30YearsWar: #4 - "The French Connection"

This episode continues where we left off in the previous instalment, by delving deeper into the motives of the French King Henry IV, in the context of the ongoing Julich-Cleve Crisis. Would Henry intervene, thereby reigniting the war against Spain which had only come to an end in 1598? The answer was no, but not for lack of trying. At the last moment, Henry was assassinated in 1610, on the verge, perhaps, of a great rupture with the enemies of France. That rupture would have to wait fifteen years, as the Empire focused back in on itself. A major force in the Empire was plainly Maximilian, the Duke of Bavaria, and in this episode we get closer to grips with him, assessing his influence, his wealth and his power. Much of these qualities were enhanced, as we will see, thanks to his relationship with the Habsburgs. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, or in Maximilian’s case – marry them! The Bavarian-Imperial arrangement was to prove mutually beneficial to both sides, and effectively carried the Thirty Years War forwards, and we investigate it here.


Important though Bavaria was, the Emperor would have been utterly lost without his Habsburg brethren, the King of Spain, on hand for a handy loan of money or the occasional lending of a whacking large army of professionals. Unfortunately for the King of Spain Philip III, his kingdom was at war with the Dutch, or at least it had been, until an unlikely mediator, the assassinated King of France, helped bring it to a temporary end. The Twelve Years Truce paused the war with the Dutch, but it did not relieve Spain completely from the burdens which were to follow. Europe seemed to be moving into two distinct camps – one Habsburg, and one against that great dynasty. Only time could tell what consequences might follow…


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