The Thirty Years War
Hussites (followers of John Hus)
A. von Wallenstein 1583-1643
Gustavus Adolphus d. 1632
30 yrs war—kings and princes act by their own interests, and brought
their countries and people into disaster. The result of the war was the
Peace of Westphalia, it not only ended the war, but also introduced
ideologies that dominated the 2 half of the 17 century. France became
the most powerful country, it also introduced the concept of general
peace treaty, and collective security.
The rise of Lutheranism in HRE resulted in wars and battles for centuries
between Protestants and Catholics; the peace of Augsburg allowed the
prince to decide the religion of his people, and it worked. This worked
because it provided a temporary means to solve problems, but it is simple
minded, and finally became a serious of bloody wars.
The war began with the name of religion, but entered in to the war for
power—which state is the most powerful one.
The war began in the kingdom of Bohemia in 1618, in the later 30 yrs,
almost every country in Europe was involved.
In 1609, the holy roman emperor Rudolf had promised toleration to the
Hussites, the proto-Protestants of Bohemia.
Bohemia was a kingdom attached to Habsburg crown.
Basically, the Habusburg empire was the result of very clever marriage,
when the original family died out, the Habusburg inherited the crown.
This happened to Bohemia, which means that the HRE, by this time who
was always a member of the house of Habusburg was not only the holy
roman emperor, but also the king of Bohemia, king of Hungary, etc.
In 1617, things began to change.
Ferdinand was the brother of Rudolf, and he was the next king of
Bohemia after Rudolf. He was a Roman Catholic, he refused to rule
anywhere not Catholic, so he forced Bohemians to practice Catholic.
The Bohemians (essentially the Czech Republic today) rebelled because
they refused to give up their religion, also the political tradition in Bohemian was to elect the king rather than inheritage. The bohemian
nobles not like this new emperor, refused Ferdinand to be the king.
They find someone else to be the king—Frederick.
Frederick accepted the invitation and became the king of Bohemia.
Ferdinand could not agree with it at all. If he agreed with Bohemian
people to choose his own king, it would be possible that other territories
also choose their own kings who may not be Habsburg. So, the only way
was to invade Bohemia and forced the completeness of Habusburg crown.
There were negotiations first, but Bohemian people didn’t like it, and they
throw the ambassador out of the window—defenestration.
The ambassador survived, but was mad—the only solution is war.
Because of the religious nature of this, and the ambition of Habusburg to
centralize the territory, many states of Europe sent support to Bohemia.
However, Habusburg was hard to defeat—it was close to rich natural
resources, the Catholic kings and princes of Europe sent support,
especially the member of Habusburg family—the king of Spain.
Spain: money came from the new world, the army was sent, and the
result was a war between Hussites Bohemians and Catholic Habusburg.
In 1620 the two forces met, and the protestants were very seriously
The result was that the Habusburg was in charge of Bohemia again.
Protestants officers were replaced by Catholic ones; Frederick was out of
the picture; the Catholic nobles then elected Ferdinand to be the king.
Ferdinand didn’t intend this, he intended the total abolish of protestants
in the whole Habusburg lands.
By the end of 1620, Ferdinand was fully in charge, and Protestantism was
destroyed. Habusburg power was now virtually unchallengeable in the
German speaking world.
Other territories around the Habusburg territories in Germany, however,
were afraid of the centralization of power.
Habusburg crushed the army formed by Denmark to challenge its power,
but the victory was achieved almost solely by A. von Wallenstein.
A. von Wallenstein was a brilliant careerist, and a opportunist. He was
able to form private army so powerful that it became the instrument of
the Habsburg. The army made up professional soldiers from every country—Scotland,
Spain, etc. They were loyal only to Wallenstein—it was not a national
army, but a private one. The army was to be paid by anything they could
get—Wallenstein said he was not going to stop the soldiers from taking
anything, people, crop, animals, etc. It was no diff that you are a soldier
or a peasant, you suffer equally.
Total war was the new model. And Wallenstein’s army introduced total
war to Europe.
With Wallenstein’s army, Ferdinand eventually declared victory over all of
the Protestant powers over northern Germany.
With the victory, Ferdinand again overreached. In 1629 he demanded all
Roman catholic properties taken by Protestants since 1552 would all have
to be returned to Roman Catholic church.
Afraid of this new power from Habsburg, the prices of Germany
demanded in 1630 that Ferdinand get rid of Wallenstein—they did not like
him, and they feared Wallenstein’s army.
Wallenstein was fired, and was suppose to dissolve the army.
The German princes said, unless Ferdinand get rid of Wallenstein, they
would not elect his son as the next Holy Roman Emperor.
(Holy Roman Emperor was elected by the 7 electors of princes of
So they fired Wallenstein, and it was a mistake.
Protestants powers and many Catholic powers were afraid, and the only
way was to stop Ferdinand.
France was a catholic power, and was very afraid. France was lead by the
chief minister of Henry 13 Richelieu.
Richelieu decided to give huge subsidies to Protestants king of Sweden.
In 1631, the king of Sweden, Gustavus Adolphus—he was