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The History of Protestantism

by 'James Aitken Wylie'

Book 21 — The Thirty Years' War

Chapter 8 — Conquest of the Rhine and Bavaria — Battle of Lutzen

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Thanksgiving — Two Roads — Gustavus Marches to the Rhine — Submission of Erfurt, Wurzburg, Frankfort — Capture of Mainz — Gustavus' Court -Future Arrangements for Germany — The King's Plans — Stipulations for Peace — Terms Rejected — Gustavus Enters Bavaria — Defeat and Death of Tilly — Wallenstein Recalled — His Terms — The Saxons in Bohemia -Gustavus at Augsburg — At Ingolstadt — His Encampment at Nuremberg — Camp of Wallenstein — Famine and Death — Wallenstein Invades Saxony — Gustavus Follows him — The Two Armies Meet at Lutzen — Morning of the Battle — The King's Address to his Troops — The Battle — Capture and Recapture of Trenches and Cannon — Murderous Conflicts — The King Wounded — He Falls.

WHEN he saw how the day had gone, the first act of Gustavus Adolphus was to fall on his knees on the blood-besprinkled plain, and to give thanks for the victory which had crowned his arms. [1] On this field the God of battles had "cast down the mighty," and "exalted them of low degree."

There was now an end to the jeers of the Jesuits, and the supercilious insolences of Ferdinand. Having offered his prayer, Gustavus rose up to prosecute, in the mightier strength with which victory had clothed him, the great enterprise which had brought him across the sea. He encamped for the night between the city of Leipsic and the field of battle. On that field 7,000 imperialists lay dead, and in addition 5,000 had been wounded or taken prisoners. The loss of the Swedes did not exceed 700; that of the Saxons amounted to 2,000, who had fallen on the field, or been cut down in the pursuit. In a few days the Elector of Saxony, who had accompanied his soldiers in their flight, believing all to be lost, returned to the camp of the king, finding him still victorious, and a council of war was held to decide on the measures to be adopted for the further prosecution of the war. Two roads were open to Gustavus — one to Vienna, and the other to the Rhine; which of the two shall he choose? If the king had marched on Vienna, taking Prague on his way, it is probable that he would have been able to dictate a peace on his own terms at the gates of the Austrian capital. His renowned chancellor, Oxenstierna, was of opinion that this was the course which Gustavus ought to have followed. [2] But the king did not then fully know the importance of the victory of Breitenfeld, and the blow it had inflicted on the imperial cause; nor could he expect any material succors in Bohemia, where Protestantism was almost entirely trampled out; so, sending the Elector of Saxony southwards, where every operation against the Popish States would help to confirm his own Protestant loyalty, still doubtful, the Swedish monarch directed his own march to the West, where the free cities, and the Protestant princes, waited his coming to shake off the yoke of Ferdinand, and rally round the standard of the Protestant Liberator.

His progress was a triumphal march. The fugitive Tilly had collected a few new regiments to oppose his advance, but he had marshaled them only to be routed by the victorious Swedes. The strongly fortified city of Erfurt fell to the arms of Gustavus; Gotha and Weimar also opened their gates to him. He exacted an oath of allegiance from their inhabitants, as he did of every town of any importance, of which he took possession, leaving a garrison on his departure, to secure its loyalty. The army now entered the Thuringian Forest, cresset lights hung upon the trees enabling it to thread its densest thickets in perfect safety. On the 30th September, 1631, the king crossed the frontier of Franconia. The cities opened their gates to him, most of them willingly, and a few after a faint show of resistance. To all of them the conqueror extended protection of their civil rights, and liberty of worship.

