Wallenstein's death

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Title: Wallenstein's death
Genus: A tragedy in five acts
Original language: German
Author: Friedrich Schiller
Publishing year: 1799
Premiere: April 20, 1799
Place of premiere: Weimar Court Theater , Weimar
Place and time of the action: The scene is in the first three acts in Pilsen and in the last two in Eger
  • Wallenstein
  • Octavio Piccolomini
  • Max Piccolomini
  • Terzky
  • Illo
  • Isolani
  • Butler
  • Captain Neumann
  • An adjutant
  • Colonel Wrangel , sent from the Swedes
  • Gordon , commandant of Eger
  • Major Geraldin
  • Captains in the Wallenstein Army:
    • Deveroux
    • Macdonald (historical: Dionysius Macdaniel)
  • Swedish captain
  • An embassy of cuirassiers
  • Mayor of Eger ( Pachhälbel )
  • Seni
  • Duchess of Friedland , Wallenstein's wife Maria Elisabeth (historical: Isabella Katharina, née Countess von Harrach )
  • Countess Terzky , the duchess sister (historical: Maximiliane Countess Trčka von Lípa, née Countess von Harrach)
  • Thekla , Princess of Friedland, Wallenstein's daughter (historical: Maria Elisabeth)
  • Miss Neubrunn , lady-in-waiting to the princess
  • von Rosenberg , stable master of the princess
  • dragoon
  • Servants. Pages. People.

Wallenstein's death is the third part of Friedrich Schiller's Wallenstein trilogy , the drama about the decline of the famous general Wallenstein . A general introduction and a brief summary of the entire trilogy can be found in the corresponding article.

The astrologer Seni on the corpse of Wallenstein, painting by Karl Theodor von Piloty

The last part of the trilogy is written in blank verse exactly like the second and consists of five acts; it follows on directly from the second part, thus also beginning in 1634 in the Bohemian town of Pilsen . The characters are identical, so for the most part it is Wallenstein's troop leader and his family. For the last two elevators, the setting changes to the city of Eger , where Wallenstein flees with his allies. There he was murdered on February 25, 1634.

First elevator

Wallenstein , the commander in chief of the troops of Emperor Ferdinand II , studies the constellations in an astrology room with his astrologer Seni . In the previous parts of the trilogy, Wallenstein's belief in astrology is mentioned several times. They conclude that, according to the state of the stars, it is time for great deeds. Shortly afterwards, Wallenstein's brother-in-law Terzky reported that Wallenstein's secret middleman on the way to the Swedes had been captured by imperial troops. As reported in " Die Piccolomini ", Wallenstein negotiates secretly with the official enemies, the Swedes, and is considering joining forces with them against the emperor. Now the emperor has insight into Wallenstein's rebellious plans. Terzky and Illo , another confidante of the general, want to persuade Wallenstein to act while he still has the army behind him. Wallenstein doubts and claims that he did not sign any documents himself. But Illo and Terzky are sure that the negotiator will be forced to make an incriminating statement. In a long monologue, Wallenstein says that he was never quite determined to overthrow the emperor, it was more like a game of thought, but it must now become an inescapable reality, since a return is no longer possible. He is not afraid of open struggle, but attacking the traditional order could be dangerous due to people's attachment to the traditional.

Wallenstein receives Wrangel , the Swedes' negotiator. The latter offers him to fight together against the emperor if the Swedes get Eger and the old town of Prague in return. Wrangel knows of the arrest of Wallenstein's negotiator, which gives him a strong negotiating position. He demands a decision from Wallenstein on the same day. Wrangel is convinced of Wallenstein's power through the troop leaders' oath of loyalty (see " The Piccolomini ", Act Three).

