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Frederick V, Elector Palatine

Frederick V
Frederick wearing the Crown of Saint Wenceslas, other Bohemian regalia and the collar of the Order of the Garter and holding an orb. On the table is the Cap representing his separate office as Elector Palatine. Painted by Gerrit von Honthorst in 1634.
Elector Palatine
Reign 19 September 1610 – 23 February 1623
Predecessor Frederick IV
Successor Charles I Louis
King of Bohemia
Reign 26 August 1619 – 8 November 1620
Coronation 4 November 1619
Born (1596-08-26)26 August 1596
Deinschwang, near Amberg, Upper Palatinate
Died 29 November 1632(1632-11-29) (aged 36)
Spouse Princess Elizabeth of England
Frederick Henry, Electoral Prince of the Palatinate
Charles I Louis, Elector Palatine
Elisabeth, Princess-Abbess of Herford
Prince Rupert, Duke of Cumberland
Prince Maurice
Princess Louise Marie
Prince Louis
Prince Edward
Prince Philip
Princess Charlotte
Sophia, Electress of Hanover
Prince Gustavus
House House of Palatinate-Simmern, cadet branch of the House of Wittelsbach
Father Frederick IV, Elector Palatine
Mother Countess Louise Juliana of Nassau
Frederick's coat of arms.

Frederick V (German: Friedrich V.; 26 August 1596 – 29 November 1632)[1][2] was Elector Palatine (1610–23), and, as Frederick I (Czech: Fridrich Falcký), King of Bohemia (1619–20); for his short reign he is often nicknamed the Winter King (Czech: Zimní král; German: Winterkönig).

Frederick was born at the Jagdschloss Deinschwang (a hunting lodge) near Amberg in the Upper Palatinate. He was the son of Frederick IV and of Louise Juliana of Orange-Nassau, the daughter of William the Silent and Charlotte de Bourbon-Monpensier. An intellectual, a mystic, and a Calvinist, he succeeded his father as Prince-Elector of the Rhenish Palatinate in 1610. He was responsible for the construction of the famous Hortus Palatinus gardens in Heidelberg.

In 1618 the largely Protestant estates of Bohemia rebelled against their Catholic King Ferdinand, triggering the outbreak of the Thirty Years' War. Frederick was asked to assume the crown of Bohemia. He accepted the offer and was crowned on 4 November 1619.[1] The estates chose Frederick since he was the leader of the Protestant Union, a military alliance founded by his father, and hoped for the support of Frederick's father-in-law, James VI of Scotland and I of England. However, James opposed the takeover of Bohemia from the Habsburgs and Frederick's allies in the Protestant Union failed to support him militarily by signing the Treaty of Ulm (1620). His brief reign as King of Bohemia ended with his defeat at the Battle of White Mountain on 8 November 1620 – a year and four days after his coronation.

After this battle, the Imperial forces invaded Frederick's Palatinate lands and he had to flee to his uncle prince Maurice, Stadtholder of the Dutch Republic in 1622. An Imperial edict formally deprived him of the Palatinate in 1623. He lived the rest of his life in exile with his wife and family, mostly at The Hague, and died in Mainz in 1632.

His eldest surviving son Charles I Louis, Elector Palatine returned to power in 1648 with the end of the war. His daughter Princess Sophia was eventually named heiress presumptive to the British throne, and was the founder of the Hanoverian line of kings.


  • Youth, 1596–1610 1
  • Controversy over guardianship, 1610–1614 2
  • Marriage to Elizabeth Stuart 3
  • Electoral reign before the Thirty Years' War, 1614–1618 4
  • King of Bohemia, 1619-1620 5
    • Background and plans 5.1
    • Frederick in Prague 5.2
    • Coronation 5.3
    • Reign 5.4
      • Battle of White Mountain, 8 November 1620 5.4.1
    • Escape 5.5
  • Fall of Frederick's ancestral lands, 1621–22 6
  • Exile, 1622–1632 7
  • Death, 1632 8
  • Ancestry 9
  • Family and children 10
  • Notes 11
  • External links 12
  • External links 13

Youth, 1596–1610

Map showing the location of Electoral Palatinate in the Holy Roman Empire. As son and heir of Frederick IV, Elector Palatine (1574–1610), Frederick was the hereditary ruler of Electoral Palatinate.

