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Full Online Book HomeNonfictionsHistory Of The Thirty Years' War - Book 5 - Part 4
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History Of The Thirty Years' War - Book 5 - Part 4 Post by :dottystorer Category :Nonfictions Author :Frederich Schiller Date :May 2012 Read :623

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History Of The Thirty Years' War - Book 5 - Part 4

BOOK V - Part 4

The superiority of the Imperialists did not intimidate Torstensohn, who was not accustomed to number his antagonists. On the very first onset, the left wing, which Goetz, the general of the League, had entangled in a disadvantageous position among marshes and thickets, was totally routed; the general, with the greater part of his men, killed, and almost the whole ammunition of the army taken. This unfortunate commencement decided the fate of the day. The Swedes, constantly advancing, successively carried all the most commanding heights. After a bloody engagement of eight hours, a desperate attack on the part of the Imperial cavalry, and a vigorous resistance by the Swedish infantry, the latter remained in possession of the field. 2,000 Austrians were killed upon the spot, and Hatzfeldt himself, with 3,000 men, taken prisoners. Thus, on the same day, did the Emperor lose his best general and his last army.

This decisive victory at Jancowitz, at once exposed all the Austrian territory to the enemy. Ferdinand hastily fled to Vienna, to provide for its defence, and to save his family and his treasures. In a very short time, the victorious Swedes poured, like an inundation, upon Moravia and Austria. After they had subdued nearly the whole of Moravia, invested Brunn, and taken all the strongholds as far as the Danube, and carried the intrenchments at the Wolf's Bridge, near Vienna, they at last appeared in sight of that capital, while the care which they had taken to fortify their conquests, showed that their visit was not likely to be a short one. After a long and destructive circuit through every province of Germany, the stream of war had at last rolled backwards to its source, and the roar of the Swedish artillery now reminded the terrified inhabitants of those balls which, twenty-seven years before, the Bohemian rebels had fired into Vienna. The same theatre of war brought again similar actors on the scene. Torstensohn invited Ragotsky, the successor of Bethlen Gabor, to his assistance, as the Bohemian rebels had solicited that of his predecessor; Upper Hungary was already inundated by his troops, and his union with the Swedes was daily apprehended. The Elector of Saxony, driven to despair by the Swedes taking up their quarters within his territories, and abandoned by the Emperor, who, after the defeat at Jankowitz, was unable to defend himself, at length adopted the last and only expedient which remained, and concluded a truce with Sweden, which was renewed from year to year, till the general peace. The Emperor thus lost a friend, while a new enemy was appearing at his very gates, his armies dispersed, and his allies in other quarters of Germany defeated. The French army had effaced the disgrace of their defeat at Deutlingen by a brilliant campaign, and had kept the whole force of Bavaria employed upon the Rhine and in Suabia. Reinforced with fresh troops from France, which the great Turenne, already distinguished by his victories in Italy, brought to the assistance of the Duke of Enghien, they appeared on the 3rd of August, 1644, before Friburg, which Mercy had lately taken, and now covered, with his whole army strongly intrenched. But against the steady firmness of the Bavarians, all the impetuous valour of the French was exerted in vain, and after a fruitless sacrifice of 6,000 men, the Duke of Enghien was compelled to retreat. Mazarin shed tears over this great loss, which Conde, who had no feeling for anything but glory, disregarded. "A single night in Paris," said he, "gives birth to more men than this action has destroyed." The Bavarians, however, were so disabled by this murderous battle, that, far from being in a condition to relieve Austria from the menaced dangers, they were too weak even to defend the banks of the Rhine. Spires, Worms, and Manheim capitulated; the strong fortress of Philipsburg was forced to surrender by famine; and, by a timely submission, Mentz hastened to disarm the conquerors.

Austria and Moravia, however, were now freed from Torstensohn, by a similar means of deliverance, as in the beginning of the war had saved them from the Bohemians. Ragotzky, at the head of 25,000 men, had advanced into the neighbourhood of the Swedish quarters upon the Danube. But these wild undisciplined hordes, instead of seconding the operations of Torstensohn by any vigorous enterprise, only ravaged the country, and increased the distress which, even before their arrival, had begun to be felt in the Swedish camp. To extort tribute from the Emperor, and money and plunder from his subjects, was the sole object that had allured Ragotzky, or his predecessor, Bethlen Gabor, into the field; and both departed as soon as they had gained their end. To get rid of him, Ferdinand granted the barbarian whatever he asked, and, by a small sacrifice, freed his states of this formidable enemy.

