Thirty Years' War

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Thirty Years' War
Part of the European wars of religion
The Hanging by Jacques Callot.jpg
Les Grandes Misères de la guerre
(The Great Miseries of the War) by Jacques Callot, 1632
Date23 May 1618 – 15 May 1648
(29 years, 11 months, 3 weeks, and 1 day)
Europe (primarily present-day Germany)

Peace of Westphalia
Habsburg pre-eminence in Europe curtailed

Eradication of Protestantism in much of the Habsburg Monarchy[note 3]
Shift from religious to dynastic wars;
Confirmation of Dutch independence and Swedish control of the Baltic [1]

Anti-Imperial alliance:
Bohemia Bohemian Crown (until 1620)
Palatinate (until 1632)
 Dutch Republic (from 1619)
Denmark–Norway Denmark–Norway (1625–29)[note 1]
Sweden Sweden (from 1630)
 Saxony (1630–1635)[note 2]
Brandenburg-Prussia (1631–1635)[note 2]
 Brunswick-Lüneburg (from 1634)
 France (from 1635)

Imperial alliance
 Habsburg Monarchy
Spain Spanish Empire

Commanders and leaders
  • 149,000 Swedes (1632)[note 4]
  • 38,000 Danes (1626)[6]
  • 120,000 French (1635)[7]
  • 77,000 Dutch (1629)[8]
  • 6,000 Transylvanians[9]
  • Other smaller forces
Casualties and losses
Total military dead: 700,000–1,200,000 (mostly from disease)
Total civilian dead: 3,500,000–6,500,000[12]

The Thirty Years' War was primarily fought in Central Europe between 1618 and 1648. Estimates of the total number of military and civilian deaths which resulted from it range from 4.5 to 8 million, the vast majority of the deaths resulted from disease or starvation. In some areas of Germany up to 20% of the population died.

Generally presented as a German religious conflict, this view of the war changed in 1938 when historian CV Wedgwood argued that it was part of a wider, ongoing European struggle, with the Habsburg-Bourbon conflict at its centre. This is now the generally accepted view; related conflicts included the 1568 to 1648 Eighty Years War, the 1635 to 1659 Franco-Spanish War, the 1629 to 1631 War of the Mantuan Succession, and the 1640 to 1668 Portuguese Restoration War.[13]

The conflict can be split into two main phases. The first, from 1618 to 1635, was primarily a religious civil war, in which Emperor Ferdinand II tried to undermine the 1555 Peace of Augsburg, which had resolved disputes between German Protestants and Catholics. The second, from 1635 until 1648, was a continuation of the French–Habsburg rivalry, focused on Austrian attempts to re-assert central authority over the Holy Roman Empire.[14]

It began with the 1618 Bohemian Revolt, driven by fears over the erosion of Protestant rights under Ferdinand II, a devout Catholic, and expanded when the Bohemian Estates offered the Crown of Bohemia to Frederick of the Palatinate. Until 1621, most of the Empire saw it as a local dispute, and the revolt was soon suppressed; however, its strategic implications drew in external powers, including the Dutch Republic and Spain.

When Frederick refused to admit defeat, Spanish-Imperial forces invaded the Palatinate, stripped him of his titles and forced him into exile. Removal of a hereditary prince by the Emperor changed the nature of the war by threatening the rights of other rulers within the Empire. This included external powers who held Imperial territories, among them Christian IV of Denmark, who was also Duke of Holstein; in 1625, he intervened in Northern Germany but after some initial victories withdrew in 1629.

At the highpoint of Imperial success, Ferdinand passed the Edict of Restitution, which ensured the war continued by re-asserting religious divisions. This provided an opportunity for Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, who invaded the Empire in 1630, backed by French subsidies; despite his death in 1632, Swedish forces won a series of victories until Nördlingen in September 1634.

Although defeat led most of their German allies to make peace, France now joined the war, which continued until mutual exhaustion led to the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. By weakening Spanish pre-dominance in Europe and Habsburg control over the Empire, confirming Dutch independence and increasing the status of France and Sweden, it created a new balance of power on the continent.

Structural origins[edit]

The Holy Roman Empire around 1600, superimposed over current state borders

The religious conflict between German Protestants and Catholics unleashed by the Reformation was settled by the 1555 Peace of Augsburg. Its central provision was the principle of cuius regio, eius religio, which meant each of the 224 member states was either Lutheran, the most usual form of Protestantism, or Catholic, based on the choice made by their ruler. In addition, Lutherans could keep lands or property taken from the Catholic Church since the 1552 Peace of Passau. While Augsburg provided a temporary solution, it failed to resolve underlying religious and political tensions within the Holy Roman Empire.[15]

After 1560, Protestants were divided by the growth of Calvinism, a Reformed faith not recognised by Augsburg, and threatened by the Counter Reformation, a Catholic attempt to regain lost ground. Rulers might share the same religion but have different economic and strategic objectives; for much of the war, the Papacy supported France against the Habsburgs. The chief agents of the Counter-Reformation were similarly split, the Jesuits generally backing Austria, the Capuchins France.[16]

Managing these issues was complicated by the fragmented nature of the Empire, a patchwork of nearly 1,800 separate entities in Germany, the Low Countries, Northern Italy, and areas like Alsace now part of modern France. They ranged in size and importance from the seven Prince-electors who voted for the Holy Roman Emperor, down to Prince-bishoprics and City-states, such as Hamburg. Each member was represented in the Imperial Diet; prior to 1663, this assembled on an irregular basis, and was primarily a forum for discussion, rather than legislation.[17]

While Emperors were elected, since 1440 this had been a Habsburg, the largest single landowner within the Empire; their lands included the Archduchy of Austria, the Kingdom of Bohemia, and the Kingdom of Hungary, with over eight million subjects. In 1556, Habsburg Spain became a separate entity, while retaining Imperial states such as the Duchy of Milan, and interests in Bohemia and Hungary; the two often co-operated, but their objectives did not always align. Then the predominant global power, the Spanish Empire included the Spanish Netherlands, much of Italy, the Philippines, and most of the Americas, while Austria remained focused on Central Europe.[18]

Before Augsburg, unity of religion compensated for lack of strong central authority; once removed, it presented opportunities for those who sought to further weaken it. This included ambitious Imperial states like Lutheran Saxony and Catholic Bavaria, as well as France, which faced Habsburg territories on its borders in Flanders, Franche-Comté, and the Pyrenees. Disputes within the Empire drew in outside powers, since many also held Imperial territories; Nassau-Dillenburg was a hereditary possession of the Dutch Prince of Orange, while Christian IV of Denmark was Duke of Holstein.[19]

