War of the Jülich Succession

The War of the Jülich Succession was a military conflict over the right of succession to the United Duchies of Jülich-Cleves-Berg. It lasted between 10 June 1609 and 24 October 1610, resuming in May 1614 and finally ending in 13 October 1614. The first round of the conflict pitted Catholic Archduke Leopold V against the combined forces of the Protestant Margraviate of Brandenburg and Palatinate-Neuburg, ending in the former's military defeat. The representatives of the Brandenburg and Neuburg later entered into a direct conflict after their religious conversion to Calvinism and Catholicism respectively. The conflict was further complicated by the involvement of Spain and the Netherlands making it part of the Eighty Years' War. It was finally settled by the Treaty of Xanten, provisions of which favored Spain.

War of the Jülich Succession
Part of European wars of religion
and the Eighty Years' War
The Siege of Aachen

The Siege of Aachen by the Spanish Army of Flanders under Ambrogio Spinola in 1614. Oil on canvas. Attributed to Peter Snayers.
Date10 June 1609 – 24 October 1610
May 1614 – 13 October 1614
Result Treaty of Xanten
Holy Roman Empire Rudolph II
Straatsburg-Bistum.PNG Principality of Strasbourg
Prince-Bishopric of Liège
Catholic League
Margraviate of Brandenburg
Wappen-neuburg.jpg Palatinate-Neuburg
 United Provinces
 Kingdom of France
Protestant Union
Spain Spanish Empire
Wappen-neuburg.jpg Palatinate-Neuburg
Margraviate of Brandenburg
Free Imperial City of Aachen
 United Provinces
Commanders and leaders
Holy Roman Empire Archduke Leopold V

Spain Ambrogio Spinola
Wappen-neuburg.jpg Wolfgang Wilhelm, Count Palatine of Neuburg
Wappen-neuburg.jpg Wolfgang Wilhelm, Count Palatine of Neuburg
Joachim Ernst, Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach
Kingdom of France Claude de La Chatre, Baron de la Maisonfort
Dutch Republic Maurice of Nassau
Otto von Solms–Braunfels

George William, Elector of Brandenburg
Dutch Republic Maurice of Nassau


The rapid spread of the Lutheran and Calvinist doctrines following the schism of Roman Catholic Church was met by a period of Catholic resurgence known as Counter-Reformation. Such interdenominational conflicts as the Cologne War and Strasbourg Bishops' War prompted creation of the Catholic League and the Protestant Union, with the intention of safeguarding the interests of the Holy Roman Empire's Catholic and Protestant nobility respectively. The aforementioned alliances entered their first conflict in 1609, when a succession crisis in the United Duchies of Jülich-Cleves-Berg sparked the War of the Jülich Succession. The territories in question covered an area of 14,000 km², having both geopolitical importance due to their proximity to the Spanish Road and a booming economy which was fueled by refugees fleeing the lands ravaged by the Eighty Years' War. The mentally ill duke Johann Wilhelm died on 25 March 1609, leaving no children to succeed him. Emperor Rudolf II had claims to the duchies stemming from intermarriage, however he was unable to openly declare his intentions without compromising his perceived neutrality. A total of six other claimants appeared, with rulers of the Margraviate of Brandenburg and Duchy of Palatinate-Neuburg having the only credible claims through their marriage to Johann Wilhelm's aunts. On 2 April, a regency was established, including the duke's wife Antoinette of Lorraine, the privy councilors and an imperial commissioner. On 24 May, Rudolf II announced that the Aulic Council was to provide a definite verdict within four weeks.[1]


