Part 4 out of 7
which the infantry, interspersed among the squadrons of horse,
materially assisted. The enemy were already beginning to relax the vigour
of their attack, when Gustavus Adolphus appeared to terminate the contest.
The left wing of the Imperialists had been routed; and the king's division,
having no longer any enemy to oppose, could now turn their arms
wherever it would be to the most advantage. Wheeling, therefore,
with his right wing and main body to the left, he attacked the heights
on which the enemy's artillery was planted. Gaining possession of them
in a short time, he turned upon the enemy the full fire of their own cannon.
The play of artillery upon their flank, and the terrible onslaught
of the Swedes in front, threw this hitherto invincible army into confusion.
A sudden retreat was the only course left to Tilly, but even this was
to be made through the midst of the enemy. The whole army was in disorder,
with the exception of four regiments of veteran soldiers,
who never as yet had fled from the field, and were resolved not to do so now.
Closing their ranks, they broke through the thickest of the victorious army,
and gained a small thicket, where they opposed a new front to the Swedes,
and maintained their resistance till night, when their number was reduced
to six hundred men. With them fled the wreck of Tilly's army,
and the battle was decided.
Amid the dead and the wounded, Gustavus Adolphus threw himself on his knees;
and the first joy of his victory gushed forth in fervent prayer. He ordered
his cavalry to pursue the enemy as long as the darkness of the night
would permit. The pealing of the alarm-bells set the inhabitants
of all the neighbouring villages in motion, and utterly lost
was the unhappy fugitive who fell into their hands. The king encamped
with the rest of his army between the field of battle and Leipzig,
as it was impossible to attack the town the same night.
Seven thousand of the enemy were killed in the field, and more than 5,000
either wounded or taken prisoners. Their whole artillery and camp fell
into the hands of the Swedes, and more than a hundred standards and colours
were taken. Of the Saxons about 2,000 had fallen, while the loss
of the Swedes did not exceed 700. The rout of the Imperialists
was so complete, that Tilly, on his retreat to Halle and Halberstadt,
could not rally above 600 men, or Pappenheim more than 1,400 --
so rapidly was this formidable army dispersed, which so lately
was the terror of Italy and Germany.
Tilly himself owed his escape merely to chance. Exhausted by his wounds,
he still refused to surrender to a Swedish captain of horse, who summoned him
to yield; but who, when he was on the point of putting him to death,
was himself stretched on the ground by a timely pistol-shot.
But more grievous than danger or wounds was the pain of surviving
his reputation, and of losing in a single day the fruits of a long life.
All former victories were as nothing, since he had failed in gaining
the one that should have crowned them all. Nothing remained
of all his past exploits, but the general execration which had followed them.
From this period, he never recovered his cheerfulness or his good fortune.
Even his last consolation, the hope of revenge, was denied to him,
by the express command of the Emperor not to risk a decisive battle.
The disgrace of this day is to be ascribed principally to three mistakes;
his planting the cannon on the hills behind him, his afterwards
abandoning these heights, and his allowing the enemy, without opposition,
to form in order of battle. But how easily might those mistakes
have been rectified, had it not been for the cool presence of mind
and superior genius of his adversary!
Tilly fled from Halle to Halberstadt, where he scarcely allowed time
for the cure of his wounds, before he hurried towards the Weser
to recruit his force by the imperial garrisons in Lower Saxony.
The Elector of Saxony had not failed, after the danger was over, to appear
in Gustavus's camp. The king thanked him for having advised a battle;
and the Elector, charmed at his friendly reception, promised him,
in the first transports of joy, the Roman crown. Gustavus set out next day
for Merseburg, leaving the Elector to recover Leipzig.
Five thousand Imperialists, who had collected together after the defeat,
and whom he met on his march, were either cut in pieces or taken prisoners,
of whom again the greater part entered into his service.
Merseburg quickly surrendered; Halle was soon after taken,
whither the Elector of Saxony, after making himself master of Leipzig,
repaired to meet the king, and to concert their future plan of operations.
The victory was gained, but only a prudent use of it could render it decisive.
The imperial armies were totally routed, Saxony free from the enemy,
and Tilly had retired into Brunswick. To have followed him thither
would have been to renew the war in Lower Saxony, which had scarcely recovered
from the ravages of the last. It was therefore determined to carry the war
into the enemy's country, which, open and defenceless as far as Vienna,
invited attack. On their right, they might fall upon the territories
of the Roman Catholic princes, or penetrate, on the left,
into the hereditary dominions of Austria, and make the Emperor tremble
in his palace. Both plans were resolved on; and the question
that now remained was to assign its respective parts. Gustavus Adolphus,
at the head of a victorious army, had little resistance to apprehend
in his progress from Leipzig to Prague, Vienna, and Presburg.
As to Bohemia, Moravia, Austria, and Hungary, they had been stripped
of their defenders, while the oppressed Protestants in these countries
were ripe for a revolt. Ferdinand was no longer secure in his capital:
Vienna, on the first terror of surprise, would at once open its gates.
The loss of his territories would deprive the enemy of the resources
by which alone the war could be maintained; and Ferdinand would,
in all probability, gladly accede, on the hardest conditions,
to a peace which would remove a formidable enemy from the heart
of his dominions. This bold plan of operations was flattering to a conqueror,
and success perhaps might have justified it. But Gustavus Adolphus,
as prudent as he was brave, and more a statesman than a conqueror,
rejected it, because he had a higher end in view, and would not
trust the issue either to bravery or good fortune alone.
By marching towards Bohemia, Franconia and the Upper Rhine would be left
to the Elector of Saxony. But Tilly had already begun to recruit
his shattered army from the garrisons in Lower Saxony, and was likely to be
at the head of a formidable force upon the Weser, and to lose no time
in marching against the enemy. To so experienced a general,
it would not do to oppose an Arnheim, of whose military skill
the battle of Leipzig had afforded but equivocal proof;
and of what avail would be the rapid and brilliant career of the king
in Bohemia and Austria, if Tilly should recover his superiority in the Empire,
animating the courage of the Roman Catholics, and disarming,
by a new series of victories, the allies and confederates of the king?
What would he gain by expelling the Emperor from his hereditary dominions,
if Tilly succeeded in conquering for that Emperor the rest of Germany?
Could he hope to reduce the Emperor more than had been done,
twelve years before, by the insurrection of Bohemia, which had failed
to shake the firmness or exhaust the resources of that prince,
and from which he had risen more formidable than ever?
Less brilliant, but more solid, were the advantages which he had to expect
from an incursion into the territories of the League. In this quarter,
his appearance in arms would be decisive. At this very conjuncture,
the princes were assembled in a Diet at Frankfort, to deliberate upon
the Edict of Restitution, where Ferdinand employed all his artful policy
to persuade the intimidated Protestants to accede to a speedy
and disadvantageous arrangement. The advance of their protector could alone
encourage them to a bold resistance, and disappoint the Emperor's designs.
Gustavus Adolphus hoped, by his presence, to unite the discontented princes,
or by the terror of his arms to detach them from the Emperor's party. Here,
in the centre of Germany, he could paralyse the nerves of the imperial power,
which, without the aid of the League, must soon fall -- here,
in the neighbourhood of France, he could watch the movements
of a suspicious ally; and however important to his secret views it was
to cultivate the friendship of the Roman Catholic electors,
he saw the necessity of making himself first of all master of their fate,
in order to establish, by his magnanimous forbearance,
a claim to their gratitude.
He accordingly chose the route to Franconia and the Rhine;
and left the conquest of Bohemia to the Elector of Saxony.
The glorious battle of Leipzig effected a great change in the conduct
of Gustavus Adolphus, as well as in the opinion which both friends and foes
entertained of him. Successfully had he confronted the greatest general
of the age, and had matched the strength of his tactics
and the courage of his Swedes against the elite of the imperial army,
the most experienced troops in Europe. From this moment he felt
a firm confidence in his own powers -- self-confidence has always been
the parent of great actions. In all his subsequent operations
more boldness and decision are observable; greater determination,
even amidst the most unfavourable circumstances, a more lofty tone
towards his adversaries, a more dignified bearing towards his allies,
and even in his clemency, something of the forbearance of a conqueror.
His natural courage was farther heightened by the pious ardour
of his imagination. He saw in his own cause that of heaven,
and in the defeat of Tilly beheld the decisive interference of Providence
against his enemies, and in himself the instrument of divine vengeance.
Leaving his crown and his country far behind, he advanced
on the wings of victory into the heart of Germany, which for centuries
had seen no foreign conqueror within its bosom. The warlike spirit
of its inhabitants, the vigilance of its numerous princes,
the artful confederation of its states, the number of its strong castles,
its many and broad rivers, had long restrained the ambition of its neighbours;
and frequently as its extensive frontier had been attacked, its interior
had been free from hostile invasion. The Empire had hitherto enjoyed
the equivocal privilege of being its own enemy, though invincible
from without. Even now, it was merely the disunion of its members,
and the intolerance of religious zeal, that paved the way
for the Swedish invader. The bond of union between the states,
which alone had rendered the Empire invincible, was now dissolved;
and Gustavus derived from Germany itself the power by which he subdued it.
With as much courage as prudence, he availed himself of all
that the favourable moment afforded; and equally at home in the cabinet
and the field, he tore asunder the web of the artful policy,
with as much ease, as he shattered walls with the thunder of his cannon.
Uninterruptedly he pursued his conquests from one end of Germany to the other,
without breaking the line of posts which commanded a secure retreat
at any moment; and whether on the banks of the Rhine,
or at the mouth of the Lech, alike maintaining his communication
with his hereditary dominions.
The consternation of the Emperor and the League at Tilly's defeat at Leipzig,
was scarcely greater than the surprise and embarrassment of the allies
of the King of Sweden at his unexpected success. It was beyond
both their expectations and their wishes. Annihilated in a moment
was that formidable army which, while it checked his progress
and set bounds to his ambition, rendered him in some measure dependent
on themselves. He now stood in the heart of Germany, alone,
without a rival or without an adversary who was a match for him.
Nothing could stop his progress, or check his pretensions,
if the intoxication of success should tempt him to abuse his victory.
If formerly they had dreaded the Emperor's irresistible power,
there was no less cause now to fear every thing for the Empire,
from the violence of a foreign conqueror, and for the Catholic Church,
from the religious zeal of a Protestant king. The distrust and jealousy
of some of the combined powers, which a stronger fear of the Emperor had
for a time repressed, now revived; and scarcely had Gustavus Adolphus merited,
by his courage and success, their confidence, when they began covertly
to circumvent all his plans. Through a continual struggle
with the arts of enemies, and the distrust of his own allies,
must his victories henceforth be won; yet resolution,
penetration, and prudence made their way through all impediments.
But while his success excited the jealousy of his more powerful allies,
France and Saxony, it gave courage to the weaker, and emboldened them
openly to declare their sentiments and join his party.
Those who could neither vie with Gustavus Adolphus in importance,
nor suffer from his ambition, expected the more from the magnanimity
of their powerful ally, who enriched them with the spoils of their enemies,
and protected them against the oppression of their stronger neighbours.
His strength covered their weakness, and, inconsiderable in themselves,
they acquired weight and influence from their union with the Swedish hero.
This was the case with most of the free cities, and particularly with
the weaker Protestant states. It was these that introduced the king
into the heart of Germany; these covered his rear, supplied his troops
with necessaries, received them into their fortresses, while they exposed
their own lives in his battles. His prudent regard to their national pride,
his popular deportment, some brilliant acts of justice, and his respect
for the laws, were so many ties by which he bound the German Protestants
to his cause; while the crying atrocities of the Imperialists, the Spaniards,
and the troops of Lorraine, powerfully contributed to set his own conduct
and that of his army in a favourable light.
If Gustavus Adolphus owed his success chiefly to his own genius,
at the same time, it must be owned, he was greatly favoured
by fortune and by circumstances. Two great advantages gave him
a decided superiority over the enemy. While he removed the scene of war
into the lands of the League, drew their youth as recruits,
enriched himself with booty, and used the revenues of their fugitive princes
as his own, he at once took from the enemy the means of effectual resistance,
and maintained an expensive war with little cost to himself. And, moreover,
while his opponents, the princes of the League, divided among themselves,
and governed by different and often conflicting interests,
acted without unanimity, and therefore without energy;
while their generals were deficient in authority, their troops in obedience,
the operations of their scattered armies without concert;
while the general was separated from the lawgiver and the statesman;
these several functions were united in Gustavus Adolphus,
the only source from which authority flowed, the sole object
to which the eye of the warrior turned; the soul of his party,
the inventor as well as the executor of his plans. In him,
therefore, the Protestants had a centre of unity and harmony,
which was altogether wanting to their opponents. No wonder, then,
if favoured by such advantages, at the head of such an army,
with such a genius to direct it, and guided by such political prudence,
Gustavus Adolphus was irresistible.
With the sword in one hand, and mercy in the other, he traversed Germany
as a conqueror, a lawgiver, and a judge, in as short a time almost
as the tourist of pleasure. The keys of towns and fortresses were delivered
to him, as if to the native sovereign. No fortress was inaccessible;
no river checked his victorious career. He conquered by the very terror
of his name. The Swedish standards were planted along the whole stream
of the Maine: the Lower Palatinate was free, the troops of Spain and Lorraine
had fled across the Rhine and the Moselle. The Swedes and Hessians
poured like a torrent into the territories of Mentz, of Wurtzburg,
and Bamberg, and three fugitive bishops, at a distance from their sees,
suffered dearly for their unfortunate attachment to the Emperor.
