Within hours of the Battle of White Mountain, Frederick fled Prague. He first lodged at Breslau, where he hoped to rally the Moravians, Silesians and Lusatians, as well as the German Protestants, to recover lost Bohemia.
He also began to treat with the Emperor, through the mediation of the Elector of Saxony. Since the terms he proposed to Ferdinand were more the demands of a victor than the pleas of the defeated, nothing came of them.
Discovering the vanity of both hopes, Frederick fled west. He passed first through Küstrin in the lands of his brother-in-law, the Elector of Brandenburg. He continued to Segeburg, where he met with Christian IV of Denmark, who refused to assist unless James I of England should lend his arm. He passed then to the Dutch, where he lived in penurious exile by the grace of the House of Orange.
The Bohemians, defeated and their King fled, tendered their submission to the Emperor on 13 November 1620. The Moravians followed suit on 18 December 1620. The Lusatians and Silesians soon made their own separate peaces.
With his arms victorious, Ferdinand II carried out his threat to impose the Ban on Frederick. On 21 January 1621 that prince, one of the seven Electors, possessor of one of the most ancient titles of the Empire, was made an outlaw. Joining him were his confederates, John George of Jägerndorf, Hohenlohe and Anhalt.
Utterly demoralized by defeat, the Protestant Union met at Worms throughout the fall and winter of 1621. Despite exhortations from Frederick, then in Silesian exile, they were unwilling to sacrifice themselves before the Spanish juggernaut the Winter King had unleashed.
They convened one last time at Heilbronn on 7 February 1621 to determine whether to carry on. There the Emperor, by the mouth of his Lutheran pet Louis of Hesse-Darmstadt, cowed the Union into inaction by threat of the Ban.
Nonetheless, the Union was still at least nominally the defender of Frederick’s Rhenish lands. On 12 April the Union entered into the Armistice of Mainz with the Spaniards. In this compact, the Palatinate was placed under truce until July 1621 and the Union formally abandoned the defense of the Palatinate unless Frederick should renounce his pretensions to the Bohemian throne.
The Union had originally been organized to endure for a fixed term: on 14 May 1621, the Union expired, unmourned, in accordance with its terms.
Although the Battle of White Mountain had sealed the fate of Frederick’s Bohemian possessions and Spínola’s attacks his lands in the Rhenish Palatinate, there still remained to him one German county: the Upper Palatinate, lying between Bohemia and Bavaria.
After the fall of Prague (which he had done so little to defend), Mansfeldt had been appointed Frederick’s generalissimo in Bohemia. This meant that he still held Pilsen and Tabor (for he held no more) on behalf of Frederick. Over the winter, the victorious Imperials quickly rooted him from these holes and he shifted his army from Pilsen to the temporary safety of the Upper Palatinate.
However, after the reduction of Bohemia Tilly pursued into the Upper Palatinate, taking Cham on 23 September 1621. Mansfeldt treated with Tilly a while, beguiling the League general with the prospect that Mansfeldt would bring his entire army over to Tilly’s banner.
In the event, Mansfeldt gathered his army and fled west. Tilly took the Upper Palatinate without a shot fired.
Mansfeldt, having fled the Upper Palatinate, turned his face toward the Lower. On 25 October 1621 Mansfeldt’s troops arrived just in time to relieve Frankenthal from the beseiging Spaniards. Tilly and the army of the Catholic League pursued Mansfeldt after their conquest of the Upper Palatinate. However, they did not attack Mansfeldt: the Spanish were unwilling to coordinate an attack and Tilly feared to attack alone.
Mansfeldt occupied the Habsburg dominion of the Alsace for his winter quarters.
The Spanish passivity arose not from cowardice, but diplomacy. England and Spain were seeking to persuade Frederick to formally renounce the throne he had lost in return for whcih he would be allowed to retain his German lands. The Rhenish lands would be held under Spanish protectorate, thus gaining Spínola the advantage in the Dutch wars which had tempted him to intervene in the first instance.
Unfortunately, Frederick, landless outlaw though he was, would not accede to this plan. The war would go on.
Rather than regain his lands by peace, Frederick thought to win them by war. In 1622 he raised three separate armies to recover his domains. The first of these was Mansfeldt’s already-existing army. This force had been strengthened to 22,000 by extensive recruiting in the ravaged Alsace.
The second force was George of Baden-Durlach’s army of 11,000 men, raised in his territories. The Calvinist Margrave had become convinced that Frederick’s doom spelled his own and had resolved to go down fighting.
The last of these was Christian of Brunswick’s army, marching from the north to Frederick’s relief. Christian had raised an army of 10,000 in Lower Saxony, near the Bishopric of Halberstadt, of which he was secular administrator. He had marched into the Westphalian bishoprics of Münster and Paderborn, of which Maximilian of Bavaria’s brother, Ferdinand, Elector of Cologne, was the bishop. There he spent the winter of 1621-22 extorting money from the citizenry and looting the Catholic churches.
It was planned that Mansfeldt would march north and Georg march south, and the two forces join in the Lower Palatinate. This, in fact, occurred, and the joined armies of Mansfeldt and Baden-Durlach defeated Cordoba’s Spaniards at Wiesloch on 27 April 1622. The two armies then split and marched north separately to meet Christian of Brunswick.
