Part 3 out of 7
but there was nothing to fear from the revenge of the injured princes,
so long as they appealed for justice. The general discontent was directed
equally against the Emperor, who had lent his name to these barbarities,
and the general who exceeded his power, and openly abused the authority
of his master. They applied to the Emperor for protection against
the outrages of his general; but Wallenstein had no sooner felt himself
absolute in the army, than he threw off his obedience to his sovereign.
The exhaustion of the enemy made a speedy peace probable;
yet Wallenstein continued to augment the imperial armies until they were
at least 100,000 men strong. Numberless commissions to colonelcies
and inferior commands, the regal pomp of the commander-in-chief,
immoderate largesses to his favourites, (for he never gave less
than a thousand florins,) enormous sums lavished in corrupting the court
at Vienna -- all this had been effected without burdening the Emperor.
These immense sums were raised by the contributions levied from the lower
German provinces, where no distinction was made between friend and foe;
and the territories of all princes were subjected to the same system
of marching and quartering, of extortion and outrage.
If credit is to be given to an extravagant contemporary statement,
Wallenstein, during his seven years command, had exacted not less
than sixty thousand millions of dollars from one half of Germany.
The greater his extortions, the greater the rewards of his soldiers,
and the greater the concourse to his standard, for the world
always follows fortune. His armies flourished while all the states
through which they passed withered. What cared he for the detestation
of the people, and the complaints of princes? His army adored him,
and the very enormity of his guilt enabled him to bid defiance
to its consequences.
It would be unjust to Ferdinand, were we to lay all these irregularities
to his charge. Had he foreseen that he was abandoning the German States
to the mercy of his officer, he would have been sensible how dangerous
to himself so absolute a general would prove. The closer the connexion became
between the army, and the leader from whom flowed favour and fortune,
the more the ties which united both to the Emperor were relaxed.
Every thing, it is true, was done in the name of the latter;
but Wallenstein only availed himself of the supreme majesty of the Emperor
to crush the authority of other states. His object was to depress
the princes of the empire, to destroy all gradation of rank between them
and the Emperor, and to elevate the power of the latter above all competition.
If the Emperor were absolute in Germany, who then would be equal
to the man intrusted with the execution of his will? The height to which
Wallenstein had raised the imperial authority astonished even
the Emperor himself; but as the greatness of the master was entirely the work
of the servant, the creation of Wallenstein would necessarily sink again
into nothing upon the withdrawal of its creative hand. Not without an object,
therefore, did Wallenstein labour to poison the minds of the German princes
against the Emperor. The more violent their hatred of Ferdinand,
the more indispensable to the Emperor would become the man who alone
could render their ill-will powerless. His design unquestionably was,
that his sovereign should stand in fear of no one in all Germany --
besides himself, the source and engine of this despotic power.
As a step towards this end, Wallenstein now demanded the cession
of Mecklenburg, to be held in pledge till the repayment of his advances
for the war. Ferdinand had already created him Duke of Friedland,
apparently with the view of exalting his own general over Bavaria;
but an ordinary recompense would not satisfy Wallenstein's ambition.
In vain was this new demand, which could be granted only at the expense
of two princes of the empire, actively resisted in the Imperial Council;
in vain did the Spaniards, who had long been offended by his pride,
oppose his elevation. The powerful support which Wallenstein had purchased
from the imperial councillors prevailed, and Ferdinand was determined,
at whatever cost, to secure the devotion of so indispensable a minister.
For a slight offence, one of the oldest German houses was expelled
from their hereditary dominions, that a creature of the Emperor
might be enriched by their spoils (1628).
Wallenstein now began to assume the title of generalissimo of the Emperor
by sea and land. Wismar was taken, and a firm footing gained on the Baltic.
Ships were required from Poland and the Hanse towns to carry the war
to the other side of the Baltic; to pursue the Danes into the heart
of their own country, and to compel them to a peace which might
prepare the way to more important conquests. The communication between
the Lower German States and the Northern powers would be broken,
could the Emperor place himself between them, and encompass Germany,
from the Adriatic to the Sound, (the intervening kingdom of Poland
being already dependent on him,) with an unbroken line of territory.
If such was the Emperor's plan, Wallenstein had a peculiar interest
in its execution. These possessions on the Baltic should, he intended,
form the first foundation of a power, which had long been the object
of his ambition, and which should enable him to throw off his dependence
on the Emperor.
To effect this object, it was of extreme importance to gain possession
of Stralsund, a town on the Baltic. Its excellent harbour,
and the short passage from it to the Swedish and Danish coasts,
peculiarly fitted it for a naval station in a war with these powers.
This town, the sixth of the Hanseatic League, enjoyed great privileges
under the Duke of Pomerania, and totally independent of Denmark,
had taken no share in the war. But neither its neutrality,
nor its privileges, could protect it against the encroachments
of Wallenstein, when he had once cast a longing look upon it.
The request he made, that Stralsund should receive an imperial garrison,
had been firmly and honourably rejected by the magistracy, who also refused
his cunningly demanded permission to march his troops through the town,
Wallenstein, therefore, now proposed to besiege it.
The independence of Stralsund, as securing the free navigation of the Baltic,
was equally important to the two Northern kings. A common danger
overcame at last the private jealousies which had long divided these princes.
In a treaty concluded at Copenhagen in 1628, they bound themselves
to assist Stralsund with their combined force, and to oppose in common
every foreign power which should appear in the Baltic with hostile views.
Christian IV. also threw a sufficient garrison into Stralsund,
and by his personal presence animated the courage of the citizens.
Some ships of war which Sigismund, King of Poland, had sent
to the assistance of the imperial general, were sunk by the Danish fleet;
and as Lubeck refused him the use of its shipping,
this imperial generalissimo of the sea had not even ships enough
to blockade this single harbour.
Nothing could appear more adventurous than to attempt the conquest
of a strongly fortified seaport without first blockading its harbour.
Wallenstein, however, who as yet had never experienced a check,
wished to conquer nature itself, and to perform impossibilities. Stralsund,
open to the sea, continued to be supplied with provisions and reinforcements;
yet Wallenstein maintained his blockade on the land side, and endeavoured,
by boasting menaces, to supply his want of real strength.
"I will take this town," said he, "though it were fastened by a chain
to the heavens." The Emperor himself, who might have cause to regret
an enterprise which promised no very glorious result, joyfully availed himself
of the apparent submission and acceptable propositions of the inhabitants,
to order the general to retire from the town. Wallenstein despised
the command, and continued to harass the besieged by incessant assaults.
As the Danish garrison, already much reduced, was unequal to the fatigues
of this prolonged defence, and the king was unable to detach
any further troops to their support, Stralsund, with Christian's consent,
threw itself under the protection of the King of Sweden. The Danish commander
left the town to make way for a Swedish governor, who gloriously defended it.
Here Wallenstein's good fortune forsook him; and, for the first time,
his pride experienced the humiliation of relinquishing his prey,
after the loss of many months and of 12,000 men. The necessity to which
he reduced the town of applying for protection to Sweden, laid the foundation
of a close alliance between Gustavus Adolphus and Stralsund,
which greatly facilitated the entrance of the Swedes into Germany.
Hitherto invariable success had attended the arms of the Emperor
and the League, and Christian IV., defeated in Germany, had sought refuge
in his own islands; but the Baltic checked the further progress of
the conquerors. The want of ships not only stopped the pursuit of the king,
but endangered their previous acquisitions. The union of the two
northern monarchs was most to be dreaded, because, so long as it lasted,
it effectually prevented the Emperor and his general from acquiring a footing
on the Baltic, or effecting a landing in Sweden. But if they could succeed
in dissolving this union, and especially securing the friendship of
the Danish king, they might hope to overpower the insulated force of Sweden.
The dread of the interference of foreign powers, the insubordination
of the Protestants in his own states, and still more the storm
which was gradually darkening along the whole of Protestant Germany,
inclined the Emperor to peace, which his general, from opposite motives,
was equally desirous to effect. Far from wishing for a state of things
which would reduce him from the meridian of greatness and glory
to the obscurity of private life, he only wished to change the theatre of war,
and by a partial peace to prolong the general confusion. The friendship
of Denmark, whose neighbour he had become as Duke of Mecklenburgh,
was most important for the success of his ambitious views; and he resolved,
even at the sacrifice of his sovereign's interests, to secure its alliance.
By the treaty of Copenhagen, Christian IV. had expressly engaged
not to conclude a separate peace with the Emperor, without the consent
of Sweden. Notwithstanding, Wallenstein's proposition was readily received
by him. In a conference at Lubeck in 1629, from which Wallenstein,
with studied contempt, excluded the Swedish ambassadors who came to intercede
for Mecklenburgh, all the conquests taken by the imperialists
were restored to the Danes. The conditions imposed upon the king were,
that he should interfere no farther with the affairs of Germany
than was called for by his character of Duke of Holstein;
that he should on no pretext harass the Chapters of Lower Germany,
and should leave the Dukes of Mecklenburgh to their fate.
By Christian himself had these princes been involved in the war
with the Emperor; he now sacrificed them, to gain the favour of the usurper
of their territories. Among the motives which had engaged him
in a war with the Emperor, not the least was the restoration of his relation,
the Elector Palatine -- yet the name of that unfortunate prince
was not even mentioned in the treaty; while in one of its articles
the legitimacy of the Bavarian election was expressly recognised.
Thus meanly and ingloriously did Christian IV. retire from the field.
Ferdinand had it now in his power, for the second time,
to secure the tranquillity of Germany; and it depended solely on his will
whether the treaty with Denmark should or should not be the basis
of a general peace. From every quarter arose the cry of the unfortunate,
petitioning for an end of their sufferings; the cruelties of his soldiers,
and the rapacity of his generals, had exceeded all bounds. Germany,
laid waste by the desolating bands of Mansfeld and the Duke of Brunswick,
and by the still more terrible hordes of Tilly and Wallenstein, lay exhausted,
bleeding, wasted, and sighing for repose. An anxious desire for peace
was felt by all conditions, and by the Emperor himself; involved as he was
in a war with France in Upper Italy, exhausted by his past warfare in Germany,
and apprehensive of the day of reckoning which was approaching.
But, unfortunately, the conditions on which alone the two religious parties
were willing respectively to sheath the sword, were irreconcileable.
The Roman Catholics wished to terminate the war to their own advantage;
the Protestants advanced equal pretensions. The Emperor,
instead of uniting both parties by a prudent moderation, sided with one;
and thus Germany was again plunged in the horrors of a bloody war.
From the very close of the Bohemian troubles, Ferdinand had carried on
a counter reformation in his hereditary dominions, in which, however,
from regard to some of the Protestant Estates, he proceeded, at first,
with moderation. But the victories of his generals in Lower Germany
encouraged him to throw off all reserve. Accordingly he had it intimated
to all the Protestants in these dominions, that they must either abandon
their religion, or their native country, -- a bitter and dreadful alternative,
which excited the most violent commotions among his Austrian subjects.
In the Palatinate, immediately after the expulsion of Frederick,
the Protestant religion had been suppressed, and its professors expelled
from the University of Heidelberg.
All this was but the prelude to greater changes. In the Electoral Congress
held at Muehlhausen, the Roman Catholics had demanded of the Emperor
that all the archbishoprics, bishoprics, mediate and immediate,
abbacies and monasteries, which, since the Diet of Augsburg,
had been secularized by the Protestants, should be restored to the church,
in order to indemnify them for the losses and sufferings in the war.
To a Roman Catholic prince so zealous as Ferdinand was, such a hint
was not likely to be neglected; but he still thought it would be premature
to arouse the whole Protestants of Germany by so decisive a step.
Not a single Protestant prince but would be deprived,
by this revocation of the religious foundations, of a part of his lands;
for where these revenues had not actually been diverted to secular purposes
they had been made over to the Protestant church. To this source,
many princes owed the chief part of their revenues and importance.
All, without exception, would be irritated by this demand for restoration.
The religious treaty did not expressly deny their right to these chapters,
although it did not allow it. But a possession which had now been held
for nearly a century, the silence of four preceding emperors,
and the law of equity, which gave them an equal right with the Roman Catholics
to the foundations of their common ancestors, might be strongly pleaded
by them as a valid title. Besides the actual loss of power and authority,
which the surrender of these foundations would occasion,
besides the inevitable confusion which would necessarily attend it,
one important disadvantage to which it would lead, was,
that the restoration of the Roman Catholic bishops would increase
the strength of that party in the Diet by so many additional votes.
Such grievous sacrifices likely to fall on the Protestants,
made the Emperor apprehensive of a formidable opposition;
and until the military ardour should have cooled in Germany,
he had no wish to provoke a party formidable by its union,
and which in the Elector of Saxony had a powerful leader. He resolved,
therefore, to try the experiment at first on a small scale, in order
to ascertain how it was likely to succeed on a larger one. Accordingly,
some of the free cities in Upper Germany, and the Duke of Wirtemberg,
received orders to surrender to the Roman Catholics
several of the confiscated chapters.
