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Europe 1648

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Europe during the Thirty Years War: 1618 to 1648

-----The Holy Roman Empire-----
After throwing the Austrian Emperor’s ministers out the window the Bohemians organized armies and planned to take the fight to Vienna. They turned to the Ottomans and other Protestant realms for help in defeating the Austrian Hapsburgs. After holding the Bohemians on the northern Austrian border the Imperial army pushed the Bohemians back to Prague. Both sides met in 1620 at the Battle of White Mountain where the Bohemians were soundly defeated. But the damage had been done, the Palatinate had assisted the Bohemians, they would now have to be dealt with.

Not long after the Spanish sent Ambrosio Spinola into the Holy Roman Empire at the head of the Army of Italy. They headed for the Palatinate on the upper Rhine, where they then began the lengthy process of besieging the cities there. By 1622 the key cities of Mannheim and Heidelberg were safely in Spanish hands. The Protestant army had fled north toward the Dutch border. The Spanish under Tilly finally caught up to the Palatinate army of Frederick V at Stadtlohn in 1623. The Protestants were totally routed from the field, further confirming Spanish military might.

Two years later in 1625 the king of Denmark, Christian IV, marched his army into the Empire. But things went badly, by 1626 his army had been defeated at the battle of Lutter and the Spanish under Wallenstein then invaded Denmark itself. Denmark was saved from ruin by the fact that Copenhagen is an island the Spanish just couldn’t reach without a navy. Unable to build a Baltic fleet the Emperor settled with the Danes by the treaty of Lubeck in 1629.

The conflict with the Danes had barely ended when the Swedes invaded the Empire in 1630. Led by their general-king Gustavus Adolphus they entered through Pomerania and quickly marched on Berlin. The French (under Cardinal Richelieu) signed a treaty with the Swedes, stating that the Swedes will fight the Emperor and the French will fund that fighting. And fight they did; at the Battle of Breitenfeld in Saxony (1631) Gustavus defeated the Imperial army, scoring the first major Protestant victory. This was undone however when Gustavus died at the Battle of Lutzen (1632) leading a cavalry charge. The Imperial army was just as leaderless when their commander Wallenstein was assassinated in 1634. Nevertheless, the Spanish succeeded in defeating the Swedes at the Battle of Nordlingen. As the Swedish army withdrew north, the Emperor came to an understanding with the Protestant German states and agreed to a peace with them at Prague in 1635.

Convinced that now was the time to strike, the French declared war. Imperial armies began marching simultaneously against Paris and the Swedish in Saxony. The Swedes fought back, winning the battle of Wittstock in 1636. The French also rebounded after the battle of Corbie, pushing Imperial armies back across the border into Belgium. By 1640 the French had begun to sponsor revolts in Catalonia and Portugal as well mount offensives in Lombardy and the Rhineland.

By 1642 the Swedes had won the second battle of Breitenfeld in Saxony. In 1643 the French decisively defeated the Spanish at the battle of Rocroi. The Swedes went on to win the battle of Jankau. Then, the French and the Swedes linked up to win the second battle of Nordlingen in 1645. But though they were defeated within the Empire, the Imperial armies hung on grimly.
The French continued to sponsor revolts, this time in Naples and Sicily. By 1648 the French and Swedes were winning consistently with victories at Zusmarshauen and Lens. The final major battle occurred at Prague, another Swedish victory. Imperial armies now withdrew south to protect Vienna. The war subsequently ended with the Peace of Westphalia.

The 30 Years War had tremendous effects on all of Europe. Habsburg power in Western Europe was severely curtailed, and French power now began to rise in its place. The Holy Roman Empire was devastated, over a quarter of its population starved to death over the course of the war.

