In the early months of 1645, the nobility of the German principality of Jülich assembled in a convent in Cologne. They wanted to discuss what they perceived to be an abuse of sovereign power by Wolfgang Wilhelm, Count Palatine of Neuburg, Duke of Jülich and Berg. They accused Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm of excessive taxation and attempting to implement an absolutus Dominatus in their principality.Footnote 1 The duke could not prevent this assembly because Cologne was outside his jurisdiction.Footnote 2 The attending nobility considered themselves patriots, and claimed to act out of patriotic affection for their beloved fatherland and its inhabitants.Footnote 3 They referred to themselves, explicitly, as loyal patriots.Footnote 4 The use of this terminology implied that the nobles saw themselves as acting for the greater good of the fatherland. As such, they shifted the focus to their deeds, rather than the duke’s perceived misbehaviour. The Catholic Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm was not born in the principality, nor was he officially recognised by the emperor as ruler over Jülich. The nobles’ statement implied that they considered the duke to be but a temporary ruler who had come to power as a result of the war of succession (1609–1614).Footnote 5 As an already contested duke, the nobility considered his overstepping of boundaries an even greater offence than if he had been a de jure ruler.

The above example illustrates how the nobility of Jülich reacted to the ongoing warfare due to the severe threat it was perceived to pose to the inhabitants, the dominant position of the nobility, and the means of existence within the principality. The small German Duchy of Jülich was situated at the western border of the Holy Roman Empire. The principality was rich in resources, had a population of just 215,000, and only a few nobles.Footnote 6 Like in the other Lower Rhine principalities, most people in Jülich were Catholics, with about 25% of the inhabitants adhering to one of the protestant religions. The Niederrhein principalities were involved in agriculture, mining (coal and iron), and the textile industry.Footnote 7 As such, the area was an essential granary for the region.

The Lower Rhine principalities, including Jülich, were involved in a war of succession between 1608 and 1614. The provisional Treaty of Xanten (1614) failed to resolve the succession issues, only postponing the decision. Neither the inhabitants of Jülich nor the emperor accepted Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm as the new ruler of Jülich. Throughout the Thirty Years’ War, this unresolved succession caused tension and conflict. The duke wished to protect ‘his’ principalities Jülich and Berg, but he faced severe difficulties and opposition when endeavouring to obtain the consent of the nobility. He attempted to remain neutral by buying off armed forces. Unfortunately, this policy resulted not only in soaring costs but also in attracting soldiers in search of money. The longer the war lasted, the more difficult it became for the troops to acquire enough food and money, and for the armies to recruit fresh troops. The nobles felt the duke’s actions harmed the principality; they objected to taxation without their prior consent. These actions all added to their fear that the duke sought to extend his power at their expense. The deteriorating situation had four causes. Firstly, Jülich and Berg were obliged to pay 36,000 and 24,000 Reichsthaler respectively, each year.Footnote 8 Secondly, in 1642 Emperor Ferdinand III (1608–1657) believed that both principalities needed the imperial troops’ defensive presence—at their own expense.Footnote 9 Thirdly, taxes, billeting soldiers, and theft burdened the subjects of the principalities heavily.Footnote 10 When such payments were not made in full, or were simply late, noblemen were held hostage until full payment had been received. Lastly, the nobility of Jülich and Berg objected to the duke’s policy and blamed him for causing trouble.

Consequently, the nobility met to discuss the welfare of their principality. They claimed that Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm had caved in to the demands of the Hessian landgravine, forcing ‘his’ people to pay the price and suffer the consequences. Referring to the war of succession (1609–1614), during which Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm had taken control of the principalities of Jülich and Berg and became their de facto ruler, the Imperial commander Lamboy pointed out that the duke may not have been acting in the best interest of the inhabitants of his principality.Footnote 11 The nobility used historical examples specific to Jülich to counter the harmful policy of Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm. The new duke had started on the wrong foot, which three examples can illustrate. Firstly, he inherited the duchies and only became a de facto ruler as Emperor Matthias (1557–1619) did not acknowledge the succession. Secondly, Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm converted to Catholicism shortly before accepting governance over the principalities of Jülich and Berg, where the population was predominantly Lutheran. Thirdly, the duke was forced to allow soldier billeting, from which he extracted large sums of money as well as food from the population. This combination of factors elicited an angry response from the nobility.

The invitations to nobless assemblies, and the pamphlets written at these events referred to participants as loyal patriots. They were called to assembly to discuss protecting the welfare and prosperity of the fatherland. Salient to the argumentation of the nobility was that the illegal taxes seriously harmed the inhabitants of Jülich. Although not all amounts are known, the perceived impact was enormous. The population decreased, and material damages as well as the costs of the billeting of soldiers added to this perception. As payments had to be prompt, for example, needing to be delivered within a few days, a lot of pressure was placed upon the inhabitants as a result, as impatient soldiers demanded their earnings. The pamphlets and letters show that there was not much room to negotiate any delay in payment. Despite the nobility’s protests, troops poured into the duchy, setting up camps and billeting soldiers in houses. With the exception of billeting soldiers, these activities had been common practice during the first part of the Thirty Years’ War. However, from 1640 onwards, military activities intensified and were scaled up. By the autumn of 1640, the living conditions in Jülich had deteriorated enormously. Imperial Commander Guillaume de Lamboy (±1590–1659) had stationed his troops in the south, while the Hessian troops had settled in the north with the support of the French.Footnote 12

In this chapter, I provide an overview of the discussions and deploy the above-sketched argumentation the nobility of Jülich had. The pamphlets and letters from the nobility will play a pivotal role in explaining their focus. Rainer Walz has studied the activities of the Landstände , but he did not specifically focus on their use of terminology. He did notice that the nobility did not eagerly accept Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm’s policy and did object. To understand the tensions between the nobility and the duke, I discuss the dynastic lineage and the history of the principality from the sixteenth century until the 1650s. This overview allows the contextualisation of the archival sources.

1 Jülich’s Early History Until the War of Succession (1609–1614)

The dynastic agglomerate Jülich-Guelders fell apart shortly after the death of heirless Duke Rainald of Jülich-Guelders (c.1365–1423). Duke Adolf (c.1370–1437) succeeded in gaining control over Jülich and Guelders and merged them with the Duchy of Berg, and the County of Ravensberg in a personal union in 1423.Footnote 13 After Adolf’s death, these principalities were separated and redistributed among various heirs. During the Third Guelderian War of Succession (1538-1543) Wilhelm V, ‘the Rich’, Duke of Jülich-Cleves-Berg, (1516–1592) attempted to regain Guelders and unite the entities again. His Landstände and those of Guelders and of Zutphen welcomed this attempt.Footnote 14 This way, conversions to Catholicism could be averted.Footnote 15 However, the other claimant—Emperor Charles V (1500–1558)—besieged the city of Düren (in Jülich) in 1543 to ward off the claims of Wilhelm V. An army of 30 to 40,000 men pillaged and burned the city. Wilhelm V was eventually forced to sign the Treaty of Venlo (7 September 1543).Footnote 16 With this treaty, authority over Guelders passed to Charles V.

Wilhelm V maintained control of his other principalities for 52 years, until his death in 1592. His only surviving son Johann Wilhelm (1562–1609) succeeded him. In 1585, Duke Johann Wilhelm of Jülich-Cleves-Berg (1562–1609) married Jacoba of Baden-Baden (1558–1597). Five years into a childless marriage, the worried nobility started to look for potential successors. The nephews of the duke were probable heirs.Footnote 17 The nobility openly discussed the possibility to ask the duke to annul the current marriage and remarry.Footnote 18 However, any divorce would have met with strong opposition from the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II (1552–1612), as well as the curie. The problems surrounding a divorce were resolved when Jacoba suddenly passed away in 1597, under suspicious circumstances.Footnote 19 The negotiations to conclude a new marriage soon commenced.Footnote 20 In 1599, Duke Johann Wilhelm married Antonia of Lorraine (1568–1610). Unfortunately, this union did not result in any offspring either (Map 3.1).