Background; 1556 to 1618[edit]

Habsburg possessions in Europe, ca 1700

These tensions gradually undermined Augsburg, and paralysed institutions like the Imperial diet designed to resolve them peacefully. Occasionally it meant full-scale conflict, such as the 1583 to 1588 Cologne War, caused by the conversion to Calvinism of the Prince Elector, Gebhard Truchsess von Waldburg. More common were disputes such as the 1606 'battle of the flags' in Donauwörth, when the Lutheran majority blocked a Catholic religious procession. Emperor Rudolf approved intervention by the Catholic Maximilian of Bavaria on their behalf; he was allowed to annex Donauwörth to recover his costs, turning a Lutheran town Catholic.[20]

As a result, when the Imperial Diet opened in February 1608, the Protestants demanded formal confirmation of the Augsburg settlement, which was especially significant for Calvinists like Frederick IV, Elector Palatine who had not been included. The Habsburg Archduke Ferdinand first required the return of all property taken from the Catholic church since 1552, rather than leaving the courts to decide case by case as previously. This threatened both Lutherans and Calvinists, paralysed the Diet and removed the perception of Imperial neutrality.[21]

One outcome was the formation of the Protestant Union, led by Frederick IV and largely composed of states in Southern Germany, to which Maximilian responded by setting up the Catholic League in July 1609. While both were primarily designed to support the dynastic ambitions of their leaders, they combined with events like the 1609 to 1614 War of the Jülich Succession to increase tensions throughout the Empire.[22]

Overshadowing all of this was the struggle between Catholic Spain and the Protestant Dutch Republic; although the Dutch Revolt had been suspended in 1609 by the Twelve Years' Truce, it was clear Spain intended to restart the war once it expired. Key to their strategy was the Spanish Road, an overland route connecting Habsburg possessions in Italy to Flanders, which allowed them to move troops and supplies by road, rather than sea where the Dutch navy held the advantage. The only part not controlled by Spain ran through the Electoral Palatinate.[23]

Since Emperor Matthias had no surviving children, in July 1617 Philip III of Spain agreed to support Ferdinand's election as king of Bohemia and Hungary, in return for concessions in Northern Italy and Alsace. This did not guarantee his election as Emperor; a possible alternative was Maximilian of Bavaria, who opposed the increase of Spanish influence in an area he considered his own, and tried to create a coalition with Saxony and the Palatinate to support his candidacy.[24]

Another was Frederick V, Elector Palatine, who succeeded his father in 1610, and then in 1613 married Elizabeth Stuart, daughter of James I of England. Four of the electors were Catholic, three Protestant; if this could be changed, it might result in a Protestant Emperor. When Ferdinand was elected king of Bohemia in 1617, he gained control of its electoral vote; however, his conservative Catholicism made him unpopular with the largely Protestant Bohemian nobility, who were also concerned at the erosion of their rights. In May 1618, these factors combined to bring about the Bohemian Revolt.[25]

Phase I: 1618 to 1635[edit]

The Bohemian Revolt[edit]

Bohemian leader Count Thurn

The Jesuit educated Ferdinand once claimed he would rather see his lands destroyed than tolerate heresy for a single day. Appointed to rule the Duchy of Styria in 1595, within eighteen months he eliminated Protestantism in what had previously been a stronghold of the Reformation.[26] Focused on retaking the Netherlands, the Spanish Habsburgs preferred to avoid antagonising Protestants elsewhere, and recognised the dangers associated with Ferdinand's fervent Catholicism, but accepted the lack of alternatives.[27]

Ferdinand reconfirmed Protestant religious freedoms when elected king of Bohemia in May 1617, but his record in Styria led to the suspicion he was only awaiting a chance to overturn them. This was exacerbated by several legal disputes over property, all of which were decided in favour of the Catholic Church. In May 1618, Protestant nobles led by Count Thurn met in Prague Castle with Ferdinand's two Catholic representatives, Vilem Slavata and Jaroslav Borzita. In an event known as the Third Defenestration of Prague, the two men and their secretary Philip Fabricius were thrown out of the castle windows, although all three survived.[28]

Thurn established a new government, and the conflict expanded into Silesia and the Habsburg heartlands of Lower and Upper Austria, where much of the nobility was also Protestant. One of the most prosperous areas of the Empire, Bohemia's electoral vote was also essential to ensuring Ferdinand succeeded Matthias as Emperor, and Habsburg prestige required its recapture. Chronic financial weakness meant prior to 1619 the Austrian Habsburgs had no standing army of any size, leaving them dependent on Maximilian and their Spanish relatives for money and men.[29]

Spanish involvement inevitably drew in the Dutch, and potentially France, although the strongly Catholic Louis XIII faced his own Protestant rebels at home and refused to support them elsewhere. It also provided opportunities for external opponents of the Habsburgs, including the Ottoman Empire and Savoy. Funded by Frederick and the Duke of Savoy, a mercenary army under Ernst von Mansfeld succeeded in stabilising the Bohemian position over the winter of 1618. Attempts by Maximilian of Bavaria and John George of Saxony to broker a negotiated solution ended when Matthias died in March 1619, since it convinced many the Habsburgs were fatally damaged.[30]

Frederick V, the "Winter King", painted by Gerrit van Honthorst in 1634, two years after his death

By mid-June, the Bohemian army under Thurn was outside Vienna; Mansfeld's defeat by Spanish-Imperial forces at Sablat forced him to return to Prague, but Ferdinand's position continued to worsen.[31] Gabriel Bethlen, Calvinist Prince of Transylvania, invaded Hungary with Ottoman support, although the Habsburgs persuaded them to avoid direct involvement, helped by the outbreak of hostilities with Poland in 1620, followed by the 1623 to 1639 war with Persia.[32]

On 19 August, the Bohemian Estates rescinded Ferdinand's 1617 election as king, and on 26th, formally offered the crown to Frederick instead; two days later, Ferdinand was elected Emperor, making war inevitable if Frederick accepted. With the exception of Christian of Anhalt, his advisors urged him to reject it, as did the Dutch, the Duke of Savoy, and his father-in-law James. 17th century Europe was a highly structured and socially conservative society, and their lack of enthusiasm was due to the implications of removing a legally elected ruler, regardless of religion.[33]