Brandenburg and Neuburg viewed the regency as a direct attempt at annexing the duchy. On 10 June 1609, they signed the Treaty of Dortmund, rejecting all other claimants and establishing a provisional government together with the local estates. Their troops entered the duchy in defiance to the acting regency and the Emperor. In January 1610, Henry IV of France signed a draft military pact with the Protestant Union, dispatching 22,000 men under Marshal de La Chatre to north–east France. A comparable number of troops was dispatched by the Dutch towards Schenkenschanz, in an apparent show of force towards Spain. Archduke Leopold V sought to raise his profile in the ongoing power struggle between the Emperor and Archduke Matthias by convincing the former to annul the Treaty of Dortmund and appoint him as the imperial commissioner. Leopold triumphantly entered Jülich, however he soon found himself besieged by an army three times his size, as fighting spread to Aachen and Düren. The struggle between the Catholic royal family and the Protestant princes brought fears of a larger religious war. The Protestant Union mobilized 5,000 men, while Leopold recruited 1,000 cavalry and 3,000 infantry in the Prince-Bishopric of Strasbourg. His Habsburg relatives and the rest of the Catholic League refused to openly support Leopold, only gathering troops for their own protection. On 13 March 1610, the Protestant count Otto von Solms–Braunfels invaded Strasbourg with 2,000 troops. The Catholics simply retreated into walled towns such as Saverne, waiting until the ill–disciplined invaders ran out of money and retreated. A meeting was set in Prague on 1 May 1610, in order to broker a settlement. Rudolf's initial decision to enfeoff the entire duchy to Christian II, Elector of Saxony was rejected by a number of moderate princes, leading to postpone further negotiations until August.[2]

A second Protestant invasion, this time consisting of 9,800 troops and artillery, succeeded in seizing Dachstein, Mutzig and Molsheim, however it was also brought to halt after the local population refused to supply it food. In the meantime Leopold fled Jülich, leaving 1,500 troops inside. Their fate was sealed as the Kingdom of France and the Dutch Republic finally intervened in support of the Protestants, aiming to antagonize Spain by putting further pressure on the Spanish Road. The Dutch intercepted a relief party heading from the Prince-Bishopric of Liège, while also bolstering the besiegers into a combined total of 25,200 troops. On 1 September, the garrison surrendered in return for free passage into upper Alsace. On 24 October, the Protestant Union and the Catholic League agreed to withdraw their forces and disband them until the end of the year. The war severely depleted the coffer of all the involved parties, leading to increased taxes which in their turn triggered the 1612 Tirol Peasant Revolt. Possessors Wolfgang Wilhelm, Count Palatine of Neuburg and Joachim Ernst, Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach took over the duchy by military might, without being able to secure official recognition.[3]

In 1611, Protestantism spread to the villages of Stolberg and Weiden in the vicinity of Aachen. In response, the city council of Aachen imposed a fine on those inhabitants who attended these services. Five citizens were detained for ignoring the town's decree and banished as they refused to pay the fine. This caused a riot against the council on 5 July. The Catholic counselors were expelled and many Catholic buildings were sacked. The rebels assaulted the church and the College of the Jesuits, smashed the altars and images, and held a mock mass dressed in confiscated priestly garments. A new Protestant council was established and appealed for support to the Possessors. In 1612, Rudolf ordered the Possessors to reinstate Catholicism in the city of Aachen under the menace of a ban. The city's Protestants, however, ignored the command and seriously wounded an Imperial commissary sent to implement the Emperor's edict.[4][5]

Upon Rudolf's death, Emperor Matthias confirmed Saxony's rights to the fief, rekindling the dispute. Furthermore the conversions of Ernst and Wolfgang Wilhelm to Calvinism and Catholicism respectively completely restructuring their past alliances. Brandenburg and Neuburg officials ceased communicating with each other by the beginning of 1614. In May 1614, 300 Dutch troops ejected the Neuburg garrison from Jülich, in an attempt by the Dutch statesman Johan van Oldenbarnevelt to prevent a Brandenburg plot against the former. Wolfgang Wilhelm interpreted it as a declaration of war, raising 900 troops and taking Düsseldorf. The new Brandenburg possessor George William was indeed plotting a coup, nevertheless his financial dependence on the Dutch prevented him from fulfilling his plans. Another misunderstanding took place when Spain and Albert VII, Archduke of Austria interpreted the Dutch military build up as a violation of the Twelve Years' Truce, mobilizing 13,300 infantry and 1,300 cavalry under Spanish general Ambrogio Spinola.[6] [5]

