Procrastination can be defeated

Postponement for the Thirty Years War

"What is it? - One shoots at troops approaching the city. - One shouldn't shoot. - With property and blood and for our lord and emperor! - There it stands before me, the murder, the civil war. What I all avoided All my life, it will appear before me at the end of my days. It shouldn't! Put your swords in your pocket! "

Rudolf II, the peace emperor. He wanted to prevent the civil war, now, in 1611, his own brother Matthias is marching against his residence in the Bohemian capital Prague. The Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation is finally defeated. This is how Franz Grillparzer portrays it in his 19th century drama "The Brotherly Quarrel in the House of Habsburg". The power struggle between the brothers has been smoldering for years. The art enthusiast Rudolf, who moved his residence from Vienna to Prague after taking office and made the city the intellectual metropolis of Europe, was little interested in politics throughout his life. He also suffered from depression - possibly also from schizophrenia. His brothers wanted to get rid of him. As early as 1606 they deposed him as head of the House of Habsburg and elect Matthias as his successor:

"From the present, sad situation in which the highly laudable House of Austria stands, it is unfortunately all too obvious that the Imperial Majesty, our brother, are not fit for government. After careful consultation and after considering the emperor's stupidity, we see no other way Means to elect Matthias as our serene Archduke. "

Three years later Matthias moves to Prague with his troops to dispute the Bohemian crown from his brother. But Rudolf can save himself by securing the support of the Bohemian nobility. The toll is high: for their loyalty, the Catholic Emperor must guarantee the Protestant Bohemian nobles freedom of religion: On July 9, 1609, he issued the so-called Letter of Majesty:

"Since we now want love and unity, peace and good understanding to reign between our dearly loyal subjects in this kingdom, we decide, by virtue of our royal power, that each party can freely and unhindered practice its religion, in which it hopes for its salvation . "

As the most important crown land of the Habsburgs, Bohemia is important throughout the empire. And so the "Majesty Letter" contains an explosive that has consequences for all of German history. Because he not only allows the majority Protestant population to practice their religion freely. A Bohemian control body should also guarantee compliance with the law. This laid the seed for a state of its own - independent of the Habsburgs. As everywhere in the empire, the denomination serves to develop and expand one's own territory. The result is intensified conflicts and alliance systems, and the Reich is threatened with dissolution. And Rudolf's inaction makes things worse in the eyes of his family. In 1611 there was a renewed power struggle between the brothers. Rudolf seeks support from his cousin Leopold, but his troops devastate the country. The Bohemians turn against Rudolf in horror. The emperor is bitter:

"Here was my royal seat. For Prague I gave lively Vienna, the seat of the ancestors since the cradle of the empire. But you are tired in your glory and stand in arms against your friend. So I curse you who pay the benevolence with evil Actions. "

When Rudolf died in 1612, Matthias finally became emperor. He did not keep to the "letter of majesty" - contrary to his promise. Five years later, his cousin Ferdinand succeeded the Bohemian royal throne. From now on it was completely over with religious tolerance. When he forbade the Bohemians to hold a protest state parliament, nobles marched into Prague Castle and threw two imperial governors out of the window. The Prague window lintel in 1618 was the initial spark for the Thirty Years War. The "majesty letter" of Emperor Rudolf delayed this war for ten years. At the same time he had promoted him, because he strengthened the Bohemian resistance. So this document, intended to secure peace, remains one of the causes of a devastating catastrophe.