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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

Again betrayed Germany in the peace of Nymwegen


William at first determined to carry on the war alone, but the French had already laid waste Westphalia, and in 1679 he was forced to accept a peace which required that he should restore nearly the whole of Western Pomerania to Sweden. Austria, moreover, took possession of several small principalities in Silesia, which had fallen to Brandenburg by inheritance. Thus the Hapsburgs repaid the support which the Hohenzollerns had faithfully rendered to them for four hundred years: thenceforth the two houses were enemies, and they were soon to become irreconcilable rivals. Leopold I. again betrayed Germany in the peace of Nymwegen, by yielding the city and fortress of Freiburg to France.


Louis XIV., nevertheless, was not content with this acquisition. He determined to possess the remaining cities of Alsatia which belonged to Germany. The Catholic Bishop of Strasburg was his secret agent, and three of the magistrates of the city were bribed to assist. In the autumn of 1681, when nearly all the merchants were absent, attending the fair at Frankfort, a powerful French army, which had been secretly collected in Lorraine, suddenly appeared before Strasburg. Between force outside and treachery within the walls, the city surrendered: on the 23d of October Louis XIV. made his triumphant entry, and was hailed by the Bishop with the blasphemous words: "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant

depart in peace, for his eyes have seen thy Saviour!" The great Cathedral, which had long been in the possession of the Protestants, was given up to this Bishop: all Protestant functionaries were deprived of their offices, and the clergymen driven from the city. French names were given to the streets, and the inhabitants were commanded, under heavy penalties, to lay aside their German costume, and adopt the fashions of France. No official claim or declaration of war preceded this robbery; but the effect which it produced throughout Germany was comparatively slight. The people had been long accustomed to violence and outrage, and the despotic independence of each State suppressed anything like a national sentiment.

Leopold I. called upon the Princes of the Empire to declare war against France, but met with little support. Frederick William positively refused, as he had been shamefully excepted from the Peace of Nymwegen. He gave as a reason, however, the great danger which menaced Germany from a new Turkish invasion, and offered to send an army to the support of Austria. The Emperor, equally stubborn and jealous, declined this offer, although his own dominions were on the verge of ruin.

[Sidenote: 1683.]

The Turks had remained quiet during the whole of the Thirty Years' War, when they might easily have conquered Austria. In the early part of Leopold's reign they recommenced their invasions, which were terminated, in 1664, by a truce of twenty years. Before the period came to an end, the Hungarians, driven to desperation by Leopold's misrule, especially his persecution of the Protestants, rose in rebellion. The Turks came to an understanding with them, and early in 1683, an army of more than 200,000 men, commanded by the Grand Vizier Kara Mustapha, marched up the Danube, carrying everything before it, and encamped around the walls of Vienna. There is good evidence that the Sultan, Mohammed IV., was strongly encouraged by Louis XIV. to make this movement. Leopold fled at the approach of the Turks, leaving his capital to its fate. For two months Count Stahremberg, with only 7,000 armed citizens and 6,000 mercenary soldiers under his command, held the fortifications against the overwhelming force of the enemy; then, when further resistance was becoming hopeless, help suddenly appeared. An army commanded by Duke Charles of Lorraine, another under the Elector of Saxony, and a third, composed of 20,000 Poles, headed by their king, John Sobieski, reached Vienna about the same time. The decisive battle was fought on the 12th of September, 1683, and ended with the total defeat of the Turks, who fled into Hungary, leaving their camp, treasures and supplies to the value of 10,000,000 dollars in the hands of the conquerors.

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