Catholic League (German)
Overview
 

The German Catholic League was initially a loose confederation of Roman Catholic German states formed on July 10, 1609 to counteract the Protestant Union
Protestant Union
The Protestant Union or Evangelical Union was a coalition of Protestant German states that was formed in 1608 to defend the rights, lands and person of each member....

 (formed 1608), whereby the participating states concluded an alliance "for the defence of the Catholic religion and peace within the Empire." Modeled loosely on the more intransigent ultra-Catholic French Catholic League (1576), the German Catholic league initially acted politically to negotiate issues with the slightly older Protestant Union.

Nevertheless, the league's founding, as had the founding of the Protestant Union, further exacerbated long standing tensions between the Protestant reformers
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

 and the members of the Catholic Church which thereafter began ratcheting upwards with ever more frequent episodes of civil disobedience, repression, and retaliations that would eventually ignite into the first phase of the Thirty Years' War
Thirty Years' War
The Thirty Years' War was fought primarily in what is now Germany, and at various points involved most countries in Europe. It was one of the most destructive conflicts in European history....

 roughly a decade later with the act of rebellion and calculated insult known as the Second Defenestration of Prague on 23 May 1618.
Encyclopedia
Catholic League
Katholische Liga

Defence Confederation of Catholic States
Location  Holy Roman Empire
Members Duke of Bavaria

Archbishop-Elector of Mainz
Archbishopric of Mainz
The Archbishopric of Mainz or Electorate of Mainz was an influential ecclesiastic and secular prince-bishopric in the Holy Roman Empire between 780–82 and 1802. In the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy, the Archbishop of Mainz was the primas Germaniae, the substitute of the Pope north of the Alps...



Archbishop-Elector of Cologne

Archbishop-Elector of Trier
Archbishopric of Trier
The Archbishopric of Trier was a Roman Catholic diocese in Germany, that existed from Carolingian times until the end of the Holy Roman Empire. Its suffragans were the dioceses of Metz, Toul and Verdun. Since the 9th century the Archbishops of Trier were simultaneously princes and since the 11th...



Prince-Bishop of Constance
Bishopric of Constance
The Bishopric of Constance was a diocese of the Roman Catholic Church and ecclesiastical state of the Holy Roman Empire that existed from about 585 until 1821. Its seat was Konstanz at the western end of Lake Constance in the south-west corner of Germany...



Prince-Bishop of Augsburg
Prince-Bishopric of Augsburg
The Prince-Bishopric of Augsburg was one of the prince-bishoprics of the Holy Roman Empire, which belonged to the Swabian Circle.-Early period:...



Prince-Bishop of Passau

Prince-Bishop of Würzburg
Bishopric of Würzburg
The Bishopric of Würzburg was a prince-bishopric in the Holy Roman Empire, located in Lower Franconia, around the city of Würzburg, Germany. Würzburg was a diocese from 743. In the 18th century, its bishop was often also Bishop of Bamberg...

  and Bamberg
Prince-Bishopric of Bamberg
The Bishopric of Bamberg was established in 1007, to further expand the spread of Christianity in Germany. The ecclesiastical state was a member of the Holy Roman Empire from about 1245 until it was subsumed to the Electorate of Bavaria in 1802...

 

Prince-Bishop of Worms
Bishopric of Worms
The Bishopric of Worms was an ecclesiastical principality of the Holy Roman Empire. Located on both banks of the Rhine around Worms just north of the union of that river with the Neckar, it was largely surrounded by the Palatinate. Worms had been the seat of a bishop from Roman times...



Prince-Bishop of Strassburg

Prince-Bishop of Eichstätt
Bishopric of Eichstätt
The Bishopric of Eichstätt was a small ecclesiastical principality of the Holy Roman Empire. Centered on the town of Eichstätt, it was located in the present-day state of Bavaria, somewhat to the west of Regensburg, to the north of Neuburg an der Donau and Ingolstadt, to the south of Nuremberg, and...



Prince-Bishop of Speyer
Bishopric of Speyer
The Bishopric of Speyer was a state, ruled by Prince-Bishops, in what is today the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate. It was secularized in 1803...



