillip IV of Spain lead an attack from the South.


The Cardinal-Infante was especially successful and many Parisians feared that their city would be occupied. It was commonly thought that Richelieu would be dismissed as a sop to the Cardinal-Infante but Louis XIII stood by him and asked Parisians to be patriotic and supply money to the government in the defence of Paris. Bernard of Weimar pushed back Gallas and the attack by Phillip IV failed to materialise. The Cardinal failed to maintain his push and he too was pushed back from Paris.


Though the attack on France failed, the prestige of France as a nation had suffered. She had proclaimed herself as the saviour against the domination of Europe by the Holy Roman Emperor, but how could a nation that had been invaded warrant the status of protector of European liberties ?


The German Electors had no faith in France . In the autumn of 1636 they were summoned to Regensburg by Ferdinand. Here, they duly elected his son, Ferdinand, King of the Romans. In February 1637, Ferdinand died and his son succeeded him as Ferdinand III. Like any new emperor or king, Ferdinand had to proved himself but his start was less than auspicious.


In October 1636, the Holy Roman Empire’s army had been defeated by the Swedes at Wittstock in Brandenburg. This gave Sweden the opportunity to occupy most of northern Germany. Gallas had to leave the French campaign and confront the Swedes. The Battle of Torgau forced the Swedes back to Pomerania and the Swedes could only stay in the field thanks to the financial aid given to them by the French in the Treaty of Hamburg of 1638. Regardless of the defeat at Torgau, Sweden marched into Bohemia and reached the suburbs of Prague.


France also had success in north Italy where Bernard of Weimar successfully besieged Breisach after defeating the Holy Roman Empire’s army at Rheinfelden. The siege of Breisach was a success and allowed the French to cut the Spanish Road once more. Alsace also fell to Bernard and when he died in July 19639, his army came under the direct control of the French. By 1640, France had two very capable military commanders : Turenne and Louis II, Prince of Conde.


The United Provinces also added to the misery of the Holy Roman Empire. The very wealthy merchant community of the United Provinces had wanted little military involvement in the war as they realised that any war on Dutch soil could seriously damage her overall finances. They believed that if the Dutch were seen by the Holy Roman Empire to be getting involved militarily in the conflict, it could lead to an invasion of the United Provinces by a Imperial army and that could spell disaster for the Dutch economy.


However, the Dutch had set their eyes on a naval success especially in the New World where Habsburg property was vulnerable to attack. Two naval battles supported their view that the Habsburg’s could not succeed at sea. In October 1639, the Dutch had beaten a Spanish fleet at the Battle of the Downs. In January 1640, a combined Spanish and Portuguese fleet had been beaten at the Battle of Pernambuco, again by the Dutch.


The death of the Cardinal-Infante in November 1641 encouraged the Dutch to press ahead. The Cardinal had put up a stubborn campaign on the land but the defeat of the Spanish navy at the Battle of the Downs, meant that he could no longer be supplied by sea and the Spanish campaign in Flanders dwindled.


The Spanish themselves were also experiencing problems at home. In 1640-41, the Portuguese rebelled against Spain. The Catalonians also rebelled against the domination of Castille in Spanish politics and a joint Catalan-French army defeated the Castillians outside of Barcelona in January 1641. Spain appeared to outsiders to be collapsing from within. In 1642, Phillip IV tried to crush the Catalan rebellion but failed. In January 1643, his most competent minister, Olivares, was dismissed.


France failed to capitalise on these problems as in December 1642, Richelieu had died, closely followed by Louis XIII in May 1643. The new king, Louis XVI, was only four years of age and a Regency had to be established. This Regency was lead by Anne of Austria, the Queen Mother, and the Italian, Mazarin. With this internal disruption, France could not follow a more aggressive foreign policy.


Despite defeating the Spanish at the Battle of Rocroi in May 1643, France was unable to mount a serious campaign in Europe as military exhaustion had broken out throughout Europe. There had been a general European desire for peace since 1640, but no one country was prepared to give up hard-won gains.


However, peace was not long in coming.


The Peace of Westphalia


The Thirty Years War was ended by the Peace of Westphalia which was referred to as the "Peace of Exhaustion" by contemporaries. The Peace of Westphalia was not one specific treaty but rather a collection of treaties commonly linked by the fact that they brought the Thirty Years War to an end.


France and Sweden had already agreed at the Treaty of Hamburg that there should be a European return to the status quo of 1618.