It was now the turn for Maximilian, the leader of the League,
to feel in his own dominions the miseries he had inflicted upon others.
Neither the terrible fate of his allies, nor the peaceful overtures
of Gustavus, who, in the midst of conquest, ever held out
the hand of friendship, could conquer the obstinacy of this prince.
The torrent of war now poured into Bavaria. Like the banks of the Rhine,
those of the Lecke and the Donau were crowded with Swedish troops.
Creeping into his fortresses, the defeated Elector abandoned to the ravages
of the foe his dominions, hitherto unscathed by war, and on which
the bigoted violence of the Bavarians seemed to invite retaliation.
Munich itself opened its gates to the invincible monarch,
and the fugitive Palatine, Frederick V., in the forsaken residence
of his rival, consoled himself for a time for the loss of his dominions.
While Gustavus Adolphus was extending his conquests in the south,
his generals and allies were gaining similar triumphs in the other provinces.
Lower Saxony shook off the yoke of Austria, the enemy abandoned Mecklenburg,
and the imperial garrisons retired from the banks of the Weser and the Elbe.
In Westphalia and the Upper Rhine, William, Landgrave of Hesse,
rendered himself formidable; the Duke of Weimar in Thuringia,
and the French in the Electorate of Treves; while to the eastward
the whole kingdom of Bohemia was conquered by the Saxons.
The Turks were preparing to attack Hungary, and in the heart of Austria
a dangerous insurrection was threatened. In vain did the Emperor
look around to the courts of Europe for support; in vain did he summon
the Spaniards to his assistance, for the bravery of the Flemings
afforded them ample employment beyond the Rhine; in vain did he call upon
the Roman court and the whole church to come to his rescue.
The offended Pope sported, in pompous processions and idle anathemas,
with the embarrassments of Ferdinand, and instead of the desired subsidy
he was shown the devastation of Mantua.
On all sides of his extensive monarchy hostile arms surrounded him.
With the states of the League, now overrun by the enemy, those ramparts
were thrown down, behind which Austria had so long defended herself,
and the embers of war were now smouldering upon her unguarded frontiers.
His most zealous allies were disarmed; Maximilian of Bavaria,
his firmest support, was scarce able to defend himself. His armies,
weakened by desertion and repeated defeat, and dispirited by
continued misfortunes had unlearnt, under beaten generals,
that warlike impetuosity which, as it is the consequence,
so it is the guarantee of success. The danger was extreme,
and extraordinary means alone could raise the imperial power
from the degradation into which it was fallen.
The most urgent want was that of a general; and the only one
from whom he could hope for the revival of his former splendour,
had been removed from his command by an envious cabal.
So low had the Emperor now fallen, that he was forced to make
the most humiliating proposals to his injured subject and servant,
and meanly to press upon the imperious Duke of Friedland the acceptance
of the powers which no less meanly had been taken from him.
A new spirit began from this moment to animate the expiring body of Austria;
and a sudden change in the aspect of affairs bespoke the firm hand
which guided them. To the absolute King of Sweden,
a general equally absolute was now opposed; and one victorious hero
was confronted with another. Both armies were again to engage
in the doubtful struggle; and the prize of victory, already almost secured
in the hands of Gustavus Adolphus, was to be the object of another
and a severer trial. The storm of war gathered around Nuremberg;
before its walls the hostile armies encamped; gazing on each other
with dread and respect, longing for, and yet shrinking from,
the moment that was to close them together in the shock of battle.
The eyes of Europe turned to the scene in curiosity and alarm,
while Nuremberg, in dismay, expected soon to lend its name
to a more decisive battle than that of Leipzig. Suddenly the clouds broke,
and the storm rolled away from Franconia, to burst upon the plains of Saxony.
Near Lutzen fell the thunder that had menaced Nuremberg;
the victory, half lost, was purchased by the death of the king.
Fortune, which had never forsaken him in his lifetime,
favoured the King of Sweden even in his death, with the rare privilege
of falling in the fulness of his glory and an untarnished fame.
By a timely death, his protecting genius rescued him from the inevitable fate
of man -- that of forgetting moderation in the intoxication of success,
and justice in the plenitude of power. It may be doubted whether,
had he lived longer, he would still have deserved the tears which Germany shed
over his grave, or maintained his title to the admiration with which
posterity regards him, as the first and only JUST conqueror that the world
has produced. The untimely fall of their great leader seemed to threaten
the ruin of his party; but to the Power which rules the world,
no loss of a single man is irreparable. As the helm of war dropped
from the hand of the falling hero, it was seized by two great statesmen,
Oxenstiern and Richelieu. Destiny still pursued its relentless course,
and for full sixteen years longer the flames of war blazed over the ashes
of the long-forgotten king and soldier.
I may now be permitted to take a cursory retrospect of Gustavus Adolphus
in his victorious career; glance at the scene in which he alone
was the great actor; and then, when Austria becomes reduced to extremity
by the successes of the Swedes, and by a series of disasters
is driven to the most humiliating and desperate expedients,
to return to the history of the Emperor.
As soon as the plan of operations had been concerted at Halle,
between the King of Sweden and the Elector of Saxony; as soon as the alliance
had been concluded with the neighbouring princes of Weimar and Anhalt,
and preparations made for the recovery of the bishopric of Magdeburg,
the king began his march into the empire. He had here no despicable foe
to contend with. Within the empire, the Emperor was still powerful;
throughout Franconia, Swabia, and the Palatinate, imperial garrisons
were posted, with whom the possession of every place of importance
must be disputed sword in hand. On the Rhine he was opposed by the Spaniards,
who had overrun the territory of the banished Elector Palatine,
seized all its strong places, and would everywhere dispute with him
the passage over that river. On his rear was Tilly, who was fast recruiting
his force, and would soon be joined by the auxiliaries from Lorraine.
Every Papist presented an inveterate foe, while his connexion with France
did not leave him at liberty to act with freedom against the Roman Catholics.
Gustavus had foreseen all these obstacles, but at the same time the means
by which they were to be overcome. The strength of the Imperialists
was broken and divided among different garrisons, while he would
bring against them one by one his whole united force.
If he was to be opposed by the fanaticism of the Roman Catholics,
and the awe in which the lesser states regarded the Emperor's power,
he might depend on the active support of the Protestants,
and their hatred to Austrian oppression. The ravages of the Imperialist
and Spanish troops also powerfully aided him in these quarters;
where the ill-treated husbandman and citizen sighed alike for a deliverer,
and where the mere change of yoke seemed to promise a relief.
Emissaries were despatched to gain over to the Swedish side
the principal free cities, particularly Nuremberg and Frankfort.
The first that lay in the king's march, and which he could not leave
unoccupied in his rear, was Erfurt. Here the Protestant party
among the citizens opened to him, without a blow, the gates of the town
and the citadel. From the inhabitants of this, as of every important place
which afterwards submitted, he exacted an oath of allegiance,
while he secured its possession by a sufficient garrison. To his ally,
Duke William of Weimar, he intrusted the command of an army to be raised
in Thuringia. He also left his queen in Erfurt, and promised to increase
its privileges. The Swedish army now crossed the Thuringian forest
in two columns, by Gotha and Arnstadt, and having delivered, in its march,
the county of Henneberg from the Imperialists, formed a junction
on the third day near Koenigshofen, on the frontiers of Franconia.
Francis, Bishop of Wurtzburg, the bitter enemy of the Protestants,
and the most zealous member of the League, was the first to feel
the indignation of Gustavus Adolphus. A few threats gained for the Swedes
possession of his fortress of Koenigshofen, and with it the key
of the whole province. At the news of this rapid conquest,
dismay seized all the Roman Catholic towns of the circle.
The Bishops of Wurtzburg and Bamberg trembled in their castles;
they already saw their sees tottering, their churches profaned,
and their religion degraded. The malice of his enemies had circulated
the most frightful representations of the persecuting spirit
and the mode of warfare pursued by the Swedish king and his soldiers,
which neither the repeated assurances of the king, nor the most
splendid examples of humanity and toleration, ever entirely effaced.
Many feared to suffer at the hands of another what in similar circumstances
they were conscious of inflicting themselves. Many of the richest
Roman Catholics hastened to secure by flight their property, their religion,
and their persons, from the sanguinary fanaticism of the Swedes.
The bishop himself set the example. In the midst of the alarm,
which his bigoted zeal had caused, he abandoned his dominions,
and fled to Paris, to excite, if possible, the French ministry
against the common enemy of religion.
The further progress of Gustavus Adolphus in the ecclesiastical territories
agreed with this brilliant commencement. Schweinfurt,
and soon afterwards Wurtzburg, abandoned by their Imperial garrisons,
surrendered; but Marienberg he was obliged to carry by storm. In this place,
which was believed to be impregnable, the enemy had collected a large store
of provisions and ammunition, all of which fell into the hands of the Swedes.
The king found a valuable prize in the library of the Jesuits,
which he sent to Upsal, while his soldiers found a still more agreeable one
in the prelate's well-filled cellars; his treasures the bishop had
in good time removed. The whole bishopric followed the example
of the capital, and submitted to the Swedes. The king compelled
all the bishop's subjects to swear allegiance to himself;
and, in the absence of the lawful sovereign, appointed a regency,
one half of whose members were Protestants. In every Roman Catholic town
which Gustavus took, he opened the churches to the Protestant people,
but without retaliating on the Papists the cruelties which they had practised
on the former. On such only as sword in hand refused to submit,
were the fearful rights of war enforced; and for the occasional
acts of violence committed by a few of the more lawless soldiers,
in the blind rage of the first attack, their humane leader
is not justly responsible. Those who were peaceably disposed, or defenceless,
were treated with mildness. It was a sacred principle of Gustavus
to spare the blood of his enemies, as well as that of his own troops.
On the first news of the Swedish irruption, the Bishop of Wurtzburg,
without regarding the treaty which he had entered into
with the King of Sweden, had earnestly pressed the general of the League
to hasten to the assistance of the bishopric. That defeated commander had,
in the mean time, collected on the Weser the shattered remnant of his army,
reinforced himself from the garrisons of Lower Saxony, and effected
a junction in Hesse with Altringer and Fugger, who commanded under him.
Again at the head of a considerable force, Tilly burned with impatience
to wipe out the stain of his first defeat by a splendid victory.
From his camp at Fulda, whither he had marched with his army,
he earnestly requested permission from the Duke of Bavaria to give battle
to Gustavus Adolphus. But, in the event of Tilly's defeat,
the League had no second army to fall back upon, and Maximilian
was too cautious to risk again the fate of his party on a single battle.
With tears in his eyes, Tilly read the commands of his superior,
which compelled him to inactivity. Thus his march to Franconia was delayed,
and Gustavus Adolphus gained time to overrun the whole bishopric.
It was in vain that Tilly, reinforced at Aschaffenburg by a body of 12,000 men
from Lorraine, marched with an overwhelming force to the relief of Wurtzburg.
The town and citadel were already in the hands of the Swedes,
and Maximilian of Bavaria was generally blamed (and not without cause,
perhaps) for having, by his scruples, occasioned the loss of the bishopric.
Commanded to avoid a battle, Tilly contented himself with checking
the farther advance of the enemy; but he could save only a few of the towns
from the impetuosity of the Swedes. Baffled in an attempt to reinforce
the weak garrison of Hanau, which it was highly important to the Swedes
to gain, he crossed the Maine, near Seligenstadt, and took the direction
of the Bergstrasse, to protect the Palatinate from the conqueror.
Tilly, however, was not the sole enemy whom Gustavus Adolphus met
in Franconia, and drove before him. Charles, Duke of Lorraine,
celebrated in the annals of the time for his unsteadiness of character,
his vain projects, and his misfortunes, ventured to raise a weak arm
against the Swedish hero, in the hope of obtaining from the Emperor
the electoral dignity. Deaf to the suggestions of a rational policy,
he listened only to the dictates of heated ambition;
by supporting the Emperor, he exasperated France, his formidable neighbour;
and in the pursuit of a visionary phantom in another country,
left undefended his own dominions, which were instantly overrun
by a French army. Austria willingly conceded to him, as well as to
the other princes of the League, the honour of being ruined in her cause.
Intoxicated with vain hopes, this prince collected a force of 17,000 men,
which he proposed to lead in person against the Swedes. If these troops
were deficient in discipline and courage, they were at least attractive
by the splendour of their accoutrements; and however sparing they were
of their prowess against the foe, they were liberal enough with it
against the defenceless citizens and peasantry, whom they were summoned
to defend. Against the bravery, and the formidable discipline of the Swedes
this splendidly attired army, however, made no long stand.