On 20 February 1614, Emperor Matthias ordered the restoration of the Catholic rule in Aachen. Fearing an attack, the town council requested the aid of the Elector of Brandenburg, who sent several hundred soldiers under general Georg von Pulitz to reinforce the local militia. On 24 August, Spinola besieged Aachen under the premise of imposing a two year old imperial edict issued by Rudolf. After several days of negotiations the garrison was allowed to leave together with Protestant clerics and non citizens. The old city council was reinstated while the participants of the 1611 riots were punished. From Aachen Spinola pressed on towards Düren, Neuss, Wesel and Mülheim, which he captured with Wolfgang Wilhelm's help. The Dutch occupied the duchy of Mark and the rest of Cleves, while also reinforcing Jülich.[7][8] [6]


On 13 October 1614, Spinola and Maurice of Nassau initiated peace negotiations under French and English mediation. The conflict ended with the signing of the Treaty of Xanten on 12 November. The territories of Jülich-Berg and Ravenstein went to Wolfgang Wilhelm of Neuburg, while Cleves-Mark and Ravensberg went to George William. Spain gained a total of 62 towns including three crossings across the Rhine river, namely Wesel, Orsoy and Rheinberg, significantly enhancing its position in north–west Europe. The Dutch retained their garrisons at Jülich and Pfaffenmütze; nevertheless they were now outflanked or even isolated, putting them in an unfavorable position when the Twelve Years' Truce expired in April 1621.[6][9][10][11]

See also


  1. ^ Wilson 2011, pp. 229–232.
  2. ^ Wilson 2011, pp. 232–236.
  3. ^ Wilson 2011, pp. 236–238, 252.
  4. ^ Duerloo 2012, pp. 343.
  5. ^ a b Janssen 1906, pp. 564–566.
  6. ^ a b c Wilson 2011, pp. 252–253.
  7. ^ Janssen 1906, pp. 564–567.
  8. ^ Duerloo 2012, pp. 347, 369.
  9. ^ Lawrence 2009, pp. 79.
  10. ^ Van Nimwegen 2010, pp. 79.
  11. ^ Hayden 1973, pp. 22–23.


  • Duerloo, Luc (2012). Dynasty and Piety: Archduke Albert (1598–1621) and Habsburg Political Culture in an Age of Religious Wars. Ashgate Publishing. ISBN 9780754669043.
  • Hayden, Michael (1973). "Continuity in the France of Henry IV and Louis XIII: French Foreign Policy 1598–1615". Journal of Modern History. University of Chicago Press. 45 (1): 1–23. doi:10.1086/240888. Retrieved 8 May 2016.
  • Janssen, Johannes (1906). History of the German People at the Close of the Middle Ages. Vol. X. Leading up to the Thirty Years' War. London: K. Paul, Trench, Trübner, & Co., Ltd. OCLC 1520859.
  • Lawrence, David (2009). The Complete Soldier: Military Books and Military Culture in Early Stuart England 1603–1645. Boston: Brill Academic Publishing. ISBN 90-04-17079-0.
  • Van Nimwegen, Olaf (2010). The Dutch Army and the Military Revolutions 1588–1688. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press. ISBN 978-1-84383-575-2.
  • Wilson, Peter (2011). The Thirty Years War: Europe's Tragedy. London: Belknap Press. ISBN 978-0674062313.

1614 (MDCXIV)

was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Saturday of the Julian calendar, the 1614th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 614th year of the 2nd millennium, the 14th year of the 17th century, and the 5th year of the 1610s decade. As of the start of 1614, the Gregorian calendar was

10 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.

Catholic League (German)

The Catholic League (Latin: Liga Catholica, German: Katholische Liga) was a coalition of Catholic states of the Holy Roman Empire formed 10 July 1609. While initially formed as a confederation to act politically to negotiate issues vis-à-vis the Protestant Union (formed 1608), modelled on the more intransigent ultra-Catholic French Catholic League (1576), it was subsequently concluded as a military alliance "for the defence of the Catholic religion and peace within the Empire".