Map 3.1
figure 1

Duchies of Jülich and Berg (seventeenth century). Map by Willem Janszoon Blaeu, Iuliacensis et Montensis Ducatus = De Hertoghdomen Gulick en Berghe (1635). Accessed November 23, 2020. Map reproduction courtesy of the Norman B. Leventhal Map and Education Center at the Boston Public Library

Claimants to the enfeoffment of the Lower-Rhine Area presented themselves to Emperor Rudolf II even before Duke Johann Wilhelm’s death on 25 March 1609. Among them were Johann George I. Prince-Elector of Saxony—based upon an old agreement—and the duke’s close relatives (see below): the houses of Brandenburg, Palatinate-Neuburg, Palatinate-Zweibrücken, and Burgau. In addition, the various Habsburg families expressed an interest in the regional developments, as did the Dutch Republic, France, England, Denmark, and Sweden.Footnote 21 Furthermore, several diets, curies, and both the Protestant and Catholic leagues, closely monitored the course of events (Fig. 3.1).Footnote 22

Fig. 3.1
figure 2

Ancestral chart of the Dukes of Jülich-Cleves-Berg and Mark (1539–1653). Created by the author. This figure has been published earlier in German in C.A. Romein, ‘Jülicher Patrioten am Ende des Dreiβigjährigen Krieges (1642–1652). Die Verwendung der Vaterland-Terminologie im 17. Jahrhundert.’ Rheinische Vierteljahrsblätter, vol. 85 (2021) 106–128. Published with permission

This broad political interest in the Lower-Rhine succession was due to the economic strength and geographical position of its principalities, which bordered on Spanish and Dutch provinces as well as on the river Rhine.Footnote 23 The Dutch Republic felt seriously threatened by the idea of a potential Catholic ally of the emperor ruling a neighbouring principality and sided with the Protestants. Since the Lower-Rhine Area was bordering the Republic’s most vulnerable river-area, it was considered risky for it to be ruled by a pro-Spanish Catholic prince.Footnote 24 A river-entry had been made by the Spanish commander Ambrogio Spínola Doria, Marquis of the Balbases (1569–1630), in 1605-6, when he invaded the Republic. As such, the Dutch had legitimate cause for concern.Footnote 25

Three different legal justifications formed the basis of the claims held by relatives of the late duke and by the House of Saxony to inherit the Lower Rhine principalities.Footnote 26 Firstly, a claim based upon an old privilege. In 1483, Albrecht III (1443–1500), Duke of Saxony, had gained the right to inherit the Lower-Rhine principalities. Emperor Friedrich III (1415–1493) had granted this privilege, and Maximilian I as King of the Romans (1459–1519) confirmed it in 1486 to both Duke Albrecht III and Elector Ernst of Saxony (1441–1486). The right to inherit the principalities had never been revoked, though arguably, this particular right applied solely to the Albertine dynasty and not to the Ernestine line of the House of Saxony. It was, therefore, generally considered to be a relatively weak claim.Footnote 27

Much stronger claims could be based upon a privilege granted by Emperor Charles V to William ‘the Rich’ in 1546, the Privilegium Successionis (Eng: Succession Privilege). This privilege stipulated that any male child of the eldest sister’s family line would be considered to be heir to the principality when the male line had died out. However, two different interpretations—and thus justifications—of this privilege exist. The first interpretation reads that if the first possible female line lacked male heirs—whether they be sons or grandsons—another sister’s sons would become eligible. The husband of Johann Wilhelm’s niece Anna, Johann Sigismund, Prince-Elector of Brandenburg (1572–1619), considered that his son fulfilled this requirement. This son, Georg Wilhelm, (1595–1640) was the great-nephew of the deceased duke and secured the future succession. According to this argument, it was important that the eldest sister had male offspring; however, it did not matter whether this was a son or a grandson—as would be the case of the House of Brandenburg. The second interpretation of this same privilege reads that the eldest nephew of the late duke should be considered to be the next in line to inherit the fief. Consequently, no claims could be made by a grand-nephew as only nephews were eligible. This interpretation excluded the House of Brandenburg and offered Wolfgang Wilhelm the possibility of claiming his late uncle’s fief.

In addition to the Succession Privilege, the Privilegium Unionis (Eng: Unification Privilege) had been bestowed on the principalities by Emperor Charles V in 1546. Such a Unification Privilege prevented the separation of the principalities without the emperor’s consent in case of succession. Due to these various rules, privileges, and treaties, the succession became a highly complicated matter with many stakeholders.

In June 1609, Landgrave Maurice of Hesse-Cassel (1572–1632) arbitrated in Dortmund between the two Lutheran princes of Brandenburg and Neuburg, and an agreement was reached concerning the succession.Footnote 28 The result was a treaty which allowed a joint government overall Lower-Rhine principalities.Footnote 29 With 75% of the total population of the combined principalities being Catholic, changes towards Lutheranism were deemed unlikely.Footnote 30 The treaty, therefore, stipulated the guarantee of the religious status quo. Despite the quick outcome and otherwise peaceful conclusion, Emperor Rudolf II (1552–1612) objected to the Dortmund Treaty. At Rudolf’s request, Archduke Leopold V of Further Austria (1586–1632) occupied the town of Jülich, and forces were drawn to the borders of the Palatinate as the emperor wanted to favour other claimants.Footnote 31 Military tensions rose, as the two Lutheran princes could rely on the support of the Dutch Republic, England, and France.Footnote 32 Religion seemed to have become the focal point of—what later became known as—the first crisis in the war of succession.Footnote 33 Shortly after the Treaty of Dortmund, Landgrave Maurice of Hesse-Cassel was reminded of an ancient heritage-oath (Erbeinigung).Footnote 34 This alliance, which had been passed down for generations, was meant to protect ruling families from fighting and harming each other’s interests.Footnote 35 Houses of Hesse, Saxony, and Brandenburg had concluded this heritage oath. It collided with this treaty of Dortmund, and it endangered the alliance between the Protestant dukes.Footnote 36 As a result, Landgrave Maurice was forced to withdraw his support and keep his distance. With three possible successors—the Houses of Saxony, Brandenburg, and Neuburg—each referring to a different privilege, it was painful to (re-)establish an uncontested peace.

On 11 February 1610, just months before to the murder of King Henry IV of France (1553–1610), the Treaty of Hall (in Swabia) was signed.Footnote 37 The treaty aimed to secure the claims of the Houses of Brandenburg and Neuburg. To secure the princes’ government, other parties—such as the Dutch Republic, England, and France—discussed military involvement.Footnote 38 The unexpected death of Henry IV, in May 1610, did not undermine French involvement in the conflict, but France’s ability to act decelerated as a result of the loss their inspiring force and financier.Footnote 39 The truce with Spain muted the Dutch, too, in defending the interests of the Houses of Brandenburg and Palatine of Neuburg. Helping the Protestant princes just across the Republic’s borders by providing a supporting force of 12,250 men could result in the Dutch having to fight Spanish Habsburg troops and potentially breach the truce.Footnote 40 Although it was not certain that any fighting would occur, it became more likely when Archduke Leopold went to Prague to claim the principalities on behalf of Emperor Rudolf II.Footnote 41 The Dutch, with French assistance, regained the fortress of the city of Jülich, while the Spanish troops occupied the city of Wesel, in the Duchy of Cleves.Footnote 42 Although the emperor had not provided the archduke with military forces, it was clear that the archduke had his consent.

In the meantime, Johann George I, Prince-Elector of Saxony wished to collaborate in governing the Lower-Rhine Area. Negotiations with Johann Sigismund, Prince-Elector of Brandenburg had been successful, and the two princes had drawn up a revision of the Hall Treaty. This revision is known as the Treaty of Jüterbog (March 1611), which now had to be ratified by the third party directly involved: the House of Palatine Neuburg.Footnote 43 Neither the emperor approved of it, nor did Philip Louis, Count Palatine of Neuburg (1547–1614), father to Wolfgang Wilhelm, agree to the alterations of the Hall Treaty.Footnote 44 Subsequently, Johann Sigismund, Prince-Elector of Brandenburg withdrew his initial support to the Jüterbog proposal. However, it was too late, as he had lost much of his credibility by negotiating in the first place.

Nevertheless, the House of Wittelsbach—to which Count Palatine of Neuburg belonged—was left to explain to its international allies why it had not assented to the Jüterbog plan in the first place, it having been designed to lead to peace. The allies stressed the importance of reopening the negotiations. However, the emperor beat them to it by initiating a neutral committee to prepare a cordial agreement with all principal claimants.Footnote 45 Both the Catholic League and its Protestant counterpart then attempted to strengthen their positions by luring the Prince-Elector of Saxony into their camp. At the same time, the emperor attempted to reform the Catholic alliance to benefit the interests of all princes, in a similar attempt to woo the House of Saxony.Footnote 46 This tug-of-war lasted until 1614.