On the first advance of the Swedish cavalry a panic seized them,
and they were driven without difficulty from their cantonments in Wurtzburg;
the defeat of a few regiments occasioned a general rout,
and the scattered remnant sought a covert from the Swedish valour
in the towns beyond the Rhine. Loaded with shame and ridicule,
the duke hurried home by Strasburg, too fortunate in escaping,
by a submissive written apology, the indignation of his conqueror,
who had first beaten him out of the field, and then called upon him
to account for his hostilities. It is related upon this occasion that,
in a village on the Rhine a peasant struck the horse of the duke
as he rode past, exclaiming, "Haste, Sir, you must go quicker
to escape the great King of Sweden!"
The example of his neighbours' misfortunes had taught
the Bishop of Bamberg prudence. To avert the plundering of his territories,
he made offers of peace, though these were intended only to delay
the king's course till the arrival of assistance. Gustavus Adolphus,
too honourable himself to suspect dishonesty in another, readily accepted
the bishop's proposals, and named the conditions on which he was willing
to save his territories from hostile treatment. He was the more inclined
to peace, as he had no time to lose in the conquest of Bamberg,
and his other designs called him to the Rhine. The rapidity with which
he followed up these plans, cost him the loss of those pecuniary supplies
which, by a longer residence in Franconia, he might easily have extorted
from the weak and terrified bishop. This artful prelate
broke off the negotiation the instant the storm of war passed away
from his own territories. No sooner had Gustavus marched onwards
than he threw himself under the protection of Tilly, and received the troops
of the Emperor into the very towns and fortresses, which shortly before
he had shown himself ready to open to the Swedes. By this stratagem,
however, he only delayed for a brief interval the ruin of his bishopric.
A Swedish general who had been left in Franconia, undertook to punish
the perfidy of the bishop; and the ecclesiastical territory became
the seat of war, and was ravaged alike by friends and foes.
The formidable presence of the Imperialists had hitherto been a check
upon the Franconian States; but their retreat, and the humane conduct
of the Swedish king, emboldened the nobility and other inhabitants
of this circle to declare in his favour. Nuremberg joyfully committed itself
to his protection; and the Franconian nobles were won to his cause
by flattering proclamations, in which he condescended to apologize
for his hostile appearance in the dominions. The fertility of Franconia,
and the rigorous honesty of the Swedish soldiers in their dealings
with the inhabitants, brought abundance to the camp of the king.
The high esteem which the nobility of the circle felt for Gustavus,
the respect and admiration with which they regarded his brilliant exploits,
the promises of rich booty which the service of this monarch held out,
greatly facilitated the recruiting of his troops; a step which was
made necessary by detaching so many garrisons from the main body.
At the sound of his drums, recruits flocked to his standard from all quarters.
The king had scarcely spent more time in conquering Franconia,
than he would have required to cross it. He now left behind him
Gustavus Horn, one of his best generals, with a force of 8,000 men,
to complete and retain his conquest. He himself with his main army,
reinforced by the late recruits, hastened towards the Rhine
in order to secure this frontier of the empire from the Spaniards;
to disarm the ecclesiastical electors, and to obtain
from their fertile territories new resources for the prosecution of the war.
Following the course of the Maine, he subjected, in the course of his march,
Seligenstadt, Aschaffenburg, Steinheim, the whole territory on both sides
of the river. The imperial garrisons seldom awaited his approach,
and never attempted resistance. In the meanwhile one of his colonels
had been fortunate enough to take by surprise the town and citadel of Hanau,
for whose preservation Tilly had shown such anxiety. Eager to be free
of the oppressive burden of the Imperialists, the Count of Hanau
gladly placed himself under the milder yoke of the King of Sweden.
Gustavus Adolphus now turned his whole attention to Frankfort,
for it was his constant maxim to cover his rear by the friendship
and possession of the more important towns. Frankfort was among
the free cities which, even from Saxony, he had endeavoured to prepare
for his reception; and he now called upon it, by a summons from Offenbach,
to allow him a free passage, and to admit a Swedish garrison.
Willingly would this city have dispensed with the necessity of choosing
between the King of Sweden and the Emperor; for, whatever party
they might embrace, the inhabitants had a like reason to fear
for their privileges and trade. The Emperor's vengeance
would certainly fall heavily upon them, if they were in a hurry
to submit to the King of Sweden, and afterwards he should prove unable
to protect his adherents in Germany. But still more ruinous for them
would be the displeasure of an irresistible conqueror, who,
with a formidable army, was already before their gates, and who might
punish their opposition by the ruin of their commerce and prosperity.
In vain did their deputies plead the danger which menaced their fairs,
their privileges, perhaps their constitution itself, if, by espousing
the party of the Swedes, they were to incur the Emperor's displeasure.
Gustavus Adolphus expressed to them his astonishment that,
when the liberties of Germany and the Protestant religion were at stake,
the citizens of Frankfort should talk of their annual fairs,
and postpone for temporal interests the great cause of their country
and their conscience. He had, he continued, in a menacing tone,
found the keys of every town and fortress, from the Isle of Rugen
to the Maine, and knew also where to find a key to Frankfort;
the safety of Germany, and the freedom of the Protestant Church,
were, he assured them, the sole objects of his invasion;
conscious of the justice of his cause, he was determined not to allow
any obstacle to impede his progress. "The inhabitants of Frankfort,
he was well aware, wished to stretch out only a finger to him,
but he must have the whole hand in order to have something to grasp."
At the head of the army, he closely followed the deputies
as they carried back his answer, and in order of battle awaited,
near Saxenhausen, the decision of the council.
If Frankfort hesitated to submit to the Swedes, it was solely from fear
of the Emperor; their own inclinations did not allow them a moment to doubt
between the oppressor of Germany and its protector. The menacing preparations
amidst which Gustavus Adolphus now compelled them to decide,
would lessen the guilt of their revolt in the eyes of the Emperor,
and by an appearance of compulsion justify the step which they willingly took.
The gates were therefore opened to the King of Sweden, who marched his army
through this imperial town in magnificent procession, and in admirable order.
A garrison of 600 men was left in Saxenhausen; while the king himself
advanced the same evening, with the rest of his army, against the town
of Hoechst in Mentz, which surrendered to him before night.
While Gustavus was thus extending his conquests along the Maine,
fortune crowned also the efforts of his generals and allies
in the north of Germany. Rostock, Wismar, and Doemitz, the only strong places
in the Duchy of Mecklenburg which still sighed under the yoke
of the Imperialists, were recovered by their legitimate sovereign,
the Duke John Albert, under the Swedish general, Achatius Tott.
In vain did the imperial general, Wolf Count von Mansfeld,
endeavour to recover from the Swedes the territories of Halberstadt,
of which they had taken possession immediately upon the victory of Leipzig;
he was even compelled to leave Magdeburg itself in their hands.
The Swedish general, Banner, who with 8,000 men remained upon the Elbe,
closely blockaded that city, and had defeated several imperial regiments
which had been sent to its relief. Count Mansfeld defended it in person
with great resolution; but his garrison being too weak to oppose
for any length of time the numerous force of the besiegers,
he was already about to surrender on conditions, when Pappenheim advanced
to his assistance, and gave employment elsewhere to the Swedish arms.
Magdeburg, however, or rather the wretched huts that peeped out miserably
from among the ruins of that once great town, was afterwards
voluntarily abandoned by the Imperialists, and immediately taken possession of
by the Swedes.
Even Lower Saxony, encouraged by the progress of the king,
ventured to raise its head from the disasters of the unfortunate Danish war.
They held a congress at Hamburg, and resolved upon raising three regiments,
which they hoped would be sufficient to free them from
the oppressive garrisons of the Imperialists. The Bishop of Bremen,
a relation of Gustavus Adolphus, was not content even with this;
but assembled troops of his own, and terrified the unfortunate
monks and priests of the neighbourhood, but was quickly compelled
by the imperial general, Count Gronsfeld, to lay down his arms.
Even George, Duke of Lunenburg, formerly a colonel in the Emperor's service,
embraced the party of Gustavus, for whom he raised several regiments,
and by occupying the attention of the Imperialists in Lower Saxony,
materially assisted him.
But more important service was rendered to the king by the Landgrave William
of Hesse Cassel, whose victorious arms struck with terror
the greater part of Westphalia and Lower Saxony, the bishopric of Fulda,
and even the Electorate of Cologne. It has been already stated
that immediately after the conclusion of the alliance between the Landgrave
and Gustavus Adolphus at Werben, two imperial generals, Fugger and Altringer,
were ordered by Tilly to march into Hesse, to punish the Landgrave
for his revolt from the Emperor. But this prince had as firmly withstood
the arms of his enemies, as his subjects had the proclamations of Tilly
inciting them to rebellion, and the battle of Leipzig presently relieved him
of their presence. He availed himself of their absence
with courage and resolution; in a short time, Vach, Muenden and Hoexter
surrendered to him, while his rapid advance alarmed the bishoprics of Fulda,
Paderborn, and the ecclesiastical territories which bordered on Hesse.
The terrified states hastened by a speedy submission to set limits to
his progress, and by considerable contributions to purchase exemption
from plunder. After these successful enterprises, the Landgrave united
his victorious army with that of Gustavus Adolphus, and concerted with him
at Frankfort their future plan of operations.
In this city, a number of princes and ambassadors were assembled
to congratulate Gustavus on his success, and either to conciliate his favour
or to appease his indignation. Among them was the fugitive King of Bohemia,
the Palatine Frederick V., who had hastened from Holland to throw himself
into the arms of his avenger and protector. Gustavus gave him
the unprofitable honour of greeting him as a crowned head, and endeavoured,
by a respectful sympathy, to soften his sense of his misfortunes.
But great as the advantages were, which Frederick had promised himself
from the power and good fortune of his protector; and high as were
the expectations he had built on his justice and magnanimity,
the chance of this unfortunate prince's reinstatement in his kingdom
was as distant as ever. The inactivity and contradictory politics
of the English court had abated the zeal of Gustavus Adolphus,
and an irritability which he could not always repress,
made him on this occasion forget the glorious vocation of protector
of the oppressed, in which, on his invasion of Germany, he had so loudly
The terrors of the king's irresistible strength, and the near prospect
of his vengeance, had also compelled George, Landgrave of Hesse Darmstadt,
to a timely submission. His connection with the Emperor,
and his indifference to the Protestant cause, were no secret to the king,
but he was satisfied with laughing at so impotent an enemy.
As the Landgrave knew his own strength and the political situation of Germany
so little, as to offer himself as mediator between the contending parties,
Gustavus used jestingly to call him the peacemaker. He was frequently
heard to say, when at play he was winning from the Landgrave,
"that the money afforded double satisfaction, as it was Imperial coin."
To his affinity with the Elector of Saxony, whom Gustavus had cause
to treat with forbearance, the Landgrave was indebted for the favourable terms
he obtained from the king, who contented himself with the surrender of
his fortress of Russelheim, and his promise of observing a strict neutrality
during the war. The Counts of Westerwald and Wetteran also visited the King
in Frankfort, to offer him their assistance against the Spaniards,
and to conclude an alliance, which was afterwards of great service to him.
The town of Frankfort itself had reason to rejoice at the presence
of this monarch, who took their commerce under his protection,
and by the most effectual measures restored the fairs, which had been
greatly interrupted by the war.
The Swedish army was now reinforced by ten thousand Hessians,
which the Landgrave of Casse commanded. Gustavus Adolphus had
already invested Koenigstein; Kostheim and Floersheim surrendered
after a short siege; he was in command of the Maine; and transports
were preparing with all speed at Hoechst to carry his troops across the Rhine.
These preparations filled the Elector of Mentz, Anselm Casimir,
with consternation; and he no longer doubted but that the storm of war
would next fall upon him. As a partisan of the Emperor, and one of
the most active members of the League, he could expect no better treatment
than his confederates, the Bishops of Wurtzburg and Bamberg,
had already experienced. The situation of his territories upon the Rhine
made it necessary for the enemy to secure them, while the fertility
afforded an irresistible temptation to a necessitous army.
Miscalculating his own strength and that of his adversaries,
the Elector flattered himself that he was able to repel force by force,
and weary out the valour of the Swedes by the strength of his fortresses.
He ordered the fortifications of his capital to be repaired with
all diligence, provided it with every necessary for sustaining a long siege,
and received into the town a garrison of 2,000 Spaniards,
under Don Philip de Sylva. To prevent the approach of the Swedish transports,
he endeavoured to close the mouth of the Maine by driving piles,
and sinking large heaps of stones and vessels. He himself, however,
accompanied by the Bishop of Worms, and carrying with him
his most precious effects, took refuge in Cologne, and abandoned
his capital and territories to the rapacity of a tyrannical garrison.
But these preparations, which bespoke less of true courage
than of weak and overweening confidence, did not prevent the Swedes
from marching against Mentz, and making serious preparations for an attack
upon the city. While one body of their troops poured into the Rheingau,
routed the Spaniards who remained there, and levied contributions
on the inhabitants, another laid the Roman Catholic towns
in Westerwald and Wetterau under similar contributions. The main army
had encamped at Cassel, opposite Mentz; and Bernhard, Duke of Weimar,
made himself master of the Maeusethurm and the Castle of Ehrenfels,
on the other side of the Rhine. Gustavus was now actively preparing
to cross the river, and to blockade the town on the land side,
when the movements of Tilly in Franconia suddenly called him from the siege,
and obtained for the Elector a short repose.