Prince-Provost of Ellwangen
Ellwangen Abbey
Ellwangen Abbey was the earliest Benedictine monastery established in the Duchy of Swabia, at the present-day town of Ellwangen an der Jagst, Baden-Württemberg about 100 km north-east of Stuttgart.-Imperial abbey:...



Prince-Provost of Kempten
Kempten im Allgäu
Kempten is the largest town in Allgäu, a region in the south-west of Bavaria, Germany. The population was ca 61,000 in 2006. The area was possibly settled originally by Celts, but was later overtaken by the Romans, who called the town Cambodunum...

Adversary Protestant Union
Protestant Union
The Protestant Union or Evangelical Union was a coalition of Protestant German states that was formed in 1608 to defend the rights, lands and person of each member....



Frederick V
Frederick V, Elector Palatine
Frederick V was Elector Palatine , and, as Frederick I , King of Bohemia ....

, Elector Palatine

Christian IV
Christian IV of Denmark
Christian IV was the king of Denmark-Norway from 1588 until his death. With a reign of more than 59 years, he is the longest-reigning monarch of Denmark, and he is frequently remembered as one of the most popular, ambitious and proactive Danish kings, having initiated many reforms and projects...

, King of Denmark–Norway
Denmark–Norway
Denmark–Norway is the historiographical name for a former political entity consisting of the kingdoms of Denmark and Norway, including the originally Norwegian dependencies of Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands...



Gustav II Adolf
Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden
Gustav II Adolf has been widely known in English by his Latinized name Gustavus Adolphus Magnus and variously in historical writings also as Gustavus, or Gustavus the Great, or Gustav Adolph the Great,...

, King of Sweden
Swedish Empire
The Swedish Empire refers to the Kingdom of Sweden between 1561 and 1721 . During this time, Sweden was one of the great European powers. In Swedish, the period is called Stormaktstiden, literally meaning "the Great Power Era"...



Louis XIII
Louis XIII of France
Louis XIII was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and of Navarre from 1610 to 1643.Louis was only eight years old when he succeeded his father. His mother, Marie de Medici, acted as regent during Louis' minority...

, King of France
Early Modern France
Kingdom of France is the early modern period of French history from the end of the 15th century to the end of the 18th century...

President Duke of Bavaria (Maximilian I
Maximilian I, Elector of Bavaria
Maximilian I, Duke/Elector of Bavaria , called "the Great", was a Wittelsbach ruler of Bavaria and a prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire. His reign was marked by the Thirty Years' War ....

, 1609–35)

Archbishop-Elector of Mainz (Johann Schweikhard von Kronberg
Johann Schweikhard von Kronberg
Johann Schweikhard von Kronberg was the Archbishop-Elector of Mainz from 1604 to 1626.-Early Life, 1553-1604:Born on July 15, 1553, Johann Schweikhard von Kronberg was the third son of Hartmut XIII von Kronburg and his wife Barbara von Sickingen...

, 1609–26; Georg Friedrich von Greiffenklau
Georg Friedrich von Greiffenklau
Georg Friedrich von Greiffenklau zu Vollrads was the Bishop of Worms from 1616 to 1629 and the Archbishop-Elector of Mainz from 1626 to 1629.-Biography:...

, 1626–29; Anselm Casimir Wambold von Umstadt
Anselm Casimir Wambold von Umstadt
Anselm Casimir Wambold von Umstadt was the Archbishop-Elector of Mainz from 1629 to 1647.-Biography:Anselm Casimir Wambold von Umstadt was the son of Eberhard Wambolt Umstadt and Anna von Reiffenberg . He was born on November 30, 1582, most likely in Speyer, where his father was an official in...

, 1629–35)
Commander Johann Tserclaes, Count of Tilly, 1610–32

Johann, Count of Aldringen, 1632–34
Formation July 10, 1609: Diet of Munich
Collapse May 30, 1635: Peace of Prague
Peace of Prague (1635)
The Peace of Prague of 30 May 1635 was a treaty between the Habsburg Emperor Ferdinand II and the Electorate of Saxony representing most of the Protestant states of the Holy Roman Empire...


The German Catholic League was initially a loose confederation of Roman Catholic German states formed on July 10, 1609 to counteract the Protestant Union
Protestant Union
The Protestant Union or Evangelical Union was a coalition of Protestant German states that was formed in 1608 to defend the rights, lands and person of each member....

