1517-1618 Absolutism : Brandenburg 1648-1701

Brandenburg during the 30 Years War

A.) The Duchy of Brandenburg during the War

In 1618 the 30 Years War broke out. Soon, the Catholic Habsburgs got the upper hand, threatening the position of Protestantism. The protestant princes of Germany were unable to resist and asked for help from outside. King Christian of Denmark failed in the attempt to provide military leadership. Wallenstein's troops occupied even Jutland; he was granted the Duchy of Mecklenburg. Germany's protestant princes were desparate.
Until 1626, Brandenburg stayed out of the war; in 1626, it became battleground. In addition to destryction caused by the war, the soldiers were usually unpaid and confiscated livestock and stored food, causing the population to starve. Infectious diseases in 1624, 1625, 1626, 1628, 1630-1631, 1643 and 1648 took their toll.

In 1630, King Gustavus II. Adolphus of Sweden landed with his army in Pomerania. Soon, the Swedes went from victory to victory, liberating northeastern and central Germany, once even marching at Vienna.
Liberation from the Habsburg yoke came at a high price - the Swedish yoke. Sweden was much to poor to pay for their huge, successful army - the occupied countries had to come up for the costs. So, countries like Brandenburg did not only suffer the devastation - Brandenburg lost more than a third of its population - but, in addition had to pay for the occupation.

In 1632 censorship was introduced in Berlin, roughly coinciding with the beginning of newspaper publication.

B.) The Duchy of Brandenburg : Territorial Acquisitions

In 1648, when the war was over, the dukes found themselves both richer and poorer. They ruled over devastated lands which had to be repopulated. But they had gained territories - the Duchy in Prussia in 1618, by inheritance, FURTHER POMERANIA and confirmed Brandenburg in the possession of 3 territories in Westphalia inherited in 1609 : Kleve, Mark, Ravensberg, to which Minden was now added.
In addition, the Duke of Brandenburg had prospects of peacefully gaining further territories : the archbishopric of MAGDEBURG had been converted into a duchy, which would be governed by the duke of Saxony and after his death fall to Brandenburg, an event which happened in 1680.

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Timeline 1600 to 1700, from Brandenburg IS, in German

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

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