Frederick V (Palatinate)

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Representation painting by Friedrich V .; depicted in armor and spa cloak as well as with Wenceslas crown , imperial orb and scepter in hands, Kurschwert and Kurhut next to him; as a sign of solidarity with the English king he wears the order chain of the Order of the Garter (painting by Gerrit van Honthorst , court painter Frederick V, completed posthumously in 1634. Kurpfälzisches Museum der Stadt Heidelberg , on loan from the Ministry of Science and Art Baden-Württemberg)

Friedrich V (born August 26, 1596 in the Deinschwang hunting lodge ; † November 29, 1632 in Mainz ) from the House of Wittelsbach ( Pfalz-Simmern line ) was Count Palatine and Elector of the Palatinate from 1610 to 1623 and as Frederick I from 1619 to 1620 King of Bohemia .

In his attempt to position the Electoral Palatinate as the leading Protestant power in the Holy Roman Empire , he got entangled in the political turmoil in Europe caused by religious differences. On the eve of the Thirty Years' War , Frederick V accepted the Bohemian royal crown and thus opposed the emperor and the empire. From the imperial propaganda, Frederick V received the nickname Winter King , in Czech Zimní král , in anticipation of his probably extremely short reign , who stuck to him after his reign as King of Bohemia, which lasted just over a year. Frederick V is thus one of the few historical personalities who have gone down in history under their nickname .

His political action had far-reaching and devastating effects on the empire and all of Europe and was one of the triggers of the Thirty Years' War. After the defeat in the Battle of White Mountain against the troops of Emperor Ferdinand II. He lost not only the Kingdom of Bohemia, but by the imposition of the imperial ban be dominion, the Palatinate, and his Electorate.



Portrait of the young elector by Michiel van Mierevelt , 1613

Friedrich was born on August 26, 1596 in the Deinschwang hunting lodge as the first son of the Palatinate Elector Friedrich IV and Princess Luise Juliane of Nassau-Orange . At that time, the Electoral Palatinate was related to almost all important royal houses of the Holy Roman Empire. His mother was the daughter of William I of Orange-Nassau and Charlotte of Bourbon-Montpensier . Accordingly, many domestic and foreign princes and diplomats took part in his baptism on October 6, 1596 in Amberg .

Since the Palatinate residence city of Heidelberg was ravaged by several waves of plague at this time, Friedrich spent the first two years in the Upper Palatinate and did not come to Heidelberg until 1598. At that time, the Upper Palatinate or Upper Palatinate formed the Electoral Palatinate together with the Lower Palatinate , also known as the Rhine Palatinate. The Calvinist faith of the Palatinate branch of the Wittelsbachers formed a deep contrast to the Catholic line of the family in Bavaria, which was represented at that time by Duke Maximilian I in Munich .

Because Friedrich was a nephew of the Prince of Sedan, Heinrich von Bouillon , through his mother , he was sent to the court in Sedan for training in the spring of 1604 . King Henry IV of France would have liked to see the young Count Palatine at his court. In addition to family relationships, however, primarily religious reasons were decisive for Sedan, because there Friedrich received a strictly Calvinist education, which was very important in Heidelberg. His teacher was the theologian Daniel Tilenius , who had worked there since 1559 and was regarded as a representative of a moderate Calvinism loyal to the king. Tilenius was shaped by the independence struggle in the Netherlands and the wars of religion in France and preached a comprehensive solidarity of the Protestant princes. He even made it their Christian duty to intervene when their fellow believers were in danger or were harassed by the authorities. These views are likely to have shaped Friedrich and formed the theological basis for the later policy of the Electoral Palatinate under his government.

In addition to a thorough theological training, Friedrich also learned things that were important for his future role as elector of the empire. For example, he learned the French language, which was important in the field of diplomacy at the time, and was introduced to French court culture.

Dispute over guardianship

In 1610 Friedrich returned to Heidelberg because on September 19, 1610 his father Friedrich IV had died as a result of his "dissolute lifestyle". Friedrich IV. Was only 36 years old, and his early death led to a conflict with the Lutheran relatives of the Count Palatinate of Pfalz-Neuburg.

According to the provisions of the Golden Bull of 1356, the guardianship of the still minor Friedrich and the administration of the Electoral Palatinate would have been granted to the closest male relative. This was Wolfgang Wilhelm von Pfalz-Neuburg . Before his death, however, Frederick IV had already appointed the Calvinist Count Palatine of Zweibrücken, Johann II of Pfalz-Zweibrücken, as guardian and spa administrator.

Accordingly, Friedrich V was received by Johann II in Heidelberg in the autumn of 1610. Wolfgang Wilhelm, who arrived almost at the same time, was not admitted to Heidelberg. The result was a heated argument between the various houses. Since Emperor Matthias did not interfere in the dispute and even granted the fiefdom of Friedrich, who was still a minor, in 1613, the matter was actually settled in 1614 when the electoral prince came of age. This dispute was to have a serious impact on the future of the Electoral Palatinate, as the Munich line of the Wittelsbachers again registered their claims to the Palatinate electoral dignity.

Marriage to Elisabeth Stuart

The marriage policy of the Electoral Palatinate dynasty was aimed at strengthening the country's position in the Reformed camp: two of Friedrich's sisters were already married to Protestant princes of the empire, and Katharina Sophie , born in 1595, was also to be married to Gustav Adolf of Sweden . For Frederick, a marriage with Elisabeth Stuart , the only daughter of the English, Scottish and Irish King James I and thus one of the most highly placed brides in Europe at the time, was the obvious choice. Even if the court there had already rejected some applicants as not befitting and the Electoral Palatinate had neither the territorial expansion nor the political power of a large European monarchy, attempts were made to use the opportunity, especially since King Jakob had already rejected plans by his advisors at this time had, Elisabeth with the Catholic French King Louis XIII. to marry, as this could have disturbed the religious equilibrium in Europe.

For this purpose the court master of the electoral prince Hans Meinhard von Schönberg traveled to London in the spring of 1612 and tried to dispel the reservations there by emphasizing the royal rights of the elector and his position as leader of the Protestant forces in the empire. The project was also promoted by relatives from the Netherlands and Sedan, so that on May 26, 1612 an agreement was reached on the marriage contract. The princess brought a dowry of 40,000 pounds , and Frederick had to guarantee an annual Wittum of 10,000 pounds.

Although Queen Anna was dissatisfied with the planned connection, Frederick traveled to London and landed on English soil on October 16, 1612. There he met Elisabeth for the first time and made a very favorable impression on the court and his future bride with his good looks and friendly demeanor. Before that, there had already been a lively exchange of letters in French between the two of them. The engagement took place on January 7, 1613; Queen Anna stayed away from her because of her reservations. On February 24, 1613, the wedding was celebrated in the royal chapel at Whitehall Palace . At the ceremony, Friedrich wore the chain of the Order of the Garter , which had recently been awarded to him and which he later included in his coat of arms. The festivities after the wedding are described as extraordinary. A festival by Francis Beaumont was performed in which religious behavior and chivalry were linked. The entire festivities were hosted by Francis Bacon .