Ferdinand III wanted to retain the gains made at Prague and he wanted 1627 to be his baseline on territorial negotiations.


The German Electors favoured 1618 as their baseline.


In September 1640, the Electors were summoned by Ferdinand III to Regensburg where the emperor attempted to get the Electors to agree to preserving the Peace of Prague. He failed. Frederick William of Brandenburg specifically rejected Prague as the basis of any settlement.


In July 1641, Brandenburg and Sweden signed a truce. Many German princes followed this example of Brandenburg's to show their displeasure with Ferdinand III. However, Ferdinand III had already started separate negotiations with the French and Dutch at Munster and with the Swedes at Osnabruck.


Peace negotiations continued at the same time as the military campaigns. In 1642, a Swedish army defeated an Imperial army at Breitenfeld at the same time as Swedish and Imperial diplomats were examining potential peace terms. Such occurrences happened as a show of strength to the opposition.


In 1645, the Imperial army faced two defeats at Nordlingen (defeated by the French) and Jankau (defeated by Sweden). The Holy Roman Empire was clearly in no position to carry on but neither could the Swedes or the French deliver a knockout blow from a military point of view.


In 1645, Sweden and Saxony signed a peace agreement.


In 1646, Ferdinand III could no longer expect support from Saxony, Brandenburg or Spain.


In 1647, Maximilian of Bavaria was forced by the Swedes and French to withdraw his support to Ferdinand. Maximilian reneged on this agreement in 1648, and Swedish and French forces devastated Bavaria leaving Maximilian in a position where he could not do anything else except sign a truce with Sweden and France.


The French persuaded Ferdinand III to exclude Spain from the peace negotiations but the United Provinces and Spain did sign a peace settlement at Munster in 1648 thus bringing to an end 80 years of hostility between the Spanish government and the Dutch commonly known as the Revolt of the Netherlands.


The whole package of settlements is known as the Peace of Westphalia. One of its provisos was that the practice of electing a King of the Romans in the emperor's lifetime was abolished. The title of the "Peace of Exhaustion" is probably a more apt title for this series of peace settlements that brought to an end the Thirty Years War.


The terms: 


France gained the bishoprics of Metz, Toul and Verdun; Breisach and Philippsburg; Alsace and part of Strasburg.


Sweden gained West Pomerania, Wismar, Stettin, Mecklenburg; the bishoprics of Verden and Bremen which gave her control over the estuaries of the Elbe and Weser.


Brandenburg gained East Pomerania; the archbishopric of Magdeburg and Halberstadt.


Bavaria kept the Upper Palatinate and the Electoral title that went with it. The Lower Palatinate was restored to Charles Louis, the son of Frederick and an 8th Elector's title was made for him.


Saxony kept Lusatia.


Bohemia remained an hereditary domain.


Upper Austria was restored to the Habsburgs - Bavaria had taken control of it.


Spain recognised the United Provinces as a sovereign state.





1530 The Grey Leagues obtain possession of the Valtelline.

1540 Calvin’s Institution Chretienne.

1559 Accession of Frederick II in Denmark.

1560 Death of Gustavus Vasa of Sweden and accession of Erik XIV.

1561 The Articles of Arboga.

1563-70 The Northern Seven Years’ War.

1567 The English Merchant Adventurers at Hamburg.

1569 Deposition of Erik XIV of Sweden and accession of John IIL

1570 Peace of Stettin closes the Northern Seven Years’ War.

Opening of a thirteen years’ war between Russia and Sweden.

1581 Establishment of the English Turkey Company.

1583 Truce of Pliusa between Sweden and the Tsar.

1587 Election of Sigismund III of Poland.

Statute of Kalmar.

1588 Death of Frederick II of Denmark and accession of Christian IV.

1590 Death of Pope Sixtus V.

1592 Election of Pope Clement VIII.

Sigismund III of Poland crowned King of Sweden.

1594 Dutch Company of Foreign Merchants' formed.

1595 Peace of Teusin between Sweden and Russia.

1599 Deposition of Sigismund of Sweden.

1600 Charles IX chosen King of Sweden.

Opening of the War of the Swedish Succession between Sweden and Poland.

English East India Company chartered.

Galileo’s discoveries as to the laws of gravitation.

1602 Dutch East India Company formed.

1605 Election of Pope Paul V.

The Dutch take Amboina.

1605-19 The Dutch reach the western coast of Australia.