Frederick was born on 26 August 1596[1][2] at the Jagdschloss Deinschwang (a hunting lodge) near Amberg in the Upper Palatinate. His father, Frederick IV was the ruler of Electoral Palatinate; his mother was Louise Juliana of Nassau, the daughter of William I of Orange and Charlotte de Bourbon-Monpensier. A member of the House of Palatinate-Simmern, Frederick was related to almost all of the leading families of the Holy Roman Empire and a number of diplomats and dignitaries attended his baptism at Amberg on 6 October 1596. The House of Palatinate-Simmern, a cadet branch of the House of Wittelsbach, was noted for its attachment to Calvinism; this was in marked contrast to the wider House of Wittelsbach, headed by Duke Maximilian, which was deeply devoted to the Roman Catholic Church.

The capital of the Electoral Palatinate, Heidelberg, was suffering from an outbreak of Bubonic plague at this time, so Frederick spent his first two years in the Upper Palatinate before being brought to Heidelberg in 1598. In 1604, at his mother's urging, he was sent to Sedan to live in the court of his uncle Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne, Duke of Bouillon. During his time at Sedan, Frederick was a frequent visitor to the court of Henry IV of France. His tutor was Calvinist theologian Daniel Tilenus, a professor of theology at the Academy of Sedan. During the Eighty Years' War and the French Wars of Religion, Tilenus called for the unity of Protestant princes, and taught that it was their Christian duty to intervene if their brethren were being harassed. These views are likely to have shaped Frederick's future policies.

Controversy over guardianship, 1610–1614

Portrait of Frederick by Michiel Jansz. van Mierevelt, 1613.

On 19 September 1610, Frederick's father, Frederick IV, died from "extravagant living"; Frederick V was only 14 years old at the time of his father's death. Under the terms of the Golden Bull of 1356, Frederick's closest male relative would serve as his guardian and as regent of Electoral Palatinate until Frederick reached the age of majority. However, his nearest male relative, Wolfgang William, Count Palatine of Neuburg, was a Catholic, so, shortly before his death, Frederick IV had named John II, Count Palatine of Zweibrücken as his son's guardian. Frederick V welcomed John to Heidelberg as his new guardian, whereas Wolfgang William was denied entry. This led to a heated dispute among the princes of the Holy Roman Empire. In 1613, Matthias, Holy Roman Emperor intervened in the dispute, with the result being that Frederick V was able to begin his personal rule in the Electoral Palatinate even though he was still underage. The dispute was ended in 1614, when Frederick reached the age of majority upon his eighteenth birthday. However, much bad blood among the houses was caused by this dispute.

Marriage to Elizabeth Stuart

Frederick IV's marriage policy had been designed to solidify Electoral Palatinate's position within the Reformed camp in Europe. Two of Frederick V's sisters were married to leading Protestant princes: his sister Luise Juliane to his one-time guardian Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, although this never came to pass.

Elizabeth Stuart (1596–1662), 1613.

In keeping with his father's policy, Frederick V sought a marriage to Elizabeth Stuart, daughter of James I of England and VI of Scotland. However, Frederick was only an Elector, and it was likely that James would seek to marry his daughter to a king. James had initially considered marrying Elizabeth to Louis XIII of France, but these plans were rejected by his advisers. Frederick's advisers in the Electoral Palatinate were worried that if Elizabeth Stuart were married to a Catholic prince, this would upset the confessional balance of Europe, and they were thus determined that she would marry Frederick V. Hans Meinhard von Schönberg, who had served as Frederick V's Hofmeister since his return to Heidelberg, was sent to London to court the princess in spring 1612. After intense negotiations, a marriage contract was signed on 26 May 1612, over the objection of her mother, Queen Anne.

Frederick travelled to London to collect his bride, landing on English soil on 6 October 1612. Frederick and Elizabeth, who had previously corresponded in French, now met each other for the first time, and got on well together. They were formally engaged in January 1613. They were subsequently married on 14 February 1613 at the royal chapel at the George Chapman.

On their return trip to Heidelberg, Frederick and Elizabeth travelled to The Hague to visit Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange before leaving for Germany on 5 May 1613. The couple entered Heidelberg on 12 June 1613, amidst widespread celebration. Elizabeth was popular with her new subjects, and this popularity grew when, on 1 January 1614, she gave birth to a son, Frederick Henry.

As part of the marriage negotiations, Frederick had agreed to expand Heidelberg Castle. These renovations were completed in 1615 and the "Elizabeth Entrance" to Heidelberg Castle was dedicated.

Electoral reign before the Thirty Years' War, 1614–1618

Heidelberg Castle and the Hortus Palatinus commissioned by Frederick, and designed by English architect Inigo Jones (1573–1652) and French engineer Salomon de Caus (1576–1626).