After the negotiation, Wallenstein initially does not want to ally with the Swedes because he does not want to make himself dependent on them. He is also convinced that unfaithfulness leads to ruin. Only Wallenstein's sister-in-law, Countess Terzky, managed to change his attitude. She thinks that he can still submit to the emperor, but will then sink into insignificance. This is a horrific idea for Wallenstein. In addition, Wallenstein must not forget that the emperor was disloyal to him. He only used Wallenstein as a means to an end and wanted to depose him after the war was won. Wallenstein lets himself be carried away by the Countess's speech and decides to officially change sides.

second elevator

Wallenstein receives Octavio Piccolomini , a commander in his army. He does not know that Octavio was spying for the emperor and that he was given power of attorney to depose Wallenstein as commander in chief of the army (see " The Piccolomini ", fifth act). Wallenstein instructs him to arrest two renegades in the force. He should also try to delay the Spanish troops loyal to the emperor. These are on their way to Wallenstein's camp, as Wallenstein is supposed to cede some of his soldiers to them, as mentioned at the end of " Wallenstein's camp ". Then comes Octavio's son Max Piccolomini , also a commander in his army. His father told him (at the end of "Die Piccolomini") that he, Octavio, is now working against Wallenstein. Max didn't believe in Wallenstein's rebellious plans and wants to question him himself. If Wallenstein is right, Max wants to oppose his own father. He is an avid supporter of Wallenstein and is also in conflict because he and Wallenstein's daughter Thekla have fallen in love.

Wallenstein confirms that he wants to break his loyalty to the emperor. He compares himself to Caesar, who is celebrated by history as a great ruler despite his betrayal. Wallenstein wants to know whether Max will continue to stand by him. Max says he doesn't want to betray the Kaiser. He tries to persuade Wallenstein to submit to the emperor again, which the emperor refuses. Max responds to it without a word.

Terzky and Illo repeatedly express their distrust of Octavio Piccolomini. Wallenstein says that he fully relies on Octavio: after all, Octavio was the first to meet him when he once asked fate who his closest confidante was. Wallenstein explains that if Octavio deceives him, all of astrology is wrong.

Now the scene changes to Octavio's apartment. He prepares his departure. Before that he receives Isolani , a leader in Wallenstein's troop. The latter speaks out clearly in favor of his commander and against the emperor. Octavio shows him the Emperor's authority to lead Wallenstein's troops in his place. Isolani gives in and asks forgiveness for his criticism of the emperor. He submits to Octavio. He orders Isolani to secretly leave Wallenstein's camp with his soldiers.

Now Octavio Buttler receives another troop leader. He doesn't give in as quickly as Isolani and wants to continue to serve Wallenstein. But Octavio shows him documents that are supposed to prove Wallenstein's intrigue. Buttler is of little origin (is mentioned in "Wallenstein's camp") and had once asked the emperor to be appointed count as thanks for his achievements in the war. But Wallenstein had spoken out in a letter against Buttler's promotion. Octavio says that Wallenstein wanted to turn Buttler against the emperor in this way in order to bind him more closely. When Buttler learns of this intrigue, he asks forgiveness for wanting to break allegiance to the emperor. Buttler now wants to appear to stay with Wallenstein, but he does not say what he is planning. Octavio grants him this wish.

Octavio now tells Max that he is leaving Wallenstein's camp and tries to persuade Max to come with him. But he reproaches him for lying to Wallenstein. Max wants to stay in the camp because of Theklas. Octavio leaves some soldiers behind to protect his son. Despite their conflict, the two Piccolomini hug each other goodbye.

third elevator

The third act takes place in a hall of Wallenstein's wife, the Duchess . The Countess Terzky and Wallenstein's daughter Thekla sit together. The Countess tells Thekla about Wallenstein's plans. She also says that through her love she must bind Max to Wallenstein. Thekla is upset. The duchess comes to the two of them worried to find out whether Wallenstein is still obeying the emperor. When the countess denies this, the duchess is also desperate. Only when Countess Terzky announces that Wallenstein is coming does the Duchess try to calm herself and Thekla so that Wallenstein can find his family carefree.

Wallenstein enters the hall with Illo. Illo says that Butler came to him to assure Wallenstein that he would help. Wallenstein mentions that he always distrusted Buttler, which he now considers to be unfounded. While Illo leaves again, Wallenstein wants to spend a while with his family. He asks Thekla to play something on the zither . But she is still stunned, she does not manage to play something and finally she runs away. Countess Terzky tells Wallenstein about Theklas and Max's love. The mother is happy, but Wallenstein is annoyed and surprised. He says he will only give Thekla to a king.