The danger of Nuremberg, which, during the absence of Gustavus Adolphus
on the Rhine, Tilly had made a show of besieging, and, in the event
of resistance, threatened with the cruel fate of Magdeburg,
occasioned the king suddenly to retire from before Mentz.
Lest he should expose himself a second time to the reproaches of Germany,
and the disgrace of abandoning a confederate city to a ferocious enemy,
he hastened to its relief by forced marches. On his arrival at Frankfort,
however, he heard of its spirited resistance, and of the retreat of Tilly,
and lost not a moment in prosecuting his designs against Mentz.
Failing in an attempt to cross the Rhine at Cassel, under the cannon
of the besieged, he directed his march towards the Bergstrasse,
with a view of approaching the town from an opposite quarter.
Here he quickly made himself master of all the places of importance,
and at Stockstadt, between Gernsheim and Oppenheim, appeared a second time
upon the banks of the Rhine. The whole of the Bergstrasse was abandoned
by the Spaniards, who endeavoured obstinately to defend the other bank
of the river. For this purpose, they had burned or sunk all the vessels
in the neighbourhood, and arranged a formidable force on the banks,
in case the king should attempt the passage at that place.
On this occasion, the king's impetuosity exposed him to great danger
of falling into the hands of the enemy. In order to reconnoitre
the opposite bank, he crossed the river in a small boat;
he had scarcely landed when he was attacked by a party of Spanish horse,
from whose hands he only saved himself by a precipitate retreat.
Having at last, with the assistance of the neighbouring fishermen,
succeeded in procuring a few transports, he despatched two of them
across the river, bearing Count Brahe and 300 Swedes.
Scarcely had this officer time to entrench himself on the opposite bank,
when he was attacked by 14 squadrons of Spanish dragoons and cuirassiers.
Superior as the enemy was in number, Count Brahe, with his small force,
bravely defended himself, and gained time for the king to support him
with fresh troops. The Spaniards at last retired with the loss of 600 men,
some taking refuge in Oppenheim, and others in Mentz. A lion of marble
on a high pillar, holding a naked sword in his paw, and a helmet on his head,
was erected seventy years after the event, to point out to the traveller
the spot where the immortal monarch crossed the great river of Germany.
Gustavus Adolphus now conveyed his artillery and the greater part
of his troops over the river, and laid siege to Oppenheim, which,
after a brave resistance, was, on the 8th December, 1631, carried by storm.
Five hundred Spaniards, who had so courageously defended the place,
fell indiscriminately a sacrifice to the fury of the Swedes. The crossing
of the Rhine by Gustavus struck terror into the Spaniards and Lorrainers,
who had thought themselves protected by the river from the vengeance
of the Swedes. Rapid flight was now their only security;
every place incapable of an effectual defence was immediately abandoned.
After a long train of outrages on the defenceless citizens,
the troops of Lorraine evacuated Worms, which, before their departure,
they treated with wanton cruelty. The Spaniards hastened
to shut themselves up in Frankenthal, where they hoped to defy
the victorious arms of Gustavus Adolphus.
The king lost no time in prosecuting his designs against Mentz,
into which the flower of the Spanish troops had thrown themselves.
While he advanced on the left bank of the Rhine, the Landgrave of Hesse Cassel
moved forward on the other, reducing several strong places on his march.
The besieged Spaniards, though hemmed in on both sides, displayed at first
a bold determination, and threw, for several days, a shower of bombs
into the Swedish camp, which cost the king many of his bravest soldiers.
But notwithstanding, the Swedes continually gained ground,
and had at last advanced so close to the ditch that they prepared seriously
for storming the place. The courage of the besieged now began to droop.
They trembled before the furious impetuosity of the Swedish soldiers,
of which Marienberg, in Wurtzburg, had afforded so fearful an example.
The same dreadful fate awaited Mentz, if taken by storm;
and the enemy might even be easily tempted to revenge the carnage of Magdeburg
on this rich and magnificent residence of a Roman Catholic prince.
To save the town, rather than their own lives, the Spanish garrison
capitulated on the fourth day, and obtained from the magnanimity of Gustavus
a safe conduct to Luxembourg; the greater part of them, however,
following the example of many others, enlisted in the service of Sweden.
On the 13th December, 1631, the king made his entry into the conquered town,
and fixed his quarters in the palace of the Elector. Eighty pieces of cannon
fell into his hands, and the citizens were obliged to redeem their property
from pillage, by a payment of 80,000 florins. The benefits of this redemption
did not extend to the Jews and the clergy, who were obliged to make
large and separate contributions for themselves. The library of the Elector
was seized by the king as his share, and presented by him to his chancellor,
Oxenstiern, who intended it for the Academy of Westerrah, but the vessel
in which it was shipped to Sweden foundered at sea.
After the loss of Mentz, misfortune still pursued the Spaniards on the Rhine.
Shortly before the capture of that city, the Landgrave of Hesse Cassel
had taken Falkenstein and Reifenberg, and the fortress of Koningstein
surrendered to the Hessians. The Rhinegrave, Otto Louis,
one of the king's generals, defeated nine Spanish squadrons
who were on their march for Frankenthal, and made himself master
of the most important towns upon the Rhine, from Boppart to Bacharach.
After the capture of the fortress of Braunfels, which was effected
by the Count of Wetterau, with the co-operation of the Swedes,
the Spaniards quickly lost every place in Wetterau, while in the Palatinate
they retained few places besides Frankenthal. Landau and Kronweisenberg
openly declared for the Swedes; Spires offered troops for the king's service;
Manheim was gained through the prudence of the Duke Bernard of Weimar,
and the negligence of its governor, who, for this misconduct,
was tried before the council of war, at Heidelberg, and beheaded.
The king had protracted the campaign into the depth of winter,
and the severity of the season was perhaps one cause of the advantage
his soldiers gained over those of the enemy. But the exhausted troops
now stood in need of the repose of winter quarters, which,
after the surrender of Mentz, Gustavus assigned to them, in its neighbourhood.
He himself employed the interval of inactivity in the field,
which the season of the year enjoined, in arranging, with his chancellor,
the affairs of his cabinet, in treating for a neutrality
with some of his enemies, and adjusting some political disputes
which had sprung up with a neighbouring ally. He chose the city of Mentz
for his winter quarters, and the settlement of these state affairs,
and showed a greater partiality for this town, than seemed consistent
with the interests of the German princes, or the shortness of his visit
to the Empire. Not content with strongly fortifying it,
he erected at the opposite angle which the Maine forms with the Rhine,
a new citadel, which was named Gustavusburg from its founder,
but which is better known under the title of Pfaffenraub or Pfaffenzwang*.
* Priests' plunder; alluding to the means by which
the expense of its erection had been defrayed.
While Gustavus Adolphus made himself master of the Rhine,
and threatened the three neighbouring electorates with his victorious arms,
his vigilant enemies in Paris and St. Germain's made use of every artifice
to deprive him of the support of France, and, if possible,
to involve him in a war with that power. By his sudden and equivocal march
to the Rhine, he had surprised his friends, and furnished his enemies
with the means of exciting a distrust of his intentions.
After the conquest of Wurtzburg, and of the greater part of Franconia,
the road into Bavaria and Austria lay open to him through Bamberg
and the Upper Palatinate; and the expectation was as general,
as it was natural, that he would not delay to attack the Emperor
and the Duke of Bavaria in the very centre of their power,
and, by the reduction of his two principal enemies, bring the war
immediately to an end. But to the surprise of both parties,
Gustavus left the path which general expectation had thus marked out for him;
and instead of advancing to the right, turned to the left,
to make the less important and more innocent princes of the Rhine
feel his power, while he gave time to his more formidable opponents
to recruit their strength. Nothing but the paramount design
of reinstating the unfortunate Palatine, Frederick V., in the possession
of his territories, by the expulsion of the Spaniards, could seem to account
for this strange step; and the belief that Gustavus was about to effect
that restoration, silenced for a while the suspicions of his friends
and the calumnies of his enemies. But the Lower Palatinate was now
almost entirely cleared of the enemy; and yet Gustavus continued to form
new schemes of conquest on the Rhine, and to withhold the reconquered country
from the Palatine, its rightful owner. In vain did the English ambassador
remind him of what justice demanded, and what his own solemn engagement
made a duty of honour; Gustavus replied to these demands
with bitter complaints of the inactivity of the English court,
and prepared to carry his victorious standard into Alsace,
and even into Lorraine.
A distrust of the Swedish monarch was now loud and open,
while the malice of his enemies busily circulated the most injurious reports
as to his intentions. Richelieu, the minister of Louis XIII.,
had long witnessed with anxiety the king's progress towards
the French frontier, and the suspicious temper of Louis rendered him
but too accessible to the evil surmises which the occasion gave rise to.
France was at this time involved in a civil war with her Protestant subjects,
and the fear was not altogether groundless, that the approach
of a victorious monarch of their party might revive their drooping spirit,
and encourage them to a more desperate resistance. This might be the case,
even if Gustavus Adolphus was far from showing a disposition
to encourage them, or to act unfaithfully towards his ally,
the King of France. But the vindictive Bishop of Wurtzburg,
who was anxious to avenge the loss of his dominions, the envenomed rhetoric
of the Jesuits and the active zeal of the Bavarian minister,
represented this dreaded alliance between the Huguenots and the Swedes
as an undoubted fact, and filled the timid mind of Louis
with the most alarming fears. Not merely chimerical politicians,
but many of the best informed Roman Catholics, fully believed that the king
was on the point of breaking into the heart of France, to make common cause
with the Huguenots, and to overturn the Catholic religion within the kingdom.
Fanatical zealots already saw him, with his army, crossing the Alps,
and dethroning the Viceregent of Christ in Italy. Such reports
no doubt soon refute themselves; yet it cannot be denied that Gustavus,
by his manoeuvres on the Rhine, gave a dangerous handle
to the malice of his enemies, and in some measure justified the suspicion
that he directed his arms, not so much against the Emperor
and the Duke of Bavaria, as against the Roman Catholic religion itself.
The general clamour of discontent which the Jesuits raised
in all the Catholic courts, against the alliance between France
and the enemy of the church, at last compelled Cardinal Richelieu
to take a decisive step for the security of his religion,
and at once to convince the Roman Catholic world of the zeal of France,
and of the selfish policy of the ecclesiastical states of Germany.
Convinced that the views of the King of Sweden, like his own,
aimed solely at the humiliation of the power of Austria,
he hesitated not to promise to the princes of the League,
on the part of Sweden, a complete neutrality, immediately they abandoned
their alliance with the Emperor and withdrew their troops.
Whatever the resolution these princes should adopt, Richelieu would
equally attain his object. By their separation from the Austrian interest,
Ferdinand would be exposed to the combined attack of France and Sweden;
and Gustavus Adolphus, freed from his other enemies in Germany, would be able
to direct his undivided force against the hereditary dominions of Austria.
In that event, the fall of Austria was inevitable, and this great object
of Richelieu's policy would be gained without injury to the church.
If, on the other hand, the princes of the League persisted
in their opposition, and adhered to the Austrian alliance,
the result would indeed be more doubtful, but still France would have
sufficiently proved to all Europe the sincerity of her attachment to
the Catholic cause, and performed her duty as a member of the Roman Church.
The princes of the League would then appear the sole authors of those evils,
which the continuance of the war would unavoidably bring upon
the Roman Catholics of Germany; they alone, by their wilful and obstinate
adherence to the Emperor, would frustrate the measures employed
for their protection, involve the church in danger, and themselves in ruin.
Richelieu pursued this plan with greater zeal, the more he was embarrassed
by the repeated demands of the Elector of Bavaria for assistance from France;
for this prince, as already stated, when he first began to entertain
suspicions of the Emperor, entered immediately into a secret alliance
with France, by which, in the event of any change in the Emperor's sentiments,
he hoped to secure the possession of the Palatinate. But though
the origin of the treaty clearly showed against what enemy it was directed,
Maximilian now thought proper to make use of it against the King of Sweden,
and did not hesitate to demand from France that assistance against her ally,
which she had simply promised against Austria. Richelieu, embarrassed by
this conflicting alliance with two hostile powers, had no resource left
but to endeavour to put a speedy termination to their hostilities;
and as little inclined to sacrifice Bavaria, as he was disabled,
by his treaty with Sweden, from assisting it, he set himself,
with all diligence, to bring about a neutrality, as the only means
of fulfilling his obligations to both. For this purpose,
the Marquis of Breze was sent, as his plenipotentiary,
to the King of Sweden at Mentz, to learn his sentiments on this point,
and to procure from him favourable conditions for the allied princes.
But if Louis XIII. had powerful motives for wishing for this neutrality,
Gustavus Adolphus had as grave reasons for desiring the contrary.
Convinced by numerous proofs that the hatred of the princes of the League
to the Protestant religion was invincible, their aversion to
the foreign power of the Swedes inextinguishable, and their attachment to
the House of Austria irrevocable, he apprehended less danger
from their open hostility, than from a neutrality which was so little
in unison with their real inclinations; and, moreover, as he was constrained
to carry on the war in Germany at the expense of the enemy,
he manifestly sustained great loss if he diminished their number
without increasing that of his friends. It was not surprising, therefore,
if Gustavus evinced little inclination to purchase the neutrality
of the League, by which he was likely to gain so little,
at the expense of the advantages he had already obtained.
