Gustavus II (Gustavus Adolphus) of Sweden now came into the war. His territorial ambitions had embroiled him in wars with Poland, and he feared that Ferdinand's maritime designs might threaten Sweden's mastery of the Baltic. Moved also by his Protestantism, he declared against the emperor and was supported by an understanding with Catholic France, then under the leadership of Cardinal Richelieu. Swedish troops marched into Germany. Meanwhile, Ferdinand had been prevailed upon (1630) to dismiss Wallenstein, who had powerful enemies in the empire. Tilly now headed the imperial forces. He was able to take the city of Magdeburg while the Protestant princes hesitated to join the Swedes. Only John George of Saxony, vacillating in his support between Tilly and the Swedish king, joined Gustavus Adolphus, who offered him better terms.
The combined forces crushed Tilly at Breitenfeld (1631), thus winning N Germany. Gustavus Adolphus triumphantly advanced and Tilly was defeated and fatally wounded in the battle of the Lech (1632). Wallenstein, recalled with some pleading by the emperor, took the field. He defeated the Saxon forces and later met the Swedish forces at Lützen (Nov., 1632); there the imperialists were defeated, but Gustavus Adolphus was killed and the anti-Hapsburg troops were disorganized. Wallenstein after his great defeat remained inactive and entered into long negotiations with the enemy. Meanwhile, the able anti-imperialist general, Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar, stormed Regensburg (1633).
Wallenstein was murdered in 1634 by imperialist conspirators. Soon afterward the imperial forces under Gallas defeated Bernhard at Nördlingen (Feb., 1634). Germany was in economic ruin, her fields devastated and blood-soaked. There was strong feeling in Germany against the foreign soldiers that overran the land. A general desire for peace led to the Peace of Prague (1635). This agreement drastically modified the Edict of Restitution, thus helping to reconcile Catholics and Protestants. It was accepted by almost all the German princes and free cities. A united imperial army was to move against the Swedish troops in Germany. A general peace seemed to be forthcoming, but Richelieu was unwilling to see the Hapsburgs retain power.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.