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Thirty Years War

Thirty Years' War, the name given to the religious struggle which rent Germany from 1618 to 1648, leaving her in a state of exhaustion and demoralisation from which she did not recover till the present century. Its primary oause was the hostility of the Roman Catholics and the Protestants but the contest between authority and liberty extended to the sphere of civil life, and the Protestant Union of 1608 was formed for political as well as religious purposes. The Roman Catholic states in their turn formed an association under the protection of the Emperor in 1609. The war broke out in Bohemia, where the tyrannical policy of the Emperor Matthias in matters of religion provoked a rebellion, which culminated in the choice of the Elector-Palatine, Frederick V., as king in place of Ferdinand II. (1619). In the same year Ferdinand succeeded Matthias on the Imperial throne. The Imperial forces, which were aided by Spanish troops, eventunl1y prevailed, though the subsequent successes of Count Mansfeld and Christian of Brunswlck in the War of the Palatinate (1621-24) to some extent compensated for the failure of the Bohemians. After the accession of Christian IV. to the Protestant cause (1624) the scene of war was transferred to Lower Saxony, but the victories of Wallenstein and Tilly so completely established the ascendency of the Imperialists that Christian gladly withdrew his support, agreeing to the terms of the Peace of Lubeck (1630). A new champion of Protestantism now appeared in the person of Gustavus Adolphus, who at the head of a Swedish army, rapidly gained possession of Pomerania and Mecklenburg, crushed Tilly in the battle of Leipzig (Sept. 1631), marched triumphantly along the valleys of the Main and Rhine, inflicted a seoond defeat on TIlly beside the Lech (April, 1632), and entered Munich. From that town he was drawn by Wallenstein into Saxony, and, though his army was victorious at Lutzen, he himself was slain in the battle (November, 1632). For some time the Protestant party was held together through the sagacity of Oxenstjerna, the Swedish Chancellor, but the disastrous defeat at Nordlingen (September, 1634) and the conclusion of peace between Austria and Saxony (May, 1635) led on to the final collapse of the German alliance. The Swedes, however, were determined to retain their conquests in Germany, and opened negotiations with the French, who sent armies to operate on the Rhine and against the Spaniards in the Netherlands. Victory after victory crowned the arms of the Swedes, and, although the French were at first driven back, the ultimate success of Conde and Turenne, culminating in the second battle of Nordlingen (August, 1645), completed the overthrow of the Imperial power. The war was at length brought to a close by the Peace of Westphalia.