1606-7 Quarrel between Pope Paul V and Venice.

1606 Peace of Zsitva-Torok between the Empire and the Turks.

The London and Plymouth Companies for North America chartered.

1607 Foundation of the Virginia Colony at Jamestown.

1608 French settlements at Port Royal and Quebec.

1609 The Bohemian Letter of Majesty granted.

English colony in Guiana.

Twelve Years’ Truce between Spain and the United Provinces.

1609- 32 English settlement of the Bermudas, the Leeward Islands and Barbados.

1610 Murder of Henry IV of France.

Regency of Mary de’ Medici declared.

The Julich expedition.

The Dutch establish trading relations with Japan.

1610- 20 Plantation of North Wexford.

1611 War between Denmark and Sweden.

Death of Charles IX of Sweden and accession of Gustavus II Adolphus. Accession of John George I, Elector of Saxony.

Plantation of Ulster.

1611- 3 War of Kalmar.

1612 Matthias elected Emperor.

1613 Peace of Knared between Sweden and Denmark.

Marriage of Princess Elizabeth of England and the Elector Palatine Frederick V.

English expedition to Japan.

Issue of Turbatus imperii Romani status.

1614 League of French Princes against the Government.

August. Meeting of representatives of the German Habsburg lands at Linz.

October. Meeting of the French Assembly of Estates.

November. Treaty of Xanten. Danish East India Company chartered.

1614- 5 Circumnavigation of the globe by Spilbergen.

1615 Peace of Tyrnau between the Empire and Bethlen Gabor.

Peace of Asti between Spain and Savoy.

Rebellion of the French Princes.

Destruction of the Spanish-Portuguese fleet.

Dutch dominion established in the Molucca Islands.

Sir Thomas Roe’s embassy to the Great Moghul.

1615- 20 Plantation of Longford and Ely O’Carroll.

1616 Richelieu Minister of State.

Despatch of an English trading mission to Persia.

Pieter van den Broeck opens relations between the Dutch and the Arabs and Persians.

1617 Murder of Concini. Luynes Chief Minister in France.

Peace of Stolbova between Sweden and Russia.

Peace of Pavia between Spain and Savoy. Archduke Ferdinand King-designate of Bohemia. Ralegh’s second expedition to Guiana.

1617-22 Jan P. Koen Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies.

1618 February. Peace of Madrid.

May. The "defenestration” at Prague. Opening of the Thirty Years’ War. The Archduke Ferdinand of Styria elected King of Hungary.

Spanish plot against Venice.

First English (West) African Company founded.

1619 March. Death of the Emperor Matthias.

Batavia becomes the capital of the Dutch East Indies.

June. Agreement between the Dutch and English East India Companies. August. Election of Ferdinand II as Emperor. Deposition of Ferdinand in Bohemia and election of Frederick V^ Elector Palatine.

Bethlen Gabor advances into Hungary.

1620 July. Compact of Ulm between Union and League.

Protestant massacre in the Valtelline.

November. Battle of the White Hill (Prague).

Bearn and Navarre incorporated in France.

1620 The Mayflower pilgrims found New England.

1620-3 Bohemian and Palatinate Wars.


Austro-Spanish attack on the Grisons.

February. Election of Pope Gregory XV.

March. Death of Philip III of Spain and accession of Philip IV. Ascendancy of Olivares begins.

April. Treaty of Madrid.

Dissolution of the Protestant Union. Collapse of Palatine policy.

December. Peace of Nikolsburg between the Emperor and Bethlen Gabor.

Religious war in France.

Catholic reaction in Bohemia begins

Foundation of the Dutch West India Company.

Thomas Mun’s mission to the East.


January. The Milan Articles.

May. Victory of Tilly at Wimpfen.

June. Defeat of Christian of Halberstadt at Hochst.

September. Treaty of Lindau establishes Austrian power in the Grisons and the Valtelline.

October. Huguenot Peace of Montpellier.

Truce between Sweden and Poland. January.

1632 Meeting of German Princes at Ratisbon.

Duke Maximilian invested with the Palatine electorate.

February. Opening of the Lower Saxon War.

Treaty of Paris between France, Venice, and Savoy.

Removal of the Bibliotheca Palatina from Heidelberg to Rome.

March.. Prince Charles and Buckingham in Spain.

August. Election of Pope Urban VIII.

Battle of Stadtlohn.

Bethlen Gabor again invades the Austrian dominions.