The state of affairs in Saxony enabled the Emperor to make
some bolder experiments in that quarter. In the bishoprics
of Magdeburg and Halberstadt, the Protestant canons had not hesitated
to elect bishops of their own religion. Both bishoprics,
with the exception of the town of Magdeburg itself, were overrun
by the troops of Wallenstein. It happened, moreover, that by the death
of the Administrator Duke Christian of Brunswick, Halberstadt was vacant,
as was also the Archbishopric of Magdeburg by the deposition
of Christian William, a prince of the House of Brandenburgh.
Ferdinand took advantage of the circumstance to restore the see of Halberstadt
to a Roman Catholic bishop, and a prince of his own house.
To avoid a similar coercion, the Chapter of Magdeburg hastened to elect
a son of the Elector of Saxony as archbishop. But the pope,
who with his arrogated authority interfered in this matter,
conferred the Archbishopric of Magdeburg also on the Austrian prince.
Thus, with all his pious zeal for religion, Ferdinand never lost sight
of the interests of his family.
At length, when the peace of Lubeck had delivered the Emperor
from all apprehensions on the side of Denmark, and the German Protestants
seemed entirely powerless, the League becoming louder and more urgent
in its demands, Ferdinand, in 1629, signed the Edict of Restitution,
(so famous by its disastrous consequences,) which he had previously
laid before the four Roman Catholic electors for their approbation.
In the preamble, he claimed the prerogative, in right of his
imperial authority, to interpret the meaning of the religious treaty,
the ambiguities of which had already caused so many disputes,
and to decide as supreme arbiter and judge between the contending parties.
This prerogative he founded upon the practice of his ancestors,
and its previous recognition even by Protestant states. Saxony had actually
acknowledged this right of the Emperor; and it now became evident
how deeply this court had injured the Protestant cause by its dependence
on the House of Austria. But though the meaning of the religious treaty
was really ambiguous, as a century of religious disputes sufficiently proved,
yet for the Emperor, who must be either a Protestant or a Roman Catholic,
and therefore an interested party, to assume the right of deciding
between the disputants, was clearly a violation of an essential article
of the pacification. He could not be judge in his own cause,
without reducing the liberties of the empire to an empty sound.
And now, in virtue of this usurpation, Ferdinand decided,
"That every secularization of a religious foundation, mediate or immediate,
by the Protestants, subsequent to the date of the treaty,
was contrary to its spirit, and must be revoked as a breach of it."
He further decided, "That, by the religious peace, Catholic proprietors
of estates were no further bound to their Protestant subjects
than to allow them full liberty to quit their territories."
In obedience to this decision, all unlawful possessors of benefices --
the Protestant states in short without exception -- were ordered,
under pain of the ban of the empire, immediately to surrender
their usurped possessions to the imperial commissioners.
This sentence applied to no less than two archbishoprics
and twelve bishoprics, besides innumerable abbacies.
The edict came like a thunderbolt on the whole of Protestant Germany;
dreadful even in its immediate consequences; but yet more so
from the further calamities it seemed to threaten. The Protestants
were now convinced that the suppression of their religion
had been resolved on by the Emperor and the League, and that the overthrow
of German liberty would soon follow. Their remonstrances were unheeded;
the commissioners were named, and an army assembled to enforce obedience.
The edict was first put in force in Augsburg, where the treaty was concluded;
the city was again placed under the government of its bishop, and six
Protestant churches in the town were closed. The Duke of Wirtemberg was,
in like manner, compelled to surrender his abbacies. These severe measures,
though they alarmed the Protestant states, were yet insufficient
to rouse them to an active resistance. Their fear of the Emperor
was too strong, and many were disposed to quiet submission.
The hope of attaining their end by gentle measures,
induced the Roman Catholics likewise to delay for a year
the execution of the edict, and this saved the Protestants;
before the end of that period, the success of the Swedish arms
had totally changed the state of affairs.
In a Diet held at Ratisbon, at which Ferdinand was present in person
(in 1630), the necessity of taking some measures for the immediate restoration
of a general peace to Germany, and for the removal of all grievances,
was debated. The complaints of the Roman Catholics
were scarcely less numerous than those of the Protestants,
although Ferdinand had flattered himself that by the Edict of Restitution
he had secured the members of the League, and its leader by the gift
of the electoral dignity, and the cession of great part of the Palatinate.
But the good understanding between the Emperor and the princes of the League
had rapidly declined since the employment of Wallenstein.
Accustomed to give law to Germany, and even to sway the Emperor's own destiny,
the haughty Elector of Bavaria now at once saw himself supplanted
by the imperial general, and with that of the League, his own importance
completely undermined. Another had now stepped in to reap the fruits
of his victories, and to bury his past services in oblivion.
Wallenstein's imperious character, whose dearest triumph was in degrading
the authority of the princes, and giving an odious latitude
to that of the Emperor, tended not a little to augment the irritation
of the Elector. Discontented with the Emperor, and distrustful
of his intentions, he had entered into an alliance with France,
which the other members of the League were suspected of favouring.
A fear of the Emperor's plans of aggrandizement, and discontent with
existing evils, had extinguished among them all feelings of gratitude.
Wallenstein's exactions had become altogether intolerable.
Brandenburg estimated its losses at twenty, Pomerania at ten,
Hesse Cassel at seven millions of dollars, and the rest in proportion.
The cry for redress was loud, urgent, and universal; all prejudices
were hushed; Roman Catholics and Protestants were united on this point.
The terrified Emperor was assailed on all sides by petitions
against Wallenstein, and his ear filled with the most fearful descriptions
of his outrages. Ferdinand was not naturally cruel. If not totally innocent
of the atrocities which were practised in Germany under the shelter
of his name, he was ignorant of their extent; and he was not long in yielding
to the representation of the princes, and reduced his standing army
by eighteen thousand cavalry. While this reduction took place, the Swedes
were actively preparing an expedition into Germany, and the greater part
of the disbanded Imperialists enlisted under their banners.
The Emperor's concessions only encouraged the Elector of Bavaria
to bolder demands. So long as the Duke of Friedland
retained the supreme command, his triumph over the Emperor was incomplete.
The princes of the League were meditating a severe revenge on Wallenstein
for that haughtiness with which he had treated them all alike.
His dismissal was demanded by the whole college of electors,
and even by Spain, with a degree of unanimity and urgency
which astonished the Emperor. The anxiety with which Wallenstein's enemies
pressed for his dismissal, ought to have convinced the Emperor
of the importance of his services. Wallenstein, informed of the cabals
which were forming against him in Ratisbon, lost no time in opening the eyes
of the Emperor to the real views of the Elector of Bavaria.
He himself appeared in Ratisbon, with a pomp which threw his master
into the shade, and increased the hatred of his opponents.
Long was the Emperor undecided. The sacrifice demanded was a painful one.
To the Duke of Friedland alone he owed his preponderance; he felt how much
he would lose in yielding him to the indignation of the princes.
But at this moment, unfortunately, he was under the necessity
of conciliating the Electors. His son Ferdinand had already been chosen
King of Hungary, and he was endeavouring to procure his election
as his successor in the empire. For this purpose, the support of Maximilian
was indispensable. This consideration was the weightiest,
and to oblige the Elector of Bavaria he scrupled not to sacrifice
his most valuable servant.
At the Diet at Ratisbon, there were present ambassadors from France,
empowered to adjust the differences which seemed to menace
a war in Italy between the Emperor and their sovereign. Vincent,
Duke of Mantua and Montferrat, dying without issue, his next relation,
Charles, Duke of Nevers, had taken possession of this inheritance,
without doing homage to the Emperor as liege lord of the principality.
Encouraged by the support of France and Venice, he refused to surrender
these territories into the hands of the imperial commissioners,
until his title to them should be decided. On the other hand,
Ferdinand had taken up arms at the instigation of the Spaniards,
to whom, as possessors of Milan, the near neighbourhood of a vassal of France
was peculiarly alarming, and who welcomed this prospect of making,
with the assistance of the Emperor, additional conquests in Italy.
In spite of all the exertions of Pope Urban VIII. to avert a war
in that country, Ferdinand marched a German army across the Alps,
and threw the Italian states into a general consternation.
His arms had been successful throughout Germany, and exaggerated fears
revived the olden apprehension of Austria's projects of universal monarchy.
All the horrors of the German war now spread like a deluge
over those favoured countries which the Po waters; Mantua was taken by storm,
and the surrounding districts given up to the ravages of a lawless soldiery.
The curse of Italy was thus added to the maledictions upon the Emperor
which resounded through Germany; and even in the Roman Conclave,
silent prayers were offered for the success of the Protestant arms.
Alarmed by the universal hatred which this Italian campaign had drawn
upon him, and wearied out by the urgent remonstrances of the Electors,
who zealously supported the application of the French ambassador,
the Emperor promised the investiture to the new Duke of Mantua.
This important service on the part of Bavaria, of course,
required an equivalent from France. The adjustment of the treaty
gave the envoys of Richelieu, during their residence in Ratisbon,
the desired opportunity of entangling the Emperor in dangerous intrigues,
of inflaming the discontented princes of the League still more strongly
against him, and of turning to his disadvantage all the transactions
of the Diet. For this purpose Richelieu had chosen an admirable instrument
in Father Joseph, a Capuchin friar, who accompanied the ambassadors
without exciting the least suspicion. One of his principal instructions
was assiduously to bring about the dismissal of Wallenstein.
With the general who had led it to victory, the army of Austria
would lose its principal strength; many armies could not compensate
for the loss of this individual. It would therefore be
a masterstroke of policy, at the very moment when a victorious monarch,
the absolute master of his operations, was arming against the Emperor,
to remove from the head of the imperial armies the only general who,
by ability and military experience, was able to cope with the French king.
Father Joseph, in the interests of Bavaria, undertook to overcome
the irresolution of the Emperor, who was now in a manner besieged
by the Spaniards and the Electoral Council. "It would be expedient,"
he thought, "to gratify the Electors on this occasion,
and thereby facilitate his son's election to the Roman Crown.
This object once gained, Wallenstein could at any time
resume his former station." The artful Capuchin was too sure of his man
to touch upon this ground of consolation.
The voice of a monk was to Ferdinand II. the voice of God.
"Nothing on earth," writes his own confessor, "was more sacred in his eyes
than a priest. If it could happen, he used to say,
that an angel and a Regular were to meet him at the same time and place,
the Regular should receive his first, and the angel his second obeisance."
Wallenstein's dismissal was determined upon.
In return for this pious concession, the Capuchin dexterously counteracted
the Emperor's scheme to procure for the King of Hungary the further dignity
of King of the Romans. In an express clause of the treaty just concluded,
the French ministers engaged in the name of their sovereign to observe
a complete neutrality between the Emperor and his enemies; while,
at the same time, Richelieu was actually negociating with the King of Sweden
to declare war, and pressing upon him the alliance of his master.
The latter, indeed, disavowed the lie as soon as it had served its purpose,
and Father Joseph, confined to a convent, must atone for the alleged offence
of exceeding his instructions. Ferdinand perceived, when too late,
that he had been imposed upon. "A wicked Capuchin," he was heard to say,
"has disarmed me with his rosary, and thrust nothing less
than six electoral crowns into his cowl."
Artifice and trickery thus triumphed over the Emperor, at the moment
when he was believed to be omnipotent in Germany, and actually was so
in the field. With the loss of 18,000 men, and of a general who alone
was worth whole armies, he left Ratisbon without gaining the end
for which he had made such sacrifices. Before the Swedes had vanquished him
in the field, Maximilian of Bavaria and Father Joseph had given him
a mortal blow. At this memorable Diet at Ratisbon the war with Sweden
was resolved upon, and that of Mantua terminated. Vainly had the princes
present at it interceded for the Dukes of Mecklenburgh;
and equally fruitless had been an application by the English ambassadors
for a pension to the Palatine Frederick.
Wallenstein was at the head of an army of nearly a hundred thousand men
who adored him, when the sentence of his dismissal arrived.
Most of the officers were his creatures: -- with the common soldiers
his hint was law. His ambition was boundless, his pride indomitable,
his imperious spirit could not brook an injury unavenged. One moment
would now precipitate him from the height of grandeur into the obscurity
of a private station. To execute such a sentence upon such a delinquent
seemed to require more address than it cost to obtain it from the judge.
Accordingly, two of Wallenstein's most intimate friends were selected
as heralds of these evil tidings, and instructed to soften them
as much as possible, by flattering assurances of the continuance
of the Emperor's favour.
Wallenstein had ascertained the purport of their message
before the imperial ambassadors arrived. He had time to collect himself,
and his countenance exhibited an external calmness, while grief and rage
were storming in his bosom. He had made up his mind to obey.
The Emperor's decision had taken him by surprise before circumstances
were ripe, or his preparations complete, for the bold measures
he had contemplated. His extensive estates were scattered
over Bohemia and Moravia; and by their confiscation, the Emperor might at once
destroy the sinews of his power. He looked, therefore, to the future
for revenge; and in this hope he was encouraged by the predictions
of an Italian astrologer, who led his imperious spirit like a child
in leading strings. Seni had read in the stars, that his master's
brilliant career was not yet ended; and that bright and glorious prospects
still awaited him. It was, indeed, unnecessary to consult the stars
to foretell that an enemy, Gustavus Adolphus, would ere long
render indispensable the services of such a general as Wallenstein.