In the mean time, the main body of the Swedes had been greatly weakened by a tedious encampment before Brunn. Torstensohn, who commanded in person, for four entire months employed in vain all his knowledge of military tactics; the obstinacy of the resistance was equal to that of the assault; while despair roused the courage of Souches, the commandant, a Swedish deserter, who had no hope of pardon. The ravages caused by pestilence, arising from famine, want of cleanliness, and the use of unripe fruit, during their tedious and unhealthy encampment, with the sudden retreat of the Prince of Transylvania, at last compelled the Swedish leader to raise the siege. As all the passes upon the Danube were occupied, and his army greatly weakened by famine and sickness, he at last relinquished his intended plan of operations against Austria and Moravia, and contented himself with securing a key to these provinces, by leaving behind him Swedish garrisons in the conquered fortresses. He then directed his march into Bohemia, whither he was followed by the Imperialists, under the Archduke Leopold. Such of the lost places as had not been retaken by the latter, were recovered, after his departure, by the Austrian General Bucheim; so that, in the course of the following year, the Austrian frontier was again cleared of the enemy, and Vienna escaped with mere alarm. In Bohemia and Silesia too, the Swedes maintained themselves only with a very variable fortune; they traversed both countries, without being able to hold their ground in either. But if the designs of Torstensohn were not crowned with all the success which they were promised at the commencement, they were, nevertheless, productive of the most important consequences to the Swedish party. Denmark had been compelled to a peace, Saxony to a truce. The Emperor, in the deliberations for a peace, offered greater concessions; France became more manageable; and Sweden itself bolder and more confident in its bearing towards these two crowns. Having thus nobly performed his duty, the author of these advantages retired, adorned with laurels, into the tranquillity of private life, and endeavoured to restore his shattered health.

By the retreat of Torstensohn, the Emperor was relieved from all fears of an irruption on the side of Bohemia. But a new danger soon threatened the Austrian frontier from Suabia and Bavaria. Turenne, who had separated from Conde, and taken the direction of Suabia, had, in the year 1645, been totally defeated by Mercy, near Mergentheim; and the victorious Bavarians, under their brave leader, poured into Hesse. But the Duke of Enghien hastened with considerable succours from Alsace, Koenigsmark from Moravia, and the Hessians from the Rhine, to recruit the defeated army, and the Bavarians were in turn compelled to retire to the extreme limits of Suabia. Here they posted themselves at the village of Allersheim, near Nordlingen, in order to cover the Bavarian frontier. But no obstacle could check the impetuosity of the Duke of Enghien. In person, he led on his troops against the enemy's entrenchments, and a battle took place, which the heroic resistance of the Bavarians rendered most obstinate and bloody; till at last the death of the great Mercy, the skill of Turenne, and the iron firmness of the Hessians, decided the day in favour of the allies. But even this second barbarous sacrifice of life had little effect either on the course of the war, or on the negociations for peace. The French army, exhausted by this bloody engagement, was still farther weakened by the departure of the Hessians, and the Bavarians being reinforced by the Archduke Leopold, Turenne was again obliged hastily to recross the Rhine.

The retreat of the French, enabled the enemy to turn his whole force upon the Swedes in Bohemia. Gustavus Wrangel, no unworthy successor of Banner and Torstensohn, had, in 1646, been appointed Commander-in-chief of the Swedish army, which, besides Koenigsmark's flying corps and the numerous garrisons disposed throughout the empire, amounted to about 8,000 horse, and 15,000 foot. The Archduke, after reinforcing his army, which already amounted to 24,000 men, with twelve Bavarian regiments of cavalry, and eighteen regiments of infantry, moved against Wrangel, in the hope of being able to overwhelm him by his superior force before Koenigsmark could join him, or the French effect a diversion in his favour. Wrangel, however, did not await him, but hastened through Upper Saxony to the Weser, where he took Hoester and Paderborn. From thence he marched into Hesse, in order to join Turenne, and at his camp at Wetzlar, was joined by the flying corps of Koenigsmark. But Turenne, fettered by the instructions of Mazarin, who had seen with jealousy the warlike prowess and increasing power of the Swedes, excused himself on the plea of a pressing necessity to defend the frontier of France on the side of the Netherlands, in consequence of the Flemings having failed to make the promised diversion. But as Wrangel continued to press his just demand, and a longer opposition might have excited distrust on the part of the Swedes, or induce them to conclude a private treaty with Austria, Turenne at last obtained the wished for permission to join the Swedish army.