Wolfgang Wilhelm of Neuburg converted to Catholicism on 19 July 1613.Footnote 47 He was perhaps prompted by anxiety that Johann Sigismund, Prince-Elector of Brandenburg might acquire the principalities for his son, or perhaps because he feared that another Catholic prince—other than one of the previously mentioned claimants—might be favoured. His interests in the Catholic princess Magdalena of Bavaria (1587–1628) certainly also contributed to the religious change. His conversion was kept a secret—even from his father—until 25 May 1614. From this date on, inhabitants of newly founded convents arrived in Jülich and Berg.Footnote 48 Protestant believers in Jülich and Berg received a reassurance: as fellow-Christians, they needed not to convert.Footnote 49 Catholic princes united together, with the backing of Spain and Austria, to support Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm. At the same time, Georg Wilhelm, Prince-Elector of Brandenburg, changed his religious preference to Calvinism. This conversion ensured his alliance with England and the Dutch Republic, as well as with other Protestant principalities, e.g. the Palatinate.Footnote 50

The tension increased in early 1614, and the threat of another war was imminent. The Northern Netherlands preferred to see peace restored at its border. Military governor Frederik van Pithan (1552–1632) of the Dutch forces felt the need to request more troops on 5 May:Footnote 51 a second crisis started. The movement of Dutch troops was interpreted as an act of aggression, despite explanatory letters sent to both the Johann Sigismund, Prince-Elector Brandenburg and the Duke of Neuburg. The Republic was, after all, helping the Calvinist pretender, and even expelled the Catholic contester from Düsseldorf.Footnote 52 In August, Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm requested the help of 15,000 soldiers from the Habsburg Netherlands to secure his control.Footnote 53 Finally, under the supervision of France and England, the truce was ratified in November.Footnote 54

The Treaty of Xanten of 12 November 1614 concluded the war of succession and warfare finally ceased. Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm and Johann Sigismund, Prince-Elector of Brandenburg were both acknowledged to be heirs of the land, but not accorded the status of de jure rulers.Footnote 55 The treaty itself was a provisional agreement dividing the government over the lands; it did not divide the dynastic agglomerate, as this would go against the imperial Privilegium Unionis of 1546.Footnote 56 This arrangement was meant to avoid more conflict but failed, as the religious disputes did not end. The prince-elector wanted freedom of religion, whereas Wolfgang Wilhelm did not.Footnote 57 It all came down to a conflict of interest, over how best to govern principalities and their churches, especially since both possessors had changed faith. Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm accepted the influence of the bishops, whereas Johann Sigismund, Prince-Elector of Brandenburg did not.Footnote 58 The bishops’ influence would be accepted until 1624—the year of additional provisional agreements on religious matters.Footnote 59 From that year onwards, Protestant meetings were forbidden; 4 years later, the Protestant Latin School in the principality of Jülich closed.Footnote 60

2 Jülich Until the Peace of Prague (1635)

Despite the Provisional Treaty of Xanten, the inhabitants of the principalities had difficulty accepting either Johann Sigismund, Prince-Elector of Brandenburg, and his successor Georg Wilhelm, or Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm. Failure to honour existing privileges and to obtain the nobility’s consent in matters of taxations contributed to the tense relationship. The emperor did not accept the two princes as legitimate heirs either.

In 1621, Spínola sent 10,000 men to the town of Jülich in order to secure the land west of the river Rhine. As the Spanish-Dutch truce had ended, the principality of Jülich was seen as an advantageous base of operations. The nobility of the nearby Duchy of Berg protested against the presence of Dutch garrisons stationed in its principality. In addition, the two de facto rulers Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm and Georg Wilhelm, Prince-Elector of Brandenburg opposed each other’s religious policies.Footnote 61 The Spanish soldiers extorted the inhabitants of the principality of Jülich. The Dutch tried to influence policy by way of catching and stretching (Germ.: Fangen und Spannen) hostages, especially clergymen.Footnote 62 In response, Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm raised an army of 2500 men to protect both ‘his’ principalities, and he even managed to control the County of Ravensberg in 1622 temporarily.

In 1624, this was the first Landtag since the assembly of 1611. Many grievances were put forward, caused by the problematic situation. The nobility eventually consented to the requested taxation but only for defensive military purposes.Footnote 63 However, more was levied than previously agreed. This discrepancy led to opposition from the nobility, as the money was spent on an army to fight the Georg Wilhelm, Prince-Elector of Brandenburg. A new Landtag convened in 1625. It seemed that the duke attempted to gain the upper hand during this meeting, while the nobility emphasised their privileges. These privileges included the right to organise assemblies without the duke’s presence, as part of the ‘landständische’ freedom (ständische Freiheit), and subsequently, they organised just such an assembly.Footnote 64

As a consequence of the unauthorised increases in taxation in 1624 and 1625, the nobility lodged a complaint at the Aulic Court in 1626, hoping to obtain a verdict concerning the violation of their privileges.Footnote 65 Indeed, in 1627 a Pönal mandat (Engl.: penal mandate) was issued to prevent taxation without the necessary consent of the nobility.Footnote 66 This Mandatum cassatorium et inhibitoriumFootnote 67 stated that Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm would be fined 100 Goldmark if he ignored the nobility’s privileges again. The duke’s presence in court caused a suspension of the ruling; however, this did not mean that his actions were accepted. The emperor himself vouched for the nobility’s safety and their protection.

A year later, imperial military victories threatened the position of the duke. These successes reaffirmed that the emperor could reclaim and regain the Lower-Rhine Area by force. The duke undermined his position even further by—again—requisitioning taxes without consent. The emperor had guaranteed the safety of the nobility, and a new legal complaint was filed. During the long Landtag (Sept. 1628-April 1629) the Prince-Electors of Bavaria and Cologne mediated.Footnote 68 On the agenda were: (1) the duke’s willingness to participate in warfare; (2) the levying of taxes without consent; and (3) the exercise of office by foreign employees. They reached a compromise on 25 March 1629, in which neither of the complainants gained the upper-hand.Footnote 69 The Landstände sought the emperor’s recognition of this compromise. However, if they did not succeed, they could go to the Aulic Court to pursue legal recognition and enforcement of the compromise.Footnote 70 At the next Landtag in 1631, it became clear that both the Landstände and the duke had accepted the compromise.

Between 1629 and 1631, Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm and Georg Wilhelm, Prince-Elector of Brandenburg made an agreement not to dispute each other’s claims for 25 years, which should prevent them from losing the Lower-Rhine principalities.Footnote 71 Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm also concluded a neutrality pact with both the Spanish and the Dutch, with the required consent of the emperor himself.Footnote 72 Emperor Ferdinand II had allowed Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm to pursue this in 1630 and accordingly acknowledged the successful agreement (1635).Footnote 73 Despite the acclaimed neutrality, troops continued to march through the principality as a result of its ideal geographical location.Footnote 74

In 1632, foreign troops started plundering the principalities of Jülich and Berg once again. First the Swedish armies, then the imperial forces, and later on the Hessian troops all passed through the Lower-Rhine Area, leaving destruction in their wake. Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm struggled not to enter the war, but peculiarly enough, it was the emperor himself who caused problems when it came to maintaining the precarious balance.Footnote 75 Firstly, the emperor used the principalities of Jülich as the assembly point for his troops. Secondly, the emperor seemed to assume that long-term billeting would not cause any problems.Footnote 76 Thirdly, the imperial army had to be financially supported by the inhabitants, even after the Peace of Prague (1635). Fourthly, the burdens of war—such as arson, damage to houses and fruit trees by soldiers, the severe disruption of trade, and extortion—were seen as unavoidable, and generally took place with impunity.Footnote 77 The emperor did not consider any of these issues to impede the neutrality of Jülich.

In 1633, the nobility did not attend the Landtag altogether in protest. Their absence meant that it was impossible to obtain approval for taxations. As a result, the duke’s levying of taxes became illegal.Footnote 78 However, between 1635 and 1649, the nobility established their system to tax the commoners, concerning their traditional privileges.Footnote 79 Unable to communicate with the duke’s council, the nobles assembled in 1634 without notifying him, pointing to their right to organise assemblies.Footnote 80 While gathered, the nobility criticised princely politics. This critique focussed on two main issues: (1) that the nobility had not been consulted; and, (2) that the duke’s armed forces remained present in the principality.

2.1 Until the Peace of Westphalia (1648)

In January 1636 a pamphlet was distributed in the Duchies of Jülich and Berg announcing the imperial request to provide 2000-foot soldiers as well as 300 horses.Footnote 81 The request could not be refused, despite the expressed understanding that this would burden the principalities. The pamphlet stressed that the contribution was necessary to provide the principality’s defences. The situation in Jülich-Berg and Cleves-Mark deteriorated even further from 1639 onward: armed forces from Hesse-Cassel invaded the Lower-Rhine Area in need of resources and recruits.Footnote 82 These troops successfully applied pressure on Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm, resulting in monthly fees totalling 60,000 Reichsthaler per year: 36,000 Reichsthaler for Jülich, 24,000 for Berg.Footnote 83 The duke had hoped that these payments would result in the withdrawal of troops, but instead, they attracted more foreign troops who hoped to extract money. These included imperial forces in 1642, who claimed that they constituted a protective presence, since neutrality was impossible.Footnote 84 Consequently, the people of Jülich and Berg paid higher taxes and experienced an increase in the billeting of soldiers.Footnote 85 The nobility blamed the deterioration of affairs on the duke’s policy, which the nobility had previously objected.