"The Emperor is betrayed," said Wallenstein to the messengers;
"I pity but forgive him. It is plain that the grasping spirit of the Bavarian
dictates to him. I grieve that, with so much weakness, he has sacrificed me,
but I will obey." He dismissed the emissaries with princely presents;
and in a humble letter besought the continuance of the Emperor's favour,
and of the dignities he had bestowed upon him.
The murmurs of the army were universal, on hearing of the dismissal
of their general; and the greater part of his officers immediately quitted
the imperial service. Many followed him to his estates
in Bohemia and Moravia; others he attached to his interests by pensions,
in order to command their services when the opportunity should offer.
But repose was the last thing that Wallenstein contemplated when he returned
to private life. In his retreat, he surrounded himself with a regal pomp,
which seemed to mock the sentence of degradation. Six gates led to the palace
he inhabited in Prague, and a hundred houses were pulled down to make way
for his courtyard. Similar palaces were built on his other numerous estates.
Gentlemen of the noblest houses contended for the honour of serving him,
and even imperial chamberlains resigned the golden key to the Emperor,
to fill a similar office under Wallenstein. He maintained sixty pages,
who were instructed by the ablest masters. His antichamber was protected
by fifty life guards. His table never consisted of less than 100 covers,
and his seneschal was a person of distinction. When he travelled,
his baggage and suite accompanied him in a hundred wagons,
drawn by six or four horses; his court followed in sixty carriages,
attended by fifty led horses. The pomp of his liveries,
the splendour of his equipages, and the decorations of his apartments,
were in keeping with all the rest. Six barons and as many knights,
were in constant attendance about his person, and ready to execute
his slightest order. Twelve patrols went their rounds about his palace,
to prevent any disturbance. His busy genius required silence.
The noise of coaches was to be kept away from his residence,
and the streets leading to it were frequently blocked up with chains.
His own circle was as silent as the approaches to his palace;
dark, reserved, and impenetrable, he was more sparing of his words
than of his gifts; while the little that he spoke was harsh and imperious.
He never smiled, and the coldness of his temperament was proof
against sensual seductions. Ever occupied with grand schemes,
he despised all those idle amusements in which so many waste their lives.
The correspondence he kept up with the whole of Europe was chiefly managed
by himself, and, that as little as possible might be trusted
to the silence of others, most of the letters were written by his own hand.
He was a man of large stature, thin, of a sallow complexion, with short
red hair, and small sparkling eyes. A gloomy and forbidding seriousness
sat upon his brow; and his magnificent presents alone retained
the trembling crowd of his dependents.
In this stately obscurity did Wallenstein silently, but not inactively,
await the hour of revenge. The victorious career of Gustavus Adolphus
soon gave him a presentiment of its approach. Not one of his lofty schemes
had been abandoned; and the Emperor's ingratitude had loosened the curb
of his ambition. The dazzling splendour of his private life
bespoke high soaring projects; and, lavish as a king, he seemed already
to reckon among his certain possessions those which he contemplated with hope.
After Wallenstein's dismissal, and the invasion of Gustavus Adolphus,
a new generalissimo was to be appointed; and it now appeared advisable
to unite both the imperial army and that of the League under one general.
Maximilian of Bavaria sought this appointment, which would have enabled him
to dictate to the Emperor, who, from a conviction of this,
wished to procure the command for his eldest son, the King of Hungary.
At last, in order to avoid offence to either of the competitors,
the appointment was given to Tilly, who now exchanged the Bavarian
for the Austrian service. The imperial army in Germany,
after the retirement of Wallenstein, amounted to about 40,000 men;
that of the League to nearly the same number, both commanded
by excellent officers, trained by the experience of several campaigns,
and proud of a long series of victories. With such a force,
little apprehension was felt at the invasion of the King of Sweden,
and the less so as it commanded both Pomerania and Mecklenburg,
the only countries through which he could enter Germany.
After the unsuccessful attempt of the King of Denmark to check
the Emperor's progress, Gustavus Adolphus was the only prince in Europe
from whom oppressed liberty could look for protection -- the only one who,
while he was personally qualified to conduct such an enterprise,
had both political motives to recommend and wrongs to justify it.
Before the commencement of the war in Lower Saxony,
important political interests induced him, as well as the King of Denmark,
to offer his services and his army for the defence of Germany;
but the offer of the latter had, to his own misfortune, been preferred.
Since that time, Wallenstein and the Emperor had adopted measures
which must have been equally offensive to him as a man and as a king.
Imperial troops had been despatched to the aid of the Polish king, Sigismund,
to defend Prussia against the Swedes. When the king complained to Wallenstein
of this act of hostility, he received for answer, "The Emperor has
more soldiers than he wants for himself, he must help his friends."
The Swedish ambassadors had been insolently ordered by Wallenstein
to withdraw from the conference at Lubeck; and when, unawed by this command,
they were courageous enough to remain, contrary to the law of nations,
he had threatened them with violence. Ferdinand had also insulted
the Swedish flag, and intercepted the king's despatches to Transylvania.
He also threw every obstacle in the way of a peace betwixt Poland and Sweden,
supported the pretensions of Sigismund to the Swedish throne,
and denied the right of Gustavus to the title of king. Deigning no regard
to the repeated remonstrances of Gustavus, he rather aggravated the offence
by new grievances, than acceded the required satisfaction.
So many personal motives, supported by important considerations,
both of policy and religion, and seconded by pressing invitations
from Germany, had their full weight with a prince, who was naturally
the more jealous of his royal prerogative the more it was questioned,
who was flattered by the glory he hoped to gain as Protector of the Oppressed,
and passionately loved war as the element of his genius. But,
until a truce or peace with Poland should set his hands free,
a new and dangerous war was not to be thought of.
Cardinal Richelieu had the merit of effecting this truce with Poland.
This great statesman, who guided the helm of Europe, while in France
he repressed the rage of faction and the insolence of the nobles,
pursued steadily, amidst the cares of a stormy administration,
his plan of lowering the ascendancy of the House of Austria.
But circumstances opposed considerable obstacles to the execution
of his designs; and even the greatest minds cannot, with impunity,
defy the prejudices of the age. The minister of a Roman Catholic king,
and a Cardinal, he was prevented by the purple he bore from joining
the enemies of that church in an open attack on a power which had the address
to sanctify its ambitious encroachments under the name of religion.
The external deference which Richelieu was obliged to pay to the narrow views
of his contemporaries limited his exertions to secret negociations,
by which he endeavoured to gain the hand of others to accomplish
the enlightened projects of his own mind. After a fruitless attempt
to prevent the peace between Denmark and the Emperor,
he had recourse to Gustavus Adolphus, the hero of his age.
No exertion was spared to bring this monarch to a favourable decision,
and at the same time to facilitate the execution of it. Charnasse,
an unsuspected agent of the Cardinal, proceeded to Polish Prussia,
where Gustavus Adolphus was conducting the war against Sigismund,
and alternately visited these princes, in order to persuade them
to a truce or peace. Gustavus had been long inclined to it,
and the French minister succeeded at last in opening the eyes of Sigismund
to his true interests, and to the deceitful policy of the Emperor.
A truce for six years was agreed on, Gustavus being allowed to retain
all his conquests. This treaty gave him also what he had so long desired,
the liberty of directing his arms against the Emperor.
For this the French ambassador offered him the alliance of his sovereign
and considerable subsidies. But Gustavus Adolphus was justly apprehensive
lest the acceptance of the assistance should make him dependent upon France,
and fetter him in his career of conquest, while an alliance
with a Roman Catholic power might excite distrust among the Protestants.
If the war was just and necessary, the circumstances under which
it was undertaken were not less promising. The name of the Emperor,
it is true, was formidable, his resources inexhaustible,
his power hitherto invincible. So dangerous a contest would have dismayed
any other than Gustavus. He saw all the obstacles and dangers
which opposed his undertaking, but he knew also the means by which,
as he hoped, they might be conquered. His army, though not numerous,
was well disciplined, inured to hardship by a severe climate and campaigns,
and trained to victory in the war with Poland. Sweden,
though poor in men and money, and overtaxed by an eight years' war,
was devoted to its monarch with an enthusiasm which assured him
of the ready support of his subjects. In Germany, the name of the Emperor
was at least as much hated as feared. The Protestant princes only awaited
the arrival of a deliverer to throw off his intolerable yoke,
and openly declare for the Swedes. Even the Roman Catholic states
would welcome an antagonist to the Emperor, whose opposition might control
his overwhelming influence. The first victory gained on German ground
would be decisive. It would encourage those princes who still hesitated
to declare themselves, strengthen the cause of his adherents,
augment his troops, and open resources for the maintenance of the campaign.
If the greater part of the German states were impoverished by oppression,
the flourishing Hanse towns had escaped, and they could not hesitate,
by a small voluntary sacrifice, to avert the general ruin.
As the imperialists should be driven from the different provinces,
their armies would diminish, since they were subsisting on the countries
in which they were encamped. The strength, too, of the Emperor
had been lessened by ill-timed detachments to Italy and the Netherlands;
while Spain, weakened by the loss of the Manilla galleons, and engaged in
a serious war in the Netherlands, could afford him little support.
Great Britain, on the other hand, gave the King of Sweden hope
of considerable subsidies; and France, now at peace with itself,
came forward with the most favourable offers.
But the strongest pledge for the success of his undertaking
Gustavus found -- in himself. Prudence demanded that he should embrace
all the foreign assistance he could, in order to guard his enterprise
from the imputation of rashness; but all his confidence and courage
were entirely derived from himself. He was indisputably the greatest general
of his age, and the bravest soldier in the army which he had formed.
Familiar with the tactics of Greece and Rome, he had discovered
a more effective system of warfare, which was adopted as a model
by the most eminent commanders of subsequent times. He reduced
the unwieldy squadrons of cavalry, and rendered their movements
more light and rapid; and, with the same view, he widened the intervals
between his battalions. Instead of the usual array in a single line,
he disposed his forces in two lines, that the second might advance
in the event of the first giving way.
He made up for his want of cavalry, by placing infantry among the horse;
a practice which frequently decided the victory. Europe first learned
from him the importance of infantry. All Germany was astonished
at the strict discipline which, at the first, so creditably distinguished
the Swedish army within their territories; all disorders were punished
with the utmost severity, particularly impiety, theft, gambling, and duelling.
The Swedish articles of war enforced frugality. In the camp,
the King's tent not excepted, neither silver nor gold was to be seen.
The general's eye looked as vigilantly to the morals as to the martial bravery
of his soldiers; every regiment was ordered to form round its chaplain
for morning and evening prayers. In all these points the lawgiver was also
an example. A sincere and ardent piety exalted his courage. Equally free
from the coarse infidelity which leaves the passions of the barbarian
without a control, -- and from the grovelling superstition of Ferdinand,
who humbled himself to the dust before the Supreme Being,
while he haughtily trampled on his fellow-creature --
in the height of his success he was ever a man and a Christian --
in the height of his devotion, a king and a hero. The hardships of war
he shared with the meanest soldier in his army; maintained a calm serenity
amidst the hottest fury of battle; his glance was omnipresent,
and he intrepidly forgot the danger while he exposed himself
to the greatest peril. His natural courage, indeed, too often
made him forget the duty of a general; and the life of a king ended
in the death of a common soldier. But such a leader was followed to victory
alike by the coward and the brave, and his eagle glance marked
every heroic deed which his example had inspired. The fame of their sovereign
excited in the nation an enthusiastic sense of their own importance;
proud of their king, the peasant in Finland and Gothland joyfully contributed
his pittance; the soldier willingly shed his blood; and the lofty energy
which his single mind had imparted to the nation long survived its creator.
The necessity of the war was acknowledged, but the best plan of conducting it
was a matter of much question. Even to the bold Chancellor Oxenstiern,
an offensive war appeared too daring a measure; the resources of
his poor and conscientious master, appeared to him too slender
to compete with those of a despotic sovereign, who held all Germany
at his command. But the minister's timid scruples were overruled
by the hero's penetrating prudence. "If we await the enemy in Sweden,"
said Gustavus, "in the event of a defeat every thing would be lost,
by a fortunate commencement in Germany everything would be gained.
The sea is wide, and we have a long line of coast in Sweden to defend.
If the enemy's fleet should escape us, or our own be defeated, it would,
in either case, be impossible to prevent the enemy's landing.
Every thing depends on the retention of Stralsund. So long as this harbour
is open to us, we shall both command the Baltic, and secure a retreat
from Germany. But to protect this port, we must not remain in Sweden,
but advance at once into Pomerania. Let us talk no more, then,
of a defensive war, by which we should sacrifice our greatest advantages.
Sweden must not be doomed to behold a hostile banner; if we are vanquished
in Germany, it will be time enough to follow your plan."
Gustavus resolved to cross the Baltic and attack the Emperor.
His preparations were made with the utmost expedition,
and his precautionary measures were not less prudent
than the resolution itself was bold and magnanimous. Before engaging in
so distant a war, it was necessary to secure Sweden against its neighbours.
