The Battle of Mühlberg took place near Mühlberg in the Electorate of Saxony in 1547, during the Schmalkaldic War. The Catholic princes of the Holy Roman Empire led by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V decisively defeated the Lutheran Schmalkaldic League of Protestant princes under the command of Elector John Frederick I of Saxony and Landgrave Philip I of Hesse.
The battle ended the Schmalkaldic war and led to the dissolution of the Schmalkaldic League.
The spread of the Protestant Reformation in Germany after 1517 represented a major obstacle to the universalistic projects of Charles V, the Habsburg emperor. Attempts at reconciliation between Lutherans and Catholics at the diets of Speyer of 1526 and 1529 had failed, sharpening the mutual opposition between the two opposing sides.
The Reformation offered to most independent German states the pretext to affirm their autonomy not only on the religious level, but also on the political one. For some of these small states, belonging to the Holy Roman Empire (a political reality that had been fragmented for centuries) was indeed considered not much more than a mere formal act.
In 1531 some princes (most notably Philip I of Hesse and John Frederick, Elector of Saxony) were opposed to the Emperor's attempt to restore religious and political unity in the German lands through the re-proposal of the Worms Edict. This led to the formation of the Schmalkaldic League (named after the town of Schmalkalden in Thuringia where the pact was stipulated), a militarily defensive alliance with a markedly anti-Habsburg and anti-Catholic stance.
Although the birth of a Protestant coalition inside the Empire imperilled his power, Charles V did not initially attack the League. The League meanwhile received support from several free cities (Bremen, Hamburg, Lübeck, Ulm and Strasbourg), wishing to affirm their independence from the central power. The Protestant princes could also count on the support of the Kingdom of France, Charles' main foreign enemy. In need of the military support of the German states in his war against the Ottoman Turks in the eastern regions of his lands, the Emperor choose not to oppose the League and to grant wide autonomy to it. The Protestant leaders were therefore left free to support the Reformation and to fight the power of the Catholic bishops in the lands they controlled.
The conditions that forced Charles V to accept the actions of the League changed after a few years. In 1544 the signing of the Treaty of Crépy ended after decades the conflicts between the Emperor and Francis I of France for the control of the Italian peninsula. After the treaty the League lost the support of the French. Martin Luther's death in 1546 and the temporary cessation of the Turkish threat from the east also put Charles in the best possible condition to focus on the internal enemy that endangered the religious and territorial unity of Imperial Germany.
The opportunity to begin the conflict was given by the rivalry between the elector of Saxony John Frederick I and his cousin Maurice, both belonging to the House of Wettin. Despite his Protestant faith, Maurice had in 1542 refused to join the Schmalkaldic League. In 1546, with the assistance of Ferdinand I, the younger brother of Charles V, Maurice invaded the territory of John Frederick. When the attack begun John Frederick's armies were in Württemberg, but they managed to move to the occupied lands and repel Maurice's forces.
The Emperor decided to take advantage of the divisions between the Protestant armies, and he joined the war in 1547. He occupied Ulm and Württemberg and defeated the Palatine Elector, forcing him to surrender and to leave the League. With the beginning of spring Charles then marched toward Saxony to help Maurice's army and to end his clash with John Frederick, the last Protestant prince still opposing him.
Charles was suffering from gout at that time and his army had to face the desertion of the Papal soldiers that had helped him in the first part of the campaign. In addition the Saxon Elector's army was larger than Charles' forces. However, hoping to encourage a Protestant and anti-imperial uprising in Bohemia, John Frederick took the decision to split his forces and he deployed a large portion of his troops there.
He had also left some small detachments to protect the most vulnerable Saxon cities in order to prevent the entry of Charles' army from the south. With the intention of reaching the well defended stronghold of Wittemberg, the Elector then marched northwards, abandoning his position in Meissen and camping at the end of April at the town of Mühlberg, leaving only a few troops as guards on the bank of the Elbe river, that he considered too wide to be easily crossed by the imperial forces.
