Alternate History Blogfest for 29th March

The Defenestration of Prague

An alternate history of the Thirty Years War. Google+ readers might be interested to note that Marko 'Lev' Bosscher tours Natural History museums at Eruditorum.
Publisher Dirk Puehl writes ~ welcome to the regular version of our International Blogfest. For a change, today's triple post follows a variant of the original structure of our weekly collaboration.
Please note that the next super-size International Blogfest will be published on April Fool's Day. Contributions welcome!

When in 1610 the Catholic Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II intervened in the War of the Jülich succession by occupying the small, but strategically located, protestant United Duchies of Jülich-Cleves-Berg it seemed that would be the fuse to light the keg.

Ever since the reformation the German states had been a powder keg. Lutheranism was widespread, especially in the Northern states, while Calvinism had also gained a foothold, but many of the rulers as well as large parts of the population remained catholic. The Treaty of Augsburg had made Lutheranism legal, but had not resolved the underlying problems as it tied the religion of each territory to the religion of it's ruler.

A combined French-Dutch army was prepared to invade the United Duchies and oust Rudolf, who appealed to his kinsman Philip the Third the emperor of Spain. Philip, who had arranged a truce with the Dutch a year before reluctantly agreed that troops from the Southern Netherlands would come to come to Rudolf's aid.

In the event the invasion of the United Duchies was called off, because the French King Henry IV was assassinated in Paris. In the meantime Rudolf had been increasingly marginalized by his own brother Matthias who, in the wake of the long and unsuccessful war against the Turks, had forced him to cede Austria and Hungary.

Banner of the Holy Roman Empire
Seeking to maintain at least the Kingdom Bohemia, as well as his now largely ineffectual title as Holy Roman Emperor, Rudolf nominated Archduke Ferdinand II of Austria as his heir. Hoping that Spanish backing would prevent Matthias from making a further move against him.

An alternate history by Marko BosscherApart from making many of the Habsburgs, with the possible exception of Ferdinand, unhappy the news also led to riots in Prague. When Rudolf used his army to suppress the riots his brother intervened and had him locked up and forced him to abdicate.

When Ferdinand sent his envoys to Prague they were however badly received, in fact they were thrown out the window (the so-called defenestration of Prague). Although still smarting from the slight by his brother Matthias was appalled by the insult to royal power and marched on Bohemia suppressing the revolt and installing Ferdinand as king.

The conflict served to further harden the divide between the Protestant Union and the Catholic League that had been formed in opposition. When Rudolf died the next year and Matthias became Holy Roman Emperor he started work on uniting the Habsburg lands by making Ferdinand the successor to his kingdoms.

When Ferdinand succeeded Matthias in 1619 he almost immediately went to war against Frederick V, the Elector Palatine and leader of the Protestant Union. Although there was virtually no pretext for this war Ferdinand had secured the support of Philip of Spain, for whom the Palatine would offer a direct road into the rebellious Netherlands, and the non-intervention of the Poles.

Although the members of the Protestant Union marshalled forces in support of the Palatine Frederick was quickly defeated by the Spanish Army of Flanders and Ferdinand's own not inconsiderable army. After subsequent defeats of the Army of Würtemberg and the Army of Brandenburg the power of the Protestant Union was broken and it's members defected in turn.

Although peace negotiations dragged on for several years Ferdinand was able to secure exceedingly favorable terms at the Treaty of Prague. He was crowned king of the Palatine abolishing the ancient title of Elector and his kingdoms were inexorably tied to the Title of Holy Roman Emperor. The defunct Protestant Union was also formally abolished.

While Ferdinand would not play any further role in the armed conflict his role was vital in the reconquest of the Netherlands. Allowing the Spanish to march reinforcements directly to the Dutch border and allowing simultaneous invasions from the South and the West.

Although Ferdinand would spent most of his effort on combating protestantism in the lands directly under his control, his real legacy was in strengthening the Holy Roman Empire. His successors would build on his work, steadily decreasing the number of German states and increasingly centralising control in the capital Prague. As the power of Spain waned the Empire increasingly became the dominant European power alongside France.