Upon his eighteenth birthday on 26 August 1614, Frederick assumed personal control of Electoral Palatinate. One of his first acts was to attend a meeting of the Protestant Union. During this meeting, Frederick was struck by a fever and nearly died. This illness changed his personality profoundly: in the wake of the illness, contemporaries described him as melancholy and possibly depressed. As such, Frederick placed large amounts of responsibility in his chancellor, Christian I, Prince of Anhalt-Bernburg.[3]

Frederick undertook a large building campaign, designed to glorify his regime. In addition to the renovations to Heidelberg Castle mentioned above, Frederick commissioned a new courtyard garden, the Hortus Palatinus, designed by English gardener Inigo Jones and French engineer Salomon de Caus. Frederick was depicted as Apollo and as Hercules.

Politically, Frederick positioned himself as a leader of the Protestant princes in the Holy Roman Empire, and as a defender of the liberty of the German nobles against the Catholic emperor, Matthias, Holy Roman Emperor. Since the Peace of Augsburg, the Holy Roman Empire had been delicately balanced between Catholic, Lutheran, and Calvinist principalities (although Calvinism was not recognised in the Peace of Augsburg). The conflicts between princes of these three faiths developed into a deep struggle over the constitution of the Holy Roman Empire. Furthermore, the Twelve Years' Truce, a hiatus in the Eighty Years' War, was set to expire in 1621, and would probably lead to renewed fighting between the Dutch Republic and the Spanish Empire.

Frederick in Roman garb.

With its central location in Germany, the Electoral Palatinate was vulnerable to incursions of imperial troops from the Habsburg hereditary lands. Unlike many other principalities of the Holy Roman Empire, Electoral Palatinate was not a closed dominion, but instead consisted of two unconnected provinces surrounded by foreign lands. Lower Palatinate centred on Heidelberg, while Upper Palatinate centred on Amberg. Lower Palatinate's economy was dominated by agriculture, while Upper Palatinate was a mining region with one of the most successful economies in Europe.

King of Bohemia, 1619-1620

Background and plans

The Kingdom of Bohemia was an elective monarchy, and, in spite of the high title of a kingdom, was a part of the Holy Roman Empire. Since 1526, the Kings of Bohemia had all been members of the House of Habsburg; since 1555, these Kings had also been Holy Roman Emperors. In the early seventeenth century, however, Bohemia faced a political crisis. The Estates of the realm of Bohemia became worried that the Habsburgs were planning to transform Bohemia into an absolute monarchy. A large number of Bohemian nobles were Protestant and they feared that a Catholic emperor would attempt to impose Catholicism on Bohemia. Thus, a substantial opposition movement developed in opposition to Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor. Rudolf had waged a war against the Ottoman Empire – known as the Long War – from 1593 to 1606. Dissatisfied with the outcome of the Long War, Rudolf sought to launch a new war against the Ottomans. To gain Bohemian support for this war, Rudolf agreed to guarantee Bohemian religious liberty, issuing his so-called Letter of Majesty in 1609. Still, the Bohemian nobles remained suspicious of Rudolf and were in contact with the Protestant Union.

The Bohemian Estates elected John George I, Elector of Saxony, to break his alliance with the Habsburgs and come fully to the Protestant cause. This assumption would later prove to be unfounded.

Frederick's chancellor Christian I, Prince of Anhalt-Bernburg (1568–1630).

Meanwhile, the sectarian conflicts in Bohemia continued. In 1617, Matthias prevailed on the Bohemian Estates to elect Ferdinand, Duke of Styria, as heir to the throne of Bohemia. Ferdinand was an intensely loyal Catholic, and many Protestant noblemen believed that Ferdinand intended to withdraw the protections of Rudolf II's Letter of Majesty. These suspicions were further aroused when Imperial officials ordered Protestants to stop erecting Protestant churches on the "Stifts". These were lands held by ecclesiastical lords - "princes of the church", and not subject to the Bohemian Estates). The Protestants claimed these lands fell under the term "royal land", and thus open to them by the Letter of Majesty – a very disputed legal interpretation which the Austrian government rejected. On 23 May 1618, an assembly of Protestant noblemen, led by Count Jindrich Matyas Thurn, stormed Prague Castle, and seized two Imperial governors, Vilem Slavata of Chlum and Jaroslav Borzita of Martinice. The rebels charged them with violating the Letter of Majesty, found them guilty, and threw them and their scribe Philip Fabricius out of the windows of the Bohemian Chancellery. This event – known as the Second Defenestration of Prague – marked the beginning of the Bohemian Revolt, and with it, the beginning of the Thirty Years' War.