The young couple traveled to Germany on May 5, 1613, with a stopover in The Hague , where they both met the governor of the Netherlands, Moritz von Orange , the Elector's uncle. On June 13th, both of them were given a great reception by the townspeople in Heidelberg. The subsequent celebrations dragged on for several days. As early as 1612, with a view to getting married, Friedrich had extensive construction work carried out in Heidelberg Castle in order to offer his wife appropriate accommodation. So he had the so-called English building built as a palace for Elisabeth. In 1615, to commemorate the triumphant entry into Heidelberg, the Elisabethentor was built, with which Friedrich created a separate entrance to his residence for Elisabeth.

Elisabeth was very popular with her subjects from the start. This popularity increased even further after the birth of their son Friedrich Heinrich on January 1, 1614. As the electoral prince and possible heir to the throne, the boy seemed to have a great future ahead of him. Elisabeth bore her husband thirteen children by 1632 , five of whom survived their mother.

Elector before the Thirty Years War

Lower Palatinate at the end of the 16th century, from the atlas of Gerhard Mercator

The construction of the Elisabethentor was only the prelude to a major redesign of the residence. A new courtyard garden, the famous Hortus Palatinus , was created and provided with numerous grottos and fountains that glorified Friedrich and depicted him as the god Apollo and Hercules .

Friedrich saw himself as the leader of the Protestant princes in the empire and as a defender of German liberty against the Catholic emperor. The Reich itself was on the verge of armed conflict; Since the end of the previous century, the disputes between the princes of the three denominations - although the Calvinist was not recognized under imperial law - had developed into a struggle for the constitution of the empire. Furthermore, a war between the Protestant States General of the Netherlands and Habsburg Spain was foreseeable, as a twelve-year armistice was to expire in 1621 and both sides had been preparing for war for years.

The Electoral Palatinate played an important role as a potential marching area for the imperial troops from the Habsburg hereditary lands . The Electoral Palatinate area, like many other territories of the empire, was not a closed territory and consisted of two larger parts of the country, which in turn included parts of foreign territories. The Lower Palatinate stretched along the Rhine and Neckar and had its center in Heidelberg. The Upper Palatinate was in the east of today's Bavaria around the capital Amberg . While the Lower Palatinate was dominated by agriculture, the Upper Palatinate was one of the most important mining regions in the empire and was particularly productive economically.

On his 18th birthday, Friedrich took over full rule as elector in the Palatinate. Shortly after taking office, he suffered a fever during a meeting of the Protestant Union in Heidelberg, to which he almost succumbed. The disease radically changed his personality. Contemporaries describe him after the illness as powerless, sleepy and melancholy, even depressed. In this situation it was out of the question that the young elector would carry out government affairs. That is why his chancellor, the Anhalt Prince Christian I von Anhalt-Bernburg , almost completely ran the business.

Friedrich trusted the prince almost unreservedly. From 1614 to 1618 Christian and the other court councilors decided almost entirely the measures of the Electoral Palatinate, which the ruler only had to agree to. In addition to the effects of the disease, this can certainly also be attributed to the elector's youth and political inexperience.

King of Bohemia

Portrait around 1625, attributed to Gerrit van Honthorst ( Heeresgeschichtliches Museum ).

History and plans

It is not known exactly when the idea to apply for the Bohemian royal crown came about. This was only conceivable because the electoral estates monarchy of Bohemia, ruled by the Habsburgs since 1526, got into a deep political crisis at the beginning of the 17th century. The Bohemian estates did not want their power to be restricted by the absolutist Habsburgs, and a strong opposition to the recatholization efforts of Emperor Rudolf II and his partisans had formed in the Protestant Bohemian nobility . In 1609, when the empire was weakened by dynastic disputes and an unfortunate Turkish war, the Protestants defied the emperor's so-called letter of majesty and thus freedom of religion. Even then, there were political contacts between Bohemian nobles and the Protestant Union.

As early as 1612, when Rudolf II died and Frederick's English marriage plans became concrete, there were considerations that the Palatine should apply for the crown of Bohemia. The thought games were probably also known to the Protestant princes of the Union: The adoption of the Bohemian electoral vote was intended to secure a majority of votes in the electoral college for the Protestant camp so that a Protestant could also be brought to the imperial throne. The political strategists at the Heidelberg court believed that Elector Johann Georg von Sachsen would leave the alliance with the Habsburgs and support Friedrich. However, the assumption was completely unfounded. Barely ten years later, this misjudgment contributed significantly to the fact that Frederick's Bohemian government was only a brief episode.

Initially, however, the Habsburg Matthias won both the Bohemian crown and, just under a year later, the Roman crown without difficulty. Meanwhile, the denominational and political conflicts in Bohemia continued unabated. The situation was pretty confusing. In 1617 the emperor succeeded in having the irreconcilable Catholic Ferdinand of Inner Austria crowned as his successor as King of Bohemia. Only one year later, however, the Protestant estates in Bohemia stepped up to open rebellion with the estates uprising . It began with the second lintel in Prague , when three Catholic state officials were thrown out of the windows of Prague Castle .

In this situation Christian von Anhalt intensified his efforts to win the Bohemian crown for Friedrich. As the governor of the Upper Palatinate with his seat in Amberg, he was not too far from Prague to intervene promptly in the tumultuous political events and to be able to assert his influence. However, Christian did not succeed in creating a sufficiently strong party for Friedrich's application. The elector was not only too inexperienced and without respect, he was above all a Calvinist and thus belonged to a denomination that was hardly represented in Bohemia, although some important nobles were close to the political ideas of the Calvinists.

When the news of the lintel in Prague reached Heidelberg on June 2, 1618, Friedrich could not openly take sides with the rebels. This would have been a rebellion against the emperor, to whom Friedrich had also vowed loyalty and obedience. He would have openly put himself in the wrong. So he officially joined the group of mediators between the Protestant estates of Bohemia and Matthias, who tried to achieve a balance on both sides. Secretly, however, Christian von Anhalt continued to support the anti-Habsburg party in Prague. Friedrich, however, in a letter to his father-in-law, blamed the Jesuits and the Spanish party at the Viennese court for the uprising in Bohemia.

In Prague, the idea of ​​an open candidacy by Frederick is said to have emerged for the first time in November 1618 during the talks of the Prussian council and governor Achatius von Dohna ; It is not known to what extent Friedrich was privy to it or to what extent he drove the matter forward. In any case, Jakob I was not very enthusiastic when he was approached by the court councilor Christoph von Dohna from the Electoral Palatinate . The Protestant princes of the Union also expressed concern about this idea, fearing that the election of Frederick could plunge the empire into a religious war. The Saxon court categorically rejected the Palatinate candidacy.

Behind the scenes, Friedrich organized the march of a small army under Count Ernst von Mansfeld into Bohemia to support the rebels. Mansfeld crossed the border in August 1618 and besieged Pilsen , the most important base of the Catholic party loyal to the emperor. The city fell on November 21st, leaving Bohemia completely in the hands of the Protestants.

