The Protestant Union (German : Protestantische Union), also known as the Evangelical Union, Union of Auhausen, German Union or the Protestant Action Party, was a coalition of Protestant German states. It was formed on May 14, 1608 by Frederick IV, Elector Palatine in order to defend the rights, land and safety of each member. It included both Calvinist and Lutheran states, and dissolved in 1621.
German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol (Italy), the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.
Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north, and the Alps, Lake Constance and the High Rhine to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.
Frederick IV, Elector Palatine of the Rhine, only surviving son of Louis VI, Elector Palatine and Elisabeth of Hesse, called "Frederick the Righteous".
The union was formed following two events. Firstly, the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II and Bavarian Duke Maximilian I reestablished Catholicism in Donauwörth in 1607. Secondly, by 1608, a majority of the Imperial Diet had decided that the renewal of the 1555 Peace of Augsburg should be conditional upon the restoration of all church land appropriated since 1552. The Protestant princes met in Auhausen, and formed a coalition of Protestant states under the leadership of Frederick IV on May 14, 1608. In response, the Catholic League organized the following year, headed by Duke Maximilian.
The Holy Roman Emperor was the ruler of the Holy Roman Empire during the Middle Ages and the early modern period. The title was, almost without interruption, held in conjunction with title of King of Germany throughout the 12th to 18th centuries.
Rudolf II was Holy Roman Emperor (1576–1612), King of Hungary and Croatia, King of Bohemia (1575–1608/1611) and Archduke of Austria (1576–1608). He was a member of the House of Habsburg.
The Duchy of Bavaria was a frontier region in the southeastern part of the Merovingian kingdom from the sixth through the eighth century. It was settled by Bavarian tribes and ruled by dukes (duces) under Frankish overlordship. A new duchy was created from this area during the decline of the Carolingian Empire in the late ninth century. It became one of the stem duchies of the East Frankish realm which evolved as the Kingdom of Germany and the Holy Roman Empire.
Members of the Protestant Union included the Palatinate, Neuburg, Württemberg, Baden-Durlach, Ansbach, Bayreuth, Anhalt, Zweibrücken, Oettingen, Hesse-Kassel, Brandenburg, and the free cities of Ulm, Strasbourg, Nuremberg, Rothenburg, Windsheim, Schweinfurt, Weissenburg, Nördlingen, Schwäbisch Hall, Heilbronn, Memmingen, Kempten, Landau, Worms, Speyer, Aalen and Giengen.
The County Palatine of the Rhine, later the Electorate of the Palatinate or simply Electoral Palatinate, was a territory in the Holy Roman Empire administered by the Count Palatine of the Rhine. Its rulers served as prince-electors (Kurfürsten) from time immemorial, were noted as such in a papal letter of 1261, and were confirmed as electors by the Golden Bull of 1356.
Palatinate-Neuburg was a territory of the Holy Roman Empire, founded in 1505 by a branch of the House of Wittelsbach. Its capital was Neuburg an der Donau. Its area was about 2,750 km², with a population of some 100,000.
The Duchy of Württemberg was a duchy located in the south-western part of the Holy Roman Empire. It was a member of the Holy Roman Empire from 1495 to 1806. The dukedom's long survival for nearly four centuries was mainly due to its size, being larger than its immediate neighbors. During the Protestant Reformation, Württemberg faced great pressure from the Holy Roman Empire to remain a member. Württemberg resisted repeated French invasions in the 17th and 18th centuries. Württemberg was directly in the path of French and Austrian armies who were engaged in the long rivalry between the House of Bourbon and the House of Habsburg. In 1803, Napoleon raised the duchy to be the Electorate of Württemberg of the Holy Roman Empire. On 1 January 1806, the last Elector assumed the title of King of Württemberg. Later this year, on 6 August 1806, the last Emperor, Francis II, abolished the Holy Roman Empire.
However, the Protestant Union was weakened from the start by the non-participation of several powerful German Protestant rulers, notably the Elector of Saxony. The Union was also beset by internal strife between its Lutheran and Calvinist members.
