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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

Max Emanuel took Belgrade in 1689


The deliverance of Vienna was due chiefly to John Sobieski, yet, when Leopold I. returned to the city which he had deserted, he treated the Polish king with coldness and haughtiness, never once thanking him for his generous aid. The war was continued, in the interest of Austria, by Charles of Lorraine and Max Emanuel of Bavaria, until 1687, when a great victory at Mohacs in Hungary forced the Turks to retreat beyond the Danube. Then Leopold I. took brutal vengeance on the Hungarians, executing so many of their nobles that the event is called "the Shambles of Eperies," from the town where it occurred. The Jesuits were allowed to put down Protestantism in their own way; the power and national pride of Hungary were trampled under foot, and a Diet held at Presburg declared that the crown of the country should thenceforth belong to the house of Hapsburg. This episode of the history of the time, the taking of Strasburg by Louis XIV., the treatment of Frederick William of Brandenburg, and other contemporaneous events, must be borne in mind, since they are connected with much that has taken place in our own day.

In spite of the defeat of the Turks in 1687, they were encouraged by France to continue the war. Max Emanuel took Belgrade in 1689, the Margrave Ludwig of Baden won an important victory, and Prince Eugene of Savoy (a grandnephew of Cardinal Mazarin, whom Louis XIV. called, in derision, the "Little Abbe," and refused to give a military command) especially distinguished himself as a soldier. After ten years of varying fortune, the war was brought to an end by the magnificent victory of Prince Eugene at Zenta, in 1697. It was followed by the Treaty of Carlowitz, in 1699, in which Turkey gave up Transylvania and the Slavonic provinces to Austria, Morea and Dalmatia to Venice, and agreed to a truce of twenty-five years.

[Sidenote: 1686. RENEWED WAR WITH FRANCE.]

While the best strength of Germany was engaged in this Turkish war, Louis XIV. was busy in carrying out his plans of conquest. He claimed the Palatinate of the Rhine for his brother, the Duke of Orleans, and also attempted to make one of his agents Archbishop of Cologne. In 1686, an alliance was formed between Leopold I., several of the German States, Holland, Spain and Sweden, to defend themselves against the aggressions of France, but nothing was accomplished by the negotiations which followed. Finally, in 1688, two powerful French armies suddenly appeared upon the Rhine: one took possession of the territory of Treves and Cologne, the other marched through the Palatinate into Franconia and Wuertemberg. But the demands of Louis XIV. were not acceded to; the preparation for war was so general on the part of the allied countries that it was evident his conquests could not be held; so he determined, at least, to ruin the territory before giving it up.

No more wanton and barbarous deed was ever perpetrated. The "Great Monarch," the model of elegance and refinement for all Europe, was guilty of brutality beyond what is recorded of the most savage chieftains. The vines were pulled up by the roots and destroyed; the fruit-trees were cut down, the villages burned to the ground, and 400,000 persons were made beggars, besides those who were slain in cold blood. The castle of Heidelberg, one of the most splendid monuments of the Middle Ages in all Europe, was blown up with gunpowder; the people of Mannheim were compelled to pull down their own fortifications, after which their city was burned, Speyer, with its grand and venerable Cathedral, was razed to the ground, and the bodies of the Emperors buried there were exhumed and plundered. While this was going on, the German Princes, with a few exceptions (the "Great Elector" being the prominent one), were copying the fashions of the French Court, and even trying to unlearn their native language!


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