In mid-January of 1642, the town of Uerdingen was besieged.Footnote 86 The presence of the various armed forces resulted in the only battle fought in the Lower-Rhine Area during the Thirty Years’ War, the battle at St. Tönis-Haide near the town of Kempen.Footnote 87 Catholic armed forces of Cologne and the emperor’s army clashed with the joined forces of France, Weimar and Hesse-Cassel . As Hesse-Cassel outnumbered the imperial forces, they decided to attack before the arrival of the Catholic reinforcements. Imperial Field Marshal, Melchior Graf von Gleichen und Hatzfeldt (1593–1658) led these troops and was en route to assist Guillaume de Lamboy’s army. Outnumbered and lacking the protection of a strategic position, the Imperial-Cologne forces were defeated.Footnote 88 Their Supreme Commander Lamboy was imprisoned, together with many officers, and approximately 4000 ordinary soldiers. The remainder of the army fled, and some joined the army of Imperial Field Marshal, Hatzfeldt.Footnote 89 Roaming soldiers posed a significant threat to stability, peace, and well-being. The troop movements continued, and many people fled the Lower-Rhine Area to escape the horrors of war. They went into hiding in cities, forests, and across the borders, especially in the Dutch Republic.Footnote 90 In September 1642, Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm informed the city of Jülich that it would be receiving 300 ‘guests’. These soldiers would arrive through the Jülich or citadel gate under the command of Imperial Field Marshal Hatzfeldt and General Von Blumenthal.Footnote 91 The town’s residents were much displeased.

When imperial commander Hatzfeldt left, the Lower-Rhine Area became, militarily-speaking, less attractive to the emperor. Hatzfeldt was in pursuit of Jean Baptiste Budes, Count of Guébriant (1602–1643), who fought under French command. Shortly after the departure, the nobility organised an assembly.Footnote 92 They met on Saturday 8 November in the Dominican convent of the city of Cologne.Footnote 93 Here, they intended to talk about their beloved fatherland’s hardships, and the Landstände considered it their duty to do whatever they could to protect it.Footnote 94 The nobles planned to discuss the duke’s expenses, which he expected the commoners to pay. These were a high burden, and the nobility believed that they oppressed the fatherland. Those invited were urged to attend and reminded that a discussion of the problematic contributions to the Hessian army was scheduled.Footnote 95 During this November meeting, the nobles of Jülich appointed a syndic. Sigismund Mockel would represent them and safeguard the nobility’s interests after that.Footnote 96

In 1643, the city of Düren was damaged, and everyday life obstructed. The nobility discussed these problems, and they agreed to reduce the burdens of Düren.Footnote 97 Debating the destitution and prosperity (Germ.: Wollfahrt) of ‘our beloved Fatherland’Footnote 98 was on the agenda for the next assembly in Cologne, on 2 May 1643.Footnote 99 The subject of the debate was how prosperity could be improved.Footnote 100 Following this assembly, the nobility published a pamphlet containing its grievances regarding the duke’s behaviour. The pamphlet mentioned that on 29 November 1642 and on 28 March 1643, Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm had requisitioned taxes and duties.Footnote 101 The nobility wrote that they were dismayed at not having been consulted on the issue, despite their required consent. They were incensed by the duke’s cold-heartedness when they described the desolate situation of their lands, which were subjected to pillaging, theft of resources, plundering and looting of towns, castles, and villages. The poor inhabitants were impoverished. Many people left hearth and home, hoping to escape these perils of war and entrusting their lives to foreign princes.Footnote 102 The nobility’s outcry is a means of critiquing princely policy—in the light of Althusius’ ephors who wanted to redirect policy rather than overthrowing the prince.

When the nobles wrote their critique, they bore the most recent illegal taxations of March in mind. These yielded at least 1000 Reichsthaler in both duchies. Their main arguments, presented in their letter of 6 May 1643, were based on previously obtained legal verdicts. The case of Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm overstepping boundaries had been thoroughly investigated.Footnote 103 It led to a verdict in the form of a Mandatum poenale cassatorium, meaning it was a mandate with a penalty clause, with protection from prosecution for the claimants. Both rulings on behalf of the emperor Ferdinand II had restrained Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm when it came to the requisitioning of taxes, a reminder which he duke did need. The situation, on the whole, was remarkable, since the nobility had not approved of any taxation at all since 1632. The duke did not receive permission to levy tax until 1649. The duke’s requests during this period, despite the lack of approval of the nobles, indicated his despair.Footnote 104

Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm had seriously violated the notions of freedom, noble privileges, law, and justice, according to a pamphlet issued in 1643.Footnote 105 Through this pamphlet, the nobility not only objected to these violations but also made them publicly known. Since the requisition of taxations was perceived as illegal, the nobility argued that nobody should collect them, nor need anyone pay.Footnote 106 In the summer of 1643, Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm expressed his commitment to the principality and its inhabitants, not only because of his lineage but also by written traditions.Footnote 107 His obligation was to take care of his lands with ‘fatherly’ precautions.Footnote 108 How this pledge was received is unfortunately unknown, though the years following the duke’s renewed commitment show that there was little change in his behaviour.

The nobility used a ruling in the case of the Landstände of the principality of Berg against Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm. This text issued by the emperor in 1644 in Speyer was called ‘Copia Mandati Poenalis sine Clavsvla. In Sachen Bergischer Ritterschaft Contra Pfalz Neuburgs 1644’. This text contained Emperor Ferdinand III’s ruling on taxation matters of the Duchy of Berg:Footnote 109 restoring the rights of the dear and loyal Landstände and reprimanding Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm for his illicit activities in Berg. It even made a reference to a—for the time being—restricted succession to both Jülich and Berg.Footnote 110 Even though the imperial verdict applied solely to the Duchy of Berg, the nobility of the Duchy of Jülich felt encouraged as well, as they expected the same rules to apply to Jülich. After all, they shared the same unlawful taxations. However, 4 days later, the Lower-Rhine-Westphalian Circle and the Imperial Council met and quickly sent out a signed letter concerning specific taxes in Jülich. Contrary to what the nobility of Jülich had expected, the taxes requested by the duke over the past 4 months had to be paid with only a few days’ notice, since the officers of the garrisons depended on them.Footnote 111 The fact that the requests for taxes had to be complied within several days increased the burden experienced.

The nobility received aid from those who had sworn to uphold the Provisional Treaty of Xanten, and who were soon sending letters to Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm. On 19 June 1644, a letter from France arrived, 10 days later another one from the Dutch Estates General, with the acknowledgement of the Prince of Orange.Footnote 112 Both letters addressed to the duke, drawing attention to his malpractices and the need to improve his behaviour towards his subjects.

Later that year, Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm requested another 1,000 Reichsthaler from the inhabitants of Jülich—despite all he should have learned about the nobility’s zeal to uphold their privileges.Footnote 113 The nobility turned to Emperor Ferdinand III, who applauded them for turning to him for advice, as well as for filing another formal objection concerning the duke’s abuse of their rights. By his ruling—the penal mandate concerning Berg—the emperor’s decision on Jülich read that the tax collectors should not execute the task the duke had given them, and that those who had already paid must be reimbursed.

The nobility met and debated issues arising from the war, on 9 August. The dominant issue this time was not the illegal taxation levied by the duke, but how to decrease the burden of billeting of Düren. It was considered necessary to have sufficient revenues, but also to relieve the inhabitants of that city. Therefore, an alternative was suggested: should the clergy be made to pay tax, and perhaps the nobility as well?Footnote 114 Many people had already fled the principality of Jülich due to the violence incurred. The link between violence and the mass emigration was pointed out in a document published on 12 September 1644.Footnote 115 After losing everything, some people enlisted—supposedly because they had nothing left to lose. The depopulation and abandonment of farmland troubled the nobility of Jülich tremendously. Although they commended taking up service in defence of the Holy Roman Empire, the nobility felt that people had to be deterred from making this choice. An envoy was sent to the Imperial War Council to explain the situation, assuming that the council would understand that damaging daily life by extracting necessary workforce would be detrimental to the empire as well. On 13 August 1644, the nobility presented an account of what the disgruntled and distressed inhabitants. They were burdened with problematic taxations: unconsented and thus illegal, high, and forcefully requisitioned.Footnote 116 On this same date, they made a reference to soldateska rather than soldiers.Footnote 117 The term soldateska had a violent and negative connotation and referred explicitly to lawless soldiers.Footnote 118 Commanding officers were asked to step in and prevent soldiers from harassing the treasurer and exert control over their soldiers.