At the head of his army, Charles V arrived at the Elbe on the evening of 23 April. Despite the contrary opinion of his generals, he decided to attack the enemy forces, resting just a few miles away. At dawn on 24 April the first avant-gardes of the imperial army advanced, looking for a way for all the army to cross the river. Helped by the surprise and by the dense fog that had risen from the river, small groups of Spanish and Italian veteran soldiers managed to swim across the river and eliminate the few Saxon troops that were guarding the other side.
Meanwhile, some troops of the tercios of Lombardy and Naples, that were the most experienced soldiers in Charles' army, followed a plan set by Don Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, Duke of Alba and commander-in-chief of the Imperial troops in Germany and with the help of a local farmer, they managed to spot a ford to use that would allow all the army to cross the Elbe. In addition to this, some veteran soldiers were able to prevent the demolition of a pontoon bridge built by the Saxons, that was immediately used by the Imperial cavalry to pass safely to the other shore.
According to some sources John Frederick had considered an attack from Charles so unlikely that he would have ordered several commanders of his army to go to Mass just when the enemy army was about to complete the crossing of the Elbe. The Saxon forces were completely taken by surprise. As soon as he became aware of the fact, the Elector's first thought was to retreat towards Wittemberg. He soon realized though that his army would be too slow to be prepared to march in a short while; moreover he was convinced that only a vanguard of the main imperial army was attacking. So he ordered his troops to prepare for battle.
John Frederick chose to deploy his troops along the edge of a forest, in order to prevent a possible encirclement by the imperial cavalry and to have a safer escape route in case of retreat. The emperor Charles V also reached the battlefield and exhorted his troops to fight the Protestants. Due to gout, he was carried to the battle in a litter, rather than mounted in armour on the great warhorse as depicted by his court painter, Titian and assisted to the battle from the rear. The imperial army was made up of about 16-20,000 men. Among them there were the tercio of Lombardy, that of Naples, and that of Hungary, led by Álvaro de Sande.
The battle began in the evening; the Saxon army, mainly made up of peasants, succeeded in repelling the first assaults of the Hungarian cavalry, but the greater number and better preparedness of Charles' soldiers, among the best in the world at that time, decided the fate of the clash. The emperor had placed his cavalry on the two wings of his army. The right wing, under the direct command of the Duke of Alba, was heavier than the left one, led by Maurice of Saxony.
Once the fragile wings of the Saxon army were defeated, the infantry tercios, placed at the center, had a good game in breaking enemy resistance, forcing the Protestants to retreat through the adjacent forest. The Elector of Saxony showed great courage on the battlefield but was wounded in the face and captured by the imperial troops. The main part of his soldiers were chased and killed or captured.
Some sources report that Emperor Charles V commented on the victory with the sentence Vine, vi y venció Dios (in Spanish "I came, I saw, and God won"), a paraphrase of the famous exclamation pronounced by Julius Caesar.
The battle ended with a complete defeat of the Saxon army which suffered severe losses, estimated at around 2000-3000 men. In addition the Protestants suffered the almost complete capture of their artillery, ammunition, and banners; many soldiers also ended up prisoners. On the imperial side around fifty soldiers were killed.
John Frederick was responsible for not preparing an adequate defense on the river Elbe, that could have prevented the imperial troops crossing it. His surrender symbolically sanctioned the end of the Schmalkaldic League. Charles decided to spare his life but he had to exchange it with the capitulation of the stronghold of Wittemberg. He was condemned as a heretic and imprisoned, and was forced to leave the electoral privilege to his cousin Maurice, who for his help in the imperial victory was given the control of the Electorate of Saxony. John Frederick was later released in 1552, two years before his death.
The surrender of Philip of Hesse soon afterwards ended the Schmalkaldic War, but the Protestant problem remained unsolved. Many of the princes and key reformers, such as Martin Bucer, fled to England, where they directly influenced the English Reformation. The peace reached between Catholic and Protestants in Germany (Augsburg Interim, 1548) was not enough to bring peace inside the Empire and only in 1555 the Peace of Augsburg stated the end of the wars of religion in the Empire, allowing each ruler to choose between Catholicism and Lutheranism. That principle ended the project to reunite Germany under a single religious confession.
