Albrecht von Wallenstein


Wallenstein, actually Albrecht Wenzel Eusebius von Waldstein, Czech Albrecht Václav Eusebius z Valdštejna († February 25, 1634 in Cheb), was a Bohemian general and politician. He is one of the most famous figures of the Thirty Years” War.

He was Duke of Friedland and Sagan, from 1628 to 1631 as Albrecht VIII. Duke of Mecklenburg, Prince of Wenden, Count of Schwerin, Lord of Rostock, Lord of Stargard and, as Generalissimo, twice Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial Army in the Thirty Years” War between 1625 and 1634.

Wallenstein fought on the side of the emperor and the Catholic League against the Protestant powers of Germany as well as against Denmark and Sweden. However, he later fell out of favor and was murdered by officers loyal to the emperor.


Albrecht Wenzel Eusebius, called Wallenstein, was born on September 24, 1583 in Hermanitz on the Elbe. He came from the old Bohemian dynasty of Waldstein. Wallenstein”s grandfather, Georg von Waldstein, had introduced the Evangelical Protestant faith in his manor in 1536 and joined the princely uprising against Emperor Charles V in 1546. Wallenstein”s father Wilhelm IV Freiherr von Waldstein (from the house of Horzicz-Arnau) on Hermanitz, royal Bohemian captain of the Königgrätzer Kreis, deceased in 1595, was married to Margaretha Freiin Smirziczky von Smirzicz (1555-1593).

As the fifth son, the father Wilhelm had received only a small inheritance; his wife Freiin Margaretha von Smiřický came from just as old nobility as the Wallensteins. Of their seven children, the two daughters and the youngest son Albrecht Wenzel Eusebius survived. Although Hermanitz was only a small manor, the fact that the family lived in financially straitened circumstances is supposed to be a legend from later times, like many things with Wallenstein. Wallenstein later appointed his tutor Johann Graf as his chamber secretary and he was raised to hereditary nobility.

Since Wallenstein”s mother died on July 22, 1593, and his father on February 25, 1595, Albrecht became an orphan at the age of eleven. The inheritance, the manor of Hermanitz and a larger fortune in money, silver and jewelry, fell equally to him and his two sisters. His testamentary guardian Heinrich Slavata von Chlum und Koschumberg, a brother-in-law of his mother, took Albrecht to himself at Koschumberg Castle and had him educated together with his own son by Bohemian brothers. Wallenstein learned German, Latin and Italian, in addition to his native Czech. In the fall of 1597 he sent him to the Protestant Latin school in Goldberg in the Duchy of Liegnitz for further education, and in the midsummer of 1599 to the Protestant academy in Altdorf, which Wallenstein had to leave again in April 1600, after he had repeatedly attracted attention by violent acts and had finally beaten his servant half to death in a fit of rage. In the meantime, his guardian had died, and Wallenstein went on a Grand Tour until 1602, details of which have not been handed down. He apparently studied at the universities of Padua and Bologna, since he subsequently had a comprehensive education and knowledge of the Italian language.

In the service of different masters

In the second half of 1602, Wallenstein entered the service of Margrave Karl von Burgau as a squire. He stayed at Ambras Castle near Innsbruck for not quite two years. During these years Wallenstein converted to Catholicism, which was not an uncommon and quite frequently practiced process. It is unclear exactly when the conversion took place. Sources speak of the year 1602 or of the autumn of 1606. In 1602, according to legend, Wallenstein stood at the window of Ambras Castle during a leisure hour and fell asleep. He fell down and survived the fall without any damage. The historiographer Count Franz Christoph von Khevenhüller reports that this miraculous event is said to have persuaded Wallenstein to convert because he believed that the Virgin Mary had saved him. It also speaks for 1602 that in that year he donated to the church of Heřmanice a bell bearing two sayings in Czech, which were included in the Catholic Bibles but not in the Bibles of the Bohemian Brotherhood. In addition, the bell is decorated with images of the Mother of God and images of Mary Magdalene. For a follower of the Protestant faith with its hostility to images and Mary, these depictions would have been very unusual.

At the beginning of July 1604, on the recommendation of his cousin, the imperial Oberstallmeister Adam von Waldstein, Wallenstein became an ensign in a regiment of imperial Bohemian foot-soldiers that was moving to Hungary on the orders of Emperor Rudolf II. The army that set out against the rebellious Hungarian Protestants in 1604 was commanded by Lieutenant General Georg Basta. During this campaign under Basta”s command, Wallenstein learned the tactics of Transylvanian light cavalry and observed the then 45-year-old commander of the imperial artillery, Colonel Count von Tilly. The campaign ended prematurely due to an early onset of winter, and the army retreated to winter quarters north of Kashau in Upper Hungary. Wallenstein was promoted to captain and severely wounded in the hand during fighting near Kashau.

Winter quarters were miserable and rations poor, so General Georg Basta decided to send a delegation to Prague to demand money and rations. Wallenstein was chosen to represent the Bohemian foot soldiers and accepted despite his poorly healing wound. The arduous journey through the High Tatras and Silesia was unsuccessful, and the army continued to starve and gradually disintegrate. Wallenstein stayed in Prague through the winter and, due to the hardships and the wounding, fell ill with the Hungarian disease, a kind of spotted fever. At the beginning of 1605 the Bohemian Estates decided to disband the regiments under General Basta. They appointed Wallenstein as abdication commissioner on February 4, 1605.

After the demobilization of the Bohemian troops, Wallenstein was appointed by the Bohemian estates as the commander of a regiment of German foot troops. The peace with the Hungarians enforced by Matthias, the brother of Emperor Rudolf, abruptly ended Wallenstein”s first military career. Probably he wanted to continue it and asked Emperor Rudolf for a letter of recommendation for the governor of the Spanish Netherlands, Archduke Albrecht of Austria, which he received. Why he then changed his mind and entered the service of Archduke Matthias as chamberlain in April 1607 is not known.

In 1607, Wallenstein stayed at the archducal court in Vienna. It is not known that he took part in Matthias” preparations for the campaign against his brother in Prague. In 1608 Matthias moved to Prague and forced Rudolf to renounce the crown of Hungary and the possession of Austria. Rudolf, who was left with the imperial crown and the Kingdom of Bohemia, had to guarantee religious freedom in the famous Letter of Majesty of July 9, 1609. He is said to have been forced to do so by an army of the Bohemian estates under Heinrich Matthias von Thurn. Wallenstein was in the entourage of Archduke Matthias, but did not appear further.

Kepler”s horoscope

During his stay in Prague, Wallenstein had the imperial court mathematician Johannes Kepler issue his first horoscope. This was common practice at the time, and anyone who was self-respecting possessed one. Wallenstein did not have direct access to Kepler at the Hradcany and asked an acquaintance for mediation. The court mathematician complied with the request. For the horoscope he only needed the exact date of birth. From the name and previous career of the insignificant young man, he could not have gleaned much that was useful. All the more astonishing is the precise character sketch that the document contains. After a short warning not to trust in the stars alone, Kepler wrote that his client:

The horoscope characterizes Wallenstein as a person with great ambition and striving for power. Dangerous enemies would appear to him, but he would usually be victorious. His life had been very restless between the eleventh and thirteenth year of life, but after that it had been much calmer. For the 21st year of his life Kepler described a dangerous illness, for the 33rd a handsome marriage with a not too beautiful woman, who was, however, rich in manors, buildings and cattle. Finally, he predicted less pleasant things. The unfavorable position of Saturn and Jupiter would cause Wallenstein to be said to have a special superstition and he would become the ringleader of a maleconten, i.e. discontented, pack.

Wallenstein was strongly impressed, especially by the announcement of the marriage, which, however, took place seven years earlier. The special impression is also evidenced by the numerous marginal notes with which he meticulously compared the predictions with real events for years. When the first horoscope ended in 1625, Wallenstein had Kepler in Linz request a continuation. The new prophecy contained a serious, though unspecified, warning for the beginning of 1634.

Magnate in Moravia

As early as 1608, the rector of the Jesuit Convict in Olomouc, Veit Pachta von Rayhofen, who had a great influence on Wallenstein, had arranged a marriage with the widow of Arkleb Prusinowsky von Witschkow, Lukretia von Witschkow née Nickeß von Landeck, because he feared that her huge fortune would otherwise fall into the hands of a Protestant husband. The wedding took place in May 1609. In older literature, as in Kepler”s horoscope, it is repeatedly mentioned that Lucretia was aged and ugly. Nothing is known about her appearance, but examinations of the skull of the mortal remains have shown that she could have been only slightly older than Wallenstein.

The enormous fortune of Lukretia, widowed Prusinowsky von Witschkow is estimated at about 400,000 florins and created the economic basis for Wallenstein”s rise. A year after the marriage, Wallenstein became co-owner of the Moravian manors of Settein, Rimnitz and Luckow, making him one of the largest Moravian landowners. On November 11, 1610, Wallenstein sold his parents” estate in Hermanitz and began to live the life of a Moravian magnate. In the management of the estates, which were primarily located in the Hradian district in southern Moravia, Wallenstein proceeded in the same way as he would later with his duchies. He took an interest in every process on his estates, limited the peasants” indentured servitude, an unparalleled process for that time, allowed logging in the forests and lifted the ban on fishing. Wallenstein already knew at this time that the productivity and thus the income of his estates increased enormously if he improved the living conditions of his subjects. A connection that only a few nobles and landlords of the time understood. Wallenstein began with the re-Catholicization of his subjects, as Father Veit Pachta expected of him and had pronounced clearly enough before the marriage. If he tried conversion by coercion in the beginning, he later replaced it with secular incentives, as his brother-in-law Charles the Elder of Zierotin, the governor of Moravia, asked him for some greater leniency.

This action raised his prestige among the mostly Protestant Moravian estates, and they appointed the Catholic Wallenstein as muster commissioner in 1610 and instructed him to recruit a regiment of musketeers to protect the Moravian border against the Passau war party. Emperor Rudolf had recruited these warriors against his brother Matthias in order to win back by force the lands he had ceded only a few years before. The bad reputation of the Passau people, more band than war people, and the assumption that the emperor would also use the Passau people against the Bohemian estates, caused them to also raise troops and ask Matthias for help. Matthias then sent 8000 men to Bohemia. After the Passauers had been driven out of Prague again, the Bohemian estates asked Matthias to accept the Bohemian royal crown, since Rudolf was too old and too weak. Rudolf had to sign the abdication. Together with Matthias, Wallenstein also entered Prague in March 1611 in his capacity as chamberlain to the new Bohemian king.

After the death of Rudolf and the election of his brother Matthias as the new emperor in May 1612, Wallenstein became imperial chamberlain. In Moravia he was elected to a committee for legal disputes in 1612, but otherwise developed no activities in the political field. He was conspicuous only by his wealth, by his pomp and pageantry. For unlike the emperor”s court, which was always in money trouble and accumulated huge debts, Wallenstein seemed to know no financial worries. His coffers always seemed to be well filled, and he came to Vienna at regular intervals with an expense that caught the eye of contemporaries. To observers, the source of his wealth was inexplicable and not entirely mysterious. But the lavish appearances were in keeping with Wallenstein”s nature and the baroque spirit of the times. And they earned him a reputation at court.

On March 23, 1614, Wallenstein”s wife Lucretia died. He had her buried with great pomp in the pilgrimage church of Stiep in the Luckow dominion and founded a Carthusian monastery there in her honor in 1616, to which he gave the village of Stiep and 30,000 gulden in cash. At the same time he broke the will of Lucretia”s uncle Wenzel Nickeß von Landeck, who had bequeathed Luckow as a lifelong possession to his niece, but in case of her death had appointed her brother Wilhelm von Witschkow auf Bistritz and in his succession the eldest of the Prusinowitz von Witschkow dynasty as heir.

All in all, Wallenstein was nothing more than a normal Moravian nobleman in these years of approaching war, who at most was conspicuous for his unusual wealth. Otherwise, however, his goods and his salvation seemed to have been most important to him. There is no sign of the great career that Wallenstein wanted to make, as mentioned in the recommendation for Matthias, in the case of the 31-year-old. Since he lived on the fringes of general interest, the sources from these years are also very thin.