As a result, although Frederick accepted the crown and entered Prague in October 1619, his support gradually eroded over the next few months. In July 1620, the Protestant Union proclaimed its neutrality, while John George of Saxony agreed to back Ferdinand in return for Lusatia, and a promise to safeguard the rights of Lutherans in Bohemia. A combined Imperial-Catholic League army funded by Maximilian and led by Count Tilly pacified Upper and Lower Austria before invading Bohemia, where they defeated Christian of Anhalt at the White Mountain in November 1620. Although the battle was far from decisive, the rebels were demoralised by lack of pay, shortages of supplies and disease, while the countryside had been devastated by Imperial troops. Frederick fled Bohemia and the revolt collapsed.[34]

The Palatinate Campaign[edit]

Ferdinand II

The war continued because Frederick refused to accept defeat, while Ferdinand was determined to re-assert Habsburg control over the empire, and neither was willing to compromise. In August 1620, a Spanish army of 25,000 occupied the Lower Palatinate to secure the Spanish Road. German Protestants had hoped to ensure peace by abandoning Frederick, Catholics to prevent outside interference by supporting Ferdinand, but both now found themselves involved in an international war in the Rhineland.[35]

Austrian financial weakness made Ferdinand dependent on mercenaries like Wallenstein and Tilly, as well as Maximilian and the Spanish, each with different objectives. Spanish chief minister Olivares saw securing the Palatinate as essential for retaking the Netherlands, and began discussions with James on restoring Frederick under Spanish protection. This would neutralise any threat from the Royal Navy and satisfy James' domestic critics, who considered his pro-Spanish policy a betrayal of the Protestant cause.[36]

Always unlikely, this plan was compromised from the start since it clashed with the October 1619 Treaty of Munich; in return for military support from the Catholic League, Ferdinand secretly agreed to transfer the Palatinate's electoral vote to Bavaria, and allow Maximilian to annex the Upper Palatinate.[37] Many Protestant rulers had refused to support Frederick because they objected to removing a legally elected king; now Ferdinand proposed to do the same, a concern that changed the nature and complexion of the war, especially when combined with his desire to re-establish the primacy of the Catholic church.[38]

Since James could not accept anything less than the full restitution of Frederick's lands and titles, it also ended Spanish hopes of reaching a negotiated peace. In April 1621, the truce with Spain ended, and the Dutch agreed to help Frederick regain his lands, with limited English support; this allowed them to pay Mansfeld for his support, but over the next eighteen months Spanish and Imperial forces under Tilly won a series of victories. By November 1622, Spain and Bavaria controlled most of the Palatinate, apart from Frankenthal, whose garrison was commanded by the English soldier Sir Horace Vere; Frederick and the remnants of Mansfeld's army took refuge in the Dutch Republic.[39]

At a meeting of the Imperial Diet in February 1623, Frederick was banished from the empire, his titles, lands and electoral vote formally transferred to Maximilian. Although the Spanish ambassador refused to attend to demonstrate their opposition, Vere's position was now hopeless, and in March 1623, James instructed him to surrender; the last significant Protestant force under Christian of Brunswick was defeated at the Battle of Stadtlohn in August, ending the campaign.[40]

Danish intervention (1625–1630)[edit]

Thirty Years' War is located in Lower Saxony
Lübeck (Holstein)
Lübeck (Holstein)
Lower Saxony

Once again the war failed to end; both Saxony and Brandenburg-Prussia were incensed by the award of Frederick's lands and vote to Bavaria, while by 1624 it was clear Ferdinand's promise to safeguard Lutheran rights in Bohemia was being ignored. This translated into wider concerns about the status of bishoprics in Lower Saxony; currently held by Lutherans, there were fears Ferdinand now intended to reclaim these for the Catholic church. The most important was the Hanseatic port of Bremen.[41]

Peace following the Imperial victory at Stadtlohn (1623) proved short-lived, with conflict resuming at the initiation of Denmark–Norway. Danish involvement, referred to as the Low Saxon War or Kejserkrigen ("the Emperor's War"),[42] began when Christian IV of Denmark, a Lutheran who also ruled as Duke of Holstein, a duchy within the Holy Roman Empire, helped the Lutheran rulers of the neighbouring principalities in what is now Lower Saxony by leading an army against the Imperial forces in 1625.[43] Denmark-Norway had feared that the recent Catholic successes threatened its sovereignty as a Protestant nation. Christian IV had also profited greatly from his policies in northern Germany. For instance, in 1621, Hamburg had been forced to accept Danish sovereignty.

Denmark-Norway's King Christian IV had obtained for his kingdom a level of stability and wealth that was virtually unmatched elsewhere in Europe.[44] Denmark-Norway was funded by tolls on the Øresund and also by extensive war reparations from Sweden.[45] Denmark-Norway's cause was aided by France, which together with Charles I, had agreed to help subsidize the war, not the least because Christian was a blood uncle to both the Stuart king and his sister Elizabeth of Bohemia through their mother, Anne of Denmark. Some 13,700 Scottish soldiers were sent as allies to help Christian IV under the command of General Robert Maxwell, 1st Earl of Nithsdale.[46] Moreover, some 6,000 English troops under Charles Morgan also eventually arrived to bolster the defence of Denmark-Norway, though it took longer for these to arrive than Christian hoped, not the least due to the ongoing British campaigns against France and Spain. Thus, Christian, as war-leader of the Lower Saxon Circle, entered the war with an army of only 20,000 mercenaries, some of his allies from England and Scotland and a national army 15,000 strong, leading them as Duke of Holstein rather than as King of Denmark-Norway.

A map of the Thirty Years' War

To fight Christian, Ferdinand II employed the military help of Albrecht von Wallenstein, a Bohemian nobleman who had made himself rich from the confiscated estates of his Protestant countrymen.[47] Wallenstein pledged his army, which numbered between 30,000 and 100,000 soldiers, to Ferdinand II in return for the right to plunder the captured territories. Christian, who knew nothing of Wallenstein's forces when he invaded, was forced to retire before the combined forces of Wallenstein and Tilly. Christian's mishaps continued when all of the allies he thought he had were forced aside: France was in the midst of a civil war, Sweden was at war with the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, and neither Brandenburg nor Saxony was interested in changes to the tenuous peace in eastern Germany. Moreover, neither of the substantial English and Scottish contingents arrived in time to prevent Wallenstein defeating Mansfeld's army at the Battle of Dessau Bridge (1626) or Tilly's victory at the Battle of Lutter (1626).[48] Mansfeld died some months later of illness, apparently tuberculosis, in Bosnia.