December. Spanish Marriage treaty broken off.

Dutch commercial treaty with Persia.

1624 .March. Dutch expedition to Bahia. .

April. Richelieu becomes Chief Minister in France.

November. Marriage treaty between England and France.

Nov.-Dec. French occupation of the Valtelline.

The “Massacre at Amboina.”

1625. March. Death of James I of England and accession of Charles I.

April. Accession of Frederick Henry of Nassau, Prince of Orange.

May Christian IV od Danmarck intervenes in the Thirty Years War

June. Capture of Breda by Spinola.

Meeting of the first Parliament of Charles I.

October. Anglo-Dutch treaty against Spain.

English expedition to Cadiz.

Re-opening of the war between Sweden and Poland.

French colony at Cayenne founded.

1625 January. Outbreak of insurrection in Upper Austria.

February. Meeting of the second Parliament of Charles I.

March. Treaty of Monzon between France and Spain. The Valtelline under the protection of France and Spain.

April. Mansfeld and Wallenstein at the Dessau Bridge.

June Death of Christian, late of Halberstadt.

August. Battle of Lutter. November. Death of Mansfeld.

Marriage of Charles I and Henrietta Maria.

August. Battle of Lutter

NOvember. Death of Mansfel

December. French Assembly of Notables.

Peace of Pressburg between the Emperor and Bethlen Gabor.

Incorporation of the French “ Company for the Islands of America.”

French West African Company founded.

1627 June. Buckingham’s expedition to Re.

December. Death of Vincent II, Duke of Mantua. Imperial occupation of Jutland and Schleswig.

Swedish South Sea Company founded.

1627-8 Dutch exploration of the northern coast of Australia.

1628 January. Suedo-Danish Treaty.

March. Meeting of the third Parliament of Charles I.

May-June. The Petition of Right.

May-July. Siege of Stralsund.

October. Capitulation of La Rochelle.

1628-31 The Mantuan War.

March. The Edict of Restitution. 

The French occupy Susa. Relief of Casale.

Dissolution of English Parliament. Imprisonment of Eliot &c.

June. Submission of the French Huguenots.

Peace of Lubeck.

September. Truce of Altmark between Sweden and Poland.

The Act of Revocation of Scottish Church lands.

The Massachusetts Charter granted.

1630. May. French occupation of Savoy.

June. Landing of Gustavus in Pomerania.

July. The Ratisbon Kurfiirstentag assembles.

,, Death of Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy.

September. Dismissal of Wallenstein.

Dutch expedition to Pernambuco.

1631. January. Treaty of Barwalde between France and Sweden.

April. Dutch Acte de Survivance.

  May. Destruction of Magdeburg.

July. Mary de’ Medici leaves France.

September. Battle of Breitenfeld.

December. Gustavus at Mainz.

1632. April. Reappointment of Wallenstein.

May. Gustavus at Munich.

June. Gaston of Orleans in Lorraine. Execution of Montmorency.

July. Appointment of Wentworth as Deputy in Ireland.

November. Battle of Lutzen and death of Gustavus Adolphus. Accession of Christina.

Foundation of the Academy at Amsterdam.

1633. April. Alliance of Heilbronn. .

August. French occupation of Lorraine. Laud appointed Archbishop of Canterbury.

Death of the Infanta Isabel Clara Eugenia.

English settlements on the Bengal coasts.

Condemnation of Galileo.

Publication of Donne’s Poems.

1634. February. Assassination of Wallenstein.

Aug.-Sept. The Frankfort Convention.

September. Battle of Nordlingen.

October. Levy of ship-money in England.

Treaties of Cherasco close the Mantuan War.

November. Franco-Swedish Treaty of Paris.

The French Academy constituted.

Foundation of the English proprietary colony of Maryland.

1634-5 The Worms Convention.

1635   April. Franco-Swedish Treaty of Compiegne.

May. War declared between France and Spain.

Peace of Prague.

French occupation of the Valtelline.

Alliance between France and the United Provinces.

French settlement of Martinique and Guadeloupe.

1636. March. Treaty of Wismar between France and Sweden.

June. Relief of Hanau.

July. Invasion of France. (Johann von Werth.)

October. Battle of Wittstock.

  Foundation of the Academy at Utrecht.

Corneille’s Le Cid.

1636- 45 Anthoni van Diemen Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies.

1637 February. Death of Ferdinand II. Accession of Ferdinand III.

March. The French driven from the Valtelline.