In 1615, he was appointed by the Moravian estates to be the commander of a regiment of foot soldiers, shortly after he had overcome a serious illness, as he himself later noted in the margin of Kepler”s horoscope. This illness may have been a consequence of his heavy wine drinking, as was his later gouty condition. The post of colonel was in fact only on paper, and his appointment was not a result of special military ability, but showed his financial possibilities, since he would have had to raise this regiment at his own expense in case of war. Moreover, the appointment was probably a sign of his restraint in political and religious matters. In the same year he accepted two other chamberlain posts. On September 28, 1615, Archduke Ferdinand of Inner Austria and, a little later, Archduke Maximilian of Vorderösterreich appointed him as their chamberlains. What exactly was the background of the appointments is unknown, but does not change the fact that Wallenstein was a blank slate in these years, rich but without profile.

Beginning of the military career

Wallenstein”s first chance to excel in the military field came when Archduke Ferdinand, later Emperor Ferdinand II, became involved in the Friulian War against Venice, the dominant naval power in the Mediterranean, in 1615. In February 1617, the military and financial situation and the supply of troops became so bad that Ferdinand resorted to the extreme measure of appealing to his estates and vassals to send him troops at their own expense. Only Wallenstein complied with the request for help.

Immediately after the arrival of the request for help, Wallenstein answered the Archduke and hastily recruited a small army: two companies of heavy cavalry, a total of 180 cuirassiers and a detachment of 80 musketeers. The force was immaculately equipped and armed, and in May 1617, with Wallenstein at its head, set out on the 700-kilometer journey to Friuli. At a stopover in the archducal residence of Graz, he probably met Johann Ulrich von Eggenberg for the first time. The imperial court chamber president later became a close friend and Wallenstein”s greatest patron. In the first half of July, Wallenstein and his troops arrived at the field camp in front of Gradisca, which was besieged by the Venetians.

Since the garrison of Gradisca was starving, the commander of the archducal troops, Henry of Dampierre, decided to dare to attack the Venetian occupants after the arrival of the Wallenstein cuirassiers. On July 13, 1617, an attack by the cuirassiers led by Wallenstein succeeded in transporting a massive wagon train of provisions into the fortress and bringing all the wounded and sick to safety. After a second attack on September 22, also led by Wallenstein, Venice agreed to a peace. Ferdinand still later recalled his chamberlain”s assistance. Not only that Wallenstein had recruited troops, but that he himself had led them to Friuli and into battle, impressed Ferdinand.

Therefore, in the same year, Ferdinand commissioned Wallenstein to draft a new letter of articles, a kind of law code for mercenary troops. Wallenstein”s Reutter Law later became binding for the entire imperial army and was not replaced by a new martial law until 1642.

Meanwhile, the confessional and political disputes in Bohemia continued unabated. In 1617, Emperor Matthias succeeded in having the staunch Catholic Ferdinand crowned as his successor as King of Bohemia. The Bohemian estates reluctantly agreed to Ferdinand”s election, for he hated the Majesty and did everything he could to recatholicize Bohemia. Only a year later, the Protestant Estates of Bohemia therefore took to open rebellion. The expression of this was the Defenestration of Prague on May 23, 1618.

One day later, the Bohemian Estates formed a provisional government of 30 directors. Count Heinrich Matthias von Thurn was appointed lieutenant general and was to organize the national defense. By the middle of June Thurn had gathered 4000 men and moved south towards Vienna. The Moravian estates under Cardinal Franz Seraph von Dietrichstein, the provincial governor Karl von Žerotin and Prince Karl von Liechtenstein remained strictly neutral for the time being, but also organized the national defense. All the colonels, including Wallenstein, were confirmed in their posts and instructed to recruit troops.

Wallenstein did not think much of the Bohemian uprising, his loyalty was to Ferdinand, nevertheless he kept to his charter and recruited a regiment of musketeers with 3000 men. The regiment was based in Iglau, and in December 1618 six ensigns were transferred to Olomouc.

When Ferdinand visited the Moravian Diet in August 1618 as the emperor”s deputy, Wallenstein offered him to recruit a cuirassier regiment against Bohemia at his own expense for 40,000 florins. Wallenstein had borrowed 20,000 florins and taken 20,000 from his own coffers. In the fall he traveled to Vienna, was appointed imperial commander-in-chief, and was authorized to recruit. Wallenstein was now both Moravian and imperial colonel. In March 1619, the regiment he had recruited in the Netherlands was ready to march. Shortly thereafter, Wallenstein recruited about 300 more arquebusiers and returned to Olomouc in early April. Emperor Matthias had died shortly before on March 20, 1619.

By April 20, 1619, the Moravian estates had not yet decided whether to participate in the Bohemian uprising. Several talks of Bohemian envoys with Žerotin could not change his mind to join the Bohemian side. Therefore, two days later, a Bohemian army under von Thurn crossed the Moravian border to force the Moravian estates to show their colors. The commander of the Moravian troops, Cardinal von Dietrichstein, could not be persuaded to resist decisively, so von Thurn met no resistance and was enthusiastically received by the population. By the end of April, almost all of Moravia was in his hands, and the Moravian estates planned to join the uprising at a Diet in Brno on May 2. However, Wallenstein, who was known to be loyal to the emperor, did not think of attending the Diet, despite the invitation, as he firmly expected to be arrested.

Together with the commander of the Moravian army, George Březnický of Náchod, Wallenstein tried to bring his Moravian regiment to Vienna in order to remove it from the influence of the Bohemian insurgents and unite it with the imperial army. However, von Náchod”s regiment resisted the plan and the latter had to flee. Wallenstein, too, could only prevent his regiment from mutinying by killing a chief constable. Knowing that the treasury of the Moravian estates was in Olomouc, he decided to take it with him and on April 30 forced the tax collector to hand over the money:

Wallenstein took the money and the weapons found in the Rentamt to Vienna, which he reached on May 5. In the process, he lost almost half of his regiment. The soldiers either joined the rebels or deserted. The money was handed over to the emperor, who deposited it in the Vienna Landhaus and later returned it to the Moravian estates. Wallenstein”s action caused great anger among the Moravian estates and strengthened the party that advocated an alliance with Bohemia.

Wallenstein had made it clear in no uncertain terms that he was on Ferdinand”s side. Whether he was in breach of his oath to the Moravian estates by withdrawing his regiment and had committed treason was later hotly debated. According to Hellmut Diwald, the Moravian estates did have the right to recruit and maintain their own troops. However, this did not include the right to make alliances against the sovereign and to use these troops against him, since the estates” right had to be confirmed by the king. Thus, if a soldier was ordered to go to war against his sovereign lord, he could find himself released from his oath to the estates. This is exactly what Wallenstein did.

Wallenstein was expelled from the country forever by the Moravian Estates on May 11, 1619. He lost all his goods and other possessions in Moravia. From now on he was no longer a rich magnate, but a supposedly penniless mercenary in imperial service.

At the beginning of May 1619 Wallenstein went to meet his regiment recruited in Flanders and met it in Passau. The regiment under Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lamotte (von Frintropp) with 1300 cuirassiers was immediately sent on by him to Southern Bohemia, where the imperial General Charles de Bucquoy was urgently waiting for reinforcements. Together with other troops he had an army of about 6500 men at his disposal.

On June 10, 1619, a battle took place near the village of Záblat (see Battle of Sablat) against the troops of Count Ernst of Mansfeld, a mercenary leader in Bohemian service, who was to crush Bucquoy”s troops. Wallenstein led his cuirassiers into battle himself and succeeded in completely wearing down Mansfeld”s troops. Mansfeld had to flee headlong. The imperial troops captured gold worth about 100,000 florins and 300 wagons of provisions. This battle represented the turning point in the Bohemian War, even though most of the Bohemian troops under von Thurn were in Moravia and still threatening Vienna. For on May 31 von Thurn had crossed the Austrian border and on June 5 was standing in the eastern suburbs of Vienna. After a few days, however, he had to withdraw, as he did not have the artillery necessary to besiege Vienna and the city had not opened its gates to him as he had hoped. The Theatrum Europaeum summed up the battle as follows:

In order to protect themselves against the expected invasion of the imperial troops, the estates of the Bohemian crown lands concluded a protective alliance with the Bohemian Confederation. Subsequently, Ferdinand II was declared deprived of the throne by the General Diet of all Bohemian lands. On August 16, the estates of Upper and Lower Austria also joined the anti-Habsburg alliance. The Archbishop and Elector of Cologne, the Wittelsbach Ferdinand of Bavaria, made an almost prophetic comment on the events in Bohemia:

The estates of the Bohemian lands now proceeded to the joint election of a new king in accordance with the rules of the Confederation. On August 26, the Transylvanian prince Gábor Bethlen invaded Habsburg Upper Hungary with his army as arranged, and on the same day Elector Frederick V of the Palatinate, a Calvinist, was elected King of Bohemia with the votes of all the countries united in the Bohemian Confederation. However, Frederick was unable to prevent the election of Ferdinand II as emperor two days later in view of the Catholic majority in the electoral body. The votes of the Protestant electors from Saxony and Brandenburg also went to the Habsburg, and even Frederick V joined this majority at the end in order to achieve unanimity in the election of the emperor. On the very day of the election in Frankfurt, however, news arrived from Prague that Frederick V had been elected King of Bohemia.

Gabor Bethlen managed to conquer the territories north of the Danube within six weeks. On October 14, 1619, he took Bratislava and came within 30 km of Vienna. The Bohemian rebels were greatly relieved by the Transylvanian attacks during this autumn, but did nothing to improve their ramshackle, poorly paid and equipped army.

To protect Vienna, Bucquoy had to abandon the plan to attack Prague. He left for the south on September 19, 1619. The army still contained Wallenstein and his regiment of horsemen. Already at the beginning of August, Wallenstein had begun further recruiting in the Spanish Netherlands, 700 cuirassiers and arquebusiers. It is unclear where Wallenstein got the money he needed for the recruitments. In any case, Ferdinand”s debt to him already amounted to more than 80,000 Rhenish florins at this point.

On October 24, the imperial army, about 20,000 men, and the combined Bohemian-Moravian-Transylvanian army, about 35,000 men, met. Bucquoy decided to take his troops back across the Danube to Vienna. In the process, Wallenstein and his cuirassiers succeeded in securing the passage of the army and the huge troop against Gabor Bethlen”s fierce attacks, and then demolished the bridge. Vienna was secured for the time being. Bethlen and von Thurn finally retreated only when the Polish king and brother-in-law of Ferdinand, Sigismund III, sent help.

In early January 1620, Wallenstein was again authorized to recruit new troops in the Spanish Netherlands. Wallenstein also had to pay for the recruitment out of his own pocket, again about 80,000 florins. The recruited double regiment of cavalry, 1500 cuirassiers and 500 arquebusiers, arrived at the imperial army already in February. After several battles with Bohemian troops, in which Wallenstein and his regiments were also involved, Wallenstein became bedridden in July 1620. The illness, which was to plague him in later years, began to become increasingly severe. Wallenstein noted about this illness on Kepler”s horoscope:

At the same time, on July 23, 1620, Maximilian I crossed the border from Bavaria to Austria with 25,000 men of the army of the Catholic League to first subdue the Protestant estates of the Emperor”s hereditary lands. After defeating them at Linz, Maximilian united with the imperial army and crossed the Bohemian border on September 26. Shortly thereafter, on October 5, John George, the Elector of Saxony, invaded Bohemia from the north. At Rokitzan, Maximilian encountered Frederick”s motley army of about 15,000 men, poorly paid, inadequately equipped, and on the verge of mutiny. After a series of inconsequential skirmishes, Frederick withdrew his army toward Prague on November 5, with the imperial troops following. On the evening of November 7, Frederick”s army stopped just a few miles from Prague and took up position on the summit of White Mountain. On the morning of November 8, it was devastatingly defeated there in the Battle of White Mountain.

Wallenstein was ordered to occupy northwestern Bohemia with a special division. His own regiments remained with the main force under de la Motte and Torquato Conti. After the occupation of Laun, all the towns of north and northwest Bohemia followed, such as Schlan, Leitmeritz, Aussig, Brüx, Komotau and Kaaden. All towns had to swear an oath of allegiance to the emperor. Wallenstein established his headquarters in Laun. Freshly recruited mercenaries formed the garrison of the towns, as Wallenstein”s own troops would not have been sufficient for this. Contributions were imposed on the towns for the recruitment of the troops. In December 1620 Wallenstein moved his headquarters to Prague. In fact, he was the military commander of northern Bohemia.