 (formed 1608), whereby the participating states concluded an alliance "for the defence of the Catholic religion and peace within the Empire." Modeled loosely on the more intransigent ultra-Catholic French Catholic League (1576), the German Catholic league initially acted politically to negotiate issues with the slightly older Protestant Union.

Nevertheless, the league's founding, as had the founding of the Protestant Union, further exacerbated long standing tensions between the Protestant reformers
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

 and the members of the Catholic Church which thereafter began ratcheting upwards with ever more frequent episodes of civil disobedience, repression, and retaliations that would eventually ignite into the first phase of the Thirty Years' War
Thirty Years' War
The Thirty Years' War was fought primarily in what is now Germany, and at various points involved most countries in Europe. It was one of the most destructive conflicts in European history....

 roughly a decade later with the act of rebellion and calculated insult known as the Second Defenestration of Prague on 23 May 1618. Both the Protestant Union and the Catholic League were symptomatic of the eras increasingly intolerant behaviour towards others' personal religious/political beliefs.

Background

In 1555, the Peace of Augsburg
Peace of Augsburg
The Peace of Augsburg, also called the Augsburg Settlement, was a treaty between Charles V and the forces of the Schmalkaldic League, an alliance of Lutheran princes, on September 25, 1555, at the imperial city of Augsburg, now in present-day Bavaria, Germany.It officially ended the religious...

 was signed, which confirmed the result of the First Diet of Speyer
First Diet of Speyer
The Diet of Speyer or the Diet of Spires was a diet of the Holy Roman Empire in 1526 in the Imperial City of Speyer . The diet's ambiguous edict resulted in a temporary suspension of the Edict of Worms and aided the expansion of Protestantism...

 (1526) and ended the violence between the Lutherans and the Catholics in Germany.

It stated that:
  • German princes
    Fürst
    Fürst is a German title of nobility, usually translated into English as Prince.The term refers to the head of a principality and is distinguished from the son of a monarch, who is referred to as Prinz...

     (numbering 225) could choose the religion (Lutheranism or Catholicism) for their realms according to their conscience (the principle of cuius regio, eius religio
    Cuius regio, eius religio
    Cuius regio, eius religio is a phrase in Latin translated as "Whose realm, his religion", meaning the religion of the ruler dictated the religion of the ruled...

    ).
  • Lutherans living in an ecclesiastical state (under the control of a Catholic prince-bishop
    Prince-Bishop
    A Prince-Bishop is a bishop who is a territorial Prince of the Church on account of one or more secular principalities, usually pre-existent titles of nobility held concurrently with their inherent clerical office...

    ) could remain Lutherans.
  • Lutherans could keep the territory that they had captured from the Catholic Church since the Peace of Passau
    Peace of Passau
    Holy Roman Emperor Charles V had won a victory against Protestantism in the Schmalkaldic War of 1547. Many Protestant princes were unhappy with the religious terms of the Augsburg Interim imposed after this victory. In January 1552, led by Maurice of Saxony, many formed an alliance with Henry II of...

     (1552).
  • The ecclesiastical leaders
    Ecclesiastical Province
    An ecclesiastical province is a large jurisdiction of religious government, so named by analogy with a secular province, existing in certain hierarchical Christian churches, especially in the Catholic Church and Orthodox Churches and in the Anglican Communion...

     of the Catholic Church (bishops) that converted to Lutheranism had to give up their territory (the principle called reservatum ecclesiasticum).

Those occupying a state that had officially chosen either Lutheranism or Catholicism could not practice the religion differing to that of the state.

Although the Peace created a temporary end to hostilities, the underlying bases of the religious conflict remained unsolved. Both parties interpreted it at their convenience, the Lutherans in particular considering it only a momentary agreement. Further, Calvinism
Calvinism
Calvinism is a Protestant theological system and an approach to the Christian life...

 spread quickly throughout Germany, adding a third major Christian worldview to the region, but its position was not supported in any way by the Augsburg terms, since Catholicism and Lutheranism were the only permitted creeds.

