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The Battle of White Mountain: The History and Legacy of the First Major Battle of the Thirty Years’ War

Posted By: Free butterfly
The Battle of White Mountain: The History and Legacy of the First Major Battle of the Thirty Years’ War

The Battle of White Mountain: The History and Legacy of the First Major Battle of the Thirty Years’ War by Charles River Editors
English | October 27, 2022 | ISBN: N/A | ASIN: B0BKTLX124 | 93 pages | EPUB | 1.87 Mb

It has been famously pointed out that the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy, nor Roman, but it was also not an empire in the sense people expect when hearing the term. In theory, the emperor was the highest prince in Christendom, and his dominion extended the length and breadth of Western Europe. The empire had been created by the papacy in 801 when Pope Leo III famously crowned the supposedly unwitting Charlemagne in Saint Peter’s Basilica, intending to recreate the Western Roman Empire. In truth, the imperial power did not extend beyond central Europe, which by the beginning of the 16th century included Germany, northern Italy, and the Netherlands. Even in these lands, however, the emperor struggled to command obedience. His dominion over northern Italy was theoretical only, the cities of the Netherlands were deeply conscious of their ancient rights and privileges, and Germany had long ceased to be compliant.

At the same time, the secular sovereigns frequently butted heads with religious authorities back in Rome, and arguably none of the conflicts were as crucial as the Investiture Controversy in the 11th century. The tensions between the Holy Roman Empire and Church over the power to invest bishops with authority led to decades of civil war in Germany on the way to establishing the relationship between Church and State, elevating the status of the papacy and weakening the Holy Roman Empire.

The attempt in 1588 by the Spanish Armada to subjugate the Netherlands and England by invading England was defeated, and in 1609, with both sides totally exhausted, fighting was suspended during a 12-year truce made between the new Spanish king and the Dutch Republic. However, attempts to secure a more permanent peace floundered on the question of religious freedom for Catholics in the United Provinces and for Protestants in the southern provinces. Anxious to prevent a Habsburg presence on its western frontiers, the United Provinces joined with Protestant princes and France against the Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor, Spain, and a coalition of German Catholic states. After the Treaty of Xanten was agreed to on November 12, 1614, the territories were divided between the Catholic Count Palatine of Neuberg and the Protestant Elector of Brandenburg, an arrangement that satisfied neither side and aggravated Protestant and Catholic tensions. Four years later, the whole of Germany was set aflame when Protestants in Bohemia expelled representatives of Emperor Matthias II, who had briefly been governor of the Netherlands in 1578.

The Thirty Years' War was one of the most horrific conflicts in history, resulting in the deaths of nearly two-thirds of Germany's population, and the Battle of White Mountain in 1620 was the first major battle of that war. The battle was fought mainly due to Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II’s dealings with the Bohemians and their new king, Frederick of the Palatinate, who Ferdinand regarded as illegitimate. It was also partly a struggle between the centralizing attempts of the Habsburg dynasty conflicting with the traditional regional autonomy that existed within the legislative institutions called the Estates. What gave it an emotional element was the enmity between Bohemian Protestantism and Ferdinand II’s zealous Catholicism, and that would help draw in several European powers. At the Battle of White Mountain, the armies of the Bohemian Confederation and the Habsburgs met each other near Prague, and the combatants included officers and soldiers from nearly every nation in Europe, including the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Poland, Bohemia, Moravia, Bavaria, Italy, Spain, Hungary, Transylvania, England, Scotland, and Ireland. The decisive result would permanently affect the course of the conflict over the coming decades, and with it the fate of modern Europe.

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