The provincial administrator and governor in Bohemia was Charles of Liechtenstein. Wallenstein also remained subordinate to General Charles Bonaventure de Longueval-Bucquoy and recruited new regiments for the imperial army. In early 1621, Wallenstein was appointed a member of the Court War Council in Vienna. However, Wallenstein did not travel to Vienna, but was excused and remained in Prague. In the first half of 1621 his powers were constantly extended so that practically no decisions could be taken without him.

As an immediate measure against the defeated rebels, the escaped directors were outlawed and their properties confiscated. But many of those involved in the rebellion did not flee, expecting lenient punishments. Ferdinand, however, made an example of them. 45 Protestant nobles were put on trial. For rebellion, breach of the peace and insulting the imperial majesty, 27 of them were sentenced to death, 18 to prison and corporal punishment. The properties of the accused were confiscated and handed over to the imperial property administration. On May 16 Ferdinand confirmed the sentence, and on June 21 the execution was carried out in front of the Old Town Hall in a spectacle lasting four and a half hours. Wallenstein attended the execution, and his soldiers secured the execution site and the city to prevent unrest. The heads of twelve executed men and the right hand of Count Joachim Andreas von Schlick, one of the most important leaders of the uprising, were nailed to the Old Town tower of Charles Bridge, where they remained for ten years as a deterrent.

In addition to the main defendants, however, the other rebels in Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia, Upper Austria and Lower Austria were also completely or partially expropriated. All those who took part in the defenestration, in the deselection of Ferdinand, in the election of Frederick and in the campaign of the Bohemian troops to Vienna were considered rebels. The papal nuncio Carlo Carafa estimated the value of the confiscated goods at 40 million florins. However, Cardinal Carafa also noted:

The main reason for this was that the imperial property administration sold the estates too hastily or mortgaged them below value. Some of the estates were given away as rewards for loyal service, such as to the army commanders Bucquoy, Huerta Freiherr von Welhartitz, Baltazar de Marradas and to the Archbishop of Prague and the Jesuits.

In exchange for a new loan of 85,000 florins, Ferdinand signed over to Wallenstein the manors of Friedland and Reichenberg as a pledge. The document bears the date of the execution on the Old Town Square. Whether this was a coincidence or a perfidious intention remains to be seen. Until that day Ferdinand had debts to Wallenstein for publicity and war costs amounting to 195,000 florins. In return, Wallenstein was given the estates of Jitschin, Bohemian Aicha, Groß Skal, Semil and Horitz as a pledge.

Prague Coin Consortium

From June to August 1621, Wallenstein operated in Moravia with a small contingent of troops, probably no more than one regiment, in order to prevent the Margrave of Jägerndorf from uniting with Gábor Bethlen”s troops. However, this did not succeed. At the end of July the two armies united at Tyrnau, Wallenstein retreated to Hungarian Hradish and recruited new troops. In a skirmish with Bethlen, General Bucquoy had fallen shortly before, and Wallenstein was thus de facto commander-in-chief in Moravia.

Wallenstein considered the main problem to be the provision of food and supplies for the troops. He conferred about this with the counter-Reformation Cardinal Franz Seraph von Dietrichstein, who did not agree with Wallenstein”s ideas. The minutes of the conversation contain the earliest evidence of Wallenstein”s system of tribute, with which he introduced a socio-economic component into warfare in addition to a military one. Dietrichstein wanted to draw most of the maintenance of the troops from Bohemia and understandably spare Moravia; Wallenstein, however, saw this as illusory. Wallenstein argued in a letter to the cardinal as follows:

The looting would inevitably ruin the already devastated country for good and completely undermine the discipline of the troops. A defeat of the imperial army was thus foreseeable. In this respect, all the Austrian hereditary lands would have to be called upon to pay the troops. In the time before standing armies, desertion was not uncommon -.

Wallenstein managed to expand the imperial army to 18,000 men by October 1621. The united army under Gábor Bethlen, on the other hand, had about 30,000 men. Gábor Bethlen was able to conquer some Moravian towns during this period, but Wallenstein, through clever tactics, managed to prevent Bethlen from advancing on Vienna without fighting a battle and losing soldiers. At the end of December, a peace treaty was reached with the Transylvanian. Wallenstein, in view of his successful actions, was appointed Obrist of Prague. On January 18, 1622, Ferdinand appointed Prince of Liechtenstein as the civil governor of Bohemia with unlimited powers, with the rank of viceroy, and Wallenstein as the military gubernator of the Kingdom of Bohemia.

On the same day, a document that initially attracted little attention was signed. It is the contract on the establishment of a large-scale coin consortium. The contracting parties were, on the one hand, the Imperial Court Chamber in Vienna, responsible for all financial matters of the court, and, on the other hand, the Prague banker of Dutch origin Hans de Witte as the representative and chief executive of the consortium. The other participants were not listed by name in the document, but were mentioned in other documents. In addition to de Witte, they included the imperial court banker Jacob Bassevi von Treuenberg, Prince Karl von Liechtenstein as the initiator, the secretary of the Bohemian Chamber Paul Michna von Vacínov and Wallenstein. The consortium was leased the right to mint coins in Bohemia, Moravia and Lower Austria for a period of one year against the payment of six million florins, starting from February 1, 1622, which was one of the high points of the Kipper and Wipper periods.

Already during the reign of the “Winter King” the silver content of the coins had been reduced in order to obtain money for financing the war – the so-called “coin debasement” stretched the precious metal reserves of the mints. This continued on the opposite side after the emperor”s victory. Liechtenstein greatly increased silver production and, with Bassevi, had silver quarry melted down in order to be able to mint a larger quantity of silver coins, a practice that was extended to the maximum with the Mint Consortium. Silver merchants Bassevis and de Wittes traveled throughout Central Europe to buy full-value silver from the populace on a large scale in exchange for silver coinage stretched with copper. The increased money supply triggered galloping inflation, so it did not solve the emperor”s money problems, especially since there was little understanding of how inflation occurs and what effect it has on a country”s economy. Later, Liechtenstein also began to reduce the amount of silver per coin, while increasing the nominal values. These coins were called “long coins”. The profit opportunity for the treasury lay in the fact that the price of silver did not increase as fast as the coins could be degraded. In return for the lease of the minting rights, the emperor received weekly guaranteed payments from the consortium. The money was urgently needed for the continuation of the war in the Empire. From now on, the tipping and bobbing of the tipple and wipper was, as it were, run by the state and financed the war.

The lease agreement contained detailed stipulations without which the project would not have worked. Circulation and export of foreign coins was prohibited under threat of severe penalties. Old high-value coins had to be delivered to the consortium at a fixed price. The Consortium was given a monopoly on the purchase of silver, whether from mines or broken silver, at fixed prices. For each mark of silver (approx. 230 g), 79 guilders were to be minted. Originally, 19 guilders had been struck per mark. Members were paid with “long coins” from their own production. But according to the actual power relations and the social status of the depositor, a mark of deposited silver was not worth the same. Thus Wallenstein received 123 florins each for his 5000 marks of silver consigned, but Prince Liechtenstein received 569 florins per mark. By far the largest part of the silver was delivered by the Calvinist banker Hans de Witte with 402,652 marks, for which he received only 78 guilders per mark. Wallenstein was thus not the driving force behind the coinage consortium, but he was able to establish many business contacts that were important for later times and also profited from inflation. A total of 42 million guilders were minted, 30 million of which were spent in the first two months, which effectively meant ruin for economies already shattered by the war.

After one year, a currency reform took place. According to Golo Mann, this shows how much the fine of the guilder had secretly deteriorated during the time of the consortium. This became necessary because the weekly payments were no longer sufficient for the treasury, which demanded more bonds from de Witte. In addition, the price of silver ran ahead of inflation and ended up being 85 guilders per mark and more. If one adds the costs and the profits, one can guess how many guilders per mark had to be minted.

After a year, Emperor Ferdinand II took over the coinage again. From the summer of 1623, florins were issued with the old fineness, as the new florins had almost no value, were not accepted by merchants and craftsmen despite the threat of the death penalty, and had led to mutinies among the mercenaries, whose wages were effectively worth nothing. Moreover, the Bohemian population suffered from hunger because of it. The “long coins” were to be exchanged for the new old guilder at the rate of 8:1. The consortium”s aftermath lasted for more than 40 years. For example, there were fierce disputes about whether loans taken out with the inflation money had to be repaid in full with the new guilder.

Golo Mann estimates Wallenstein”s profit at a total of 20,000 florins. Thus, membership in the consortium is not the source of Wallenstein”s vast wealth. Rather, his new acquaintance with one of the emperor”s most important bankers Hans de Witte and further borrowings may have enabled him to buy what would make him a sovereign, a prince: large estates, which were available for sale in large quantities far below value due to the confiscations of the estates of the Protestant Bohemian estates starting in the fall of 1622 as well as due to the resulting inflation. A long-time opponent of Wallenstein at the Viennese and Prague courts, his cousin Wilhelm Slavata, wrote a 42-point indictment against him as early as 1624, which dealt with the speculation surrounding the currency reform.

Duke of Friedland

Initially, the imperial administration tried to manage the confiscated estates itself and let the profits flow into the imperial coffers. However, it was not possible to collect enough money in this way. Therefore, from the autumn of 1622, Ferdinand II decided to sell the estates. Wallenstein then made an offer to buy the manor of Friedland, which had already been leased to him and to which he had been granted a right of first refusal. Karl von Liechtenstein lobbied the Emperor to allow Wallenstein to acquire the manor. The court chamber sold the dominions of Friedland and Reichenberg to Wallenstein as a perpetual hereditary fief and eventually fideicommiss. Wallenstein was allowed to add Friedland to his name.

Wallenstein paid a small price for the dominions, especially since the money was to be paid in “long coin”. The demanded sum was fixed by the court chamber and paid by Wallenstein. The reason for the low price was that the emperor was still in great need of money. For the participation of Saxony and Bavaria in the Bohemian War alone, Ferdinand II had incurred debts amounting to almost 20 million guldens. had accumulated debts of almost 20 million guilders. In addition, the number of financially strong interested parties was very small compared to the amount of land available and thus the price that could be obtained. In addition, the imperial government was fighting against the price increases resulting from the self-triggered inflation and thus adhered to the fiction of the equivalence of old and “long” florins with regard to the amount demanded.

It should be noted that Wallenstein soberly seized the opportunity to acquire a sovereignty in Bohemia. By 1623, he had sold most of his Moravian holdings, and in 1625, the rest. He now bought and sold numerous estates in Bohemia, partly to profit from price differences, partly to assemble a rounded territory for himself. After a few years he possessed a closed dominion, the Duchy of Friedland, which with about 9000 km² between Friedland in the north and Neuenburg an der Elbe in the south, between Melnik in the west and Arnau in the east, comprised almost one fifth of the Kingdom of Bohemia. By the end of 1624, Wallenstein is said to have acquired estates worth 4.6 million. However, he sold a considerable part of these estates again after a short time, and with considerable profits. What remains, therefore, is a sum of around 1.86 million florins, for which he acquired land in Bohemia.

Wallenstein thus built up a closed large territory in northeastern Bohemia. To this end, he worked closely with Karl von Liechtenstein, who determined the value of the estates of expropriated Bohemian nobles together with the Court Chamber. Thus, Wallenstein benefited from inflation through the Coin Consortium in his acquisitions. In addition, he received the title “Hoch- und Wohlgeboren” and the dignity of Court Palatine with the corresponding rights and privileges. The Emperor finally appointed him hereditary Imperial Prince of Friedland and also justified this with Wallenstein”s services in the suppression of the Bohemian uprising. Wallenstein began to develop Gitschin into his residence in 1623 by the Italian architects Andrea Spezza, Niccoló Sebregondi and Giovanni Pieroni. Wallenstein deliberately took care of catholization of the country. He settled Jesuits and Carthusians and planned to establish a bishop”s see – which would have secured him considerable power status even within the church.

Wallenstein established his rule in Friedland by setting up a tight administrative structure and developed the economic enterprises of the country, most of which belonged to him, into an efficient and lucrative supply production for the goods needs of his troops. In 1628, he issued an economic order, established customs stations on the borders, built roads, and standardized weights and measures, brought in specialists from abroad, and encouraged Jewish merchants. In the spirit of baroque mercantilism, he promoted the economy in order to strengthen his tax revenues in the long term through population growth.