July. Introduction of “ Laud’s Liturgy” into Scotland.

October. Compact between Bernard of Weimar and the French Crown.

rederick Henry takes Breda.

1637- 8 Trial of John Hampden.

1637-44 Joan Maurice of Nassau Governor-General in Dutch Brazil.

1638 March. Renewal of the Franco-Swedish alliance.

May. Fight at Witten weier.

  Death of Jansenius.

Aug.-Dec. Siege of Breisach.

November. Meeting of the General Assembly in Glasgow. The Scottish National Covenant.

Swedish colony on the Delaware. .

1639. March-June. The first Bishops’ War closed by the Treaty of Berwick.

July. Death of Bernard of Weimar.

September. Peace of Milan. The Valtelline restored to the Grey Leagues.

October. The Bernardines taken into the service of France.

Battle of the Downs. Tromp destroys the Spanish fleet.

1640. April. Meeting of the Short Parliament.

July-Aug. The second Bishops’ War. The Council of Peers at York.

Negotiations at Ripon.

November. Meeting of the Long Parliament.

Nov.-Dec. Strafford and Laud impeached.

Revolt of Portugal. The Duke of Braganza proclaimed King

John IV.

December. Accession of the Elector Frederick William of Brandenburg,

Foundation of Fort St George by the British.

Dissertatio de ratione status in Imperio Romano-Germanico published.

1640-1 Sept.-Oct. Diet of Ratisbon.

1640-2 Revolt of Catalonia.

1641 January. The Portuguese surrender Malacca to the Dutch.

May. Execution of Strafford.

Death of Banér.

June. Treaty between Portugal and the United Provinces.

October. Outbreak of the Irish rebellion.

November. The Grand Remonstrance.

1641. Descartes’ Meditationes de prima philosophia.

January. Impeachment of the Five Members of the House of Commons.

July-Aug. Opening of the Civil War in England.

September. Conspiracy of Cinq-Mars.

October. Battle of Edgehill.

November. Torstensson’s victory at Breitenfeld.

Roussillon conquered by France.

December. Death of Richelieu.

1642-4 War between the Pope and the northern Italian States.

Voyage of Abel Tasman.

1643 January. Fall of Olivares.

April. Breakdown of the “Treaty of Oxford.“

May. Death of Louis XIII. Anne of Austria Regent. Mazarin Chief Minister.

Beginnings of the Fronde.

Battle of Rocroi.

Meeting of the Scottish Convention of Estates.

  Battle of Ardwalton Moor.

July. Opening of the Westminster Assembly.

Surrender of Bristol

September. First battle of Newbury.

The Solemn League and Covenant.

December. Swedish invasion of Denmark.

Death of Pym.

1644 January. The Scots enter England.

Reduction of Jutland by Torstensson.

July. Death of Pope Urban VIII.

Battle of Marston Moor.

August. Battles near Freiburg in the Breisgau.

September. The French seize the line of the Rhine.

Election of Pope Innocent X.

October. Second battle of Newbury.

Descartes’ Principia Philosophiae.

1645January. Execution of Laud.

Jan.-Feb. The Uxbridge negotiations.

March. Battle of Jankau.

April. The Self-Denying Ordinance. Formation of the New Model army.

Peace Congress opens at Munster and Osnabruck.

Treaty between France and Rakoczy.

May. Battle of Herbsthausen.

Battle or Naseby

March. Battle of Jankau.

August. Treaty of Bromsebro between Sweden and Denmark.

Battle of Kilsyth.

Battle of Allerheim near Nordlingen.

September. Battle of Philiphaugh.

November. Arrival of Rinuccini at Kilkenny.

1646, March. Articles of Peace between Charles I and the Irish Catholics.

May. Charles I surrenders to the Scots.

June. Fall of Oxford.

July. Turenne and Wrangel invade Bavaria.

August. End of the first Civil War in England.

October. French capture of Dunkirk.

1647 January. Surrender of Charles I by the Scots to the English Commissioners.

March. Death of Frederick Henry of Orange. Accession of William II. July.

July. “ Heads of the Proposals.”

October. The “Agreement of the People.”

November. Charles I at Carisbrooke Castle. Foundation of the Swedish African Company.

1647-8 July-Feb. Revolt of Naples. Masaniello.

1648 January. Vote of No Addresses.

Peace of Munster between Spain and the Dutch.