House of Lancaster Victorious at Towton

An alternate history of the War of the Roses. Google+ readers might be interested to note that Professor Jeff Provine is the publisher of This Day in Alternate History.
In 1461 in the midst of a snowstorm in the North of England, the Wars of the Roses would come to an end as the House of Lancaster reaffirmed itself to its royal position gained by the overthrow of Richard II.

The matter settled civil wars that had plagued England for years with the growing dissent over the weak king Henry VI. The House of York under Richard Plantagenet, Third Duke of York, rose up in opposition to the nobles who held Henry's interest and easily swayed his opinions.

Initially, York was successful, establishing an act by Parliament to make him and his progeny to succeed Henry upon his death. Henry's consort, Margaret of Anjou, fought back with a quickly raised army, and York was slain at the Battle of Wakefield in 1460. His son Edward took up the fight to defend his right, which would soon be taken from him by the might of Lancaster.

An alternate history by Jeff ProvineThe war continued until the fateful day in late March of the next year. The army under John de Mowbray, Third Duke of Norfolk, was late, making the Yorkists seem grossly outnumbered, but he managed to arrive shortly before the battle began.

Lord Fauconberg offered a strategy of arranging his archers to fire with the wind, thus outside of the range of the Lancasterian arrows, but a fierce north wind came up quickly, bringing snow with it. Some commanders on both sides considered postponing the battle, but the arrival of Norfolk's troops prompted a quick fight before the snow became worse.

The two armies drew up ranks on the plateau between Saxton and Towton, Lancaster using the marshes and valley as protection for its flanks. The narrow space meant that Lancaster would not be able to use its numerical advantage at once, seemingly a disadvantage that would actually hand them the battle.

After the initial attack, fighting continued indecisively for hours, despite the charge of mounted spearmen from the Castle Hill Wood into the Yorkist flank.

House of Lancaster Victorious at Towton (continued)

Edward had joined the battle himself to stop the charge, which bolstered his men's confidence. However, after some seven to ten hours, the exhausted Yorkists finally began to falter while Lancaster continued to bring up fresh troops who had been waiting behind the front line for space to attack.

When the Yorkists broke, the battle became a slaughter. Snow and weariness slowed their escape, and as many perished from the cold and wet terrain as did by the Lancaster sword. Edward himself was killed in battle, most likely mistakenly since his body was not discovered until two days later.

With Henry VI firmly upon the throne again despite his bouts with insanity, Margaret of Anjou and her allies quickly began purifying the parliament of disloyal nobles. Lancaster would hold firmly for some time, but their harsh methods would eventually be their undoing.

The reign of Henry's son Edward IV had proven as weak as his father's with Edward being coddled or bullied by his mother and her council. Upon Margaret's death in 1482, Richard Plantagenet, who had been only nine at the time of his brother Edward's death, acted out after years of careful plotting and intrigue. He had played a fool during much of his youth, later writing of inspiration from Claudius, and maintained a hold on a little of his father's land through Margaret's purges. Gathering his own allies among the ambitious and disenfranchised of England, he made his greatest gain in power by taking in Henry Tudor, a distant relative of Lancaster who had no chance at royal power otherwise.

The uprising became an overall revolution, and Richard swiftly defeated the forces of Edward IV by 1485. Tudor was rewarded with seized Lancasterian lands, and his daughter Margaret married Richard's son Edward of Middleham, Prince of Wales, who would become Edward V.

The House of York became dominant in England and swallowed up much of the latent power of the House of Lancaster. With its internal affairs in order, the country turned to warfare with other European powers, particularly Spain and Portugal, which grew wealthy on gold taken from the New World. England would find the Protestant movement favorable and joined with the Empire of Sweden, the Dutch Republic, and many of the northern German states.

War tore apart the British Isles as Catholic Scotland and Ireland rebelled, though the advantaged English would eventually affirm their domination in war and intrigue that would have made proud the much applauded King Richard III, about whom the biographer Shakespeare wrote glowingly.