The Bishops of Wurzburg and Bamberg trembled when they saw the Swedes pouring like a torrent into their territories. These two ecclesiastics were among the most zealous members of the League, and the most virulent enemies of the Protestants, and they and the towns of their principalities anticipated the same treatment at the hands of the conquerors which they in similar circumstances had inflicted on others. Their fortresses, cities, and territories were speedily in possession of Gustavus, but to their glad surprise, instead of the desecration of their churches, or the persecution of their persons, they beheld only a brilliant example of toleration. The Protestant worship was set up in their cities, but the Roman service was permitted to be practiced as before. The Bishop of Wurzburg, however, had not remained to be witness of this act of moderation. He had fled to Paris at the approach of Gustavus. In the fortress of Marienburg, which the Swedish king carried by storm, he found the valuable library of the Jesuits, which he caused to be transported to Upsala. This formed some compensation for the more valuable library of Heidelberg which had been transferred to Rome. On the 17th of November he entered Frankfort-on-the-Maine, and marched his army in a magnificent procession through it. "He appeared in the midst of his troops, clad in cloth of scarlet and gold, riding a handsome Spanish jennet, bare-headed, with a bright and handsome countenance, and returning with graceful courtesy the cheers and salutations of the spectators." [3] From the furthest shore of Pomerania, to the point where he had now arrived, the banks of the Maine, the king had held his victorious way without being once compelled to recede, and without encountering a single defeat. "Here, in the heart of Germany, he received the Protestant States like a German emperor of the olden time."


Traversing the Ecclesiastical States that stretch from the Maine to the Rhine, "the Priest's Row," the milk and honey of which regaled his soldiers after the sterile districts through which they had passed, Gustavus crossed the Rhine, and laid siege (11th December) to the wealthy city of Mainz. In two days it capitulated, and the king entered it in state, attended by the Landgrave of Hesse. After this he returned to Frankfort, where he fixed his abode for a short while. [5]

If the summer had been passed in deeds of arms, the winter was not less busily occupied in securing the fruits of these dangers and toils. Gustavus' queen, to whom he was tenderly attached, joined him at Mainz, to which he again repaired; so too did his chancellor, the famous Oxenstierna, on whose wisdom he so confidingly and justly relied. The city of Mainz and the banks of the Rhine resounded with the din and shone with the splendor of the old imperial times. Couriers were hourly arriving and departing; ambassadors from foreign States were daily receiving audience; the Protestant princes, and the deputies from the imperial towns, were crowding to pay their homage to, or solicit the protection of, the victorious chief; uniforms and royal equipages crowded the street; and while the bugle's note and the drum's roll were heard without, inside the palace negotiations were going on, treaties were being framed, the future condition and relations of Germany were being discussed and decided upon, and efforts were being made to frame a basis of peace, such as might adjust the balance between Popish and Protestant ,Germany, and restore rest to the weary land, and security to its trembling inhabitants.

When the king set out from Sweden to begin this gigantic enterprise, his one paramount object was the restoration of Protestantism, whose overthrow was owing quite as much to the pusillanimity of the princes, as to the power of the imperial arms. He felt "a divine impulse" impelling him onwards, and he obeyed, without settling, even with himself, what recompense he should have for all his risks and toils, or what material guarantees it might be necessary to exact, not only for the security of a re-established Protestantism, but also for the defense of his own kingdom of Sweden, which the success of his expedition would make an object of hostility to the Popish princes. The Elector of Brandenburg had sounded him on this point before he entered his dominions, and Gustavus had frankly replied that if the exiles were restored, religious liberty granted in the States, and himself secured against attack from the Hapsburgs in his own country, he would be satisfied. But now, in the midst of Germany, and taking a near view of matters as success on the battle-field had shaped them, and especially considering the too obvious lukewarmness and imbecility of the Protestant princes, it is probable that the guarantees that would have satisfied him at an earlier stage, he no longer deemed sufficient.

It is even possible that he would not have declined a controlling power over the princes, somewhat like that which the emperor wielded. We do not necessarily impute ambitious views to Gustavus Adolphus, when we admit the Possibility of some such arrangement as this having shaped itself before his mind; for it might seem to him that otherwise the existence of a Protestant Germany was not possible. He would have been guilty of something like folly, if he had not taken the best means in his power to perpetuate what he accounted of so great value, and to save which from destruction he had undertaken so long a march, and fought so many battles; and when he looked round on the princes he might well ask himself, "Is there one of them to whom I can with perfect confidence commit this great trust?" We do not say that he had formed this plan; but if the fruits of his victories were not to be dissipated, some such plan he would ultimately have been compelled to have recourse to; and amidst a crowd of insincere, pusillanimous, and incompetent princes, where could a head to such a confederacy have been found if not in the one only man of zeal, and spirit, and capacity that the cause had at its service?