Isabella Duchess of Friedland, née Countess Harrach

The new Bohemian landowner married again on June 9, 1623. For his second wife he chose the 22-year-old Isabella Katharina, a daughter of the Imperial Count Karl von Harrach zu Rohrau, Baron zu Prugg und Pürrhenstein, who was an imperial minister, advisor and member of the Court War Council. This marriage opened all doors at court for Wallenstein. Besides the political reasons for the marriage, there must have been something like love and affection for Wallenstein on Isabella”s part, which Wallenstein probably did not leave unrequited. This is evidenced by her numerous letters to Wallenstein, in which she expresses longing and joy for a future reunion with Wallenstein, and genuine sympathy is evident when illness again confined him to bed or caused him pain in his legs.

They had a daughter, Maria Elisabeth (1626-1662), who married Rudolf Freiherr von Kaunitz in 1645, and a son Albrecht Carl, born prematurely in November 1627 and soon deceased. After Wallenstein”s death, Isabella was allowed to keep only the Nový Zámek castle and the Bohemian Leipa dominion.

Continuation of the war

Actually, the war could have ended in 1622 or 1623: The Bohemian rebels had been defeated, the war contractor von Mansfeld had been defeated by Tilly at the Battle of Wimpfen, and Christian von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel, called the Great Halberstadt, had lost the Battle of Höchst in 1622 and then the Battle of Stadtlohn at the end of July 1623. The Palatinate had been occupied by Spain and Bavaria since late 1622. The war would have ended provided only a few additional conditions had been met. For example, Frederick V would have had to submit to Ferdinand, and one of the most important motives for continuing the war would have been eliminated. Likewise, Maximilian I of Bavaria”s grip on the Palatine electorship, which was granted to him by Ferdinand on February 23, 1623, was a welcome reason for the Protestant party to continue the war.

Already on June 3, 1623, Ferdinand II. Wallenstein as a general guard and General Caraffa as the commander-in-chief of the imperial army. Most of the Bohemian regiments were in the Empire with the troops of the Catholic League of General Tilly, when at the end of August 1623 Gabor Bethlen invaded Upper Hungary again with 50,000 men. Just 7500 to 9000 poorly supplied and equipped soldiers could be brought against him on the part of the emperor. Before that, the court war council did not consider it necessary to recruit new troops.

Wallenstein, on the other hand, immediately began recruiting troops on his own and buying equipment and weapons for them after learning of Bethlen”s attack. The emperor gratefully acknowledged his commander”s initiative in Bohemia. In view of the threat posed by the Transylvanian, all other matters would have to take a back seat anyway. A regiment under Collalto was hastily ordered from the empire back to Bohemia.

A few days later, on September 3, 1623, Wallenstein was elevated by Ferdinand to the longed-for rank of Imperial Prince. It is not known whether the elevation was directly related to the troop recruitment. From now on he was allowed to put Von Gottes Gnaden in front of his name and he was addressed as Euer Liebden or Euer Fürstlichen Gnaden. The old princes of the empire, especially the electors, were annoyed by this elevation of status and partly refused the salutations due to the prince. Wallenstein, sensitive in such matters, then complained that he was not paid the respect due to him. The elevation also aroused envy and anger among his former peers, such as his cousin Adam von Waldstein. Wallenstein chose as his motto: Invita Invidia (Defy Envy).

In September, the small army under Caraffa moved from Bohemia towards Bratislava to protect Vienna. However, due to repeated attacks by Bethlen”s light cavalry, it did not get further than Goeding on the right bank of the Morava River. On October 28 it was decided that Wallenstein should entrench himself with the foot troops in Göding and Caraffa together with Marradas should move on with the cavalry to Kremsier. The positions of Göding were conveniently located, but the supply situation remained terrible. The whole area was already devastated by Bethlen”s troops and without food, so that supplies from the countryside were hardly possible. In Wallenstein”s opinion, Goeding could hold the excellent position for only eight to ten days before hunger would drive him away. In a letter to his father-in-law, Wallenstein wrote that the promised 6000 men from Poland had to arrive without fail.

The Polish troops, however, did not join Göding – probably the train alone would have been enough to stabilize the situation. By October 30, Göding was completely surrounded by 40,000 men. However, Bethlen had no artillery, so he tried to starve out Göding. However, since Gabor Bethlen”s troops were just as starving and the hoped-for breakthrough of the troops under Christian von Anhalt to Bohemia and Moravia did not happen due to the defeat against Tilly, an armistice was concluded with the emperor on November 19, 1623. So the emperor had been lucky in Goeding, because the Wallenstein troops had only food for a few days and almost no ammunition left.

In the urgent letters that Wallenstein wrote to Harrach, the court war councilor, during the siege, Wallenstein analyzed the consequences of further delays on the part of the court and gave detailed suggestions for the strength, armament and deployment positions of newly recruited troops. He always urged haste and scolded all liars who painted the situation rosier than it actually was. However, he never lost sight of the sufferings of his soldiers and also described them in the letters to the court war council in order to show the achievements of his soldiers even outside the battles. Diwald judges Wallenstein to have shown an extraordinary strategic overview during this period and to have been able to assess the situation clearly and soberly. Even though Wallenstein may have seen the situation more gloomy than it actually was, he hated the tendency of the imperial court to let the army fall into disrepair for financial reasons, and expressed this in a less than covert manner. This controversy runs through Schiller”s entire Wallenstein drama and clearly shows the tensions between the two antipodes.

First Generalate

See also: Wallenstein as a sovereign

In 1624, Wallenstein was able to take care of his new principality almost exclusively, and within a year he developed it into an efficient and flourishing country. From his seat in Prague, Wallenstein developed an almost hectic zeal to advance the planned projects in his dominion, such as the foundation of a Jesuit college, a school, a university, and even a bishopric. Wallenstein initiated an enormous building activity, reorganized the state administration and the cameralistic affairs, improved the administration of justice and gave the principality a new state constitution. He was interested in every little detail of his country. As governor in Friedland, Wallenstein had appointed Gerhard von Taxis, an officer of the imperial troops whom he had known since 1600 and valued for his organizational skills. On March 12, 1624, Ferdinand elevated Wallenstein”s possessions to the rank of an independent principality and hereditary fief, so the title was now tied to the principality and no longer solely to the person of Wallenstein.

Meanwhile, a new threat to the emperor and the League had arisen in the north of the empire. In the course of 1624, a great coalition of France, England, Denmark and the States General was formed, ostensibly to restore the German princes to their ancient rights against the Emperor. However, the coalition was mainly directed against Spain and the Habsburgs. In addition, King Christian IV of Denmark wanted to obtain for his son Frederick the administration of the bishoprics of Münster and Halberstadt. Since Christian, as Duke of Holstein, also held imperial status and was a member of the Lower Saxony Imperial County, he had himself elected to the vacant post of county chief in the spring of 1625. At Christian”s insistence, the county council decided to recruit its own troops to strengthen the general defense capability, despite the peace in the empire. This allowed the Danish troops to be issued as the county army and to march into the imperial county. In mid-June 1625, Christian”s troops crossed the Elbe River and, in July, the Weser River at Hameln, thus marching into non-circular territory. Near Höxter, Christian encountered troops of Tilly, who had moved to meet the Danish king from his headquarters in Hersfeld. At the same time, Ernst von Mansfeld, this time in English service, moved in from the Netherlands with 5000 men. Thus, after a brief respite, the war continued as a pan-European conflict. It is significant that France supported the Protestants in order to weaken its neighbor Germany – even though half of the country was Catholic.

Throughout 1624 and the first half of 1625, the emperor had had to drastically reduce the number of his regiments due to financial constraints. The few existing regiments had far fewer men than their target strength indicated. Therefore, the Bavarian duke appealed to the emperor to conduct new recruitments and at least make the existing regiments fit for battle again. For lack of money, however, Ferdinand rejected the request. In February 1625, the armaments of the imperial court had reached a low point. In this situation, Wallenstein appeared at the Viennese court in January 1625 and made the emperor an offer to raise an army of 20,000 men, 15,000 on foot and 5,000 on horseback, within the shortest possible time, without delay and at his own expense. To the incredulous question whether he would be able to maintain 20,000 men, Wallenstein replied: 20,000 not, but 50,000.

After months of negotiations in Vienna, Ferdinand II had a decree of appointment issued for Wallenstein on April 7, 1625. In this decree, Wallenstein was appointed leader and head of all imperial troops in the empire, but without the right to raise this army. After further negotiations and discussions with the still hesitant Court War Council, especially with its president Count Rambold Collalto, Wallenstein received the directives for the conduct of the war on June 13. These were politically significant in that Ferdinand had conceded to the Bavarian Elector Maximilian, the leader of the Catholic League, in the treaty of 1619 that an imperial army would only assist the League army. But the powers Wallenstein received and his elevation to Duke of Friedland on the same day contradicted the spirit of that treaty, for Wallenstein was thus elevated above all the Ligist generals. And if one disregards Maximilian”s title of elector, Wallenstein also stood in almost equal rank with the latter. A subordination of Wallenstein to the ligist leadership was thus practically impossible. Friedrich Schiller in his historical work History of the 30 Years War about the period from January to June 1625:

From that moment on, Wallenstein increased the pace of armaments, which he had already begun before his official appointment, to the utmost. On June 27, the emperor signed the decree that Wallenstein should raise an army of 24,000 men. In it, the emperor emphasized that the weapons had been put into his hands by his opponents. He was only bringing them to the

Wallenstein was expressly ordered to spare the Protestant estates, which continued to be loyal to the emperor. Any impression that religion was the reason for taking up arms was to be avoided, as before. Against the stiff-necked enemies, however, military means were to be given their due. Furthermore, strict discipline was to be maintained among the soldiers, since otherwise war would be nothing more than brigandage. Wallenstein was also advised to seek the good advice of the ligist general Tilly, if Wallenstein felt that this would be advantageous and to the benefit of the emperor. Wallenstein thus received virtual carte blanche to wage war on his own, independent of the League. However, Ferdinand did this less for Wallenstein”s sake than for the emperor”s authority and freedom of decision in the empire – that is, to have a counterweight to the Catholic League.

Wallenstein certainly had the financial means to raise such an army. Nevertheless, the question arose of how this army, especially when it grew to 50,000 men, was to be fed and maintained and how the pay was to be paid. Wallenstein advanced funds for advertising and maintenance that he could raise himself or that Hans de Witte lent him in reliance on imperial repayments. For regular maintenance, however, Wallenstein demanded a radical change in the hitherto known system of contributions as punitive payments of occupied territories: From now on, contributions were to be levied as regular war taxes on all imperial estates, including hereditary lands and imperial cities.

Due to the empty imperial coffers, his proposal was quickly accepted and laid down in the decree of June 27. However, the levies were only to be high enough to maintain the army – they were not a license for robbery and enrichment. Wallenstein was aware that his system of tribute could only work in the long run if an economic weakening of the payers was avoided and if one proceeded with consideration. It was also a prerequisite that the troop leaders, first and foremost himself, maintained strict discipline in the army and strictly forbade their mercenaries to plunder.

The first tributes were levied in the imperial hereditary lands. The imperial court chamber was responsible for this. Wallenstein, however, took care of the tributes from the empire and his own duchy. So it was not that Wallenstein exempted himself and his lands from this system.

Main article Battle of Dessau

By the end of July 1625, the recruitment of 14 new regiments was largely completed. In addition, there were five regiments in Bohemia and ten regiments scattered from Hungary to Alsace, which were also placed under Wallenstein”s supreme command. The main duties in mustering were performed by the colonel-muster-pay and quarter commissary Johann von Aldringen. Aldringen determined the muster districts and squares, mostly imperial towns that could only buy themselves out of the onerous duty by paying large sums, and ensured that a complete army of over 50,000 men was available at Eger in just four months by July 1625. In August, Wallenstein began to move into the empire with his new army. By the end of September they had reached Göttingen, and on October 13 Wallenstein met south of Hanover with Tilly, who the months before had been able to push the Danish king Christian back into the Lower Saxon imperial circle. However, Tilly failed in a siege of the town of Nienburg on the Weser, so he went to meet Wallenstein. Here it was agreed that Wallenstein would take winter quarters in the bishoprics of Magdeburg and Halberstadt and Tilly would remain in the area of Hildesheim and Brunswick. Christian”s advance to the bishoprics he wanted to win for his son was thus halted for the time being. The north of the empire, however, still remained beyond imperial control.