A field marshal of the Imperial Forces stated in early January 1645 that he had received some complaints regarding his soldiers, referring back to the accusations in the previous August.Footnote 119 With this choice of words, the marshal implied that his forces consisted of disciplined, not disorderly men.Footnote 120 All of the complaints, he noted, were caused by actions which occurred during the collection of monthly contributions of about 3145 Reichsthaler Footnote 121 rising to 5000 Reichsthaler later that year, during which time several soldiers had allegedly extorted money and goods from local inhabitants. The malefactors had allegedly received a punishment, and the other soldiers were ordered to leave the people, their lands, and their goods in peace. Of course, the collection of the monthly fees would still proceed.

At an unknown date in early 1645, a ManifestFootnote 122 against the policy of Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm was written on behalf of the Landstände of Jülich and Berg.Footnote 123 Appraisal of the duke’s policy led to the conclusion that he ignored previous Imperial Rulings and that, seemingly as a consequence, the principalities were now struggling to overcome the presence of the soldateska. The requisitioned money led to the accusation that he was pursuing an ‘absolute [sic] Dominatus’.Footnote 124 As a consequence, the loyal Landstände met out of loyalty and patriotic affection for the beloved fatherland and its inhabitants. The fatherland’s prosperity was said to be severely damaged by the presence of soldateska and the—obligatory—payment of monthly fees.Footnote 125 Unfortunately, the duke had ignored the complaints of the Landstände so far.Footnote 126

On 3 March 1645, a pamphlet was printed in the city of Cologne.Footnote 127 Before treating the content of the pamphlet, it should be noticed that the nobility organised the printing of the pamphlet. Among the cases studied in this work, this is a unique situation, as it made the complaint publicly known; something the nobility of Hesse-Cassel would usually avoid. Content-wise it seems to be an elaboration on the previously discussed Manifest; but it is not an exact copy. The hand-written version of the pamphlet happens to be available in the Akten Jülicher Landständen as well.Footnote 128 It was a collective endeavour of the Landstände of Jülich and Berg, and the text referred explicitly to the tense relationship between the duke and the Landstände . This specific pamphlet dealt with two issues in particular: the matter of taxation without the consent of the nobility, and the assumed motives of their duke. In February of 1645, Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm had once again requisitioning taxes without consent. As in the past, the nobility addressed the duke’s perceived illegal behaviour, quoting the imperial rulings that made specific references to their privileges. The nobility expressed irritation at the continuous violations of their privileges, and therefore wrote in the pamphlet that the duke had used false pretexts to enable the levying of taxes to which they had not agreed in advance.Footnote 129 In addition to the unlawful nature of the taxes, and the coercion to pay them, Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm was accused of repeatedly contravening imperial decisions and severely harming the interest of the principality and its inhabitants. Evidently, the requisitioning went beyond what the Landstände could condone. The claimants stated that the duke used the soldiers in order to exact payment from his subjects.Footnote 130 These harmful actions troubled the nobility. Hence, out of patriotic feelings and affection for the fatherland, they asserted the need to speak out against the duke’s politics—which seemed to be in line with Althusius’ ephors.Footnote 131 As a result of these feelings, the nobility felt the need to protect their beloved fatherland, and to mention that the duke had inherited the duchies (Posterität).Footnote 132 However, it seems that by repeating this phrase, they only recognised him to be their de facto ruler as he lacked the imperial recognition, which would make him the de jure ruler.Footnote 133 Since the nobility regarded the duke as a possessor who violated traditions, procedures, and agreements which had been made by his ancestors, they eventually attacked Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm on a far more personal level and questioned his motives. They went so far as to articulate the belief that the duke’s actions constituted an attempt to establish an absolutus Dominatus.Footnote 134 They claimed that the duke held the ambition of becoming an arbitrary ruler over the principalities. To be able to reach that ambition, he was using officeholders to harm his subjects. The situation as experienced with Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm who risked becoming a tyrant justified the defence of the patria.Footnote 135 The nobility of Hesse-Cassel—we will see—experienced a similar situation.

By the end of 1646, the Landstände deemed it necessary to assemble. According to the summons for this particular meeting, they needed to discuss the presence of enemy troops and the heavy burdens that accompanied them.Footnote 136 These burdens had been enumerated earlier that year.Footnote 137 This earlier pamphlet, published by the Emperor’s War Council on 26 November in Siegburg, clarified what the origin of the tension was, explaining that soldiers and other military men should be content to sleep in houses; they were not to requisition more.Footnote 138 The commoners of Jülich paid monthly amounts of Reichsthalers which could vary per month—to support the officers of the imperial troops. All these aggravating circumstances, combined with the presence of the army, constituted a burden too heavy to bear. For this reason, it was the most important topic on the agenda during the nobility’s deliberations on 8 January 1647.Footnote 139

On 16 January 1647, a 14-page text appeared, issued in the principality of Cleves.Footnote 140 In it, Georg Wilhelm, Prince-Elector of Brandenburg expressed his understanding of the trouble, and the substantial contributions paid. Moreover, he addressed the Landstände as loving patriots.Footnote 141 The exact meaning of this text remains unclear, though the letter seemed to undermine the policy of his cousin. On 18 February 1647, the nobility of Jülich and Berg met in Cologne to prepare before meeting the duke in a joint assembly.Footnote 142

A mere 10 days after the issuance of the invitation, another pamphlet, referring to the unification of the Duchies of Jülich, Cleves , Berg, Mark, and the county of Ravensberg, was printed.Footnote 143 Curiously enough, it was written in Dutch, and not in the German dialect of the area. The pamphlet referred to the year 1496 when the Lower-Rhine Area was united, a move accepted by Emperor Maximilian I. The pamphlet used this context to explain that the current duke acted in violation of the nobility’s privileges. It mentioned that in the past, all parties involved respected these privileges and their responsibilities. These ancient rights were considered to be beneficial and indispensable. The text referred to the unification of the Landstände of the various principalities, who had pledged themselves to cooperate. The text stresses that this union was renewed on 15 February 1647: the date of the pamphlet. It seems reasonable to assume that there must also have been a German version of the text, though this has not yet been traced. The text seems to have been written to portray the Dutch as the nobility’s sworn ally and to encourage them to uphold the Treaty of Xanten (1614). Based on other pamphlets from Spain, France, and Naples, which, as historians have concluded, were used as a desperate attempt to involve allies in internal politics, we may argue that this pamphlet probably functioned similarly.Footnote 144 In these non-German cases, no appeal was possible at the Aulic or Imperial Chamber Court, which did alter the dynamics. In Jülich, however, a seemingly deliberate choice was made not to go to court, but to press the matter by publishing pamphlets.

On 20 April 1647 a pamphlet voicing discontent with the duke’s politics was printed in the Dutch Republic.Footnote 145 This pamphlet focussed on two arguments. The first argument was that the duke had violated existing agreements, and noted that the Imperial Chamber Court had highlighted this fact as well. A supporting argument could be found in the claim that the Duke of ‘Nieuborgh’ (Neuburg) had not called an assembly with the Landstände of his principalities. The absence of consultation was a violation of existing treaties. The text referred to the years 1609 and 1627. In 1609, the Dutch Republic had helped the two Protestant princes conclude the Treaty of Xanten. In 1627, a quote from the Mandatum poenale (a penal mandate) was used to illustrate that the duke had violated his prior agreements. The Dutch pamphlet scrutinised the mandatum and pointed to instances of the duke violating existing agreements. The second argument was that the Remonstrants did not enjoy religious freedom. Religion was becoming an issue once more, caused by the succession of the Protestant Friedrich Wilhelm, Prince-Elector of Brandenburg (1620–1688) in the principalities of Cleves and Mark in 1640. This young Protestant ruler had fixed ideas about the obligation to protect his fellow-believers and actively courted the Dutch Republic for aid.Footnote 146 For all the reasons discussed above, and primarily because of promises made to uphold the Treaty of Xanten, the Dutch Republic readied its garrisons in the cities of Wesel, Emmerich, Rees, Rheinberg, and Orsoy.Footnote 147 Half a year later, the Dutch States-General were still not convinced that the duke was living up to the agreements made.Footnote 148 In addition to the first troops deployed earlier that same year, the Dutch now placed their troops in Gennip, Ravenstein, Schenkenschans, Nijmegen, Bredevoort and Grol (Groenlo) in the highest state of alert.

Early in 1647, the nobility issued a text articulating the four main points they wished to pursue.Footnote 149 Although the original text does not seem to have survived, these censorious points were quoted in another text on 27 May, to which the duke responded. The first of the nobility’s demands was to have their old privileges honoured. Secondly, they demanded that office-holders should be born in either Jülich or Berg. Thirdly, financial resources could not be requisitioned without the necessary consent of the Landstände .Footnote 150 The nobility requested that the various foreign armies to leave the territory, and lastly, they requested that minutes of meetings would be made available upon request.