The restorations that the Swedish king at this hour contemplated, and the aspect which the future Germany would have worn, had he lived to put the crown upon his enterprise, may be gathered from the stipulations which he demanded when the Roman Catholic party made overtures of peace to him. These were the following:

1st. The Edict of Restitution shall be null and void.
2nd. Both the Roman and the Protestant religion shall be tolerated in town and country.
3rd. Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia shall be restored to their former condition; all the exiles shall return to their estates.
4th. The Elector-Palatine, Frederick V., shall be restored to his country.
5th. The Bavarian Electorate shall cease; the electoral vote shall be restored to the Palatinate.
6th. The practice of the Protestant religion, and all civil privileges, shall be restored to Augsburg.
7th. All Jesuits, as disturbers of the public peace, and authors of the present difficulties, shall be banished from the empire.
8th. Protestants as well as Romanists shall be admitted into every institution.
9th. The monasteries in the Duchy of Wurtemberg which have been illegally taken possession of by the Romanists shall be restored.
10th. Out of gratitude for the salvation of the German Empire, your Majesty the King of

Sweden shall be elected King of Rome.
11th. All expenses incurred in the imperial cities and in the Duchy of Wurtemberg by the Edict of Restitution shall be repaid. 498
12th. There shall be as many Lutheran as Catholic canons appointed to the cathedral. [6]

We have two lists of these conditions — one by Khevenhiller, [7] and another by Richelieu. [8] In the latter list the 10th article, which stipulates that Gustavus should be made King of the Romans, is wanting. To be King of Rome was to hold in reversion the empire; but this article is far from being authenticated.

Such were the terms on which the conqueror was willing to sheathe his sword and make peace with the emperor. Substantially, they implied the return of Germany to its condition before the war (status quo ante bellum); and they were not only just and equitable, but, though Richelieu thought otherwise, extremely moderate, when we think that they were presented by a king, in the heart of Germany, at the head of a victorious host, to another sovereign whose army was all but annihilated, and the road to whose capital stood open to the conqueror. The stipulations, in brief, were the free profession of religion to both Romanists and Lutherans throughout the empire. [9] The terms were rejected, and the war was resumed.

In the middle of February, 1532, the king put his army in motion, advancing southward into Bavaria, that he might attack the League in the chief seat of its power. The fallen Tilly made a last effort to retrieve his fame by the overthrow of his great antagonist. Having collected the wreck of his routed host, with the addition of some new levies:, he waited on the banks of the river Lech for the approach of Gustavus. The defeat of the general of the League was complete: both the army and its leader were utterly lost; the former being dispersed, and Tilly dying of his wounds a few days after the battle. It delights us to be able to pay a tribute to the memory of the warrior whom we now see expiring at the age of seventy-three. He was inflamed with bigotry, but he was sincere and open, and had not stained himself with the low vices and shameless hypocrisy of the Jesuits, nor with the dark arts which Wallenstein studied. He was chaste and temperate — virtues beyond price in every age, but especially in an age like that in which Tilly lived. The cloud on his glory is the sack of Magdeburg, but retribution soon followed in the eclipse of Leipsic. After that the sun-light of his face never returned. He complained that the world spoke in of him, and that those whom he had faithfully served had left him desolate in his age. He died grasping the crucifix, and expended his parting breath in repeating a verse from the Psalms — "In thee, O Lord, have I put my trust." [10]

The overthrow of Tilly, and the utter rout of his army, had left the frontiers of Austria without defense; and the emperor saw with alarm that the road to his capital was open to the victorious Swede if he chose to pursue it. The whole of Germany between the Rhine and the Danube was in possession of Gustavus, and a new army must be found if Ferdinand would prevent the conqueror seating himself in Vienna. Even granting that an army were raised, who was to command it? All his generals had fallen by the sword; one only survived, but how could Ferdinand approach him, seeing he had requited his great services by dismissal? But the desperate straits to which he was reduced left the emperor no alternative, and he made overtures to Wallenstein. That consummately able, but vaultingly ambitious man, listened to the royal proposals, but deigned them no reply.