At a personal interview with the King of Denmark at Markaroed,
Gustavus assured himself of the friendship of that monarch; his frontier
on the side of Moscow was well guarded; Poland might be held in check
from Germany, if it betrayed any design of infringing the truce. Falkenberg,
a Swedish ambassador, who visited the courts of Holland and Germany,
obtained the most flattering promises from several Protestant princes,
though none of them yet possessed courage or self-devotion enough
to enter into a formal alliance with him. Lubeck and Hamburg engaged
to advance him money, and to accept Swedish copper in return.
Emissaries were also despatched to the Prince of Transylvania,
to excite that implacable enemy of Austria to arms.
In the mean time, Swedish levies were made in Germany and the Netherlands,
the regiments increased to their full complement, new ones raised,
transports provided, a fleet fitted out, provisions, military stores,
and money collected. Thirty ships of war were in a short time prepared,
15,000 men equipped, and 200 transports were ready to convey them
across the Baltic. A greater force Gustavus Adolphus was unwilling
to carry into Germany, and even the maintenance of this
exceeded the revenues of his kingdom. But however small his army,
it was admirable in all points of discipline, courage, and experience,
and might serve as the nucleus of a more powerful armament, if it once gained
the German frontier, and its first attempts were attended with success.
Oxenstiern, at once general and chancellor, was posted with 10,000 men
in Prussia, to protect that province against Poland. Some regular troops,
and a considerable body of militia, which served as a nursery
for the main body, remained in Sweden, as a defence against a sudden invasion
by any treacherous neighbour.
These were the measures taken for the external defence of the kingdom.
Its internal administration was provided for with equal care.
The government was intrusted to the Council of State, and the finances
to the Palatine John Casimir, the brother-in-law of the King,
while his wife, tenderly as he was attached to her, was excluded from
all share in the government, for which her limited talents incapacitated her.
He set his house in order like a dying man. On the 20th May, 1630,
when all his measures were arranged, and all was ready for his departure,
the King appeared in the Diet at Stockholm, to bid the States
a solemn farewell. Taking in his arms his daughter Christina,
then only four years old, who, in the cradle, had been acknowledged
as his successor, he presented her to the States as the future sovereign,
exacted from them a renewal of the oath of allegiance to her,
in case he should never more return; and then read the ordinances
for the government of the kingdom during his absence,
or the minority of his daughter. The whole assembly was dissolved in tears,
and the King himself was some time before he could attain
sufficient composure to deliver his farewell address to the States.
"Not lightly or wantonly," said he, "am I about to involve myself and you
in this new and dangerous war; God is my witness that _I_ do not fight
to gratify my own ambition. But the Emperor has wronged me most shamefully
in the person of my ambassadors. He has supported my enemies,
persecuted my friends and brethren, trampled my religion in the dust,
and even stretched his revengeful arm against my crown.
The oppressed states of Germany call loudly for aid, which, by God's help,
we will give them.
"I am fully sensible of the dangers to which my life will be exposed.
I have never yet shrunk from them, nor is it likely that I shall escape
them all. Hitherto, Providence has wonderfully protected me,
but I shall at last fall in defence of my country. I commend you
to the protection of Heaven. Be just, be conscientious, act uprightly,
and we shall meet again in eternity.
"To you, my Counsellors of State, I address myself first.
May God enlighten you, and fill you with wisdom, to promote the welfare
of my people. You, too, my brave nobles, I commend to the divine protection.
Continue to prove yourselves the worthy successors of those Gothic heroes,
whose bravery humbled to the dust the pride of ancient Rome. To you,
ministers of religion, I recommend moderation and unity; be yourselves
examples of the virtues which you preach, and abuse not your influence
over the minds of my people. On you, deputies of the burgesses,
and the peasantry, I entreat the blessing of heaven; may your industry
be rewarded by a prosperous harvest; your stores plenteously filled,
and may you be crowned abundantly with all the blessings of this life.
For the prosperity of all my subjects, absent and present,
I offer my warmest prayers to Heaven. I bid you all
a sincere -- it may be -- an eternal farewell."
The embarkation of the troops took place at Elfsknaben,
where the fleet lay at anchor. An immense concourse flocked thither
to witness this magnificent spectacle. The hearts of the spectators
were agitated by varied emotions, as they alternately considered
the vastness of the enterprise, and the greatness of the leader.
Among the superior officers who commanded in this army were Gustavus Horn,
the Rhinegrave Otto Lewis, Henry Matthias, Count Thurn, Ottenberg,
Baudissen, Banner, Teufel, Tott, Mutsenfahl, Falkenberg, Kniphausen,
and other distinguished names. Detained by contrary winds,
the fleet did not sail till June, and on the 24th of that month
reached the Island of Rugen in Pomerania.
Gustavus Adolphus was the first who landed. In the presence of his suite,
he knelt on the shore of Germany to return thanks to the Almighty
for the safe arrival of his fleet and his army. He landed his troops
on the Islands of Wollin and Usedom; upon his approach, the imperial garrisons
abandoned their entrenchments and fled. He advanced rapidly on Stettin,
to secure this important place before the appearance of the Imperialists.
Bogislaus XIV., Duke of Pomerania, a feeble and superannuated prince,
had been long tired out by the outrages committed by the latter
within his territories; but too weak to resist, he had contented himself
with murmurs. The appearance of his deliverer, instead of
animating his courage, increased his fear and anxiety. Severely as
his country had suffered from the Imperialists, the risk of incurring
the Emperor's vengeance prevented him from declaring openly for the Swedes.
Gustavus Adolphus, who was encamped under the walls of the town,
summoned the city to receive a Swedish garrison. Bogislaus appeared
in person in the camp of Gustavus, to deprecate this condition.
"I come to you," said Gustavus, "not as an enemy but a friend.
I wage no war against Pomerania, nor against the German empire,
but against the enemies of both. In my hands this duchy shall be sacred;
and it shall be restored to you at the conclusion of the campaign, by me,
with more certainty, than by any other. Look to the traces
of the imperial force within your territories, and to mine in Usedom;
and decide whether you will have the Emperor or me as your friend.
What have you to expect, if the Emperor should make himself master
of your capital? Will he deal with you more leniently than I? Or is it
your intention to stop my progress? The case is pressing: decide at once,
and do not compel me to have recourse to more violent measures."
The alternative was a painful one. On the one side, the King of Sweden
was before his gates with a formidable army; on the other,
he saw the inevitable vengeance of the Emperor, and the fearful example
of so many German princes, who were now wandering in misery, the victims
of that revenge. The more immediate danger decided his resolution.
The gates of Stettin were opened to the king; the Swedish troops entered;
and the Austrians, who were advancing by rapid marches, anticipated.
The capture of this place procured for the king a firm footing in Pomerania,
the command of the Oder, and a magazine for his troops. To prevent a charge
of treachery, Bogislaus was careful to excuse this step to the Emperor
on the plea of necessity; but aware of Ferdinand's implacable disposition,
he entered into a close alliance with his new protector.
By this league with Pomerania, Gustavus secured a powerful friend in Germany,
who covered his rear, and maintained his communication with Sweden.
As Ferdinand was already the aggressor in Prussia, Gustavus Adolphus
thought himself absolved from the usual formalities, and commenced hostilities
without any declaration of war. To the other European powers,
he justified his conduct in a manifesto, in which he detailed the grounds
which had led him to take up arms. Meanwhile he continued his progress
in Pomerania, while he saw his army daily increasing. The troops which had
fought under Mansfeld, Duke Christian of Brunswick, the King of Denmark,
and Wallenstein, came in crowds, both officers and soldiers,
to join his victorious standard.
At the Imperial court, the invasion of the king of Sweden
at first excited far less attention than it merited. The pride of Austria,
extravagantly elated by its unheard-of successes, looked down with contempt
upon a prince, who, with a handful of men, came from an obscure corner
of Europe, and who owed his past successes, as they imagined, entirely to
the incapacity of a weak opponent. The depreciatory representation
which Wallenstein had artfully given of the Swedish power,
increased the Emperor's security; for what had he to fear from an enemy,
whom his general undertook to drive with such ease from Germany?
Even the rapid progress of Gustavus Adolphus in Pomerania,
could not entirely dispel this prejudice, which the mockeries of the courtiers
continued to feed. He was called in Vienna the Snow King,
whom the cold of the north kept together, but who would infallibly melt
as he advanced southward. Even the electors, assembled in Ratisbon,
disregarded his representations; and, influenced by an abject complaisance
to Ferdinand, refused him even the title of king. But while they mocked him
in Ratisbon and Vienna, in Mecklenburg and Pomerania,
one strong town after another fell into his hands.
Notwithstanding this contempt, the Emperor thought it proper
to offer to adjust his differences with Sweden by negociation,
and for that purpose sent plenipotentiaries to Denmark.
But their instructions showed how little he was in earnest in these proposals,
for he still continued to refuse to Gustavus the title of king.
He hoped by this means to throw on the king of Sweden the odium of being
the aggressor, and thereby to ensure the support of the States of the empire.
The conference at Dantzic proved, as might be expected, fruitless,
and the animosity of both parties was increased to its utmost
by an intemperate correspondence.
An imperial general, Torquato Conti, who commanded in Pomerania, had,
in the mean time, made a vain attempt to wrest Stettin from the Swedes.
The Imperialists were driven out from one place after another;
Damm, Stargard, Camin, and Wolgast, soon fell into the hands of Gustavus.
To revenge himself upon the Duke of Pomerania, the imperial general
permitted his troops, upon his retreat, to exercise every barbarity
on the unfortunate inhabitants of Pomerania, who had already suffered
but too severely from his avarice. On pretence of cutting off the resources
of the Swedes, the whole country was laid waste and plundered;
and often when the Imperialists were unable any longer to maintain a place,
it was laid in ashes, in order to leave the enemy nothing but ruins.
But these barbarities only served to place in a more favourable light
the opposite conduct of the Swedes, and to win all hearts
to their humane monarch. The Swedish soldier paid for all he required;
no private property was injured on his march. The Swedes consequently
were received with open arms both in town and country,
whilst every Imperialist that fell into the hands of the Pomeranian peasantry
was ruthlessly murdered. Many Pomeranians entered into the service of Sweden,
and the estates of this exhausted country willingly voted the king
a contribution of 100,000 florins.
Torquato Conti, who, with all his severity of character,
was a consummate general, endeavoured to render Stettin useless
to the king of Sweden, as he could not deprive him of it.
He entrenched himself upon the Oder, at Gartz, above Stettin, in order,
by commanding that river, to cut off the water communication of the town
with the rest of Germany. Nothing could induce him to attack
the King of Sweden, who was his superior in numbers, while the latter was
equally cautious not to storm the strong entrenchments of the Imperialists.
Torquato, too deficient in troops and money to act upon the offensive
against the king, hoped by this plan of operations to give time for Tilly
to hasten to the defence of Pomerania, and then, in conjunction with
that general, to attack the Swedes. Seizing the opportunity
of the temporary absence of Gustavus, he made a sudden attempt upon Stettin,
but the Swedes were not unprepared for him. A vigorous attack
of the Imperialists was firmly repulsed, and Torquato was forced to retire
with great loss. For this auspicious commencement of the war,
however, Gustavus was, it must be owned, as much indebted to his good fortune
as to his military talents. The imperial troops in Pomerania
had been greatly reduced since Wallenstein's dismissal; moreover,
the outrages they had committed were now severely revenged upon them;
wasted and exhausted, the country no longer afforded them a subsistence.
All discipline was at an end; the orders of the officers were disregarded,
while their numbers daily decreased by desertion, and by a general mortality,
which the piercing cold of a strange climate had produced among them.
Under these circumstances, the imperial general was anxious
to allow his troops the repose of winter quarters, but he had to do
with an enemy to whom the climate of Germany had no winter.
Gustavus had taken the precaution of providing his soldiers
with dresses of sheep-skin, to enable them to keep the field
even in the most inclement season. The imperial plenipotentiaries,
who came to treat with him for a cessation of hostilities,
received this discouraging answer: "The Swedes are soldiers in winter
as well as in summer, and not disposed to oppress the unfortunate peasantry.
The Imperialists may act as they think proper, but they need not expect
to remain undisturbed." Torquato Conti soon after resigned a command,
in which neither riches nor reputation were to be gained.
In this inequality of the two armies, the advantage was necessarily
on the side of the Swedes. The Imperialists were incessantly harassed
in their winter quarters; Greifenhagan, an important place upon the Oder,
taken by storm, and the towns of Gartz and Piritz were at last abandoned
by the enemy. In the whole of Pomerania, Greifswald, Demmin, and Colberg
alone remained in their hands, and these the king made great preparations
to besiege. The enemy directed their retreat towards Brandenburg,
in which much of their artillery and baggage, and many prisoners
fell into the hands of the pursuers.
By seizing the passes of Riebnitz and Damgarden, Gustavus had opened
a passage into Mecklenburg, whose inhabitants were invited to return
to their allegiance under their legitimate sovereigns, and to expel
the adherents of Wallenstein. The Imperialists, however,
gained the important town of Rostock by stratagem, and thus prevented
the farther advance of the king, who was unwilling to divide his forces.
