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Battle For White Mountain

This is Twisted History

Joachim's father poured the whiskey down his back as he sat naked on the riverbank. Tears streaked down the youngman's face as the hard liquor flowed over the open wounds that flayed his back.   "Please, Joachim." His father kept pouring more whiskey over every lash mark to cleanse the wounds. "This is why we keep our ways secret and hidden. It's why we pretend to be THEM when we are among them."   "But did you have to tell them I had fanciful ideas, that I was a dreamer who still went to church every Sunday?" Joachim nearly spat out the words even as he fought back the sobs his body cried out to make at the pain on his back.   "I had to. They would have burned you at the stake otherwise."   "Better to die as I truly am than live a pretend life!"   His father sighed, and corked the bottle.   "I'm afraid that this will be the very last time I will be able to help you, Joachim." He placed a satchel stuffed as full as could be next to Joachim. "How you choose to live is entirely on your shoulders now. The elders have decided and I have your brothers and sisters to protect."   "And so I'm banished?"   "Yes. I have already removed your marks." The older man took a deep breath and patted the satchel. "I have a pouch of coins in there. Your mother packed your books, clothes, and what she could in there. It's not much, but --"   "But it's the best you can do despite the One Rule."   "Grow wise and live free, Joachim." He clasped his son's shoulder one final time and stood up. "I still love you, my son. I hope you make yourself a good life."   His father stepped away from the river bank and into the trees where he promptly vanished from sight.   "I will, father." Joachim promised aloud, then smiled with a wicked grin.Oh, I will, and those church bastards will bleed.
 

PRELUDE

Holy Roman Emperor Matthias ruled what was predominantly Roman Catholic lands. Even so, there was a very large Protestant population granted varying degrees of religious and political freedoms. Things were peaceful under his rule.   In 1617, Joachim worked as a third junior valet to the Emperor, magically disguised as the young son of some prominent noble. That young son was now dead and buried in a ditch. With his diguise intact, Joachim began to poison the Emperor. Slowly at first, then more and more, so as to mimic an illness.   As the Emperor sickened despite all medicines and prayers the clergy could do, his cousin Ferdinand was named as his successor, both as Emperor and as King of Bohemia. Ferdinand was a devout Catholic who had not been shy about purging Protestants from his Duchy, making the Protestant lords very nervous.   Joachim used his magic to cast whispers that fueled Protestants fears of what Ferdinand would do to them when the Emperor died. He also cast whispers upon the Catholics, stirring up their purity furvor as well. By the time Emperor Matthias died in 1619 and Ferdinand became the new emperor, tensions were high.   The biggest tension was that Bohemian nobles had been allowed to form their own electorate to choose their next king. Upon Matthias' death, they chose Frederick V, a Calvonist. Ferdinand did not accept Frederick V as king, and refused to give up the emperial electorate voting him as emperor and King of Bohemia.   In 1620, Ferdinand was now fuly established as Emperor. He set out to conquer Bohemia and make an example of the "rebels". Led by Field Marshall Tilly, a well decorated general, they defeated most of western Bohemia. The Imperial Army, made up of Imperial forces, the Catholic League (mercenaries), and Spanish Imperial forces serving as mercenaries, headed to Prague, the Bohemian capital.  

THE BATTLE

 
The Bohemians set up defensive positions to try and block the Imperial Army but the Imperials simply went around them. Prince Christian of Anhalt, King Frederick V's chosen general, force marched his men to get ahead of the Imperials. They reached White Mountain which stood just before Prague. It was not really a mountain but a low plateau with advantageous ground but there was little time to set up defensive works.   Despite Joachim's best whispering spells, enthusiasm to fight was low on both sides. The Bohemians, having already lost nearly 10,000 men in previous battles in western Bohemia, saw little chance of victory. The mercenaries on both sides had not been paid since the conquest began. Winter was coming and not even the Imperial forces with several wins under their belts, wanted to fight in the cold wet weather.   Field marshal Tilly sent a small Imperial force charged in, testing the Bohemian flank. To the Imperials' surprise, the flank began to crumble. Joachim, seeing this, whispered a spell. Prince Christian sent forward infantry and cavalry led by his son Christian II. The cavalry charged into the Imperial infantry, killing many. Field Marshall Tilly countered with his own cavalry, forcing the Bohemian riders to return to the main.   The Bohemian Infantry, just now approaching the Imperials, fired one volley into the Imperials. But with their cavalry faling back, they did too. Joachim, once again tried to whisper enthusiam back into the Bohemain forces even as a small group of Imperial cavalry circled them. Rather than running, the Bohemians held to the middle of the battlefield. And Tilly recalled his cavalry.   It was moment of reprieve the Bohemians took advantage. But instead of forming firm lines, company after company of Bohemians began retreating.   Field Marshal Tilly advanced with all his cavalries. This pushed the more stalwart Bohemian forces, bolstered by another whisper spell, back in a strategic withdrawl. They rallied at the Star Palace that stood just to the west of Prague. Prince Christian tried to establish a line of defence before the Imperials arrived but there was no time. The Bohemian companies were beaten to tatters, with thousands killed.  

THE AFTERMATH


Field Marshall Tilly entered Prague and the Bohemian resistance collapsed. King Frederick fled with his family and was given the mocking title of The Winter King. 47 Bohemian leaders were put on trial and 27 of them were executed in the Old Town Square. Over 80% of the Bohemian nobles fled into exile as Ferdinand began his convert to Catholicism or die regime.   Joachim fled from Prague but he managed to gather other bitter-souled Peddlers who had suffered at the hands of churchmen. Together they inspired more conflicts within the Empire. He gloated, and cheered with his rogue Peddlers, over every battle where "churchmen" killed each other. Rumors abounded of him being the perpetuating black heart beating through the Thirty Years War he had started by this conflict.   At the end of that terrible war, Bohemia had lost much. The Czech language nearly died, remembered by only a few before a movement a hundred years later slowly brought it back. A mere 50,000 of the 151,000 farmsteads were left functional, the rest destroyed. Its population of 3,000,000 was reduced to a mere 800,000.
White Mountain, near Prague, Bohemian Confederation
by GDJ
November 8, 1620
 

Belligerents


Holy Roman Empire
Catholic League
Spnaish Empire
Bohemian Confederation
Electoral Palatinate
 

Leaders


Maximillian I,
Johan von Tilly,
Charles de Bucquoy
Christian of Anhalt,
Jindritch Matyas Thurn
 

Contingents


23,000 Troops
12 Canons
21,000 Troops
10 Canons
 

Casualties


650 killed and wounded
2,800 killed and wounded

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Cover image: by Pignatta

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