The conditions, accordingly, upon which he offered to adopt the neutrality
towards Bavaria were severe, and suited to these views. He required
of the whole League a full and entire cessation from all hostilities;
the recall of their troops from the imperial army, from the conquered towns,
and from all the Protestant countries; the reduction of their military force;
the exclusion of the imperial armies from their territories,
and from supplies either of men, provisions, or ammunition.
Hard as the conditions were, which the victor thus imposed
upon the vanquished, the French mediator flattered himself
he should be able to induce the Elector of Bavaria to accept them.
In order to give time for an accommodation, Gustavus had agreed
to a cessation of hostilities for a fortnight. But at the very time
when this monarch was receiving from the French agents repeated assurances
of the favourable progress of the negociation, an intercepted letter
from the Elector to Pappenheim, the imperial general in Westphalia,
revealed the perfidy of that prince, as having no other object in view
by the whole negociation, than to gain time for his measures of defence.
Far from intending to fetter his military operations by a truce with Sweden,
the artful prince hastened his preparations, and employed the leisure
which his enemy afforded him, in making the most active dispositions
for resistance. The negociation accordingly failed, and served only
to increase the animosity of the Bavarians and the Swedes.
Tilly's augmented force, with which he threatened to overrun Franconia,
urgently required the king's presence in that circle; but it was necessary
to expel previously the Spaniards from the Rhine, and to cut off their means
of invading Germany from the Netherlands. With this view, Gustavus Adolphus
had made an offer of neutrality to the Elector of Treves, Philip von Zeltern,
on condition that the fortress of Hermanstein should be delivered up to him,
and a free passage granted to his troops through Coblentz. But unwillingly
as the Elector had beheld the Spaniards within his territories,
he was still less disposed to commit his estates to the suspicious protection
of a heretic, and to make the Swedish conqueror master of his destinies.
Too weak to maintain his independence between two such powerful competitors,
he took refuge in the protection of France. With his usual prudence,
Richelieu profited by the embarrassments of this prince
to augment the power of France, and to gain for her an important ally
on the German frontier. A numerous French army was despatched
to protect the territory of Treves, and a French garrison was received
into Ehrenbreitstein. But the object which had moved the Elector
to this bold step was not completely gained, for the offended pride
of Gustavus Adolphus was not appeased till he had obtained a free passage
for his troops through Treves.
Pending these negociations with Treves and France, the king's generals
had entirely cleared the territory of Mentz of the Spanish garrisons,
and Gustavus himself completed the conquest of this district
by the capture of Kreutznach. To protect these conquests,
the chancellor Oxenstiern was left with a division of the army
upon the Middle Rhine, while the main body, under the king himself,
began its march against the enemy in Franconia.
The possession of this circle had, in the mean time, been disputed
with variable success, between Count Tilly and the Swedish General Horn,
whom Gustavus had left there with 8,000 men; and the Bishopric of Bamberg,
in particular, was at once the prize and the scene of their struggle.
Called away to the Rhine by his other projects, the king had left
to his general the chastisement of the bishop, whose perfidy had excited
his indignation, and the activity of Horn justified the choice.
In a short time, he subdued the greater part of the bishopric;
and the capital itself, abandoned by its imperial garrison,
was carried by storm. The banished bishop urgently demanded assistance
from the Elector of Bavaria, who was at length persuaded to put an end
to Tilly's inactivity. Fully empowered by his master's order
to restore the bishop to his possessions, this general collected his troops,
who were scattered over the Upper Palatinate, and with an army of 20,000 men
advanced upon Bamberg. Firmly resolved to maintain his conquest
even against this overwhelming force, Horn awaited the enemy
within the walls of Bamberg; but was obliged to yield to the vanguard of Tilly
what he had thought to be able to dispute with his whole army.
A panic which suddenly seized his troops, and which no presence of mind
of their general could check, opened the gates to the enemy,
and it was with difficulty that the troops, baggage, and artillery,
were saved. The reconquest of Bamberg was the fruit of this victory;
but Tilly, with all his activity, was unable to overtake the Swedish general,
who retired in good order behind the Maine. The king's appearance
in Franconia, and his junction with Gustavus Horn at Kitzingen,
put a stop to Tilly's conquests, and compelled him to provide
for his own safety by a rapid retreat.
The king made a general review of his troops at Aschaffenburg.
After his junction with Gustavus Horn, Banner, and Duke William of Weimar,
they amounted to nearly 40,000 men. His progress through Franconia
was uninterrupted; for Tilly, far too weak to encounter an enemy
so superior in numbers, had retreated, by rapid marches, towards the Danube.
Bohemia and Bavaria were now equally near to the king, and,
uncertain whither his victorious course might be directed,
Maximilian could form no immediate resolution. The choice of the king,
and the fate of both provinces, now depended on the road
that should be left open to Count Tilly. It was dangerous,
during the approach of so formidable an enemy, to leave Bavaria undefended,
in order to protect Austria; still more dangerous, by receiving Tilly
into Bavaria, to draw thither the enemy also, and to render it the seat
of a destructive war. The cares of the sovereign finally overcame
the scruples of the statesman, and Tilly received orders, at all hazards,
to cover the frontiers of Bavaria with his army.
Nuremberg received with triumphant joy the protector of
the Protestant religion and German freedom, and the enthusiasm of the citizens
expressed itself on his arrival in loud transports of admiration and joy.
Even Gustavus could not contain his astonishment, to see himself in this city,
which was the very centre of Germany, where he had never expected
to be able to penetrate. The noble appearance of his person,
completed the impression produced by his glorious exploits,
and the condescension with which he received the congratulations
of this free city won all hearts. He now confirmed the alliance
he had concluded with it on the shores of the Baltic, and excited the citizens
to zealous activity and fraternal unity against the common enemy.
After a short stay in Nuremberg, he followed his army to the Danube,
and appeared unexpectedly before the frontier town of Donauwerth.
A numerous Bavarian garrison defended the place; and their commander,
Rodolph Maximilian, Duke of Saxe Lauenburg, showed at first
a resolute determination to defend it till the arrival of Tilly.
But the vigour with which Gustavus Adolphus prosecuted the siege,
soon compelled him to take measures for a speedy and secure retreat,
which amidst a tremendous fire from the Swedish artillery
he successfully executed.
The conquest of Donauwerth opened to the king the further side of the Danube,
and now the small river Lech alone separated him from Bavaria.
The immediate danger of his dominions aroused all Maximilian's activity;
and however little he had hitherto disturbed the enemy's progress
to his frontier, he now determined to dispute as resolutely
the remainder of their course. On the opposite bank of the Lech,
near the small town of Rain, Tilly occupied a strongly fortified camp,
which, surrounded by three rivers, bade defiance to all attack.
All the bridges over the Lech were destroyed; the whole course of the stream
protected by strong garrisons as far as Augsburg; and that town itself,
which had long betrayed its impatience to follow the example
of Nuremberg and Frankfort, secured by a Bavarian garrison,
and the disarming of its inhabitants. The Elector himself,
with all the troops he could collect, threw himself into Tilly's camp,
as if all his hopes centred on this single point, and here the good fortune
of the Swedes was to suffer shipwreck for ever.
Gustavus Adolphus, after subduing the whole territory of Augsburg,
on his own side of the river, and opening to his troops a rich supply
of necessaries from that quarter, soon appeared on the bank
opposite the Bavarian entrenchments. It was now the month of March,
when the river, swollen by frequent rains, and the melting of the snow
from the mountains of the Tyrol, flowed full and rapid
between its steep banks. Its boiling current threatened the rash assailants
with certain destruction, while from the opposite side the enemy's cannon
showed their murderous mouths. If, in despite of the fury
both of fire and water, they should accomplish this almost impossible passage,
a fresh and vigorous enemy awaited the exhausted troops
in an impregnable camp; and when they needed repose and refreshment
they must prepare for battle. With exhausted powers they must ascend
the hostile entrenchments, whose strength seemed to bid defiance
to every assault. A defeat sustained upon this shore would be attended
with inevitable destruction, since the same stream which impeded their advance
would also cut off their retreat, if fortune should abandon them.
The Swedish council of war, which the king now assembled,
strongly urged upon him all these considerations, in order to deter him
from this dangerous undertaking. The most intrepid were appalled,
and a troop of honourable warriors, who had grown gray in the field,
did not hesitate to express their alarm. But the king's resolution was fixed.
"What!" said he to Gustavus Horn, who spoke for the rest,
"have we crossed the Baltic, and so many great rivers of Germany,
and shall we now be checked by a brook like the Lech?" Gustavus had already,
at great personal risk, reconnoitred the whole country,
and discovered that his own side of the river was higher than the other,
and consequently gave a considerable advantage to the fire
of the Swedish artillery over that of the enemy. With great presence of mind
he determined to profit by this circumstance. At the point where
the left bank of the Lech forms an angle with the right, he immediately caused
three batteries to be erected, from which 72 field-pieces
maintained a cross fire upon the enemy. While this tremendous cannonade
drove the Bavarians from the opposite bank, he caused to be erected
a bridge over the river with all possible rapidity. A thick smoke,
kept up by burning wood and wet straw, concealed for some time the progress
of the work from the enemy, while the continued thunder of the cannon
overpowered the noise of the axes. He kept alive by his own example
the courage of his troops, and discharged more than 60 cannon
with his own hand. The cannonade was returned by the Bavarians
with equal vivacity for two hours, though with less effect,
as the Swedish batteries swept the lower opposite bank, while their height
served as a breast-work to their own troops. In vain, therefore,
did the Bavarians attempt to destroy these works; the superior fire
of the Swedes threw them into disorder, and the bridge was completed
under their very eyes. On this dreadful day, Tilly did every thing
in his power to encourage his troops; and no danger could drive him
from the bank. At length he found the death which he sought,
a cannon ball shattered his leg; and Altringer, his brave companion-in-arms,
was, soon after, dangerously wounded in the head. Deprived of
the animating presence of their two generals, the Bavarians gave way at last,
and Maximilian, in spite of his own judgment, was driven to adopt
a pusillanimous resolve. Overcome by the persuasions of the dying Tilly,
whose wonted firmness was overpowered by the near approach of death,
he gave up his impregnable position for lost; and the discovery by the Swedes
of a ford, by which their cavalry were on the point of passing,
accelerated his inglorious retreat. The same night, before a single soldier
of the enemy had crossed the Lech, he broke up his camp,
and, without giving time for the King to harass him in his march,
retreated in good order to Neuburgh and Ingolstadt. With astonishment
did Gustavus Adolphus, who completed the passage of the river
on the following day behold the hostile camp abandoned;
and the Elector's flight surprised him still more, when he saw the strength
of the position he had quitted. "Had I been the Bavarian," said he,
"though a cannon ball had carried away my beard and chin,
never would I have abandoned a position like this, and laid open my territory
to my enemies."
Bavaria now lay exposed to the conqueror; and, for the first time,
the tide of war, which had hitherto only beat against its frontier,
now flowed over its long spared and fertile fields. Before, however,
the King proceeded to the conquest of these provinces,
he delivered the town of Augsburg from the yoke of Bavaria;
exacted an oath of allegiance from the citizens; and to secure its observance,
left a garrison in the town. He then advanced, by rapid marches,
against Ingolstadt, in order, by the capture of this important fortress,
which the Elector covered with the greater part of his army,
to secure his conquests in Bavaria, and obtain a firm footing on the Danube.
Shortly after the appearance of the Swedish King before Ingolstadt,
the wounded Tilly, after experiencing the caprice of unstable fortune,
terminated his career within the walls of that town. Conquered by
the superior generalship of Gustavus Adolphus, he lost,
at the close of his days, all the laurels of his earlier victories,
and appeased, by a series of misfortunes, the demands of justice,
and the avenging manes of Magdeburg. In his death,
the Imperial army and that of the League sustained an irreparable loss;
the Roman Catholic religion was deprived of its most zealous defender,
and Maximilian of Bavaria of the most faithful of his servants,
who sealed his fidelity by his death, and even in his dying moments
fulfilled the duties of a general. His last message to the Elector
was an urgent advice to take possession of Ratisbon, in order to maintain
the command of the Danube, and to keep open the communication with Bohemia.
With the confidence which was the natural fruit of so many victories,
Gustavus Adolphus commenced the siege of Ingolstadt, hoping to gain the town
by the fury of his first assault. But the strength of its fortifications,
and the bravery of its garrison, presented obstacles greater
than any he had had to encounter since the battle of Breitenfeld,
and the walls of Ingolstadt were near putting an end to his career.
While reconnoitring the works, a 24-pounder killed his horse under him,
and he fell to the ground, while almost immediately afterwards
another ball struck his favourite, the young Margrave of Baden,
by his side. With perfect self-possession the king rose,
and quieted the fears of his troops by immediately mounting another horse.
The occupation of Ratisbon by the Bavarians, who, by the advice of Tilly,
had surprised this town by stratagem, and placed in it a strong garrison,
quickly changed the king's plan of operations. He had flattered himself
with the hope of gaining this town, which favoured the Protestant cause,
and to find in it an ally as devoted to him as Nuremberg, Augsburg,
and Frankfort. Its seizure by the Bavarians seemed to postpone
for a long time the fulfilment of his favourite project of making himself
master of the Danube, and cutting off his adversaries' supplies from Bohemia.