The foundation of the Catholic League

The best documented reason of the foundation of the Catholic League was an incident in the town of Donauwörth
Donauwörth
Donauwörth is a city in the German State of Bavaria , in the region of Swabia . It is said to have been founded by two fisherman where the Danube and Wörnitz rivers meet...

, a Free Imperial City
Free Imperial City
In the Holy Roman Empire, a free imperial city was a city formally ruled by the emperor only — as opposed to the majority of cities in the Empire, which were governed by one of the many princes of the Empire, such as dukes or prince-bishops...

 within the territory of Bavaria
Bavaria
Bavaria, formally the Free State of Bavaria is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of Germany. With an area of , it is the largest state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany...

. On April 25, 1606, the Lutheran majority of the town barred the Catholic residents of the town from holding a Marcus procession, to show the rule of their confession over town. The Catholics, led by five monks, wanted to pass through the town and on to the nearby village of Ausesheim, showing their flags and singing hymns. They were permitted to do so by the terms of the Peace of Augsburg
Peace of Augsburg
The Peace of Augsburg, also called the Augsburg Settlement, was a treaty between Charles V and the forces of the Schmalkaldic League, an alliance of Lutheran princes, on September 25, 1555, at the imperial city of Augsburg, now in present-day Bavaria, Germany.It officially ended the religious...

. The city council would only allow them to re-enter town without flags and singing. The conflict ended in a brawl.

On protest of the bishop of Augsburg
Bishop of Augsburg
The Bishop of Augsburg is the Ordinary of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Augsburg in the Ecclesiastical province of München und Freising.The diocese covers an area of 13,250 km².The current bishop is Konrad Zdarsa who was appointed in 2010....

, Catholic Emperor Rudolf II
Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor
Rudolf II was Holy Roman Emperor , King of Hungary and Croatia , King of Bohemia and Archduke of Austria...

 of Habsburg
Habsburg
The House of Habsburg , also found as Hapsburg, and also known as House of Austria is one of the most important royal houses of Europe and is best known for being an origin of all of the formally elected Holy Roman Emperors between 1438 and 1740, as well as rulers of the Austrian Empire and...

 threatened an Imperial ban in case of further violation of the rights of the Catholic citizens. Nevertheless, next year similar anti-Catholic incidents of civil disobedience took place, and the participants of the Markus procession were thrown out of town.

Emperor Rudolf then declared an Imperial ban on the town and ordered Maximilian I, Duke of Bavaria to execute the ban. Facing his army, the town surrendered. According to Imperial law, the disciplinary measures should not have been executed by the Catholic duke of Bavaria, but by the Protestant duke of Württemberg, who, like Donauwörth, was a member of the Swabian Imperial Circle
Swabian Circle
The Swabian Circle was an Imperial Circle of the Holy Roman Empire established in 1500 on the territory of the former German stem-duchy of Swabia. However, it did not include the Habsburg home territories of Swabian Austria, the member states of the Swiss Confederacy nor the lands of the Alsace...

. Maximilian de facto absorbed the former Free Imperial City, which was a violation of Imperial law as well.

In the same year, the Catholic majority of the Reichstag
Diet (assembly)
In politics, a diet is a formal deliberative assembly. The term is mainly used historically for the Imperial Diet, the general assembly of the Imperial Estates of the Holy Roman Empire, and for the legislative bodies of certain countries.-Etymology:...

 meeting in the Diet of Augsburg
Diet of Augsburg
The Diet of Augsburg were the meetings of the Imperial Diet of the Holy Roman Empire in the German city of Augsburg. There were many such sessions, but the three meetings during the Reformation and the ensuing religious wars between the Roman Catholic emperor Charles V and the Protestant...

 resolved that the renewal of the Peace of Augsburg of 1555 should be conditional on the restoration of all church land appropriated since 1552. Acting on these events, the Protestant princes formed a military alliance on May 14, 1608, the Protestant Union
Protestant Union
The Protestant Union or Evangelical Union was a coalition of Protestant German states that was formed in 1608 to defend the rights, lands and person of each member....

, whose leader was Frederick IV
Frederick IV, Elector Palatine
Frederick IV, Elector Palatine of the Rhine , only surviving son of Louis VI, Elector Palatine and Elisabeth of Hesse, called "Frederick the Righteous" .-Life:Born in Amberg, his father died in October 1583 and...

 of Wittelsbach, the Elector Palatine.