Emperor Matthias died in March 1619. The Protestant Bohemian estates no longer wanted to recognize the successor Ferdinand II, who had already been crowned in 1617, as their king. In order to protect themselves against the expected invasion of the Habsburgs, they concluded a protection and defensive alliance with the Bohemian Confederation on July 31, 1619 . The confederation established a corporate constitution for all crown lands; at the same time she decided the equality of all incorporated countries in the royal election. After the conclusion of the confederation, Ferdinand II was declared forfeited of the throne by the general assembly of all Bohemian countries in August 1619 . Now all ties between Bohemia and the Habsburgs were severed and the open war could no longer be stopped at the latest. The Thirty Years War had begun. Only a few contemporaries were aware that a local rebellion could turn into a devastating European war. The Archbishop and Elector of Cologne , the Wittelsbacher Ferdinand of Bavaria , commented almost prophetically on the events in Bohemia:

"Should it be the case that the Bohemians were about to depose Ferdinand and elect an opposing king, one should just prepare for a twenty, thirty or forty year war"

- Golo Mann : Wallenstein, p. 146

The estates of the Bohemian countries then proceeded to jointly elect a new king in accordance with the rules of the confederation. After Johann Georg von Sachsen, the preferred candidate of the moderate Protestant party, had canceled early, only the Palatinate remained as a candidate. Nobody else wanted to risk the conflict with Ferdinand II. The chances of a successful takeover in Bohemia improved for Friedrich in summer 1619 in that on August 16 the stands Upper and Lower Austria joined the anti-Habsburg alliance of the Czech lands and the Transylvanian Prince Gábor Bethlen to the Habsburg and his army Upper Hungary invaded.

And it was precisely at this time that Ferdinand was on his way to Frankfurt am Main to be elected Emperor.

Election and moving into Prague

Contemporary depiction of Frederick V's coronation as King of Bohemia, 1619

On August 26, 1619, his 23rd birthday, Frederick V of the Palatinate was finally elected as the first Bohemian king with the votes of all the countries united in the Bohemian Confederation. The candidate himself learned of the election that had fallen on him on August 29 in Amberg.

The election of Ferdinand II as emperor two days later could not prevent Frederick in view of the Catholic majority in the electoral college. The votes of the Protestant electors from Saxony and Brandenburg also went to the Habsburgs. Against the objection of a delegation of the Bohemian estates who had traveled from Prague, Ferdinand was awarded the electoral vote due to the King of Bohemia by the three clerical electors and the electors from Brandenburg and Saxony. Only the Palatinate envoys pleaded for a hearing of the Bohemian envoys.

In order to achieve unanimity, the Palatinate ambassadors withdrew their original vote for Maximilian of Bavaria and also voted for Ferdinand. However, this decision should be fatal for future developments. With this decision, the entire college of electors had now confirmed that it considered the removal of Ferdinand and a renewed royal election in Bohemia to be illegal. The Palatinate was therefore in a very weak position in the empire.

Exactly on the day of the emperor's election, the news of the election of Frederick V as King of Bohemia arrived in Frankfurt. Since Friedrich did not appear in Frankfurt on election day, his court councilors, who were represented there as ambassadors, sent him a report advising him against accepting the Bohemian election.

In the centuries that followed, there was much speculation about the reasons for the momentous acceptance of the crown. That his wife urged him, because she absolutely wanted to be queen, is a legend of Catholic propaganda, as is the saying by Friedrich Schiller in his historical work History of the Thirty Years War published in 1792 by Elisabeth Stuart:

“Were you able to presume [...] to take the hand of a king's daughter and you are afraid of a crown that is voluntarily brought to you? I would rather eat bread at your royal table than indulge at your electoral table. "

- Friedrich Schiller : History of the 30 Years War, Part 1

Even if the long-awaited increase in status was certainly very welcome, primarily religious reasons are likely to have been the deciding factor. In his letter of justification, Friedrich spoke of a divine vocation and, in a prayer that he wrote shortly before leaving for Prague, stylized himself as a “crusader of Protestantism”. Still, he wavered between the sanctity of his duty to the emperor and the need to support fellow believers in a just cause.

In addition to political and religious motives, economic considerations could also have played a role, which is why Christian von Anhalt wanted to help his employer to the crown. The Upper Palatinate around Amberg was the European iron center at that time; Bohemia was a hotspot for the tin and glass trade. Merging could have meant a new export power in a central location. For Christian von Anhalt as governor of the Upper Palatinate, this would also have been financially worthwhile.

The meeting of the Protestant Union in Rothenburg ob der Tauber on September 12th advised Friedrich by a majority not to interfere in Bohemian affairs. The other allies of the Protestants in the empire, such as the United Netherlands, the Duke of Savoy or the Republic of Venice , neither wanted nor were able to support the project militarily or financially. Only the Prince of Transylvania, Gábor Bethlen , sent letters of encouragement to Frederick.

But the elector ignored all warnings and concerns. Between September 24th and 28th, 1619 Friedrich decided "not to oppose the will of the Almighty" and to accept the election. The United Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and the Republic of Venice recognized Frederick as king, but the Protestant princes of the empire did not come together.

After accepting the election, Friedrich set out from Heidelberg for Prague on September 27, 1619. The trip led via Ansbach, Neumarkt and Amberg to Waldsassen , where the king was received by representatives of the Bohemian estates. We continued via Eger , Falkenau , Engelshaus , Saaz , Laun and Schlan . To ensure that the new king would be welcomed with joy, the route was laid through properties owned by members of the Prague Board of Directors .

On October 31, 1619, Friedrich moved into Prague with a total of 568 people and almost 100 carriages, where he was enthusiastically welcomed. The entry did not take the usual royal route , which actually belonged to the coronation celebrations and which both Frederick's predecessors and his successors used to represent royal power. The change is probably due to the fact that the tour company came from the west anyway and the route could be shortened.


Bohemian Coronation Medal (1619, obverse)
Bohemian Coronation Medal (1619, reverse)

The coronation of Frederick took place on November 4, 1619 in St. Vitus Cathedral . It was not carried out by the Archbishop of Prague, but by the utraquist administrator of the Archdiocese, Georg Dicastus, with the assistance of the Senior of the Bohemian Evangelical Consistory, Johannes Cyrill von Třebič. The course of the ceremony was largely based on the coronation order of Emperor Charles IV , with only individual prayers and texts being partially changed. In contrast, the litany of All Saints' Day was sung, which is to be regarded as a typical Catholic ritual. The anointing, which was insignificant for Calvinism, was also retained, slightly modified. After the coronation, the new king accepted the homage of the estates.

Even though a large part of the country had already been devastated by the war and many refugees were camped in the city, the arrival and coronation of the king were celebrated with lavish festivities. His previously given guarantee of the Bohemian Estates constitution, the supposed efficiency of his chancellor Christian von Anhalt and the fact that his beautiful wife had set out on the arduous journey in a heavily pregnant condition, took his new subjects for the new king.


Equestrian portrait of the king, Friedrich in armor in the background the city of Prague, unknown artist 1619/20
Bohemia 1620, subsequent medal for the coronation of the Elector Palatine Frederick V in Prague. front
On the back of this medal, 5 hands hold the Bohemian royal crown above the crowned Palatine lion lying to the left with a scepter in the right paw and the left one on the imperial orb, above the divided year

Frederick's accession to the government in Bohemia was associated with great difficulties. The Palatinate had taken over the rule of a rich country, but the state finances had been shattered for years. In addition, the Bohemian kings had only limited sources of income of their own and were therefore primarily dependent on the benevolence of the nobility and the tax permits of the state parliaments . Friedrich's Habsburg predecessors had to grapple with this problem without resounding success. Frederick was constitutionally in an even worse position thanks to the Bohemian Confederation, and it soon became apparent that this could not be compensated for by denominational consensus. The aristocracy was not ready for drastically higher tax permits, which would have been absolutely necessary for a successful warfare against the Habsburgs and the Catholic League . After all, it was not only the religious differences, but also the high financial burdens of the Turkish wars that led to the deposition of the Habsburgs and the election of Frederick.