Year 1547 (MDXLVII) was a common year starting on Saturday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar.Augsburg Interim
The Augsburg Interim ("Declaration of His Roman Imperial Majesty on the Observance of Religion Within the Holy Empire Until the Decision of the General Council") was an imperial decree ordered on 15 May 1548 at the 1548 Diet of Augsburg by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, who had just defeated the forces of the Protestant Schmalkaldic League in the Schmalkaldic War of 1546/47. Although it ordered Protestants to readopt traditional Catholic beliefs and practices, including the seven Sacraments, it allowed for Protestant clergymen the right to marry and for the laity to receive communion in both kinds (bread and wine). It is considered the first significant step in the process leading to the political and religious legitimization of Protestantism as a valid alternative Christian creed to Roman Catholicism finally realized in the 1552 Peace of Passau and the 1555 Peace of Augsburg. The Interim became Imperial law on 30 June 1548. The Pope advised all bishops to abide by the concessions made to the Protestants in the Interim in August 1549.Battle of Drakenburg
The Battle of Drakenburg (German: Schlacht bei Drakenburg) took place on 23 May 1547 to the north of Nienburg, between the Protestant army of the Schmalkaldic League and the imperial troops of Eric II, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, Prince of Calenberg. It resulted in an imperial defeat. Eric was forced to swim over the Weser River to save his own life. As a consequence, the imperialists left northern Germany, contributing to freedom of religion for Lutherans and Catholics in northern Germany.Boží Dar
Boží Dar (German: Gottesgab) is a town in Karlovy Vary District, part of Karlovy Vary Region in the Czech Republic. Situated in the Ore Mountains at 1,028 m (3,373 ft) above sea level, it is considered the highest town in the Czech Republic.Capitulation of Wittenberg
The Capitulation of Wittenberg (German: Wittenberger Kapitulation) was a treaty in 1547 by which John Frederick I, Elector of Saxony, was compelled to resign the electoral dignity. The Electorate of Saxony and most of his territory, including Wittenberg, passed from the elder, Ernestine line to the cadet branch, the Albertine line of the House of Wettin.
Wittenberg had become the focal point of the Protestant Reformation. On the door of the castle church at Wittenberg in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses, the opening act of the Reformation. There in 1520 he burned the papal bull condemning him, and in 1534 the first Lutheran Bible was printed there. The Elector was the most important patron of the reforms.
In 1547 Emperor Charles V, with the assistance of the Duke of Alva, captured Wittenberg after the Battle of Mühlberg, where John Frederick I was taken prisoner. Then, the Duke of Alva presided over a court-martial and condemned him to death. To save his life, the Prince-Elector conceded the capitulation of Wittenberg, and, after having been compelled to resign the government of his country in favor of his relative, Maurice of Saxony, his condemnation was commuted to imprisonment for life. Rescued on 1 September 1552, his homeward journey was a triumphal march. He removed the seat of government to Weimar.
Wittenberg declined after 1547, when Dresden, residence of the Albertine dukes, replaced it as the Saxon capital.Edmond de Talleyrand-Périgord
Edmond de Talleyrand-Périgord, 2nd Duke of Talleyrand, 2nd Duke of Dino (1 August 1787, Paris – 14 May 1872, Florence), was a French general of the Napoleonic Wars.Electorate of Saxony
The Electorate of Saxony (German: Kurfürstentum Sachsen, also Kursachsen) was a state of the Holy Roman Empire established when Emperor Charles IV raised the Ascanian duchy of Saxe-Wittenberg to the status of an Electorate by the Golden Bull of 1356. Upon the extinction of the House of Ascania, it was feoffed to the Margraves of Meissen from the Wettin dynasty in 1423, who moved the ducal residence up the river Elbe to Dresden. After the Empire's dissolution in 1806, the Wettin Electors raised Saxony to a territorially reduced kingdom.Equestrian Portrait of Charles V
Equestrian Portrait of Charles V (also Emperor Charles V on Horseback or Charles V at Mühlberg) is an oil-on-canvas painting by the Italian Renaissance artist Titian. Created between April and September 1548 while Titian was at the imperial court of Augsburg, it is a tribute to Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, following his victory in the April 1547 Battle of Mühlberg against the Protestant armies.