The junction took place at Giessen, and they now felt themselves strong enough to meet the enemy. The latter had followed the Swedes into Hesse, in order to intercept their commissariat, and to prevent their union with Turenne. In both designs they had been unsuccessful; and the Imperialists now saw themselves cut off from the Maine, and exposed to great scarcity and want from the loss of their magazines. Wrangel took advantage of their weakness, to execute a plan by which he hoped to give a new turn to the war. He, too, had adopted the maxim of his predecessor, to carry the war into the Austrian States. But discouraged by the ill success of Torstensohn's enterprise, he hoped to gain his end with more certainty by another way. He determined to follow the course of the Danube, and to break into the Austrian territories through the midst of Bavaria. A similar design had been formerly conceived by Gustavus Adolphus, which he had been prevented carrying into effect by the approach of Wallenstein's army, and the danger of Saxony. Duke Bernard moving in his footsteps, and more fortunate than Gustavus, had spread his victorious banners between the Iser and the Inn; but the near approach of the enemy, vastly superior in force, obliged him to halt in his victorious career, and lead back his troops. Wrangel now hoped to accomplish the object in which his predecessors had failed, the more so, as the Imperial and Bavarian army was far in his rear upon the Lahn, and could only reach Bavaria by a long march through Franconia and the Upper Palatinate. He moved hastily upon the Danube, defeated a Bavarian corps near Donauwerth, and passed that river, as well as the Lech, unopposed. But by wasting his time in the unsuccessful siege of Augsburg, he gave opportunity to the Imperialists, not only to relieve that city, but also to repulse him as far as Lauingen. No sooner, however, had they turned towards Suabia, with a view to remove the war from Bavaria, than, seizing the opportunity, he repassed the Lech, and guarded the passage of it against the Imperialists themselves. Bavaria now lay open and defenceless before him; the French and Swedes quickly overran it; and the soldiery indemnified themselves for all dangers by frightful outrages, robberies, and extortions. The arrival of the Imperial troops, who at last succeeded in passing the Lech at Thierhaupten, only increased the misery of this country, which friend and foe indiscriminately plundered.

And now, for the first time during the whole course of this war, the courage of Maximilian, which for eight-and-twenty years had stood unshaken amidst fearful dangers, began to waver. Ferdinand II., his school-companion at Ingoldstadt, and the friend of his youth, was no more; and with the death of his friend and benefactor, the strong tie was dissolved which had linked the Elector to the House of Austria. To the father, habit, inclination, and gratitude had attached him; the son was a stranger to his heart, and political interests alone could preserve his fidelity to the latter prince.

Accordingly, the motives which the artifices of France now put in operation, in order to detach him from the Austrian alliance, and to induce him to lay down his arms, were drawn entirely from political considerations. It was not without a selfish object that Mazarin had so far overcome his jealousy of the growing power of the Swedes, as to allow the French to accompany them into Bavaria. His intention was to expose Bavaria to all the horrors of war, in the hope that the persevering fortitude of Maximilian might be subdued by necessity and despair, and the Emperor deprived of his first and last ally. Brandenburg had, under its great sovereign, embraced the neutrality; Saxony had been forced to accede to it; the war with France prevented the Spaniards from taking any part in that of Germany; the peace with Sweden had removed Denmark from the theatre of war; and Poland had been disarmed by a long truce. If they could succeed in detaching the Elector of Bavaria also from the Austrian alliance, the Emperor would be without a friend in Germany and left to the mercy of the allied powers.