The exiled dukes of Mecklenburg had ineffectually employed
the princes assembled at Ratisbon to intercede with the Emperor:
in vain they had endeavoured to soften Ferdinand, by renouncing
the alliance of the king, and every idea of resistance. But,
driven to despair by the Emperor's inflexibility, they openly espoused
the side of Sweden, and raising troops, gave the command of them
to Francis Charles Duke of Saxe-Lauenburg. That general made himself
master of several strong places on the Elbe, but lost them afterwards
to the Imperial General Pappenheim, who was despatched to oppose him.
Soon afterwards, besieged by the latter in the town of Ratzeburg,
he was compelled to surrender with all his troops. Thus ended the attempt
which these unfortunate princes made to recover their territories;
and it was reserved for the victorious arm of Gustavus Adolphus
to render them that brilliant service.
The Imperialists had thrown themselves into Brandenburg, which now became
the theatre of the most barbarous atrocities. These outrages were inflicted
upon the subjects of a prince who had never injured the Emperor, and whom,
moreover, he was at the very time inciting to take up arms
against the King of Sweden. The sight of the disorders of their soldiers,
which want of money compelled them to wink at, and of authority
over their troops, excited the disgust even of the imperial generals;
and, from very shame, their commander-in-chief, Count Schaumburg,
wished to resign.
Without a sufficient force to protect his territories,
and left by the Emperor, in spite of the most pressing remonstrances,
without assistance, the Elector of Brandenburg at last issued an edict,
ordering his subjects to repel force by force, and to put to death
without mercy every Imperial soldier who should henceforth be detected
in plundering. To such a height had the violence of outrage
and the misery of the government risen, that nothing was left
to the sovereign, but the desperate extremity of sanctioning private vengeance
by a formal law.
The Swedes had pursued the Imperialists into Brandenburg;
and only the Elector's refusal to open to him the fortress of Custrin
for his march, obliged the king to lay aside his design of besieging
Frankfort on the Oder. He therefore returned to complete the conquest
of Pomerania, by the capture of Demmin and Colberg. In the mean time,
Field-Marshal Tilly was advancing to the defence of Brandenburg.
This general, who could boast as yet of never having suffered a defeat,
the conqueror of Mansfeld, of Duke Christian of Brunswick, of the Margrave
of Baden, and the King of Denmark, was now in the Swedish monarch
to meet an opponent worthy of his fame. Descended of a noble family in Liege,
Tilly had formed his military talents in the wars of the Netherlands,
which was then the great school for generals. He soon found an opportunity
of distinguishing himself under Rodolph II. in Hungary, where he rapidly rose
from one step to another. After the peace, he entered into the service of
Maximilian of Bavaria, who made him commander-in-chief with absolute powers.
Here, by his excellent regulations, he was the founder of the Bavarian army;
and to him, chiefly, Maximilian was indebted for his superiority in the field.
Upon the termination of the Bohemian war, he was appointed commander
of the troops of the League; and, after Wallenstein's dismissal,
generalissimo of the imperial armies. Equally stern towards his soldiers
and implacable towards his enemies, and as gloomy and impenetrable
as Wallenstein, he was greatly his superior in probity and disinterestedness.
A bigoted zeal for religion, and a bloody spirit of persecution,
co-operated, with the natural ferocity of his character, to make him
the terror of the Protestants. A strange and terrific aspect bespoke
his character: of low stature, thin, with hollow cheeks, a long nose,
a broad and wrinkled forehead, large whiskers, and a pointed chin;
he was generally attired in a Spanish doublet of green satin,
with slashed sleeves, with a small high peaked hat upon his head,
surmounted by a red feather which hung down to his back. His whole aspect
recalled to recollection the Duke of Alva, the scourge of the Flemings,
and his actions were far from effacing the impression. Such was the general
who was now to be opposed to the hero of the north.
Tilly was far from undervaluing his antagonist, "The King of Sweden,"
said he in the Diet at Ratisbon, "is an enemy both prudent and brave,
inured to war, and in the flower of his age. His plans are excellent,
his resources considerable; his subjects enthusiastically attached to him.
His army, composed of Swedes, Germans, Livonians, Finlanders,
Scots and English, by its devoted obedience to their leader,
is blended into one nation: he is a gamester in playing with whom
not to have lost is to have won a great deal."
The progress of the King of Sweden in Brandenburg and Pomerania,
left the new generalissimo no time to lose; and his presence
was now urgently called for by those who commanded in that quarter.
With all expedition, he collected the imperial troops which were dispersed
over the empire; but it required time to obtain from the exhausted
and impoverished provinces the necessary supplies. At last,
about the middle of winter, he appeared at the head of 20,000 men,
before Frankfort on the Oder, where he was joined by Schaumburg.
Leaving to this general the defence of Frankfort, with a sufficient garrison,
he hastened to Pomerania, with a view of saving Demmin, and relieving Colberg,
which was already hard pressed by the Swedes. But even before
he had left Brandenburg, Demmin, which was but poorly defended
by the Duke of Savelli, had surrendered to the king, and Colberg,
after a five months' siege, was starved into a capitulation.
As the passes in Upper Pomerania were well guarded, and the king's camp
near Schwedt defied attack, Tilly abandoned his offensive plan of operations,
and retreated towards the Elbe to besiege Magdeburg.
The capture of Demmin opened to the king a free passage into Mecklenburg;
but a more important enterprise drew his arms into another quarter.
Scarcely had Tilly commenced his retrograde movement, when suddenly
breaking up his camp at Schwedt, the king marched his whole force
against Frankfort on the Oder. This town, badly fortified, was defended by
a garrison of 8,000 men, mostly composed of those ferocious bands
who had so cruelly ravaged Pomerania and Brandenburg. It was now attacked
with such impetuosity, that on the third day it was taken by storm.
The Swedes, assured of victory, rejected every offer of capitulation,
as they were resolved to exercise the dreadful right of retaliation.
For Tilly, soon after his arrival, had surrounded a Swedish detachment,
and, irritated by their obstinate resistance, had cut them in pieces to a man.
This cruelty was not forgotten by the Swedes. "New Brandenburg Quarter",
they replied to the Imperialists who begged their lives, and slaughtered them
without mercy. Several thousands were either killed or taken,
and many were drowned in the Oder, the rest fled to Silesia.
All their artillery fell into the hands of the Swedes. To satisfy the rage
of his troops, Gustavus Adolphus was under the necessity of giving up the town
for three hours to plunder.
While the king was thus advancing from one conquest to another,
and, by his success, encouraging the Protestants to active resistance,
the Emperor proceeded to enforce the Edict of Restitution,
and, by his exorbitant pretensions, to exhaust the patience of the states.
Compelled by necessity, he continued the violent course which he had begun
with such arrogant confidence; the difficulties into which
his arbitrary conduct had plunged him, he could only extricate himself from
by measures still more arbitrary. But in so complicated a body
as the German empire, despotism must always create
the most dangerous convulsions. With astonishment, the princes beheld
the constitution of the empire overthrown, and the state of nature to which
matters were again verging, suggested to them the idea of self-defence,
the only means of protection in such a state of things.
The steps openly taken by the Emperor against the Lutheran church,
had at last removed the veil from the eyes of John George,
who had been so long the dupe of his artful policy. Ferdinand, too,
had personally offended him by the exclusion of his son
from the archbishopric of Magdeburg; and field-marshal Arnheim,
his new favourite and minister, spared no pains to increase the resentment
of his master. Arnheim had formerly been an imperial general
under Wallenstein, and being still zealously attached to him,
he was eager to avenge his old benefactor and himself on the Emperor,
by detaching Saxony from the Austrian interests. Gustavus Adolphus,
supported by the Protestant states, would be invincible;
a consideration which already filled the Emperor with alarm.
The example of Saxony would probably influence others, and the Emperor's fate
seemed now in a manner to depend upon the Elector's decision.
The artful favourite impressed upon his master this idea
of his own importance, and advised him to terrify the Emperor,
by threatening an alliance with Sweden, and thus to extort from his fears,
what he had sought in vain from his gratitude. The favourite, however,
was far from wishing him actually to enter into the Swedish alliance,
but, by holding aloof from both parties, to maintain his own importance
and independence. Accordingly, he laid before him a plan, which only wanted
a more able hand to carry it into execution, and recommended him,
by heading the Protestant party, to erect a third power in Germany,
and thereby maintain the balance between Sweden and Austria.
This project was peculiarly flattering to the Saxon Elector,
to whom the idea of being dependent upon Sweden, or of longer submitting
to the tyranny of the Emperor, was equally hateful. He could not,
with indifference, see the control of German affairs wrested from him
by a foreign prince; and incapable as he was of taking a principal part,
his vanity would not condescend to act a subordinate one. He resolved,
therefore, to draw every possible advantage from the progress of Gustavus,
but to pursue, independently, his own separate plans. With this view,
he consulted with the Elector of Brandenburg, who, from similar causes,
was ready to act against the Emperor, but, at the same time,
was jealous of Sweden. In a Diet at Torgau, having assured himself
of the support of his Estates, he invited the Protestant States of the empire
to a general convention, which took place at Leipzig,
on the 6th February 1631. Brandenburg, Hesse Cassel, with several princes,
counts, estates of the empire, and Protestant bishops were present,
either personally or by deputy, at this assembly, which the chaplain to
the Saxon Court, Dr. Hoe von Hohenegg, opened with a vehement discourse
from the pulpit. The Emperor had, in vain, endeavoured to prevent
this self-appointed convention, whose object was evidently to provide for
its own defence, and which the presence of the Swedes in the empire,
rendered more than usually alarming. Emboldened by the progress
of Gustavus Adolphus, the assembled princes asserted their rights,
and after a session of two months broke up, with adopting a resolution
which placed the Emperor in no slight embarrassment. Its import was
to demand of the Emperor, in a general address, the revocation
of the Edict of Restitution, the withdrawal of his troops from
their capitals and fortresses, the suspension of all existing proceedings,
and the abolition of abuses; and, in the mean time, to raise an army
of 40,000 men, to enable them to redress their own grievances,
if the Emperor should still refuse satisfaction.
A further incident contributed not a little to increase the firmness
of the Protestant princes. The King of Sweden had, at last,
overcome the scruples which had deterred him from a closer alliance
with France, and, on the 13th January 1631, concluded a formal treaty
with this crown. After a serious dispute respecting the treatment
of the Roman Catholic princes of the empire, whom France took under
her protection, and against whom Gustavus claimed the right of retaliation,
and after some less important differences with regard to the title of majesty,
which the pride of France was loth to concede to the King of Sweden,
Richelieu yielded the second, and Gustavus Adolphus the first point,
and the treaty was signed at Beerwald in Neumark. The contracting parties
mutually covenanted to defend each other with a military force,
to protect their common friends, to restore to their dominions
the deposed princes of the empire, and to replace every thing,
both on the frontier and in the interior of Germany, on the same footing
on which it stood before the commencement of the war. For this end,
Sweden engaged to maintain an army of 30,000 men in Germany, and France agreed
to furnish the Swedes with an annual subsidy of 400,000 dollars.
If the arms of Gustavus were successful, he was to respect
the Roman Catholic religion and the constitution of the empire
in all the conquered places, and to make no attempt against either.
All Estates and princes whether Protestant or Roman Catholic,
either in Germany or in other countries, were to be invited to become parties
to the treaty; neither France nor Sweden was to conclude a separate peace
without the knowledge and consent of the other; and the treaty itself
was to continue in force for five years.
Great as was the struggle to the King of Sweden to receive subsidies
from France, and sacrifice his independence in the conduct of the war,
this alliance with France decided his cause in Germany. Protected,
as he now was, by the greatest power in Europe, the German states
began to feel confidence in his undertaking, for the issue of which
they had hitherto good reason to tremble. He became truly formidable
to the Emperor. The Roman Catholic princes too, who, though they were anxious
to humble Austria, had witnessed his progress with distrust, were less alarmed
now that an alliance with a Roman Catholic power ensured his respect
for their religion. And thus, while Gustavus Adolphus protected
the Protestant religion and the liberties of Germany against the aggression
of Ferdinand, France secured those liberties, and the Roman Catholic religion,
against Gustavus himself, if the intoxication of success should hurry him
beyond the bounds of moderation.
The King of Sweden lost no time in apprizing the members
of the confederacy of Leipzig of the treaty concluded with France,
and inviting them to a closer union with himself. The application
was seconded by France, who spared no pains to win over the Elector of Saxony.
Gustavus was willing to be content with secret support, if the princes
should deem it too bold a step as yet to declare openly in his favour.
Several princes gave him hopes of his proposals being accepted
on the first favourable opportunity; but the Saxon Elector,
full of jealousy and distrust towards the King of Sweden,
and true to the selfish policy he had pursued, could not be prevailed upon
to give a decisive answer.
The resolution of the confederacy of Leipzig, and the alliance betwixt
France and Sweden, were news equally disagreeable to the Emperor.
Against them he employed the thunder of imperial ordinances,
and the want of an army saved France from the full weight of his displeasure.
Remonstrances were addressed to all the members of the confederacy,
strongly prohibiting them from enlisting troops. They retorted
with explanations equally vehement, justified their conduct
upon the principles of natural right, and continued their preparations.
