The Prague DefenestrationEditThis war's roots go back to the Reformation and the spread of Protestantism that had been gaining favor throughout Europe since 16th century. One of the areas where it had become popular was what is now the modern-day Czech Republic. Back then, however, this area was under the rule of the Catholic AustrianHabsburgs, who had never been known up till then to have been tolerant of what they considered to be heretical religions and a destabilizing factor to their empire. Persistent administrative attacks upon these bohemian Protestants then finally boiled over in Prague Defenestration, when local Austrian nobles were attacked by an angry bohemian mob and thrown out the window of some of the city of Prague's overlooking buildings in 1618. Thereafter, the revolt gained further momentum and ultimately led to the establishment of Frederick V, Elector Palatine, as King of Bohemia.
The Battle of White MountainEditAustria, under Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II, reacted swiftly to the Bohemian revolt. Ferdinand sought out assistance from the Catholic powers of Europe, including Bavaria, Spain, and Poland. Together, this Catholic league entered Bohemia under the dominant command of Austrian commander, Tilly. Tilly soon outwitted the rebels at the Battle of White Mountain in 1620 and deposed Frederick from all his positions of the Holy Roman Empire. With imperial control in Bohemia secured, foreign Protestant powers began to take notice and deep concern.
The Danish WarEditDanish king, Christian IV, disliked the growing strength of the Catholic powers and entered into a war with Austria in 1625. This, however, was waged with miscalculation and ended in disaster for the Danish. Christian and Duke von Holstein led the Protestant forces against those of the catholic generals Tilly and the rising Albrecht von Wallenstein, a converted bohemian aristocrat. At battles such as Dessauer Bridge, and Lutter am Barenberg, the Protestants failed to hold off the Austrian attack on Northern Germany. These triumphs led to Wallenstein being promoted by Ferdinand to cothe mmander-in-chief of the imperial forces, and to the seizure and appropriation of Northern Protestant land. Church doctrine was reinforced into the area and, in 1629, Christian was forced to recognize the Peace of Lubeck. Wallenstein, however, was soon temporarily dismissed from his high position due to growing worry of his ambitions. It would soon take one other great commander, and his nation, to bring Wallenstein back to power.
The Swedish WarEditShock raged across parts of Europe at Ferdinand's astonishing show of force and influence in Northern Germany. For the Swedish king, Gustavus Adolphus II, and Cardinal Richelieu of France, this rise in imperial strength couldn't be tolerated. So in 1630, Gustavus, with French financial support, invaded Northern Germany. Confident of victory, Ferdinand sent his general Tilly to deal with the king. Little did the emperor know at the time, but he was up against another monarch who still stands to this day to be arguably one of Europe's best generals. This truth only revealed itself, however, after the Battle of Breitenfeld, when imperial causalties proved so devastating that even Tilly had been wounded. As this wounded general lay resting, he received a Swedish doctor who came on the request of Gustavus. Although Tilly still ultimately dies, he remarked at what a true chivalrous knight Gustavus was. For Ferdinand and his bavarian ally, Maximillian, this failure at Breitenfeld was disastrous. After his victory, Gustavus had marched further south through Bavaria, with his army raiding and pillaging clergy property, and even ransacking Maximillian's private elector estate. Gustavus also began doing the same in Austrian imperium, but not without Ferdinand reinstating Wallenstein to command as a desperate last effort to stop the Swedish devastation. Wallenstein set to work, cutting off Swedish supply lines and finally confronting Gustavus at the Battle of Lutzen in 1632. Although Sweden won the battle in the end, they ended up losing Gustavus to enemy fire, and without him, Sweden failed to keep its momentum. At the Battle of Nordlingen, Austria at last broke the ice and defeated the Protestants, turning the war into a stalemate which ended with the Peace of Prague in 1635. Sadly, Wallenstein never lived to hear of this, having been murdered on Ferdinand's orders on suspicion of treason and secret peace negotiations. Other foreign powers, however, were not pleased with the treaty and soon sought to take the matter of curbing Habsburg power into their own hands.
The Franco-Swedish PhaseEdit
Cardinals Richelieu and Mazarin didn't favor the terms of the Treaty of Prague and so waged direct war on the Habsburgs, both the Spanish and Austrian branches. With most of the princes too exhausted from the earlier fighting of the war, France made good work of the Holy Roman Empire, depopulating cities into even large towns or sometimes small villages. Sweden retained its position in the war and stood with the French, who were eager to see their Habsburg rivals crumble from power. Without skilled strategists like Wallenstein and Tilly, Ferdinand could not see to it that they failed in Germany. Finally, having had enough war exhaustion, the Habsburgs conceaded in the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. This treaty made an important statement that nations were not allowed to intervene in each other's affairs on religious terms. And to French pleasure, i, at last,t curbed Habsburg power and influence. It also recognized the Protestant nations of Switzerland and the Netherlands. France, however, wasn't done fighting yet, for this conflict dragged on and translated into the Franco-Spanish War. The Thirty Years' War though, was at last at an end.