Suddenly Terzky comes and reports that several troops had left Wallenstein's camp. Illo also comes back and reports of other troops who fled - Octavio Piccolomini has brought most of Wallenstein's army under his control. Now Wallenstein learns that Octavio has betrayed him. But he doesn't see that as proof that his star German doesn't work. He thinks that fortune telling can only predict honest deeds, lies and intrigues cannot be discovered in this way.

Buttler comes with the next bad news: Wallenstein no longer has control over Prague, which he promised the Swedes. The camp guards intercepted the messenger with this message, so Wallenstein lost control of the army. When his wife learns of Wallenstein's plans and Octavio's successful intrigue, she faints.

Wallenstein slowly calms down and takes up new courage. A delegation of ten representatives of the cuirassiers comes to him. Wallenstein greets some of them by name, remembers their deeds on campaigns and emphasizes that he does not forget anyone with whom he has exchanged words. They tell him that even if many regiments have fallen away from him, they will continue to fight for him if he remains loyal to the emperor. They consider the contrary rumors to be a lie and want to find out the truth from his own mouth (which Wallenstein acknowledges with: "That's how I recognize my Pappenheimers " ). Now he tells them that the emperor cheated on him and that he must fight back. He manages to get her to his side. But then Buttler reports that Terzky is swapping the emperor's coat of arms for that of Wallenstein. Now the soldiers leave without a word - Wallenstein has lost the soldiers' support.

Now Max Piccolomini appears again. He confesses to Wallenstein his love for Thekla. Wallenstein wants to arrest him first because he is the traitor's son, but then he changes his stance and asks Max to fight for him. Now Max expresses understanding for his father's intrigue. He's not sure which side to take. Soldiers from the Pappenheimer army are meanwhile trying to break into the rooms. They believe that Max has been taken hostage and want to free him. Max tries to calm her down, but Wallenstein does not allow him to go outside. Instead, he sends Neumann , Terzky's adjutant , to order them to leave, but who is shot. Wallenstein gives the order that the troops still loyal to him should stabbed the imperial mercenaries in Prague in the back. He goes outside to persuade the soldiers to follow him again.

In Wallenstein's absence, Countess Terzky talks to Max. He cannot decide which side to fight on. Finally he leaves the decision to Thekla. She advises him to continue serving the emperor faithfully so that his conscience remains pure. The two of them could not live together because of their fathers' struggle. They hug goodbye. Terzky meanwhile has lost everything. The soldiers are not ready to listen to Wallenstein, but cheer the emperor. When Wallenstein returns, cuirassiers invade to free Max. Wallenstein separates Thekla and Max and stands between them. Max asks him to say goodbye, but Wallenstein doesn't look at him. Buttler and Countess Terzky also ignore him. Only Wallenstein's wife, the Duchess, who has since woken up again, says goodbye to him in a friendly manner. Wallenstein decides to leave for Eger with his last followers, while Max goes off with the cuirassiers.

Fourth elevator

Butler has arrived in Eger. Here he meets with the commandant of Eger, Gordon , in the mayor's house. Gordon was a friend of Wallenstein's when he was young. He's also in Eger by now. All regiments, with the exception of those of his brother-in-law Terzky, have left him. Gordon knows from Buttler that Wallenstein betrayed the emperor. He let Wallenstein into town anyway. Gordon finds Wallenstein's betrayal horrific, but is still very impressed by him.

Wallenstein comes with the mayor of Eger, Pachhälbel . He promises the mayor that a new kingdom will now arise in which the evangelicals , of whom there are still many in Eger, could live according to their faith. Emperor Ferdinand II , against whom Wallenstein rebels, was a strict representative of Catholicism . Wallenstein leaves the mayor and Gordon believing that he is still fighting the Swedes. Terzky and Illo tell that the Swedish troops are not far from Eger. Max Piccolomini tried to stop them with his soldiers; in the process he fell. Thekla's lady-in-waiting, Fraulein von Neubrunn , reports in horror that Thekla wanted to take her own life. All but Gordon and Butler run to her. Buttler says there is a risk that the Swedes will reach Eger before the troops loyal to the emperor arrive. Since he had to guarantee that Wallenstein would not escape, he wanted to kill him the next night. Gordon is very concerned about this plan. He still has great respect for Wallenstein. Illo and Terzky come back. They are now confident of victory again. You want to party in the evening. Gordon should meanwhile ensure the safety of Wallenstein. After they have left, Buttler emphasizes that he too is reluctant to kill Wallenstein, but that he must absolutely keep his word not to let him escape.