In these circumstances, Christian I, Prince of Anhalt-Bernburg, Frederick V's governor of the Upper Palatinate, moved to intervene in Bohemia. He did not initially propose nominating Frederick as King of Bohemia because the young elector was still seen as politically inexperienced and he was a Calvinist, while there were virtually no Calvinists in Bohemia. At any rate, Frederick was not initially eager to defy the emperor, who had praised Frederick's loyalty. Frederick did not publicly break with the emperor, but in a letter to his father-in-law, James I of England, he placed the blame for the Bohemian vote on the Jesuits and the Spanish party at the Habsburg court. This is a questionable evasion of Frederick's own agents.

The first mention in Prague of Frederick's name as a possible candidate as King of Bohemia came in November 1618. It is not known if Frederick's agents played a role in talking up his possible candidacy. Palatine diplomat Christoph von Dohna approached James I of England with the possibility of Frederick becoming King of Bohemia, but James reacted negatively to this idea. The princes of the Protestant Union similarly rejected the idea, fearing it might lead to religious war. The Elector of Saxony was staunchly opposed to the idea.

Behind the scenes, Frederick authorised sending a force under Ernst von Mansfeld to support the Bohemian rebels. In August 1618, forces under Mansfeld entered Bohemia and led the Siege of Pilsen, which saw Pilsen fall to rebel forces on 21 November 1618, leaving the entire kingdom in Protestant hands.

Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor (1578–1637), who was elected King of Bohemia in 1617 and who would later claim that Frederick had usurped his rightful claim to the throne of Bohemia.

Matthias, Holy Roman Emperor died on 20 March 1619. Although his successor, Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor, had previously been crowned King of Bohemia, the Estates of Bohemia now refused to recognise Ferdinand as their king. Fearing an invasion by Imperial forces the Estates of Bohemia sought an alliance with the other members of the Lands of the Bohemian Crown (Silesia, Lusatia, Moravia) and on 31 July 1619 at Prague, these states formed the Bohemian Confederacy, dedicated to opposing the Habsburgs; under the terms of this agreement, Protestantism became virtually the state religion of the Bohemian lands. In August 1619, the general parliament of all the Bohemian lands declared that Ferdinand had forfeited the Bohemian throne. This formally severed all ties between Bohemia and the Habsburgs and made war inevitable. Ferdinand of Bavaria, Archbishop of Cologne predicted this decision would lead to twenty, forty, or sixty years of war.[4]

The preferred candidate of Bohemians as their new king was the Elector of Saxony, but he let it be known he would not accept the throne. This left Frederick as the most senior Protestant prince since no one else was willing to risk conflict with the emperor. In August 1619, the chances of Frederick becoming King of Bohemia became greater when Gabriel Bethlen launched an anti-Habsburg revolt in Royal Hungary. This was also precisely the period when Ferdinand was travelling to Frankfurt for his coronation.

Frederick in Prague

On 26 August 1619, the states of the Bohemian Confederacy elected Frederick as new King of Bohemia; Frederick first learned of his election on 29 August in Amberg.[5]

Two days later, Ferdinand II John Sigismund, Elector of Brandenburg, voted for Ferdinand. The electoral college also condemned the Bohemian Confederation's attempt to remove Ferdinand from the throne of Bohemia and declared that the 1617 vote of the Estates of Bohemia making Ferdinand King of Bohemia was binding.


Frederick's decision to accept the Bohemian crown has been the subject of much historical speculation. Later Catholic propaganda, in a view later accepted by Friedrich Schiller, portrayed the decision as based mainly on Elizabeth Stuart's desire to be a queen.[6] More recently, historians have concluded that Frederick's decision was based primarily on a sense of his duty to fellow Protestants, although Frederick wavered between his duty of loyalty to the emperor and his sense of duty to his religious brethren. There also seem to have been economic considerations: the Upper Palatinate was at that time the European iron center, while Bohemia was a focal point for the tin and glass trade: Christian I, Prince of Anhalt-Bernburg, told Frederick that a union of the two areas could be financially advantageous.

On 12 September 1619, the Protestant Union met at Rothenburg ob der Tauber and called on Frederick not to intervene in Bohemian affairs. Other possible allies – the Dutch Republic, Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy, and the Republic of Venice – sent letters saying they would not be able to offer Frederick assistance if he accepted the Bohemian offer; only Gabriel Bethlen offered words of encouragement.