Not only did Friedrich get too few taxes and troops from the state parliaments of the Bohemian countries, he also felt compelled to give expensive gifts to important personalities from the individual crown lands in order to keep his followers in the esteemed communities in line.

In Prague, the king and his court, which was shaped by German Calvinists, soon came under fire and felt the rejection of the population, part of the clergy and the nobility. The royal couple did not speak a word of Czech and had mostly occupied the court offices with foreign confidants, while the state offices were in the hands of the local nobility. It was therefore difficult for the royal and estate administrations to work together successfully. The attempt by Friedrich's court preacher Abraham Scultetus to force the Calvinist religion on the country had drastic consequences . The Calvinists showed no understanding of the utraquist denomination to which the majority of Czechs adhered. The relics and images in the churches of the country, which had been preserved not only in the Catholic but also in the Utraquist churches, were a particular nuisance for the court preacher. That is why Scultetus had the religious art treasures removed or destroyed in St. Vitus Cathedral “with the will and knowledge of the king” from December 21, 1619, only briefly interrupted by Christmas . On December 27th and 28th, the famous St. Mary's Altar was destroyed by Lucas Cranach . These events caused great indignation among the people of Prague; there was even a rumor that the Calvinists wanted to break into the tomb of St. Wenceslas . A little later Friedrich complained that his orders were no longer being carried out. He tried to shift the blame on to others, fearing that he would lose his reputation even further.

A pamphlet from 1620, with which the Palatinate journalists first reacted to the nickname Winter King , which was coined shortly before .

Shortly after Friedrich took office, the nickname Winter King appeared for the first time. A leaflet from the imperial side shows the chronogram F r ID er ICV s I. R e X H ye MI s (Fridericus I. Winterkönig) for the first time, whereby the capitalized letters, put in the correct order, result in the Roman number MDCXVIIII for 1619 ( see illustration of a Palatine pamphlet on which this chronogram was also used). Protestant Palatinate journalists reacted to this derisive name several times in the course of 1619 and 1620 with defensive writings and even with the rededication of the derisive name. For example, on a leaflet defending the acceptance of the crown as God's will, the term winter lion is found . With God's help, Friedrich would also become a summer lion and defend the crown of Bohemia against troublemakers and liars.

Meanwhile, the emperor gathered supporters to regain the Bohemian crown. Since he himself was not financially able to raise an army against Friedrich, he concluded a contract with the Bavarian Duke and leader of the Catholic League Maximilian I on October 8, 1619 , according to which Maximilian had full authority over the operations in Bohemia and all conquered territories should be given as pledge for his expenses. In a secret agreement, Ferdinand assured the Bavarian elector that he would receive his electoral dignity after the defeat of Friedrich. Duke Maximilian, who had previously advocated an alliance of Catholic and Protestant princes to protect the imperial constitution and had warned his Wittelsbach cousin urgently against accepting the Bohemian crown in a letter, was admitted to the camp of the emperor, his former fellow student, when Frederick took the step and brother-in-law driven.

The Lutheran Elector Johann Georg von Sachsen also took sides with Emperor Ferdinand. His court preacher Matthias Hoë von Hoënegg accused the Bohemian government of having betrayed the Lutheran belief in the Calvinist Antichrist and exclaimed:

The [ie God] will slap all your Imperial Majesty willful enemies on the cheeks, smash their teeth, return them and put them to shame!

In order to persuade the Elector of Saxony and the other Protestant imperial princes to support Friedrich, Chancellor Christian von Anhalt advised his king to invite all Protestant princes to a meeting in December 1619 in Nuremberg . The deliberations turned into a fiasco, as hardly any prince sent representatives. In particular, there was no ambassador for Johann Georg. Those present half-heartedly decided to secure Friedrich's Rhenish territories during his absence.

Four months later, in March 1620, a meeting of the imperial party in Mühlhausen rejected Friedrich's legal arguments. Friedrich wrote in a defense that he had not broken the imperial peace, since Bohemia was outside the imperial territory and the conflict with Ferdinand was therefore not a conflict between an imperial prince and the emperor. Ferdinand could therefore not use his imperial power against him. In contrast, the assembly, including representatives of Johann Georg of Saxony and Maximilian of Bavaria, declared Bohemia to be an integral part of the empire. As a result, the emperor issued a mandate on April 30, which ultimately called on Frederick to withdraw from Bohemia by June 1. Otherwise Ferdinand, in his capacity as emperor and legitimate Bohemian king, would use all military means to overthrow the usurper . A little later the Saxon elector signed a contract with Ferdinand, which granted him a guarantee for the Lutheran faith in Bohemia and the recognition of all secularized areas in the Lower and Upper Saxon Empire for his military intervention . These were demands that can be reconciled with Johann Georg's conviction that Friedrich had decisively weakened the Protestant party and its struggle for the imperial constitution. But the demanded and granted cession of the Lausitz to Saxony was a power-political motive superimposed on questions of faith.

In this situation, Friedrich wanted to avert defeat at the General Assembly, which was opened on March 25, 1620, by means of massive increases in taxes and duties and a general conscription. To raise money for the Bohemian army, Friedrich used his private funds, pledged his jewels and in May 1620 drove the Electoral Palatinate into insolvency when he had two tons of gold transported to Bohemia.

Meanwhile, only bad news came from outside. The English King James I disapproved of his son-in-law's actions. The Protestant princes of the Union wanted to remain neutral; They signed the Ulm Treaty on July 31, 1620 and withdrew their troops from the Palatinate, which they had actually committed to defend. The United Netherlands granted Frederick only fifty thousand guilders a month and only sent a small contingent to reinforce the Bohemian army.

Battle of the White Mountain

This painting by Pieter Snayers shows the three phases of the Battle of the White Mountain in an eventful and detailed

A better pretext for the invasion of imperial troops into the Palatinate and the removal of an important Protestant outpost than the acceptance of the Bohemian crown by Frederick could hardly be found. Lieutenant General Spinola had already gathered troops in the Spanish Netherlands and Alsace after the election became known . The marching orders for Spinola were issued on June 23, 1620 and reached him shortly after the Ulm Treaty had been signed.

On July 23, 1620 Maximilian von Bayern crossed the border from Bavaria to Austria with 25,000 men from the army of the Catholic League, in order to first subjugate the Protestant estates of the emperor's hereditary lands. At the beginning of August Spinola set out from Flanders with his army of 25,000 men and initially turned to Bohemia. But in the third week of August he turned around, moved against the almost defenseless Palatinate and initially occupied Mainz . Only 2000 volunteers from England, whom King Jacob had allowed to move to the Palatinate, were available to support. They settle in Frankenthal and Mannheim . Spinola crossed the Rhine on September 5th, captured Kreuznach on September 10th and Oppenheim on September 14th . Frederick, who was in Bohemia, could do nothing against the conquest of his native lands, except to implore the English king for help.

After Maximilian had subjugated the Austrian estates in Linz , he united with the remnants of the imperial army and crossed the Bohemian border on September 26th. Shortly afterwards, on October 5th, the Elector of Saxony invaded Bohemia from the north with the Saxon army. At Rokitzan , Maximilian and the League Heer met the ragged, poorly paid, poorly equipped and about 15,000 army of Frederick that was on the verge of mutiny. Friedrich had been with the army since September 28, but left the warfare to his generals, as he was not a trained military man himself. Instead, he organized the supplies, took care of fortifications and the care of the wounded.