In the meantime, Miss von Neubrunn has led Wallenstein to the Duchess and the unconscious Thekla. She intercepted the messenger who brought the news of Max Piccolomini's death. When Thekla wakes up, she demands to hear the whole story. She is left alone with Fraulein von Neubrunn and the messenger. He says that Max fought the Swedes bravely and even when he was lost, he refused to give up. He also reports where his body was buried. After the messenger has left, Thekla makes a decision: she wants to secretly leave Eger and ride to her lover's grave. There she wants to be united with him in death. Von Neubrunn agrees to accompany them.

Fifth elevator

Buttler prepares the murder of Wallenstein and his faithful Terzky and Illo. Twelve of Buttler's people are supposed to storm the festival of the faithful and kill them. Then he meets with Deveroux and Macdonald , two captains of Buttler. They are of the opinion that it is their job to do everything for Wallenstein. When Buttler informs them that Wallenstein is now their enemy, they change their attitude immediately, unimpressed. Thinking is not their business, only the execution of commands. Buttler tells them to help him kill Wallenstein. They react very frightened and resist. They believe that Wallenstein is invulnerable to supernatural powers. It was only when Macdonald had the idea of ​​having their murder weapons consecrated before the act and Buttler assured that Wallenstein would be hanged anyway in the other case, did they agree. Since Wallenstein insists on quiet (is mentioned in " Wallenstein's camp "), no guards would spend the night with him. So you can break into your room at night.

The scene changes to Wallenstein's room: he is talking to Countess Terzky. She asks him to watch over him during the night, as she is afraid he might disappear forever overnight. She also tells him of nightmares in which his disappearance is indicated. Wallenstein says that he doesn't have such visions himself. Looking out the window, he says that there are no stars to be seen outside. He mentions that he missed Max Piccolomini very much because he had been a great joy in his life. But Wallenstein emphasizes that he is not afraid and that the emperor cannot harm him. Before the Countess leaves, she mentions that in case something happens to Wallenstein, she will carry something with her that will comfort her.

Now Gordon comes to Wallenstein. While the two are talking, Wallenstein has his valet undress him for bedtime. The chain that Wallenstein once received as a reward from the emperor breaks. He mentions that out of superstition, he always wore them in order to keep happiness from the beginning of his career. Wallenstein accuses Gordon that he was always too afraid and therefore would not move up any further. Gordon replies that security is worth a lot, because quick luck comes to an end.

Wallenstein's astrologer Seni rushed into the room. He is horrified and tells his master that he foresees that he, Wallenstein, will face serious misfortune; he shouldn't wait for the Swedes, but had to flee that night. Wallenstein replies that Seni only sees bad omens because he is against the alliance with the Swedes for reasons of faith. Gordon now also begs Wallenstein not to see the Swedes. He thinks that Wallenstein should fight them in order to earn the emperor's mercy. Wallenstein says it's too late to turn back. Even the valet now throws himself at Wallenstein's feet. He thinks that the servant is afraid for his property in Carinthia , located on imperial territory. He offers him to return to the Kaiser if he does not want to follow Wallenstein. Then Wallenstein leaves the room with the servant and Seni to go to sleep.

Buttler appears. Gordon considers calling the guards to stop Wallenstein's murder. But he comes to the conclusion that it is not his place to stop fate. Buttler has a wound on his arm. He says that he killed Illo and Terzky with his soldiers. Gordon asks Butler to wait at least an hour before the assassination attempt. When Buttler does not respond, Gordon tries to get in his way, but is simply pushed aside. Macdonald and Deveroux join them. They hear trumpets and suspect that the Swedes are just reaching Eger. The valet reappears and is killed by Deveroux. The three assassins go to Wallenstein's bedroom.