February. Death of Christian IV of Denmark.

April-May. Opening of the second Civil War in England.

May. The Parliamentary Fronde begins.

June-Aug. Siege and fall of Colchester.

July. The Scottish invasion of England. August. Battle of Preston.

Sept.-Oct. The “Treaty of Newport.

October. The Declaration of Saint-Germain registered.

The Peace of Westphalia signed at Munster and Osnabriick. “

December. “Pride’s Purge.”

1649. January. Trial and execution of Charles I.

Catholic-Royalist Treaty of Kilkenny.

Turenne joins the rebellion.


End of the formal sessions of the Westminster Assembly.

Charles II proclaimed in Scotland.

Abolition of the House of Lords and of the English Kingship.

April. Treaty of Rueil between the French Court and the rebels.

August. Battle of Rathmines.

September. Storming of Drogheda by Cromwell.

Descartes’ Le Traité des passions de l’ame.

1650.January. Arrest of Condé.

February. Death of Descartes.

May. Execution of Montrose.

September. Battle of Dunbar.

Bordeaux surrenders to the King.

November. Death of William II of Orange.

1651- Mazarin leaves France. Release of the Princes.

September . Battle of Worcester.

Condé allies himself with Spain.

The first English Navigation Act.

Antoni van Riebeek founds Cape Colony.

1652. May. Articles of Kilkenny.

June. Outbreak of the first Anglo-Dutch War.

August. “Act for the Settling of Ireland.”

September. Blake’s victory off the Kentish Knock.

October. Return of Louis XII to Paris

November. Blake’s defeat off Dungeness.

1653. February. Naval action between Blake and Tromp off Portland.

Final return of Mazarin to France.

June. Monck’s victory off the Gabbard.

July. Monck’s victory off the Texel.

John de Witt Pensionary of Holland

December. The “ Instrument of Government.” Oliver Cromwell Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland.

1654. March. End of the Fronde.

April. Peace between England and Holland.

April-July. Commercial treaties between England and Sweden, England and Denmark, and England and Portugal.

June. Abdication of Queen Christina of Sweden. Accession of Charles X Gustavus.

October. Blake’s expedition to the Mediterranean.

December. Expedition of Penn and Venables to Hispaniola.

Successful revolt of Brazil against Dutch dominion.

1655. May. Capture of Jamaica.

July. Charles X invades Poland.

August. The scheme of Major-Generals adopted.

October. Treaty of Westminster between England and France.

1656. January. The first of Pascal’s Lettres Provinciales.

July. Battle of Warsaw.

Battle of Valenciennes.

September. Alliance of England and France against Spain.

Treaties of Konigsberg, Marienburg, and Labiau between Sweden and Bran­denburg.

The Vaudois persecution.

1657. March. Treaty of Paris between England and France.

March-May. “The Humble Petition and Advice.”

April. Death of Ferdinand III.

Blake’s destruction of the Spanish silver-fleet at Santa Cruz.

July. Swedish invasion of Denmark

September. Treaty of Wehlau between Brandenburg and Poland.

1658. February. Peace of Roeskilde between Sweden and Denmark.

Austro-Brandenburg alliance against Sweden.

May-June. Anglo-French siege of Dunkirk.

June. Battle of the Dunes.

July. Election of the Emperor Leopold I.

August. The Rheinbund.

Opening of the second Danish War of Charles X of Sweden.

September. Death of Oliver Cromwell. Richard proclaimed Protector.

1659. May. Reassembling of the remnants of the Long Parliament.

Abdication of Richard Cromwell.

November. Treaty of the Pyrenees.

1660. February. Death of Charles X of Sweden.

Monck appointed Captain-General of the British forces.

Milton’s Ready and easy way to establish a free Commonwealth.

March. Dissolution of the Long Parliament.

April. Lambert’s rising in England.

Meeting of the Convention Parliament.

May. The Declaration of Breda.

Peace of Oliva between Sweden, Brandenburg and Poland.

The Restoration of the English Monarchy and return of Charles II.

June. Treaty of peace at Copenhagen between Denmark and Sweden.

Marriage of Louis XIV and Maria Teresa.

1661. February. Peace between France and Lorraine.

March. Death of Mazarin.

June. Treaty at Kardis between Sweden and Russia.

1662. Death of Pascal.

1664. French West African Company merged into the French West India Company.

1665. Death of Philip IV of Spain.

1670. Publication of Pascal’s Pensées.