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 Cal-vinism 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 (1618-1625)
In 1617, the Bohemian Diet elected Ferdinand of Styria as king of Bohemia. Ferdinand, a member 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 alarmedBohemian Calvinists, who feared the loss of their religious rights. In May 1618, the Calvinist revolt began when the rebels threw two Catholic members of the Bohemian royal council from a window some seventy feet above the ground. Both councillors fell into a pile of manure, and suffered only minor injuries. This incident became known as theDefenestration of Prague.
Emperor Ferdinand II won thesupport 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 at the 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 and Catholic victory.
The Danish Period (1625-1629)
The Danish period of the conflict began when King Christian IV (r. 1588-1648), the Lutheran ruler 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 an independent army of 50,000. The combined forces of Wallenstein and Tilly defeated Christian in 1626 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 aCalvinist. The German 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 pledged not to intervene further in German affairs. The Danish period of the war, like the Bohemian period, thus ended with a Hapsburg and Catholic victory.
The Swedish Period (1630-1635)
The Catholicvictories alarmed Protestants almost everywhere. The victories of the emperor endangered the independence of the German princes, while the French Bourbons were concerned about the growth of Hapsburg power.
The newProtestant leader became King Gustavus Adolphus (r. 1611-1632) of Sweden. In the summer of 1630, the Swedes moved into Germany. Later in the year, France and Sweden signed an alliance,and France entered the war against the Hapsburgs.
The Thirty Years' War had begun primarily as a German conflict over religious issues. The conflict now became a wider European war, fought mainly over political issues, as Catholic France and Protestant Sweden joined forces against the Catholic Hapsburgs.
During the early stages of the conflict, the Swedes won several notable victories.Tilly, the imperial commander, fell in battle in 1632.
Emperor Ferdinand II called on Wallenstein to form a new army. In November 1632, at the Battle of Lutzen, the Swedes defeated Wallenstein, but Gustavus Adolphus was killed in the fighting.
When Wallenstein entered into secret negotiations with Sweden and France, he was assassinated a few days later. The emperor's army decisively defeated...