To create a union of Catholic states as a counterpart to this Protestant Union, early in 1608 Maximilian started negotiations with other Catholic princes. On July 5, 1608, the spiritual electors manifested a tendency in favour of the confederacy suggested by Maximilian. Opinions were even expressed as to the size of the confederate military forces to be raised.

In July 1609, the representatives of the Prince-Bishops of Augsburg
Prince-Bishopric of Augsburg
The Prince-Bishopric of Augsburg was one of the prince-bishoprics of the Holy Roman Empire, which belonged to the Swabian Circle.-Early period:...

, Constance
Bishopric of Constance
The Bishopric of Constance was a diocese of the Roman Catholic Church and ecclesiastical state of the Holy Roman Empire that existed from about 585 until 1821. Its seat was Konstanz at the western end of Lake Constance in the south-west corner of Germany...

, Passau, Regensburg
Bishopric of Regensburg
The Bishopric of Regensburg was a small prince-bishopric of the Holy Roman Empire, located in what is now southern Germany. It was elevated to the Archbishopric of Regensburg in 1803 after the dissolution of the Archbishopric of Mainz, but became a bishopric again in 1817.-History:The diocese...

, and Würzburg
Bishopric of Würzburg
The Bishopric of Würzburg was a prince-bishopric in the Holy Roman Empire, located in Lower Franconia, around the city of Würzburg, Germany. Würzburg was a diocese from 743. In the 18th century, its bishop was often also Bishop of Bamberg...

 assembled at Munich
Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

. The Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg
Archbishopric of Salzburg
The Archbishopric of Salzburg was an ecclesiastical State of the Holy Roman Empire, its territory roughly congruent with the present-day Austrian state of Salzburg....

, having shown disapproval, was not invited, and the Prince-Bishop of Eichstädt
Bishopric of Eichstädt
The Diocese of Eichstätt is a diocese of the Catholic Church in Bavaria. Its seat is Eichstätt, and it is subordinate to the archbishop of Bamberg. The diocese was erected in 745; from the Middle Ages until 1805, it was a state of the Holy Roman Empire. The current Bishop of Eichstätt is Dr...

 hesitated. On July 10, 1609, the participating states concluded an alliance "for the defence of the Catholic religion and peace within the Empire." The most important regulation of the League was the prohibition of attacks on one another. Instead of fighting, conflicts had to be decided by the laws of the Empire or, if these failed to solve the conflict, by arbitration within the League. Should one member be attacked, it had to be helped with military or alternatively legal support. Duke Maximilian was to be the president, and the Prince-Bishops of Augsburg, Passau, and Würzburg his councillors. The League was to continue for nine years.

The Munich Diet failed to erect a substantial structure for the newly formed League. On June 18, 1609, the Electors of Mainz
Archbishopric of Mainz
The Archbishopric of Mainz or Electorate of Mainz was an influential ecclesiastic and secular prince-bishopric in the Holy Roman Empire between 780–82 and 1802. In the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy, the Archbishop of Mainz was the primas Germaniae, the substitute of the Pope north of the Alps...

, Cologne, and Trier had proposed an army of 20,000 men. They had also considered making Maximilian president of the alliance, and on August 30 they announced their adhesion to the Munich agreement, provided that Maximilian accepted the Elector of Mainz, arch-chancellor
Chancellor
Chancellor is the title of various official positions in the governments of many nations. The original chancellors were the Cancellarii of Roman courts of justice—ushers who sat at the cancelli or lattice work screens of a basilica or law court, which separated the judge and counsel from the...

 of the Empire, as co-president.

To create a structure, several general meetings of the members were arranged. On February 10, 1610, the representatives of all the important Catholic states, except for Austria and Salzburg — and a great number of the smaller ones — met at Würzburg to decide the organization, funding and arming of the League. This was the real beginning of the Catholic League. The Pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

, the Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor
The Holy Roman Emperor is a term used by historians to denote a medieval ruler who, as German King, had also received the title of "Emperor of the Romans" from the Pope...

 and the King of Spain, who had been informed by Maximilian, were all favorably disposed towards the undertaking.

