The Thirty Years


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The Thirty Years' Wars 1618-1648 The Origins of the Conflict The Peace of Augsburg of 1555 had brought a temporary truce in the religious connict in the German states. This settle-ment had recognized only Lutherans and Roman Catholics, but Calvinism had subsequently made gains in a number of states. The Calvinists began to demand recognition of their rights. The Thirty Years' War began, however, as a direct result of a conflict in the Hapsburg-ruled Kingdom of Bohemia. The Bohemian Period (1618-
  The Thirty Years' Wars 1618-1648     The Origins of the Conflict  The Peace of  Augsburg of  1555 had brought a temporary truce in the religious connict in theGerman states. This settle-ment had recognized only Lutherans and Roman Catholics, but Cal-vinism had subsequently made gains in a number of states. The Calvinists began to demandrecognition of their rights. The Thirty Years' War began, however, as a direct result of a conflictin the Hapsburg-ruled Kingdom of Bohemia. The Bohemian Period (1618-1625)In 1617, the Bohemian Diet elected Ferdinand of Styria as king of Bohemia. Ferdinand, amember of the Hapsburg family, became Holy Roman emperor two years later, as Ferdinand II (r.1619-1637). He was an ardent supporter of the Catholic cause.Ferdinand's election alarmed Bohemian Calvinists, who feared the loss of their religious rights.In May 1618, the Calvinist revolt began when the rebels threw two Catholic members of theBohemian royal council from a window some seventy feet above the ground. Both councillorsfell into a pile of manure, and suffered only minor injuries. This incident became known asthe Defenestration of  Prague .Emperor Ferdinand II won the support of Maximilian I (1573-1651) of Bavaria, the leader of Catholic League. Troops of the Holy Roman Empire and Bavari commanded by Baron Tilly(1559-1632), invaded Bohemia. Tilly won a decisive victory over the forces of Fredreick V atthe Battle of  White Mountain, near Prague. Frederick fled to Holland.Emperor Ferdinand II regained the Bohemian throne, Maximilian of Bavaria acquired thePalatinate. The Bohemian phase of the Thirty Years' War thus ended with a Hapsburg andCatholic victory. The Danish Period (1625-1629)The Danish period of the conflict began when King Christian IV (r. 1588-1648), the Lutheranruler of Denmark supported the Protestants in 1625 against Ferdinand II.King Christian was also the duke of  Holstein and a prince of the Holy Roman Empire.Ferdinand secured the assistance of Albrecht von Wallenstein (1583-1634), who raised anindependent army of 50,000. The combined forces of Wallenstein and Tilly defeated Christian in1626 and then occupied the duchy of Holstein.Taking control of Prague, the rebels declared Ferdinand deposed and elected a new king,Frederick V (1596-1632), the elector of the Palatinate in western Germany and a Calvinist. TheGerman Protestant Union, which Frederick headed, provided some aid to the Bohemian rebels.  The Treaty of  Lubeck of 1629 restored Holstein to Christian IV, but the Danish king pledgednot to intervene further in German affairs. The Danish period of the war, like the Bohemianperiod, thus ended with a Hapsburg and Catholic victory. The Swedish Period (1630-1635)  The Catholic victories alarmed Protestants almost everywhere. The victories of the emperorendangered the independence of the German princes, while the French Bourbons were concernedabout the growth of Hapsburg power.The newProtestant leader became King Gustavus Adolphus (r. 1611-1632) of Sweden. In thesummer of 1630, the Swedes moved into Germany. Later in the year, France and Sweden signedan alliance, and France entered the war against the Hapsburgs.The Thirty Years' War had begun primarily as a German conflict over religious issues. Theconflict now became a wider European war, fought mainly over political issues, as CatholicFrance and Protestant Sweden joined forces against the Catholic Hapsburgs.During the early stages of the conflict, the Swedes won several notable victories. Tilly, theimperial commander, fell in battle in 1632.Emperor Ferdinand II called on Wallenstein to form a new army. In November 1632, atthe Battle of    Lutzen, the Swedes defeated Wallenstein, but Gustavus Adolphus was killed inthe fighting.When Wallenstein entered into secret negotiations with Sweden and France, he was assassinateda few days later. The emperor's army decisively defeated the Swedes at Nordlingen in southernGermany. The Treaty of Prague  The deaths of both Gustavus Adolphus and Wallenstein, together with the exhaustion of both theHoly Roman emperor and the German Protestant princes, brought an end to the Swedish periodof the war. The Treaty of Prague, 1635 generally strengthened the Hapsburgs and weakened thepower of the German princes. The French Period (1635 - 1648)  The settlement reached in the Treaty of Prague was wrecked by the French decision to intervenedirectly in the war. Cardinal Richelieu (1585-1642), the chief minister of King Louis XIII (r.161~1643) of France wanted to weaken the power of the Hapsburgs and take the province of Alsace from the Holy Roman Empire. In addition, Richelieu was plotting against Spain and itsHapsburg king, Philip IV (r. 1621-1665).Both in Germany and in the Franco-Spanish conflict, the fortunes of war fluctuated. For a time,the forces of the Holy Roman emperor, aided by King Maximilian of Bavaria and other Catholic  princes, more than held their own against the Swedes and German Protestants. France's successagainst Spain, enabled the French to send larger forces into Germany. This helped tip the balancein favor of the emperor's foes.Emperor Ferdinand II died in 1637 and was succeeded by his son, Ferdinand III (r. 1637-1657).Peace negotiations began in 1641, but made little progress until the death of Cardinal Richelieuin 1642 and the French occupation of Bavaria in 1646. The Peace of Westphalia (1648)  The Peace of Westphalia of 1648 ended the Thirty Years' War. Sweden acquired westernPomerania, Eastern Pomerania was assigned to Brandenburg. France annexed part of Alsace andsome nearby territory.The settlement formally recognized the independence of the Dutch Republic and Switzerland andgranted the German states the right to make treaties and alliances, thereby further weakening theauthority of the Holy Roman emperor.In religious affairs, the Peace of Westphalia expanded the Peace of Augsburg to includeCalvinists, as well as Catholics and Lutherans.The Peace of Westphalia ended the Holy Roman emperor's hope of restoring both his own powerand the Catholic faith throughout the empire. The empire was now fragmented into a number of virtually independent states.The end of the Thirty Years' War left Hapsburg Spain isolated.The French war against Spain continued until 1659, when the Treaty of the Pyrenees awardedFrance part of the Spanish Netherlands and some territory in northern Spain. King Philip IV of Spain agreed to the marriage of his daughter Maria Theresa to King Louis XIV (r. 1643-1715) of France.Together, the Peace of Westphalia and the Treaty of the Pyrenees established France as thepredominant power on the European continent.
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