Between 24 September and 28, Frederick reached his decision "not to resist the will of the Almighty" and thus decided to accept the Bohemian crown.[7] The Dutch Republic, the Republic of Venice, Denmark, and Sweden recognised Frederick as King of Bohemia.

On 29 September 1619, Frederick left Heidelberg for Prague. He travelled through Ansbach, Amberg, Neumarkt, and Waldsassen, where he was met by representatives from the Bohemian Estates. Together, they then travelled through Cheb, Sokolov, Žatec, Louny, and Slaný. Finally on 31 October 1619, Frederick entered Prague, along with 568 people and 100 cars, and was greeted enthusiastically.


Coronation of Frederick V in St. Vitus Cathedral, 4 November 1619.

Frederick was crowned with the liturgy was modelled on that used at the coronation of Charles IV, with only a few parts altered. The litany was sung – per the Catholic tradition – rather than spoken as was normally done by the Calvinists. Frederick was anointed with little objection. At the end of the coronation, the Estates paid homage to Frederick.

Although a large part of the country was already devastated by war, and many refugees were encamped in the town, the coronation was celebrated with lavish parties.[8]


Frederick assumed a weak crown and a state torn with internal divisions. The state's finances had been disrupted for years, and, at any rate, Bohemian kings had only very limited ability to raise funds, being primarily dependent on the goodwill of the nobility and the tax allocations of the diets. The Protestant nobles felt that higher taxes were necessary to pay for war against the German Catholic League, but the country already felt overburdened in the wake of the Long War. Further limiting Frederick's ability to manoeuvre was the need to distribute royal bounty to supporters in order to ensure their loyalty to his regime.

In Prague, Frederick soon came to be alienated from a portion of the nobility and the clergy. Neither Frederick nor his wife spoke Czech, so court offices were staffed primarily with foreigners, while the administration of the localities was left to the local nobles. This made an alliance of the royal family with the corporate bodies of the realm difficult.

Further alienation was caused by Frederick V's court preacher, Abraham Scultetus, who was determined to use his new post to advance the cause of Calvinism in Bohemia. The Utraquist churches had retained the use of relics and images in church, but Scultetus now launched an iconoclastic crusade against images: beginning on 21 December 1619, images were removed from St. Vitus Cathedral, and on 27–28 December, a famous altarpiece by Lucas Cranach the Younger depicting the Virgin Mary was destroyed. There was even a rumour that the grave of St. Wenceslaus was to be desecrated. Scultetus' iconoclasm was deeply unpopular, and Frederick attempted to distance himself from it, claiming that his orders were not being carried out by his followers.

This 1619 Imperial pamphlet, containing a chronogram, was the first to dub Frederick "The Winter King".

The nickname "The Winter King" appeared shortly after the beginning of Frederick's reign and our first printed reference using the term came in a 1619 Imperial pamphlet that presented the phrase in the context of a royal chronogram. Frederick's propagandists attempted to respond to the phrase by arguing that Frederick was in fact a "Winter Lion" who defended the crown of Bohemia against troublemakers and liars, and that he would also be a "Summer Lion."

Meanwhile, Matthias Hoe von Hoenegg, encouraged the emperor to smash Frederick and the Bohemians.[9]

Frederick's chancellor, Rhineland territories during Frederick's absence in Bohemia.

In March 1620, during a meeting of the Imperial party at

Frederick V, Elector Palatine
Cadet branch of the House of Wittelsbach
Born: 26 August 1596 Died: 29 November 1632
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Frederick IV
Elector Palatine
Succeeded by
Charles I Louis
Preceded by
Ferdinand II
King of Bohemia
Succeeded by
Ferdinand II
  • A declaration of the cavses, for the which, wee Frederick, by the grace of God King Bohemia, Covnt Palatine of the Rhine, Elector of the Sacred Empire, & c. haue accepted of the crowne of Bohemia, and of the covntryes thereunto annexed.