Wallenstein's army marched north, occupying Mecklenburg, Pomerania, and Jutland itself, but proved unable to take the Dano-Norwegian capital Copenhagen on the island of Zealand. Wallenstein lacked a fleet, and neither the Hanseatic ports nor the Poles would allow the building of an imperial fleet on the Baltic coast. He then laid siege to Stralsund, the only belligerent Baltic port with sufficient facilities to build a large fleet; it soon became clear, however, that the cost of continuing the war would far outweigh any gains from conquering the rest of Denmark.[49] Wallenstein feared losing his northern German gains to a Danish-Swedish alliance, while Christian IV had suffered another defeat in the Battle of Wolgast (1628); both were ready to negotiate.[50]

Negotiations concluded with the Treaty of Lübeck in 1629, which stated that Christian IV could retain control over Denmark-Norway (including the duchies of Sleswick and Holstein) if he would abandon his support for the Protestant German states. Thus, in the following two years, the Catholic powers subjugated more land. At this point, the Catholic League persuaded Ferdinand II to take back the Lutheran holdings that were, according to the Peace of Augsburg, rightfully the possession of the Catholic Church. Enumerated in the Edict of Restitution (1629), these possessions included two archbishoprics, 16 bishoprics, and hundreds of monasteries. In the same year, Gabriel Bethlen, the Calvinist prince of Transylvania, died. Only the port of Stralsund continued to hold out against Wallenstein and the emperor, having been bolstered by Scottish 'volunteers' who arrived from the Swedish army to support their countrymen already there in the service of Denmark-Norway. These men were led by Colonel Alexander Leslie, who became governor of the city.[51] As Colonel Robert Monro recorded:

Sir Alexander Leslie being made Governour, he resolved for the credit of his Country-men, to make an out-fall upon the Enemy, and desirous to conferre the credit on his own Nation alone, being his first Essay in that Citie.[52]

Leslie held Stralsund until 1630, using the port as a base to capture the surrounding towns and ports to provide a secure beach-head for a full-scale Swedish landing under Gustavus Adolphus.

War of the Mantuan Succession (1628–1631)[edit]

Thirty Years' War is located in Northern Italy
Northern Italy

Northern Italy had been contested by France and the Habsburgs for centuries, since it was vital for control of South-West France, an area with a long history of opposition to the central authorities. While Spain remained the dominant power in Italy, its reliance on long exterior lines of communication was a potential weakness, especially the Spanish Road; this overland route allowed them to move recruits and supplies from Naples and Lombardy to their army in Flanders.[53]

French policy was to seek to disrupt this road wherever possible, either by attacking the Spanish-held Duchy of Milan, or by blocking the Alpine passes. The strategic importance of the Duchy of Mantua meant when the direct male line became extinct in December 1627, both powers became involved in the 1628 to 1631 War of the Mantuan Succession. The situation was complicated by Savoy, which saw an opportunity to gain territory; in March 1629, the French stormed Savoyard positions in the Pas de Suse, lifted the siege of Casale and captured the strategic fortress of Pinerolo.[54]

France and Savoy made peace in the April 1629 Treaty of Suza, which allowed French troops passage through Savoy, and recognised their control of Casale and Pinerolo. Possession of these fortresses gave France effective control of Piedmont, protected the Alpine passes into Southern France, and allowed them to threaten Milan at will.[55]

An outbreak of plague in Milan and the diversion of Imperial resources caused by Swedish intervention in 1630, led to the June 1631 Treaty of Cherasco. The French candidate, Charles I Gonzaga, was confirmed as Duke of Mantua; although Richelieu's representative, Cardinal Mazarin, agreed to evacuate Pinerolo, it was later secretly returned under an agreement with Victor Amadeus I, Duke of Savoy. With the exception of the 1639 to 1642 Piedmontese Civil War, this secured the French position in Northern Italy for the next 20 twenty years.[56]

Swedish intervention[edit]

Phase I: 1630 to 1635[edit]

Sweden's acquisition of West Pomerania (in blue) was confirmed in 1653, and although later diminished by territorial losses to Brandenburg, retained until 1815

Despite his success, many of Ferdinand's advisors mis-trusted Wallenstein and grew concerned he might become too powerful, leading to his dismissal in 1630. This coincided with the entry into the war of Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden; partly driven by a genuine desire to support his Protestant co-religionists, he also wanted to ensure control of the Baltic trade that provided much of Sweden's income.[57]

In June 1630, nearly 18,000 Swedish troops landed in the Duchy of Pomerania, occupied by Wallenstein since 1627. Gustavus signed an alliance with Bogislaw XIV, Duke of Pomerania, securing his interests in Pomerania against the Catholic Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, another Baltic competitor linked to Ferdinand by family and religion.[58] The Smolensk War is considered a separate but related part of the Thirty Years' War.[59]

His expectations of widespread support proved unrealistic; by the end of 1630, the only new Swedish ally was the Imperial town of Magdeburg, then besieged by the Catholic League.[60] Despite the devastation inflicted on their territories by Imperial soldiers, both Saxony and Brandenburg-Prussia had their own ambitions in Pomerania, which clashed with those of Gustavus; previous experience also showed inviting external powers into the Empire was easier than getting them to leave.[61]

A key factor in the 17th century was the struggle between the Bourbon kings of France and their Habsburg rivals in Spain and the Holy Roman Empire. Habsburg territories in the Spanish Netherlands, Franche-Comté, and the Pyrenees blocked French expansion, and made it vulnerable to invasion. Under Cardinal Richelieu, chief minister from 1624 until his death in 1642, French policy was to 'arrest the course of Spanish progress', and 'protect her neighbours from Spanish oppression'.[62]

With France weakened by domestic conflict, Richelieu had initially focused on supporting Habsburg opponents and building defensive alliances, while avoiding direct conflict.[63] In 1624, he agreed to fund the Dutch revolt against Spain for three years, renewed in 1627.[64] Under the 1631 Treaty of Bärwalde, Richelieu funded Swedish intervention in the Thirty Years War, and the Heilbronn League, a Swedish-led coalition of German Protestant states, including Saxony and Brandenburg-Prussia.[65]

French subsidies amounted to 400,000 Reichstaler, or one million livres per year, plus an additional 120,000 Reichstalers for 1630. While less than 2% of the total French state budget, it made up over 25% of the Swedish, and allowed Gustavus to conduct a major offensive.[66] He won major victories at Breitenfeld in September 1631, then Rain in April 1632, where Tilly was killed.[67]

These payments supported an army of 36,000, many of whom were German and Scottish mercenaries. Over 12,000 Scots were already in Swedish service before the war, under the command of General Sir James Spens and colonels such as Sir Alexander Leslie, Sir Patrick Ruthven, and Sir John Hepburn. These were joined by a further 8,000 men under the command of James Marquis Hamilton. The total number of Scots in Swedish service by the end of the war is estimated at some 30,000 men,[68] no less than 15 of whom served with the rank of major-general or above.[69]