Frederick’s allies were unable to operate in concert, and were defeated piecemeal.
On 6 May 1622, George of Baden-Durlach was defeated at Wimpfen by the joint armies of Spain and the Catholic League while trying to cross the river Neckar. His forces, laagered defensively, fought well against the experience troops of Tilly and the dread tercios of Cordoba. However, an untimely explosion in the powder magazine panicked George’s troops, they broke and were cut to pieces by Tilly and Cordoba.
On 20 June 1622, Christian of Brunswick was intercepted at Höchst while trying to cross the Main and join Mansfeldt on the southern bank of that river. There he too was defeated by the army of Spain and the Catholic League.
Despite the check by Tilly’s forces, Christian was able to cross the river with most of his troops and all of the spoils of Westphalia. He and Mansfeldt joined and retired to the south. On 13 July 1622, Frederick disbanded his armies.
The newly-masterless Christian and Mansfeldt resolved to join the Dutch armies. Marching north, on 26 August 1622 the combined army broke through a Spanish blocking force at Fleurus, although it cost their army many men and Christian his arm. The joint force marched into the Netherlands and appeared just in time to raise the Spanish seige of Bergen-Op-Zoom. The grateful Dutch took the freebooters into their service.
His forces lost, Frederick disbanded his armies and awaited such victories as could be gained through the wiles of the diplomats of his father-in-law, James I of England.
While his opponent made war at the peace table, Tilly devoted himself to war, and the taking the fortified positions retained by Frederick. On 1 July 1622 he opened the siege of Heidelberg, which was taken on 19 September 1622. Mannheim followed on 2 November 1622. Only Frankenthal remained loyal to Frederick.
Throughout the ordeal of the Lower Palatinate, Protestant and anti-Habsburg powers had been unable to unite to provide succor to Frederick’s remaining forces. The Protestant Dutch, riven by internal dissension and facing a renewed assault after the expiration of their 12-year truce with the Spanish could not commit forces to the Empire. Likewise, the Christian IV, Lutheran King of Denmark was similarly unwilling to attack on his own.
Both powers looked to James I of England to unite the Protestant powers against the House of Austria. However, James pursued the mirage of a diplomatic solution, deluded by his dreams of a marriage alliance between his son Prince Charles and the Infanta of Spain.
He importuned the Spanish into a grand peace conference at Brussels, convened in June 1622 and intended to settle all of the affairs of Germany (and gain for his son Charles his Spanish bride).
The Spanish had taken all of the Lower Palatinate which they actually required. During the peace conference, the only combatant was Tilly, who was attempting to secure the remainder for his master, Maximilian. Although James protested vigorously against Tilly’s attacks (particularly against Heidelberg, which was garrisoned by English volunteers), the Spanish would (and could) do nothing.
By the end of the negotiations in November, the only place still held by Frederick was Frankenthal. As this was also garrisoned by Englishmen, in March, 1623 James required it be given over to Isabella, Archduchess of the Spanish Netherlands pending resumption of talks. If Frederick were able to make his peace with the Emperor within eighteen months, it would be his again.
However, the Emperor himself had plans that would make peace with Frederick impossible.
Maximillian convened a meeting of the Imperial princes (Deputationstag) in Regensberg. He proposed to dispose of the lands and titles of the outlaw Frederick to Maximillian of Bavaria.
Save for Maximilian’s brother, the Elector of Cologne, the proposal was opposed by all assembled. Not only the Protestant, but also the Catholic princes, were frightened by the expansion of Imperial power this portended. Not only Frederick himself, but also his entire line would be deprived of their dignities forever.
In the event, the Emperor and the Bavarians merely got an agreement to bestow Frederick’s title on Maximillian personally, with the possibility of reversion to Frederick’s heirs after Maximilian’s death.
Outraged by the Emperor’s elevation of Maximillian to the Elector’s rank, and concerned, at long last, by the implications of Spanish and Imperial control of the lower Rhineland, the anti-Habsburg powers began once more to support the efforts of the feckless Frederick to regain Bohemia.
A two-pronged attack was planned. Mansfeldt, who had been biding his time in the service of the United Provinces, was to be seconded once again to Frederick’s employ and retrace his steps westward toward Bohemia.
Christian of Brunswick, who had returned to the Lower Saxon Circle (Kreise) to recruit another army, was to march his armies eastward and join Mansfeldt. The combined armies were then to march southward against Bohemia. Meanwhile, Bethlen Gabor and the exiled Count Thurn were to attack Bohemia from the south.
Tilly, of course, had other ideas. He marched his forces from the Lower Palatinate northwest to the Lower Saxon Circle. There his veteran forces were an insuperable barrier between Brunswick and Bohemia. Checked, Brunswick led his army toward the Dutch and safety. Not content to passively protect Bohemia, Tilly pursued. At Stadlohn Tilly’s veteran forces crushed Brunswick’s recruits.
Stadlohn was the end of the combined operation, Brunswick had lost two thirds of his forces. Mansfeldt, low on cash, disbanded his forces and Bethlen Gabor, unprepared to confront the Imperial might unaided, sued once more for peace.