A copy of a letter from Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm is found among the Landständische Akten, concerning the assembly of the Landstände in Cologne. It was written on 20 June 1647.Footnote 151 It commented on the debates about the prosperity of the fatherland and conservation.Footnote 152 The duke was displeased that assemblies were taking place outside his jurisdiction while such vital issues were discussed and made preparations for a Landtag with the Landstände. The duke felt the situation needed to change, as the nobility published a pamphlet concerning a ducal invitation a Landtag in July 1647.Footnote 153 Though the original invitation seems lost,Footnote 154 a verbatim rendition was added to the pamphlet. The nobility, first of all, expressed their joy that the Landstände of both Jülich and Berg were invited. The text of the pamphlet emphasises that the assemblies in Cologne were organised to express concern about the beloved Fatherland. It stresses that the extended invitation invites all with honourable, patriotic intentions.Footnote 155 The Landstände were most willing to come to an official assembly, mainly to obtain a more detailed answer to their four requests.Footnote 156 The Landstände tried to meet the duke’s wishes with these remarks. The duke’s invitation also referred to the contacts with the Dutch Estates -General and the assemblies in Cologne. It stated that he, Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm, could not have defended his principality without money and that he had in fact attempted to honour the fatherland’s privileges.Footnote 157 In order to act swiftly, he had needed to rely on his power and authority and had not intended to harm the beloved fatherland’s liberties.Footnote 158

The Dutch sent a neatly written note on the 23 May 1647, again pledging their help as and when requested; however, they stressed that peace was the most desirable situation to pursue.Footnote 159 The Dutch Republic closely monitored the situation. Several texts stressed the Dutch alliance with the nobility of Jülich, emphasising that Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm needed to put an end to the financial harassment of his subjects.Footnote 160 On 1 June 1647, a letter was sent on behalf of the Dutch Estates-General to the Landstände of Jülich expressing abhorrence that the duke was pursuing his incorrect and illegal procedures.Footnote 161 In October and December, the nobles assembled in Cologne.Footnote 162 The nobles themselves had attended in order to discuss the presence of the marauding Hessian army. The invitation called ‘patriots’ to attend, as the well-being of the fatherland was at stake. Here, explicit use of the word fatherland seems to signify the importance of both the meeting itself and the presence of the nobility therein. It is striking that the nobility stressed the well-being of the fatherland and the threat posed by foreign troops. At the same time, they did not discount the possibility of assistance from the Dutch Republic, which would have entailed the presence of even more troops. Although the nobility did not request its support, it did not actively reject its interference either. In order to fulfil their office of a patriot, they would accept whatever help was required. The contributions to be paid to the Hessian—and imperial—armies, were a frequently discussed concern that recurred throughout the year.Footnote 163

On 18 May 1648,Footnote 164 another invitation of the nobility to join in an assembly on 8 June extended to all loyal patriots.Footnote 165 The purpose of this meeting was to confer about the imperial commission, which had assembled to inspect the area. A brief pamphlet in October then informed the participants that the commission would send representatives to their upcoming meeting on November 4.Footnote 166 On 21 November, a notice stating that the Landstände were relieved was issued, as a peace treaty had finally been reached in Munster, ending the Thirty Years’ War: the Treaty of Westphalia.Footnote 167 This Treaty brought peace and tranquillity in many parts of the empire, and also prevented other wars to regain lost lands form breaking out. Rulers were thus forced to focus on their fiefs, (re)establish balance, and create a new modus Vivendi that would respect the balance between the different groups.Footnote 168 The various princes of the Holy Roman Empire acknowledged and restored the old privileges of the Landstände .Footnote 169 The nobility of Jülich understood that the Swedish and Hesse-Cassel army needed payment. Nonetheless, they were content with the peace treaty, as it was generally beneficial to their fatherland.Footnote 170 At their next assembly, they would discuss the consequences of the Peace of Westphalia.

The taxes that have been mentioned above and below make it possible to calculate how hard the crisis of the Thirty Years’ War hit Jülich.

Table 3.1 certainly present an incomplete image of all the financial burdens Jülich had to cope. Nevertheless, it shows an increase of the burden the people had to pay, in the course of only a relatively short space of time. The increase was likely perceived as enormous and threatening as people faced warfare and the presence of a multitude of hostile foreign soldiers. In order to understand this financial burden, ‘food insecurity’, expressed in kilocalories, can be calculated, in order to determine how the inhabitants of the troubled regions must have perceived their ability to provide enough food for their families. This factor is set at 2100 kcal per person by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).Footnote 171 Based on the grain prices found by Thomas Rahlf, it is possible to calculate the purchasable amount of grain with silver.Footnote 172

Table 3.1 Tax and financial burden of Jülich (1639–1653)

The price of wheat could differ per year and with it the hectolitres of grain that could be bought with the silver (second and third column of Table 3.2). One kilogram of (organic) wheat has been set at 1680 kcal, although the amount may have varied, depending on the soil’s fertility. Food insecurity is measured by the amounts of kcal in the total amount of organic wheat and dividing that by the food insecurity measure developed by the FAO of 2100 kcal per person/per day. By dividing the outcome by the number of inhabitants, it is possible to calculate the days of food insecurity expressed in kcal. For Jülich the number of 215,000 inhabitants has been applied.Footnote 173 In 1642 the tax-burden equalled nearly four and a half days of food insecurity or hunger, rising to nearly 31 days of hunger in 1646.

Table 3.2 Tax and financial burden of Julich in kcal and days of food insecurity (1639–1653)

3 Hostile Occupation: Hessian Troops

Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm was pleased with the outcome of the negotiations of Westphalia and wrote in early December that ‘the war was officially over’.Footnote 174 The end of the war meant that the internal tensions would soon be over, since the foreign armies were about to leave. However, the peace treaty stipulated that Jülich and Berg had to pay at least six times 100,000 Reichsthaler between them before the Hessian and Swedish troops would leave. A treasurer was commissioned to provide these funds. The duke seemed to realise that, despite the peace treaty, his subjects would be disappointed about having to pay for the troops to leave and would not be keen to contribute. Taxation had caused tensions and fuelled heated dissent throughout the war, and taxation to end the war seemed paradoxical. Furthermore, the war had taken its toll, and the population had shrunk by roughly one-fifth (21.8%) from 275,000 inhabitants in 1618 to 215,000 inhabitants in 1648, leaving far fewer people to bear the financial burden.Footnote 175

On the one hand, the duke understood the delicate nature of demands for taxes; but on the other hand, he needed to pay off the foreign troops. In January 1649, Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm expressed his sincere regrets that his god-fearing loyal subjects would have to suffer a bit longer.Footnote 176 Timely payments were essential, or the Hessian army would extend their stay.Footnote 177 The Swedes would leave as soon as payments started to arrive, according to two pamphlets written in April and May 1649.Footnote 178 Since hostilities had ended, the Landstände expressed their hopes that the inhabitants would not suffer too much from these new taxes. These sufferings may have caused the duke to attempt reconciliation with the nobility. Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm acknowledged that the Landstände had focussed on the well-being and prosperity of Jülich, and wanted to discuss these matters.Footnote 179 In the case of Hesse-Cassel , such a genuflection would not occur. The duke humbly requested them to attend an assembly of February, in order to advise him on what to do to improve the fatherland’s prosperity.Footnote 180 The duke’s altered attitude is a significant development because he seemed to acknowledge the sincerity of the motives and actions of the Landstände, and their choice of words to pursue their aims.

In the meantime, the presence of foreign forces and monthly contributions still burdened the inhabitants of Jülich. A pamphlet was distributed, emphasising that if the inhabitants neglected the payments, it would result in severe penalties.Footnote 181 Imperial Marshall Lamboy received letters expressing grievances about the misbehaviour of soldiers. Lamboy promised to resolve this problem in return for the regular contributions.Footnote 182 Three days later, a letter informed the inhabitants of the Lower-Rhine principalities that Lamboy had attempted to oust the Swedish army, or had at least tried to remove some of the Swedish forces in order to decrease the burdens.Footnote 183 The inhabitants of the Dutch Republic noticed financial trouble in Jülich. Here, a very considerate trader, who was supposed to collect a debt of 300 Gold guilders, noted in a letter that he had become aware of the enormous war-related destruction which made him decide not to demand payment at this particular time.Footnote 184

It was not until 4 August 1649 that the first Landtag of Jülich in over a decade convened, in the presence of their duke, and there the nobility presented their substantial grievances.Footnote 185 In order to prevent disruption and delays, complaints had to be prepared and submitted in advance of the next Landtag (scheduled for 1651). The nobility complied and sent their grievances in writing. These accounts stated that some office-holders had appropriated extra money while collecting taxes. It was agreed that if soldiers had plundered subjects, this would be taken into consideration.