The portrait in part gains its impact by its directness and sense of contained power: the horse's strength seems just in check, and Charles' brilliantly shining armour and the painting's deep reds are reminders of battle and heroism. Titian recorded all of the foreground elements—the horse, its caparison, and the rider's armour—from those used in the actual battle. Both the armour and harness survive, and are kept at the Royal Armoury in Madrid. It was acquired by the Museo del Prado in 1827.Falkenberg/Elster
Falkenberg is a town in the Elbe-Elster district, in southwestern Brandenburg, Germany. It is situated near the river Schwarze Elster, 16 km east of Torgau, and 13 km northwest of Bad Liebenwerda.Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, 3rd Duke of Alba
Fernando Álvarez de Toledo y Pimentel, 3rd Duke of Alba, GE, KOGF, GR (29 October 1507 – 11 December 1582), known as the Grand Duke of Alba (Spanish: Gran Duque de Alba) in Spain and the Iron Duke (Dutch: IJzeren Hertog) in the Netherlands, was a Spanish noble, general, and diplomat. He was titled the 3rd Duke of Alba de Tormes, 4th Marquess of Coria, 3rd Count of Salvatierra de Tormes, 2nd Count of Piedrahita, 8th Lord of Valdecorneja, Grandee of Spain, and a Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece. His motto in Latin was Deo patrum Nostrorum, which in English means "To the God of our fathers".
He was an adviser of King Charles I of Spain (Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor), and his successor, Philip II of Spain, Mayordomo mayor of both, member of their Councils of State and War, governor of the Duchy of Milan (1555–1556), viceroy of the Kingdom of Naples (1556–1558), governor of the Netherlands (1567–1573) and viceroy and constable of the Kingdom of Portugal (1580–1582). He represented Philip II in negotiating Philip's betrothal to Elisabeth of Valois and Anna of Austria, who were the third and fourth, and last, wives of the king.
By some historians he is considered the most effective general of his generation as well as one of the greatest in military history. Although a tough leader, he was respected by his troops. He touched their sentiments e.g. by addressing them in his speeches as "gentlemen soldiers" (señores soldados), but was also popular among them for daring statements such as:
Kings use men like oranges, first they squeeze the juice and then throw away the peel.
Alba especially distinguished himself in the conquest of Tunis (1535) during the Ottoman-Habsburg wars when Carlos I defeated Hayreddin Barbarossa and returned the Spanish Monarchy to predominance over the western Mediterranean Sea. He also distinguished himself in the battle of Mühlberg (1547), where the army of Emperor Charles defeated the German Protestant princes.
On December 26, 1566 he received the Golden Rose, the blessed sword and hat granted by Pope Pius V, through the papal brief Solent Romani Pontifices, in recognition of his singular efforts in favor of Catholicism and for being considered one of his championsHe is best known for his actions against the revolt of the Netherlands, where he instituted the Council of Troubles, and repeatedly defeated the troops of William of Orange and Louis of Nassau during the first stages of the Eighty Years' War. He is also known for the brutalities during the capture of Mechelen, Zutphen, Naarden and Haarlem. In spite of these military successes, the Dutch revolt was not broken and Alba was recalled to Spain. His last military successes were in the Portuguese succession crisis of 1580, winning the Battle of Alcantara and conquering that kingdom for Philip II. Spain unified all the kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula and consequently expanded its overseas territories.House of Mansfeld
The House of Mansfeld was a princely German house, which took its name from the town of Mansfeld in the present-day state of Saxony-Anhalt. Mansfelds were archbishops, generals, supporters as well as opponents of Martin Luther, and Habsburg administrators.House of Wettin
The House of Wettin (German: Haus Wettin) is a dynasty of German counts, dukes, prince-electors and kings that once ruled territories in the present-day German states of Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia. The dynasty is one of the oldest in Europe, and its origins can be traced back to the town of Wettin, Saxony-Anhalt. The Wettins gradually rose to power within the Holy Roman Empire. Members of the family became the rulers of several medieval states, starting with the Saxon Eastern March in 1030. Other states they gained were Meissen in 1089, Thuringia in 1263, and Saxony in 1423. These areas cover large parts of Central Germany as a cultural area of Germany.