Living in a style of magnificence that threw Ferdinand and all the sovereigns of the day into the shade, Wallenstein professed to have no desire to return to the toils of a military life. The emperor in distress sent again and again to the duke. At last Wallenstein was moved. He would succor the empire at its need; he would organize an army, but he would not command it. He set to work; the spell of his name was still omnipotent. In three months he had raised 50,000 men, and he sent to the emperor to tell him that the army was ready, and that he waited only till he should name the man who was to command it, when he would hand it over to his Majesty. Every one knew that the troops would soon disperse if the man who had raised them was not at their head.

Again the imperial ambassadors kneeled before Wallenstein. They begged him to undertake the command of the army which he had equipped. The duke was inexorable. Other ambassadors were sent, but they entreated in vain. At last came the prince of Eggenberg, and now Wallenstein was won, but on terms that would be incredible were they not amply authenticated. The treaty concluded in April, 1632, provided that the Duke of Friedland should be generalissimo not only of the army, but of the emperor, of the arch-dukes, and of the Austrian crown. The emperor must never be present in the army, much less command it. As ordinary reward an Austrian hereditary territory was to be bestowed on Wallenstein; as extraordinary he was to have sovereign jurisdiction over all the conquered territories, and nearly all Germany was to be conquered. He was to possess, moreover, the sole power of confiscating estates; he only could pardon; and the emperor's forgiveness was to be valid only when ratified by the duke. [11] These conditions constituted Wallenstein the real master of the empire. To

Ferdinand there remained only the title of king and the shadow of power. Thus, the man who had hid the rankling wound inflicted by dismissal beneath, apparently, the most placid of submissions, exacted a terrible revenge; but in so using the advantage which the calamities of his friends put in his power, he over-reached himself, as the sequel proved.

Again we behold the duke at the head of the imperial armies. His first efforts were followed by success. He entered Bohemia, which had been occupied by the Saxon troops after the battle of Leipsic. The Saxons had taken down the martyrs' heads on the Bridge-tower of Prague, as we have already narrated, and they had re-established for a brief period, the Protestant worship in the city of Huss; but they retreated before the soldiers of Wallenstein, together with their spiritless Elector, who was but too glad of an excuse for returning to his palace and his table. Bohemia was again subjugated to the scepter of Ferdinand, and Wallenstein turned westward to measure swords with a very different antagonist — Gustavus Adolphus.

We parted from the King of Sweden at the passage of the Lech, where Tilly received his mortal wound. From this point Gustavus marched on towards Augsburg, where he arrived on the 8th of April, 1632. The Augsburg of that day was renowned for the multitude of its merchants and the opulence of its bankers. It was the city of the Fuggers and the Baumgartens, at whose door monarchs knocked when they would place an army in the field. These men lived in stately mansions, surrounded by gardens which outvied the royal park at Blots. It was in one of their parterres that the tulip first unfolded its gorgeous petals beneath the sun of Europe.

But Augsburg wore in Protestant eyes a yet greater attraction, from the circumstance that its name was linked with the immortal Confession in which the young Protestant Church expressed her belief at t]he foot of the throne of Charles V. Here, too, had been framed the Pacification, which Ferdinand had flagrantly violated, and which the hero now at her gates had taken up arms to restore. Will Augsburg welcome the Protestant champion? Incredible as it may seem, she closes her gates against him. Gustavus began to prepare for a siege by digging trenches; the guns of the city ramparts fired upon his soldiers while so engaged; but he did not reply, for he was loth to deface a single stone of a place so sacred. Before opening his cannonade he made trial if haply he might re-kindle the old fire that once burned so brightly in this venerable town. tits appeal was successful, and on the 10th of April, Augsburg capitulated. On the 14th the king made his public entry, going straight to St. Ann's Church, where the Lutheran Litany was sung, after the silence of many years, and Fabricius, the king's chaplain, preached, taking Psalm 12:5 as his text. After sermon the king repaired to the market-place, where the citizens took an oath of fealty to himself and to the crown of Sweden. [12]