Furthermore, nobles were asked to share in the present financial burden, but strictly on a voluntary basis. With that, Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm seemed to have become more considerate concerning people’s hardships and the privileges of the nobles. The Landstände of both Jülich and Berg were invited to an assembly in the open fields on August 30.Footnote 186 The Landstände met 4 days in advance in Cologne to discuss their affairs. The contributions troubled them, as is shown in the Prothokollen on the assembly of 30 August 1649.Footnote 187 Specifically, the assembly noted that the armed forces present in the principality extracted resources on their account, burdening the inhabitants, and leading to the desolation of the lands.Footnote 188 The Landstände, especially the nobility, sorely regretted this situation as it harmed their beloved fatherland.Footnote 189 Nevertheless, on 30 August 1649, a pamphlet printed on both sides was published on behalf of the duke.Footnote 190 It requested the cooperation of the inhabitants of Jülich regarding the imperial contributions due to payment in 8 days.Footnote 191

Texts of the experiences and observations of the nobility—frequently referred to as the Collegio Nobilium—are available from March 1650 onwards.Footnote 192 These mainly concern troop movements and the payment of contributions, though another subject was the that the duke ignored the nobility’s ancestry and their position in society. The latter went against their special privileges of the patria .Footnote 193 Another complaint, voiced on 21 April 1650, was that protocol demanded the consultation of the nobility but observed that no approval had been sought concerning the status patri. Hence, the Landstände could not protect the prosperity of the fatherland and its inhabitants, though they were willing to show their minutes.Footnote 194 These two complaints led to the voicing of grievances.Footnote 195 However, the duke did not listen to the patriots who had the best interest of the fatherland at heart.Footnote 196 The transcripts of 22 April 1650 mentioned that the patriots wanted to meet and discuss the issues concerning the fatherland and its prosperity amongst themselves.Footnote 197 Here it is crucial to note that within the nobility’s reports, fatherland terminology was applied. However, these texts seem not to have been intended for widespread distribution. The terminology was not only used in the Landstände’s external communication, or communication that could be read by others – as would be the case with the printed invitations—but was something they ardently believed in and consistently applied.

On 27 June 1650, a one-page pamphlet was published announcing that a Landtag , essential for the fatherland, would take place in Steinen on 4 July.Footnote 198 Both the Landständen of Jülich and Berg were invited to attend. This pamphlet also invited members to join a preparatory meeting in the Franciscan Convent on 3 July.Footnote 199 It is unclear whether the Landstände went to the Duke’s Landtag , as their documents make no mention of it.Footnote 200 The Akten of the Landständen do contain an invitation for an assembly on the 24 January 1651 and make it entirely clear that everyone concerned about the Fatherland—the beloved, worthy ‘Posterität’ (heirloom)—should come. It explicitly says that no loyal patriot should be restrained or stopped, and that they should arrive at the set term.

At last, the Landstände report about ongoing debates regarding the withdrawal of foreign troops that were going on in Nuremberg.Footnote 201 The troops would leave on condition that the contributions were paid. Eager to be relieved of the burden of foreign troops roaming their lands, subjects of the principality were requested in order to deal with the expenditure swiftly, and to pay tax at short notice. The thesaurus of Jülich was asked to oversee the procedure.Footnote 202

On 3 April 1651, Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm agitatedly remarked that the Dutch Republic and some reformed people had threatened and abducted Catholic clergymen.Footnote 203 The duke was not pleased with these actions and feared for the well-being of his Catholic subjects—especially the clergy. He considered the non-Catholics of Jülich agitators because they were associated with reformed soldiers who had disturbed local masses. That religious troubles sprouted again, became evident on 13 June as a pamphlet was published claiming to be a translation into Dutch from a German original. Its title was a reference to the question of why the Friedrich Wilhelm, Prince-Elector of Brandenburg had invaded Jülich and Berg, and occupied several towns. The invasion itself took place a few days later. The document was a response to two earlier texts issued by Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm and explained the motives for the invasion.Footnote 204 Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm had agreed to respect the Protestant religion when he signed the Treaty of Xanten but had not upheld this promise.Footnote 205 Instead, he had imprisoned pastors, taken money away from churches and violated treaties regarding religion.Footnote 206 Such accusations were published in several texts, translated, and consequently distributed in the Dutch Republic.Footnote 207 It turned into a pamphlet polemic, in which texts written on behalf of Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm defended his case.Footnote 208 The emperor also joined in as he wanted to prevent another full-blown war.Footnote 209 Von Looz-Coozwarem has characterised this as a revival of the War of Succession, as the provisional treaties had not resolved the original dispute. The emperor had also left the Privilegium Unionis intact, and failed to propose an alternative solution.Footnote 210

On 14 June 1651, under the pretext of protecting ‘his’ fellow-believers, Friedrich Wilhelm, Prince-Elector of Brandenburg (1620–1688), ruler over Cleves and Mark, invaded the principalities of Jülich and Berg.Footnote 211 The Prince-Elector’s disappointment with the Treaty of Westphalia prompted his actions: Catholics had gained ground since 1609 and 1612.Footnote 212 He had questioned the right of succession of his distant relative ever since his acceptance of the fief in 1640.Footnote 213 Furthermore, the Treaty of Westphalia gave the Catholic Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm occasion to question whether Protestants could inhabit his principalities.

Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm had shown his good intentions in some respect. On 29 May 1651, he issued a one-page invitation to assemble on 16 June 1651. The agenda read a discussion of the needs of the fatherland.Footnote 214 Whether this Landtag ever took place is unclear. In their ‘Prothocollen’, the sole topic the Landstände mentioned was an invasion that took place on June 17.Footnote 215 The competition between the two princes was not appreciated as the safety of the patria was at stake once again.Footnote 216 The nobility wrote a pamphlet on behalf of the joint Landstände of Jülich, Berg, Cleves, and Mark. They indicated their displeasure and stressed the need to preserve their privileges and complained about the war.Footnote 217 The second version of this pamphlet was twice as long.Footnote 218 In addition to the 4°-pamphlet, the Dutch 8°-pamphlet emphasised the promises made during the Treaty of Xanten (1614). The extended pamphlet was signed and reprinted—probably as a reminder. Interestingly, the German version (probably the original) is a one-page print containing only the text that had been printed in the Dutch 4°-pamphlet.Footnote 219

The Jülich-war did not last long, ending in October. Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm had pawned the cities of Millen and Born to ensure the help of 4000 Lorraine soldiers;Footnote 220 his son Johann Wilhelm visited the Estates-General in The Hague, successfully requesting the Dutch Republic to refrain from interference.Footnote 221 The Landstände did not appreciate the military presence of the Lorraine troops, and feared for more threats to the fatherland, stating that their presence would ruin the lands.Footnote 222 By 27 July the Landstände deliberated and mentioned that the patria depended upon the return of peace.Footnote 223 It was now clear that religion could still be a cause for war, a casus belli—or could at least give rise to a pamphlet polemic—despite the end of the Thirty Years’ War. Friedrich Wilhelm, Prince-Elector von Brandenburg issued several documents and pamphlets claiming he was protecting the Protestants. He based his right to interfere upon the Treaty of Xanten (1614). Both princes – Friedrich Wilhelm, Prince-Elector von Brandenburg and Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm—were official administrators of the principalities. Hence, the Treaty of Xanten meant that the ‘cujus regio, ejus religio’-rule protected both Calvinists and Catholics, leaving the Lutherans without rights.Footnote 224 However, according to contemporary pamphlets, the inhabitants of Jülich were being threatened and murdered by their Catholic duke. Such violence was the perfect excuse to wage war, and so Friedrich Wilhelm, Prince-Elector of Brandenburg renewed the War of Succession with the hope of expanding his principalities.

In Vienna, the emperor responded fiercely, and a pamphlet was circulated in which an imperial critique of the deeds of Friedrich Wilhelm, Prince-Elector of Brandenburg was made. In August, the emperor decided that Count Melcioren of Hatzfeldt would help to restore peace in the Lower-Rhine Area and, if necessary, would contact the Imperial Circle for help.Footnote 225 However, as its coffers were empty, the Circle debated whether or not they would help. Paderborn and Osnabruck, as well as some other Catholic areas, were in favour of helping. Cologne, for its part, felt intervening could only bring trouble. Before the Circle could reach a decision, the Neuburg-Lorraine Coalition ended the renewed War of Succession. It was clear that the conflict could easily divide the members of the Circle.Footnote 226 According to the letter, written in the city of Cleves on 11 October 1651, a commission to study the situation was composed of impartial Prince-Electors, Princes, and Landstände of both religions.Footnote 227 Friedrich Wilhelm, Prince-Elector of Brandenburg, Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm, and Emperor Ferdinand III all agreed on this composition of the commission.