In the fall of 1625 and winter of 162526 negotiations were held between the Lower Saxon estates and the imperial generals, while Christian was able to increase his army to 38,000 men with English and Dutch help. After four months, Christian broke off the fruitless negotiations on March 8, 1626. Meanwhile, the theater of war remained free of major skirmishes – only individual regiments used the time to move into a strategically better position. Most of the troops, however, held out in their safe winter quarters, especially since supplies were guaranteed by imperial payments.

As early as January 1626, Wallenstein”s troops had taken up strong positions on the Middle Elbe. Two regiments under Aldringen and Collalto had moved into Anhalt and occupied Dessau and the Elbe bridge at Roßlau, which was provided with strong fortifications. Wallenstein himself remained at his headquarters in Aschersleben, directing the canvassing that had been authorized for him by the emperor to double the size of the army to 60,000 men.

After the negotiations broke down, Mansfeld began to move south with his troops in order to reach Silesia. There he wanted to unite with Gabor Bethlen, who had invaded Upper Hungary again. The troops under the Danish general Fuchss, who were supposed to support Mansfeld”s army, were defeated by Wallenstein in two mounted battles at the beginning of April, so that Fuchss had to retreat. Mansfeld, who in the meantime had occupied Burg near Magdeburg, was now without Danish support and wanted to force the crossing of the Elbe. After trying in vain for several days to capture the bridgehead held by Aldringen”s troops, he was crushingly defeated by Wallenstein”s rushed troops at the Battle of Dessau Bridge on April 25, 1626. The towns conquered by Mansfeld were occupied and partially plundered. The count”s flight ended only in Brandenburg. But Wallenstein did not follow him. Why this was omitted is unclear – one party sees an extension of the war mandate as the reason and the preservation of imperial privileges, Wallenstein, according to Golo Mann, cited the supply difficulties in Brandenburg.

The victory over Mansfeld was Wallenstein”s first militarily important success and came at a time of heightened tensions with the Viennese court. The victory temporarily consolidated the position of Wallenstein and his supporters, even though there was heavy criticism that he had not pursued Mansfeld to final destruction.

Wallenstein observed the rearmament of Mansfeld, but initially concentrated on defending against a suspected attack by the main army of the Danish king, but did not take any offensive action on his part. He justified this with a lack of rations and money for pay. The outstanding money in the amount of 100,000 florins was also the main cause of the tensions with the Viennese court. Schiller dressed this up in the pithy phrase: “And his pay must become the soldier, after that he is called!!!” (Die Piccolomini, Act 2, Scene VII) In the fall of the previous year, Wallenstein had already received most of the promised pay payments unpunctually and in insufficient amounts. In the fall and winter, Wallenstein had advanced pay from his own pocket and provided food for the troops from his duchy. Personal tensions with Collalto aggravated the situation and led to a long-lasting enmity.

In June 1626, Wallenstein agreed with Tilly that they should unite their armies and move north along the Elbe to attack Christian. But Wallenstein waited in vain for Tilly, who broke the agreement and besieged Göttingen instead. In July, the army”s financial situation became so dramatic that Wallenstein even considered resigning his command.

The news that Mansfeld intended to leave for Silesia with his recovered and newly recruited troops in order to unite with Gabor Bethlen there did not surprise Wallenstein, as he had repeatedly insisted to the Brandenburg Elector Georg Wilhelm that he should not allow the Mansfeldian troops to be regrouped. Moreover, he was well informed about Mansfeld”s intentions through his spies. Accordingly, Wallenstein reacted very quickly to the new threat to the 20,000 men under Mansfeld”s command. As late as July 13, Wallenstein was waiting for Tilly for the joint move to the north, and by July 16 he was already determined to pursue Mansfeld.

By July 21, Mansfeld had reached Silesia, and a Wallenstein Croatian cavalry corps of 6000 men arrived there shortly thereafter. Only the departure of Wallenstein”s main force, which would have been able to defeat Mansfeld, was delayed by concerns of Tilly and the Bavarian Elector. In addition, they demanded that Wallenstein leave a large part of his forces behind to support the Ligist troops. Wallenstein faced a dilemma; if he stayed in northern Germany, he exposed the hereditary lands to great danger. If, on the other hand, he hurried after Mansfeld, Christian could advance southward deep into the empire. The imperial court council did not help in the decision and shifted the entire responsibility to Wallenstein. Moreover, the court council”s demand that Wallenstein defeat Mansfeld in the empire, although the latter had long since been in Silesia, led to a fit of rage on Wallenstein”s part.

On July 27, Wallenstein decided to pursue Mansfeld, who had reached Glogau in the meantime, and set his army on the march on August 8. Shortly before, the emperor had decided to approve Mansfeld”s pursuit. With only 14,000 men, Wallenstein – he had divided his army and left troops under Duke George of Lüneburg behind – hurried toward Silesia and Hungary at a speed unprecedented for the time, crossing the Hungarian-Moravian border as early as September 6. In only 30 days his army had covered a distance of more than 800 kilometers. Wallenstein in a letter to Harrach during the march:

In the meantime, Mansfeld had also moved on towards Hungary, since Gabor was reported to be still in Transylvania with his Turkish auxiliaries and a unification of the armies in Silesia had thus become hopeless. Mansfeld saw no chance of uniting the two armies and made no attempt to do so. On September 9, Wallenstein set up camp in western Slovakia near Neuhäusel to give his tired and decimated troops a rest. On the way, 3000 of Wallenstein”s troops had died from disease, exhaustion and hunger. At the resting place, despite the promise of the court war council, there was no food and supplies for the army, so that Wallenstein feared a mutiny and angrily reported this to Vienna. In order to maintain at least the most necessary supplies for his troops, Wallenstein had all arrears collected in his own duchy and ordered 31,000 sacks of grain from his provincial governor. He also had equipment and ammunition procured at his own expense.

On September 18, Wallenstein set out again and marched towards besieged Neograd, whereupon the besiegers immediately retreated. On September 30, the Wallensteinian and Transylvanian armies met. Bethlen immediately offered a truce and secretly withdrew the following night without engaging in a battle with Wallenstein.

On the advice of his war council, Wallenstein did not pursue Gabor Bethlen”s army, but returned to the camp near Neuhäusel. In the following weeks, both sides contented themselves with troop movements, occupations and sieges of fortified places, without a decisive battle taking place. Meanwhile, the supply situation became more and more dramatic. Wallenstein”s army fed on unripe crops for lack of bread, leading to a dysentery-like epidemic. For Wallenstein, his original view that a Hungarian campaign was nonsensical as long as the emperor”s power in the empire had not been decisively consolidated was confirmed.

Mansfeld, who could no longer intervene decisively and had also lost a large part of his men to hunger and exhaustion, left the remnants of his troops to Gabor Bethlen in exchange for a settlement and tried to make his way to Venice to recruit new troops there. On November 5, 1626, the exhausted, emaciated and sick count set out from Gran with a small unit of soldiers and died on November 30 near Sarajevo. According to legend, Mansfeld died standing up, leaning on his sword and held under the armpits by his companions.

On December 20, 1626, Gabor Bethlen and the emperor concluded the Peace of Bratislava. A day earlier, the imperial army had left for winter quarters. By then, the condition of the army had worsened. And further on the imperial court and the Hungarian authorities proved their inability to provide for the army. On the way to the quarters, another 2000 soldiers died of exhaustion or froze to death. In the weeks leading up to the peace treaty, Wallenstein”s relations with the court rapidly deteriorated and he bitterly summed up the campaign:

It had become clear to Wallenstein during this strange campaign to Hungary that cooperation with the court war council was not a sufficient basis for efficient warfare. It is true that he had previously tried to ignore the speeches and chatter at the Viennese court, since this would happen to anyone commanding an imperial army. Nevertheless, he was determined to resign his command.

His father-in-law Harrach tried to appease Wallenstein and asked him to postpone the decision until a verbal discussion. This took place on November 25 and 26, 1626 in Bruck an der Leitha at Harrach”s Prugg Castle. Harrach was accompanied to Bruck by Prince Eggenberg. The parleys between Wallenstein and the court councillors took place in a situation when the imperial power in the empire was almost at its peak. The troops provided by Wallenstein for Tilly had played a decisive role in inflicting an important defeat on the Danish king at the Battle of Lutter on August 27, 1626. And in the southeast, Mansfeld”s army had been scattered. Its leader was dead and the Transylvanian prince had been forced to retreat.

No official document exists from the conference that records the points discussed. A report in Italian, which was later also published in German, was written anonymously and intended for Elector Maximilian of Bavaria. Golo Mann and Hellmut Diwald assume that the author must have come from the immediate environment of Harrach, Eggenberg or the Viennese court. Moriz Ritter and later Golo Mann think they can identify Harrach”s secretary, the Capuchin Valerian von Magnis, as the author. This report made the Elector and the Catholic League seethe, since apparently only those agreements were mentioned that had to make Wallenstein appear as an enemy of the League and the imperial princes. Thus, according to the report, the war was to be kept away from the imperial hereditary lands. In the empire, however, such a large army was to be placed that it would be the terror of all Europe. The Catholic countries were also to be called upon to pay tribute, or at least to provide quarters. The report describes the task of Wallenstein”s army as a purely defensive army, which was only to oppress the imperial estates and deprive them of any desire for war by harassing them. Maximilian found his worst fears about Wallenstein confirmed. At a league meeting on February 21, 1627, this report was the main item on the agenda, and the participants drafted a note of protest to the emperor. Since then, the declared goal of the assembled princes was to depose Wallenstein and disarm his army or unite it with the League one.

However, the negotiations primarily revolved around the conditions under which Wallenstein was willing to maintain his command. Some of the verbal agreements were not put in writing by the emperor until April 1628, even though Wallenstein had already been exercising the rights in question since the conference. The following points were agreed upon:

The last point of the agreement was Wallenstein”s greatest success in the negotiations, since he had been strongly opposed by the imperial estates, especially with regard to the size of his army, that he had already increased the army beyond the actual necessity and only wanted to suppress German liberality. Furthermore, Wallenstein presented his war aims for the year 1627. According to them, Silesia was to be liberated and the war was to be shifted to the north in order to expel the Danish king. Furthermore, Wallenstein succeeded in gaining additional rights in the appointment of his officers.

After the defeat at the Battle of Lutter, the Danish King Christian was eager to restore his troops to a fighting strength. He was not able to do so until April 1627, when his army had grown back to 13,000 men, partly due to French and English help. Likewise, Wallenstein was also striving to restore the imperial army. He had returned to Jitschin in January 1627 with his wife Isabella and his daughter, who was born in May or early June, and organized the rebuilding of the army from there.

During this period, however, Wallenstein also had to fight the ligist protests, which reproached him for the new acquisitions approved by the emperor and accused him of wanting to deprive the electors of their precedence and power. In the spring of 1627, complaints about alleged or actual misdemeanors of the imperial troops and about the burden of the tributes began to arrive in Vienna. Wallenstein tried to appease, but had little success, especially with the Moravian estates and Maximilian of Bavaria. Wallenstein reluctantly accepted an invitation to a conference called by the emperor before the summer campaigns, but he could be satisfied with the results, since he was once again given the emperor”s approval to build up a large force.

First, Wallenstein wanted to end the Danish occupation of Silesia. In the towns there were garrisons left behind during the passage of Mansfeld, and in January they were joined by remnants of the Mansfeld army. Replenished by new acquisitions, about 14,000 men were under Danish command in Silesia. Nevertheless, by June 1627 the small army was in a hopeless position; Bethlen could no longer help, nor was the Danish king in a position to send relief; but since his troops were tied up by Tilly in the empire, the troops from Silesia did not leave either.

On June 10, 1627, with great pomp and ostentatious escort, Wallenstein arrived in Neisse, where 40,000 men of his 100,000-head army had been assembled. The campaign began on June 19. Not wishing to delay himself with long sieges, he moved in front of a town and suggested to the garrison that they surrender and leave under open escort. Only a few towns resisted against the huge superiority, so that by the end of July Silesia was liberated from the Danish troops. On August 2, the army began its march back to Neisse. The jubilation in Vienna in view of the rapid victory was greater than it had been for a long time.