After a series of unsuccessful skirmishes, Frederick withdrew his Bohemian army towards Prague on November 5, and the imperial league troops followed. On the evening of November 7th the army stopped only a few miles from Prague and took up position on the summit of the White Mountain . The day before, King Frederick had ridden off the lines and warned the soldiers not to abandon either his or the Bohemian cause. He hurried to Prague to beg the Bohemian estates for money for his troops and to receive the envoy of the English king Jacob, from whom he hoped to receive the long-awaited news of the king's support. It was too late, however. When Friedrich wanted to ride back from the city to the troops around noon on November 8, he met fleeing soldiers from his army and his chancellor Christian von Anhalt at the city gate, who informed him of the disaster: The Bohemian army was in battle that morning was crushed at the White Mountain .

Detail from a mockery of the Winter King after the lost battle on the White Mountain:
" That the Haidelberg barrel was really big /
Before long time full of wine now bottomed out /
That the Winter King may save,
That he
sits on it with his affairs. He sits on it / is very weak and sick /
From the Bohemian beer drink.
His stomach nit more Dewen
[digest] kon
Wirfft herauß countries / Stätt vnd Cron.

Christian could only suggest one solution: to escape immediately. On the morning of November 9th, Friedrich set out for the Silesian capital, Breslau , accompanied by his wife and some of his councilors - not much more than the crown jewels in their luggage. The departure happened just in time, as the people of Prague were on the verge of handing the king over to Maximilian. The city gates had already been mercilessly closed to the fleeing soldiers. After Friedrich's hasty departure, Prague surrendered to Maximilian. In Silesia, Friedrich wanted to avenge the defeat on the White Mountain with all his might, but the Silesian estates refused to support him, so that Friedrich left the Duchy at the beginning of 1621 for the Electorate of Brandenburg . As a farewell, he wrote to the Bohemian general Count Heinrich Matthias von Thurn :

No Geitz or Ehrgeitz has brought us to Bohemia / no poverty or misery should make us apostate from our dear God / let anything else be done against honor and conscience.

The contemporary writers of pamphlets, whether Catholic or Protestant, did not spare the defeated king. A widespread motif in the pamphlets was the postilion , who searched all over the empire for the lost Palatine or a young man with wife and children who was still king the previous winter . The discovery of the Order of the Garter by an imperial soldier in Friedrich's household goods was also processed in the media. From now on Friedrich appeared in the mostly very rough caricatures with strapless stockings that hung over his ankles.

The defeat had terrible consequences for the Bohemian rebels. The Emperor had twenty-eight Protestant Bohemian nobles publicly executed in front of the Old Town Hall on June 21, 1621 in a four and a half hour spectacle. The heads of twelve of those executed and the right hand of Count Joachim Andreas von Schlick , one of the most important leaders of the uprising, were nailed to the Old Town tower of the Charles Bridge , where they remained for ten years as a reminder of the lost war. The elective kingship was abolished, Bohemia was declared a Habsburg hereditary kingdom and the estates were largely disempowered by the Renewed State Order . The certificate of the Bohemian religious freedom, the letter of majesty, is said to have been torn up by Ferdinand himself. The Protestant denominations were exterminated, only the Lutherans were initially tolerated in view of the participation of the Saxon elector in the war. The foundation stone for the violent re-Catholicization of the country and for the implementation of absolutist rule was laid. After the Battle of the White Mountain, apart from another Wittelsbach interlude from 1741 to 1743, Bohemia remained part of the Habsburg Monarchy for three hundred years until the establishment of the First Czechoslovak Republic in 1918.


Imperial eighth of Emperor Ferdinand II from January 1621 against Elector Friedrich V. He lost his hereditary lands and the electoral dignity.

Friedrich fled to Breslau via Náchod and Glatz , from where he went into exile in the Netherlands via Brandenburg and Wolfenbüttel, which he reached in March 1621. As early as January 29, 1621, Ferdinand II had imposed on Friedrich and Christian von Anhalt for breach of the peace , breach of imperial laws, support of rebellious subjects and crimes of majesty Vnsere and deß H: Reichs Aacht vnd Ober Acht , which is why his relatives there were not very hospitable , since anyone who supported the Elector was threatened with sanctions. Maximilian of Bavaria was commissioned with the execution of the imperial ban.

On February 6, the representatives of the Union gathered in Heilbronn and accused Ferdinand of having broken the imperial constitution and his oath by imposing the eight. Ferdinand reacted to the armed protest of the princes with a threatening gesture by the troops of Spinola, who were still standing in the Palatinate. On April 1, the delegates of the Union declared in the so-called Mainz Accord that they would dissolve their armies if Spinola guaranteed them neutrality. The accord was the last document signed by the Union and the assembly broke up afterwards. The Union had effectively ceased to exist.

Now the final occupation of the Palatinate by Spanish troops could no longer be stopped, as was discovered with horror in the various capitals of the Protestant countries and countries hostile to the Habsburgs.

On April 9, 1621, the twelve-year armistice between the United Netherlands and Spain expired and on April 14, Frederick and Elisabeth Stuart arrived in The Hague, where they were received with all the honors due to a ruling sovereign. The Netherlands and Frederick signed a treaty by which he accepted the support of the Netherlands for the reconquest of his hereditary lands. Those who had hoped that the war would end with the defeat of the Winter King were mistaken.

Loss of the hereditary lands

Capture of Heidelberg by Tilly's troops on September 19, 1622, see also Siege and Capture of Heidelberg 1622 on Wikisource

In the summer of 1621, the spa administrator Johann II von Pfalz-Zweibrücken, who had taken over this office again after Frederick's departure to Prague in 1619, resigned from his office. Since the physical distance prevented Frederick from directly intervening in the processes in the Palatinate, he went in April 1622 via Calais and Paris to the southern Palatinate, which was still held by the troops of his General Ernst von Mansfeld, and met his army on April 21. Friedrich immediately began to send requests for help to the Protestant princes of the empire and tried to revive the union.

A rather insignificant victory over the troops of Tilly on April 27, 1622 at the battle of the ears mountain in the place Mingolsheim briefly brought a tremendous boost for the Palatinate cause. But the dramatic lack of money and food for the troops and the defeats of the armies of the margrave of Baden-Durlach Georg Friedrich, who hurried to help, on May 6 at Wimpfen and Christian von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel , known as the great Halberstadt , in the battle of Höchst on June 20, 1622 turned the tide. Friedrich came more and more under the influence of General Mansfeld, who was hardly interested in the Protestant cause. Accordingly, his approach was unscrupulous. With the knowledge and tolerance of the elector, Mansfeld attacked Darmstadt and took Landgrave Ludwig V of Hesse-Darmstadt and his son Johann hostage. On the retreat to Alsace, Mansfeld set a town and thirty villages on fire. In particular, the capture of the landgrave, a clear violation of imperial law, cost Friedrich the last of his sympathies.

Friedrich dismissed Mansfeld from his service after he had convinced him that the Palatinate hereditary lands could no longer be held and returned to Heidelberg on June 18, 1622 to pick up the electoral files and valuables. He then spent the summer with his uncle, the Duke of Bouillon, in Sedan.