The main problem of the League was the unreadiness of its members. In April 1610, the contributions of all its members were not yet paid; Maximilian threatened to resign. To prevent him from doing so, Spain, which had made the giving of a subsidy dependent on Austria's enrollment in the League, waived this condition, and the pope promised a further contribution.

The conduct of the Union in the Jülich dispute and the warlike operations of the Union army in Alsace
Alsace
Alsace is the fifth-smallest of the 27 regions of France in land area , and the smallest in metropolitan France. It is also the seventh-most densely populated region in France and third most densely populated region in metropolitan France, with ca. 220 inhabitants per km²...

 seemed to make a battle between League and Union inevitable.

In the year 1613 at Ratisbon, Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

 joined the League. The assembly now appointed no less than three war-directors: Duke Maximilian, and Archdukes Albert and Maximilian of Austria. The object of the League was now declared "a Christian legal defense" The membership of Austria made the League part of the struggles between the emperor and his Protestant vassals in Bohemia
Bohemia
Bohemia is a historical region in central Europe, occupying the western two-thirds of the traditional Czech Lands. It is located in the contemporary Czech Republic with its capital in Prague...

 and Lower Austria
Lower Austria
Lower Austria is the northeasternmost state of the nine states in Austria. The capital of Lower Austria since 1986 is Sankt Pölten, the most recently designated capital town in Austria. The capital of Lower Austria had formerly been Vienna, even though Vienna is not officially part of Lower Austria...

, that would lead to the beginning of the Thirty Years War.

Duke Maximilian refused to accept the resolutions of Ratisbon and even resigned the post as president, when Archduke Maximilian III of Austria, the Prince Elector of Mainz and the Prince Elector of Trier, protested the inclusion of the Bishop of Augsburg
Bishop of Augsburg
The Bishop of Augsburg is the Ordinary of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Augsburg in the Ecclesiastical province of München und Freising.The diocese covers an area of 13,250 km².The current bishop is Konrad Zdarsa who was appointed in 2010....

, and the Provost of Ellwangen in the Bavarian Directory. On May 27, 1617, with the Prince-Bishops of Bamberg, Eichstädt, Würzburg, and the Prince-Provost of Ellwangen, Bavaria formed a separate league for nine years.

At the end of 1618, the position of the Emperor in Bohemia as in Lower and Upper Austria
Upper Austria
Upper Austria is one of the nine states or Bundesländer of Austria. Its capital is Linz. Upper Austria borders on Germany and the Czech Republic, as well as on the other Austrian states of Lower Austria, Styria, and Salzburg...

 gradually became critical. Searching for help, the Emperor tried to restore the League. A meeting of several of the ecclesiastical Princes decided to reconstruct the League on its original basis. It would consist of two groups: the Rhenish district under the presidency of Mainz, and the Oberland district, presided by Bavaria; the treasury and the military command were to be considered separate. Maximilian could only lead the whole of the troops when he had to appear in the Rhenish district. On 31 May, the Oberland both groups were established and bound themselves to render mutual help for six years.

After the death of Matthias, Holy Roman Emperor
Matthias, Holy Roman Emperor
Matthias of Austria was Holy Roman Emperor from 1612, King of Hungary and Croatia from 1608 and King of Bohemia from 1611...

 and king of Bohemia, the kingdom deprived his successor, Ferdinand II
Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor
Ferdinand II , a member of the House of Habsburg, was Holy Roman Emperor , King of Bohemia , and King of Hungary . His rule coincided with the Thirty Years' War.- Life :...

 in 1618 of the Bohemian crown, and elected Frederick V, Elector Palatine
Frederick V, Elector Palatine
Frederick V was Elector Palatine , and, as Frederick I , King of Bohemia ....

 as King, on August 26 and 27, 1619. After the election as Emperor, Ferdinand conferred with the spiritual electors at Frankfurt, asking for the support of the League.