-----The Dutch-----
The Dutch had been fighting the Spanish for over half a century as part of a war of independence. They used the opportunity of the Union of Crowns between Spain and Portugal to attack Portuguese colonial possessions around the world. The Dutch-Portuguese War [link]–Portuguese_War was fought on the high seas from Brazil to Japan.
1624 The Dutch send a fleet to Brazil and capture Salvador, its capital. A large army recaptures the city later that year.
1628 With 32 ships and 3,500 men, the Dutch captured the Spanish treasure fleet, valued at 4.8 million silver pesos.
1630 A new Dutch fleet conquers Recife, in Pernambuco, the premier sugar growing region of Brazil. The Dutch will remain in Recife until1654.
1637 Elmina, Africa captured. The port is a major gold mine and slaving center.
From their base in Batavia, Indonesia, the Dutch launch naval attacks on Spanish Manila and Portuguese Macao to disrupt the China trade.
1640 the Portuguese begin their own war of independence against the Spanish
1641 several Portuguese bases on Sri Lanka fall to the Dutch.
1641 the key port of Malacca is captured by the Dutch.
1652 Cape Town, South Africa founded by the Dutch. The sea route to the East is firmly in Dutch hands.
1661 the war ends with the Treaty of The Hague, though actual hostilities ended much earlier. The Portuguese Empire limped and lingered on, a shadow of its former glory. For a time the Netherlands rose to world prominence, trading in every corner of the globe.

-----France-----
This is the France of The Three Musketeers . In 1610 the French King, Henry IV, was assassinated. His 9 year old son, Louis XIII, ascended to the throne. He was assisted by his mother Marie de’ Medici and his Chief Minister, Cardinal Richelieu. The Cardinal organized a policy of Anti-Protestant military activity within France while promoting Anti-Habsburg military activity outside of France. This Anti-Protestant strategy consisted of brutally quashing the Huguenot rebellions that followed in the wake of the revocation of their religious rights. In 1642 Cardinal Richelieu died. The Louis XIII died in 1643 at age 41, just five days before the crushing victory at Rocroi. His son, Louis XIV though better known as The Sun King, ascended the throne at age 4. Under his 72-year reign, France will become the premier military power in Western Europe.

-----England & America-----
The Puritans were a group of Protestants in England who felt that the Anglican Church wasn’t reformed enough, that it was too Catholic. Disappointed with England, many left for the Netherlands. But the Netherlands was too free; any person of any religion could practice freely there. The Puritans thus decided to go to the New World where would make their own community where they could practice their faith (though no one else could practice theirs). The Plymouth colony was founded in 1620, kicking off The Great Migration [link](Puritan) of Puritans out of England. Unlike all other colonial groups, the Puritans came as whole families and communities. Their colonies represented complete societies right from the beginning, a carbon copy of England itself. Centered on the port of Boston (founded in 1630) these colonies would be poorer than their southern cousins, but their citizens would live longer, healthier lives.

The English weren’t the only colonists in the area. In 1624 New Amsterdam (New York) was founded by the Dutch. Not much farther south the Swedish established Fort Christina (near Wilmington, Delaware) in 1638.

Big events were also occurring back across the Atlantic in England. The king, Charles I, had badly mismanaged the kingdom. By 1640 Scotland was in open rebellion and the English Parliament refused to approve the king’s measures until he fulfilled his obligations to them as stated in the Magna Carta. The king refused, and the English Civil War [link] began. The war swung back and forth, but was largely inconclusive. Then, Parliamentary officer Oliver Cromwell formed The New Model Army [link] , which decisively won the Battle of Naseby. Charles was imprisoned in London where he commissioned a Scottish army to invade England to free him. The Royalist were defeated by the Parliamentarians, and Charles I was tried and executed for treason. By 1649, Cromwell was Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, an English republic.

Special thanks to :iconsaveschrodingerscat: on information regarding Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army

-----Europe Series-----
1550 [link]
1618 [link]
1648
1765 [link]
1815 [link]
1914 [link]

Coat of arms and map base courtesy of Wikipedia

2/19/12 EDIT:
map base source [link]
map base created by Alex:D [link]
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timid-wolf's avatar
I thought it was interesting how many individual little countries there were in the center of Europe at the time. Had no idea that was the case