Ferdinand III. saw his danger, and left no means untried to avert it. But the Elector of Bavaria was unfortunately led to believe that the Spaniards alone were disinclined to peace, and that nothing, but Spanish influence, had induced the Emperor so long to resist a cessation of hostilities. Maximilian detested the Spaniards, and could never forgive their having opposed his application for the Palatine Electorate. Could it then be supposed that, in order to gratify this hated power, he would see his people sacrificed, his country laid waste, and himself ruined, when, by a cessation of hostilities, he could at once emancipate himself from all these distresses, procure for his people the repose of which they stood so much in need, and perhaps accelerate the arrival of a general peace? All doubts disappeared; and, convinced of the necessity of this step, he thought he should sufficiently discharge his obligations to the Emperor, if he invited him also to share in the benefit of the truce.

The deputies of the three crowns, and of Bavaria, met at Ulm, to adjust the conditions. But it was soon evident, from the instructions of the Austrian ambassadors that it was not the intention of the Emperor to second the conclusion of a truce, but if possible to prevent it. It was obviously necessary to make the terms acceptable to the Swedes, who had the advantage, and had more to hope than to fear from the continuance of the war. They were the conquerors; and yet the Emperor presumed to dictate to them. In the first transports of their indignation, the Swedish ambassadors were on the point of leaving the congress, and the French were obliged to have recourse to threats in order to detain them.

The good intentions of the Elector of Bavaria, to include the Emperor in the benefit of the truce, having been thus rendered unavailing, he felt himself justified in providing for his own safety. However hard were the conditions on which the truce was to be purchased, he did not hesitate to accept it on any terms. He agreed to the Swedes extending their quarters in Suabia and Franconia, and to his own being restricted to Bavaria and the Palatinate. The conquests which he had made in Suabia were ceded to the allies, who, on their part, restored to him what they had taken from Bavaria. Cologne and Hesse Cassel were also included in the truce. After the conclusion of this treaty, upon the 14th March, 1647, the French and Swedes left Bavaria, and in order not to interfere with each other, took up different quarters; the former in Wuertemberg, the latter in Upper Suabia, in the neighbourhood of the Lake of Constance. On the extreme north of this lake, and on the most southern frontier of Suabia, the Austrian town of Bregentz, by its steep and narrow passes, seemed to defy attack; and in this persuasion, the whole peasantry of the surrounding villages had with their property taken refuge in this natural fortress. The rich booty, which the store of provisions it contained, gave reason to expect, and the advantage of possessing a pass into the Tyrol, Switzerland and Italy, induced the Swedish general to venture an attack upon this supposed impregnable post and town, in which he succeeded. Meantime, Turenne, according to agreement, marched into Wuertemberg, where he forced the Landgrave of Darmstadt and the Elector of Mentz to imitate the example of Bavaria, and to embrace the neutrality.

And now, at last, France seemed to have attained the great object of its policy, that of depriving the Emperor of the support of the League, and of his Protestant allies, and of dictating to him, sword in hand, the conditions of peace. Of all his once formidable power, an army, not exceeding 12,000, was all that remained to him; and this force he was driven to the necessity of entrusting to the command of a Calvinist, the Hessian deserter Melander, as the casualties of war had stripped him of his best generals. But as this war had been remarkable for the sudden changes of fortune it displayed; and as every calculation of state policy had been frequently baffled by some unforeseen event, in this case also the issue disappointed expectation; and after a brief crisis, the fallen power of Austria rose again to a formidable strength. The jealousy which France entertained of Sweden, prevented it from permitting the total ruin of the Emperor, or allowing the Swedes to obtain such a preponderance in Germany, as might have been destructive to France herself. Accordingly, the French minister declined to take advantage of the distresses of Austria; and the army of Turenne, separating from that of Wrangel, retired to the frontiers of the Netherlands. Wrangel, indeed, after moving from Suabia into Franconia, taking Schweinfurt, and incorporating the imperial garrison of that place with his own army, attempted to make his way into Bohemia, and laid siege to Egra, the key of that kingdom. To relieve this fortress, the Emperor put his last army in motion, and placed himself at its head. But obliged to take a long circuit, in order to spare the lands of Von Schlick, the president of the council of war, he protracted his march; and on his arrival, Egra was already taken. Both armies were now in sight of each other; and a decisive battle was momentarily expected, as both were suffering from want, and the two camps were only separated from each other by the space of the entrenchments. But the Imperialists, although superior in numbers, contented themselves with keeping close to the enemy, and harassing them by skirmishes, by fatiguing marches and famine, until the negociations which had been opened with Bavaria were brought to a bearing.