A little later, Tilly and the Spanish general Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba completed the conquest of the Palatinate. Heidelberg fell on September 19, 1622 after an eleven week siege and Mannheim on November 5. Only in the small Frankenthal fortress did the small English garrison still hold out. After the conquest of Heidelberg, the Protestant churches were closed, the university dissolved and, at Maximilian's instigation, the library, the famous Bibliotheca Palatina , as a gift of thanks from Pope Gregory XV. presented. More than 3,500 manuscripts went to Rome, and the Pope reciprocated Maximilian by paying a total of 620,000 guilders to finance the campaigns of the Catholic League.

On February 25, 1623, Emperor Ferdinand II transferred the electoral dignity, as laid down in the secret agreement, to Maximilian I of Bavaria at the Regensburg Princely Congress. As the only concession to the Protestant princes, however, it was limited to Maximilian's lifetime. However, this did not change anything about Ferdinand's blatant breach of law, since actually only the Electoral College was entitled to such a step. Maximilian also received the conquered area of ​​the Upper Palatinate as a fief. Other parts of the Electoral Palatinate area (such as the Parkstein-Weiden community office and the Peilstein office ) were ceded to Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm von Pfalz-Neuburg .

In exile

Palace of the Winter King in Rhenen, built by Bartholomeus van Bassen, completed in 1631

At the turn of the year 1622/23 Friedrich had already formed a government in exile in The Hague. Their boss was the Palatinate councilor Ludwig Camerarius . In November 1623, under massive pressure from the English king, who threatened serious consequences, Friedrich had to ratify the armistice negotiated by England and Spain in May for the Palatinate.

Very often Friedrich left the day-to-day political affairs to his councilors and advisers and only developed a certain tenacity in financial matters. Friedrich was very stingy when it came to the financial resources of his administration. On the other hand, his household swallowed up huge sums of money, so that the donations from the Dutch and English governments were seldom enough. For example, from 1629 he had a residence built in Rhenen . The residence, which was completed by the summer of 1631, comprised a two-storey main building with two south-projecting side wings, enclosing an inner courtyard, and was surrounded by large gardens. Since Friedrich was largely doomed to inactivity by the pressure from London and the loss of his hereditary lands, he spent his time hunting and long walks or relaxing while swimming.

Friedrich suffered another stroke of fate on January 17, 1629. His eldest son and heir to the throne, Heinrich Friedrich, died at the age of 15 in a shipwreck during the inspection of pirated property of the Dutch West India Company in the Haarlemmermeer . Friedrich himself barely got away with his life and was only physically recovered after 15 months. He never overcame the death of his son in his life. High hopes had been placed in the heir to the throne, as he stood out for his great intelligence and played an important role in the plans of many diplomats in Europe. The English King James I wanted to peacefully resolve the conflict over the Palatinate by marrying Friedrich Heinrichs with a princess from Spain.

In the years 1624/25 and 1627 attempts to mediate between Friedrich and the emperor failed. Although he showed himself to be ready to show due respect and obedience, he did not back down a bit in questions of the return of his territories and the full reinstatement of his dignity as the Palatinate Elector. At the Regensburger Kurfürstentag , a meeting of the most important imperial estates without the formal status of a Reichstag , from July 3 to November 12, 1630, Friedrich even asked the emperor in writing for forgiveness for accepting the crown of Bohemia. But the talks of his ambassadors in Regensburg were also fruitless. At the end of March 1631, Frederick's brother-in-law, King Charles I of England, made one more attempt to persuade the emperor to give in in favor of Frederick by asking the diplomat Sir Robert Anstruther for talks with the President of the Imperial Councilor, Count Wratislav Fürstenberg zu Meßkirch-Wildenstein posted. Friedrich's death in the following year, however, made Anstruther's efforts obsolete.

Friedrich was also unsuccessful militarily. The Hague Alliance of 1625 between the Netherlands, England, Denmark and the Elector, which was largely initiated by the government in exile of the Palatinate , was unable to intervene in the conflict over the Palatinate and the war in the empire for reasons of internal disputes. Only the Danish King Christian IV remained. But after Christian's devastating defeat in the battle of Lutter against Tilly on August 27, 1625, even this hope of military reconquest of the Palatinate was dashed. And the contacts to the Transylvanian Prince Gabriel Bethlen , who had fought against the Habsburgs for decades, and to the Ottomans met with a lot of criticism from friends and foe alike.

Alliance with Gustav Adolf

With the intervention of the Swedish King Gustav Adolf in the war by landing on Usedom on July 4, 1630, a new hopeful situation seemed to arise for Friedrich. On September 17, 1631 Gustav Adolf's troops met the imperial troops under Tilly near Breitenfeld . Tilly was defeated and could not stop the advance of the Swedes in southern Germany in the following year. The conquest of Oppenheim in December 1631 was the sign of Frederick V's return to the empire. In January 1632 he said goodbye to his family, firmly convinced that he would soon be able to reside in Heidelberg again.

In February 1632 Friedrich met the victorious king in Frankfurt am Main and was received by him with all the honors of a monarch, which the Protestant princes resented. However, Friedrich Gustav Adolf could not offer any support, as his renewed requests for support in London and The Hague went unanswered. On the contrary, instead of supporting Friedrich, attempts were made to make him the plaything of English interests. The English ambassador suggested to Gustav Adolf to keep the Palatinate as a "bargaining chip". Friedrich declared that he would never agree to such a deal and renounced a restitution, that is, a reinstatement of his old rights, under such conditions.

Therefore, Friedrich was forced to take part in the following campaign by the Swedish king to Bavaria and marched into Munich on May 17, 1632. The negotiations conducted here about his restitution were also unsuccessful and ended in a scandal. Gustav Adolf as the victor in the fight against the Habsburgs continued to believe that he could dictate the conditions for the reinstatement of Frederick.

Gustav Adolf's answer to the question about the conditions for a reinstatement without English help was correspondingly devastating. Friedrich should pay homage to Gustav Adolf and receive the Palatinate from the hands of the Swedish king like a fiefdom . The economically and strategically important areas of the Electoral Palatinate were too important for Sweden. Gustav Adolf kindly but firmly refused a request to moderate the conditions. So they separated, and Friedrich went to the Swedish-occupied Mainz in October 1632.


Gustav Adolf died on November 16, 1632 in the Battle of Lützen , and almost at the same time England had finally decided to provide a small armed force with sufficient financial means. But this was no longer of any use to Friedrich. He had been plagued by an infection since the beginning of October, which worsened over the next few weeks. The doctor Peter de Spina III, who was called to Mainz from Darmstadt . couldn't do anything for him anymore. On the morning of November 29, 1632, he found death due to a pestilent fever , probably the plague .

Since Friedrich's oldest living son, Karl Ludwig , was still a minor, Friedrich's brother, Ludwig Philipp von Pfalz-Simmern , was appointed administrator of the Electoral Palatinate . The entrails of the “Winter King” were buried in the west choir of the Katharinenkirche in Oppenheim and the embalmed corpse was first brought to the Frankenthal Fortress. On June 9, 1635, Ludwig Philipp fled from Frankenthal to Kaiserslautern from the again advancing Spaniards with the remains . The entourage reached Metz in July 1635 and the coffin was placed in the basement of a town house. In Frankenthal, the coffin had been in the open for several days and fell from the wagon several times during the escape to Metz. In September 1637, Ludwig Philipp is said to have transferred the coffin to the safe sedan . Where the bones of the Winter King found their final resting place is still unknown today.