External links

External links

  1. ^ a b c
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ Concerning Anhalt's political aims and his secret diplomacy against the House of Habsburg see: Walter Krüssmann, Ernst von Mansfeld (1580-1626); Grafensohn, Söldnerführer, Kriegsunternehmer gegen Habsburg im Dreißigjährigen Krieg; Berlin 2010 (Duncker & Humblot, Historische Forschungen, 94; ISBN 978-3-428-13321-5), especially pp. 81-86, 98-100, 134-139, 170-176.
  4. ^ Zitiert nach Golo Mann: Wallenstein, S. 146M
  5. ^ s. hierzu s. unter Literaturangabe: Berning ... S. 134
  6. ^ Friedrich Schiller: Geschichte des 30jährigen Kriegs, Teil 1
  7. ^ Zitiert nach Peter Bilhöfer in Der Winterkönig. Friedrich von der Pfalz. Bayern und Europa im Zeitalter des Dreißigjährigen Krieges, S. 24 24
  8. ^ Für eine zeitgenössische Darstellung des Einzugs und die Krönung siehe Krönung Friedrichs von der Pfalz zum böhmischen König
  9. ^ Quoted by Wedgwood, p. 94


  1. Frederick Henry (1614–1629)—(drowned)
  2. Charles Louis (1617–1680), became Elector Palatine in 1648
  3. Elisabeth (1618–1680)
  4. Rupert (1619–1682) of English Civil War fame.
  5. Maurice (1620–1652) who also served in the English Civil War.
  6. Louise (1622–1709)
  7. Louis (1624–1625)
  8. Edward (1625–1663)
  9. Henriette Marie (1626–1651)
  10. Philip (1627–1650)
  11. Charlotte (1628–1631)
  12. King George I of Great Britain in 1714.
  13. Gustavus (1632–1641), died in infancy.

He married Elizabeth Stuart, the daughter of James VI of Scotland and I of England and of Anne of Denmark in the Chapel Royal, Whitehall on 14 February 1613 and had the following children:

Family and children


Frederick's son and heir, Oppenheim and his embalmed body was taken to Frankenthal. On 9 June 1635, with Spanish troops approaching, Ludwig Philipp of Pfalz-Simmern-Kaiserslautern fled to Kaiserslautern with Frederick's body. It is believed that Ludwig Philipp of Pfalz-Simmern-Kaiserslautern transferred Frederick's body to the Sedan in September 1637, but Frederick's final resting place is unknown.

Gustavus Adolphus was killed at the Battle of Lützen (1632) on 16 November 1632. About this time, the English finally determined to send an expeditionary force to participate in the Thirty Years' War. Unfortunately for Frederick, it was too late. Beginning in October 1632, he had suffered from an infection that got worse in the following weeks. The famed physician Peter Spina was summoned from Darmstadt to Mainz, but nothing could be done for Frederick. Frederick died on the morning of 29 November 1632, of a "pestilential fever".

Frederick subsequently took part in Gustavus Adolphus' march into the Duchy of Bavaria, and was present for the march into Munich on 17 May 1632. Upon Frederick's pressing his case with Gustavus Adolphus, Gustavus Adolphus told Frederick that he would accept Frederick's restoration without Dutch / British support only if Frederick would agree to hold the Palatinate as a fief of the King of Sweden. The lands of the Palatinate were simply too important strategically for Gustavus Adolphus to hand them over to Frederick. Gustavus Adolphus also insisted that Frederick would have to agree to establish equal rights for Lutherans in his territories. Frederick refused Gustavus Adolphus' conditions and they parted, with Frederick travelling to Swedish-occupied Mainz, intending to return to The Hague.

In February 1632, Frederick met Gustavus Adolphus at Frankfurt, with Gustavus Adolphus paying Frederick full royal honours. However, Gustavus Adolphus was not prepared to offer Frederick support for restoring him in the Palatinate because England and the Netherlands had not signed off on such a proposal.

Frederick V, ca. 1630.

On 4 July 1630, Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden intervened in the Thirty Years' War. On 16 September 1631, Gustavus Adolphus' forces defeated Tilly's forces at the Battle of Breitenfeld (1631). Tilly was defeated the following year, and Gustavus Adolphus' forces swept into southern Germany. When Oppenheim was captured in December 1631, Frederick believed the time was ripe for him to reestablish himself in the Palatinate, and he left for Heidelberg.

Death, 1632

At the Ernst Egon VIII, Count of Fürstenberg, president of the Imperial Privy Council, about restoring Frederick's lands, but Frederick died before these could bear any fruit.

Frederick suffered a personal tragedy on 17 January 1629. He was traveling to Amsterdam to view the Spanish treasure fleet captured by the Dutch West India Company when his boat capsized while crossing the Haarlemmermeer, a body of water near Haarlem. Frederick survived the accident, but his eldest son, the fifteen-year-old Frederick Henry of the Palatinate did not. Frederick himself sustained serious physical injuries in the accident, and would not fully recover for 15 months.

