Summary of the first meeting of the "Geheimer Rat":
"Es wurde beschlossen, da das Ottomanische Reich und Frankreich als die Hauptkontrahenten der neuen Hausmacht Habsburgs betrachtet werden, die Schlagkraft der Armee zu erweitern und Schutzbündnisse mit umliegenden Mächten zu suchen, als auch das Heilige Römische Reich Deutscher Nation zu schützen und zu bewahren und die Kaiserkrone in der habsburgischen Linie zu bewahren."
Protecting the Empire and the Realm
The times between 1520 and 1533 were turbulent years for the House of Habsburg in Austria. Protestantism and foreign powers tried to infiltrate and weaken the HRE. The threat of an ottoman invasion into Hungary and even more into Austria herself was looming and France having already acquired Lombardia looked to break out of the Encirclement by the Spanish and Austrian Habsburgs.
This proved to be the first test of Ferdinand I. in charge of the Austria consisting of the Habsburg Hereditary lands in Austria and their ancestoral lands named "Vorderösterreich" as France ,without provocation or notice, in the year 1521 invaded Lorraine. The King of France, Francois I. was obviously of the illusion that Ferdinand would accept that without intervening as he mistook the Neutrality of Austria in the Mantuan war of 1520 as a weakness. Hectic diplomatic messages were exchanged between Madrid and Vienna as the cannons of the french army pounded against the walls of Nancy. Karl V. reigning over Spain was also worried over the future of the HRE if foreign powers could excise whatever they would from the HRE and additionally Lombardia on which Spain had a claim also looked like a tempting target as a possible indemnity for the french aggression.
So Ferdinand was left in charge of the "Reserve Armee" in Vienna and commander von Frundsberg took 27.000 austrian soldiers with him to Alsace and met with hastly new equipped new recruits and volunteers from all over the HRE. It took 3 months to drill them into a new army and the austrian intervention took a further delay as Karl V. took the honour of dowing the enemy for himself calling the allies of the House of Habsburg, the proud Kingdom of England and the wealthy Merchant Republic of Venice to arms also in the february 1522. The conflict further escalated as England declared war on a french ally Scotland in May dragging Savoy into the war also.
The Campaign in France
In an effort to save the Duchy of Lorraine from french oppression, von Frundsberg with some support from the rag-tag forces of Lorraine and the mighty spanish army took the war deep into France:
From the left to the right: Von Frundsberg arriving in Alsace making contact with the army of Lorraine and gathering more soldiers around him. Battle of Nancy freeing Lorraine against the summoned french army. Battle before the walls of Paris 2 weeks later supported by the Spanish army.
From the left to the right: Whilst his allies besiege french cities, von Frundsberg chases the french army around followed suit by the main spanish army. In the final picture the battle at Le Mans where the austrian forces vastly outnumbered in cavalry nevertheless prevail and chase the army of France over the Loire.
After numerous victorious battles the austrian army exhausted retreats to Alsace avoiding the french army leaving the further offensive to the spanish army which slowed down by her cannons was only able to participate in the Battle for Paris:
Von Frundsberg retreats to Alsace to meet with the reinforcements.
Meeting no resistance in Souther France and in North Italy, the spanish forces were able to take over key fortresses in the region and soon negotiations between Spain and France took place. Due unknown circumstances Spain left the alliance prematurely for Lombardia to be ceded to Spain. Suddenly Austria was and sought to find a new deal for her own whilst von Frundsberg routed a smaller french army in Orleans. It was agreed that Lorraine could acknowledge France as her new Overlord but was to be left independent and peace was struck. Von Frundsberg was mad and felt betrayed by the Austrian diplomacy that considered the Ottoman Empire which was still entangled in a war with Persia as the main threat and didn´t want to humble France too much.
Left in a separate war with Savoy and Scotland, von Frundsberg decided that he would avenge the loss of thousands of soldiers by invading Savoy. Doing this without consent of the government in Vienna, von Frundsberg was only protected by his personal friendship with Ferdinand who overrode the decision of the Hofkanzlei to call von Frundsberg back. And so as France continued to slaughter the again helpless people of Lorraine, Austria quickly occupied all of Savoy and Savoy had to acknowledge Austria as her new overlord and left the french alliance. As an answer Lorraine was brutally annexed and the royal family exiled to Vienna. Tensions were rising again.
