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nand, on the contrary, was resolved on the extirpation of the Protestants; determined by the help of fire and sword, and what help the heaven he besieged with prayer might send, to restore a catholicity of faith, to ignore all that had been accomplished by Luther, Calvin, Erasmus, and other reformers: there should be but one faith-one church-one highway to heaven, a faith and church and highway approved of by Ferdinand the magnificent, or
Not to be
There is a story told of two Irish chieftains in ancient times, one of whom despatched to the other a dubious message with a threat unexpressed, but emphatic. "Pay me tribute, or elseintimidated nor outdone in equivoque, the other replied, "I owe you no tribute, and if" Of course they fell to fighting.
Something like this was the condition of the quarrel between Ferdinand and the German Protestant States. Nothing was very clearly expressed on either side, but both meant defiance, and victory or death.
The resistance to Austria had, as we have shown, begun in Bohemia: the Protestants had invited Frederick of the Palatinate, son-in-law of James the First, to become their king. Like a young and foolish man, he accepted their offer; assumed the crown, to have it taken from him, and himself driven into exile, losing not only his new kingdom, but his old Palatinate. Spain, Bavaria, and Austria, all leagued against the Protestant States, presented an invulnerable front to the united efforts― feeble it must be owned-of an allied host enlisted in the Protestant cause.
All Germany was overrun with the victorious troops, and the most horrible desolation followed the triumphant march of Wallenstein, Piccolomini, and Tilly.
The war had its origin in Frederick of the Palatinate accepting the Bohemian crown; but it rapidly assumed a wider and more serious aspect than could have been the case, had the mere question been the restoration of this simple-minded man's hereditary possession. It became a battle of belief -the crusade of political and religious intolerance, and it lasted thirty years.
Where commerce had built her giant cities, and enriched her merchants with tribute from the very ends of the earth, where richly laden argosies were moored on rivers more auriferous than fabled Pactolus, and where merchant princes dwelt in state surpassing that of emperors born in the purple, there was ruin-utter and irremediable. Houses marked by smouldering embers-ships burnt to the water's edge-stately halls but charred and blackened timbers-and crushed and mutilated corpses everywhere.
Where cattle grazed and crops ripened, where smiling homesteads gave invitation to the passer by, where orchards exhibited their tempting fruit, and old mills lazily performed their work as if there was no hurry, but plenty of time on hand to stop and think about it-where in the green meadows and the yellow uplands there were all the indications of a happy, prosperous, and contented people-there was now desolation and death. Villages lay in ashes; where the peasant had so often engaged in the wild frolic of the kermese, there were headless bodies-naked, young, old,
men, women, rich, poor, literally stripped of everything, and flung together in a ghastly heap. The corn ready for the sickle had been firedwantonly destroyed; Ruth and Boaz-wealthy landowners and humble gleaners consumed amid the sheaves; granaries had been ransacked and thousands of flour sacks emptied of their contents into the river. was neither the lowing of oxen, nor bleating of sheep-herds and flocks had been driven off by the Austrian soldiers. Everywhere there was wanton destruction, and outrages unnameable. The sword to the throat, and the fire to the roof tree, were mercies compared with some of the
atrocious acts which were not only tolerated but applauded by gentlemen and soldiers.
Christian IV. of Denmark, observing with grief and indignation the horrible condition to which Germany was being reduced, attempted a diversion in favour of the Protestant princes, but the attempt was futile: he was not only repulsed, but drew the armies of Austria into his own dominions." But in Sweden had risen up a king, able, pious, earnestly desirous of the restoration of Protestantism, and qualified by a long
military experience, though yet a young man, to cope with any general of the age. Gustavus Adolphus had mounted the Swedish throne at the age of eighteen, and was now only seven-and-thirty; yet he had already maintained a seventeen years' war against Poland, backed by the power of Austria. But now an armistice of six years had been settled with Poland. Wallenstein, the ablest general of Austria, had been removed from the command, in consequence of the universal outcry of the German princes. in an imperial council at Ratisbon against his cruelties and exactions; and the far-seeing Richelieu, who was attacking the Spaniards in Italy
and the Netherlands, perceiving the immense advantages of such disunion in Germany, had offered to make an alliance with the Swedes."
Towards the close of the month of June, 1630, Gustavus Adolphus entered on the campaign. He embarked fifteen thousand of his veteran troops at Elfsnab and crossed into Pomerania. This province had to a certain extent been abandoned by the imperial troops and fell an easy prey to the Swedish king. Its towns and fortifications fell into his hands almost without a struggle, as the Austrian general, Torquato Conti, retreated before him without coming to a general engagement; but in his retreat Conti destroyed everything-he left the country a desert. "During a whole day's march Gustavus Adolphus saw not a single head of cattle, but wretched creatures crowding round, imploring food to save them from death, and presenting the appearance of ghosts rather than men."
The earliest intelligence received by the heroic Swede related to the hazardous position of the important city of Magdeburg; he sent to the citizens a message entreating them to hold out for three weeks, when he hoped to bring them relief.
Magdeburg (capital of the Prussian province of Saxony) occupies an important position on the Elbe. It was of importance to the Imperialists to hold this town and fortress, or to destroy both; but favourably situated for defence, strongly fortified, and garrisoned by brave men, it had withstood the great Wallenstein for seven months and was at the period to which we refer (1629), showing the same bold front to Tilly-a general who had earned for himself the surname of the Ferocious. Magdeburg held staunchly to political independence and religious liberty. The atrocities committed by the imperial troops failed to strike terror into the breasts of the citizens. They believed their position to be well-nigh impregnable, and they looked for relief from Gustavus. But day by day passed over, and week by week, and still no help came. The besieged looked out wistfully for any sign of an approaching army, but they saw nothing but the entrenchments of the besiegers and the grim soldiery who were only biding their time to sack one of the fairest cities in Europe.
Gustavus on quitting Pomerania had pushed on, carrying all before him; he had beaten the Austrians at Frankfort-on-the-Oder, and might have attained a complete victory had the German princes seconded his efforts. Unfortunately they showed no great zeal in the cause, and, indignant at their timidity, he threatened to march back to Stockholm. But the critical condition of Magdeburg made him unwilling to resign the object
of his expedition-besides his promise, which, alas! for Magdeburg, was never to be redeemed.
Apprehensive of the approach of Gustavus, Tilly cast about for some ingenious scheme whereby the city might be taken. To starve it into surrender was impossible for want of time; to carry it by assault equally impracticable on account of its great strength and the vigilance of its garrison; but it might be overcome by stratagem.
One morning early in the month of May, 1631, the citizens of Magdeburg were surprised by the cessation of the fire from the Austrian batteries. That fire had been the daily music to which they had grown
familiar, and when it ceased they looked hopefully at each other and felt that deliverance was at hand. These Austrian butchers, doubtless, had been informed of the coming of Gustavus and were ready to take flight. This surmise was confirmed by the breaking up of Tilly's camp and the rapid retreat of his troops.
The citizens watched the departure of the enemy with the utmost joy; relief was surely at hand; they at least were to be spared the "tender mercies" of those ferocious troopers who had won for themselves eternal infamy by their revolting cruelty. So said, so thought, the good folks of Magdeburg, and quiet families clustered round the board at evening meal