In 1619, Frederick V of the Palatinate accepted the crown of Bohemia in opposition to Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II. On July 3, 1620, the Protestant Union signed the Treaty of Ulm (German : Ulmer Vertrag), declaring neutrality and declining to support Frederick V. In January 1621, Ferdinand II imposed an imperial ban upon Frederick V and moved his right to elect an emperor to Maximilian. Electoral Palatinate also lost the Upper Palatinate to Bavaria. The Protestant Union met in Heilbronn in February and formally protested Ferdinand's actions. He ignored this complaint and ordered the Protestant Union to disband its army. The members of the union complied with Ferdinand's demand under the Mainz accord in May, and on May 14, 1621, it was formally dissolved.
Bohemia is the westernmost and largest historical region of the Czech lands in the present-day Czech Republic. In a broader meaning, Bohemia sometimes refers to the entire Czech territory, including Moravia and Czech Silesia, especially in a historical context, such as the Lands of the Bohemian Crown ruled by Bohemian kings.
Ferdinand II, a member of the House of Habsburg, was Holy Roman Emperor (1619–1637), King of Bohemia, and King of Hungary (1618–1637). He was the son of Archduke Charles II of Inner Austria, and Maria of Bavaria. In 1590, his parents, who were devout Catholics, sent him to study at the Jesuits' college in Ingolstadt, because they wanted to isolate him from the Lutheran nobles. In the same year, he inherited Inner Austria—Styria, Carinthia, Carniola and smaller provinces—from his father. Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor, who was the head of the Habsburg family, appointed regents to administer Inner Austria on behalf of the minor Ferdinand.
The imperial ban was a form of outlawry in the Holy Roman Empire. At different times, it could be declared by the Holy Roman Emperor, by the Imperial Diet, or by courts like the League of the Holy Court (Vehmgericht) or the Reichskammergericht.
A new separate union without connection to this one emerged twelve years later, the Heilbronn League. It allied some Protestant states in western, central and southern Germany, and fought against the Holy Roman Emperor under the guidance of Sweden and France, which were at the same time parties to that league.
The Heilbronn League was an alliance between Sweden, France, and the Protestant princes in western Germany against the Catholic League during the Thirty Years' War. The treaty forming the League was signed at Heilbronn in Germany on 23 April 1633.
Intending to strengthen the security provided by the Peace of Augsburg, Protestants formed the union in 1608. Its leaders created guidelines and agreements to live by as follows:
In 1555, the Peace of Augsburg was signed by Charles V and Lutheran princes. This treaty allowed Roman Catholic and Lutheran princes the right to decide which freedom their respective state would be under, but gave no such protection to Calvinist princes. In 1608, Protestant princes formed the alliance known as Protestant Union. The next year, the Catholic League was created. In 1610, the Union intervened in the War of the Jülich Succession.In 1618, the Thirty Years' War began with the outbreak of the Bohemian Revolt. Frederick V, Elector Palatine, accepted the crown of Bohemia the following year. The Union declared its neutrality in the conflict between Frederick and the Catholic League in the 1620 Treaty of Ulm. The Union dissolved the next year.
The Thirty Years' War was a war fought primarily in Central Europe between 1618 and 1648. One of the most destructive conflicts in human history, it resulted in eight million fatalities not only from military engagements but also from violence, famine, and plague. Casualties were overwhelmingly and disproportionately inhabitants of the Holy Roman Empire, most of the rest being battle deaths from various foreign armies. In terms of proportional German casualties and destruction, it was surpassed only by the period January to May 1945; one of its enduring results was 19th-century Pan-Germanism, when it served as an example of the dangers of a divided Germany and became a key justification for the 1871 creation of the German Empire.
The Battle of Nördlingen was fought in 1634 during the Thirty Years' War, on 27 August or 6 September. The Roman Catholic Imperial army, bolstered by 15,000 Spanish soldiers, won a crushing victory over the combined Protestant armies of Sweden and their German-Protestant allies.
The Battle of White Mountain was an important battle in the early stages of the Thirty Years' War.
Frederick V was the Elector Palatine of the Rhine in the Holy Roman Empire from 1610 to 1623, and reigned as King of Bohemia from 1619 to 1620. He was forced to abdicate both roles, and the brevity of his reign in Bohemia earned him the derisive nickname of "the Winter King".