Notwithstanding the league's founding, as had the founding of the Protestant Union, it further exacerbated long standing tensions between the Protestant reformers and the adherents of the Catholic Church which thereafter began to get worse with ever more frequent episodes of civil disobedience, repression, and retaliation that would eventually ignite into the first phase of the Thirty Years' War roughly a decade later with the act of rebellion and calculated insult known as the Second Defenestration of Prague on 23 May 1618.

County of Ravensberg

The County of Ravensberg (German: Grafschaft Ravensberg) was a historical county of the Holy Roman Empire. Its territory was in present-day eastern Westphalia, Germany at the foot of the Osning or Teutoburg Forest.

Duke Johann Wilhelm of Saxe-Altenburg

Duke Johann Wilhelm of Saxe-Altenburg (born 13 April 1600 in Torgau; died: 2 December 1632 outside Brzeg) was a member of the Ernestine branch of the House of Wettin and a titular Duke of Saxe-Altenburg and of Jülich-Cleves-Berg.

Hans Meinhard von Schönberg

Count Hans Meinhard von Schönberg auf Wesel (German: Graf Hans Meinhard von Schönberg auf Wesel) (August 28, 1582 – August 3, 1616) was a German nobleman and soldier, who served as hofmeister of Frederick V, Elector Palatine.

Johan Ernst van Nassau-Siegen

Johan (or John) Ernst of Nassau-Siegen or Hans Ernst (Dillenburg, 21 October 1582 - Udine, September 27, 1617) was a general in the Uskok War.

John Dickenson (author)

John Dickenson (c. 1570–1636) was an English author, known as a romance-writer. He was a follower in the school of John Lyly and Robert Greene. He worked for a time in the Low Countries, and Germany. Employed by George Gilpin and Ralph Winwood, he may have been a spy, and certainly was an agent of the government on the ground at the time of the War of the Jülich succession of 1610. He was employed on further missions, in Poland and Scandinavia.

Julius Frederick, Duke of Württemberg-Weiltingen

Duke Julius Frederick of Württemberg-Weiltingen (3 June 1588 in Montbéliard – 25 April 1635 in Strasbourg), was the first duke of Württemberg-Weiltingen.


Jüterbog is a historic town in north-eastern Germany, in the Teltow-Fläming district of Brandenburg. It is on the Nuthe river at the northern slope of the Fläming hill range, about 65 km (40 mi) southwest of Berlin.

Leopold V, Archduke of Austria

Leopold V, Archduke of Further Austria (October 9, 1586 – September 13, 1632) was the son of Archduke Charles II of Inner Austria, and the younger brother of Emperor Ferdinand II, father of Ferdinand Charles, Archduke of Further Austria. He was Bishop of Passau and of Strasbourg, until he resigned to get married, and Archduke of Further Austria including Tirol.

Leopold was born in Graz, and was invested as bishop in 1598, as a child, even though he had not been ordained as a priest; he became Bishop of Strasbourg in 1607, a post which he held until 1626. From 1609 onwards he fought with his mercenaries in the War of the Jülich succession against Maximilian III, Archduke of Further Austria in Tirol, and 1611 for Rudolf II in Bohemia. In 1614, he financed the construction of the Church of the Jesuit College of Molsheim, inside of which his coat of arms is since prominently displayed.

In 1619 upon the death of his kinsman and former rival, he became governor of Maximilian's inheritance: Further Austria and Tirol, where he attained the position of a sovereign, i.e. Archduke of Further Austria from 1626 to his death in 1632. In 1626 he resigned his ecclesiastical positions and married Claudia de' Medici. He had the Custom House and the Jesuit Church built in Innsbruck. He fought for the Veltlin and defended Tirol against the Swedes in 1632. He died in Schwaz, Tirol.

Magdalene of Jülich-Cleves-Berg

Duchess Magdalene of Jülich-Cleves-Berg (2 November 1553 – 30 August 1633) was the fifth child of Duke William "the rich" of Jülich-Cleves-Berg and Maria of Austria, a daughter of Emperor Ferdinand I.

