By 1639 the Thirty Years War and its tangled sister wars in the Netherlands, Italy, and France had stretched the long foundering Spanish Empire to the breaking point. Breisach and the closure of the Spanish Road had been a painful loss, and Olivares had taken to badmouthing the Cardinal-Infante for not relieving the fortress in […]Read more "Spain, Down(s) but Not Out"
As 1637 rolled through, it took another major figure of the war with it. Ferdinand II had spent literally his entire tenure as Holy Roman Emperor fighting all comers for the right to rule as he saw fit, and it had killed him. The new Emperor Ferdinand III was just 29, a musician, architect, and […]Read more "The Breaking of Breisach"
For all the fanfare of France’s entry into the fray, the initial results of French force of arms was less than spectacular. In the first campaign season, a French army marched into southern Belgium, swatted away the Spanish forces sent to intercept it, and linked up with the Prince of Orange at Maastricht. On paper […]Read more "Wittstock and Warfare"
Nördlingen wasn’t quite a knockout punch for the Swedes, but the Protestant cause was near complete collapse. Aside from a fractured remnant of the Heilbronn League, Johan Baner’s Swedish army of 23,000 abruptly mutinied. Reduced by the war and disease, just 10 percent of the army was Swedish or Finnish. The vast majority of the […]Read more "Richelieu Intervenes"
In a rare moment of unity, the death of Wallenstein brought a surge of optimism from all sides in the Thirty Years War. To the Swedes and their strongarmed Protestant allies, Wallenstein’s initial replacement was their ideal pick this side of a suicidal mayfly. Matthias Gallas was amiable, experienced, cautious, and a chronic alcoholic. In […]Read more "The Ferdinands of Nördlingen"
Much like his kneeing down in Germany in 1629, the death of King Gustavus Adolphus leveled the playing field of the Thirty Years War once again. The problem was that while Ferdinand again had a fighting chance at reimposing his will over the Holy Roman Empire, Adolphus had shattered the ascendancy the Emperor had enjoyed […]Read more "The Death of Albrecht von Wallenstein"
In spite of the carnage many of the Empire’s leading Protestants were overjoyed at the reverse in Imperial fortunes, none more so than the former Winter King Frederick V. The one time ruler of Bohemia had been cooling his heels in the Netherlands for some time now, alternately writing letters to anyone he thought would […]Read more "A Lion’s Death"