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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

Had in the meantime concluded a peace with Bethlen Gabor


II. had in the meantime concluded a peace with Bethlen Gabor, and his authority was firmly established over Austria and Bohemia. Tilly with his Bavarians was victorious in Westphalia; all armed opposition to the Emperor's rule was at an end, yet instead of declaring peace established, and restoring the former order of the Empire, his agents continued their work of suppressing religious freedom and civil rights in all the States which had been overrun by the Catholic armies. The whole Empire was threatened with the fate of Austria. Then, at last, in 1625, Brunswick, Brandenburg, Mecklenburg, Hamburg, Luebeck and Bremen formed a union for mutual defence, choosing as their leader king Christian IV. of Denmark, the same monarch who had broken down the power of the Hanseatic League in the Baltic and North Seas! Although a Protestant, he was no friend to the North-German States, but he energetically united with them in the hope of being able to enlarge his kingdom at their expense.


Christian IV. lost no time in making arrangements with England and Holland which enabled both Mansfeld and Prince Christian of Brunswick to raise new forces, with which they returned to Germany. Tilly, in order to intercept them, entered the territory of the States which had united, and thus gave Christian IV. a pretext for declaring war. The latter marched down from Denmark at once, but found

no earnest union among the States, and only 7,000 men collected. He soon succeeded, however, in bringing together a force much larger than that commanded by Tilly, and was only hindered in his plan of immediate action by a fall from his horse, which crippled him for six weeks. The city of Hamelin was taken, and Tilly compelled to fall back, but no other important movements took place during the year 1625.

Ferdinand II. was already growing jealous of the increasing power of Bavaria, and determined that the Catholic and Imperial cause should not be entrusted to Tilly alone. But he had little money, his own military force had been wasted by the wars in Bohemia, Austria and Hungary, and there was no other commander of sufficient renown to attract men to his standard. Yet it was necessary that Tilly should be reinforced as soon as possible, or his scheme of crushing the whole of Germany, and laying it, as a fettered slave, at the feet of the Roman Church, might fail, and at the very moment when success seemed sure.

In this emergency, a new man presented himself. Albert of Waldstein, better known under his historical name of Wallenstein, was born at Prague in 1583. He was the son of a poor nobleman, and violent and unruly as a youth, until a fall from the third story of a house effected a sudden change in his nature. He became brooding and taciturn, gave up his Protestant faith, and was educated by the Jesuits at Olmuetz. He travelled in Spain, France and the Netherlands, fought in Italy against Venice and in Hungary against Bethlen Gabor and the Turks, and rose to the rank of Colonel. He married an old and rich widow, and after her death increased his wealth by a second marriage, so that, when the Protestants were expelled from Bohemia, he was able to purchase 60 of their confiscated estates. Adding these to that of Friedland, which he had received from the Emperor in return for military services, he possessed a small principality, lived in great splendor, and paid and equipped his own troops. He was first made Count, and then Duke of Friedland, with the authority of an independent prince of the Empire.

[Sidenote: 1625.]

Wallenstein was superstitious, and his studies in astrology gave him the belief that a much higher destiny awaited him. Here was the opportunity: he offered to raise and command a second army, in the Emperor's service. Ferdinand II. accepted the offer with joy, and sent word to Wallenstein that he should immediately proceed to enlist 20,000 men. "My army," the latter answered, "must live by what it can take: 20,000 men are not enough. I must have 50,000, and then I can demand what I want!" The threat of terrible ravage contained in these words was soon carried out.

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