The daughter Luise Hollandine as a Cistercian abbess


Overall, Friedrich V and Elisabeth Stuart had the following children:

Sophie as an Indian (around 1644), who later became Electress of Hanover, painted by her sister Louise Hollandine

The oldest surviving son was Karl Ludwig, who succeeded his father as Elector and Count Palatine after the Thirty Years' War. Younger sons were Ruprecht von der Pfalz, Duke of Cumberland and Moritz von der Pfalz , who both fought on the side of the royalists and on the side of their mother's family in the English Civil War .

The daughters included: Sophie, the future Electress in Hanover, from whom the English royal dynasty, the House of Hanover , derived its claim to the throne. Elisabeth becomes abbess in Herford.

Two children converted to Catholicism: Louise Hollandine and Eduard. Louise Hollandine became a Cistercian abbess in France and was a talented painter, trained by Gerard van Honthorst . Eduard married Anna Gonzaga (1616–1684), the daughter of Duke Carlo I Gonzaga of Mantua .


Contemporary journalism and propaganda

Deß Pfaltzgrafen vacation, picture from a mockery of Friedrich. The right-hand stocking, seen by the viewer, is an allusion to the Order of the Garter lost during the escape from Prague.

The events surrounding Friedrich triggered the first great "media war" in history. This propaganda war was waged for the first time with the means of printing, which had been invented 150 years earlier . This made the mass distribution of news and opinions in the form of leaflets possible.

After single-leaf woodcuts with explanatory short texts or verses were circulating as early as the 16th century during the Reformation , the technique of copper engraving or etching was now primarily used . These prints partly shape the picture of the events during the Thirty Years' War to this day and sometimes keep false or one-sided depictions of people and events alive. Many prints were produced in southern Germany in particular, as the mostly Lutheran imperial cities there were also important printing centers. In the years 1620 to 1622, a veritable flood of leaflets against the Calvinist winter king was created here.

Friedrich has attracted the attention of contemporary journalists since his glamorous and unusual wedding with Elisabeth Stuart. But especially since the acceptance of the crown of Bohemia, he has been the focus of attention and was one of the most depicted people on pamphlets during the Thirty Years' War. Around 200 leaves have survived, centered around his person and his decision to accept the Bohemian crown. For example, he was depicted much more often than Wallenstein . The range of writings on Friedrich was enormous and also included legal and theological treatises, the publication of files from the Palatinate chancellery found in Prague after the battle of the White Mountain, and riddle pictures in the form of rebuses, as well as labyrinths and chronograms for the educated circles. In the latter, the task and pleasure for the reader has been to reveal the author's intent. In addition, there was war and atrocity propaganda and numerous scorn and mockery verses on the Winter King and the fled Palatine.

Up until the Battle of White Mountain, nine-tenths of all polemics were Protestant. Initially, it was the task of the Palatinate journalism to support the legitimacy and legal validity of Frederick's government in Bohemia. The most important of these support pamphlets was our Friderichs […] Openly writing out why we accepted the Cron Boeheim and the incorporated Laender government , which was distributed in German, Czech and French. Bible texts served as the basis for the argument, and Friedrich was portrayed as the protector of the Gospel, as the new Gideon or David . Like David, Friedrich was called by God to be king instead of the unworthy Saul , which referred to Ferdinand. The winter king was thus inserted into God's plan of salvation and was thus the savior of the Protestant faith.

The Catholic party was initially no match for the Protestants in the battle of the feathers. Only the invention of the term Winter King by the Jesuits had a resounding success. The picture changed fundamentally after Friedrich's flight. The captured files of the chancellery were published by the imperial opponents and cannibalized in leaflets for years. The Protestant side was only moderately hostile in their brochures, because Lutheran Saxony was still to be spared. But the fleeting winter king was mocked all the more in countless satirical images and verses. He was depicted with his pride and his headlessness in every conceivable pitiful situation: looking for bread, pulling on a bad car, digging a pit. His family was also drawn into the ridicule.

In contrast to contemporaries, Friedrich and his wife always saw themselves as victims of their firm belief and honesty. There is not a single document in which Friedrich admits any guilt for having broken the peace in the Reich. He had sacrificed his countries and himself for the struggle for the Protestant cause, the liberty of the princes and the imperial constitution against the superior forces of the Habsburgs. Accordingly, Elisabeth Stuart immortalized her deceased husband in a painting posthumously as a Roman emperor with the ancient Roman virtues of a hero who sacrifices property and life for his convictions.


In historical research, the image of Friedrich was mostly drawn negatively in the continuation of contemporary mockery. The name "Winter King", under which Friedrich went down in history and which is of course also used in scientific literature, is a mock name. In particular, the portrayal of Friedrich Schiller in his historical work History of the Thirty Years' War from 1792 may have contributed to Friedrich's negative image. He describes Friedrich on the one hand as a free and alert spirit, with a lot of kindness of heart and royal generosity, but on the other hand emphasizes his alleged remorse at the news of the election as King of Bohemia as follows:

The present splendor of that crown frightened [him], and the double magnitude of crime and happiness made his pettiness tremble. According to the usual kind of weak souls, he wanted to strengthen himself for his project only through another judgment; but it had no power over him when it went against his passion.

Overall, Schiller describes the Winter King as weak, indecisive and in no way up to the situation. The Bohemian nation had pushed away a 200-year-old family of rulers, the Habsburgs, and threw themselves into Friedrich's arms. And Frederick gambled away the crown and Bohemia through incompetence and cowardice. His decisions were also influenced by astrological dreams. However, there is nothing of this in the sources. Most German historians have since followed this image of Friedrich.

Only in the last few years have there been attempts to revise the image of Friedrich and his motivation to accept the crown. In his book The Winterking , published in 2003, Brennan C. Pursell tries to use the personal correspondence of the Winter King with his wife Elisabeth, his councilors, diplomats and princes of friendly and opposing powers to prove that non-religious fanaticism or excessive personal ambition are the reasons for the Bohemian adventure but it was solely his concern for the imperial constitution that was decisive for the acceptance of the Wenceslas crown. The war was therefore for Frederick a war for the imperial constitution, in which he tried to defend the estate constitution of the empire against the Habsburg idea of ​​an absolute, hereditary monarchy. Pursell also rates Friedrich's personality completely differently. The previous assessments by Wedgwood and others that Friedrich was weak and dependent on his advisors, Pursell describes as an imagination that is not covered by the sources. Rather, they reported that Friedrich was a well-trained, hopeful prince of the early Baroque with a sense of political responsibility. Despite his strong piety, Friedrich always knew how to distinguish between religion and politics.

The Bavarian State Exhibition The Winter King in 2003 and the accompanying scientific catalog undertook a similar attempt at interpretation . In addition to the life of Friedrich and his wife, other aspects of his actions are examined and presented here. The contributions of renowned scientists give different answers to the question of Friedrich's motivation. In addition to religious reasons, the Palatinate also has an economic interest. In his contribution, Peter Wolf advocates the thesis that, in view of the decline in the Upper Palatinate iron industry, the governor of the Upper Palatinate, Christian von Anhalt, sought a stronger connection to the flourishing ore mining sites in Bohemia and a circumvention of antitrust regulations in the Upper Palatinate mining and processing areas. It is precisely this thesis that is hardly covered by sources, according to Magnus Rüde, the reviewer of the exhibition catalog, of Wolf's thesis. In addition, Rüde generally doubts that the "factor economy in the early 17th century was a serious component of foreign policy strategy". In view of the sources, it must remain speculation to what extent economic motives really influenced Friedrich's actions.

