Thirty Years War, The
Thirty Years War, the a German political and, religious conflict, was not properly one war, but rather an uninterrupted succession of wars (1618-48), in Germany. Austria, most of the Catholic princes of Germany, and Spain were engaged on one side throughout, but against different antagonists.
1. Causes of the War. —For the influences which led to this struggle we must look back to the 16th century, when Germany was divided into two parties by the Reformation. Under Maurice of Saxony, Protestantisms became triumphant, and by the Peace of Augsburg(1555) each State was allowed to prescribe the form of worship within its bounds, and subjects were allowed to move from those states where their worship was prohibited to those in which it was not. There still remained many unsettled questions which provoked strife.. To guard against the future appropriation of prelacies. by Protestants, the Catholic party, against the protest of the Lutheran members of the diet, inserted an article by which all prelates who should thereafter abjure Catholicism were to forfeit their benefices. Another matter of dispute was the desire to secure for Protestants the right of worship in Catholic states. The Catholics refused to admit such an article, and all that could be gained was a personal declaration to 'this effect from the emperor's brother, Ferdinand, who presided over the diet at Augsburg. Under the reign of Maximilian (1564-76) Protestantism spread in Bohemia, Hungary, and Austria proper; but under his successor, Rudolf II (1576-1612), there was a reaction. Swayed by the Jesuits and the court of Spain, he proceeded to restrict, and even to abolish, Protestant worship.
2. First Stage of the War. —Thoroughly aroused, the Protestant princes formed the Evangelical Union at Anhausen, in Franconia, May 4, 1608, under the lead of the elector-palatine, Frederick-IV. The rival union of the Catholic powers, under the leadership of the duke of Bavaria, followed, July 11, 1609. The Bohemians had forced from Rudolf an edict of toleration (Majesttsbrief), July 11, 1609, which guaranteed them religious liberty; but his successor, Matthias, having signed it upon his accession, appointed his cousin Ferdinand of Styria his heir. Ferdinand, educated by the Jesuits, had taken an oath to exterminate Protestantism from his kingdom; and immediately upon: his accession, in 1617, persecutions began. Two Protestant churches, in Klostergraben and Braunau, having been pulled down, a lawsuit was instituted, and decided in favor of the Roman Catholic authorities. An appeal to the emperor only elicited a harsh reply, which aroused the Protestants, who, under the leadership of count Thurn, penetrated into the Castle of Prague (May 23,1618), threw the imperial councilors out of the window, and organized a general rising. They routed the imperial troops, and actually besieged the emperor in Vienna. Frederick, whose sole allies were Bohemians, Moravians, Hungarians, and a Piedmontese contingent of 3000, was opposed by a well-appointed army of 30,000 under duke Maximilian, and totally routed at Weissenberg, Nov. 8, 1620. The military operations of count Mansfeld and Christian of Brunswick, and the forced cession of large portions of Hungary and Transylvania to Bethlem Gabor, did much to equalize the success of the antagonistic parties.
3. Second Stage of the War. —The fearful tyranny of Ferdinand over all the Protestants in his dominions, Hungary excepted, drove them to despair, and prolonged the war. Christian IV of Denmark, smarting under some. injuries inflicted upon him by the emperor, and aided by a British subsidy, came to the relief of his German coreligionists in 1624. Holland aided with troops, and Christian of Brunswick and Mansfeld reappeared in the field. In April, 1626, Mansfeld's army was nearly annihilated by Wallenstein at Dessau, while in August Tilly overwhelmed the king of Denmark at Lutter. This victory was followed up by Wallenstein, who drove the Danes into Jutland and extended his operations to the Baltic. Christian IV was compelled by the Peace of Lubeck, May 22, 1629, to withdraw altogether from the contest. Here, again, the war might have ended; but Ferdinand, on March 6, 1629, issued the Edict of Restitution, ordering that all ecclesiastical estates secularized since 1552 should be returned to the Church, and all immediate sees held by Protestants transferred to Roman Catholic prelates. Brandenburg, Saxony, Hesse, Magdeburg, and other states protested, but the edict was carried out by force in all the imperial cities; and Tilly was ordered to move northward and crush every attempt at resistance. At this juncture Gustavus Adolphus came to the rescue of German Protestantism, and thus began the
4. Third Stage of the War. —Gustavus landed on the island of Usedom, in June, 1630, and drove away the imperial garrisons from Pomerania and Mecklenburg, where he reinstated the expelled princes. He then formed alliances with Hesse, Saxe -Weimar, Magdeburg, and France; and was afterwards joined by the electors of Brandenburg and Saxony. With these last allies he joined battle with Tilly at Breitenfeld, Sept. 17, 1631, and nearly annihilated his army. Defeating Tilly the second time, April 15, 1632, on the Lech, Gustavus and Frederick V entered Munich. Wallenstein was recalled; and, after a few months waiting, the battle of Ltitzen was fought, Nov. 16, 1632, in which Gustavus fell, but Wallenstein was defeated. The death of Gustavus Adolphus was a severe blow to the Protestants, though the genius and indefatigable zeal of his chancellor, Oxenstierna, and the superior ability of the Swedish generals, preserved the advantages they had gained, till the crushing defeat of Bernard of Weimar at Nordlingen, Sept. 6,1634, restored to the emperor a preponderating influence in Germany. Saxony now made peace at Prague, May 30, 1635, obtaining such satisfactory terms for the Lutherans that the treaty was, within three months, adhered to by all the princes of that sect. The Calvinists were left to their fate. Sweden, however, resolved to continue the struggle, and Oxenstierna propitiated Richelieu by giving him the direction of the war. Baner led the Swedes into Germany, and won the great battle of Wittstock. Sept. 24,1636. Upon his death, in 1641, he was succeeded by Torstensson, who made the Swedish arms a terror throughout Germany. Cond and Turenne led the French to victory over the leaguers on the Rhine, until at last the emperor was deserted by all his allies except the duke of Bavaria, whose territories were already mostly in the hands of Turenne and Wrarigel. Preliminaries had been arranged for negotiations as early as 1641, but it was not until Oct. 24, 1648, that the Peace of Westphalia was concluded at Minster.
5. Results of the War. — These, ecclesiastically considered, were that the possession of the ecclesiastical benefices was placed on the basis of Jan. 1, 1624; and in the case of the Palatinate, Baden, Durlach, and Würtemberg, the Catholics were obliged to accept 1618 as the normal year. An age of greater toleration was introduced into Germany. In all religious questions the Protestants secured an equality with the Catholics, and gained equal weight in the diet and high courts of the empire. The Peace of Westphalia terminated the religious wars of Europe, and thus became an important landmark in its history. SEE WESTPHALIA. PEACE OF.
For literature of the Thirty Years War, see Cust. Lives of the Warriors of the Thirty Years War (Lond. 1865); Ranke, Geschichte Wallezsteins (Leips. 1869) ; Stieve, Ursprung des dreissigjaihrigen Kieges (Munich, 1875),: vol. 1; and similar sketches by Menzel (Breslau, 183539, 3 vols.), Flathe (1840), Mebold (1840), Barthold (1842), Heilman (1851), Klopp (1861), Hausser (1862), Gindely (Prague, 1869), Gardner (Lond. 1874).