He suddenly raised the siege of Ingolstadt, before which he had wasted
both his time and his troops, and penetrated into the interior of Bavaria,
in order to draw the Elector into that quarter for the defence
of his territories, and thus to strip the Danube of its defenders.
The whole country, as far as Munich, now lay open to the conqueror.
Mosburg, Landshut, and the whole territory of Freysingen, submitted;
nothing could resist his arms. But if he met with no regular force
to oppose his progress, he had to contend against a still more implacable
enemy in the heart of every Bavarian -- religious fanaticism.
Soldiers who did not believe in the Pope were, in this country,
a new and unheard-of phenomenon; the blind zeal of the priests
represented them to the peasantry as monsters, the children of hell,
and their leader as Antichrist. No wonder, then, if they thought themselves
released from all the ties of nature and humanity towards this brood of Satan,
and justified in committing the most savage atrocities upon them.
Woe to the Swedish soldier who fell into their hands! All the torments
which inventive malice could devise were exercised upon these unhappy victims;
and the sight of their mangled bodies exasperated the army
to a fearful retaliation. Gustavus Adolphus, alone, sullied the lustre
of his heroic character by no act of revenge; and the aversion which
the Bavarians felt towards his religion, far from making him depart
from the obligations of humanity towards that unfortunate people,
seemed to impose upon him the stricter duty to honour his religion
by a more constant clemency.
The approach of the king spread terror and consternation in the capital,
which, stripped of its defenders, and abandoned by its principal inhabitants,
placed all its hopes in the magnanimity of the conqueror.
By an unconditional and voluntary surrender, it hoped to disarm his vengeance;
and sent deputies even to Freysingen to lay at his feet the keys of the city.
Strongly as the king might have been tempted by the inhumanity
of the Bavarians, and the hostility of their sovereign, to make a dreadful use
of the rights of victory; pressed as he was by Germans to avenge
the fate of Magdeburg on the capital of its destroyer, this great prince
scorned this mean revenge; and the very helplessness of his enemies
disarmed his severity. Contented with the more noble triumph
of conducting the Palatine Frederick with the pomp of a victor
into the very palace of the prince who had been the chief instrument
of his ruin, and the usurper of his territories, he heightened the brilliancy
of his triumphal entry by the brighter splendour of moderation and clemency.
The King found in Munich only a forsaken palace, for the Elector's treasures
had been transported to Werfen. The magnificence of the building
astonished him; and he asked the guide who showed the apartments
who was the architect. "No other," replied he, "than the Elector himself." --
"I wish," said the King, "I had this architect to send to Stockholm."
"That," he was answered, "the architect will take care to prevent."
When the arsenal was examined, they found nothing but carriages,
stripped of their cannon. The latter had been so artfully concealed
under the floor, that no traces of them remained; and but for
the treachery of a workman, the deceit would not have been detected.
"Rise up from the dead," said the King, "and come to judgment."
The floor was pulled up, and 140 pieces of cannon discovered,
some of extraordinary calibre, which had been principally taken
in the Palatinate and Bohemia. A treasure of 30,000 gold ducats,
concealed in one of the largest, completed the pleasure
which the King received from this valuable acquisition.
A far more welcome spectacle still would have been the Bavarian army itself;
for his march into the heart of Bavaria had been undertaken chiefly
with the view of luring them from their entrenchments. In this expectation
he was disappointed. No enemy appeared; no entreaties, however urgent,
on the part of his subjects, could induce the Elector to risk
the remainder of his army to the chances of a battle. Shut up in Ratisbon,
he awaited the reinforcements which Wallenstein was bringing from Bohemia;
and endeavoured, in the mean time, to amuse his enemy and keep him inactive,
by reviving the negociation for a neutrality. But the King's distrust,
too often and too justly excited by his previous conduct,
frustrated this design; and the intentional delay of Wallenstein
abandoned Bavaria to the Swedes.
Thus far had Gustavus advanced from victory to victory, without meeting
with an enemy able to cope with him. A part of Bavaria and Swabia,
the Bishoprics of Franconia, the Lower Palatinate, and the Archbishopric
of Mentz, lay conquered in his rear. An uninterrupted career of conquest
had conducted him to the threshold of Austria; and the most brilliant success
had fully justified the plan of operations which he had formed
after the battle of Breitenfeld. If he had not succeeded to his wish
in promoting a confederacy among the Protestant States, he had at least
disarmed or weakened the League, carried on the war chiefly at its expense,
lessened the Emperor's resources, emboldened the weaker States,
and while he laid under contribution the allies of the Emperor,
forced a way through their territories into Austria itself.
Where arms were unavailing, the greatest service was rendered
by the friendship of the free cities, whose affections he had gained,
by the double ties of policy and religion; and, as long as he should maintain
his superiority in the field, he might reckon on every thing from their zeal.
By his conquests on the Rhine, the Spaniards were cut off
from the Lower Palatinate, even if the state of the war in the Netherlands
left them at liberty to interfere in the affairs of Germany.
The Duke of Lorraine, too, after his unfortunate campaign,
had been glad to adopt a neutrality. Even the numerous garrisons
he had left behind him, in his progress through Germany,
had not diminished his army; and, fresh and vigorous as when he first began
his march, he now stood in the centre of Bavaria, determined and prepared
to carry the war into the heart of Austria.
While Gustavus Adolphus thus maintained his superiority within the empire,
fortune, in another quarter, had been no less favourable to his ally,
the Elector of Saxony. By the arrangement concerted between these princes
at Halle, after the battle of Leipzig, the conquest of Bohemia
was intrusted to the Elector of Saxony, while the King reserved for himself
the attack upon the territories of the League. The first fruits
which the Elector reaped from the battle of Breitenfeld,
was the reconquest of Leipzig, which was shortly followed by the expulsion
of the Austrian garrisons from the entire circle. Reinforced by the troops
who deserted to him from the hostile garrisons, the Saxon General, Arnheim,
marched towards Lusatia, which had been overrun by an Imperial General,
Rudolph von Tiefenbach, in order to chastise the Elector
for embracing the cause of the enemy. He had already commenced
in this weakly defended province the usual course of devastation,
taken several towns, and terrified Dresden itself by his approach,
when his destructive progress was suddenly stopped, by an express mandate
from the Emperor to spare the possessions of the King of Saxony.
Ferdinand had perceived too late the errors of that policy,
which reduced the Elector of Saxony to extremities, and forcibly driven
this powerful monarch into an alliance with Sweden. By moderation,
equally ill-timed, he now wished to repair if possible
the consequences of his haughtiness; and thus committed a second error
in endeavouring to repair the first. To deprive his enemy
of so powerful an ally, he had opened, through the intervention of Spain,
a negociation with the Elector; and in order to facilitate an accommodation,
Tiefenbach was ordered immediately to retire from Saxony.
But these concessions of the Emperor, far from producing the desired effect,
only revealed to the Elector the embarrassment of his adversary
and his own importance, and emboldened him the more to prosecute
the advantages he had already obtained. How could he, moreover,
without becoming chargeable with the most shameful ingratitude,
abandon an ally to whom he had given the most solemn assurances of fidelity,
and to whom he was indebted for the preservation of his dominions,
and even of his Electoral dignity?
The Saxon army, now relieved from the necessity of marching into Lusatia,
advanced towards Bohemia, where a combination of favourable circumstances
seemed to ensure them an easy victory. In this kingdom, the first scene of
this fatal war, the flames of dissension still smouldered beneath the ashes,
while the discontent of the inhabitants was fomented by daily acts
of oppression and tyranny. On every side, this unfortunate country
showed signs of a mournful change. Whole districts had changed
their proprietors, and groaned under the hated yoke of Roman Catholic masters,
whom the favour of the Emperor and the Jesuits had enriched
with the plunder and possessions of the exiled Protestants. Others,
taking advantage themselves of the general distress, had purchased,
at a low rate, the confiscated estates. The blood of the most eminent
champions of liberty had been shed upon the scaffold; and such as by
a timely flight avoided that fate, were wandering in misery
far from their native land, while the obsequious slaves of despotism
enjoyed their patrimony. Still more insupportable than the oppression
of these petty tyrants, was the restraint of conscience which was imposed
without distinction on all the Protestants of that kingdom.
No external danger, no opposition on the part of the nation,
however steadfast, not even the fearful lessons of past experience could check
in the Jesuits the rage of proselytism; where fair means were ineffectual,
recourse was had to military force to bring the deluded wanderers
within the pale of the church. The inhabitants of Joachimsthal,
on the frontiers between Bohemia and Meissen, were the chief sufferers
from this violence. Two imperial commissaries, accompanied by
as many Jesuits, and supported by fifteen musketeers, made their appearance
in this peaceful valley to preach the gospel to the heretics.
Where the rhetoric of the former was ineffectual, the forcibly quartering
the latter upon the houses, and threats of banishment and fines were tried.
But on this occasion, the good cause prevailed, and the bold resistance
of this small district compelled the Emperor disgracefully to recall
his mandate of conversion. The example of the court had, however,
afforded a precedent to the Roman Catholics of the empire,
and seemed to justify every act of oppression which their insolence
tempted them to wreak upon the Protestants. It is not surprising, then,
if this persecuted party was favourable to a revolution, and saw with pleasure
their deliverers on the frontiers.
The Saxon army was already on its march towards Prague, the imperial garrisons
everywhere retired before them. Schloeckenau, Tetschen, Aussig, Leutmeritz,
soon fell into the enemy's hands, and every Roman Catholic place
was abandoned to plunder. Consternation seized all the Papists of the Empire;
and conscious of the outrages which they themselves had committed
on the Protestants, they did not venture to abide the vengeful arrival
of a Protestant army. All the Roman Catholics, who had anything to lose,
fled hastily from the country to the capital, which again
they presently abandoned. Prague was unprepared for an attack,
and was too weakly garrisoned to sustain a long siege.
Too late had the Emperor resolved to despatch Field-Marshal Tiefenbach
to the defence of this capital. Before the imperial orders could reach
the head-quarters of that general, in Silesia, the Saxons were already
close to Prague, the Protestant inhabitants of which showed little zeal,
while the weakness of the garrison left no room to hope a long resistance.
In this fearful state of embarrassment, the Roman Catholics of Prague
looked for security to Wallenstein, who now lived in that city
as a private individual. But far from lending his military experience,
and the weight of his name, towards its defence, he seized
the favourable opportunity to satiate his thirst for revenge.
If he did not actually invite the Saxons to Prague, at least his conduct
facilitated its capture. Though unprepared, the town might still hold out
until succours could arrive; and an imperial colonel, Count Maradas,
showed serious intentions of undertaking its defence. But without
command and authority, and having no support but his own zeal and courage,
he did not dare to venture upon such a step without the advice of a superior.
He therefore consulted the Duke of Friedland, whose approbation
might supply the want of authority from the Emperor, and to whom
the Bohemian generals were referred by an express edict of the court
in the last extremity. He, however, artfully excused himself,
on the plea of holding no official appointment, and his long retirement
from the political world; while he weakened the resolution of the subalterns
by the scruples which he suggested, and painted in the strongest colours.
At last, to render the consternation general and complete,
he quitted the capital with his whole court, however little he had to fear
from its capture; and the city was lost, because, by his departure,
he showed that he despaired of its safety. His example was followed
by all the Roman Catholic nobility, the generals with their troops,
the clergy, and all the officers of the crown. All night the people
were employed in saving their persons and effects. The roads to Vienna
were crowded with fugitives, who scarcely recovered from their consternation
till they reached the imperial city. Maradas himself,
despairing of the safety of Prague, followed the rest,
and led his small detachment to Tabor, where he awaited the event.
Profound silence reigned in Prague, when the Saxons next morning
appeared before it; no preparations were made for defence;
not a single shot from the walls announced an intention of resistance.
On the contrary, a crowd of spectators from the town, allured by curiosity,
came flocking round, to behold the foreign army; and the peaceful confidence
with which they advanced, resembled a friendly salutation,
more than a hostile reception. From the concurrent reports of these people,
the Saxons learned that the town had been deserted by the troops,
and that the government had fled to Budweiss. This unexpected
and inexplicable absence of resistance excited Arnheim's distrust the more,
as the speedy approach of the Silesian succours was no secret to him,
and as he knew that the Saxon army was too indifferently provided
with materials for undertaking a siege, and by far too weak in numbers
to attempt to take the place by storm. Apprehensive of stratagem,
he redoubled his vigilance; and he continued in this conviction
until Wallenstein's house-steward, whom he discovered among the crowd,
confirmed to him this intelligence. "The town is ours without a blow!"
exclaimed he in astonishment to his officers, and immediately summoned it
by a trumpeter.
The citizens of Prague, thus shamefully abandoned by their defenders,
had long taken their resolution; all that they had to do
was to secure their properties and liberties by an advantageous capitulation.
No sooner was the treaty signed by the Saxon general, in his master's name,
than the gates were opened, without farther opposition; and upon
the 11th of November, 1631, the army made their triumphal entry.
