The 30 Years War - Swedish Intervention (1630–1635)

Swedish Intervention (1630–1635)

Some within Ferdinand II's court did not trust Wallenstein, believing that he sought to join forces with the German Princes and thus gain influence over the Emperor. Ferdinand II dismissed Wallenstein in 1630. He was later to recall him, after the Swedes, led by King Gustaf II Adolf (Gustavus Adolphus), had successfully invaded the Holy Roman Empire and turned the tables on the Catholics.

Like Christian IV before him, Gustavus Adolphus came to aid the German Lutherans, to forestall Catholic aggression against his homeland, and to obtain economic influence in the German states around the Baltic Sea; he was also concerned about the growing power of the Holy Roman Empire, and, like Christian IV, was heavily subsidized by Cardinal Richelieu, the Chief Minister of Louis XIII of France, and by the Dutch. From 1630 to 1634, Swedish-led armies drove the Catholic forces back, regaining much of the lost Protestant territory. During his campaign he managed to conquer half of the Imperial kingdoms, making Sweden the continental leader of Protestantism until the Swedish Empire ended in 1721.

Swedish forces entered the Holy Roman Empire via the Duchy of Pomerania, which served as the Swedish bridgehead since the Treaty of Stettin (1630). After dismissing Wallenstein in 1630, Ferdinand II became dependent on the Catholic League. Gustavus Adolphus allied with France in the Treaty of Bärwalde (January 1631). France and Bavaria signed the secret Treaty of Fontainebleau (1631), but this was rendered irrelevant by Swedish attacks against Bavaria. At the Battle of Breitenfeld (1631), Gustavus Adolphus's forces defeated the Catholic League led by Tilly. A year later they met again in another Protestant victory, this time accompanied by the death of Tilly. The upper hand had now switched from the league to the union, led by Sweden. In 1630, Sweden had paid at least 2,368,022 daler for its army of 42,000 men. In 1632, it contributed only one-fifth of that (476,439 daler) towards the cost of an army more than three times as large (149,000 men). This was possible due to subsidies from France, and the recruitment of prisoners (most of them taken at the Battle of Breitenfeld) into the Swedish army. The majority of mercenaries recruited by Gustavus II Adolphus were German but Scottish mercenaries were also common. With Tilly dead, Ferdinand II returned to the aid of Wallenstein and his large army. Wallenstein marched up to the south, threatening Gustavus Adolphus's supply chain. Gustavus Adolphus knew that Wallenstein was waiting for the attack and was prepared, but found no other option. Wallenstein and Gustavus Adolphus clashed in the Battle of Lützen (1632), where the Swedes prevailed, but Gustavus Adolphus was killed.

Ferdinand II's suspicion of Wallenstein resumed in 1633, when Wallenstein attempted to arbitrate the differences between the Catholic and Protestant sides. Ferdinand II may have feared that Wallenstein would switch sides, and arranged for his arrest after removing him from command. One of Wallenstein's soldiers, Captain Devereux, killed him when he attempted to contact the Swedes in the town hall of Eger (Cheb) on 25 February 1634. The same year, the Protestant forces, lacking Gustav's leadership, were defeated at the First Battle of Nördlingen by the Spanish-Imperial forces commanded by Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand.

By the Spring of 1635, all Swedish resistance in the south of Germany had ended. After that, the Imperialist and the Protestant German sides met for negotiations, producing the Peace of Prague (1635), which entailed a delay in the enforcement of the Edict of Restitution for 40 years and allowed Protestant rulers to retain secularized bishoprics held by them in 1627. This protected the Lutheran rulers of northeastern Germany, but not those of the south and west (whose lands had been occupied by the Imperial or League armies prior to 1627).

The treaty also provided for the union of the army of the Emperor and the armies of the German states into a single army of the Holy Roman Empire (although John George I of Saxony and Maximillian I of Bavaria kept, as a practical matter, independent command of their forces, now nominally components of the "Imperial" army). Finally, 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.

This treaty failed to satisfy France, however, because of the renewed strength it granted the Habsburgs. France then entered the conflict, beginning the final period of the Thirty Years' War. Sweden did not take part in the Peace of Prague and it continued the war together with France.

Initially after the Peace of Prague, the Swedish army under Johan Banér was pushed back by the re-inforced Imperial army up north into Germany.

Read more about this topic:  The 30 Years War

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