Battle of Nördlingen (1634)

The Battle of Nördlingen (Spanish: Batalla de Nördlingen; German: Schlacht bei Nördlingen; Swedish: Slaget vid Nördlingen) was fought on 27 August (Julian calendar) or 6 September (Gregorian calendar), 1634 during the Thirty Years' War.

The Catholic Imperial army, bolstered by 18,000 Spanish and Italian soldiers won a great victory in the battle over the combined Protestant armies of Sweden and their German allies (Bernadines).

After the failure of the tercio system in the first Battle of Breitenfeld in 1631, the professional Spanish and Italians deployed at Nördlingen proved the tercio system could still contend with the deployment improvements devised by Maurice of Orange and the late Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden.

The Battle was one of the most crushing defeats the Protestants sustained during the war. The Swedish army in Germany was crippled by the defeat and the battle marked the end of the Swedish attempt to dominate Germany. With Imperial forces threatening dominance in Germany, with Spain firmly settled on the western bank of the Rhine, and thus with Habsburg armies surrounding France, Richelieu decided to take a more active role in the conflict, entering the war mainly against Spain and thus opening a second front in the Catholic Low Countries. Meanwhile, the victory led most of the German Protestant princes to seek a separate peace with the Emperor, which was achieved by the Treaty of Prague in 1635.

The House of Hapsburg reaped undeserved advantages from Wallenstein's death. His army passed under the command of the emperor's son, Ferdinand, king of Hungary. It was joined by the Spanish troops from Italy, which Wallenstein had tried to exclude. Thus strengthened it advanced to the relief of Bavaria, where the troops of the Heilbronn League were wholly inferior. At Nordlingen, Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar induced his cautions colleague Horn to risk a battle, in which they were wholly routed and Horn taken prisoner (September, 1634). Nordlingen did for the Catholics of the south what Breitenfeld had done for the. Protestants of the north. The work of Gustavus was undone, and almost the whole of Southern Germany fell into the hands of the imperialists.

The first great result of the battle of Nordlingen was to throw the defeated Protestants into the arms of France. Richelieu's object was at last obtained, and French influence tends to supplant that of Sweden. Oxenstiern was forced to cede the fortresses of Elsass to France, and thus to commence that dismemberment of the empire, which Gustavus had hoped to avoid. War between France and Spain was declared in 1635. Another great result of the battle was the treaty of Prague. John George of Saxony was more than ever averse to the war. If he hail been jealous of the Swedes, he was far more so of the French. The negotiations which Wallenstein's death had interrupted, were resumed. Ferdinand had learnt some wisdom from adversity, and was willing to give up in fact, though not in word, the Edict of Restitution. The year 1627 was to replace 1552. All bishoprics held by Protestants at that date were to remain in their hands. The Calvinism were excluded from the treaty, which could not therefore be permanently satisfactory. Such as it was, however, it was accepted by most of the Protestant states, and the great conflict might have ended in 1635, but for the foreign interests that had become involved in it.