Rundschreiben der Hofkanzlei:
Von Frundsberg hat durch sein eigenmächtiges Handeln die Möglichkeit einer friedlichen Co-existenz mit Frankreich fast zu einer Unmöglichkeit gemacht. Auf Anrat des Geheimen Rates sollen Geheimverhandlungen mit Frankreich aufgenommen werden.
Expansion in the East and the Fight against the Infidel
During the french war Poland had used the conversion of Pommern and Mecklenburg as an excuse to invade the HRE and outright annex the duchy of Mecklenburg. The ressources of Austria were too strained with the french war and also the prolonged friendship with Poland was considered vital for the well-doing of Austria and her claims on Hungary and Bohemia as in 1526 Ferdinand was crowned King of Bohemia and despite efforts to be crowned Hungarian King also Hungary elected Zygmunt as their King. As reports of a possible ottoman invasion of Hungary became more and more numerous Poland and Austria agreed to defend Hungary against possible intruders and laid their grudges over Mecklenburg, possible polish claims on Bohemia and the Habsburg claim on the Crown of Hungary aside for the time being.
In December 1526 the Ottoman Empire declared war on Hungary and the policy of apeasement towards France paid off as even France sent troops to defend Hungary against the Ottoman Empire. Intially 150.000 ottoman troops poured over the hungarian border whilst avoiding a direct confrontation with the Hungarian army in Pest. The polish and the austrian forces rallied and the austrian army came in the nick of time to save Buda from the ottoman army.
The ottoman army shortly before the encounter before Buda.
Whilst the french forces liberated Croatia the brave hungarian forces intercepted the fleeing ottoman troops in Banat. And soon after the Sultan caved in and left Hungary for now. Additonally Poland allied Hungary and for now Hungary seemed safe. Soon after the temporary alliance with France was dissolved and it was agreed that France was to release Lorraine again and Savoy would be allowed to break the vassalage as compensation.
With the newfound peace, a massive tax reform in Bohemia was issued, as to strengthen the ties with Bavaria, a direct oath of fealthy was sworn by the Bavarian duke towards the Austrian Archduke and Wurtemberg was cleaned from the protestant Heretics. During this time Von Frundsberg died peacefully and it proved to be futile. The austrian army was raised to a peace time strength of 50.000 men with 20.000 men as a reserve which was the outmost possibility.
Also the understanding with Poland grew more and more bad during those years as Poland seemed in no way inclined to leave the HRE but wanted to expand even more. The death von von Frundsberg and the misunderstanding between the polish and austrian allies proved to be the problems that in the end made the defeat in Hungary possible in 1533. As the declaration of war in 1533 came Hungary called her ally Poland to help and whilst Austria expected the war to go along the lines of 1526 the speed of the ottoman armies took them completly by suprise.
As the polish armies scambled to come down to Hungary, the Austrian army again moved to support Hungary in the time of need but without von Frundsberg the army was unable to come to the hungarian help on time.* Bravely attacking the ottoman army, Ferdinand again lacking the cavalry hordes that the ottomans had mustered, retreated after intial clashes to come back with the newly build 20.000 horsemen to save Hungary before Buda could fall.
Scrambling to save the hungarian army.
The polish army still nowhere in sight, the austrian decided to liberate Pest as to avoid that the 3 hungarian key provinces Buda, Pest and Maros would all three be in ottoman hands. A race began which the Ottoman Empire won. And as the old hungarian King fell in Maros,half of the hungarian nobility voted Ferdinand as their new King whilst the other half decided to co-operate with the Ottomans and Hungary and Siebenbürgen became a vassal of the Ottoman Empire with only the westernmost provinces saved by Austria.
Race towards assaulting the remaining key city.
*If you check the picture you will still see the hungarian soldiers disappearing, before the austrian army could help defend Pest.