After Tilly's death, Ferdinand turned once again to Wallenstein; knowing Gustavus was over extended, he marched into Franconia and established himself at Fürth, threatening the Swedish supply chain. In late August, Gustavus incurred heavy losses in an unsuccessful assault on the town, arguably the greatest blunder in his German campaign.[70] Two months later, the Swedes won a resounding victory at Lützen, where Gustavus was killed.[71]

Ferdinand continued to regard Wallenstein with suspicion, due to his apparent reluctance to attack the Swedes and fears that he was preparing to switch sides. In February 1634, Ferdinand removed him from command, and issued orders for his arrest; on 25th, one of his officers, Captain Devereux, assassinated Wallenstein in Cheb.[72]

Phase II; France joins the war 1635 to 1648[edit]

"Soldiers plundering a farm by Sebastian Vrancx, 1620; lack of pay encouraged soldiers on all sides to live off the land

After the Heilbronn League was routed at Nördlingen in September 1634, it appeared Sweden might be forced out of the war, and France now decided to intervene directly. In April 1635, Richelieu signed the Treaty of Compiègne, ensuring continued Swedish intervention, then joined the Dutch in their war with Spain in May. A few days later, the Peace of Prague dissolved the Heilbronn League, and many German states left the war; this is often seen as the point when religion ceased to be the primary driver of conflict.[73]

The Peace of Prague dissolved the Heilbronn and Catholic Leagues, and formed a single Imperial army, although John George I of Saxony and Maximilian I of Bavaria kept independent command of their own forces. German princes were forbidden from establishing alliances amongst themselves or with foreign powers, and amnesty was granted to any ruler who had taken up arms against the Emperor after the arrival of the Swedes in 1630.

In the March 1636 Treaty of Wismar, France formally joined the Thirty Years War in alliance with Sweden, opening offensives against the Habsburgs in Germany and the Low Countries.[74] Meanwhile, two Swedish armies under Johan Banér and the Scottish mercenary Alexander Leslie marched into Brandenburg; on 4 October 1636, the two combined to defeat an Imperial army at the Battle of Wittstock. This success largely reversed the effects of Nördlingen, although it created tensions between Banér and Leslie.[75]

After some initial success, French intervention in the Low Countries met with disaster, and in 1636, a Spanish offensive reached Corbie in Northern France; although it caused panic in Paris, lack of supplies forced them to retreat, and it was not repeated.[76] Emperor Ferdinand II died in 1637 and was succeeded by his son Ferdinand III, who was strongly inclined toward ending the war through negotiations. His army did, however, win an important success at the Battle of Vlotho in 1638 against a combined Swedish-English-Palatine force. This victory effectively ended the involvement of the Palatinate in the war.

The Battle of Rocroi, by Augusto Ferrer-Dalmau

As agreed at Compiègne in 1635, the French replaced Swedish garrisons in Alsace; prior to his death in 1639, Bernard of Saxe-Weimar won a series of victories in the Rhineland, notably the capture of Breisach in December 1638.[77] By severing the Spanish Road, it forced Spain to reinforce their armies in Flanders by sea, which was dominated by the Dutch navy; in 1639, they destroyed a large supply convoy at the Downs. They also attacked Portuguese possessions in Africa and the Americas, then part of the Spanish Empire; Madrid's inability to prevent this caused increasing unrest in Portugal.[78]

In 1640, the French captured Arras, and over-ran the rest of Artois; more importantly Spain was finding it increasingly difficult to sustain war on so many fronts. Throughout the 1630s, there had been widespread protests at attempts to increase taxes, and in 1640, this led to revolts in Portugal and Catalonia. Many Spanish officials also felt it was time to accept Dutch independence, but despite these challenges, Spain supported by the Empire remained a formidable power.[79]

Richelieu died in 1642, and was replaced as chief minister by Cardinal Mazarin, followed on 14 May 1643 by the death of Louis XIII, leaving his five-year-old son Louis XIV as heir. Five days later, the Prince de Condé won a decisive French victory at Rocroi, although he was unable to take full advantage.[80] Mazarin began seeking a negotiated peace; 25 years of constant war had devastated the countryside, forcing armies to spend more time foraging than fighting, and drastically reducing their ability to sustain campaigns.[81]

After Wittstock, the Swedish army regained the initiative in Germany; at Second Breitenfeld in October 1642, Swedish commander Lennart Torstenson defeated an Imperial army led by Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria and Ottavio Piccolomini. Leopold suffered 20,000 casualties, including 5,000 prisoners and 46 guns, compared to Swedish losses of 4,000 killed or wounded. Victory enabled Sweden to occupy Saxony and impressed on Ferdinand III the need to include Sweden, and not only France, in any peace negotiations.[82]

1648 Battle of Prague; the last major action of the war took place where it began

In 1643, Frederick III of Denmark re-entered the conflict as an Imperial ally, threatening the Swedes with a war on two fronts. Torstensson expelled the Danes from Bremen-Verden and occupied Jutland; after a decisive naval defeat at Fehmarn in October 1644, the Danes sued for peace. The Imperial army under Gallas retreated into Bohemia, pursued by Torstenson; his victory at the Battle of Jankau in March 1645 allowed the Swedes to threaten both Prague and Vienna.[83]

In May, a Bavarian army under Franz von Mercy destroyed a French detachment at Herbsthausen, but he was then defeated and killed by Condé at Second Nördlingen in August.[84] Despite this victory, their losses shocked the French court, while 25 years of constant war had devastated the countryside, forcing armies to spend more time foraging than fighting, and drastically reducing their ability to sustain campaigns.[81] As a result, the Swedes had to withdraw from Bohemia, and in September agreed to a six-month truce with John George of Saxony.[85]

Ferdinand now accepted a military solution was no longer possible, and in October began serious negotiations at Westphalia. On 14 March 1647, Bavaria, Cologne, France, and Sweden signed the Truce of Ulm.[86] As peace talks continued, the combatants attempted to improve their bargaining positions; the last major action was the Swedish capture of Prague in November 1648, ending the war where it began. Before withdrawing, they looted many valuable treasures, including the Codex Gigas, today preserved in Stockholm.