The neutrality of Bavaria, was a wound under which the Imperial court writhed impatiently; and after in vain attempting to prevent it, Austria now determined, if possible, to turn it to advantage. Several officers of the Bavarian army had been offended by this step of their master, which at once reduced them to inaction, and imposed a burdensome restraint on their restless disposition. Even the brave John de Werth was at the head of the malcontents, and encouraged by the Emperor, he formed a plot to seduce the whole army from their allegiance to the Elector, and lead it over to the Emperor. Ferdinand did not blush to patronize this act of treachery against his father's most trusty ally. He formally issued a proclamation to the Bavarian troops, in which he recalled them to himself, reminded them that they were the troops of the empire, which the Elector had merely commanded in name of the Emperor. Fortunately for Maximilian, he detected the conspiracy in time enough to anticipate and prevent it by the most rapid and effective measures.

This disgraceful conduct of the Emperor might have justified a reprisal, but Maximilian was too old a statesman to listen to the voice of passion, where policy alone ought to be heard. He had not derived from the truce the advantages he expected. Far from tending to accelerate a general peace, it had a pernicious influence upon the negociations at Munster and Osnaburg, and had made the allies bolder in their demands. The French and Swedes had indeed removed from Bavaria; but, by the loss of his quarters in the Suabian circle, he found himself compelled either to exhaust his own territories by the subsistence of his troops, or at once to disband them, and to throw aside the shield and spear, at the very moment when the sword alone seemed to be the arbiter of right. Before embracing either of these certain evils, he determined to try a third step, the unfavourable issue of which was at least not so certain, viz., to renounce the truce and resume the war.

This resolution, and the assistance which he immediately despatched to the Emperor in Bohemia, threatened materially to injure the Swedes, and Wrangel was compelled in haste to evacuate that kingdom. He retired through Thuringia into Westphalia and Lunenburg, in the hope of forming a junction with the French army under Turenne, while the Imperial and Bavarian army followed him to the Weser, under Melander and Gronsfeld. His ruin was inevitable, if the enemy should overtake him before his junction with Turenne; but the same consideration which had just saved the Emperor, now proved the salvation of the Swedes. Even amidst all the fury of the conquest, cold calculations of prudence guided the course of the war, and the vigilance of the different courts increased, as the prospect of peace approached. The Elector of Bavaria could not allow the Emperor to obtain so decisive a preponderance as, by the sudden alteration of affairs, might delay the chances of a general peace. Every change of fortune was important now, when a pacification was so ardently desired by all, and when the disturbance of the balance of power among the contracting parties might at once annihilate the work of years, destroy the fruit of long and tedious negociations, and indefinitely protract the repose of Europe. If France sought to restrain the Swedish crown within due bounds, and measured out her assistance according to her successes and defeats, the Elector of Bavaria silently undertook the same task with the Emperor his ally, and determined, by prudently dealing out his aid, to hold the fate of Austria in his own hands. And now that the power of the Emperor threatened once more to attain a dangerous superiority, Maximilian at once ceased to pursue the Swedes. He was also afraid of reprisals from France, who had threatened to direct Turenne's whole force against him if he allowed his troops to cross the Weser.

Melander, prevented by the Bavarians from further pursuing Wrangel, crossed by Jena and Erfurt into Hesse, and now appeared as a dangerous enemy in the country which he had formerly defended. If it was the desire of revenge upon his former sovereign, which led him to choose Hesse for the scene of his ravage, he certainly had his full gratification. Under this scourge, the miseries of that unfortunate state reached their height. But he had soon reason to regret that, in the choice of his quarters, he had listened to the dictates of revenge rather than of prudence. In this exhausted country, his army was oppressed by want, while Wrangel was recruiting his strength, and remounting his cavalry in Lunenburg. Too weak to maintain his wretched quarters against the Swedish general, when he opened the campaign in the winter of 1648, and marched against Hesse, he was obliged to retire with disgrace, and take refuge on the banks of the Danube.