Frederik van Lotharingen, a bishop of the Roman branch of the British Catholic Church, died in Belgium. During the first century of the Holy British Empire, many leaders of the old Roman church had been active in seeking to take back leadership from London, but with van Lotharingen’s death, the Roman church’s position was settled for a few centuries.
The Oueztecan Empire annexed the Delaware of the northeastern coast. A small and peaceful people, the Delaware brought in wonderful fishing from the northeast, and inspired the Empire to seek annexation or conquest of other nations in that region.

Robbie's Tweets from Alternate History now available on Twitter and his latest e-book "The Tree Of Knowledge (The Chelsea Perkins Trilogy)" on Amazon.
Hollywood stars Bill Gabe and Jane Peters married during the filming of Gabe’s blockbuster Gone With The Wind. Their happy marriage ended 3 years later when Peters’ plane crashed during a War Bond drive. Out of grief for her, Gabe joined the Army Air Corps and was shot down over Europe in 1944.

In the middle of the White Scare, scientists Rita and Frank Oppenheimer are convicted of funneling nucear secrets to the European monarchies, and sentenced to death for treason. In spite of numerous pleas from scientists around the country, the Soviet States of America felt that an example had to be made of the Oppenheimers; tragically, after the end of the Cold War, it was revealed that the Oppenheimers had never been spies for Europe.

British General Peter de la Billiere captured New York City. With the collapse of the Mexican front, and Asian forces advancing from the west coast, the Constitutionalist government of President Ralph Shephard looked doomed to defeat, and he began toying with the idea of launching a nuclear strike against his enemies.

Niagara Falls stops flowing temporarily as Mlosh contractor Kent’O’Lihay builds the famous Niagara Dam in order to capture hydroelectric power from the rushing river. The falls and the artistic dam are one of the many wonders tourists flock to see in the North American Confederation.

What if the Swedes and not the Dutch had established a successful colony in North America in the 17th century, muses Dirk Puehl on the anniversary of Swedish colonists establishing the first European settlement in Delaware, naming it New Sweden.

Today, 375 years ago, the first two Swedish ships, the “Fogel Grip” and the “Kalmar Nyckel“ landed at the site of today’s metropolis Kristinastad and established the first Swedish settlement in the New World. With 600 settlers following to strike roots soon after, the new colony was soon at loggerheads with the Dutch settlement of Nieuw Nederland. Even though the Dutch did not take violent action while the Thirty Years’ War raged in Europe and the mother country was threatened, matters changed after the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. Nya Sverige (New Sweden) would have been a short-lived episode if King Charles XI had pursued his policy of strength in the eastern Baltic regions.

With profits from fur trade coming in and the old Swedish chancellor Oxenstierna having a focus on consolidating the economy, the new course of the Swedish Empire became quite obvious. Following victories over Denmark and control of the Kattegat and Skagerrak passages into the North Sea and the Atlantic, as well as an agreement of more or less exporting people from Poland and Lithuania - instead of warring on them - to tackle the colony’s main problem, the lack of manpower, soon established a busy traffic between the north eastern American seaboard and Scandinavia.

The Dutch saw their position in the Americas almost indefensible when war after war followed with the English in the second half of the 17th century and decided to sell their possessions rather than have them fall into English hands and ally with the Swedes.

Nya Sverige meanwhile had expanded to the Stora Sjöarna (Great Lakes) region in the west and drove a wedge between existing French and English settlements in the North and South of the continent, and the great colonial conflicts of the early 18th century between the three European major powers were already foreshadowed, when Swedish settlers drove away the French explorers Jolliet, Marquette and La Salle from the Mississippi River valley and founded the local capital of Gustavia (after the governor Gustav Johansson Prinz).

The War of Spanish Succession finally brought hostilities to the Americas in earnest, with the French and Spanish on one and the Swedes and the English on the other, with the excellent Swedish troops making all the difference in the North of Louisiana, leaving France with the area south of the Arkansas River after the Peace of Utrecht.

Growing ideas of absolutistic rule in the late 17th and early 18th century in the Swedish Empire under Charles XI and Charles XII, colonial taxation and the competition with the English in North America marked the uneasy situation of Nya Sverige until the 1750s when the Amerikanska Kriget or American War determined the new development the continent was about to take. 

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