1598-1618 1648-1700

Bavaria, 1618-1648

The Defenestration of Prague 1618 was a Bohemian coup d'etat with implications far beyond Bohemia; as the territory held one of the 7 electorates, control over Bohemia had a crucial impact on the future hold of the Imperial crown. The Habsburg Dynasty could not afford to let go of Bohemia, but they also could not afford to reconquer the country. Emperor Matthias died in 1619, and (against a numerical protestant majority) Habsburg Ferdinand II. managed to get elected. Ferdinand concluded an alliance with Duke Maximilian of Bavaria; Bavarian troops under Gen. Johan Tserclaes Tilly defeated the Bohemian forces in the Battle of the White Mountain (1620) and restored Habsburg rule over Bohemia. In return, Emperor Ferdinand II. pawned Upper Austria (which at that time was in rebellion against Emperor Ferdinand) to Duke Maximilian, who immediately introduced the Counterreformation into this largely Lutheran territory. Vienna offered Bavaria to occupy the Oberpfalz (Upper Palatinate), territory of the defeated Count Palatine.
In 1623 the Pfalz (County Palatine) was declared devoid of her electorate, and Maximilian was promoted Duke Elector. By that time Emperor Ferdinand II. was less dependent on Duke Maximilian, for he had a second army to dispose of, that of General Wallenstein. Imperial policy tried to reduce the Bavarian influence, and Bavarian-Habsburg relations began to deteriorate. Already in 1622, France and Bavaria conducted negotiations regarding a potential alliance.
Bavarian troops had participated in the Danish phase of the 30 Years' War, which ended in 1629. When Sweden entered the war in 1630, Bavarian troops under Tilly in 1631 took (Lutheran) Magdeburg after a long siege and committed atrocities which German protestants would remember for centuries to come. Swedish troops defeated Tilly in the Battle of Breitenfeld 1631; they had success after success, and the theatre of war moved into southern Germany. In 1632 the Swedes invaded Bavaria, crushed the Bavarian army, occupied the country, forced Bavaria to pay for the Swedish occupation. In August 1632, the Swedes evacuated Bavaria. In 1633 a Swedish-Protestant army again invaded Bavaria, took Regensburg, from where they moved into Upper Swabia. Bavaria was looted; in the Chiemsee region a peasant revolt erupted (in protest against taxation, which amounted to double the peacetime sum). In areas occupied (and exploited) by the Swedes, peasants revolted against them. In the Battle of Nördlingen 1634, the Swedes were defeated by a Spanish army, and Bavaria was temporarily relieved. In 1635 France entered the war on the side of the Swedes. A Bavarian forceunder Jan van Werth in 1636-1637 invaded France, but had to withdraw. In 1638 the Swedes appeared at Regensburg. Since 1641, peace negotiations were held in Münster and Osnabrück; they proceeded slowly. Duke Maximilian now was willing to make concessions; yet in 1648, a few months before peace was concluded, Bavaria was invaded and looted another time by the Swedes.
The Treaty of Westphalia recognized the recatholization of Bohemia, Upper Austria and of the Oberpfalz (Upper Palatinate), the latter having been implemented since 1626. Duke Maximilian of Bavaria and his successors held on to the Electorate, but a new electorate was created for the Count Palatine, increasing the number of electors to 8. Bavaria had suffered a considerable population loss; many farmsteads were deserted. The Treaty of Westphalia recognized the Bavarian annexation of the Upper Palatinate (1628) and of Donauwörth (1608). Duke Maximilian I. died in 1651.

Bavarian History, from Catholic Encyclopedia, 1914 edition
Michael Henker, Bayern im Zeitalter von Reformation und Gegenreformation (16./17. Jahrhundert) (Bavaria in the Era of Reformation and Counterreformation), in : Politische Geschichte Bayerns (Political History of Bavaria), posted by HDBG, in German
Ingolstadt im 30-jährigen Krieg (Ingolstadt in the 30 Years' War), posted by Kurt Scheuerer, in German
REFERENCE Territorien-Ploetz : Geschichte der Deutschen Länder (History of the German Territories), Vol.1, Würzburg 1964, in German
Andreas Kraus, Geschichte Bayerns von den Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart (History of Bavaria, from the origins to the present day), München : Beck (1983) 2nd edition 1988, in German

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First posted on November 6th 2003, last revised on November 11th 2004

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