The winter palace constructed for Frederick V at Rhenen between 1629 and 1631.

Frederick left most of the day-to-day business of his government-in-exile to his counselors, although he did take some interest in his finances. Frederick was very stingy in funding his administration, and yet, in order to maintain the dignity of a royal court, he spent vast sums on building and entertainment, quickly blowing through donations from the English and Dutch governments. For example, in 1629, Frederick commissioned Bartholoeus van Bassen to build him a large winter palace in Rhenen. When completed in 1631, this palace had a large central residence, a courtyard, a two-storey main building with two wings projecting to the south, and was surrounded by large gardens. Frederick spent much of his time there in hunting and long walks.

There were attempts at reconciling Frederick with the emperor in 1624–25 and in 1627, but these came to naught. Frederick was willing to compromise with the emperor, but he wanted the restoration of his lands and electoral title, and the emperor was not inclined to restore these to Frederick. Frederick held out some hope that his lands might be retaken militarily, but these hopes were crushed on 27 August 1626, when the forces of Christian IV of Denmark were crushed by Tilly at the Battle of Lutter.

During the negotiations for the Spanish Match, Frederick urged his father-in-law not to go through with the Match.

In late 1622 and early 1623, Frederick organised a Palatinate government-in-exile at The Hague. This Palatinate Council was headed by Ludwig Camerarius.

Exile, 1622–1632

On 23 February 1623, Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor awarded Frederick's electoral title to Maximilian of Bavaria, who now became Maximilian I, Elector of Bavaria. Maximilian was also awarded the conquered territory of Upper Palatinate as a fief. Other territories of the Electoral Palatinate (Parkstein, Weiden in der Oberpfalz, and Peilstein im Mühlviertel) were awarded to Wolfgang William, Count Palatine of Neuburg.

1623 edict by Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor (1578–1637) awarding Frederick's lands and titles to Maximilian I, Elector of Bavaria (1573–1651).

Shortly thereafter, troops under Tilly and Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba completed the Spanish conquest of the Electoral Palatinate. After an eleven-week siege, Heidelberg fell on 19 September 1622; Mannheim similarly fell on 5 November 1622. Only the British garrison in Frankenthal now held out. After the conquest of Heidelberg, the Protestant churches were closed, the university was closed, and at the request of Maximilian, the great library, the famous Bibliotheca Palatina (3500 manuscripts), was presented as a Thank you gift to Pope Gregory XV for the 620,000 guilders he had provided for financing of the campaigns of the Catholic League.

Frederick dismissed Mansfeld after he became convinced he would be unable to reconquer his hereditary lands. Frederick then spent the summer with his uncle, Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne, Duke of Bouillon, in Sedan.

Heidelberg is taken by the forces of Johann Tserclaes, Count of Tilly (1559–1632) on 19 September 1622.

Frederick was increasingly under Mansfeld's influence at this time, and was growing disillusioned with the Protestant cause. With Frederick's knowledge, Mansfeld raided Darmstadt and captured Louis V, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt and his son Johann as hostages. This was clearly a violation of Imperial law, and cost Frederick whatever remaining sympathy he still had in Europe. During his retreat into Alsace, Mansfeld burned a city and thirty villages.

However, Battle of Wimpfen on 6 May 1622; and then forces under Christian the Younger of Brunswick were soundly defeated at the Battle of Höchst on 20 June 1622.

In summer 1621, John II, Count Palatine of Zweibrücken, Frederick's former guardian who had served as regent of the Electoral Palatinate when Frederick left for Prague, resigned.

Ernst von Mansfeld (1580–1626), soldier who held on to Frederick's Palatinate inheritance until 1622.

Fall of Frederick's ancestral lands, 1621–22

In Bohemia, the crushing of the Bohemian Revolt had terrible consequences. The Old Town Square executions, in which twenty-eight Bohemian nobles were executed at Old Town Hall (Prague), took place on 21 June 1621. Following the executions, the heads of twelve of nobels, along with the hand of Joachim Andreas von Schlick were nailed to the Old Town Tower of Charles Bridge, where they remained for ten years. The elective monarchy was now abolished; the role of the Estates greatly curtailed; and the Letter of Majesty was torn by Ferdinand himself. Only Lutheranism remained tolerated in Bohemia, and in the coming years, the rest of the population would be actively re-Catholicized. Bohemia would remain part of the Habsburg Monarchy until 1918.

