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- The Thirty Years War, Book III. - 5/17 -


of Sweden, like his own, aimed solely at the humiliation of the power of Austria, he hesitated not to promise to the princes of the League, on the part of Sweden, a complete neutrality, immediately they abandoned their alliance with the Emperor and withdrew their troops. Whatever the resolution these princes should adopt, Richelieu would equally attain his object. By their separation from the Austrian interest, Ferdinand would be exposed to the combined attack of France and Sweden; and Gustavus Adolphus, freed from his other enemies in Germany, would be able to direct his undivided force against the hereditary dominions of Austria. In that event, the fall of Austria was inevitable, and this great object of Richelieu's policy would be gained without injury to the church. If, on the other hand, the princes of the League persisted in their opposition, and adhered to the Austrian alliance, the result would indeed be more doubtful, but still France would have sufficiently proved to all Europe the sincerity of her attachment to the Catholic cause, and performed her duty as a member of the Roman Church. The princes of the League would then appear the sole authors of those evils, which the continuance of the war would unavoidably bring upon the Roman Catholics of Germany; they alone, by their wilful and obstinate adherence to the Emperor, would frustrate the measures employed for their protection, involve the church in danger, and themselves in ruin.

Richelieu pursued this plan with greater zeal, the more he was embarrassed by the repeated demands of the Elector of Bavaria for assistance from France; for this prince, as already stated, when he first began to entertain suspicions of the Emperor, entered immediately into a secret alliance with France, by which, in the event of any change in the Emperor's sentiments, he hoped to secure the possession of the Palatinate. But though the origin of the treaty clearly showed against what enemy it was directed, Maximilian now thought proper to make use of it against the King of Sweden, and did not hesitate to demand from France that assistance against her ally, which she had simply promised against Austria. Richelieu, embarrassed by this conflicting alliance with two hostile powers, had no resource left but to endeavour to put a speedy termination to their hostilities; and as little inclined to sacrifice Bavaria, as he was disabled, by his treaty with Sweden, from assisting it, he set himself, with all diligence, to bring about a neutrality, as the only means of fulfilling his obligations to both. For this purpose, the Marquis of Breze was sent, as his plenipotentiary, to the King of Sweden at Mentz, to learn his sentiments on this point, and to procure from him favourable conditions for the allied princes. But if Louis XIII. had powerful motives for wishing for this neutrality, Gustavus Adolphus had as grave reasons for desiring the contrary. Convinced by numerous proofs that the hatred of the princes of the League to the Protestant religion was invincible, their aversion to the foreign power of the Swedes inextinguishable, and their attachment to the House of Austria irrevocable, he apprehended less danger from their open hostility, than from a neutrality which was so little in unison with their real inclinations; and, moreover, as he was constrained to carry on the war in Germany at the expense of the enemy, he manifestly sustained great loss if he diminished their number without increasing that of his friends. It was not surprising, therefore, if Gustavus evinced little inclination to purchase the neutrality of the League, by which he was likely to gain so little, at the expense of the advantages he had already obtained.

The conditions, accordingly, upon which he offered to adopt the neutrality towards Bavaria were severe, and suited to these views. He required of the whole League a full and entire cessation from all hostilities; the recall of their troops from the imperial army, from the conquered towns, and from all the Protestant countries; the reduction of their military force; the exclusion of the imperial armies from their territories, and from supplies either of men, provisions, or ammunition. Hard as the conditions were, which the victor thus imposed upon the vanquished, the French mediator flattered himself he should be able to induce the Elector of Bavaria to accept them. In order to give time for an accommodation, Gustavus had agreed to a cessation of hostilities for a fortnight. But at the very time when this monarch was receiving from the French agents repeated assurances of the favourable progress of the negociation, an intercepted letter from the Elector to Pappenheim, the imperial general in Westphalia, revealed the perfidy of that prince, as having no other object in view by the whole negociation, than to gain time for his measures of defence. Far from intending to fetter his military operations by a truce with Sweden, the artful prince hastened his preparations, and employed the leisure which his enemy afforded him, in making the most active dispositions for resistance. The negociation accordingly failed, and served only to increase the animosity of the Bavarians and the Swedes.

Tilly's augmented force, with which he threatened to overrun Franconia, urgently required the king's presence in that circle; but it was necessary to expel previously the Spaniards from the Rhine, and to cut off their means of invading Germany from the Netherlands. With this view, Gustavus Adolphus had made an offer of neutrality to the Elector of Treves, Philip von Zeltern, on condition that the fortress of Hermanstein should be delivered up to him, and a free passage granted to his troops through Coblentz. But unwillingly as the Elector had beheld the Spaniards within his territories, he was still less disposed to commit his estates to the suspicious protection of a heretic, and to make the Swedish conqueror master of his destinies. Too weak to maintain his independence between two such powerful competitors, he took refuge in the protection of France. With his usual prudence, Richelieu profited by the embarrassments of this prince to augment the power of France, and to gain for her an important ally on the German frontier. A numerous French army was despatched to protect the territory of Treves, and a French garrison was received into Ehrenbreitstein. But the object which had moved the Elector to this bold step was not completely gained, for the offended pride of Gustavus Adolphus was not appeased till he had obtained a free passage for his troops through Treves.