Meantime, the imperial generals, deficient both in troops and money,
found themselves reduced to the disagreeable alternative of losing sight
either of the King of Sweden, or of the Estates of the empire,
since with a divided force they were not a match for either.
The movements of the Protestants called their attention to the interior
of the empire, while the progress of the king in Brandenburg,
by threatening the hereditary possessions of Austria, required them
to turn their arms to that quarter. After the conquest of Frankfort,
the king had advanced upon Landsberg on the Warta, and Tilly,
after a fruitless attempt to relieve it, had again returned to Magdeburg,
to prosecute with vigour the siege of that town.
The rich archbishopric, of which Magdeburg was the capital,
had long been in the possession of princes of the house of Brandenburg,
who introduced the Protestant religion into the province. Christian William,
the last administrator, had, by his alliance with Denmark,
incurred the ban of the empire, on which account the chapter,
to avoid the Emperor's displeasure, had formally deposed him.
In his place they had elected Prince John Augustus,
the second son of the Elector of Saxony, whom the Emperor rejected,
in order to confer the archbishopric on his son Leopold.
The Elector of Saxony complained ineffectually to the imperial court;
but Christian William of Brandenburg took more active measures.
Relying on the attachment of the magistracy and inhabitants of Brandenburg,
and excited by chimerical hopes, he thought himself able to surmount
all the obstacles which the vote of the chapter, the competition of
two powerful rivals, and the Edict of Restitution opposed to his restoration.
He went to Sweden, and, by the promise of a diversion in Germany,
sought to obtain assistance from Gustavus. He was dismissed by that monarch
not without hopes of effectual protection, but with the advice
to act with caution.
Scarcely had Christian William been informed of the landing of his protector
in Pomerania, than he entered Magdeburg in disguise. Appearing suddenly
in the town council, he reminded the magistrates of the ravages
which both town and country had suffered from the imperial troops,
of the pernicious designs of Ferdinand, and the danger of
the Protestant church. He then informed them that the moment of deliverance
was at hand, and that Gustavus Adolphus offered them his alliance
and assistance. Magdeburg, one of the most flourishing towns in Germany,
enjoyed under the government of its magistrates a republican freedom,
which inspired its citizens with a brave heroism. Of this they had already
given proofs, in the bold defence of their rights against Wallenstein, who,
tempted by their wealth, made on them the most extravagant demands.
Their territory had been given up to the fury of his troops,
though Magdeburg itself had escaped his vengeance. It was not difficult,
therefore, for the Administrator to gain the concurrence of men
in whose minds the rememberance of these outrages was still recent.
An alliance was formed between the city and the Swedish king,
by which Magdeburg granted to the king a free passage through its gates
and territories, with liberty of enlisting soldiers within its boundaries,
and on the other hand, obtained promises of effectual protection
for its religion and its privileges.
The Administrator immediately collected troops and commenced hostilities,
before Gustavus Adolphus was near enough to co-operate with him. He defeated
some imperial detachments in the neighbourhood, made a few conquests,
and even surprised Halle. But the approach of an imperial army obliged him
to retreat hastily, and not without loss, to Magdeburg. Gustavus Adolphus,
though displeased with his premature measures, sent Dietrich Falkenberg,
an experienced officer, to direct the Administrator's military operations,
and to assist him with his counsel. Falkenberg was named by the magistrates
governor of the town during the war. The Prince's army was daily augmented
by recruits from the neighbouring towns; and he was able for some months
to maintain a petty warfare with success.
At length Count Pappenheim, having brought his expedition against
the Duke of Saxe-Lauenburg to a close, approached the town.
Driving the troops of the Administrator from their entrenchments,
he cut off his communication with Saxony, and closely invested the place.
He was soon followed by Tilly, who haughtily summoned the Elector forthwith
to comply with the Edict of Restitution, to submit to the Emperor's orders,
and surrender Magdeburg. The Prince's answer was spirited and resolute,
and obliged Tilly at once to have recourse to arms.
In the meanwhile, the siege was prolonged, by the progress of
the King of Sweden, which called the Austrian general from before the place;
and the jealousy of the officers, who conducted the operations in his absence,
delayed, for some months, the fall of Magdeburg. On the 30th March 1631,
Tilly returned, to push the siege with vigour.
The outworks were soon carried, and Falkenberg, after withdrawing
the garrisons from the points which he could no longer hold,
destroyed the bridge over the Elbe. As his troops were barely sufficient
to defend the extensive fortifications, the suburbs of Sudenburg and Neustadt
were abandoned to the enemy, who immediately laid them in ashes.
Pappenheim, now separated from Tilly, crossed the Elbe at Schonenbeck,
and attacked the town from the opposite side.
The garrison, reduced by the defence of the outworks,
scarcely exceeded 2000 infantry and a few hundred horse; a small number
for so extensive and irregular a fortress. To supply this deficiency,
the citizens were armed -- a desperate expedient, which produced more evils
than those it prevented. The citizens, at best but indifferent soldiers,
by their disunion threw the town into confusion. The poor complained
that they were exposed to every hardship and danger, while the rich,
by hiring substitutes, remained at home in safety. These rumours
broke out at last in an open mutiny; indifference succeeded to zeal;
weariness and negligence took the place of vigilance and foresight.
Dissension, combined with growing scarcity, gradually produced
a feeling of despondence, many began to tremble at the desperate nature of
their undertaking, and the magnitude of the power to which they were opposed.
But religious zeal, an ardent love of liberty, an invincible hatred
to the Austrian yoke, and the expectation of speedy relief,
banished as yet the idea of a surrender; and divided as they were
in every thing else, they were united in the resolve to defend themselves
to the last extremity.
Their hopes of succour were apparently well founded. They knew that
the confederacy of Leipzig was arming; they were aware of the near approach
of Gustavus Adolphus. Both were alike interested in the preservation
of Magdeburg; and a few days might bring the King of Sweden before its walls.
All this was also known to Tilly, who, therefore, was anxious
to make himself speedily master of the place. With this view,
he had despatched a trumpeter with letters to the Administrator,
the commandant, and the magistrates, offering terms of capitulation;
but he received for answer, that they would rather die than surrender.
A spirited sally of the citizens, also convinced him that their courage
was as earnest as their words, while the king's arrival at Potsdam,
with the incursions of the Swedes as far as Zerbst, filled him
with uneasiness, but raised the hopes of the garrison. A second trumpeter
was now despatched; but the more moderate tone of his demands
increased the confidence of the besieged, and unfortunately
their negligence also.
The besiegers had now pushed their approaches as far as the ditch,
and vigorously cannonaded the fortifications from the abandoned batteries.
One tower was entirely overthrown, but this did not facilitate an assault,
as it fell sidewise upon the wall, and not into the ditch.
Notwithstanding the continual bombardment, the walls had not suffered much;
and the fire balls, which were intended to set the town in flames,
were deprived of their effect by the excellent precautions
adopted against them. But the ammunition of the besieged was nearly expended,
and the cannon of the town gradually ceased to answer the fire
of the Imperialists. Before a new supply could be obtained,
Magdeburg would be either relieved, or taken. The hopes of the besieged
were on the stretch, and all eyes anxiously directed towards the quarter
in which the Swedish banners were expected to appear. Gustavus Adolphus
was near enough to reach Magdeburg within three days; security grew with hope,
which all things contributed to augment. On the 9th of May, the fire
of the Imperialists was suddenly stopped, and the cannon withdrawn from
several of the batteries. A deathlike stillness reigned in the Imperial camp.
The besieged were convinced that deliverance was at hand.
Both citizens and soldiers left their posts upon the ramparts
early in the morning, to indulge themselves, after their long toils,
with the refreshment of sleep, but it was indeed a dear sleep,
and a frightful awakening.
Tilly had abandoned the hope of taking the town, before the arrival
of the Swedes, by the means which he had hitherto adopted;
he therefore determined to raise the siege, but first to hazard
a general assault. This plan, however, was attended with great difficulties,
as no breach had been effected, and the works were scarcely injured.
But the council of war assembled on this occasion, declared for an assault,
citing the example of Maestricht, which had been taken early in the morning,
while the citizens and soldiers were reposing themselves.
The attack was to be made simultaneously on four points; the night betwixt
the 9th and 10th of May, was employed in the necessary preparations.
Every thing was ready and awaiting the signal, which was to be given
by cannon at five o'clock in the morning. The signal, however,
was not given for two hours later, during which Tilly,
who was still doubtful of success, again consulted the council of war.
Pappenheim was ordered to attack the works of the new town,
where the attempt was favoured by a sloping rampart, and a dry ditch
of moderate depth. The citizens and soldiers had mostly left the walls,
and the few who remained were overcome with sleep. This general, therefore,
found little difficulty in mounting the wall at the head of his troops.
Falkenberg, roused by the report of musketry, hastened from the town-house,
where he was employed in despatching Tilly's second trumpeter,
and hurried with all the force he could hastily assemble towards the gate
of the new town, which was already in the possession of the enemy.
Beaten back, this intrepid general flew to another quarter,
where a second party of the enemy were preparing to scale the walls.
After an ineffectual resistance he fell in the commencement of the action.
The roaring of musketry, the pealing of the alarm-bells,
and the growing tumult apprised the awakening citizens of their danger.
Hastily arming themselves, they rushed in blind confusion against the enemy.
Still some hope of repulsing the besiegers remained; but the governor
being killed, their efforts were without plan and co-operation, and at last
their ammunition began to fail them. In the meanwhile, two other gates,
hitherto unattacked, were stripped of their defenders, to meet
the urgent danger within the town. The enemy quickly availed themselves
of this confusion to attack these posts. The resistance was nevertheless
spirited and obstinate, until four imperial regiments, at length,
masters of the ramparts, fell upon the garrison in the rear,
and completed their rout. Amidst the general tumult, a brave captain,
named Schmidt, who still headed a few of the more resolute against the enemy,
succeeded in driving them to the gates; here he fell mortally wounded,
and with him expired the hopes of Magdeburg. Before noon,
all the works were carried, and the town was in the enemy's hands.
Two gates were now opened by the storming party for the main body,
and Tilly marched in with part of his infantry. Immediately occupying
the principal streets, he drove the citizens with pointed cannon
into their dwellings, there to await their destiny. They were not long
held in suspense; a word from Tilly decided the fate of Magdeburg.
Even a more humane general would in vain have recommended mercy
to such soldiers; but Tilly never made the attempt. Left by their
general's silence masters of the lives of all the citizens,
the soldiery broke into the houses to satiate their most brutal appetites.
The prayers of innocence excited some compassion in the hearts of the Germans,
but none in the rude breasts of Pappenheim's Walloons. Scarcely had
the savage cruelty commenced, when the other gates were thrown open,
and the cavalry, with the fearful hordes of the Croats,
poured in upon the devoted inhabitants.
Here commenced a scene of horrors for which history has no language --
poetry no pencil. Neither innocent childhood, nor helpless old age;
neither youth, sex, rank, nor beauty, could disarm the fury of the conquerors.
Wives were abused in the arms of their husbands, daughters at the feet
of their parents; and the defenceless sex exposed to the double sacrifice
of virtue and life. No situation, however obscure, or however sacred,
escaped the rapacity of the enemy. In a single church fifty-three women
were found beheaded. The Croats amused themselves with throwing children
into the flames; Pappenheim's Walloons with stabbing infants
at the mother's breast. Some officers of the League,
horror-struck at this dreadful scene, ventured to remind Tilly
that he had it in his power to stop the carnage. "Return in an hour,"
was his answer; "I will see what I can do; the soldier must have some reward
for his danger and toils." These horrors lasted with unabated fury,
till at last the smoke and flames proved a check to the plunderers.
To augment the confusion and to divert the resistance of the inhabitants,
the Imperialists had, in the commencement of the assault,
fired the town in several places. The wind rising rapidly, spread the flames,
till the blaze became universal. Fearful, indeed, was the tumult
amid clouds of smoke, heaps of dead bodies, the clash of swords,
the crash of falling ruins, and streams of blood. The atmosphere glowed;
and the intolerable heat forced at last even the murderers to take refuge
in their camp. In less than twelve hours, this strong, populous,
and flourishing city, one of the finest in Germany, was reduced to ashes,
with the exception of two churches and a few houses. The Administrator,
Christian William, after receiving several wounds, was taken prisoner,
with three of the burgomasters; most of the officers and magistrates
had already met an enviable death. The avarice of the officers
had saved 400 of the richest citizens, in the hope of extorting from them
an exorbitant ransom. But this humanity was confined to the officers
of the League, whom the ruthless barbarity of the Imperialists caused
to be regarded as guardian angels.
Scarcely had the fury of the flames abated, when the Imperialists returned
to renew the pillage amid the ruins and ashes of the town.
Many were suffocated by the smoke; many found rich booty in the cellars,
where the citizens had concealed their more valuable effects.
On the 13th of May, Tilly himself appeared in the town,
after the streets had been cleared of ashes and dead bodies.
Horrible and revolting to humanity was the scene that presented itself.
The living crawling from under the dead, children wandering about
with heart-rending cries, calling for their parents;
and infants still sucking the breasts of their lifeless mothers.
