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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

Wallenstein stated what Ferdinand II


Ferdinand

II., in his desperation, summoned a Spanish army from Italy to his aid. This was a new offence to Wallenstein, since the new troops were not placed under his command. In the autumn of 1633, however, he felt obliged to make some movement. He entered Silesia, defeated a Protestant army under Count Thurn, overran the greater part of Saxony and Brandenburg, and threatened Pomerania. In the meantime the Spanish and Austrian troops in Bavaria had been forced to fall back, Duke Bernard had taken Ratisbon, and the road to Vienna was open to him. Ferdinand II. and Maximilian of Bavaria sent messenger after messenger to Wallenstein, imploring him to return from the North without delay. He moved with the greatest slowness, evidently enjoying their anxiety and alarm, crossed the northern frontier of Bavaria, and then, instead of marching against Duke Bernard, he turned about and took up his winter-quarters at Pilsen, in Bohemia.

[Sidenote: 1634. WALLENSTEIN'S CONSPIRACY.]

Here he received an order from the Emperor, commanding him to march instantly against Ratisbon, and further, to send 6,000 of his best cavalry to the Spanish army. This step compelled him, after a year's hesitation, to act without further delay. He was already charged, at Vienna, with being a traitor to the Imperial cause: he now decided to become one, in reality. He first confided his design to his brothers-in-law, Counts Kinsky and Terzky, and one of

his Generals, Illo. Then a council of war, of all the chief officers of his army, was called on the 11th of January, 1634; Wallenstein stated what Ferdinand II. had ordered, and in a cunning speech commented on the latter's ingratitude to the army which had saved him, ending by declaring that he should instantly resign his command. The officers were thunderstruck: they had boundless faith in Wallenstein's military genius, and they saw themselves deprived of glory, pay and plunder by his resignation. He and his associates skilfully made use of their excitement: at a grand banquet, the next day, all of them, numbering 42, signed a document pledging their entire fidelity to Wallenstein.

General Piccolomini, one of the signers, betrayed all this to the Emperor, who, twelve days afterwards, appointed General Gallas, another of the signers, commander in Wallenstein's stead. At the same time a secret order was issued for the seizure of Wallenstein, Illo and Terzky, dead or alive. Both sides were now secretly working against each other, but Wallenstein's former delay told against him. He could not go over to the Protestant side, unless certain important conditions were secured in advance, and while his agents were negotiating with Duke Bernard, his own army, privately worked upon by Gallas and other agents of the Emperor, began to desert him. What arrangement was made with Duke Bernard, is uncertain; the chief evidence is that he, and Wallenstein with the few thousand troops who still stood by him, moved rapidly towards each other, as if to join their forces.

[Sidenote: 1634.]

On the 24th of February, 1634, Wallenstein reached the town of Eger, near the Bohemian frontier: only two or three more days were required, to consummate his plan. Then Colonel Butler, an Irishman, and two Scotch officers, Gordon and Leslie, conspired to murder him and his associates--no doubt in consequence of instructions received from Vienna. Illo, Terzky and Kinsky accepted an invitation to a banquet in the citadel, the following evening; but Wallenstein, who was unwell, remained in his quarters in the Burgomaster's house. Everything had been carefully prepared, in advance: at a given signal, Gordon and Leslie put out the lights, dragoons entered the banquet-hall, and the three victims were murdered in cold blood. Then a Captain Devereux, with six soldiers, forced his way into the Burgomaster's house, on pretence of bearing important dispatches, cut down Wallenstein's servant and entered the room where he lay. Wallenstein, seeing that his hour had come, made no resistance, but silently received his death-blow.


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