Page:Lectures on Modern History.djvu/214

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188
LECTURES ON MODERN HISTORY

between Wallenstein and the League. By the advice of France, represented by a Capuchin, who was the ablest diplomatist then living, he dismissed his generalissimo, and accepted the dictation of the Catholic League. He had to face the consequences of his Edict of Restitution at the moment when he disarmed.

Just then, when all the Protestants were roused to anger and alarm, and when Wallenstein had laid down his sword, Gustavus landed in Rügen. He had been fighting in Poland for the Baltic coast, and there he had encountered an imperial force. Richelieu aided him in making peace with the Poles, and he went forth with a trained army, assured that he would unite all the Protestants of Germany against the Habsburgs. He spent many months in securing his base of operations, by onerous alliances imposed on Pomerania, and on his reluctant brother-in-law, the elector of Brandenburg.

When at length the way through Silesia to the heart of Austria lay open before him, Tilly arrested his march by laying siege to Magdeburg, which commanded the Elbe, and was a Protestant stronghold in the North. The King of Sweden made no attempt to relieve the besieged city; and in May 1631 Pappenheim, the hardest hitter among the German commanders, took the place by storm. The defenders deprived him of the fruits of victory by setting fire to Magdeburg, and burning it to the ground. Tilly, with difficulty, saved the Cathedral, and handed it over to the Catholics. He then took Leipzig without resistance, hoping to coerce Saxony; but the Elector, in this extremity, abandoned the neutrality he had maintained throughout the war, and went over to the Swedes. At Breitenfeld, a few miles out of Leipzig, Gustavus, feebly aided by the Saxons, defeated the Imperialists in the greatest battle of the war. It was a victory of the musket over the pike, and the beginning of the long struggle between line and column. Tilly's ranks were ten deep, and the Swedes only three, so that every musketeer fired. The world now perceived that the tardy, patient soldier, who had seemed too cautious about his