The Conflict over Jülich Succession, 1609-1614

A.) Pre-History of the Conflict

Note : Jülich, in English texts, is often spelled Julich; in French Juliers, in Dutch Gulik. Kleve in English is often spelled Cleves, in Dutch Kleef.

The last Duke of Jülich, Kleve, Berg, Count of Mark and Ravensberg, died in 1609, without children. His two sisters were married to Duke Albrecht Friedrich of Prussia respectively to Count Wilhelm of Pfalz-Neuburg; thus, Duke Elector Johann Sigismund of Brandenburg (as head of the House of Hohenzollern, to which Albrecht Friedrich of Prussia belonged) and Count Wilhelm both claimed the inheritance.
It was widely feared that Emperor Rudolf II. of Habsburg would seize the opportunity and claim the inheritance for himself, adding the 5 territories to the Habsburg possessions in the Low Countries (although the latter belonged to the Spanish line of the dynasty. This possibility, which was contemplated by the Emperor, caused grave concern to both King Henri IV. of France and to the Dutch Republic. Imperial troops indeed occupied the fortress of Jülich.
Spain and the Dutch Republic had just signed the 12 Year Truce (1609-1621) which interrupted the Dutch War of Independence; the parties involved wanted to avoid another war.

B.) The Conflict

Emperor Rudolf II. withdrew his claim and briefly supported the (weak) claim of the House of Wettin (the Duke of Saxony) which soon was dropped. The Conflict now gained another momentum, as one of the two claimants (Pfalz-Neuburg) was Catholic, one (Brandenburg) was Lutheran.
King Henri IV of France proposed the lands to be partitioned between the two candidates; the Count of Hessen suggested both parties were to rule the inheritance jointly, as a condominium. This latter suggestion was accepted; both princes promised religious toleration (Dortmund Recess, June 10th 1609).
Meanwhile, Imperial troops occupied the fortress of Jülich. Dutch, Brandenburg and Palatine troops joined forces and laid siege to the fortress July 28th to September 2nd 1610; the fortress surrendered in 1610, and the Imperial troops withdrew.
The Dortmund Recess had been made without the consent of the Estates of the five territories. Most cities of Kleve, Mark, Jülich, Berg and Ravensberg refused to accept both parties as their rulers, and permitted entry only to the representatives of one prince; in most cases this was Count Wilhelm of Pfalz-Neuburg. The agreement over joint rule turned into a dead letter; in all practicality, Jülich-Berg-Kleve-Mark-Ravensberg was ruled by Pfalz-Neuburg. The Treaty of Xanten 1614 foresaw the partition, allocating Jülich and Berg to Pfalz-Neuburg, Kleve, Mark and Revensberg to Brandenburg. As the latter was not capable to enforce her claim, the document also remained a dead letter.

C.) Legacy

The 30 Years War broke out soon after, and the conflict was obershadowed by it. Afterward, with Brandenburg having risen to a formidable military power, a new treaty was signed (1666) which split the territories, Jülich and Berg remaining with Pfalz-Neuburg, Kleve, Mark and Ravensberg becoming Brandenburgian (Prussian).

The Jülich-Berg Succession, from G. Edmundson, The Dutch Republic, posted by MATEO
The Julich-Cleves-Berg government and succession. Death of Duke John William. The claimants. The Julich-Cleves question, Treaty of Xanten, from A.W. Ward, The Empire under Rudolf II., posted by MATEO
REFERENCE Gustav Engel, Politische Geschichte Westfalens (Political History of Westphalia), Köln : Grote 1968

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on June 10th 2003, last revised on November 19th 2004

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