The king left Augsburg next day, and proceeded to Ingolstadt. He thought to take this city and dislodge the nest of Jesuits within it, but being strongly fortified, its siege would have occupied more time than its importance justified; and so, leaving Ingolstadt, Gustavus directed his course to Munich. The capital of Bavaria was thus added to the towns that had submitted to his arms, and now the whole country of the League, Ingolstadt excepted, was his. He had carried his arms from the shores of the Baltic to the foot of the Tyrol, from the banks of the Oder to those of the Rhine. The monarchs of Denmark and France, jealous of his advances, and not knowing where they would end, here met him with offers of mediating between him and the emperor and establishing peace. Gustavus frankly told them that he had drawn the sword for the vindication of the rights of the Protestants of the empire, and that he would not sheathe it so long as the object for which he had begun the war remained unaccomplished.

The king now moved toward Nuremberg, where he established his camp, which he fortified with a ditch eight feet deep and twelve wide, [13] within which rose redoubts and bastions mounted with 300 cannon. Wallenstein, advancing from Bohemia, and joined by the army under the Elector of Bavaria, pitched his camp of 60,000 men on the other side of the town. Europe watched with breathless anxiety, expecting every day the decisive trial of strength between these two armies. Gustavus strove by every expedient to draw his great antagonist into battle, but Wallenstein had adopted a strategy of famine. The plan succeeded. The land was not able to bear two such mighty hosts, and the scene of the encampment became a field of horrors. The horses died in thousands for want of forage; the steaming putridity of the unburied carcasses poisoned the air, and the effluvia, joined to the famine, proved more fatal to the soldiers of both camps than would the bloodiest battle. In the city of Nuremberg 10,000 inhabitants died. Gustavus Adolphus had lost 20,000 of his soldiers; the imperialists had lost, it is to be presumed, an equal number; the villages around Nuremberg were in ashes; the plundered peasantry were expiring on the highway: the most ghastly spectacles met the eye on every side, for the country for leagues had become a graveyard. In the middle of September, Gustavus Adolphus raised his camp and returned to Bavaria, to complete its conquest by the reduction of Ingolstadt. Wallenstein also broke up his encampment, and marched northwards to Saxony. A second time the road had been left open to Vienna, for there was now no army between Gustavus and that capital. While he was revolving a march southward, and the ending of the campaign by the dethronement

of the emperor, he received a letter from his chancellor, Oxenstierna, informing him that a treachery was preparing in his rear. The Elector of Saxony was negotiating with Wallenstein, with a view to withdrawing from the Swedish alliance, and joining in affinity with the imperialists. If the powerful principality of Saxony should become hostile, lying as it did between Gustavus and the Baltic, a march on Vienna was impossible. Thus again were the house and throne of the Hapsburgs saved.

Intent on preventing the defection of the Elector of Saxony, all example likely to be followed by other princes, Gustavus Adolphus returned northward by forced marches. Traversing the Bavarian plains, he entered Thuringia, where he was welcomed with the acclamations of the inhabitants of the towns and villages through which he passed. At Erfurt he took a tender leave of his queen, and hastened forward in the direction of Leipsic to meet Wallenstein. On his march he was informed that the enemy was stationed in the villages around Lutzen, a small town not far from the spot where he had gained his great victory of a year ago.