Now the formation of a confederate army began. With 7,000 men, Bavaria supplied the largest contribution to the army, whose strength was fixed at Würzburg in December 1619, as 21,000 infantry and 4000 cavalry. Commander in chief was Johann Tserclaes, Count of Tilly, a descendant of a Catholic Brabantine
Duchy of Brabant
The Duchy of Brabant was a historical region in the Low Countries. Its territory consisted essentially of the three modern-day Belgian provinces of Flemish Brabant, Walloon Brabant and Antwerp, the Brussels-Capital Region and most of the present-day Dutch province of North Brabant.The Flag of...

 family.

Facing the superiority of the League army of 30,000 men confronting the Protestant Union's army of 10,000, on July 3, 1620, the Union agreed to cease all hostilities between both parties during the war in Austria and Bohemia.

The League in War

Without the risk of an attack the League could use all its military forces to support the emperor. The same month, the army was relocated to Upper Austria. Tilly won the Battle of White Mountain
Battle of White Mountain
The Battle of White Mountain, 8 November 1620 was an early battle in the Thirty Years' War in which an army of 30,000 Bohemians and mercenaries under Christian of Anhalt were routed by 27,000 men of the combined armies of Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor under Charles Bonaventure de Longueval,...

 north of Prague
Prague
Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 2.3 million...

 on November 8, 1620, in which half of the enemy forces were killed or captured, losing only 700 men. The Emperor regained control over Bohemia and the first stage of the League's activity during the Thirty Years' War ended.

After the end of the Bohemian War, the League's army fought in central Germany, but was defeated at the Battle of Mingolsheim on April 27, 1622, after which they joined with the Spanish to fight and win the Battle of Wimpfen
Battle of Wimpfen
The Battle of Wimpfen was a battle in the Bohemian Revolt period of the Thirty Years' War on 6 May 1622 near Wimpfen. The forces of the Holy Roman Empire and Catholic League under Marshal Tilly and Gonzalo de Córdoba defeated the Protestant forces of General Ernst von Mansfeld and Georg Friedrich,...

 against the Margrave of Baden-Durlach on May 6. Following these victories, the army captured the city of Heidelberg
Heidelberg
-Early history:Between 600,000 and 200,000 years ago, "Heidelberg Man" died at nearby Mauer. His jaw bone was discovered in 1907; with scientific dating, his remains were determined to be the earliest evidence of human life in Europe. In the 5th century BC, a Celtic fortress of refuge and place of...

, the capital of the leader of the Protestant Union, following an eleven-week siege on September 19. The Protestant prince Christian, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, raised another army, but was defeated at the Battle of Stadtlohn
Battle of Stadtlohn
The Battle of Stadtlohn was fought on August 6, 1623 between the armies of Christian of Brunswick and of the Catholic League during the Thirty Years' War...

 where 13,000 out of his army of 15,000 were lost. This victory virtually ended all Protestant resistance in Germany. This caused Denmark's king Christian IV
Christian IV of Denmark
Christian IV was the king of Denmark-Norway from 1588 until his death. With a reign of more than 59 years, he is the longest-reigning monarch of Denmark, and he is frequently remembered as one of the most popular, ambitious and proactive Danish kings, having initiated many reforms and projects...

 to enter the Thirty Years' War in 1625 to protect Protestantism and also in a bid to make himself the primary leader of Northern Europe.
The league's army fought and defeated the Danish on August 26–27, 1626 at the Battle of Lutter
Battle of Lutter
The Battle of Lutter took place during the Thirty Years' War, on 27 August 1626, between the forces of the Protestant Christian IV of Denmark and those of the Catholic League...

, destroying more than half the fleeing Danish army.

Because this and other victories by Wallenstein, Denmark was forced to sue for peace at the Treaty of Lübeck
Treaty of Lübeck
Treaty or Peace of Lübeck ended the Danish intervention in the Thirty Years' War . It was signed in Lübeck on 22 May 1629 by Albrecht von Wallenstein and Christian IV of Denmark, and on 7 June by Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor. The Catholic League was formally included as a party...

. Now, the Catholic League hit its peak. Almost the whole German territories were under their control. The danger of imperial hegemony, resulting from this success, made the Swedish King Gustavus Adolphus
Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden
Gustav II Adolf has been widely known in English by his Latinized name Gustavus Adolphus Magnus and variously in historical writings also as Gustavus, or Gustavus the Great, or Gustav Adolph the Great,...

 become involved in the conflict in 1630.