France had once more disappointed the expectations of Sweden; and the army of Turenne, disregarding the remonstrances of Wrangel, had remained upon the Rhine. The Swedish leader revenged himself, by drawing into his service the cavalry of Weimar, which had abandoned the standard of France, though, by this step, he farther increased the jealousy of that power. Turenne received permission to join the Swedes; and the last campaign of this eventful war was now opened by the united armies. Driving Melander before them along the Danube, they threw supplies into Egra, which was besieged by the Imperialists, and defeated the Imperial and Bavarian armies on the Danube, which ventured to oppose them at Susmarshausen, where Melander was mortally wounded. After this overthrow, the Bavarian general, Gronsfeld, placed himself on the farther side of the Lech, in order to guard Bavaria from the enemy.

But Gronsfeld was not more fortunate than Tilly, who, in this same position, had sacrificed his life for Bavaria. Wrangel and Turenne chose the same spot for passing the river, which was so gloriously marked by the victory of Gustavus Adolphus, and accomplished it by the same means, too, which had favoured their predecessor. Bavaria was now a second time overrun, and the breach of the truce punished by the severest treatment of its inhabitants. Maximilian sought shelter in Salzburgh, while the Swedes crossed the Iser, and forced their way as far as the Inn. A violent and continued rain, which in a few days swelled this inconsiderable stream into a broad river, saved Austria once more from the threatened danger. The enemy ten times attempted to form a bridge of boats over the Inn, and as often it was destroyed by the current. Never, during the whole course of the war, had the Imperialists been in so great consternation as at present, when the enemy were in the centre of Bavaria, and when they had no longer a general left who could be matched against a Turenne, a Wrangel, and a Koenigsmark. At last the brave Piccolomini arrived from the Netherlands, to assume the command of the feeble wreck of the Imperialists. By their own ravages in Bohemia, the allies had rendered their subsistence in that country impracticable, and were at last driven by scarcity to retreat into the Upper Palatinate, where the news of the peace put a period to their activity.

Koenigsmark, with his flying corps, advanced towards Bohemia, where Ernest Odowalsky, a disbanded captain, who, after being disabled in the imperial service, had been dismissed without a pension, laid before him a plan for surprising the lesser side of the city of Prague. Koenigsmark successfully accomplished the bold enterprise, and acquired the reputation of closing the thirty years' war by the last brilliant achievement. This decisive stroke, which vanquished the Emperor's irresolution, cost the Swedes only the loss of a single man. But the old town, the larger half of Prague, which is divided into two parts by the Moldau, by its vigorous resistance wearied out the efforts of the Palatine, Charles Gustavus, the successor of Christina on the throne, who had arrived from Sweden with fresh troops, and had assembled the whole Swedish force in Bohemia and Silesia before its walls. The approach of winter at last drove the besiegers into their quarters, and in the mean time, the intelligence arrived that a peace had been signed at Munster, on the 24th October.

The colossal labour of concluding this solemn, and ever memorable and sacred treaty, which is known by the name of the peace of Westphalia; the endless obstacles which were to be surmounted; the contending interests which it was necessary to reconcile; the concatenation of circumstances which must have co-operated to bring to a favourable termination this tedious, but precious and permanent work of policy; the difficulties which beset the very opening of the negociations, and maintaining them, when opened, during the ever-fluctuating vicissitudes of the war; finally, arranging the conditions of peace, and still more, the carrying them into effect; what were the conditions of this peace; what each contending power gained or lost, by the toils and sufferings of a thirty years' war; what modification it wrought upon the general system of European policy; -- these are matters which must be relinquished to another pen. The history of the peace of Westphalia constitutes a whole, as important as the history of the war itself. A mere abridgment of it, would reduce to a mere skeleton one of the most interesting and characteristic monuments of human policy and passions, and deprive it of every feature calculated to fix the attention of the public, for which I write, and of which I now respectfully take my leave.

(End of The History of the Thirty Years' War.)


Notes: Separate sources indicate that at the beginning of this war there were about 15 million people in Germany, and at the end of the war there were about 4 million. If this is not surprising enough, war broke out again only 10 years after the conclusion of this war.

Please note that the original translation changed many foreign names, both of places and persons, into English forms. These have NOT been revised. Thus Ko"ln is still Cologne, Friedrich is still Frederick, etc. Some foreign names were NOT translated, and due to the limits of ASCII, vowels with umlauts have, according to custom, had an E added after them, i.e. Koeln. Also, in some cases variant spellings of names were used, and though an attempt was made, not all have been revised.


(THE END)
Friedrich Schiller's Book: History of the Thirty Years' War

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