The war in the Iberian Peninsula: Spain, Catalonia, Portugal (1640–1648)[edit]

News of the French victories in Flanders in 1640 provided strong encouragement to separatist movements against Habsburg Spain in the territories of Catalonia and Portugal.[87] It had been the conscious goal of Cardinal Richelieu to promote a "war by diversion" against the Spanish[88] enhancing difficulties at home that might encourage them to withdraw from the war. To fight this war by diversion, Cardinal Richelieu had been supplying aid to the Catalans and Portuguese.[89]

The Reapers' War Catalan revolt had sprung up spontaneously in May 1640.[90] The threat of having an anti-Habsburg territory establishing a powerful base south of the Pyrenees caused an immediate reaction from the monarchy. The Habsburg government sent a large army of 26,000 men to crush the Catalan revolt. On its way to Barcelona, the Spanish army retook several cities, executing hundreds of prisoners, and a rebel army of the recently proclaimed Catalan Republic was defeated in Martorell, near Barcelona, on January, 23. In response, the rebels reinforced their efforts and the Catalan Generalitat obtained an important military victory over the Spanish army in the Battle of Montjuïc (26 January 1641) which dominated the city of Barcelona. Perpignan was taken from the Spanish after a siege of 10 months, and the whole of Roussillon fell under direct French control. The Catalan ruling powers half-heartedly accepted the proclamation of Louis XIII of France as sovereign count of Barcelona, as Lluís I of Catalonia[91] For the next decade the Catalans fought under French vassalage, taking the initiative after Montjuïc. Meanwhile, increasing French control of political and administrative affairs, in particular in Northern Catalonia, and a firm military focus on the neighbouring Spanish kingdoms of Valencia and Aragon, in line with Richelieu's war against Spain, gradually undermined Catalan enthusiasm for the French.

In parallel, in December 1640, the Portuguese rose up against Spanish rule and once again Richelieu supplied aid to the insurgents.[89] The ensuing conflict with Spain brought Portugal into the Thirty Years' War as, at least, a peripheral player. From 1641 to 1668, the period during which the two nations were at war, Spain sought to isolate Portugal militarily and diplomatically, and Portugal tried to find the resources to maintain its independence through political alliances and maintenance of its colonial income.

The war by diversion in the Iberian Peninsula had its intended effect. Philip IV of Spain was reluctantly forced to divert his attention from the war in northern Europe to deal with his problems at home.[89] Indeed, even at this time, some of Philip's advisers, including the Count of Oñate, were recommending that Philip withdraw from overseas commitments.[89] With Trier, Alsace, and Lorraine all in French hands and the Dutch in charge of Limburg, the Channel and the North Sea, the "Spanish Road" connecting Habsburg Spain with the Habsburg possessions in the Netherlands and Austria was severed. Philip IV could no longer physically send reinforcements to the Low Countries.[89] On 4 December 1642, Cardinal Richelieu died. However, his policy of war by diversion continued to pay dividends to France. Spain was unable to resist the continuing drumbeat of French victories—Gravelines was lost to the French in 1644, followed by Hulst in 1645 and Dunkirk in 1646.[89] The Thirty Years' War would continue until 1648[92] when the Peace of Westphalia was signed.

The conflict between France and Spain continued in Catalonia until 1659, with the confrontation between two sovereigns and two Catalan governments, one based in Barcelona, under the control of Spain and the other in Perpingnan, under the occupation of France. In 1652 the French authorities renounced to Catalonia's territories south of the Pyrenees, but held control of Roussillon, thereby leading to the signing of the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659, which finally ended the war between France and Spain, with the partition of restive Catalonia between both countries.[93] The Portuguese Restoration War ended with the Treaty of Lisbon in 1668, that terminated the 60-year Iberian Union.[94][95]

Peace of Westphalia (1648)[edit]

Europe after the Peace of Westphalia, 1648

Over a four-year period, the warring parties (the Holy Roman Empire, France, and Sweden) were actively negotiating at Osnabrück and Münster in Westphalia.[96] The end of the war was not brought about by one treaty, but instead by a group of treaties such as the Treaty of Hamburg. On 15 May 1648, the Peace of Münster was signed, ending the Thirty Years' War. Over five months later, on 24 October, the Treaties of Münster and Osnabrück were signed.[97]

Casualties and disease[edit]

Marauding soldiers, Vrancx, 1647, Deutsches Historisches Museum Berlin

The war ranks with the worst famines and plagues as the greatest medical catastrophe in modern European history.[98][99] Lacking good census information, historians have extrapolated the experience of well-studied regions.[100] John Theibault agrees with the conclusions in Günther Franz's Der Dreissigjährige Krieg und das Deutsche Volk (1940), that population losses were great but varied regionally (ranging as high as 50%) and says his estimates are the best available.[101] The war killed soldiers and civilians directly, caused famines, destroyed livelihoods, disrupted commerce, postponed marriages and childbirth, and forced large numbers of people to relocate. The overall reduction of population in the German states was typically 25% to 40%.[102] Some regions were affected much more than others.[103] For example, Württemberg lost three-quarters of its population during the war.[104] In the region of Brandenburg, the losses had amounted to half, while in some areas, an estimated two-thirds of the population died.[105] Overall, the male population of the German states was reduced by almost half.[106] The population of the Czech lands declined by a third due to war, disease, famine, and the expulsion of Protestant population.[107][108] Much of the destruction of civilian lives and property was caused by the cruelty and greed of mercenary soldiers.[109] Villages were especially easy prey to the marauding armies. Those that survived, like the small village of Drais near Mainz, would take almost a hundred years to recover.[citation needed] The Swedish armies alone may have destroyed up to 2,000 castles, 18,000 villages, and 1,500 towns in Germany, one-third of all German towns.[110]

The war caused serious dislocations to both the economies and populations of central Europe, but may have done no more than seriously exacerbate changes that had begun earlier.[111][112] Also, some historians contend that the human cost of the war may actually have improved the living standards of the survivors.[113] According to Ulrich Pfister, Germany was one of the richest countries in Europe per capita in 1500, but ranked far lower in 1600. Then, it recovered during the 1600–1660 period, in part thanks to the demographic shock of the Thirty Years' War.

A peasant begs for mercy in front of a burning farm.