On August 7, Wallenstein”s army, separated into two columns of marches, set off to the north. About 14,000 men were commanded by Wallenstein himself, ten regiments of cavalry were commanded by Field Marshal Count Schlick. Already during the campaign in Silesia, an advance detachment under Hans Georg von Arnim, a Protestant colonel who had already been in Swedish, Polish and Mansfeldian service, had left for the Mark Brandenburg. Arnim crossed the border into Mecklenburg-Güstrow on August 13 and pushed on toward Neubrandenburg. There the main Danish contingent under the Baden Margrave George Frederick had retreated, but now lay idle on the island of Poel.

Wallenstein also made rapid progress, reaching Cottbus on August 21, Perleberg on August 28, the Mecklenburg border fortress of Dömitz was taken on August 29, and on September 1 he met Tilly at his headquarters in Lauenburg on the Elbe. Tilly had also advanced far in the meantime, as the other Danish formations under the Bohemian Count Heinrich Matthias von Thurn were also strangely passive and had retreated to Holstein. A peace offer made by Tilly and Wallenstein to the Danish king on September 2 was rejected by the latter, as expected, because of the unacceptable conditions.

Even though the high marching tempo had led to great losses among Wallenstein”s foot soldiers, as in the previous year, Wallenstein”s and Tilly”s armies set off northward as early as September 6 to defeat Christian once and for all. In quick succession, Trittau, Pinneberg, Oldesloe, Segeberg, Rendsburg, Elmshorn and Itzehoe fell. After an injury to Tilly, Wallenstein assumed supreme command of both armies, which particularly angered the Bavarian elector. The armies quickly advanced into Denmark, and by October 18 all Danish troops on the mainland had been destroyed, which Wallenstein proudly reported to the emperor. Christian himself was able to escape to the island of Zealand with a few companions. The president of the court chamber at the Viennese court wrote about the breathtaking victory in only six weeks:

After the victory over the Danish king, there were hopes for a general peace in the empire. However, Wallenstein strongly warned against making unacceptable demands. Rather, he said, a just and constructive peace should be concluded, which would help Christian save face. In addition, he said, this was a unique chance to turn the existing army against the Turks and defend Austria, the empire, and indeed all of Europe against the Islamic “hereditary enemy.” Wallenstein urged the emperor to seek peace with Denmark as soon as possible. The correctness of Wallenstein”s thinking that the focus of Habsburg policy should be in the southeast was bitterly confirmed by the Turkish wars of the late 17th and early 18th centuries.

On November 19, 1627, the Emperor Ferdinand II and Wallenstein met in Brandeis near Prague to discuss further steps. Wallenstein was accorded honors that were usually reserved for the highest princes of the empire. Ferdinand even offered Wallenstein the Danish throne, which he declined. Wallenstein wrote about this to von Arnim:

The other was the Duchy of Mecklenburg, which Wallenstein was to receive as a fief in return for the money he had advanced or lent to the Emperor.

The electors sent a letter of complaint to the emperor demanding changes in the imperial army command, since Wallenstein alone was responsible for the devastation and plunder of the imperial army. In a secret report to Maximilian, which again sharply attacked Wallenstein, the latter was also accused of high treason, since he wanted to seize the imperial crown and transform the empire into an absolute monarchy.

Ferdinand answered the letter of the electors coolly and tersely that better discipline would be provided for the army. Ferdinand was still insensitive to the hateful accusations of the imperial princes against the man who had fulfilled all his hopes and wishes. Wallenstein himself referred to draconian punishments against plunderers and murderers as an expression of his will to see to discipline. He even had noble officers executed who had taken it too far, but reminded the emperor that his army could only be kept in check by punctual payment of pay, for the court chamber”s arrears had by this time risen to astronomical heights.

On February 1, 1628, Wallenstein was enfeoffed with Mecklenburg and two weeks later was elevated to General of the Oceanic and Baltic Seas and Duke of Sagan. Christian once again tried to avert the impending defeat and undertook attacks from the sea on the mainland, but lost his last troops in the attack on Wolgast.

Meanwhile, the situation around the city of Stralsund, which officially belonged to the Duchy of Pomerania but had gained a certain independence as a self-confident Hanseatic city, was coming to a head. As late as the fall of 1627, Wallenstein attempted to peacefully convince the council to recognize the imperial supremacy and to allow an imperial garrison into the city. Wallenstein was eager for an amicable settlement and did not want to touch the liberties of the city at all. This was because his goal was to persuade the northern German cities, especially those of the Hanseatic League, to be benevolently neutral toward him. Wallenstein knew that he would urgently need the financial and economic power of the North German cities in the further course of the war. Therefore, Wallenstein proceeded with relative caution towards them. Nevertheless, the council rejected Wallenstein”s request.

As a result, in the spring of 1628, Colonel von Arnim assembled troops around the city to put pressure on the population and the council. However, further compromise proposals from Wallenstein and von Arnim were rejected by the city council, so Wallenstein sent an additional 15 regiments to Stralsund in early May 1628 to force the city militarily to recognize imperial power. Von Arnim shelled the well-defended city, which was protected from the besiegers on three sides by the Baltic Sea and marshes, from mid-May. The city council now requested assistance from the Danish and Swedish kings against the imperial troops. Stralsund even concluded an alliance treaty with Sweden, which was valid for twenty years. On May 13, 1000 recruited mercenaries and 1500 men of the citizen”s guard stood against 8000 men under von Arnim. On May 28, Danish auxiliaries arrived and immediately took command in the city, repelling the first attacks of von Arnim, who wanted to conquer the city before Wallenstein appeared in front of the city with the reinforcements.

After Wallenstein, coming from Jitschin, arrived in front of the city on July 7, the more serious attempt to conquer it was made, but again it was rejected. According to the legend, Wallenstein was furious and had the walls of the city continuously bermed. And he is said to have sworn:

In fact, however, this is an invention from a later pamphlet. And the allegedly bitter siege did not take place either. There were almost continuous negotiations between Wallenstein and the council, which also accepted the surrender on July 14, but was outvoted by the burghers. After the Pomeranian Duke Bogislaw XIV assured him that Stralsund would remain loyal to the Emperor and would fulfill all of Wallenstein”s conditions, Wallenstein decided to retreat. The conquest of the city would not have outweighed the denudation of the Baltic coast and thus the almost unhindered access of Swedish and Danish troops to the empire. Three days after Christian appeared at Rügen with 100 ships and 8000 men on board, Wallenstein departed.

Late, but not too late, Wallenstein had drawn the consequences from a failed adventure. After the withdrawal, the Danish troops were exchanged for Swedish ones, and the treaty of alliance turned into the complete incorporation of the city into the Swedish kingdom. The proud Hanseatic city became a Swedish provincial town: Stralsund remained under Swedish rule until 1814.

The retreat was not a defeat, however, as the mocking and jubilant Protestant propaganda and later historiography would have us believe. Wallenstein”s decision to retreat proved to be correct a short time later, when he was able to repel Christian”s attempt to land on the island of Rügen and, on September 2, 1628, regained control of the town of Wolgast, which had been briefly captured by the Danish king. Christian was now finally defeated and retreated to Copenhagen.

Wallenstein received the Duchy of Mecklenburg in 1628, first as a pledge in compensation for his enormous private expenses for the imperial army, which was supplied and provisioned to a considerable extent from the Duchy of Friedland, then as a formal imperial fiefdom. In 1625, despite imperial warnings, the two dukes Adolf Friedrich von Schwerin and Johann Albrecht von Güstrow had joined forces with Brunswick, Pomerania, Brandenburg, the free imperial cities and Holstein under the leadership of King Christian IV of Denmark to form a defensive alliance. Although both dukes had renounced the Danish king immediately after the Battle of Lutter in 1626, they were outlawed and deposed by Emperor Ferdinand II in 1628 and replaced by Wallenstein as duke.

Wallenstein chose the newly built Güstrow Castle as his residence, had it splendidly furnished and spent a year there from July 1628; from there he reformed the state system of the country during his short term in office (1628 to 1630). Although he left the old Landständische constitution and its representation in place, he extensively reshaped the rest of the state system. For the first time in Mecklenburg”s history, he separated the judiciary from the administration (the so-called “chamber”). He established a “cabinet government” headed by himself. This consisted of a cabinet for war, imperial and domestic affairs and a government chancellery for the overall management of the government. He issued a poor relief order and introduced equal weights and measures.

Main article Peace of Lübeck

On January 24, 1629, the first preliminary talks between Danish and imperial League envoys began in Lübeck. And again there were conflicting interests between Wallenstein, the League – especially Maximilian – and the Emperor. The emperor was looking for a revenge peace with major territorial concessions from the Danish king, while Maximilian would have liked to see the imperial troops remain engaged in the north. In addition, the Swedish King Gustav Adolf, who wanted to keep Christian in the war against the emperor at all costs, and the French Cardinal Richelieu, who established first diplomatic contacts with the emperor”s war opponents, while at the same time supporting the Ligist party.

Wallenstein did not take seriously the conditions that the Viennese court hoped to impose. On the contrary, he addressed the emperor in an expert opinion on February 26, in which he explained his views on the peace agreement. According to this, Denmark was not defeated, but was still a power at sea. Christian would never agree to a peace that included the cession of Schleswig-Holstein and Jutland. Especially since he was urged from all sides to continue the war. In Vienna, Wallenstein was not understood and refused to agree to his line of negotiation.

Since the official negotiations dragged on, Wallenstein decided to hold secret negotiations with the help of mediators. Even Tilly, who initially favored much tougher peace terms, was quickly convinced by Wallenstein. It is assumed here that this was not only due to Wallenstein”s personality: Tilly and Pappenheim were initially to receive the Duchy of Brunswick, whose Duke Friedrich Ulrich had taken part in Christian”s campaign. Nothing came of it, however, because the Bavarian Elector Maximilian successfully intervened in favor of the duke against his expropriation.

On June 19, Tilly and Wallenstein signed an expert opinion in favor of Wallenstein”s plan. Copenhagen and now Vienna agreed. Wallenstein succeeded in keeping the Swedish emissaries, who wanted to prevent Christian from breaking away from the anti-Emperor coalition, away from the negotiations. In addition, a French plan to negotiate a separate peace between the League and Denmark, thus preventing a peace between Denmark and the Empire, failed. The Peace of Lübeck was concluded on May 22, deeds were exchanged on June 5, and imperial ratification of the treaty arrived in Lübeck on June 30. In essence, the peace treaty contained the following stipulations:

The Peace of Lübeck is the most moderate treaty of the Thirty Years” War. Hellmut Diwald even calls it the only statesmanlike achievement of this epoch. Wallenstein”s hopes were fulfilled: Christian became an unwavering partisan of the emperor and even intervened on his side in the war against France and Sweden in 1643. For the next year and a half, Wallenstein was a general without an enemy.

The feud with Mecklenburg had caused resentment among the long-established imperial princes, and not only among the Protestants. Ferdinand had expropriated the two dukes as breakers of the land peace and had given the duchy in fief to Wallenstein, the war entrepreneur who pre-financed the imperial army, the “upstart” and supposed destroyer of German liberty. For the electors, first and foremost Maximilian, the old fears against Wallenstein were confirmed. If he could achieve the deposition of the dukes of Mecklenburg, it was not far to the disempowerment of the electors and the other imperial princes. In their opinion, Wallenstein was already the true ruler of the empire. They were right insofar as Wallenstein, with his huge army, was the most important power factor in the empire. The Catholic imperial princes of the League, whose army until 1624 had almost single-handedly waged war against Protestant princes, even in the imperial hereditary lands of Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia and Austria, were worried about the great imperial increase in power in northern Germany. They, as well as some of Ferdinand”s advisors in Vienna, tried to portray the ambitious commander, who had few confessional ties, as unreliable for Catholic goals.

Ferdinand hoped to rely on the power of the imperial army in northern Germany when he issued the Edict of Restitution at the culmination of his rule on March 6, 1629, during the negotiations for the Peace of Lübeck, thereby also fulfilling the wishes of the Catholic partisans. In particular, all church property and bishoprics confiscated by the Protestants were to be returned to the Catholics. Wallenstein himself rejected the Edict of Restitution as politically unreasonable because it increased the danger of opposing Protestant coalitions. He angered Emperor Ferdinand and his Spanish relatives by refusing to become extensively involved in the Spanish-Dutch War and the War of the Mantuan Succession because he wanted to concentrate on the expected Swedish landing on the Baltic coast. He reluctantly sent individual regiments to Mantua and the Netherlands. The Netherlands and France feared precisely this involvement of the imperial army under Wallenstein and supported the Protestant or Catholic imperial princes and electors in their diplomatic protests against Wallenstein”s supreme command.