More than 6,000 bodies were thrown into the Elbe to clear the streets;
a much greater number had been consumed by the flames.
The whole number of the slain was reckoned at not less than 30,000.
The entrance of the general, which took place on the 14th,
put a stop to the plunder, and saved the few who had hitherto contrived
to escape. About a thousand people were taken out of the cathedral,
where they had remained three days and two nights, without food,
and in momentary fear of death. Tilly promised them quarter,
and commanded bread to be distributed among them. The next day,
a solemn mass was performed in the cathedral, and `Te Deum' sung amidst
the discharge of artillery. The imperial general rode through the streets,
that he might be able, as an eyewitness, to inform his master that
no such conquest had been made since the destruction of Troy and Jerusalem.
Nor was this an exaggeration, whether we consider the greatness, importance,
and prosperity of the city razed, or the fury of its ravagers.
In Germany, the tidings of the dreadful fate of Magdeburg
caused triumphant joy to the Roman Catholics, while it spread
terror and consternation among the Protestants. Loudly and generally
they complained against the king of Sweden, who, with so strong a force,
and in the very neighbourhood, had left an allied city to its fate.
Even the most reasonable deemed his inaction inexplicable;
and lest he should lose irretrievably the good will of the people,
for whose deliverance he had engaged in this war, Gustavus was under
the necessity of publishing to the world a justification of his own conduct.
He had attacked, and on the 16th April, carried Landsberg,
when he was apprised of the danger of Magdeburg. He resolved immediately
to march to the relief of that town; and he moved with all his cavalry,
and ten regiments of infantry towards the Spree. But the position which
he held in Germany, made it necessary that he should not move forward
without securing his rear. In traversing a country where he was surrounded
by suspicious friends and dangerous enemies, and where a single
premature movement might cut off his communication with his own kingdom,
the utmost vigilance and caution were necessary. The Elector of Brandenburg
had already opened the fortress of Custrin to the flying Imperialists,
and closed the gates against their pursuers. If now Gustavus should fail
in his attack upon Tilly, the Elector might again open his fortresses
to the Imperialists, and the king, with an enemy both in front and rear,
would be irrecoverably lost. In order to prevent this contingency,
he demanded that the Elector should allow him to hold the fortresses
of Custrin and Spandau, till the siege of Magdeburg should be raised.
Nothing could be more reasonable than this demand. The services which
Gustavus had lately rendered the Elector, by expelling the Imperialists
from Brandenburg, claimed his gratitude, while the past conduct
of the Swedes in Germany entitled them to confidence. But by the surrender
of his fortresses, the Elector would in some measure make the King of Sweden
master of his country; besides that, by such a step, he must at once
break with the Emperor, and expose his States to his future vengeance.
The Elector's struggle with himself was long and violent,
but pusillanimity and self-interest for awhile prevailed.
Unmoved by the fate of Magdeburg, cold in the cause of religion
and the liberties of Germany, he saw nothing but his own danger;
and this anxiety was greatly stimulated by his minister Von Schwartzenburgh,
who was secretly in the pay of Austria. In the mean time,
the Swedish troops approached Berlin, and the king took up his residence
with the Elector. When he witnessed the timorous hesitation of that prince,
he could not restrain his indignation: "My road is to Magdeburg," said he;
"not for my own advantage, but for that of the Protestant religion.
If no one will stand by me, I shall immediately retreat,
conclude a peace with the Emperor, and return to Stockholm. I am convinced
that Ferdinand will readily grant me whatever conditions I may require.
But if Magdeburg is once lost, and the Emperor relieved from all fear of me,
then it is for you to look to yourselves and the consequences."
This timely threat, and perhaps, too, the aspect of the Swedish army,
which was strong enough to obtain by force what was refused to entreaty,
brought at last the Elector to his senses, and Spandau was delivered
into the hands of the Swedes.
The king had now two routes to Magdeburg; one westward led through
an exhausted country, and filled with the enemy's troops, who might
dispute with him the passage of the Elbe; the other more to the southward,
by Dessau and Wittenberg, where bridges were to be found
for crossing the Elbe, and where supplies could easily be drawn from Saxony.
But he could not avail himself of the latter without the consent
of the Elector, whom Gustavus had good reason to distrust.
Before setting out on his march, therefore, he demanded from that prince
a free passage and liberty for purchasing provisions for his troops.
His application was refused, and no remonstrances could prevail on the Elector
to abandon his system of neutrality. While the point was still in dispute,
the news of the dreadful fate of Magdeburg arrived.
Tilly announced its fall to the Protestant princes in the tone of a conqueror,
and lost no time in making the most of the general consternation.
The influence of the Emperor, which had sensibly declined
during the rapid progress of Gustavus, after this decisive blow
rose higher than ever; and the change was speedily visible
in the imperious tone he adopted towards the Protestant states.
The decrees of the Confederation of Leipzig were annulled by a proclamation,
the Convention itself suppressed by an imperial decree,
and all the refractory states threatened with the fate of Magdeburg.
As the executor of this imperial mandate, Tilly immediately ordered troops
to march against the Bishop of Bremen, who was a member of the Confederacy,
and had himself enlisted soldiers. The terrified bishop
immediately gave up his forces to Tilly, and signed the revocation
of the acts of the Confederation. An imperial army, which had lately
returned from Italy, under the command of Count Furstenberg,
acted in the same manner towards the Administrator of Wirtemberg.
The duke was compelled to submit to the Edict of Restitution,
and all the decrees of the Emperor, and even to pay a monthly subsidy
of 100,000 dollars, for the maintenance of the imperial troops.
Similar burdens were inflicted upon Ulm and Nuremberg,
and the entire circles of Franconia and Swabia. The hand of the Emperor
was stretched in terror over all Germany. The sudden preponderance,
more in appearance, perhaps, than in reality, which he had obtained
by this blow, carried him beyond the bounds even of the moderation which
he had hitherto observed, and misled him into hasty and violent measures,
which at last turned the wavering resolution of the German princes
in favour of Gustavus Adolphus. Injurious as the immediate consequences
of the fall of Magdeburg were to the Protestant cause, its remoter effects
were most advantageous. The past surprise made way for active resentment,
despair inspired courage, and the German freedom rose, like a phoenix,
from the ashes of Magdeburg.
Among the princes of the Leipzig Confederation, the Elector of Saxony and
the Landgrave of Hesse were the most powerful; and, until they were disarmed,
the universal authority of the Emperor was unconfirmed.
Against the Landgrave, therefore, Tilly first directed his attack,
and marched straight from Magdeburg into Thuringia. During this march,
the territories of Saxe Ernest and Schwartzburg were laid waste,
and Frankenhausen plundered before the very eyes of Tilly,
and laid in ashes with impunity. The unfortunate peasant paid dear
for his master's attachment to the interests of Sweden. Erfurt,
the key of Saxony and Franconia, was threatened with a siege,
but redeemed itself by a voluntary contribution of money and provisions.
From thence, Tilly despatched his emissaries to the Landgrave,
demanding of him the immediate disbanding of his army,
a renunciation of the league of Leipzig, the reception of imperial garrisons
into his territories and fortresses, with the necessary contributions,
and the declaration of friendship or hostility. Such was the treatment
which a prince of the Empire was compelled to submit to from a servant
of the Emperor. But these extravagant demands acquired a formidable weight
from the power which supported them; and the dreadful fate of Magdeburg,
still fresh in the memory of the Landgrave, tended still farther
to enforce them. Admirable, therefore, was the intrepidity
of the Landgrave's answer: "To admit foreign troops into
his capital and fortresses, the Landgrave is not disposed;
his troops he requires for his own purposes; as for an attack,
he can defend himself. If General Tilly wants money or provisions,
let him go to Munich, where there is plenty of both."
The irruption of two bodies of imperial troops into Hesse Cassel
was the immediate result of this spirited reply, but the Landgrave gave them
so warm a reception that they could effect nothing; and just as Tilly
was preparing to follow with his whole army, to punish the unfortunate country
for the firmness of its sovereign, the movements of the King of Sweden
recalled him to another quarter.
Gustavus Adolphus had learned the fall of Magdeburg with deep regret;
and the demand now made by the Elector, George William,
in terms of their agreement, for the restoration of Spandau,
greatly increased this feeling. The loss of Magdeburg had rather augmented
than lessened the reasons which made the possession of this fortress
so desirable; and the nearer became the necessity of a decisive battle
between himself and Tilly, the more unwilling he felt to abandon
the only place which, in the event of a defeat, could ensure him a refuge.
After a vain endeavour, by entreaties and representations,
to bring over the Elector to his views, whose coldness and lukewarmness
daily increased, he gave orders to his general to evacuate Spandau,
but at the same time declared to the Elector that he would henceforth
regard him as an enemy.
To give weight to this declaration, he appeared with his whole force
before Berlin. "I will not be worse treated than the imperial generals,"
was his reply to the ambassadors whom the bewildered Elector
despatched to his camp. "Your master has received them into his territories,
furnished them with all necessary supplies, ceded to them every place
which they required, and yet, by all these concessions, he could not
prevail upon them to treat his subjects with common humanity.
All that I require of him is security, a moderate sum of money,
and provisions for my troops; in return, I promise to protect his country,
and to keep the war at a distance from him. On these points, however,
I must insist; and my brother, the Elector, must instantly determine
to have me as a friend, or to see his capital plundered." This decisive tone
produced a due impression; and the cannon pointed against the town put an end
to the doubts of George William. In a few days, a treaty was signed,
by which the Elector engaged to furnish a monthly subsidy of 30,000 dollars,
to leave Spandau in the king's hands, and to open Custrin at all times
to the Swedish troops. This now open alliance of the Elector of Brandenburg
with the Swedes, excited no less displeasure at Vienna,
than did formerly the similar procedure of the Duke of Pomerania;
but the changed fortune which now attended his arms,
obliged the Emperor to confine his resentment to words.
The king's satisfaction, on this favourable event, was increased by
the agreeable intelligence that Griefswald, the only fortress
which the Imperialists still held in Pomerania, had surrendered,
and that the whole country was now free of the enemy.
He appeared once more in this duchy, and was gratified at the sight
of the general joy which he had caused to the people. A year had elapsed
since Gustavus first entered Germany, and this event was now celebrated
by all Pomerania as a national festival. Shortly before, the Czar of Moscow
had sent ambassadors to congratulate him, to renew his alliance,
and even to offer him troops. He had great reason to rejoice at
the friendly disposition of Russia, as it was indispensable to his interests
that Sweden itself should remain undisturbed by any dangerous neighbour
during the war in which he himself was engaged. Soon after, his queen,
Maria Eleonora, landed in Pomerania, with a reinforcement of 8000 Swedes;
and the arrival of 6000 English, under the Marquis of Hamilton,
requires more particular notice because this is all that history mentions
of the English during the Thirty Years' War.
During Tilly's expedition into Thuringia, Pappenheim commanded in Magdeburg;
but was unable to prevent the Swedes from crossing the Elbe at various points,
routing some imperial detachments, and seizing several posts. He himself,
alarmed at the approach of the King of Sweden, anxiously recalled Tilly,
and prevailed upon him to return by rapid marches to Magdeburg.
Tilly encamped on this side of the river at Wolmerstadt;
Gustavus on the same side, near Werben, not far from the confluence
of the Havel and the Elbe. His very arrival portended no good to Tilly.
The Swedes routed three of his regiments, which were posted in villages
at some distance from the main body, carried off half their baggage,
and burned the remainder. Tilly in vain advanced within cannon shot
of the king's camp, and offered him battle. Gustavus, weaker by one-half
than his adversary, prudently declined it; and his position was too strong
for an attack. Nothing more ensued but a distant cannonade,
and a few skirmishes, in which the Swedes had invariably the advantage.
In his retreat to Wolmerstadt, Tilly's army was weakened
by numerous desertions. Fortune seemed to have forsaken him
since the carnage of Magdeburg.
The King of Sweden, on the contrary, was followed by uninterrupted success.
While he himself was encamped in Werben, the whole of Mecklenburg,
with the exception of a few towns, was conquered by his General Tott
and the Duke Adolphus Frederick; and he enjoyed the satisfaction of
reinstating both dukes in their dominions. He proceeded in person to Gustrow,
where the reinstatement was solemnly to take place, to give additional dignity
to the ceremony by his presence. The two dukes, with their deliverer
between them, and attended by a splendid train of princes,
made a public entry into the city, which the joy of their subjects
converted into an affecting solemnity. Soon after his return to Werben,
the Landgrave of Hesse Cassel appeared in his camp, to conclude
an offensive and defensive alliance; the first sovereign prince in Germany,
who voluntarily and openly declared against the Emperor, though not
wholly uninfluenced by strong motives. The Landgrave bound himself to act
against the king's enemies as his own, to open to him his towns and territory,
and to furnish his army with provisions and necessaries. The king,
on the other hand, declared himself his ally and protector;
and engaged to conclude no peace with the Emperor without first obtaining
for the Landgrave a full redress of grievances. Both parties honourably
performed their agreement. Hesse Cassel adhered to the Swedish alliance
during the whole of this tedious war; and at the peace of Westphalia
had no reason to regret the friendship of Sweden.