The Schmalkaldic League ; was a military alliance of Lutheran princes within the Holy Roman Empire during the mid-16th century. Although originally started for religious motives soon after the start of the Reformation, its members later came to have the intention that the League would replace the Holy Roman Empire as their focus of political allegiance. While it was not the first alliance of its kind, unlike previous formations, such as the League of Torgau, the Schmalkaldic League had a substantial military to defend its political and religious interests. It received its name from the town of Schmalkalden, which is located in modern Thuringia.
The Catholic League 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, 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".
The Peace of Augsburg, also called the Augsburg Settlement, was a treaty between Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, and the Schmalkaldic League, signed in September 1555 at the imperial city of Augsburg. It officially ended the religious struggle between the two groups and made the legal division of Christianity permanent within the Holy Roman Empire, allowing rulers to choose either Lutheranism or Roman Catholicism as the official confession of their state. Calvinism was not allowed until the Peace of Westphalia.
Cuius regio, eius religio is a Latin phrase which literally means 'whose realm, his religion', meaning that the religion of the ruler was to dictate the religion of those ruled. This legal principle was a major development in the collective if not individual freedom of religion in Western civilization.
Maximilian I, occasionally called "the Great", a member of the House of Wittelsbach, ruled as Duke of Bavaria from 1597. His reign was marked by the Thirty Years' War during which he obtained the title of a Prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire at the 1623 Diet of Regensburg.
The Schmalkaldic War refers to the short period of violence from 1546 until 1547 between the forces of Emperor Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire, commanded by Don Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, Duke of Alba, and the Lutheran Schmalkaldic League within the domains of the Holy Roman Empire.
The Peace of Prague was a peace treaty signed on 30 May 1635 by the Habsburg Emperor Ferdinand II and Elector John George I of Saxony representing most of the Protestant Estates of the Holy Roman Empire. It effectively brought to an end the civil war aspect of the Thirty Years' War; however, the combat actions still carried on due to the continued intervention on German soil by Spain, Sweden, and, from mid-1635, France, until the Peace of Westphalia was concluded in 1648.
Christian I, Prince of Anhalt-Bernburg, also known as Christian of Anhalt, was a German prince of the House of Ascania. He was ruling prince of Anhalt and, from 1603, ruling prince of the revived principality of Anhalt-Bernburg. From 1595 he was governor of Upper Palatinate, and soon became the advisor-in-chief of Frederick IV, Elector Palatine.
The League of Torgau was an alliance of Lutheran princes, including Philip of Hesse and John of Saxony, which was formed 27 February 1526 to oppose the terms set forth in the Edict of Worms. Because it had no substantial military, it was unable to achieve religious or political influence. 1531 saw the formation of the Schmalkaldic League, a similar alliance but which included an army of 10,000 infantry and 2,000 cavalry. This league lasted for sixteen years and was more successful in reaching its demands. The League of Torgau was set up soon after the 1526 Imperial Diet of Speyer.
The Bohemian Revolt was an uprising of the Bohemian estates against the rule of the Habsburg dynasty that began the Thirty Years' War. It was caused by both religious and power disputes. The estates were almost entirely Protestant, mostly Utraquist Hussite but there was also a substantial German population that endorsed Lutheranism. The dispute culminated after several battles in the final Battle of White Mountain, where the estates suffered a decisive defeat. This started re-Catholisation of the Czech lands, but also expanded the scope of the Thirty Years' War by drawing Denmark and Sweden into it. The conflict spread to the rest of Europe and devastated vast areas of central Europe, including the Czech lands, which were particularly stricken by its violent atrocities.
The Diet of Regensburg of 1623 was a meeting of the Imperial States of the Holy Roman Empire convened by Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II. The meeting was not technically an imperial diet in the full sense, but a convention of princes or Deputationstag – a looser constitutional format giving the emperor greater leeway to take decisions without being bound by formal procedures. At it the Electorate of the Palatinate was transferred to Maximilian I of Bavaria. The meeting marked the high-water mark of imperial power during the Thirty Years' War.
The imperial election of 1562 was an imperial election held to select the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. It took place in Regensburg on November 28.
The imperial election of 1619 was an imperial election held to select the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. It took place in Frankfurt on August 28.
The imperial election of 1653 was an imperial election held to select the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. It took place in Augsburg on May 31.