The Latymer School History Magazine - page 42

38
Gustavus Adolphus’ body in
Wolgast. on transfer to
Sweden, 1633
The Catholics exploited this
victory using their superiority
to supress Protestant rights,
dismantling the League of
Evangelical Union (as the
Protestant Union was also
known) and crushing any
further attempts at
reasserting Protestant
influence, most notably
Christian IV during the
Danish intermezzo. Catholic
ascendancy reached its peak
in 1629 with the Edict of
Restitution. The Edict
attempted to restore the
religious and territorial
situation reached after the
Peace of Ausgburg (1555)
and overrule the
Ecclesiastical Reservation,
which entitled Dukes and
Princes to determine the
official religion of their
territory – rolling back
notable Protestant gains.
Paradoxically the Edict,
rather than securing Catholic
strength pushed many
moderate Protestants, who
had so far remained neutral,
into the arms of Gustavus
Adolphus who had been
seeking an excuse to
intervene for a number of
years. Brandenburg and
Saxony, two of the strongest
German Protestant states,
threatened with an extension
of the Edict of Restitution
and a hostile and powerful
Catholic League army on
their doorstep allied
themselves with the Swedish
King who announced his
campaign with a Declaration
in 1630.
From the time of his
intervention, Gustavus
Adolphus has been
portrayed as not only the
champion of Protestantism
but its saviour too. More
recently this interpretation
has been called into
question. Gustavus’
successor Axel Oxenstierna
denied that it was a
Protestant crusade - ‘not so
much a matter of religion,
but rather of saving the
status publicus (the general
political situation), wherein
religion is also
comprehended’. Gustavus
himself gave little credence
to the plight of the German
Protestants in his Declaration
of 1630 naming a host of
motives; The interception
and reading of letters, his
exclusion from the peace of
Lubeck, a denunciation of
Wallenstein’s aid to the king
of Poland, Habsburg ‘Blatic
design’ and only reluctantly
to the oppression of German
liberties by the Emperor. Yet
religion and politics were
inseparable in Sweden.
Indeed it was fear of a
Habsburg-Polish (Catholic)
invasion that prompted
Swedish intervention. The
defence of the Protestant
faith was therefore not just a
propaganda ploy to win
allies: it was a matter of great
importance for
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