The Elector soon after followed in person, to receive the homage
of those whom he had newly taken under his protection; for it was only
in the character of protector that the three towns of Prague
had surrendered to him. Their allegiance to the Austrian monarchy
was not to be dissolved by the step they had taken. In proportion as
the Papists' apprehensions of reprisals on the part of the Protestants
had been exaggerated, so was their surprise great at the moderation
of the Elector, and the discipline of his troops. Field-Marshal Arnheim
plainly evinced, on this occasion, his respect for Wallenstein.
Not content with sparing his estates on his march, he now placed guards
over his palace, in Prague, to prevent the plunder of any of his effects.
The Roman Catholics of the town were allowed the fullest liberty
of conscience; and of all the churches they had wrested from the Protestants,
four only were now taken back from them. From this general indulgence,
none were excluded but the Jesuits, who were generally considered
as the authors of all past grievances, and thus banished the kingdom.
John George belied not the submission and dependence with which
the terror of the imperial name inspired him; nor did he indulge at Prague,
in a course of conduct which would assuredly have been pursued against himself
in Dresden, by imperial generals, such as Tilly or Wallenstein.
He carefully distinguished between the enemy with whom he was at war,
and the head of the Empire, to whom he owed obedience. He did not venture
to touch the household furniture of the latter, while, without scruple,
he appropriated and transported to Dresden the cannon of the former.
He did not take up his residence in the imperial palace,
but the house of Lichtenstein; too modest to use the apartments of one
whom he had deprived of a kingdom. Had this trait been related
of a great man and a hero, it would irresistibly excite our admiration;
but the character of this prince leaves us in doubt whether this moderation
ought to be ascribed to a noble self-command, or to the littleness
of a weak mind, which even good fortune could not embolden,
and liberty itself could not strip of its habituated fetters.
The surrender of Prague, which was quickly followed by that
of most of the other towns, effected a great and sudden change in Bohemia.
Many of the Protestant nobility, who had hitherto been wandering about
in misery, now returned to their native country; and Count Thurn,
the famous author of the Bohemian insurrection, enjoyed the triumph
of returning as a conqueror to the scene of his crime and his condemnation.
Over the very bridge where the heads of his adherents, exposed to view,
held out a fearful picture of the fate which had threatened himself,
he now made his triumphal entry; and to remove these ghastly objects
was his first care. The exiles again took possession of their properties,
without thinking of recompensing for the purchase money
the present possessors, who had mostly taken to flight.
Even though they had received a price for their estates,
they seized on every thing which had once been their own;
and many had reason to rejoice at the economy of the late possessors.
The lands and cattle had greatly improved in their hands;
the apartments were now decorated with the most costly furniture;
the cellars, which had been left empty, were richly filled;
the stables supplied; the magazines stored with provisions.
But distrusting the constancy of that good fortune, which had so unexpectedly
smiled upon them, they hastened to get quit of these insecure possessions,
and to convert their immoveable into transferable property.
The presence of the Saxons inspired all the Protestants of the kingdom
with courage; and, both in the country and the capital, crowds flocked
to the newly opened Protestant churches. Many, whom fear alone had retained
in their adherence to Popery, now openly professed the new doctrine;
and many of the late converts to Roman Catholicism gladly renounced
a compulsory persuasion, to follow the earlier conviction of their conscience.
All the moderation of the new regency, could not restrain the manifestation
of that just displeasure, which this persecuted people felt
against their oppressors. They made a fearful and cruel use
of their newly recovered rights; and, in many parts of the kingdom,
their hatred of the religion which they had been compelled to profess,
could be satiated only by the blood of its adherents.
Meantime the succours which the imperial generals, Goetz and Tiefenbach,
were conducting from Silesia, had entered Bohemia, where they were joined
by some of Tilly's regiments, from the Upper Palatinate. In order
to disperse them before they should receive any further reinforcement,
Arnheim advanced with part of his army from Prague, and made a vigorous attack
on their entrenchments near Limburg, on the Elbe. After a severe action,
not without great loss, he drove the enemy from their fortified camp,
and forced them, by his heavy fire, to recross the Elbe,
and to destroy the bridge which they had built over that river.
Nevertheless, the Imperialists obtained the advantage in several skirmishes,
and the Croats pushed their incursions to the very gates of Prague.
Brilliant and promising as the opening of the Bohemian campaign had been,
the issue by no means satisfied the expectations of Gustavus Adolphus.
Instead of vigorously following up their advantages, by forcing a passage
to the Swedish army through the conquered country, and then, with it,
attacking the imperial power in its centre, the Saxons weakened themselves
in a war of skirmishes, in which they were not always successful,
while they lost the time which should have been devoted
to greater undertakings. But the Elector's subsequent conduct
betrayed the motives which had prevented him from pushing his advantage
over the Emperor, and by consistent measures promoting the plans
of the King of Sweden.
The Emperor had now lost the greater part of Bohemia, and the Saxons
were advancing against Austria, while the Swedish monarch was rapidly moving
to the same point through Franconia, Swabia, and Bavaria. A long war
had exhausted the strength of the Austrian monarchy, wasted the country,
and diminished its armies. The renown of its victories was no more,
as well as the confidence inspired by constant success; its troops had lost
the obedience and discipline to which those of the Swedish monarch
owed all their superiority in the field. The confederates of the Emperor
were disarmed, or their fidelity shaken by the danger
which threatened themselves. Even Maximilian of Bavaria,
Austria's most powerful ally, seemed disposed to yield
to the seductive proposition of neutrality; while his suspicious alliance
with France had long been a subject of apprehension to the Emperor.
The bishops of Wurtzburg and Bamberg, the Elector of Mentz,
and the Duke of Lorraine, were either expelled from their territories,
or threatened with immediate attack; Treves had placed itself
under the protection of France. The bravery of the Hollanders
gave full employment to the Spanish arms in the Netherlands;
while Gustavus had driven them from the Rhine. Poland was still fettered
by the truce which subsisted between that country and Sweden.
The Hungarian frontier was threatened by the Transylvanian Prince, Ragotsky,
a successor of Bethlen Gabor, and the inheritor of his restless mind;
while the Porte was making great preparation to profit
by the favourable conjuncture for aggression. Most of the Protestant states,
encouraged by their protector's success, were openly and actively declaring
against the Emperor. All the resources which had been obtained
by the violent and oppressive extortions of Tilly and Wallenstein
were exhausted; all these depots, magazines, and rallying-points,
were now lost to the Emperor; and the war could no longer be carried on
as before at the cost of others. To complete his embarrassment,
a dangerous insurrection broke out in the territory of the Ens,
where the ill-timed religious zeal of the government had provoked
the Protestants to resistance; and thus fanaticism lit its torch
within the empire, while a foreign enemy was already on its frontier.
After so long a continuance of good fortune, such brilliant victories
and extensive conquests, such fruitless effusion of blood,
the Emperor saw himself a second time on the brink of that abyss,
into which he was so near falling at the commencement of his reign.
If Bavaria should embrace the neutrality; if Saxony should resist
the tempting offers he had held out; and France resolve
to attack the Spanish power at the same time in the Netherlands,
in Italy and in Catalonia, the ruin of Austria would be complete;
the allied powers would divide its spoils, and the political system of Germany
would undergo a total change.
The chain of these disasters began with the battle of Breitenfeld,
the unfortunate issue of which plainly revealed the long decided decline
of the Austrian power, whose weakness had hitherto been concealed
under the dazzling glitter of a grand name. The chief cause
of the Swedes' superiority in the field, was evidently to be ascribed
to the unlimited power of their leader, who concentrated in himself
the whole strength of his party; and, unfettered in his enterprises
by any higher authority, was complete master of every favourable opportunity,
could control all his means to the accomplishment of his ends,
and was responsible to none but himself. But since Wallenstein's dismissal,
and Tilly's defeat, the very reverse of this course was pursued
by the Emperor and the League. The generals wanted authority
over their troops, and liberty of acting at their discretion;
the soldiers were deficient in discipline and obedience; the scattered corps
in combined operation; the states in attachment to the cause;
the leaders in harmony among themselves, in quickness to resolve,
and firmness to execute. What gave the Emperor's enemy
so decided an advantage over him, was not so much their superior power,
as their manner of using it. The League and the Emperor did not want means,
but a mind capable of directing them with energy and effect.
Even had Count Tilly not lost his old renown, distrust of Bavaria
would not allow the Emperor to place the fate of Austria in the hands of one
who had never concealed his attachment to the Bavarian Elector.
The urgent want which Ferdinand felt, was for a general possessed
of sufficient experience to form and to command an army,
and willing at the same time to dedicate his services, with blind devotion,
to the Austrian monarchy.
This choice now occupied the attention of the Emperor's privy council,
and divided the opinions of its members. In order to oppose one monarch
to another, and by the presence of their sovereign to animate the courage
of the troops, Ferdinand, in the ardour of the moment, had offered himself
to be the leader of his army; but little trouble was required
to overturn a resolution which was the offspring of despair alone,
and which yielded at once to calm reflection. But the situation
which his dignity, and the duties of administration, prevented the Emperor
from holding, might be filled by his son, a youth of talents and bravery,
and of whom the subjects of Austria had already formed great expectations.
Called by his birth to the defence of a monarchy, of whose crowns
he wore two already, Ferdinand III., King of Hungary and Bohemia, united,
with the natural dignity of heir to the throne, the respect of the army,
and the attachment of the people, whose co-operation was indispensable to him
in the conduct of the war. None but the beloved heir to the crown
could venture to impose new burdens on a people already severely oppressed;
his personal presence with the army could alone suppress
the pernicious jealousies of the several leaders, and by the influence
of his name, restore the neglected discipline of the troops
to its former rigour. If so young a leader was devoid of the maturity
of judgment, prudence, and military experience which practice alone
could impart, this deficiency might be supplied by a judicious choice
of counsellors and assistants, who, under the cover of his name,
might be vested with supreme authority.
But plausible as were the arguments with which a part of the ministry
supported this plan, it was met by difficulties not less serious,
arising from the distrust, perhaps even the jealousy, of the Emperor,
and also from the desperate state of affairs. How dangerous was it
to entrust the fate of the monarchy to a youth, who was himself in need
of counsel and support! How hazardous to oppose to the greatest general
of his age, a tyro, whose fitness for so important a post had never yet
been tested by experience; whose name, as yet unknown to fame,
was far too powerless to inspire a dispirited army with the assurance
of future victory! What a new burden on the country, to support the state
a royal leader was required to maintain, and which the prejudices of the age
considered as inseparable from his presence with the army!
How serious a consideration for the prince himself, to commence
his political career, with an office which must make him
the scourge of his people, and the oppressor of the territories
which he was hereafter to rule.
But not only was a general to be found for the army; an army must also
be found for the general. Since the compulsory resignation of Wallenstein,
the Emperor had defended himself more by the assistance of Bavaria
and the League, than by his own armies; and it was this dependence
on equivocal allies, which he was endeavouring to escape,
by the appointment of a general of his own. But what possibility was there
of raising an army out of nothing, without the all-powerful aid of gold,
and the inspiriting name of a victorious commander; above all,
an army which, by its discipline, warlike spirit, and activity,
should be fit to cope with the experienced troops of the northern conqueror?
In all Europe, there was but one man equal to this, and that one
had been mortally affronted.
The moment had at last arrived, when more than ordinary satisfaction
was to be done to the wounded pride of the Duke of Friedland.
Fate itself had been his avenger, and an unbroken chain of disasters,
which had assailed Austria from the day of his dismissal,
had wrung from the Emperor the humiliating confession, that with this general
he had lost his right arm. Every defeat of his troops opened afresh
this wound; every town which he lost, revived in the mind
of the deceived monarch the memory of his own weakness and ingratitude.
It would have been well for him, if, in the offended general,
he had only lost a leader of his troops, and a defender of his dominions;
but he was destined to find in him an enemy, and the most dangerous of all,
since he was least armed against the stroke of treason.
Removed from the theatre of war, and condemned to irksome inaction,
while his rivals gathered laurels on the field of glory,
the haughty duke had beheld these changes of fortune with affected composure,
and concealed, under a glittering and theatrical pomp, the dark designs
of his restless genius. Torn by burning passions within,
while all without bespoke calmness and indifference, he brooded over
projects of ambition and revenge, and slowly, but surely,
advanced towards his end. All that he owed to the Emperor
was effaced from his mind; what he himself had done for the Emperor
was imprinted in burning characters on his memory. To his insatiable thirst
for power, the Emperor's ingratitude was welcome, as it seemed
to tear in pieces the record of past favours, to absolve him from
every obligation towards his former benefactor. In the disguise
of a righteous retaliation, the projects dictated by his ambition
now appeared to him just and pure. In proportion as the external circle
of his operations was narrowed, the world of hope expanded before him,
and his dreamy imagination revelled in boundless projects, which,
in any mind but such as his, madness alone could have given birth to.
His services had raised him to the proudest height which it was possible
for a man, by his own efforts, to attain. Fortune had denied him nothing
which the subject and the citizen could lawfully enjoy.