At the Regensburg Electors” Day in the summer of 1630, the electors (supported by a French delegation with Père Joseph) forced the emperor to dismiss Wallenstein, who had become too powerful for them, and to reduce his own troops. By this concession the emperor hoped unsuccessfully to obtain the election of his son Ferdinand as king by the electors and (also unsuccessfully) a military engagement of the Ligist army under Tilly against the Netherlands and in Mantua. The notice of deposition was delivered to Wallenstein at his war camp in the Fugger Building in the city of Memmingen on September 6, 1630. Fears in Regensburg that he might resist the dismissal by force did not materialize.

Intervention of Gustav Adolf

Main article (subsection) Gustav II Adolf (intervention in the Thirty Years” War)

But things got even worse for the emperor: in the early summer of 1630, Gustav II Adolf landed on the island of Usedom and thus actively intervened in the war. He occupied large parts of Mecklenburg in the fall of 1630, except for the fortified port cities of Rostock and Wismar. The two deposed dukes returned in triumph in his wake. Tilly, who had replaced Wallenstein in the high command of the imperial forces, marched against the Swedes as far as Neubrandenburg in January 1631. As long as he could, Wallenstein continued to receive taxes and revenues from the unoccupied parts of Mecklenburg and had them transferred to Prague.

In 1631, Gustav Adolf inflicted numerous defeats on the imperial troops. Tilly failed to draw strategic advantages from his destruction of Magdeburg in May 1631. Against the will of the Emperor and Elector Maximilian, he invaded the hitherto neutral Electoral Saxony, took Merseburg and Leipzig and thus brought about a Swedish-Saxon alliance, to which he was already defeated in the Battle of Breitenfeld on September 17, 1631, losing all his artillery. The Swedes moved on to Franconia and Bavaria via Thuringia, while the Saxons invaded Bohemia – under the command of Wallenstein”s former troop leader and confidant Arnim. In this almost hopeless situation, only Wallenstein seemed to be able to turn the tide in the Emperor”s favor. Although Wallenstein had withdrawn to his duchy of Friedland as a private citizen and kept completely out of the war since his deposition, he still showed a willingness to negotiate. He was also always well informed, as he received reports not only from imperial generals but also corresponded with leaders of the opposing side. His brother-in-law Trčka had even established contact with Gustav Adolf, partly by letter and partly through intermediaries, through the emigrant leader Thurn, in the hope of drawing Wallenstein to the Swedish side. However, since the king was on the road to victory, he was not too interested in Wallenstein; the latter was probably more concerned with reassurance about Friedland, which had been invaded by Saxon troops and their entourage of dispossessed emigrants. On behalf of the emperor, however, Wallenstein met with Arnim at Kaunitz Castle on November 30, 1631, to discuss a separate peace with Electoral Saxony.

Second Generalate

Under the pressure of the defeats of 1631, Wallenstein was urged from Vienna to take over the Generalate again. The path to the second generalate took place in two stages: On December 15, 1631, Ferdinand II appointed. Wallenstein to general capo over the imperial army with the task of raising a powerful army. The appointment was limited until the end of March 1632 and was the result of negotiations Wallenstein had conducted with the imperial minister Hans Ulrich von Eggenberg in Znojmo. Wallenstein”s indefinite appointment did not take place until the Göllersdorf Agreement, concluded on 13 April 1632 and again negotiated with Prince Eggenberg. Wallenstein was appointed generalissimo with more extensive powers: he was given unlimited command of the army, unlimited authority to appoint officers, the right to make confiscations, and decision-making power in matters of armistice and peace-making. Wallenstein”s position after the Göllersdorf agreement was contemporarily referred to as directorium absolutum. The question of how far Wallenstein was allowed to use his powers without consulting the imperial court finally gave the emperor the formal opportunity to accuse him of treason and to assassinate him.

At the beginning of his second generalate, Wallenstein”s imperial army drove the Saxon troops that had invaded northern Bohemia under the command of Hans Georg von Arnim back into Saxony.

After his new appointment, Wallenstein was confronted with the military situation that King Gustav Adolf had occupied large parts of Bavaria and, in May 1632, also Munich. As a master of defensive strategy, he decided to use his newly formed army in Bohemia to cut off the retreat routes in Bohemia and Franconia for the Swedish army, which was far to the south and would also have to be supplied in the coming winter. To this end, he first drove the Saxons allied with the Swedes out of Bohemia and began truce negotiations with them, as a result of which King Gustav Adolf lost confidence in his allies. Then Wallenstein decided to block the way of the Swedes into Franconia. For his new army, which was very well equipped and supplied, he had a huge field camp built in the west of Nuremberg for more than 50,000 lansquenets together with troops, where the army could camp for weeks. This was a strong threat to Nuremberg, which had been a close ally of King Gustav Adolf since March 31, 1632, blocking the city as a supply center for the Swedish army in Bavaria and later causing great supply difficulties in Nuremberg itself and the surrounding area. Due to the construction and effects of Wallenstein”s army camp near Nuremberg, Gustav Adolf and the Swedish army were forced to relieve and protect the allied city of Nuremberg and to move from Bavaria to the vicinity of Nuremberg as well and build a camp there. This is what happened, although it very soon became apparent to the Swedes that they were facing considerable supply difficulties and were losing thousands of horses and soldiers to hunger and disease.

From July to September 1632, Gustav Adolf”s mercenaries near Nuremberg and Wallenstein”s mercenaries faced each other directly at the ruins of the Alte Veste castle in Zirndorf, near the neighboring town of Fürth.The two-month war of position devastated the region around Nuremberg and triggered mass deaths in the city, which was overcrowded with refugees and soldiers, due to hunger and epidemics. The ridge around the Alte Veste then became the scene of a devastating battle for a few days in September 1632 between Catholic troops loyal to the emperor under Wallenstein and Swedish troops under King Gustav II Adolf (Battle of the Alte Veste):

The Swedish troops, encamped in Nuremberg, attacked the Catholic League positions in Zirndorf and the surrounding area from the east. After two days of heavy fighting and thousands of casualties on both sides, the battle was broken off by the Swedes. According to historians, Wallenstein had the upper hand in the battle, as the previously victorious Swedes could not win it and eventually surrendered. Weakened by the bloody fighting there, the Swedes abandoned the field. Thus, it now became apparent that the last battle of the Swedish king would again be fought in Saxony.

After the Swedish king Gustav Adolf moved southwest and south from Nuremberg, it was initially thought that he would try to retake Württemberg and Bavaria and winter there, so the army of the Catholic League, briefly under the command of Maximilian of Bavaria after Tilly”s death, followed it to defend Bavaria. Wallenstein refused Maximilian”s requests to order the imperial army south as well, and instead wanted to unite with the two imperial army groups under Gottfried Heinrich zu Pappenheim and Heinrich von Holk operating last on the Weser and in western Saxony (unification of the armies on November 6, 1632) to attack the Electorate of Saxony and force it to leave the alliance with Sweden, thus cutting off Swedish supply and retreat routes to the Baltic Sea.

Faster than Wallenstein expected, Gustav Adolf was forced to pursue him into Saxony to prevent this plan. Wallenstein, unaware of the proximity of the main Swedish army, split his army at Weissenfels on November 14 and sent Pappenheim”s horsemen to Halle for wintering. Afterwards, he learned from a scouting party that Gustav Adolf was surprisingly near him, whereupon he ordered Pappenheim to rejoin him as soon as possible. In fact, the Swedish king had previously camped in Naumburg in pursuit of Wallenstein and was about to advance into Saxony to support Elector Johann Georg. The Swedes had immediately recognized their chance to defeat Wallenstein”s army at Lützen, which had been weakened by Pappenheim”s withdrawal. But Wallenstein had also reacted quickly, ordered Pappenheim back and had entrenchments built.

The next day, on November 6jul. 16 November 1632greg, the battle did not begin until noon after unsuccessful Swedish attacks on the entrenchments because of fog and smoke, since Wallenstein had parts of Lützen set on fire to increase the ground fog in the Rippach valley and delay the start of the battle. Soon after the start, Pappenheim”s rapid arrival strengthened the defensively positioned imperial army on the left wing and was able to stabilize the situation, which had already become critical for Wallenstein. However, Pappenheim was mortally wounded, just as King Gustav Adolf was killed soon after, whose place as commander of the Swedish side was taken by Bernhard von Weimar. By the end of the day, both sides were exhausted, and Wallenstein, who had distinguished himself in battle on horseback despite severe gout pains, refused to make a new attack with freshly arrived troops. He abandoned the field and retreated to Bohemia.

Thus, the Swedes could claim to have won the battle. In truth, the Battle of Lützen was a propaganda victory for the emperor, as the morale of the Protestants had been greatly weakened by the death of Gustavus Adolphus. Wallenstein received congratulatory messages from Vienna and was fully accepted as generalissimo. De facto, Wallenstein had also suffered a heavy loss by the death of the loyal Pappenheim, who was much admired by both common mercenaries and officers. When Wallenstein then had 13 officers executed for cowardice and flight in the Battle of Lützen in Prague, he lost the trust of many of his officers.

In the spring of 1633, Wallenstein had the Electorate of Saxony attacked once again by Holk, but thereafter devoted himself to peace negotiations with Saxony in order to position it against the Heilbronn League of West and Southwest German Protestant princes and cities founded by the Swedish chancellor Axel Oxenstierna. During this period, from the fall of 1632 to the spring of 1634, the imperial army lay almost idle in northwestern Bohemia, which became a burden for the region. Urgent requests by Emperor Ferdinand II to return to the offensive were rejected by Wallenstein. Only once more, on October 11, 1633, did Wallenstein achieve a military success: near Steinau an der Oder there was a skirmish with a Swedish corps under Heinrich Matthias von Thurn, who laid down his arms. Thurn was taken prisoner, but after surrendering all the towns in Silesia held by the Bohemian exiles, Wallenstein released him. In Vienna, where the capture of the “arch-rebel” and military leader of the Bohemian uprising of 1618 was met with great joy, his early release once again discredited Wallenstein. The rest of the time, Wallenstein devoted to his increasingly opaque negotiations.

Wallenstein and his commander Matthias Gallas had extensive secret contacts with their opponents, the Electorate of Saxony”s army commanders Hans Georg von Arnim and – since the end of 1632 – Franz Albrecht von Sachsen-Lauenburg, to explore possibilities for a peace agreement. Both had served for a time under Wallenstein”s command at the beginning of the war. Another prominent contact on the Protestant side was Wilhelm Count Kinsky of Bohemia, who had gone to Dresden after the Battle of the White Mountain, but from there, with the permission of Ferdinand II”s authorities, commuted freely between Dresden and Prague for a long time before finally switching entirely to Wallenstein”s camp. In these secret contacts each tried to draw the other side over to his own. Wallenstein apparently tried to win the Swedes and the Saxons over to his own peace plans. Oxenstierna demanded from Wallenstein an imperial power of attorney to negotiate. When this failed to materialize, he offered him the Bohemian crown through Kinsky in May 1633, thus trying to persuade him to betray the emperor, supported by the French ambassador Manassès de Pas. Wallenstein left this offer of treason unanswered for months, which is why it is disputed whether he really intended, as he once said, to “drop the mascara” and turn against the emperor. He also left unanswered a Spanish offer to join the war against the Netherlands and appoint him Duke of West Frisia. Finally, he made an enemy of Spain and the emperor”s son Ferdinand, who was developing ambitions for the supreme command of the imperial army, when he brusquely refused requests for help for Spanish supply routes from northern Italy to the Netherlands, which were threatened on the Upper Rhine by Protestant troops under Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar and Swedish troops under Gustaf Horn. To make matters worse, he was also negotiating with Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar.