Tilly, from whom this bold step on the part of the Landgrave was not
long concealed, despatched Count Fugger with several regiments against him;
and at the same time endeavoured to excite his subjects to rebellion
by inflammatory letters. But these made as little impression as his troops,
which subsequently failed him so decidedly at the battle of Breitenfield.
The Estates of Hesse could not for a moment hesitate between their oppressor
and their protector.
But the imperial general was far more disturbed by the equivocal conduct
of the Elector of Saxony, who, in defiance of the imperial prohibition,
continued his preparations, and adhered to the confederation of Leipzig.
At this conjuncture, when the proximity of the King of Sweden
made a decisive battle ere long inevitable, it appeared extremely dangerous
to leave Saxony in arms, and ready in a moment to declare for the enemy.
Tilly had just received a reinforcement of 25,000 veteran troops
under Furstenberg, and, confident in his strength, he hoped either to disarm
the Elector by the mere terror of his arrival, or at least to conquer him
with little difficulty. Before quitting his camp at Wolmerstadt,
he commanded the Elector, by a special messenger, to open his territories
to the imperial troops; either to disband his own, or to join them
to the imperial army; and to assist, in conjunction with himself,
in driving the King of Sweden out of Germany. While he reminded him that,
of all the German states, Saxony had hitherto been most respected,
he threatened it, in case of refusal, with the most destructive ravages.
But Tilly had chosen an unfavourable moment for so imperious a requisition.
The ill-treatment of his religious and political confederates,
the destruction of Magdeburg, the excesses of the Imperialists in Lusatia,
all combined to incense the Elector against the Emperor. The approach, too,
of Gustavus Adolphus, (however slender his claims were to the protection
of that prince,) tended to fortify his resolution. He accordingly
forbade the quartering of the imperial soldiers in his territories,
and announced his firm determination to persist in his warlike preparations.
However surprised he should be, he added, "to see an imperial army
on its march against his territories, when that army had enough to do in
watching the operations of the King of Sweden, nevertheless he did not expect,
instead of the promised and well merited rewards, to be repaid
with ingratitude and the ruin of his country." To Tilly's deputies,
who were entertained in a princely style, he gave a still plainer answer
on the occasion. "Gentlemen," said he, "I perceive that
the Saxon confectionery, which has been so long kept back,
is at length to be set upon the table. But as it is usual to mix with it
nuts and garnish of all kinds, take care of your teeth."
Tilly instantly broke up his camp, and, with the most frightful devastation,
advanced upon Halle; from this place he renewed his demands on the Elector,
in a tone still more urgent and threatening. The previous policy
of this prince, both from his own inclination, and the persuasions
of his corrupt ministers had been to promote the interests of the Emperor,
even at the expense of his own sacred obligations, and but very little tact
had hitherto kept him inactive. All this but renders more astonishing
the infatuation of the Emperor or his ministers in abandoning,
at so critical a moment, the policy they had hitherto adopted,
and by extreme measures, incensing a prince so easily led. Was this
the very object which Tilly had in view? Was it his purpose to convert
an equivocal friend into an open enemy, and thus to relieve himself
from the necessity of that indulgence in the treatment of this prince,
which the secret instructions of the Emperor had hitherto imposed upon him?
Or was it the Emperor's wish, by driving the Elector to open hostilities,
to get quit of his obligations to him, and so cleverly to break off at once
the difficulty of a reckoning? In either case, we must be equally surprised
at the daring presumption of Tilly, who hesitated not, in presence of
one formidable enemy, to provoke another; and at his negligence in permitting,
without opposition, the union of the two.
The Saxon Elector, rendered desperate by the entrance of Tilly
into his territories, threw himself, though not without a violent struggle,
under the protection of Sweden.
Immediately after dismissing Tilly's first embassy, he had despatched
his field-marshal Arnheim in all haste to the camp of Gustavus, to solicit
the prompt assistance of that monarch whom he had so long neglected. The king
concealed the inward satisfaction he felt at this long wished for result.
"I am sorry for the Elector," said he, with dissembled coldness,
to the ambassador; "had he heeded my repeated remonstrances,
his country would never have seen the face of an enemy, and Magdeburg
would not have fallen. Now, when necessity leaves him no alternative,
he has recourse to my assistance. But tell him, that I cannot,
for the sake of the Elector of Saxony, ruin my own cause,
and that of my confederates. What pledge have I for the sincerity of a prince
whose minister is in the pay of Austria, and who will abandon me
as soon as the Emperor flatters him, and withdraws his troops
from his frontiers? Tilly, it is true, has received a strong reinforcement;
but this shall not prevent me from meeting him with confidence,
as soon as I have covered my rear."
The Saxon minister could make no other reply to these reproaches,
than that it was best to bury the past in oblivion.
He pressed the king to name the conditions, on which he would
afford assistance to Saxony, and offered to guarantee their acceptance.
"I require," said Gustavus, "that the Elector shall cede to me
the fortress of Wittenberg, deliver to me his eldest sons as hostages,
furnish my troops with three months' pay, and deliver up to me
the traitors among his ministry."
"Not Wittenberg alone," said the Elector, when he received this answer,
and hurried back his minister to the Swedish camp, "not Wittenberg alone,
but Torgau, and all Saxony, shall be open to him; my whole family
shall be his hostages, and if that is insufficient, I will place myself
in his hands. Return and inform him I am ready to deliver to him
any traitors he shall name, to furnish his army with the money he requires,
and to venture my life and fortune in the good cause.
The king had only desired to test the sincerity of the Elector's
new sentiments. Convinced of it, he now retracted these harsh demands.
"The distrust," said he, "which was shown to myself when advancing
to the relief of Magdeburg, had naturally excited mine;
the Elector's present confidence demands a return. I am satisfied,
provided he grants my army one month's pay, and even for this advance
I hope to indemnify him."
Immediately upon the conclusion of the treaty, the king crossed the Elbe,
and next day joined the Saxons. Instead of preventing this junction,
Tilly had advanced against Leipzig, which he summoned to receive
an imperial garrison. In hopes of speedy relief, Hans Von der Pforta,
the commandant, made preparations for his defence, and laid the suburb
towards Halle in ashes. But the ill condition of the fortifications
made resistance vain, and on the second day the gates were opened.
Tilly had fixed his head quarters in the house of a grave-digger,
the only one still standing in the suburb of Halle: here he signed
the capitulation, and here, too, he arranged his attack on the King of Sweden.
Tilly grew pale at the representation of the death's head and cross bones,
with which the proprietor had decorated his house; and, contrary to
all expectation, Leipzig experienced moderate treatment.
Meanwhile, a council of war was held at Torgau, between the King of Sweden
and the Elector of Saxony, at which the Elector of Brandenburg
was also present. The resolution which should now be adopted,
was to decide irrevocably the fate of Germany and the Protestant religion,
the happiness of nations and the destiny of their princes.
The anxiety of suspense which, before every decisive resolve,
oppresses even the hearts of heroes, appeared now for a moment to overshadow
the great mind of Gustavus Adolphus. "If we decide upon battle," said he,
"the stake will be nothing less than a crown and two electorates.
Fortune is changeable, and the inscrutable decrees of Heaven may,
for our sins, give the victory to our enemies. My kingdom, it is true,
even after the loss of my life and my army, would still have a hope left.
Far removed from the scene of action, defended by a powerful fleet,
a well-guarded frontier, and a warlike population, it would at least be safe
from the worst consequences of a defeat. But what chances of escape
are there for you, with an enemy so close at hand?" Gustavus Adolphus
displayed the modest diffidence of a hero, whom an overweening belief
of his own strength did not blind to the greatness of his danger;
John George, the confidence of a weak man, who knows that he has a hero
by his side. Impatient to rid his territories as soon as possible
of the oppressive presence of two armies, he burned for a battle,
in which he had no former laurels to lose. He was ready
to march with his Saxons alone against Leipzig, and attack Tilly.
At last Gustavus acceded to his opinion; and it was resolved that the attack
should be made without delay, before the arrival of the reinforcements,
which were on their way, under Altringer and Tiefenbach.
The united Swedish and Saxon armies now crossed the Mulda,
while the Elector returned homeward.
Early on the morning of the 7th September, 1631, the hostile armies
came in sight of each other. Tilly, who, since he had neglected
the opportunity of overpowering the Saxons before their union with the Swedes,
was disposed to await the arrival of the reinforcements, had taken up
a strong and advantageous position not far from Leipzig, where he expected
he should be able to avoid the battle. But the impetuosity of Pappenheim
obliged him, as soon as the enemy were in motion, to alter his plans,
and to move to the left, in the direction of the hills which run
from the village of Wahren towards Lindenthal. At the foot of these heights,
his army was drawn up in a single line, and his artillery placed
upon the heights behind, from which it could sweep the whole extensive plain
of Breitenfeld. The Swedish and Saxon army advanced in two columns,
having to pass the Lober near Podelwitz, in Tilly's front.
To defend the passage of this rivulet, Pappenheim advanced at the head
of 2000 cuirassiers, though after great reluctance on the part of Tilly,
and with express orders not to commence a battle. But, in disobedience
to this command, Pappenheim attacked the vanguard of the Swedes,
and after a brief struggle was driven to retreat. To check the progress
of the enemy, he set fire to Podelwitz, which, however, did not prevent
the two columns from advancing and forming in order of battle.
On the right, the Swedes drew up in a double line, the infantry in the centre,
divided into such small battalions as could be easily and rapidly manoeuvred
without breaking their order; the cavalry upon their wings, divided in
the same manner into small squadrons, interspersed with bodies of musqueteers,
so as both to give an appearance of greater numerical force,
and to annoy the enemy's horse. Colonel Teufel commanded the centre,
Gustavus Horn the left, while the right was led by the king in person,
opposed to Count Pappenheim.
On the left, the Saxons formed at a considerable distance from the Swedes, --
by the advice of Gustavus, which was justified by the event.
The order of battle had been arranged between the Elector
and his field-marshal, and the king was content with merely signifying
his approval. He was anxious apparently to separate the Swedish prowess
from that of the Saxons, and fortune did not confound them.
The enemy was drawn up under the heights towards the west,
in one immense line, long enough to outflank the Swedish army, --
the infantry being divided in large battalions, the cavalry
in equally unwieldy squadrons. The artillery being on the heights behind,
the range of its fire was over the heads of his men. From this position
of his artillery, it was evident that Tilly's purpose was to await
rather than to attack the enemy; since this arrangement rendered it impossible
for him to do so without exposing his men to the fire of his own cannons.
Tilly himself commanded the centre, Count Furstenberg the right wing,
and Pappenheim the left. The united troops of the Emperor and the League
on this day did not amount to 34,000 or 35,000 men; the Swedes and Saxons
were about the same number. But had a million been confronted with a million
it could only have rendered the action more bloody, certainly not
more important and decisive. For this day Gustavus had crossed the Baltic,
to court danger in a distant country, and expose his crown and life
to the caprice of fortune. The two greatest generals of the time,
both hitherto invincible, were now to be matched against each other
in a contest which both had long avoided; and on this field of battle
the hitherto untarnished laurels of one leader must droop for ever.
The two parties in Germany had beheld the approach of this day with
fear and trembling; and the whole age awaited with deep anxiety its issue,
and posterity was either to bless or deplore it for ever.
Tilly's usual intrepidity and resolution seemed to forsake him
on this eventful day. He had formed no regular plan for giving battle
to the King, and he displayed as little firmness in avoiding it.
Contrary to his own judgment, Pappenheim had forced him to action.
Doubts which he had never before felt, struggled in his bosom;
gloomy forebodings clouded his ever-open brow; the shade of Magdeburg
seemed to hover over him.
A cannonade of two hours commenced the battle; the wind,
which was from the west, blew thick clouds of smoke
and dust from the newly-ploughed and parched fields
into the faces of the Swedes. This compelled the king
insensibly to wheel northwards, and the rapidity with which
this movement was executed left no time to the enemy to prevent it.
Tilly at last left his heights, and began the first attack upon the Swedes;
but to avoid their hot fire, he filed off towards the right,
and fell upon the Saxons with such impetuosity that their line was broken,
and the whole army thrown into confusion. The Elector himself
retired to Eilenburg, though a few regiments still maintained their ground
upon the field, and by a bold stand saved the honour of Saxony.
Scarcely had the confusion began ere the Croats commenced plundering,
and messengers were despatched to Munich and Vienna
with the news of the victory.
Pappenheim had thrown himself with the whole force of his cavalry
upon the right wing of the Swedes, but without being able to make it waver.
The king commanded here in person, and under him General Banner.
Seven times did Pappenheim renew the attack, and seven times was he repulsed.
He fled at last with great loss, and abandoned the field to his conqueror.
In the mean time, Tilly, having routed the remainder of the Saxons,
attacked with his victorious troops the left wing of the Swedes.
To this wing the king, as soon as he perceived that the Saxons
were thrown into disorder, had, with a ready foresight,
detached a reinforcement of three regiments to cover its flank,
which the flight of the Saxons had left exposed. Gustavus Horn,
who commanded here, showed the enemy's cuirassiers a spirited resistance,