She married in 1579 with Count Palatine John I the lame of Zweibrücken. Emperor Charles V had in 1546 granted the Duchy of Jülich-Cleves-Berg the right of female succession. So, when her brother, Duke John William, died in 1609 without a male heir of his own, both she and William's daughters could play a vital role in the question of who would inherit the important northwest German territory. Magdalene's husband John claimed the inheritance for Palatinate-Zweibrücken, as did the Elector of Brandenburg, John Sigismund, who was married to Anna, a daughter of Magdalena's sister Marie Eleonore (John Sigismund claimed his marriage contract from 1573 gave him the best claim). The third claimant was Count Palatine Philip Louis of Neuburg, the husband of Magdalen's other sister Anna. Finally, the Duchy of Saxony claimed Jülich-Cleves-Berg, based on an agreement to that effect with the Emperor.

Since all claimants were members of comprehensive European coalitions and so the Habsburgs and France were indirectly involved, an international conflict threatened: the War of the Jülich succession. However, after King Henry IV of France died, the conflict could be settled provisionally by the Treaty of Xanten. The duchy was divided between Brandenburg and Palatinate-Neuburg. In the meantime, Magdalena's husband had died in 1604 and his claim had been inherited by her eldest son John II (1584–1635), who did not receive a share under the Treaty of Xanten.

Magdalene's daughter Elisabeth (1581–1637) married Georg Gustav, Count Palatine of Pfalz-Veldenz. She also had two younger sons: Frederick Casimir (1585–1645) and John Casimir (1589–1652). She died in 1633 and was buried in the Reformed Church of Meisenheim.

Ravenstein, Netherlands

Ravenstein (population: 8,466) is a city and a former municipality in the south of the Netherlands, in the province of North Brabant. The former municipality covered an area of 42.68 km² (of which 0.96 km² water). In 2003 it was incorporated into the city of Oss.

Ravenstein also included the following towns, villages and townships: Demen, Dennenburg, Deursen, Dieden, Herpen, Huisseling, Keent, Koolwijk, Neerlangel, Neerloon, Overlangel. There is also a primary school called 'Ravenstein', in Flushing (Dutch: Vlissingen).

Ravenstein received city rights in 1380.

Dieden, Demen en Langel was a separate municipality until 1923, when it was merged with Ravenstein.

Scotland and the Thirty Years' War

Scotland and the Thirty Years' War deals with the complicated involvement of the kingdom of Scotland in the Thirty Years' War of 1618–1648. Scotland and Scots were heavily entangled in both the diplomatic and military events centred on the Holy Roman Empire (roughly equating to modern Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic). There were a number of reasons for this participation.

Among these, the fate of the Scottish princess Elizabeth of Bohemia (daughter of King James VI & I) proved to be a key concern. Up to 50,000 Scottish troops arrived on the continent having been levied on warrants issued by the Privy Council and countersigned by their king, usually at periods corresponding to the participation of a particular ally in a campaign against the Habsburgs. They mostly served initially in established Scottish brigades in the Dutch Republic and Sweden which had existed before 1618. Later, specially commissioned army groups were also created in Denmark-Norway and France to facilitate further Scottish participation. Some fought for better prospects, some for kin loyalty, not a few for dynastic and confessional considerations. A few, the minority, were plain mercenaries. Although Scots participated from the start of the war until the end, formal participation by the nation was limited. Scotland formally declared war on Spain (1625–1630) and France (1627–1629), but for the most part, Scots engaged in foreign service with consent from their monarch and under warrants issued by the Privy Council but in armies commanded by their European allies.

Through such service a number of ambitious individual Scots in different European courts had a profound influence on the course of the war both conducting diplomacy and commanding entire army groups in the campaign. These included General Sir James Spens of Wormiston, Lieutenant General Patrick Ruthven, Lieutenant General James King and Field Marshal Alexander Leslie who all served in Sweden. These men were joined in Germany by an auxiliary army with Scots and English under notional Swedish command and led by James, 3rd Marquis Hamilton (1631–1632).

In France the main officers were Marechal de France John Hepburn (1634–1636), a former colonel in Swedish service, and Sir Robert Moray (1640s). In Denmark Robert Maxwell Earl of Nithsdale led a contingent including Donald Mackay Lord Reay and Colonel Robert Monro and Alexander Lindsay, 2nd Lord Spynie among others (1627–1629).

