Page images
PDF
EPUB

mand. His first operations, indeed, were crowned with sucNear Wiesloch the united Protestant army fell

April 17. Combat at

cess.

upon the Bavarians, and inflicted a severe loss upon

Wiesloch. the enemy. Tilly, retreating to Wimpfen on the

Neckar, called upon Cordova for assistance, and in the face of so imminent a danger he did not call in vain. Yet though, in spite of the junction of the Imperialist commanders, Frederick's forces were still more numerous than the enemy, he was unable to profit by this advantage. There was no unity of action in his camp. The Margrave proposed that the enemy should be kept in check till the arrival of Christian enabled them to overwhelm him by sheer force of numbers. To this plan Mansfeld was unwilling or unable to accede. For an army such as his it was a physical impossibility to occupy the same position for more than one or two days without starvation. In spite of all remonstrances, he marched away, with the intention of seizing the passage over the Neckar at Ladenburg, after which he would make a sudden swoop upon Cordova's bridge over the Rhine at Oppenheim. The Margrave remained at Wimpfen, to make head against the enemy as best he might. As might have been expected, Tilly profited by the opportunity. Gathering all his strength, he fell upon the The battle of troops which had been deserted by Mansfeld. On Wimpfen. the evening of April 26, the Margrave of Baden was flying in headlong rout from the battle-field of Wimpfen.

April 26.

Retreat of

In the meanwhile Mansfeld had taken Ladenburg, but he had done nothing more. Cordova, he heard, had, immediately after the battle, marched straight for Oppenheim, Mansfeld. and in that quarter nothing was to be effected. On the day of the battle there had been no more than two days' provisions in Mansfeld's camp. He had, therefore, now no choice before him but to beat a hasty retreat from the Palatinate, even if he had not been desirous to transfer his Alsace for reasons of his own. For he already looked upon Haguenau as a place destined to be the capital of the principality, to which he hoped to entitle himself by the sword, and he knew that siege had been laid to it by the Emperor's brother, the Archduke Leopold, who, rash and incompetent as

army to

1622

THE CONFERENCE AT BRUSSELS.

311

he was, was always better pleased to be at the head of an army than to preside in episcopal vestments in the cathedrals of Strasburg or Passau, of which sees an unwelcome fate had condemned him to call himself the Bishop. It was seldom, however, that his military efforts were crowned with success, and on this occasion he was only just in time to fly in hot haste before Mansfeld's superior forces.1

April 23.

out for

On April 23, three days before the rout at Wimpfen, Weston set out for Brussels. The temper in which he entered upon his embassy was only too likely to bring with Weston sets it grievous disappointment; for he seems to have Brussels. expected that, because he was himself sincerely desirous of peace, all difficulties would give way before him. Yet he ought to have known that the position of the Infanta was by no means an easy one. Fully empowered by the Emperor to negotiate the suspension of arms, and for the present, whatever her ulterior objects might be, enlisted in favour of the success of the negotiations, she could not fail to perceive that the news from the Palatinate was not favourable to peace. She had just heard of Frederick's arrival, of the rash words in which he had explained to Raville that he would not hear of a suspension of arms, and of his junction with the Margrave of Baden. She wrote despairingly to Philip, that before the negotiations could come to an agreement a whole year would have passed away.2

May. Opening of the negotiations.

A preliminary difficulty about the form in which the Emperor's authority to treat was couched, was soon got over, upon a promise made by the Infanta's ministers that a document, drawn up in proper form, should be forthcoming before the consultations were brought to an end. When it came to Weston's turn to produce his powers, a more formidable obstacle presented itself. He had brought with him an assurance from James that he would take care that his son-in-law conformed to his wishes; but from

1 Nethersole to Calvert, April 26, 29, May 5. Narrative by the Margrave of Baden, April. Wrenham to May 6, S. P. Germany. 2 The Infanta Isabella to Philip IV., April 21 Brussels MSS.

May I'

Frederick himself he could not produce a line; still less could he show that he had authority to make any engagement on behalf of either Mansfeld or Christian; and whatever might be the nominal position of those commanders, no one at Brussels doubted for an instant that they were practically their own masters.1 At last, on May 16, Weston was allowed to despatch a courier to the Palatinate, to request that Frederick and his generals would send representatives, to give him their advice at the conference. By this means he fondly hoped all obstacles would be overcome.2

difficulties.