The family divided into two ruling branches in 1485 by the Treaty of Leipzig: the Ernestine and Albertine branches. The older Ernestine branch played a key role during the Protestant Reformation. Many ruling monarchs outside Germany were later tied to its cadet branch, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. The Albertine branch, while less prominent, ruled most of Saxony and played a part in Polish history.
Agnates of the House of Wettin have, at various times, ascended the thrones of Great Britain, Portugal, Bulgaria, Poland, Saxony, and Belgium. Only the British and Belgian lines retain their thrones today.John Ernest, Duke of Saxe-Eisenach
Johann Ernst of Saxe-Eisenach (Gotha, 9 July 1566 – Eisenach, 23 October 1638), was a duke of Saxe-Eisenach and later of Saxe-Coburg.
He was the fourth (but second surviving) and youngest son of Johann Frederick II, Duke of Saxony and Countess Palatine Elisabeth of Simmern-Sponheim.
His grandfather, Johann Frederick I, had still held the title of Elector of Saxony, but after the Battle of Mühlberg he lost the title to his cousin Maurice, from the Albertine line. His father tried since then to regain the Electorate again for the Ernestine line. For this purpose he accepted an outlawed knight, Wilhelm von Grumbach, with himself, which led finally to the fact that also over his father the anger of the Emperor. Only one year after his birth was besieged the castle of his father in Gotha by troops of the Elector Augustus of Saxony and finally conquered. His father came into imperial prison from the rest of his life. His mother, Johann Ernst and his older brothers had to flee from Gotha. They found first admission with his uncle, the duke Johann Wilhelm of Saxe-Weimar, who took over also the guardianship for the princes -at the same time, he was granted by the Emperor with the lands of his brother Johann Frederick II-. After a short time in Weimar, Johann Ernst, as well as his mother and his brothers, lived in Eisenach and Eisenberg.
Later, his uncle Johann Wilhelm of Saxe-Weimar lost the Imperial favour. In the Diet of Speyer (1570), the Emperor decided to restore to the three sons of Johann Frederick II his hereditary rights.
In 1572 his older brother Frederick Heinrich died from typhus fever. The same year, by the Division of Erfurt, the decision of the Diet of Speyer was made: The lands of his father were extracted again from the duchy of Saxe-Weimar, and created from them the new Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Eisenach. Johann Ernst and his older surviving brother, Johann Casimir, were made rulers of the new country. During there minority, the lands were under the guardianship of the three Elector Princes: Frederick III of the Palatinate (also his maternal grandfather), Johann George of Brandenburg and Augustus of Saxony; also, they took the regency over Saxe-Coburg-Eisenach.
The duchess Elizabeth moved to Austria, where she should live themselves in the future in the proximity of her husband, still imperial prissioner. The two young princes, Johann Casimir and Johann Ernst, moved to Coburg, the future residence of his new principality. With only six years, Johann Ernst was separated from his parents forever and entrusted to the education of strange persons. Since 1578 he visited the University of Leipzig then together with his brother. In 1586, after the wedding of his brother with Anna of Saxony, the daughter of the Elector Augustus, the guardianship finalized, and Johann Casimir began, together with his brother, the independent ruling of Saxe-Coburg-Eisenach. Johann Casimir and Johann Ernst governed together the principality for the next ten years; however, Johann Casimir carried the main responsibility for the government as an older brother. Also, in order to had a separated residence from his brother too, Johann Ernst establishes himself in the small town of Marksuhl on 1587. Since 1590 Johann Ernst withdrew himself from the government of the duchy, with his brother completely agreed it, that this should govern the duchy for five years alone, when this time had elapsed and finally agreed (in 1596) with its brother to a new divisionary treaty. The duchy of Saxe-Eisenach was taken by Johann Ernst as independent principality separated from Saxe-Coburg, who remained with Johann Casimir. Thus, Saxe-Eisenach, for the first time in his history, had his own independent political unit became within the Holy Roman Empire. During his first year of reign, Johann Ernst still live in Marsuhl because Eisenach, the new capital of his country, was inhabited and, only with the establishment of his official residence the citizens began to moved there.