Pending these negociations with Treves and France, the king's generals had entirely cleared the territory of Mentz of the Spanish garrisons, and Gustavus himself completed the conquest of this district by the capture of Kreutznach. To protect these conquests, the chancellor Oxenstiern was left with a division of the army upon the Middle Rhine, while the main body, under the king himself, began its march against the enemy in Franconia.

The possession of this circle had, in the mean time, been disputed with variable success, between Count Tilly and the Swedish General Horn, whom Gustavus had left there with 8,000 men; and the Bishopric of Bamberg, in particular, was at once the prize and the scene of their struggle. Called away to the Rhine by his other projects, the king had left to his general the chastisement of the bishop, whose perfidy had excited his indignation, and the activity of Horn justified the choice. In a short time, he subdued the greater part of the bishopric; and the capital itself, abandoned by its imperial garrison, was carried by storm. The banished bishop urgently demanded assistance from the Elector of Bavaria, who was at length persuaded to put an end to Tilly's inactivity. Fully empowered by his master's order to restore the bishop to his possessions, this general collected his troops, who were scattered over the Upper Palatinate, and with an army of 20,000 men advanced upon Bamberg. Firmly resolved to maintain his conquest even against this overwhelming force, Horn awaited the enemy within the walls of Bamberg; but was obliged to yield to the vanguard of Tilly what he had thought to be able to dispute with his whole army. A panic which suddenly seized his troops, and which no presence of mind of their general could check, opened the gates to the enemy, and it was with difficulty that the troops, baggage, and artillery, were saved. The reconquest of Bamberg was the fruit of this victory; but Tilly, with all his activity, was unable to overtake the Swedish general, who retired in good order behind the Maine. The king's appearance in Franconia, and his junction with Gustavus Horn at Kitzingen, put a stop to Tilly's conquests, and compelled him to provide for his own safety by a rapid retreat.

The king made a general review of his troops at Aschaffenburg. After his junction with Gustavus Horn, Banner, and Duke William of Weimar, they amounted to nearly 40,000 men. His progress through Franconia was uninterrupted; for Tilly, far too weak to encounter an enemy so superior in numbers, had retreated, by rapid marches, towards the Danube. Bohemia and Bavaria were now equally near to the king, and, uncertain whither his victorious course might be directed, Maximilian could form no immediate resolution. The choice of the king, and the fate of both provinces, now depended on the road that should be left open to Count Tilly. It was dangerous, during the approach of so formidable an enemy, to leave Bavaria undefended, in order to protect Austria; still more dangerous, by receiving Tilly into Bavaria, to draw thither the enemy also, and to render it the seat of a destructive war. The cares of the sovereign finally overcame the scruples of the statesman, and Tilly received orders, at all hazards, to cover the frontiers of Bavaria with his army.

Nuremberg received with triumphant joy the protector of the Protestant religion and German freedom, and the enthusiasm of the citizens expressed itself on his arrival in loud transports of admiration and joy. Even Gustavus could not contain his astonishment, to see himself in this city, which was the very centre of Germany, where he had never expected to be able to penetrate. The noble appearance of his person, completed the impression produced by his glorious exploits, and the condescension with which he received the congratulations of this free city won all hearts. He now confirmed the alliance he had concluded with it on the shores of the Baltic, and excited the citizens to zealous activity and fraternal unity against the common enemy. After a short stay in Nuremberg, he followed his army to the Danube, and appeared unexpectedly before the frontier town of Donauwerth. A numerous Bavarian garrison defended the place; and their commander, Rodolph Maximilian, Duke of Saxe Lauenburg, showed at first a resolute determination to defend it till the arrival of Tilly. But the vigour with which Gustavus Adolphus prosecuted the siege, soon compelled him to take measures for a speedy and secure retreat, which amidst a tremendous fire from the Swedish artillery he successfully executed.

The conquest of Donauwerth opened to the king the further side of the Danube, and now the small river Lech alone separated him from Bavaria. The immediate danger of his dominions aroused all Maximilian's activity; and however little he had hitherto disturbed the enemy's progress to his frontier, he now determined to dispute as resolutely the remainder of their course. On the opposite bank of the Lech, near the small town of Rain, Tilly occupied a strongly fortified camp, which, surrounded by three rivers, bade defiance to all attack. All the bridges over the Lech were destroyed; the whole course of the stream protected by strong garrisons as far as Augsburg; and that town itself, which had long betrayed its impatience to follow the example of Nuremberg and Frankfort, secured by a Bavarian garrison, and the disarming of its inhabitants. The Elector himself, with all the troops he could collect, threw himself into Tilly's camp, as if all his hopes centred on this single point, and here the good fortune of the Swedes was to suffer shipwreck for ever.

Gustavus Adolphus, after subduing the whole territory of Augsburg, on his own side of the river, and opening to his troops a rich supply of necessaries from that quarter, soon appeared on the bank opposite the Bavarian entrenchments. It was now the month of March, when the river, swollen by frequent rains, and the melting of the snow from the mountains of the Tyrol, flowed full and rapid between its steep banks. Its boiling current threatened the rash assailants with certain destruction, while from the opposite side the enemy's cannon showed their murderous mouths. If, in despite of the fury both of fire and water, they should accomplish this almost impossible passage, a fresh


The Thirty Years War, Book III. - 5/17

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