By Alex Richards
When Elector Maximilian of Bavaria signed the Peace of Ulm on behalf of himself and his brother, the Archbishop-Elector of Cologne, it had created a situation where all of the Electors were militarily inactive for the first time since the war began. However, with Ferdinand of Cologne considering himself to have been signed up to the agreement against his will, the terms of the Truce were almost immediately being tested. As such, even while the terms of the Peace of Westphalia were emerging, the Peace of Ulm was breaking down, threatening open war in southern Germany once more.
Resolving the Palatinate
The situation in Westphalia- where Königsmarck had started attacking small Imperial garrisons during his summer excursions there- was the final straw for Ferdinand. He formally renounced the truce on August 15th 1647 and immediately recommenced operations by sending General Lamboy to attack the Hesse-Darmstadt troops encamped in East Frisia. It was a failure in military terms, with Cologne’s army being forced to retreat by November, but the formal re-entry into the war strengthened the Emperor’s negotiating position somewhat.
Securing the re-entry of Bavaria was of higher priority for Emperor Ferdinand III however, and in this he was stymied by two key issues. Firstly, Elector Maximilian was eager to avoid reopening hostilities with the French- particularly considering that their track record against Turenne and Enghien strongly suggested this would not be a fight the Bavarians could win. The second aspect was that Maximilian was utilising the reality of the Truce to improve his own negotiating position with the Emperor on the subject of the Palatinate.
While Bavaria’s ownership of the lands and Electoral title that had belonged the Frederick V had been effectively undisputed for much of the war, Franco-Swedish propaganda had increasingly portrayed the Palatine cause as a key plank of their campaign for ‘German Liberty’ in the years after 1635. By 1646, Maximilian had come to the conclusion that a definitive, internationally recognised settlement would be required to secure his gains in the medium-to-long term, and that this would require him to make the concessions required to re-establish an independent Palatinate.
Emperor Ferdinand had held off on endorsing any sort of settlement however, recognising that the worse the international situation was for Bavaria, the larger the hold the Emperor would have over the Elector. In consequence, 1647 saw the somewhat strange situation of the Elector of Bavaria lobbying the Emperor to endorse a peace deal that would see him lose territory.
However, the need to draw Bavaria back into the war soon outweighed all other considerations, particularly given the rapidly declining ability of Spain to provide any form of assistance. Beset with enemies already, suffering from revolts in Portugal and Catalonia, subject to increasingly severe raids by Barbary pirates in southern Italy and having effectively given up against the Dutch, Spain now found herself facing a French-backed revolt in Naples and increasing territorial demands for peace from France. As such, the Emperor rapidly gave way once negotiations with Maximilian formally began in April 1647.
The new settlement as endorsed by the Emperor took advantage of both the fact that Frederick V- and by extension his descendants- were included in the amnesty agreed at Westphalia and the fact that Bavarian territories were theoretically excluded from this deal. Karl Ludwig- nominal heir and claimant to Frederick’s lands and titles- would have the Lower, Rhenish Palatinate restored to him, along with a new Electoral title. Maximilian meanwhile would retain the Upper Palatine, the more prestigious, senior Electoral title ancestrally belonging to the Palatinate and would, additionally, receive 660,000 florins from the Emperor in compensation for his territorial losses.
Bavaria re-enters the War
While France was neither willing nor able to offer better terms, Maximilian was still eager to avoid antagonising Mazarin outright. As such, and trusting that with the end of the war in sight Franco-Swedish relations were becoming more terse, he renounced the Truce on September 7th 1647, but only against Sweden.
Military operations in Swabia resumed almost immediately, but also on a relatively low level. The Brabantine General Adrian von Enkevort- who was competent if not particularly inspiring- was given a third of the Bavarian army and immediately laid siege to Swedish held Memmingen, taking it on November 23rd 1647. He went on to spend the next few months taking minor Swedish positions in Swabia while also building a flotilla of gunboats to contest control of Lake Constance.
The remaining 12,000 Bavarians- under General Jost Maximilian von Bronckhorst-Gronsfeld- were directed to assist Imperial efforts in defending Bohemia from the prospect of a renewed Swedish invasion. Initial co-operation was, however, near-disastrous due to the complex interplay of past allegiances among those who now made up the senior ranks of the Imperial army. The continued employment of Werth and Sporck- the leaders of the small Bavarian revolt after the Peace of Ulm had been signed- was felt by Maximilian to be unacceptable if his own troops were to be present, but was eventually resolved when Ferdinand removed them from active service and they retired- well-rewarded for their services- to Prague.
Gronsfeld’s arrival in October 1647 scarcely improved matters however. Command of the Imperial troops in Bohemia was by this point held by Peter Melander, who had defected from the army of Hesse-Darmstadt in 1640. This by itself may not have mattered were it not for the fact that in 1633 he had, while commanding the centre of the Swedish-Hessian troops- dealt a severe defeat to a Bavarian-Imperial army under the command of Gronsfeld himself. Gronsfeld’s deeply held grudge proved impossible for either party to work past- if indeed they ever wanted to.
These personal differences effectively crippled the joint response. While the conjunction of some 25,000-odd troops in Bohemia was enough to cause Wrangel to withdraw towards Lower Saxony, they were unable to retake Eger, and the two armies went their separate ways for the winter. Gronsfeld and the Bavarians rested in Franconia, while Melander pushed on to Hesse, where his arrival precipitated the resolution of the long-running Hessian War, albeit mainly because everyone else in the region had become heartily sick of Amalie Elisabeth and effectively forced both sides into a peace treaty.
By the start of 1648, therefore, the majority of the terms of the Peace of Westphalia had been effectively agreed to- the religious settlement, the question of Swedish territorial gains, the future of Brandenburg and the fate of the Palatinate. There was to be a final year of campaigning, however, before the treaty was actually signed.
Alex Richards is the author of Tippecanoe and Wallace Too, published by SLP