In 1598 Johann Ernst created for his duchy his own Landesregierung (Federal State Government) and a Konsistorium. In 1633 his brother, the duke Johann Casimir of Saxe-Coburg, died childless. For this, Johann Ernst inherited Saxe-Coburg, and until his own death he governed both countries in a personal union, but maintains, however, his residence in Eisenach.
In Wiener Neustadt on 23 November 1591 Johann Ernst married firstly with Elisabeth of Mansfeld-Hinterort. She died four days after giving birth to their only son:
John Frederick, Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Coburg-Eisenach (b. and d. Marksuhl, 8 April 1596).In Rotenburg on 14 May 1598 Johann Ernst married secondly with Christine of Hesse-Kassel. The marriage was happy, but remained childless.
With the death of Johann Ernst ended the older line of Saxe-Coburg-Eisenach. His principality was divided (under the rules of the Ernestine line) between Saxe-Weimar and Saxe-Altenburg.John Frederick I, Elector of Saxony
Johann Frederick I (German: Johann Friedrich I; 30 June 1503 in Torgau – 3 March 1554 in Weimar), called Johann the Magnanimous, was Elector of Saxony (1532-1547) and head of the Schmalkaldic League.Liebenburg
Liebenburg is a municipality in the district of Goslar, in Lower Saxony, Germany.Schmalkaldic War
The Schmalkaldic War (German: Schmalkaldischer Krieg) refers to the short period of violence from 1546 until 1547 between the forces of Emperor Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire (simultaneously King Charles I of Spain), commanded by Don Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, Duke of Alba, and the Lutheran Schmalkaldic League within the domains of the Holy Roman Empire.Vogtland
Vogtland (German pronunciation: [ˈfoːktlant], Czech: Fojtsko) is a region spanning the German federal states of Bavaria, Saxony and Thuringia and north-western Bohemia in the Czech Republic. It overlaps with and is largely contained within Euregio Egrensis. The name alludes to the former leadership by the Vögte ("advocates" or "lords protector") of Weida, Gera and Plauen.Álvaro de Sande
Don Álvaro de Sande (1489 – 20 October 1573) was a Spanish nobleman and military leader.
He was born in Cáceres, the son of Don Juan de Sande, second señor de Valhondo. Don Alvaro de Sande participated in numerous campaigns in the Spanish Army, including the Conquest of Tunis (1535), the conquest of Düren and Roermond in 1543, and the grand Battle of Mühlberg in 1549, in which Sande distinguished himself. When the German Campaign ended, Sande fought in the Italian War of 1551–1559 against France in the Tercios of Milan.
Despite his advanced age, he participated in 1560 in the Battle of Djerba against the Turks, which ended in disaster.
After the sea battle, the surviving soldiers took refuge in the fort they had completed just days earlier. When Giovanni Andrea Doria managed to escape in a small vessel, de Sande became commander of the force in the fort, which was soon attacked by the combined forces of Piyale Pasha and Turgut Reis. After a siege of three months, the garrison surrendered and 5,000 prisoners, including Alvaro de Sande, were carried back to Istanbul. After 2 years, de Sande was ransomed for 60,000 escudos and returned to Spain. The Holy Roman Empire's ambassador to Constantinople, Ogier de Busbecq, assisted the Spanish prisoners held by the Turks and was involved in securing de Sande's release. The two men travelled together as far as Vienna in the autumn of 1562. De Sande fought against the Turks again at the Siege of Malta in 1565.
Álvaro de Sande received Valdefuentes from King Philip II and was made first Marqués de la Piovera. He became interim Governor of the Duchy of Milan on 21 August 1571, a position that he held until 7 April 1572.
He married Antonia de Guzmán and had a son Rodrigo de Sande, 2nd marquês de la Piovera. He died in Milan.