Pestilence of several kinds raged among combatants and civilians in Germany and surrounding lands from 1618 to 1648. Many features of the war spread disease. These included troop movements, the influx of soldiers from foreign countries, and the shifting locations of battle fronts. In addition, the displacement of civilian populations and the overcrowding of refugees into cities led to both disease and famine. Information about numerous epidemics is generally found in local chronicles, such as parish registers and tax records, that are often incomplete and may be exaggerated. The chronicles do show that epidemic disease was not a condition exclusive to war time, but was present in many parts of Germany for several decades prior to 1618.[114]

When the Imperial and Danish armies clashed in Saxony and Thuringia during 1625 and 1626, disease and infection in local communities increased. Local chronicles repeatedly referred to "head disease", "Hungarian disease", and a "spotted" disease identified as typhus. After the Mantuan War, between France and the Habsburgs in Italy, the northern half of the Italian peninsula was in the throes of a bubonic plague epidemic (Italian Plague of 1629–1631). During the unsuccessful siege of Nuremberg, in 1632, civilians and soldiers in both the Imperial and Swedish armies succumbed to typhus and scurvy. Two years later, as the Imperial army pursued the defeated Swedes into southwest Germany, deaths from epidemics were high along the Rhine River. Bubonic plague continued to be a factor in the war. Beginning in 1634, Dresden, Munich, and smaller German communities such as Oberammergau recorded large numbers of plague casualties. In the last decades of the war, both typhus and dysentery had become endemic in Germany.

Contemporary records recall, in harrowing detail, what life was like — people were starving in huge numbers and the Church even received reports of cannibalism.[115]

Witch hunts[edit]

A 1627 engraving of the Bamberg Malefizhaus, where suspected witches were held and interrogated

Among the other great social traumas abetted by the war was a major outbreak of witch hunting. This violent wave of inquisitions first erupted in the territories of Franconia during the time of the Danish intervention and the hardship and turmoil the conflict had produced among the general population enabled the hysteria to spread quickly to other parts of Germany. Residents of areas that had been devastated not only by the conflict but also by the numerous crop failures, famines, and epidemics that accompanied it were quick to attribute these calamities to supernatural causes. In this tumultuous and highly volatile environment allegations of witchcraft against neighbors and fellow citizens flourished.[116] The sheer volume of trials and executions during this time would mark the period as the peak of the European witch-hunting phenomenon.[117]

The persecutions began in the Bishopric of Würzburg, then under the leadership of Prince-Bishop Philipp Adolf von Ehrenberg. An ardent devotee of the Counter-Reformation, Ehrenberg was eager to consolidate Catholic political authority in the territories he administered.[118] Beginning in 1626 Ehrenberg staged numerous mass trials for witchcraft in which all levels of society (including the nobility and the clergy) found themselves targeted in a relentless series of purges. By 1630, 219 men, women, and children had been burned at the stake in the city of Würzburg itself, while an estimated 900 people are believed to have been put to death in the rural areas of the province.[117]

Concurrent with the events in Würzburg, Prince-Bishop Johann von Dornheim would embark upon a similar series of large-scale witch trials in the nearby territory of Bamberg. A specially designed Malefizhaus ('crime house') was erected containing a torture chamber, whose walls were adorned with Bible verses, in which to interrogate the accused. The Bamberg witch trials would drag on for five years and claimed upwards of 1000 lives, among them Dorothea Flock and the city's long-time Bürgermeister (mayor) Johannes Junius. Meanwhile, 274 suspected witches were put to the torch in the Bishopric of Eichstätt in 1629, while another 50 perished in the adjacent Duchy of Palatinate-Neuburg that same year.[119]

Elsewhere, the persecutions arrived in the wake of the early Imperial military successes. The witch hunts expanded into Baden following its reconquest by Tilly while the Imperial victory in the Palatinate opened the way for their eventual spread to the Rhineland.[117] The Rhenish electorates of Mainz and Trier both witnessed mass burnings of suspected witches during this time. In Cologne the territory's Prince-Elector, Ferdinand of Bavaria, presided over a particularly infamous series of witchcraft trials that included the controversial prosecution of Katharina Henot, who was burned at the stake in 1627.[117] During this time the witch hunts also continued their unchecked growth, as new and increased incidents of alleged witchcraft began surfacing in the territories of Westphalia.

The witch hunts reached their peak around the time of the Edict of Restitution in 1629 and much of the remaining institutional and popular enthusiasm for them faded in the aftermath of Sweden's entry into the war the following year. However, in Würzburg, the persecutions continued until the death of Ehrenberg in July, 1631.[117] The excesses of this period inspired the Jesuit scholar and poet Friedrich Spee (himself a former "witch confessor") to author his scathing legal and moral condemnation of the witch trials, the Cautio Criminalis. This influential work was later credited with bringing an end to the practice of witch-burning in some areas of Germany and its gradual abolition throughout Europe.[120]

Political consequences[edit]

Central Europe at the end of the Thirty Years' War, showing the final fragmentation of the Holy Roman Empire consolidated by the Peace of Westphalia

The Thirty Years' War rearranged the European power structure. During the last decade of the conflict Spain showed clear signs of weakening. While Spain was fighting in France, Portugal – which had been under personal union with Spain for 60 years – acclaimed John IV of Braganza as king in 1640, and the House of Braganza became the new dynasty of Portugal. Spain was forced to accept the independence of the Dutch Republic in 1648, ending the Eighty Years' War. Bourbon France challenged Habsburg Spain's supremacy in the Franco-Spanish War (1635–59), gaining definitive ascendancy in the War of Devolution (1667–68) and the Franco-Dutch War (1672–78), under the leadership of Louis XIV. The war resulted in the partition of Catalonia between the Spanish and French empires in the Treaty of the Pyrenees.

The war resulted in increased autonomy for the constituent states of the Holy Roman Empire, limiting the power of the emperor and decentralizing authority in German-speaking central Europe. For Austria and Bavaria, the result of the war was ambiguous. Bavaria was defeated, devastated, and occupied, but it gained some territory as a result of the treaty in 1648. Austria had utterly failed in reasserting its authority in the empire, but it had successfully suppressed Protestantism in its own dominions. Compared to large parts of Germany, much of its territory was not significantly devastated, and its army was stronger after the war than it was before, unlike that of most other states of the empire.[121] This, along with the shrewd diplomacy of Ferdinand III, allowed it to play an important role in the following decades and to regain some authority among the other German states to face the growing threats of the Ottoman Empire and France. In the longer-term, however, due to the increased autonomy of other states within the Empire, Brandenburg-Prussia was gradually able to obtain status comparable to Austria within the Empire, particularly after defeating Austria in the First Silesian War of 1740-42 enabling it to seize Silesia from Austria, and in the 19th Century Prussia would be the facilitator of the unification of the vast majority of the German peoples (aside from those in Austria and Switzerland).

Reduction in population of Holy Roman Empire compared to pre-war.
  > 66%

From 1643 to 1645, during the last years of the war, Sweden and Denmark-Norway fought the Torstenson War. The result of that conflict and the conclusion of the Thirty Years' War helped establish postwar Sweden as a major force in Europe.