Enter Countess Terzky. She noticed that Thekla and Fraulein von Neubrunn are no longer there and is amazed at the noise. Buttler comes out of Wallenstein's room and is welcomed by the excited Gordon: Not the Swedes, but Octavio Piccolomini with the imperial troops has arrived in Eger. Buttler only replies that it is too late by now. Seni is coming back. He shouts with shock that Wallenstein has been murdered. The countess is appalled. When Octavio and his entourage enter the room, she flees. Meanwhile, Wallenstein's body is being carried out. Octavio reacts furiously to Buttler's act. He replies that he only carried out the emperor's wish. The Countess Terzky enters the room again. Octavio promises her that the Wallensteins family can count on the emperor's grace. But the countess ingested poison. She refuses any rescue and leaves the room. A courier brings a message from the emperor. Gordon reads the address and reacts reproachfully: Octavio is now Prince, which was also Wallenstein's title. Octavio is shocked at this title. The piece ends with him looking painfully at the sky.


The characters are mostly historical, but their roles in the play are only partly, partly they are fictional or accentuated differently. Max Piccolomini embodies the idealism of the Enlightenment , Wallenstein's sister-in-law, Countess Terzky, the cynical self-interest. (The historical Countess Maximiliane Trčka was present in Pilsen and Eger, but did not exert any influence; her role is rather inspired by Lady Macbeth , as Schiller had read Shakespeare's Macbeth immediately before writing Wallenstein . She also bears traits of her greedy and arch-Protestantism Mother-in-law Maria Magdalena von Lobkowitz, wife of Jan Rudolf Trčka von Lípa .)

In the “Axis monologue” of the first act (4th appearance), Wallenstein's attitude and the problems associated with his figure become clear: “Would it be possible? Can't go any more as I wanted? / Can't go back as I please? I would / The fact accomplish because I thought , / Not the temptation of me had (...)? "The key factor is therefore not Wallenstein's intention, but what his actions mean in the interpretation of the other.

Schiller describes another tragic element in his story of the Thirty Years' War : “In the process of setting up an unprecedented example of ingratitude against the creator of his fortune ( Ferdinand II ), he (Wallenstein) built his entire welfare on the gratitude that one grew it should prove. " Tragic irony then accumulates from the third act, where Wallenstein embraces the resolute even to murder Buttler and praise him for his loyalty. While he believes that even the stars could obey him, he himself is dependent on anonymous powers (especially the deep-rooted allegiance of his soldiers to the emperor) and political constellations.

According to Schiller's aesthetics, as explained in his treatise On the Aesthetic Education of Man , the experience of freedom in the aesthetic should make man ready for political freedom. The aesthetic, however, also has its own laws, whereby the aesthetic freedom becomes an end in itself and no longer serves only as a preliminary stage to liberation in the real world. Man is only fully human where he plays. The prologue to the Wallenstein trilogy also says: “Life is serious, art is serene” . But Wallenstein took politics and war like a game and believed that he could be free as a gambler; he wanted to experience aesthetic freedom in the real world, but where it cannot be found. He embodies a longing of people, especially of politicians, but had to fail because of the dependencies and entanglements of historical practice. Max Piccolomini cannot preserve the idealist's innocence and chooses death, while the realistic player Wallenstein finds his own because he has calculated wrongly.

Hegel criticized the fact that the trilogy does not end with a theodicy and thus the tragic creation of meaning fails to materialize, as he also bases his dialectic on, according to which a "deeper, hidden unity, a belonging together of the different" and thus a divine one emerges in the struggle of opposites Show order (or at least higher reasonableness). Heiner Müller wrote: “The course of the plot grinds the triumphal arch of theodicy, which the happier Shakespeare could still use as a component of his theater (...). Behind Wallenstein appears the shadow of Napoleon , the last protagonist of power in the leap from history to politics, who no longer has tragedy in his luggage, the start is the revolution . "

Individual evidence

  1. Michael Hofmann presents this interpretation in his (and Thomas Edelmann's) book Friedrich Schiller, Wallenstein: Interpretation , Oldenbourg-Interpretationen, Vol. 89 and in his epilogue to the Reclam edition.
  2. Heiner Müller, Zu Wallenstein , essay