Gustavus darted forward on his prey, but before he could reach Lutzen the night had fallen, and the battle could not be joined. Wallenstein, who had been unaware of the approach of the Swedes, profited by the night's delay to dig trenches on the battle-field, which he filled with musketeers. He also recalled Pappenheim, who had been sent off with a detachment to Cologne. The king passed the night in his carriage, arranging with his generals the order of battle, and waiting the breaking of the day. The morning rose in fog; the king had prayers read by his chaplain, Fabricius; then the army, accompanied by martial music, sang Luther's hymn; after which Gustavus himself led in a second hymn, in which the battalions around him joined in full chorus. The mist still hung over the landscape, concealing the one army from the other; but at ten o'clock it cleared off, revealing to the eyes of the Swedes the long confronting line of the imperialists, and the town of Lutzen in flames, Wallenstein having ordered it to be fired lest, under cover of it, the Swedes should outflank him. [14]

The king, without having broken his fast, mounted his horse. He did not put on his armor before entering the battle: he had forborne its use for some time owing to his corpulence. He wore only a plain buff coat or leather jerkin; replying, it is said, to one who tried to dissuade him from thus exposing his life, that "God was his harness." [15] He addressed in brief but energetic terms first the Swedes, then the Germans, reminding them of the vast issues depending on the battle about to be joined; that on this day their bravery would vindicate, or their cowardice would crush, the religion and liberty of Germany. He exhorted them not to be sparing of their blood in so great a cause, and assured them that posterity would not forget what it owed to the men who had died on the field of Lutzen that they might be free. Having so spoken, Gustavus rode forward, the first of all his army, to meet the enemy.

At the moment when the battle began, it is probable that the number of the opposing hosts was about equal; but on the arrival of Pappenheim the preponderance was thrown on the side of the imperialists. The calculations of the best authorities make Wallenstein's army amount to about 27,000, and the force under Gustavus Adolphus to from 18,000 to 20,000. The Swedish infantry advanced against the trenches, but were received with a tremendous fire of musketry and artillery. Bearing down with immense impetuosity, they crossed the trenches, captured the battery, and turned the guns against the enemy. The first of the five imperial brigades was routed; the second was in disorder; the third was wavering, Wallenstein, with three regiments of horse, galloped to the spot, shouting with a voice of thunder, and cleaving in his rage some of the fugitives with his own hand. The flight of his soldiers was arrested. The brigades formed anew, and faced the Swedes. A murderous conflict ensued.

The combatants, locked in a hand-to-hand struggle, could make no use of their firearms. They fought with their swords, pikes, and the butt-end of their muskets; the clash of steel, blending with the groans of those who were being trampled down, resounded over the field. The Swedes, at last overpowered by numbers, were compelled to abandon the cannon they had captured; and when they retreated, a thousand dead and dying covered the spot where the conflict had raged.

Gustavus Adolphus, at the head of his Finland cuirassiers, attacked the left wing of the enemy. The light-mounted Poles and Croats were broken by the shock, and fleeing in disorder, they spread terror and confusion among the rest of the imperial cavalry. At this moment the king was told that his infantry was recrossing the trenches, and that his left wing was wavering. Committing the pursuit of the vanquished Croats to General Horn, he flew on his white steed across the field, followed by the regiment of Steinbock; he leaped the trenches, and spurred to the spot where his soldiers were most closely pressed. Only the Duke of Lauenburg and a few horsemen were able to keep pace with the king; the squadrons he led had not yet come up, not being able to clear the trenches so easily as the king had done. Gustavus, shortsighted, and eager to discover an opening in the enemy's ranks at which to pour in a charge, approached too close to their line; a musketeer took aim at him, and his shot shattered the king's left arm. By this time his squadrons had come up, and the king attempted to lead them, but overcome by pain, and on the point of fainting, he requested

the Duke of Lauenburg to lead him secretly out of the tumult.

As he was retiring he received a second shot through the back. Feeling the wound to be mortal, he said to Lauenburg, "I am gone; look to your own life." A page assisted him to dismount, and while in the act of doing so other cuirassiers gathered around the wounded monarch, and demanded who he was. The page refused to tell, but Gustavus himself made known his name and rank, whereupon the cuirassiers completed the work of death by the discharge of more shots, and the king sunk in the midst of the imperial horsemen. Such were the accounts of the page, who himself was wounded, and died soon after. The king's steed, now set free, galloped with flowing rein and empty saddle over the field, communicating to the Swedish ranks the impression that some disaster had befallen, of which they knew not as yet the full and terrible extent.

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