Till the moment of his dismissal, his demands had met with no refusal,
his ambition had met with no check; but the blow which,
at the diet of Ratisbon, humbled him, showed him the difference
between ORIGINAL and DEPUTED power, the distance between
the subject and his sovereign. Roused from the intoxication
of his own greatness by this sudden reverse of fortune,
he compared the authority which he had possessed, with that which
had deprived him of it; and his ambition marked the steps which it had yet
to surmount upon the ladder of fortune. From the moment he had so bitterly
experienced the weight of sovereign power, his efforts were directed
to attain it for himself; the wrong which he himself had suffered
made him a robber. Had he not been outraged by injustice,
he might have obediently moved in his orbit round the majesty of the throne,
satisfied with the glory of being the brightest of its satellites.
It was only when violently forced from its sphere,
that his wandering star threw in disorder the system to which it belonged,
and came in destructive collision with its sun.
Gustavus Adolphus had overrun the north of Germany; one place after another
was lost; and at Leipzig, the flower of the Austrian army had fallen.
The intelligence of this defeat soon reached the ears of Wallenstein,
who, in the retired obscurity of a private station in Prague,
contemplated from a calm distance the tumult of war. The news,
which filled the breasts of the Roman Catholics with dismay,
announced to him the return of greatness and good fortune.
For him was Gustavus Adolphus labouring. Scarce had the king begun
to gain reputation by his exploits, when Wallenstein lost not a moment
to court his friendship, and to make common cause with this successful enemy
of Austria. The banished Count Thurn, who had long entered the service
of Sweden, undertook to convey Wallenstein's congratulations to the king,
and to invite him to a close alliance with the duke. Wallenstein required
15,000 men from the king; and with these, and the troops he himself
engaged to raise, he undertook to conquer Bohemia and Moravia,
to surprise Vienna, and drive his master, the Emperor, before him into Italy.
Welcome as was this unexpected proposition, its extravagant promises
were naturally calculated to excite suspicion. Gustavus Adolphus
was too good a judge of merit to reject with coldness the offers of one
who might be so important a friend. But when Wallenstein,
encouraged by the favourable reception of his first message,
renewed it after the battle of Breitenfeld, and pressed for a decisive answer,
the prudent monarch hesitated to trust his reputation
to the chimerical projects of so daring an adventurer,
and to commit so large a force to the honesty of a man who felt no shame
in openly avowing himself a traitor. He excused himself, therefore,
on the plea of the weakness of his army which, if diminished by
so large a detachment, would certainly suffer in its march through the empire;
and thus, perhaps, by excess of caution, lost an opportunity
of putting an immediate end to the war. He afterwards endeavoured
to renew the negociation; but the favourable moment was past,
and Wallenstein's offended pride never forgave the first neglect.
But the king's hesitation, perhaps, only accelerated the breach,
which their characters made inevitable sooner or later.
Both framed by nature to give laws, not to receive them,
they could not long have co-operated in an enterprise,
which eminently demanded mutual submission and sacrifices.
Wallenstein was NOTHING where he was not EVERYTHING; he must either act
with unlimited power, or not at all. So cordially, too,
did Gustavus dislike control, that he had almost renounced
his advantageous alliance with France, because it threatened to fetter
his own independent judgment. Wallenstein was lost to a party,
if he could not lead; the latter was, if possible, still less disposed
to obey the instructions of another. If the pretensions of a rival would be
so irksome to the Duke of Friedland, in the conduct of combined operations,
in the division of the spoil they would be insupportable. The proud monarch
might condescend to accept the assistance of a rebellious subject
against the Emperor, and to reward his valuable services with
regal munificence; but he never could so far lose sight of his own dignity,
and the majesty of royalty, as to bestow the recompense
which the extravagant ambition of Wallenstein demanded;
and requite an act of treason, however useful, with a crown.
In him, therefore, even if all Europe should tacitly acquiesce,
Wallenstein had reason to expect the most decided and formidable opponent
to his views on the Bohemian crown; and in all Europe he was the only one
who could enforce his opposition. Constituted Dictator in Germany
by Wallenstein himself, he might turn his arms against him,
and consider himself bound by no obligations to one who was himself a traitor.
There was no room for a Wallenstein under such an ally; and it was,
apparently, this conviction, and not any supposed designs upon
the imperial throne, that he alluded to, when, after the death of
the King of Sweden, he exclaimed, "It is well for him and me that he is gone.
The German Empire does not require two such leaders."
His first scheme of revenge on the house of Austria had indeed failed;
but the purpose itself remained unalterable; the choice of means
alone was changed. What he had failed in effecting with the King of Sweden,
he hoped to obtain with less difficulty and more advantage
from the Elector of Saxony. Him he was as certain of being able to bend
to his views, as he had always been doubtful of Gustavus Adolphus.
Having always maintained a good understanding with his old friend Arnheim,
he now made use of him to bring about an alliance with Saxony,
by which he hoped to render himself equally formidable to the Emperor
and the King of Sweden. He had reason to expect that a scheme, which,
if successful, would deprive the Swedish monarch of his influence in Germany,
would be welcomed by the Elector of Saxony, who he knew was jealous
of the power and offended at the lofty pretensions of Gustavus Adolphus.
If he succeeded in separating Saxony from the Swedish alliance,
and in establishing, conjointly with that power, a third party in the Empire,
the fate of the war would be placed in his hand; and by this single step
he would succeed in gratifying his revenge against the Emperor,
revenging the neglect of the Swedish monarch, and on the ruin of both,
raising the edifice of his own greatness.
But whatever course he might follow in the prosecution of his designs,
he could not carry them into effect without an army entirely devoted to him.
Such a force could not be secretly raised without its coming to the knowledge
of the imperial court, where it would naturally excite suspicion,
and thus frustrate his design in the very outset. From the army, too,
the rebellious purposes for which it was destined, must be concealed
till the very moment of execution, since it could scarcely be expected
that they would at once be prepared to listen to the voice of a traitor,
and serve against their legitimate sovereign. Wallenstein, therefore,
must raise it publicly and in name of the Emperor, and be placed at its head,
with unlimited authority, by the Emperor himself. But how could this
be accomplished, otherwise than by his being appointed to the command
of the army, and entrusted with full powers to conduct the war.
Yet neither his pride, nor his interest, permitted him to sue in person
for this post, and as a suppliant to accept from the favour of the Emperor
a limited power, when an unlimited authority might be extorted from his fears.
In order to make himself the master of the terms on which he would resume
the command of the army, his course was to wait until the post should be
forced upon him. This was the advice he received from Arnheim, and this
the end for which he laboured with profound policy and restless activity.
Convinced that extreme necessity would alone conquer
the Emperor's irresolution, and render powerless the opposition
of his bitter enemies, Bavaria and Spain, he henceforth occupied himself
in promoting the success of the enemy, and in increasing the embarrassments
of his master. It was apparently by his instigation and advice,
that the Saxons, when on the route to Lusatia and Silesia,
had turned their march towards Bohemia, and overrun that defenceless kingdom,
where their rapid conquests was partly the result of his measures.
By the fears which he affected to entertain, he paralyzed every effort
at resistance; and his precipitate retreat caused the delivery of the capital
to the enemy. At a conference with the Saxon general, which was held
at Kaunitz under the pretext of negociating for a peace,
the seal was put to the conspiracy, and the conquest of Bohemia
was the first fruits of this mutual understanding. While Wallenstein
was thus personally endeavouring to heighten the perplexities of Austria,
and while the rapid movements of the Swedes upon the Rhine
effectually promoted his designs, his friends and bribed adherents in Vienna
uttered loud complaints of the public calamities, and represented
the dismissal of the general as the sole cause of all these misfortunes.
"Had Wallenstein commanded, matters would never have come to this,"
exclaimed a thousand voices; while their opinions found supporters,
even in the Emperor's privy council.
Their repeated remonstrances were not needed to convince
the embarrassed Emperor of his general's merits, and of his own error.
His dependence on Bavaria and the League had soon become insupportable;
but hitherto this dependence permitted him not to show his distrust,
or irritate the Elector by the recall of Wallenstein. But now when
his necessities grew every day more pressing, and the weakness of Bavaria
more apparent, he could no longer hesitate to listen to the friends
of the duke, and to consider their overtures for his restoration to command.
The immense riches Wallenstein possessed, the universal reputation he enjoyed,
the rapidity with which six years before he had assembled
an army of 40,000 men, the little expense at which he had maintained
this formidable force, the actions he had performed at its head, and lastly,
the zeal and fidelity he had displayed for his master's honour,
still lived in the Emperor's recollection, and made Wallenstein seem to him
the ablest instrument to restore the balance between the belligerent powers,
to save Austria, and preserve the Catholic religion. However sensibly
the imperial pride might feel the humiliation, in being forced to make
so unequivocal an admission of past errors and present necessity;
however painful it was to descend to humble entreaties,
from the height of imperial command; however doubtful
the fidelity of so deeply injured and implacable a character;
however loudly and urgently the Spanish minister and the Elector of Bavaria
protested against this step, the immediate pressure of necessity
finally overcame every other consideration, and the friends of the duke
were empowered to consult him on the subject, and to hold out the prospect
of his restoration.
Informed of all that was transacted in the Emperor's cabinet to his advantage,
Wallenstein possessed sufficient self-command to conceal his inward triumph
and to assume the mask of indifference. The moment of vengeance
was at last come, and his proud heart exulted in the prospect
of repaying with interest the injuries of the Emperor. With artful eloquence,
he expatiated upon the happy tranquillity of a private station,
which had blessed him since his retirement from a political stage.
Too long, he said, had he tasted the pleasures of ease and independence,
to sacrifice to the vain phantom of glory, the uncertain favour of princes.
All his desire of power and distinction were extinct: tranquillity and repose
were now the sole object of his wishes. The better to conceal
his real impatience, he declined the Emperor's invitation to the court,
but at the same time, to facilitate the negociations,
came to Znaim in Moravia.
At first, it was proposed to limit the authority to be intrusted to him,
by the presence of a superior, in order, by this expedient,
to silence the objections of the Elector of Bavaria. The imperial deputies,
Questenberg and Werdenberg, who, as old friends of the duke, had been employed
in this delicate mission, were instructed to propose that the King of Hungary
should remain with the army, and learn the art of war under Wallenstein.
But the very mention of his name threatened to put a period
to the whole negociation. "No! never," exclaimed Wallenstein,
"will I submit to a colleague in my office. No -- not even
if it were God himself, with whom I should have to share my command."
But even when this obnoxious point was given up, Prince Eggenberg,
the Emperor's minister and favourite, who had always been the steady friend
and zealous champion of Wallenstein, and was therefore expressly sent to him,
exhausted his eloquence in vain to overcome the pretended reluctance
of the duke. "The Emperor," he admitted, "had, in Wallenstein,
thrown away the most costly jewel in his crown: but unwillingly
and compulsorily only had he taken this step, which he had since
deeply repented of; while his esteem for the duke had remained unaltered,
his favour for him undiminished. Of these sentiments he now gave
the most decisive proof, by reposing unlimited confidence in his fidelity
and capacity to repair the mistakes of his predecessors,
and to change the whole aspect of affairs. It would be great and noble
to sacrifice his just indignation to the good of his country;
dignified and worthy of him to refute the evil calumny of his enemies
by the double warmth of his zeal. This victory over himself,"
concluded the prince, "would crown his other unparalleled services
to the empire, and render him the greatest man of his age."
These humiliating confessions, and flattering assurances, seemed at last
to disarm the anger of the duke; but not before he had disburdened his heart
of his reproaches against the Emperor, pompously dwelt upon his own services,
and humbled to the utmost the monarch who solicited his assistance,
did he condescend to listen to the attractive proposals of the minister.
As if he yielded entirely to the force of their arguments, he condescended
with a haughty reluctance to that which was the most ardent wish of his heart;
and deigned to favour the ambassadors with a ray of hope.
But far from putting an end to the Emperor's embarrassments,
by giving at once a full and unconditional consent, he only acceded
to a part of his demands, that he might exalt the value of that
which still remained, and was of most importance. He accepted the command,
but only for three months; merely for the purpose of raising,
but not of leading, an army. He wished only to show his power and ability
in its organization, and to display before the eyes of the Emperor,
the greatness of that assistance, which he still retained in his hands.
Convinced that an army raised by his name alone, would,
if deprived of its creator, soon sink again into nothing,
he intended it to serve only as a decoy to draw more important concessions
from his master. And yet Ferdinand congratulated himself,
even in having gained so much as he had.
Wallenstein did not long delay to fulfil those promises which all Germany
regarded as chimerical, and which Gustavus Adolphus had considered
as extravagant. But the foundation for the present enterprise
had been long laid, and he now only put in motion the machinery,
which many years had been prepared for the purpose. Scarcely had
the news spread of Wallenstein's levies, when, from every quarter
of the Austrian monarchy, crowds of soldiers repaired to try their fortunes
under this experienced general. Many, who had before fought
under his standards, had been admiring eye-witnesses of his great actions,
and experienced his magnanimity, came forward from their retirement,
to share with him a second time both booty and glory. The greatness of
the pay he promised attracted thousands, and the plentiful supplies
the soldier was likely to enjoy at the cost of the peasant, was to the latter
an irresistible inducement to embrace the military life at once,
rather than be the victim of its oppression. All the Austrian provinces
were compelled to assist in the equipment. No class was exempt from taxation
-- no dignity or privilege from capitation. The Spanish court,