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COUNT OF JOHANN TZERCLAES TILLY (1559...

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Originally appearing in Volume V26, Page 977 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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COUNT OF JOHANN TZERCLAES TILLY (1559-1632)  , general of the Catholic
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League in the
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Thirty Years' War, was born in 1559 at the chateau of Tilly in Brabant . He was destined for the priesthood and received a strict Jesuit
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education . But, preferring the career of a soldier, he entered a
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Spanish
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foot regiment about 1574 as a volunteer, and in the course of several
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campaigns rose to the command of a
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company . This being reduced, he again became a
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simple pikeman, and as such he took
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part in the famous siege of Antwerp by
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Parma, whose army afforded the best training in the
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art of war then obtain-able . He distinguished himself by his bravery, and the duke of
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Lorraine gave him the governorship of I)un and Villefranche, which he held from 1590 to 1504 . Henry IV. made tempting offers, which were refused, to induce him to enter the service of France . Somewhat later he
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left the . Spanish service for that of Austria to fight against the
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Turks . In 1602 he became colonel in the imperial army, and raised a regiment of Walloon
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infantry, which he commanded in the assault on
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Budapest, receiving a severe wound . In 1604 he was made general of artillery, and handled his new force with conspicuous success; the
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campaign of this
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year showed Tilly as a soldier of
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great capacity, and in 1605 he was made a field-marshal . His part in the dissensions in Austria, which preluded the Thirty Years' War, was marked by unswerving
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loyalty and devotion to the emperor and the Catholic religion . In 16ro he left the service of the emperor to enter that of Maximilian, duke of Bavaria, the head of the Catholic League .

It was not, however, until 162o that he became

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lieutenant-general to Maximilian and
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commander-in-chief of the field forces . With the great victory of the Weisser Berg near Prague (161o) the new army and its leader became celebrated through-out Germany, and the long and weary campaigns against Christian,
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Mansfeld and the
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Protestant princes of the north-west established their reputation . The chief battles were Wimpfen (1622), Stadtlohn (1623), Wiesloch (1622),
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Hochst (1622), the last being a great victory for the Catholic forces, and winning for Tilly the title of count, which was given by the emperor himself (1622) . The military operations of the Thirty Years' War will be found described under that heading . With the intervention of the king of Denmark, the struggle entered upon a new phase, and on the imperial side a new army, that of Wallenstein, appeared on the scene, though it was the army of the League which wun the great success of the war at Lutter-am-Barenberge (1626) . Throughout these arduous campaigns Tilly had other than military difficulties with which to contend . The military superiority of his veterans, trained as they were to his own ideal of " a ragged soldier and a bright musket," may be held to explain his victories over
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superior numbers, but the energy which he displayed in the midst of
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political difficulties was not less conspicuous than his leadership and
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strategy . On two occasions, at least, he was thwarted by orders from the League; once the Protestants were allowed to escape into Holland, once the army of Wallenstein was left to its own resources in the presence of the enemy . That the League achieved the successes which it actually did, was to the credit of Tilly and his men rather than to any
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action of the allied princes . It may be that Tilly cannot be considered as great a soldier as Wallenstein; it should, however, be borne in mind that the League army never possessed the
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prestige of an imperial force: that Tilly was repeatedly thwarted by political considerations, and that, even so, the hardest part of the task was achieved by the League army . The defeat of King Christian was soon followed by the intervention of Gustavus Adolphus, a great captain at the head of the finest troops in
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Europe . But Tilly was the best general of the old school; the League troops were trained after the Spanish model, and the opening stages of the campaign did not display any marked superiority of the Swedes .

At this

time Tilly was commander of the imperial forces as well as of his own army . The first great contest was for the possession of
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Magdeburg (1631) . After one of the fiercest struggles of the war the
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town was taken by storm on the loth of May, and the
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sack which followed was accompanied with every sort of atrocity . For this the old general has been held responsible, yet it was rather the magnitude of the catastrophe than its
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special cruelties which made it the most striking example of military barbarity in
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modern
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history . Tilly's
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personal exertions saved the
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cathedral and other religious buildings from pillage and fire . Four months later Tilly and Gustavus, the representatives of the old and the new art of war, met in the
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battle of
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Breitenfeld (q.v.) . The victory of Gustavus was
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complete, though the imperial general, severely wounded as he was, managed to draw off his men in good order . A few more months of campaigning brought the two armies to the
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Lech, where Gustavus was again victorious, and Tilly received a mortal wound, He died on977 the 3oth of
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April 1632, in
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Ingolstadt, and was buried in the church at Altenotting in Bavaria . See O . Klopp, Tilly im 3o jdhrigen Krieg (
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Stuttgart, 1861); K . Wittich, Magdeburg, Gustav Adolf and Tilly; also memoir of Tilly in Allg. deutsche Biographie; Keym-Marcour, Johann Tzerclaes, Graf v . Tilly; Count Villermont, Tilly, ou La Guerre de trente ans (Tournay, 1859) .

End of Article: COUNT OF JOHANN TZERCLAES TILLY (1559-1632)
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