The Scots Brigade, which had existed since 1572, was another outlet for Scottish soldiers looking for service in Continental armies. Although in the service and under the payroll of the States-General of the Dutch Republic, these troops were, first and foremost, loyal to the House of Stuart. Nonetheless, Scottish soldiers may have chosen to serve in the Republic due to their religious beliefs, perhaps as part of movement of "Calvinist Internationalism." Notable officers include Colonel William Brog, William Balfour, James Livingston, 1st Earl of Callendar, and several generations of the Lords and Earls of Buccleuch. Notable engagements during their service in the Eighty Years' War include the Battle of Nieuwpoort (1600), the Siege of Ostend (1601-1604), the War of the Jülich Succession (1609-1610), the Siege of Bergen-op-Zoom (1622), the Siege of 's-Hertogenbosch (1629), and the Siege of Breda (1637), among countless others.

It is important to remember that not all Scots fought for or believed in the cause of either Elizabeth of Bohemia or the Protestant northern alliances. A number fought for the Habsburgs (Austrian and Spanish) for the same complex reasons as their countrymen; there were some committed to the counter-reformation, some compelled by circumstance and some opportunists such as Albrecht von Wallenstein's assassin, Count Walter Leslie.

Siege of Aachen

Siege of Aachen may refer to:

Siege of Aachen (1248), part of the crusade against Frederick II

Siege of Aachen (1614), part of the War of the Jülich Succession

Siege of Aachen (1614)

The Siege of Aachen took place in late August 1614, when the Spanish Army of Flanders, led by Ambrogio Spinola, 1st Marquis of the Balbases, marched from Maastricht to Germany to support Wolfgang Wilhelm, Count Palatine of Neuburg, during the War of the Jülich Succession. Despite its status as a free imperial city, Aachen was under the protection of John Sigismund of Brandenburg, Neunburg's ally, and then rival, in the battle for the United Duchies of Jülich-Cleves-Berg. In 1611, the Protestant population of Aachen had revolted against the Catholic city council and had seized power. When the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II, observing the Peace of Augsburg, had ordered the previous state to be restored, the Protestants had allied themselves with the Margraviate of Brandenburg. The unexpected arrival of a Spanish army at the gates of the city, however, caused the Protestants to lose courage and surrender Aachen to Spinola. A Catholic garrison was installed and a process of re-Catholicization began.

Siege of Jülich (1610)

The Siege of Jülich of 1610 took place from 28 July to 2 September 1610, during the opening stages of the War of the Jülich Succession. After an Imperial force occupied the city of Jülich, a Dutch, Palatine, and Brandenburg army besieged the city, compelling the Imperials to surrender and withdraw.

Treaty of Xanten

The Treaty of Xanten (German: Vertrag von Xanten) was signed in the Lower Rhine town of Xanten on November 12, 1614 between Wolfgang Wilhelm, Count Palatine of Neuburg and John Sigismund, Elector of Brandenburg, with representatives from England and France serving as mediators.

The treaty ended the War of the Jülich Succession and all hostilities between Wolfgang William and John Sigismund. Based on the terms of the treaty, the territories of Jülich-Berg and Ravenstein went to Wolfgang William. Moreover, the territories of Cleves-Mark and Ravensberg went to John Sigismund. These last territories were the first provinces at the Rhine and in Westphalia to be governed by the House of Hohenzollern, and were the oldest constituents of the future Prussian Rhineland and the future Province of Westphalia.

Upper Guelders

Upper Guelders or Spanish Guelders was one of the four quarters in the Imperial Duchy of Guelders. In the Dutch Revolt, it was the only quarter that did not secede from the Habsburg Monarchy to become part of the Seven United Netherlands, but remained under Spanish rule during the Eighty Years' War.

Íñigo de Borja

Don Íñigo de Borja y Velasco (1575–1622) was a Spanish nobleman and military commander who served as governor of Antwerp Citadel.

War of the Jülich Succession


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