Whilst Weston was struggling to disentangle the diplomatic web, Frederick had gone through many changes of opinion. Frederick's In truth, the dilemma into which he had brought himself, was one which admitted of no escape. Without either money or supplies, it was impossible for him to keep together an army in sufficient numbers to defeat the enemy. It was equally impossible for him to support his army without ravaging the neighbouring territories. It would be well with him if he could drive Tilly back to Bavaria. It would also be well with him if he could sign a peace which would enable him to disband his troops. A mere suspension of arms, which would oblige him to keep his forces together, but which would not enable him to feed them, was fraught with disaster. "A truce," he wrote to James, before he heard of the defeat of his ally at Wimpfen, "will be my utter ruin. The enemy will supply his army with food and money. We are in a ruined country, and we have no mines in the West Indies to fall back upon." 3 Even the bad news that followed did not alter his opinion. At last a sharp letter from James, coming simultaneously with Mansfeld's determination to abandon the attack upon Oppenheim, shook his resolution. On May 3 he wrote

'Weston to Calvert, May 15, S. P. Flanders.

2 Weston to Nethersole, May 16, S. P. Germany. Weston's Report, fol. 2, Inner Temple MSS. vol. 48.

Frederick to the King,

April 26
S. P. Germany.
May 5'

Vere and Nethersole to Calvert, June 11, S. P. Germany.

1622

FREDERICK AT DARMSTADT.

313

to assure his father-in-law that he was now ready to consent to a truce for a month.1

tendencies.

This mood did not last long. On the 18th, he met the Margrave of Baden at Spires, who assured him that, in spite of His warlike his defeat, he was still able to bring 7,000 men into the field. A fresh bargain was struck between them, and Frederick promised to agree to no terms without the consent of the Margrave. Christian was known to be at last approaching the Main, and it was settled that the two armies should again combine in order to effect a junction with the new

comers.

The day after this agreement had been made Weston's despatch arrived. Frederick coolly answered that he was now under an engagement to the Margrave, and that till the opinion of his ally had been taken, he could say nothing about the conference at Brussels.2

His attack

stadt.

On the evening of the 22nd, the whole force marched out of Mannheim. The next morning the troops were before the gates of Darmstadt. Unable to resist, the Landgrave upon Darm- Louis invited the leaders into the town, where he entertained them hospitably, whilst the soldiers without were driving off the cattle from the fields, and plundering the houses of his subjects. As a Lutheran, who had warmly taken the Emperor's part, he was especially obnoxious to Frederick. He now tendered the advice that it would be well to submit to the Emperor; but Frederick was in no humour to think of yielding. He was now, he said, at the head of a powerful army. He would have nothing to do with subguage to the mission. His quarrel was not with the Emperor in Landgrave. his imperial capacity. He had only to do with an Archduke of Austria. If he was to have a peace, the arrears of his soldiers' pay must be satisfied; the Electoral dignity and

His lan

1 Nethersole to Carleton, May 2; Frederick to the King, May S. P. Germany.

2 Nethersole to Weston, May 22; Nethersole to Calvert, May 22, S. P. Germany.

the whole of the Palatinate must be restored; the privileges and religion of the Bohemians must be guaranteed afresh.1

Such words proceeding from a conqueror thundering at the gates of Munich or Vienna would have been in their place. Coming from Frederick, they were most disastrous to the cause of which he had made himself the champion. We can fancy the grim smile of scorn with which they would be received in every Catholic town in Europe. The proscribed prince, it would be said, was incorrigible. This, then, was the meaning of the negotiation opened at Brussels, and of the promise to accept the decision of his father-in-law. If he was so elated by the capture of an undefended town, as to talk of re-opening the question of the government of Bohemia, what security could there possibly be that, if he were re-instated in his hereditary dominions, he would not use the power thus conceded to him for a renewed aggression upon his neighbours?

Frederick did not stop here. The Landgrave of Darmstadt had a fortified post at Russelheim, which commanded a

Imprison

Landgrave.

passage over the Main. He was now ordered to place ment of the it in the hands of his importunate guest. Unable to resist, Louis sought safety in flight. His movements were soon discovered, and he was captured, and brought back to the town. Frederick, and his instigator, Mansfeld, soon found that they had gained but little by their violence. Turning to bay, the Landgrave refused to comply with their demands, and was carried off as a prisoner when the army marched towards the Main.

Mansfeld's

In spite of Louis's refusal, Mansfeld directed his course towards Russelheim, hoping to overawe the commander of so small a post. The man, however, proved staunch retreat. to his duty, and Mansfeld turned aside towards Aschaffenburg, searching for a passage across the broad river which divided him from Christian. He had not gone far before bitter news was brought. Tilly had received a strong reinforcement, and was on the watch to intercept him. The next moment the great army of which Frederick had spoken

'The Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt to the Elector of Mentz, May 29, S. P. Germany.

« PreviousContinue »