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Drawe, Hermann - Dreißigjähriger Krieg (25/25)
Dreispitz Drawe, Hermann - Dreißigjähriger Krieg

Dreißigjähriger Krieg

Thirty Years' War: a conflict involving religious groups, Estates and states waged in Germany and Bohemia from 1618 to 1648. Austrian territories were affected from 1618 to 1620, from 1645 to 1646 and in 1647. The conflict, which began in 1608/09 between the Protestant Union and the Catholic League was one of the underlying causes, the uprising of the Bohemian Estates against the Habsburgs being the immediate cause. Four phases of the war can be distinguished:

a) The Bohemian War 1618-1620: On May 23, 1618, members of the Protestant Estates of Bohemia threw the imperial regents and their secretary out of the windows of Prague Castle [the "Defenestration of Prague"]. In the autumn the Protestants began a campaign against Austria, which was repeated the following year. After the death of Emperor Matthias on March 20, 1619, Archduke Ferdinand of Styria, who from 1617 was also King of Bohemia, became his successor. Part of the Protestant Estates of Upper Austria and Lower Austria joined the Bohemian Estates, although these deposed Ferdinand II and elected Friedrich V, the Elector Palatine, as the new king of Bohemia. With the help of the Catholic League, Ferdinand's troops were victorious at the Battle of the White Mountain near Prague on November 8, 1620, and thus ended the uprising. They also drove back the troops of Behlen Gábor, who were approaching from Transylvania. The consequences were severe: a large number of dispossessions in Bohemia, Moravia and in parts of Austria, large estates were given to the members of the nobility who were loyal to the emperor, continuation of the Counter-Reformation and the introduction of Absolutism.

b) The Lower-Saxony / Danish War 1625-1629: After the army of the Catholic League under Count J. T. Tilly had devastated the Palatinate and after the right to elect the Emperor had been transferred to Bavaria in 1623, Tilly's army was joined by a mercenary imperial army under the command of A. von Wallenstein. Together they invaded northern Germany, which prompted the Danish King Christian IV to enter the war. After a series of defeats and the Peace of Lübeck of May 12, 1629, Denmark was forced to abstain from any intervention in the Empire. According to the Edict of Restitution of March 6, 1629, the Protestants were to return all church property that had been taken since 1552. In 1630 the Electors forced Ferdinand II to dismiss Wallenstein.

c) Swedish War 1630-1635: In 1630, King Gustav II Adolf of Sweden landed in Northern Germany to break Imperial control of the Baltic region, and in 1632 reached Augsburg and Munich, threatening the Habsburg lands. Wallenstein now was re-appointed as commander of the imperial army. He drove back the Swedes, and Gustav Adolf died on November 16, 1632 in the Battle of Lützen. However, Wallenstein, who had been negotiating with the enemy, was assassinated on the order of the Emperor in Eger (today Cheb, Czech Republic) on February 25, 1634. After the victory of the Imperial and Spanish armies at Nördlingen on September 6, 1634, the Peace of Prague was agreed on May 30, 1635, which included the revocation of the Edict of Restitution by the Emperor.

d) Franco-Swedish War 1635-1648: In this phase, state interests predominated over confessional issues, but no side was victorious. In the years 1645/1646, the Swedes invaded the northern part of Lower Austria, getting as far as the vicinity of Vienna, and also occupied part of Vorarlberg in 1647. The war ended where it had begun, in Bohemia. On October 24, 1648, Ferdinand III signed the Peace of Westphalia - in Münster with France, and in Osnabrück with Sweden.

For the Habsburg lands south of the Danube the war did not bring any losses, and even brought some economic gains. The Habsburgs subsequently concentrated on the development of their lands, brought the Counter Reformation to its conclusion and laid the basis for the rise of the Baroque period.

Literature: G. Schormann, Der Dreißigjährige Krieg, 1985; K. Gutkas, Niederösterreich im Dreißgjährigen Krieg, 1987.

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