Nordlingen, Germany (1634 & 1645 AD)
Two of the most important and bloodiest battles of the Thirty Years War took place at Nordlingen in Southern Germany. The first battle in 1634 was a decisive Catholic victory which avenged the battles of Breitenfeld and Lutzen a few years earlier. It also led directly to the French intervention on the side of the Protestants. The second battle in 1645 was one of the climactic engagements between the French and the Hapsburgs. A French victory, it led to the permanent loss of initiative for the Hapsburgs and, though a few more battles were still to be fought, an end to the war three years later.
Following the death of King Adolphus at the Battle of Lutzen, the Swedish intervention in Germany lost some of its steam. The two sides fought back and forth for a few years in a series of indecisive skirmishes and land grabs. However, throughout this period the Catholic armies grew stronger through reorganization and reinforcement, until they had regained much of their pre-Breitenfeld strength.
In September 1634 the two sides clashed again, this time at Nordlingen, closer to the Hapsburg homelands. This time the Swedes were significantly outnumbered, and without Adolphus badly outled. The battle was one of the greatest Catholic victories of the war, and one of the bloodiest defeats for the Protestants, who suffered nearly eighty percent casualties. Nordlingen effectively ended the Swedish Intervention phase of the war.
However, this disaster was viewed as a threat to France, who had largely been backing the Protestant side against their Hapsburg rivals. The next year the French, at the behest of the chief minister and cardinal, Richelieu, entered the war wholeheartefly on the side of the Protestants. With their assistance, the anti-Hapsburg forces rallied, and the tide of the war turned once again.
Over the next decade, the French and their allies were making progress against the Hapsburgs on all fronts. By 1645 they were in Bavaria, forcing a major showdown with their enemies. Once again, the two armies met at Nordlingen. The engagement was terrible, with each side losing a third of their men. In the end the French were triumphant, and from that time on the Hapsburgs were unable to sustain any significant offensive effort against the Protestants.
The Battlefields of Nordlingen are still largely open fields and farms. There are a few markers noting points of interest related to the battle.
The battle sites are just located outside of the modern-day town of Nordlingen, approximately 70 miles northwest of Munich. As of this writing no visitor information was available. Web: www.noerdlingen.de (official tourism website of Nordlingen).