The Twelve Years' Truce ended on 9 April 1621. On 14 April, Frederick joined his wife at The Hague. The Dutch Republic and Frederick signed a contract in which he accepted the support of the Netherlands for the reconquest of his dominions.

On 21 January 1621, Ferdinand issued a decree against Frederick and Christian, accusing them of breach of peace, supporting rebels, and treason. Ferdinand decreed that Frederick's lands and titles within the Holy Roman Empire were now forfeited. On 6 February 1621, representatives of the Protestant Union met with Ferdinand at Heilbronn to protest, but they soon agreed to support the settlement in the Palatinate, and the Palatinate remained occupied by Spanish troops. At this point, the Protestant Union had essentially ceased to exist.

Contemporary pamphleteers – both Catholic and Protestant – were merciless in their portrayal of Frederick's flight from Prague. After Frederick's Garter was found in Prague, pamphleteers routinely portrayed him with his stockings falling down.

1620 pamphlet mocking Frederick's flight from Prague.

Maximilian took Prague shortly after Frederick's departure. From Silesia, Frederick wanted to plan revenge for the Battle of White Mountain, but the Silesian Estates refused to support this project, and he was forced to leave Silesia in early 1621.

Christian could recommend only one option to Frederick: immediate flight. As such, on 9 November, Frederick fled to the Silesian capital of Breslau, along with his wife and child, some advisers, and not much more baggage than the Bohemian Crown Jewels.


After a series of skirmishes, on 5 November 1620, Frederick drew his forces back towards Prague and Imperial troops followed them. On 7 November, Bohemian forces determined to make a stand at White Mountain, just outside of Prague. The day before King Frederick had ridden down the lines, and exhorted the soldiers. He then rushed to Prague to implore the Bohemian Estates to raise money for his troops and to receive the envoys of the English king. However, it was too late. When, on 8 November 1620, Frederick wanted to ride back to the troops, he was met at the gate of Prague by fleeing soldiers of his army and his chancellor, Christian I, Prince of Anhalt-Bernburg, who informed him of the disaster: the Bohemian army had received a crushing defeat that morning in the Battle of White Mountain.

After capturing Linz, Upper Austria, Maximilian, Duke of Bavaria crossed the Bohemian border on 26 September 1620. At Rokycany, Maximilian's forces first met with the 15,000 ragtag, poorly paid, poorly equipped troops that Frederick had managed to raise. Frederick visited his army on 28 September 1620, but, lacking a military background, left the conduct of the war to his generals. Frederick focused his attention on organizing supplies and preparing fortifications.

Depiction of the Battle of White Mountain by Pieter Snayers (1592–1667), 1620.

In early August 1620, 25,000 troops, under the command of Spinola marched into Bohemia. In the third week of August, they shifted their focus and marched into the nearly unarmed Electoral Palatinate, occupying Mainz. The Electoral Palatinate was defended by only 2,000 English volunteers and the country was easily taken. Imperial troops set up camp in Frankenthal and Mannheim. Spinola crossed the Rhine on 5 September 1620 and proceeded to capture Bad Kreuznach on 10 September and Oppenheim on 14 September. From Bohemia, Frederick was powerless to stop the occupation of his ancestral homeland.

With the signing of the Treaty of Ulm, Ambrogio Spinola, 1st Marquis of the Balbases began raising Imperial troops in the Spanish Netherlands and in the Alsace region.

Battle of White Mountain, 8 November 1620

Bad news continued to arrive for Frederick. James I of England refused to support his son-in-law militarily. The Netherlands sent only a small force and promised only 50,000 florins a month for Frederick. Worst of all for Frederick, on 3 July 1620, the Protestant Union signed the Treaty of Ulm (1620), thereby withdrawing their support for Frederick and declaring neutrality in the conflict between Frederick and the Catholic League.

This was the context when the parliament of the Bohemian Confederacy met on 25 March 1620. Frederick called for massive tax increases and conscription to fight the impending Imperial threat. To raise money for the Bohemian forces, Frederick used his private funds, pawned his jewels and, in May 1620, drove the Electoral Palatinate into insolvency when he decided to move two tons of gold to Bohemia.

A little later, John George of Saxony signed a treaty with Ferdinand in which Ferdinand guaranteed the practice of Upper Saxon Circle.

On 1 April 1620, the Imperial party issued an ultimatum calling on Frederick to leave Bohemia by 1 June. If Frederick did not comply by this date, Ferdinand threatened to use force to enforce his right as Holy Roman Emperor and rightful King of Bohemia to overthrow the usurper.

Frederick V on horseback with Prague in the background.
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