The so-called War of the Cows or Jülich War had been about opposing Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm and defending the fatherland.Footnote 228 However, Duke of Lorraine helped Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm to regain control. Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm stated in October that he had signed a treaty with Cleves-Mark. He requested his subjects to come forward within 4 weeks if they had wrongfully benefitted from this conflict, returning obtained horses and possessions.Footnote 229 In March 1652, the duke sent an invitation to the Landstände requesting them to attend a meeting on 15 April. The agenda of the meeting read that the beloved fatherland’s unpleasant peril and welfare demanded their attention.Footnote 230 Strikingly, the duke used the word ‘the’ (deβ) instead of your (Euch) fatherland. This choice of vocabulary could be interpreted as indicating that he was now counting himself in, or at least did not exclude himself from, the fatherland. In Hesse-Cassel , the landgravine’s lawyers used similar expressions. Following the Landtag , a text was issued to stress that the duke considered the Landtag a success.Footnote 231 He did not want to dismiss the Landtag’s grievances as being unimportant, but Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm stressed that they had dealt with the disobedience of the Landstände, the fatherland’s peril, and its security.Footnote 232 Here we can see similarities to the argumentation that is found in Hesse-Cassel as well as in Brittany.

Another text was printed on 6 May, in which the duke focussed on pressing matters. He first assembled with the Bergische Landstände , but, the Landstände of Jülich needed to vote on behalf of their loyal, beloved subjects, too. Therefore a preparatory meeting was scheduled to find out who was to blame for the peril the fatherland.Footnote 233 The text explicitly identified the burdens in question. The duke recognised that there was a need to cooperate with his nobility and acknowledged that he should have behaved more like a father, and that he should have been more aware of their loyalty.Footnote 234 He referred to the year 1649 when the nobles had proceeded to address the matter of the fatherland’s peril, which he should have appreciated more.Footnote 235 The duke switched back and forth between your (euer) fatherland to the (deβ) fatherland. With all these apologies and promises, he steered towards acceptance as a true lord. The clergy also wished to be given a hearing in Hambach at the next Landtag of Jülich, since they were opposed to specific plans regarding the taxation of their lands and goods.Footnote 236 In early September, the Syndici of both Jülich and Berg informed the duke that the Landstände would assemble in Cologne. They wanted to discuss matters with their supporters from both principalities before any other meeting. This assembly was the key; there was little use in calling a Landtag of loyal patriots without it, as there would be little support for the duke’s plans—plans which applied to both principalities.Footnote 237

On 26 September 1652, a letter was written in Cologne and sent to Philipp Wilhelm of Neuburg (1615–1690), the new duke. The letter was meant to inform him that his suggested date for the meeting with the Landstände was not convenient, and it explained that the committee which had studied the perilous situation of the principality would report back to the nobility, and would do so in Cologne.Footnote 238 Discussions both about the danger to, and potential consequences for, the fatherland were necessary.Footnote 239 As a consequence, they rescheduled the meeting to a later date. It was uncertain whether the new duke, the Catholic Philipp Wilhelm of Neuburg could be accepted as de facto ruler of Jülich and Berg, as his legitimacy was just as contested as his father’s had been.Footnote 240 It took several treaties to resolve the remaining issues resulting in an official addition of, the principalities of Jülich and Berg to the Neuburg dynasty.Footnote 241 In 1665, the Treaty of Dorsten was accepted, downplaying the religious divisions of the period between 1612 and 1624. Moreover, the rights of the Protestants were clarified, thus resolving the 1647 religious matters.Footnote 242 Most importantly, in 1666–1672, agreements were reached that dealt with the succession.Footnote 243

4 Conclusion

The nobility of Jülich perceived a severe threat to the welfare of the principality they inhabited. Those who felt compelled to call themselves patriots met in Cologne to discuss their perceived peril and despair. Surely their perception must have been close to the reality as the depopulation of Jülich due to warfare, extortion and taxations must have been visible. Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm failed to protect Jülich as his policy was counterproductive: he attempted to pay off foreign troops, but instead, this drew in even more payment-seeking soldiers. These money requests may explain the significant fluctuations we find in the available information on taxation. This data only concerns the exact amounts and not the damages caused by warfare to crops, plundering, billeting and other atrocities. These perceived threats to welfare likely caused the decline in population, for example, by causing people to flee the principality. The per capita taxation demanded by the Hessian troops may not have been high when calculated in grams of silver or kilocalories. However, because these resources had to be delivered on short notice, this would have increased the—perceived—burden.

The invitations, pamphlets, and letters of the nobility show their proclaimed compassion towards the impoverished inhabitants, and expose their fear that the area might become uninhabitable. With that, it touches upon their interest as their tenants suffered. The nobility met in Cologne outside the jurisdiction of the duke to discuss the ordeal. Such meetings, in themselves, were a very well thought through course of action. Their arguments, however, were not sophisticated. Their basic attitude questioned the legitimacy of any decision made by the de facto duke. All actions were placed under the microscope, especially when he failed to call the nobility to assemble. However, when he did call for them to meet, they frequently failed to show up, and consequently, Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm could not obtain the necessary consent to levy taxes. The question arose whether he was given a fair chance to explain his need, as the Landstände were not keen to favour any ducal appeals. Seeking means to influence Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm’s policy and protect the fatherland, those calling themselves loyal patriots opted to send out political pamphlets to their Dutch allies. Opting for persuasive texts was on the one hand motivated by their geographical position on the outskirts of the Holy Roman Empire and the proximity of their ally. However, on the other, it was likely caused by their severe disappointment with the imperial court’s ruling in 1627.

The behaviour of the nobility’s in Jülich can be summarised in five main points. Firstly, the nobility met outside the jurisdiction of the principality, in the Free City of Cologne.Footnote 244 There are two explications of this. On the one hand, the nobility avoided having to invite the duke. On the other, they avoided a ban on their meetings, which would have been likely if there had been so much as a hint that they undermined the government. Secondly, the invitations to the assembly stated that patriots were invited to discuss the welfare of the fatherland. The invitees were aware that war threatened their fatherland and that their presence was therefore needed: explicit references were made to ‘our fatherland’.Footnote 245 The duke, later on, adopted this fatherland terminology in his 1651 invitation to assemble, gradually shifting from a discussion of ‘your fatherland’ to ‘the fatherland’.Footnote 246 He eventually even acknowledged that he should have valued the loyalty of the nobility more than he had. Thirdly, the invitations and reports always referred to the loyalty of the invitees. This strong emphasis on the word ‘loyalty’ helped the nobles to avoid association with rebellious actions.Footnote 247 Although not explicitly mentioned, an influence of Althusius seems perceivable in this approach. Fourthly, the nobility used printed texts to spread invitations and express their concerns following an assembly. The use of printed texts seems unique, at least in comparison to the other two studied cases here, as it seems to constitute a balancing act between finding allies and open rebellion. Fiftly, although a legal case had been won in 1627, claiming that taxation without consent was illegal, the nobility of Jülich did not continue to challenge violations of their privileges in court. This may seem surprising, given the fact that they had already obtained a favourable ruling. However, ongoing peace negotiations meant that they might have deemed a legal suit inappropriate and potentially too time-consuming. Also, the de facto ruler of Jülich—Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm—could be replaced by any ruler who may have had far worse intentions with the principality. By not pursuing their case in court, the nobility seems to have left the possibility of communication open. Alternatively, perhaps they had simply lost faith in the Imperial Chamber Court and appealed to other principalities for aid.Footnote 248 The nobility’s appeal to others was also strengthened by previous agreements—for example, those between the French and the Dutch Republic—to uphold the provisional treaty of Xanten (1614).

Ad hoc reactions to perceived threats, searching for the appropriate vocabulary and motivating allies to act, show the nobility’s learning curve in dealing with the duke’s failure to protect the fatherland. Each of these steps took a little bit more time than the previous and seemed to have been motivated by a mixture of despair, fear, and a spark of hope. The published texts were not written by lawyers or academics, as no references are found. Hence, it is interesting to see how paid servants that wielded a pen for money dealt with similar matters. The Hessian nobility may have been the ones in conflict with their landgrav(in)e; it was their paid advocates that wrote down the argumentation. The use of the terms fatherland and patriot seemed to have functioned as a key to mobilise those who felt that change was necessary. Furthermore, they signalled that only those who experienced the trouble first hand should attend. In Jülich, it was a terminology initially used by the nobility, though shortly after the end of the Thirty Years’ War, these terms appeared to be accepted by the duke as well.