During the Thirty Years War, North Europe held centre stage. Denmark and Sweden were the dominant countries in the region and both were involved in the dynastic feuds and power struggles in the run-up to the Thirty Years War.
In 1625 the Thirty Years War expanded when Christian IV, the king of Denmark and Norwar, invaded Germany. He supported the Protestant prince and the feared the power of the Habsburgs.
Christian IV was opposed by by the Habsburg forces under Albert of Wallenstein, who pushed into Denmark from Germany and defeated the Danish army. Christian went on to make peace with the Habsburg’s in the Treaty of Lubeck in 1629.
The Habsburgs wanted to secure its authority over the Baltic Sea in an attempt to tighten its grip on Denmark and Sweden and throttle Dutch trade. In the years before the war, Sweden had grown into one of Europe’s most powerful countries, and the Protestant king of Sweden was keen to protect his country, and satisfy his own territorial ambitions. Gustavus led an army into Poland and moved into northern Germany.
Gustavus was joined by Protestant princes and they defeated the Habsburg forces at Bretenfeld in 1631. Gustavus was seen as a liberator by the German princes. At the beginning of 1632, the Swedish army marched as far south as Augsburg and Munich, waging small-scale wars with peasants from Bavaria as they went. The Swedes were defeated by the Habsburgs in 1634. Meanwhile Gustavus of Sweden gained Catholic France as an ally.
The fighting ended in 1648 with the Peace of Westphalia - a negotiated peace that came as a result of the devastation and exhausted caused by the war.
During the Thirty Years War, most of the fighting took place in Northern Europe in Germany, with soldiers marching through the country, causing devastation as they went. They bullied and plundered peasants, who fought back. What’s more, plague spread throughout Northern Europe and food shortages led to famines.
See also: Bohemia
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