Imperial doubts about Wallenstein”s loyalty and abilities increased due to the reproaches of the Bavarian Elector Maximilian, who complained in many letters to Wallenstein and to the imperial court that Wallenstein was doing nothing to stop the Swedish advance from the Upper Rhine to Bavaria and perhaps as far as Vienna, which was becoming apparent in the course of 1633. For Wallenstein, the allegedly threatening Swedish advance to Vienna was only a secondary problem, easily solved militarily by a blockade at Passau. In November 1633, Regensburg was conquered by the Swedes. After a long period of waiting and stalling responses, Wallenstein decided too late to take relief action and, when he received news in Furth im Wald of the capture of Regensburg by the Swedes, returned to Pilsen. Wallenstein watched the ensuing second Swedish devastation of Bavaria from November to late December 1633 inactively, arguing that the League army, by now under his former sub-commander Johann von Aldringen, should take over the defense of Bavaria. He rejected requests for help from Maximilian and Emperor Ferdinand. The emperor”s patience with the generalissimo thus ended, and on December 31, 1633, a secret decision was made at the Viennese court to get rid of Wallenstein as commander-in-chief.

The question of the background and goals of this risky and passive behavior is the most controversial issue in Wallenstein research.

After his high-handed and secret peace efforts had also failed to produce any results despite months of effort, and after compromising details had become known in Vienna in the meantime, a secret court – mainly at the instigation of the Spanish Habsburgs – convicted him of treason. Wallenstein was declared deposed by the emperor, which was recorded on January 24, 1634. A successor, the emperor”s own son, later Ferdinand III, was already in place. The three Wallenstein generals, Aldringen, Gallas and Piccolomini, were briefed on the deposition and ordered to deliver the deposed generalissimo dead or alive. For a while, however, the aforementioned officers did nothing concrete, probably because Wallenstein”s following among his military officers was still too great. Wallenstein”s main supporters were Adam Erdmann Trčka of Lípa, Christian von Ilow, Wilhelm Graf Kinsky and Rittmeister Niemann.

Wallenstein himself had retreated to Pilsen in December 1633, where he learned of his deposition. Now events came to a head. On February 18, 1634, a charge of high treason was publicly posted in Prague. An address of surrender by Wallenstein”s commanders, which had already been issued at Ilow”s instigation, the so-called First Pilsen Conclusion of 12 January, a second one was issued on 19 February, originally intended as a support for Wallenstein towards the emperor, now became a reason for accelerated action for his opponents, when they realized that it could no longer be renewed in its original form, since Wallenstein had meanwhile lost the confidence of his army more and more. The first Pilsen conclusion was a pledge of loyalty “until death” of his officers to him initiated by Wallenstein by promising his resignation, the second a half-hearted relativization, which, however, could no longer defuse the suspicion of high treason against the emperor.

Wallenstein realized – very late – the imminent danger and retreated from Pilsen to Cheb on February 23, hoping for the timely arrival of the Swedes. In Cheb, first of all, Wallenstein”s closest confidants Ilow, Trčka, Kinsky and Niemann were invited by the city commander Gordon, who was privy to the murder plot, to a banquet in the dining room of the castle on the evening of February 25, where they were murdered together with three servants by a group of soldiers under the command of Captains Geraldin and Walter Deveroux. Wallenstein himself was at that time in the house of the city commander, today”s Pachelbel House at 492 Lower Market Square, where he was murdered with a partisan late in the evening of February 25 by a group of Irish or Scottish officers of the Walter Butler regiment, who were under the command of Deveroux. Wallenstein”s opponents, including the murderers, were immobilized with Wallenstein”s and Trčka”s fortune, which was quickly depleted in this way. There was no subsequent investigation.

Wallenstein”s widow and his only surviving child, his daughter Maria Elisabeth (* 1624), lost all property and titles. In spite of Isabella”s demands, it was not until years later that “out of Christian clemency” she was granted the dominions of Neuschloss and Böhmisch-Leipa, which Wallenstein had once given her. Maria Elisabeth married Rudolf Freiherr von Kaunitz (1628-1664) in 1645.

Burial ground

Until the transfer to the crypt of the monastery church Karthaus Walditz near Jitschin in northern Bohemia, which Wallenstein had donated as a burial place for his first wife, his coffin was in Mies near Eger in the Minorite monastery St. Maria-Magdalena from March 1, 1634 to May 27, 1636. The sources mention different places of burial, on the one hand the Minorite church, on the other hand the convent building. In the course of the Josephine reforms, the monastery of Karthaus was dissolved in 1782; in the same year, the Waldstein family had the remains of Albrecht and Lucretius of Waldstein transferred to their dominion of Münchengrätz, where they found their final resting place in the chapel of St. Anna.

The officers who were murdered with Wallenstein, Baron Christian von Illow and Count Adam Erdmann Trčka, as well as Count Wilhelm von Kinsky, were buried in Mies at the old cemetery near the Mourning Hill. On the other hand, Rittmeister Neumann, Trčka”s adjutant, was buried at the Galgenberg in Mies. This grave with the so-called Neumann column was still there in 1946. After that, since the expansion of the military training area, the column on Millikauer Street has disappeared.

Wallenstein as a sovereign

Already the author of the article on Wallenstein in the Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie judged as follows:

That he took his duties as a prince seriously is evidenced by the letter opposite. His representation in Prague was also princely, as can be seen below.

Wallenstein as a general

As a general, Wallenstein was a cautious man. He fought most of his battles in a defensive position of his army (Lützen). The only exception was Wolgast, where the enemy thought he was sure of victory and Wallenstein”s troops crossed the moor by storm, which the enemy thought was insurmountable. Wallenstein did not like sieges. He failed with great losses before Stralsund, ended the siege of Magdeburg in 1629 after three months, but formed the siege of Nuremberg quite successfully.

Due to his flexible and mobile warfare, Wallenstein attached particular strategic military value to the cavalry, whose numbers increased significantly under his command. Within the cavalry, especially the light cavalry experienced an upswing under his aegis, whereby he particularly valued the Croatian cavalry, whose recruitment he himself forced and which he used primarily for the Little War.

Name and nationality

The Bohemian noble family from which Wallenstein came was called z Valdštejna or Valdštejnové in Czech. Under the same name, in German “Waldstein”, it still exists today. The name derives from the Valdštejn castle, the ancestral castle of the family, which was built in the 13th century by German builders and from whom it got its name. The name was transferred to the noble family. Therefore, it does not indicate a German origin. Rather, both Wallenstein”s paternal and maternal ancestors – the Smiřický – were Czech nobles.

Wallenstein himself spoke and wrote Czech until the age of 15 and only very imperfect German. Later, however, he used the German language almost exclusively.

The well-known form of the name Wallenstein for the Duke of Friedland became established only after Friedrich Schiller and is almost exclusively his “merit”. However, Wallenstein himself occasionally signed with this form of name and even during his lifetime he was referred to as the Wallensteiner and his troops as the Wallensteins.

Chronic disease

Among the first symptoms in 1620 was joint inflammation in the feet. Wallenstein cited “podagra” as the cause, a disease whose symptoms were consistent with gout. His condition deteriorated rapidly.

In November 1629, he fell so seriously ill that he was laid up for weeks. In March 1630, he traveled to Carlsbad to seek relief. Walking was difficult for him. At the Battle of Lützen in November 1632, he mounted his horse in the most severe pain. Six months later, riding was no longer possible for him. On his flight to Eger in 1634 he had to be transported lying in the litter. His skeleton shows pathological changes that suggest syphilis in the final stage.


In addition to the nimbus of invincibility, Wallenstein was regarded in soldierly superstition as an invulnerable “frozen man”.


Shortly after Wallenstein”s assassination, several plays, poems and newspapers appeared, as well as a large number of pamphlets depicting the course of his life and death. Most of these early adaptations are completely unknown today and often also lost.

Schiller”s Wallenstein

Main article Wallenstein (Schiller)

Schiller first set a monument to Wallenstein as a historian in his extensive history of the 30 Years” War. Literarily, he concentrated on the last period of Wallenstein”s life (Pilsen and Eger) in his trilogy of dramas completed in 1799. The literary representation largely corresponds to the historical facts. Only the obligatory lovers of the drama trilogy – Ottavio Piccolomini”s fictional son Max and Wallenstein”s daughter Thekla – are an exception. Wallenstein did have a daughter Maria Elisabeth, but she was only ten years old when he died, and Piccolomini”s adopted son Joseph Silvio Max Piccolomini was only a year older.

Alfred Döblin”s expressionist novel

Main article Wallenstein (novel, Döblin)

The title of Alfred Döblin”s novel, published in 1920, is deceptive, for it does not focus on Wallenstein but on Emperor Ferdinand II, whom Döblin consistently calls Ferdinand the Other. Also, the sections of the book are often misleadingly named. For example, the first book is called Maximilian of Bavaria, although almost exclusively the emperor and his actions are described. The supposed protagonist of this part is mentioned only in passing.

At the beginning, Döblin describes the emperor according to historical facts, but enriches these descriptions with fictional elements. The description of the last period of Ferdinand”s life and death then have nothing to do with historical reality, but are entirely a result of Döblin”s artistic freedom: Ferdinand, who has already distanced himself inwardly from the outside world and especially from his position of power at an early age and is also no longer subject to the initial fascination of the commander, flees into a forest, joins a band of robbers, and is finally murdered by a feral forest man. Ferdinand”s escape into the supposedly peaceful nature is thus rejected by Döblin as an alternative to the brutal reality of war.

In the second book of the novel, Wallenstein is introduced rather marginally. Only with the events during his work within the Bohemian coin consortium does he become present. This corresponds to Döblin”s interpretation of Wallenstein in the novel as a whole. For Döblin, Wallenstein”s economic genius predominates; battles are fought only when they cannot be avoided, for Wallenstein is portrayed by Döblin primarily as a modern manager of long-term war planning. Wallenstein is indifferent to religious questions, thus forcing his partners and opponents to admit to a lie of which they were not even aware. For just like Wallenstein, they strive for power and wealth, but hide this striving behind their religious convictions and protestations of peace. Döblin”s Wallenstein has no political vision, and even less does he want to reform the empire. For him, only wealth and power count. Döblin”s judgment of Wallenstein is thus close to Marxist historiography, which sees all action as the result of economic motives.

The Biographies of Hellmut Diwald and Golo Mann

Hellmut Diwald approached the biography of Wallenstein in 1967 with the publication of Leopold von Ranke”s “Geschichte Wallensteins”, which he provided with a hundred-page introduction. Two years later, his own account of Wallenstein appeared, which was soon regarded as a new standard work (For him, Wallenstein was not a sinister man of power, but a man who used power “with the accompanying awareness of its provisionality”, no more ambitious than hundreds of his contemporaries and no more ostentatious than others, according to the judgment of Alfred Schickel).Golo Mann must have been aware of this – two years before the publication of his biography Wallenstein. His Life Told by Golo Mann – must have angered Golo Mann, “the apologetic Hellmut Diwald almost disgusted him” (Klaus-Dietmar Henke). The editor of the magazine Der Spiegel, Rudolf Augstein, judged Mann”s work to be an objective, highly subjective art of representation.

Folk festivals and festivals

In Memmingen, Wallenstein Festivals are held every four years to commemorate Wallenstein”s stay in the city in 1630. In Altdorf near Nuremberg, the Wallenstein Festival has been celebrated every three years since 1894 until today. The plays Wallenstein in Altdorf and an adaptation of Schiller”s Wallenstein trilogy are performed. In the Hanseatic city of Stralsund, the Wallenstein Days, the largest historical folk festival in northern Germany, takes place every year and commemorates the liberation of the Hanseatic city of Stralsund from Wallenstein”s siege in 1628.

Museum reception

By imperial resolution of Franz Joseph I of February 28, 1863, Wallenstein was included in the list of “the most famous war princes and generals of Austria worthy of perpetual emulation” and a life-size statue was erected in the Hall of Generals of the then newly built Imperial and Royal Court Arms Museum in Vienna. Hofwaffenmuseum, now the Heeresgeschichtliches Museum in Vienna. The statue was created in 1877 by the sculptor Ludwig Schimek (1837-1886) from Carrara marble.

A tour of the Waldstein Palace, which the general had built between 1623 and 1630 on Prague”s Lesser Town, offers an insight into the life of the generalissimo.

The Regional Museum of Cheb dedicates a permanent exhibition to Wallenstein. In addition to portraits and paintings, his stuffed horse, the room of his murder and the murder weapon, the partisan, can be seen there.

In the museum in Lützen Castle, Wallenstein is portrayed as a general in the Thirty Years” War and in the Battle of Lützen.

Overview works




  1. Wallenstein
  2. Albrecht von Wallenstein