While Gustavus Adolphus landed his army in Pomerania
Treaty of Stettin (1630)
The Treaty of Stettin or Alliance of Stettin was the legal framework for the occupation of the Duchy of Pomerania by the Swedish Empire during the Thirty Years' War...

 and tried to make alliances with the leaders of Northern Germany, the League's army laid siege to the city of Magdeburg
Magdeburg
Magdeburg , is the largest city and the capital city of the Bundesland of Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. Magdeburg is situated on the Elbe River and was one of the most important medieval cities of Europe....

 for two months from March 20, 1631, as the city had promised to support Sweden. On May 20, 40,000 successfully attacked Magdeburg. A massacre of the populace ensued in which 25,000 of the 30,000 inhabitants of the city perished while fires destroyed much of the city.

It is not clear whether the commander in chief of the League's forces, Count Tilly ordered the massacre. Magdeburg was a strategically vital city in the Elbe River region and was needed as a resupply center for the looming fight against the Swedes. Therefore, it would have been logical behavior, not to destroy, but to occupy the town with troops of the League.

In 1630, Ferdinand II dismissed his Generalissimus Wallenstein. Now, the Catholic League was in control of all the Catholic armed forces.

The end of the Catholic League

At the First Battle of Breitenfeld
Battle of Breitenfeld (1631)
The Battle of Breitenfeld or First Battle of Breitenfeld , was fought at the crossroads villages of Breitenfeld , Podelwitz , and Seehausen , approximately five miles northwest of the walled city of Leipzig on September 17 , or September 7 The Battle of Breitenfeld or First Battle of Breitenfeld...

, the Catholic League led by General Tilly was defeated by the Swedish forces. A year later (1632), they met again in the Battle of Rain
Battle of Rain
The Battle of Rain was fought on April 15, 1632, as part of the Thirty Years' War. The forces involved in this conflict were 40,000 Swedish troops under Gustavus Adolphus and 25,000 Catholic League troops under Count Johan Tzerclaes of Tilly...

, and this time General Tilly was killed. The upper hand had now switched from the league to the union, led by Sweden, who were able to attack and capture or destroy the territories of the Catholic League. Even Munich
Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

, the capital of Bavaria
Bavaria
Bavaria, formally the Free State of Bavaria is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of Germany. With an area of , it is the largest state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany...

, was conquered. Thereafter, the German Catholic League did not play a major role in later events.

The Peace of Prague
Peace of Prague (1635)
The Peace of Prague of 30 May 1635 was a treaty between the Habsburg Emperor Ferdinand II and the Electorate of Saxony representing most of the Protestant states of the Holy Roman Empire...

 of 30 May 1635, was a treaty between the Holy Roman Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor
The Holy Roman Emperor is a term used by historians to denote a medieval ruler who, as German King, had also received the title of "Emperor of the Romans" from the Pope...

, Ferdinand II, and most of the Protestant states of the Empire. It effectively ended the civil war aspect of the Thirty Years' War. The Edict of Restitution
Edict of Restitution
The Edict of Restitution, passed eleven years into the Thirty Years' Wars on March 6, 1629 following Catholic successes at arms, was a belated attempt by Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor to impose and restore the religious and territorial situations reached in the Peace of Augsburg...

 of 1629 was effectively revoked, with the terms of the Peace of Augsburg
Peace of Augsburg
The Peace of Augsburg, also called the Augsburg Settlement, was a treaty between Charles V and the forces of the Schmalkaldic League, an alliance of Lutheran princes, on September 25, 1555, at the imperial city of Augsburg, now in present-day Bavaria, Germany.It officially ended the religious...

 of 1555 being reestablished as at November 12, 1627.

One of the most important regulations was that formal alliances between states of the Empire were prohibited. The armies of the various states were to be unified with those of the Emperor as an army for the Empire as a whole. The result of this clause was the end of the Catholic League, a now prohibited alliance between states of the Empire.

As well as ending the fighting between the various states, the treaty also ended religion as a source of national conflict; the principle of cuius regio, eius religio
Cuius regio, eius religio
Cuius regio, eius religio is a phrase in Latin translated as "Whose realm, his religion", meaning the religion of the ruler dictated the religion of the ruled...

was established for good within the Empire.
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