The arrangements agreed upon in the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 were instrumental in laying the legal foundations of the modern sovereign nation-state. Aside from establishing fixed territorial boundaries for many of the countries involved in the ordeal (as well as for the newer ones created afterwards), the Peace of Westphalia changed the relationship of subjects to their rulers. Previously, many people had borne overlapping, sometimes conflicting political and religious allegiances. Henceforth, the inhabitants of a given state were understood to be subject first and foremost to the laws and edicts of their respective state authority, not to the claims of any other entity, be it religious or secular. This in turn made it easier to levy national armies of significant size, loyal to their state and its leader, so as to reduce the need to employ mercenaries, whose drawbacks had been exposed a century earlier in The Prince. Among the drawbacks were the depravations (such as the Schwedentrunk) and destruction caused by mercenary soldiers, which defied description and resulted in revulsion and hatred of the sponsor of the mercenaries; there would be no other figure such as Albrecht von Wallenstein, and the age of Landsknecht mercenaries would end.

The war also had more subtle consequences. It was the last major religious war in mainland Europe, ending the large-scale religious bloodshed accompanying the Reformation, which had begun over a century before. Other religious conflicts occurred until 1712, but only on a minor scale and no great wars.[122]

Outside Europe[edit]

The war also had consequences abroad, as the European powers extended their rivalry via naval power to overseas colonies. In 1630, a Dutch fleet of 70 ships took the rich sugar-exporting areas of Pernambuco (Brazil) from the Portuguese, though the Dutch would lose them by 1654. Fighting also took place in Africa and Asia.

Phillip II and Philip III of Portugal used forts built from the destroyed temples, including Fort Fredrick in Trincomalee, and others in southern Ceylon such as Colombo and Galle Fort, to fight sea battles with the Dutch, Danish, French, and English. This was the beginning of the loss of Ceylonese sovereignty. Later the Dutch and English succeeded the Portuguese as colonial rulers of the island.[123][124]


Thirty Years War involvement graph.svg
Directly against Emperor
Indirectly against Emperor
Directly for Emperor
Indirectly for Emperor

In fiction[edit]


  • Vida y hechos de Estebanillo González, hombre de buen humor, compuesta por él mismo (Antwerp, 1646): The last of the great Spanish Golden Age picaresque novels, this is set against the background of the Thirty Years' War. It is thought to have been written by a man in the entourage of Ottavio Piccolomini. The main character crisscrosses Europe at war in his role as messenger; he witnesses the 1634 battle of Nordlingen, among other events.
  • Simplicius Simplicissimus[125] (1668) by Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen, one of the most important German novels of the 17th century, is the comic fictional autobiography of a half-German, half-Scottish peasant turned mercenary. He serves under various powers during the war. The book is based on the author's first-hand experience.
  • Memoirs of a Cavalier (1720) by Daniel Defoe is subtitled "A Military Journal of the Wars in Germany, and the Wars in England. From the Years 1632 to 1648".
  • Alessandro Manzoni's The Betrothed (1842) is an historical novel taking place in Italy in 1629. It treats a couple whose marriage is interrupted by the bubonic plague, and other complications of Thirty Years' War.
  • G. A. Henty, The Lion of the North: The Adventures of a Scottish Lad during the Thirty Years' War (2 vol., 1997 reprint). It is available under a number of subtitle variants, including a comic strip. Also Won By the Sword: A Story of the Thirty Years' War
  • Gertrud von Le Fort's historical novel Die Magdeburgische Hochzeit is a fictional account of romantic and political intrigue during the siege of Magdeburg.
  • Der Wehrwolf (1910) by Hermann Löns is a novel about an alliance of peasants using guerrilla tactics to fight the enemy during the Thirty Years' War.
  • Alfred Döblin's sprawling historical novel Wallenstein (1920) is set during the Thirty Years' War; it explores the court of Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand.
  • The Last Valley[126] (1959), by John Pick, is about two men fleeing the Thirty Years' War.
  • Das Treffen in Telgte (1979), by Günter Grass, is set in the aftermath of the war. He implicitly compared conditions to those in postwar Germany in the late 1940s.
  • Michael Moorcock's novel, The War Hound and the World's Pain (1981), features a central character of Ulrich von Bek, a mercenary who took part in the sack of Magdeburg.
  • Eric Flint's Ring of Fire series of alternative history novels, deals with a temporally displaced American town from the early 21st century that occupies territory in the early 1630s in war-torn Germany.
  • Parts of Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle are set in lands devastated by the Thirty Years' War.
  • In The Hangman's Daughter (2008) by Oliver Pötzsch, the protagonist, hangman Jakob Kuisl, and other prominent characters have served in a General Tilly's army and participated in the sacking of the city of Magdeburg during the Thirty Years' War. "The Great War" and Swedish incursion into north-central Germany are frequently referenced.




  • Simplicius Simplicissimus (1934–1957) is an opera adaptation of the novel of the same name, with music by Karl Amadeus Hartmann.
  • The Thirty Years' War is briefly referenced in the survival horror game Amnesia: The Dark Descent. The common enemies in the game are former soldiers of the war that abandoned their duty, died and became cursed to roam the woods they died in.




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Other Resources[edit]


  • Sir Thomas Kellie, Pallas Armata or Military Instructions for the Learned, The First Part (Edinburgh, 1627).
  • Monro, R. His Expedition with a worthy Scots Regiment called Mac-Keyes, (2 vols., London, 1637)
  • Helfferich, Tryntje, ed. The Thirty Years' War: A Documentary History, (Indianapolis: Hackett, 2009). 352 pages. 38 key documents including diplomatic correspondence, letters, broadsheets, treaties, poems, and trial records. excerpt and text search
  • Wilson, Peter H. ed. The Thirty Years' War: A Sourcebook (2010); includes state documents, treaties, correspondence, diaries, financial records, artwork; 240pp
  • Dr Bernd Warlich has edited four diaries of the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648). These diaries can be viewed (in German) at:


External links[edit]


  1. ^ Denmark–Norway fought Sweden and the Dutch Republic in the Torstenson War.
  2. ^ a b Reconciled with the Emperor and switched sides in the Peace of Prague (1635).
  3. ^ Protestantism was effectively wiped out in what is now Austria and the Czech Republic, and it was severely damaged in France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Romania, Ireland, Belgium, Poland, Lithuania, Russia, Hungary, Ukraine, Slovakia, eastern Silesia, Slovenia, Croatia, and Serbia. Compare the territorial extent of Protestantism in 1620 and 1648.
  4. ^ Swedish Intervention
  5. ^ Includes soldiers from the Spanish Netherlands and Spanish Italy.
  6. ^ Of the 30,000 citizens, only 5,000 survived.