Reformation, Counterref.
Habsburg Lands

Austria : the 30 Years War

A.) Diplomatic History of the War

In 1618, the protestant BURGHERS of PRAGUE and Bohemian noblemen occupied the Hradschin and threw the imperial representatives out of the window (DEFENESTRATION OF PRAGUE). The Bohemians elected themselves a new king, protestant Count Frederick of the Palatinate. Not only having lost one of their most important territories to a protestant, the Habsburgs faced an even more intolerable situation : 4 out of the Empire's 7 electors now were protestants. If things remained unchanged, the next Emperor would be a protestant, and not a Habsburg. They allied with the Catholic Duke of Bavaria, and in 1620 conquered Bohemia; the 30 YEARS WAR had begun.
The rebels were executed, their property - 3/4 of Bohemia - were sold, the population forced to reconvert to Catholicism. One man made a career by buying up extensive land- holdings - WALLENSTEIN. As a private businessman, he assembled an army and offered his service to the king who was happy to find a counterbalance to the Duke of Bavaria who expected to be rewarded for his service. Wallenstein was successful and drove the protestant army under king of Denmark out of the country (1626). The Habsburg now planned to turn the meanwhile protestant northern and central German territories under the rule of bishops back to Catholicism. Gustavus II. Adolphus of Sweden could not tolerate Habsburg presence on the Baltic coast. He landed his army in Pommerania in 1630 and defeated Wallenstein, establishing Swedish control in northeastern and central Germany (Protector Germaniae). After his death in 1632, the Swedes continued to be the power to beat, and in 1648, when the PEACE OF WESTPHALIA was signed, were marching on Vienna. The war ended in a draw : the Empire was divided in a protestant and a catholic part. However, the Habsburgs had kept their territories and enforced their rule (Lusatia had been ceded to Saxony in 1635). Their position as Emperors was uncontested.

B.) The Impact of the War on the Austrian territories (except the Bohemian lands)

The Emperor was basically broke, when the war began. He had to lean on the aid offered by Duke Maximilian of Bavaria; it was Bavarian troops under Tilly that were victorious in the Battle of the White Mountain 1620.
In order to pay Duke Maximilian for his expenses, Emperor Matthias had to grant him UPPER AUSTRIA as a pawn. In order to counterbalance Maximilian's influence, Matthias welcomed the army collected by the upstart WALLENSTEIN. In 1628 Duke Maximilian was paid, and Upper Austria reverted to Habsburg rule.
Twice, war itself got close to Austria - during the Danish War, when Silesia became battleground in 1625, and at the end of the war, when, while negotiations were going on at Münster and Osnabrück, a Swedish army was marching on Vienna. Peace was signed before it could do any major damage.

Roman Kings (Emperors), Archdukes of Austria and Habsburg Sidelines, 1438-1806
Links lead to biographies from aeiou
note : in case a king/emperor was also archduke, his name is capitalized. Identification might cause troubles, for Emperor Charles V. was Archduke Charles I.
Years Roman Kings Years Archdukes Years Dukes Sideline
Ferdinand II.
Ferdinand III.
Maximilian III.
Leopold V.
Ferdinand Karl
Archduke of Styria
Archduke of Tyrol
Archduke of Tyrol
Archduke of Tyrol

Biography : Adam Count Herbersttorf, Bav. governor of Upper Austria 1620-1628, from aeiou
DOCUMENTS Documents on the History of Austria, from Eurodocs
Map : Vienna, 1642, Innsbruck by A. Duerer, Vienna by Schedel from Mappe di Citta Italiane ed altre mappe antiche diverse

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on November 12th 2004

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