Regardless of how the question of Friedrich's motives will be answered in the future: the name Winterkönig will continue to be associated with his person, probably also because the original mocking name sounds rather poetic to today's ears.


  • House of Bavarian History (Ed.): The Winter King. Friedrich of the Palatinate. Bavaria and Europe in the age of the Thirty Years War. Theiss, Stuttgart 2003, ISBN 3-8062-1810-2 . ( Review )
  • Elmer Adolph Beller: Caricatures of the 'Winter King' of Bohemia. Milford, London 1928.
  • Benita Berning: "After every laudable use". The Bohemian royal coronations of the early modern period (1526–1743). Böhlau Verlag, Cologne / Weimar / Vienna 2008, ISBN 978-3-412-20082-4 .
  • Peter Bilhöfer: Not against honor and conscience; Friedrich V, Elector Palatinate - Winter King of Bohemia (1596–1632). Heidelberg 2004 (self-published Rhein-Neckar-Kreis, series: Baussteine ​​zur Kreisgeschichte, Vol. 7; previously Phil. Diss. Mannheim 1999).
  • Annette Frese: The winter king. Heidelberg between courtly splendor and the Thirty Years' War. Book accompanying the exhibition of the same name in the Kurpfälzisches Museum in Heidelberg. Greiner, Remshalden 2004, ISBN 3-935383-47-9 .
  • Simon Groenveld: De Winterkoning. Balling aan het Haagse Hof. Book accompanying the exhibition of the same name in the Haags Historisch Museum, The Hague. The Hague 2003, ISBN 90-72550-03-X .
  • Michael Kaiser: rex hibernus - the winter king. In: dk-blog, January 5, 2021, [1] .
  • Golo Mann : Wallenstein. 6th edition, Fischer-Taschenbuch-Verlag, Frankfurt / Main 2005, ISBN 3-596-13654-7 .
    In this work man goes into detail on the processes in Bohemia and around the Winter King.
  • Jörn Münkner: Catholic inspiration or the fate of the ruler. Leaflets in the network of early modern communication. In: Perspicuitas. Internet Periodicum for Medieval Linguistics, Literature and Cultural Studies. Accessible online as a PDF document via the server of the University of Essen
    Arbeit, which analyzes, among other things, the propaganda battle surrounding Friedrich.
  • Brennan C. Pursell: The Winter King. Frederick V of the Palatinate and the Coming of the Thirty Years' War. Ashgate, Aldershot 2003, ISBN 0-7546-3401-9 .
  • Moriz RitterFriedrich V, Elector Palatinate . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 7, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1877, pp. 621-627.
  • Magnus Rüde: England and Electoral Palatinate in the emerging power of Europe. Denomination - dynasty - cultural expressions. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2007, ISBN 978-3-17-019481-6 .
  • Friedrich Schiller : History of the Thirty Years War. In: Schiller's works (national edition): Volume 18: Historical writings: Part two, Böhlau, Weimar 1976.
  • Friedrich Hermann SchubertFriedrich V .. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 5, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1961, ISBN 3-428-00186-9 , p. 535 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Amberg City Archives (ed.): The Winter King. Royal splendor in Amberg. Amberg 2004, ISBN 3-924707-03-0 .
  • Cicely Veronica Wedgwood : The 30 Years War. 8th edition, Paul List Verlag, Munich 1995, ISBN 3-471-79210-4 .

Web links

Commons : Friedrich V. von der Pfalz  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Friedrich V. von der Pfalz  - sources and full texts


  1. ^ Bavarian rulers: The Wittelsbachers - nerds, icons, bankrupts - WORLD. In: Retrieved December 27, 2020 .
  2. Peter Wolf gives in The Winter King. Friedrich of the Palatinate. Bavaria and Europe in the Age of the Thirty Years' War, p. 247 also suggests the electoral palace in Amberg as a possible place of birth
  3. Illustration by Frans Hogenberg from 1613: Actual illustration of which figure the Elector Pfaltzgraff Fridrich the 5th sampt the princess in Engelland went to the Royal Capell for the wedding, February 14, 1613 ( digitized version )
  4. On the Calvinist politics of Anhalt since 1595/97, especially in connection with the prehistory of the Thirty Years War: Walter Krüssmann, Ernst von Mansfeld, pp. 81–86, 98 ff., 134–139, 170–176 and more often.
  5. see on this see under references: Berning ... p. 134
  6. a b See also Peter Wolf: Iron from the Upper Palatinate, Zinn from Bohemia and the golden Bohemian crown in The Winter King. Friedrich of the Palatinate. Bavaria and Europe in the age of the Thirty Years War
  7. Quoted from Peter Bilhöfer in Der Winterkönig. Friedrich of the Palatinate. Bavaria and Europe in the Age of the Thirty Years War, p. 24
  8. For a contemporary representation of the entry and the coronation see Coronation of Friedrichs von der Pfalz to the Bohemian King on Wikisource
  9. Quoted from Eliška Fučíková in The Winter King. Friedrich of the Palatinate. Bavaria and Europe in the Age of the Thirty Years War, p. 116
  10. A pamphlet with an eyewitness report is on Wikisource: Extract of a letter from Prague about the destruction of the Thumb churches
  11. a b See for this the leaflet Confirmirter and (God praise) still remaining Pfaltz-Bohemian started winter and outward defending summer lion on Wikisource
  12. Quoted from Wedgwood, p. 94
  13. The full text of the pamphlet can be found on Wikisource: Actual illustration of the Winter King
  14. Quoted from Bilhöfer, p. 25
  15. The full text of such a mockery can be found on Wikisource: Abgesandter Postbott / so searches for the lost Pfaltzgraffen around in every country.
  16. quoted from Wedgwood, p. 114
  17. a b The full text of the declaration of eight is available on Wikisource: Declaration of eight on Friedrich von der Pfalz
  18. Lydia Baštecká, Ivana Ebelová: Náchod. Náchod 2004, ISBN 80-7106-674-5 , p. 86
  19. A contemporary report on the capture of Heidelberg can be found on Wikisource: Siege and capture of Heidelberg 1622
  20. All data based on Yvonne Stoldt, Karin Tebbe, Dagmar Hirschfelder, Ed. Frieder Hepp: Königskinder - Ein Bilderbogen. Heidelberg, Kurpfälzisches Museum, 2019.
  21. An example of such a theological treatise can be found as a digitized version in the Munich University Library .
  22. This pamphlet is available as a digital copy from the University of Augsburg .
  23. a b Schiller, History of the Thirty Years War, Volume 18 of the national edition, p. 78
  24. Pursell, p. 17
  25. On Magnus Rüdes' criticism of Wolf's thesis, see his review of the exhibition catalog in: H-Soz-u-Kult , October 27, 2003.
predecessor government office successor
Frederick IV Elector Palatinate
Maximilian (I.)
Ferdinand II. King of Bohemia
Ferdinand II.