Of Wittens and Wittelbachs: A History of Hussites, Protestants, Catholics, and Religious War

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Ivashanko

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I just wanted to say that this AAR is not dead! I'm in the middle of a move now, so I haven't had a lot of time to finish the next chapter. It's almost done, but I still have one or two more pages to write. Hopefully I'll have some time on the train tomorrow.
 

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I just wanted to say that this AAR is not dead! I'm in the middle of a move now, so I haven't had a lot of time to finish the next chapter. It's almost done, but I still have one or two more pages to write. Hopefully I'll have some time on the train tomorrow.
Looking forward to it! Hopefully you're moving to a nicer place.
 

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Just caught up, and with another update on the way looks like a good time for it! This is really great stuff. Enjoying the detail a lot, and even if you haven't got around to Meissen yet there's so much going in the world that's formed that I really don't mind. I could read these conversion stories all day. :)

Interesting that, among other things, the Yorkists are in power in England. It's easy to forget how insecure the succession was after the Wars of the Roses, even well into Henry VIII's reign. Against the backdrop of heightened religious turmoil, one wonders how well it is faring here...
 

Ivashanko

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The Fifth Article

Meissen

“The Bible ceased to be a foreign book in a foreign tongue, and became far more clear and dear to the common people. Hereafter the Reformation depended no longer on the works of the Reformers, but on the book of God, which everybody could read for himself as his daily guide in spiritual life.

Philip Schaff (1819-93), theologian and church historian



No nation gained more from the Hussite takeover of Bohemia than Meissen. Originally founded as a frontier march in the latter half of the 10th century, Meissen was an unremarkable regional power before the Miracle of Prague. With the destruction of the Imperial armies, Hussite warbands raged unchecked in Meissen’s lands, pillaging countless monasteries and burning hundreds of villages to the ground.


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The image of Hussite warbands raiding villages remains a popular trope in Meissen stories.


The Compact of Meissen and the Hussite Crusades that followed resulted in the founding of dozens of Knightly Orders that spread throughout Meissen. The constant donations to these Orders from the Church and the pious nobility of Europe let these armies function year-round. These armies, the first standing, professional armies in the entirety of the Holy Roman Empire, were slowly subjugated by the Meissen Margraves. Wherever a Hussite war-party ravaged, the local notables rushed to pledge allegiance to the only force that could defend them: the army of Meissen. Over time, many of these lands became subordinate to the Margraves of Meissen.

In the early 15th century, the excommunication of the Prince-Elector of Brandenburg allowed Meissen to unleash its full might on its neighbor to the north. Brandenburg was swiftly annexed, and the Wettins of Meissen became one of the most prestigious and powerful houses in all of Europe. In recognition of their work holding back the Hussite menace, the Margraves were promoted and became the Princes of Meissen, Brandenburg, and Thuringia.

It is impossible to overstate the significance of the Hussites on Meissen society. Nobles from all over Europe sponsored monasteries and universities throughout the country so that the next generation of priests could keep the Hussite missionaries at bay. A permanent administration was founded to focus on organising the Knightly Orders and the many newly founded monasteries and universities. Traders flocked in order to sell to this newly created wealth, and the capital city of Meissen soon grew rich and powerful.


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The Albrechtsburg Palace and Gothic Meissen Cathedral were both built during the boom-years of the 15th century. Meissen’s capital city is also called Meissen. I apologise for any confusion this may cause.

The Meissen Princes always responded to the Emperors’ calls, regardless of whether it was against the Hussites, the French, or the Emperors’ many enemies in Northern Italy. Over the years, the Wettin Princes and the Hapsburg Dukes of Austria, who were usually the Holy Roman Emperors, grew close, and soon their partnership became the foundation of lasting peace in the empire. A peace that was shattered by Karl’s conversion.

The controlled and regimented religious orders in Meissen give rise to a question that has vexed historians to this day: why would Meissen, the Most Beloved Daughter of the Church, turn its back on Rome?

In the years after France joined the Originalist Creed, missionaries from France, Bohemia, and Sweden flooded the Empire from the west, north, and south. Protestant theologians in Bremen, Nassau, and other areas within Europe quietly worked to convert layman and leader alike. In some areas, like Hoya, Prussia, and Mark, mass conversion was forced upon the masses by their leaders.

But in Meissen, much of the nobility was wrapped up in the Holy Tenants of Catholicism. Foreign missionaries were rejected by both elite and peasant alike, many of whom believed the new creed to be nothing but a new form of Hussitic heresy. Like in France, it was the intellectual classes that spread the new faith. And none were more persuasive than the students of the monasteries and universities good Catholics had set up all over Meissen. Sickened by the Catholic Church’s corruption in Meissen, the nation’s many universities became hotbeds for Reformist thought and Protestant propaganda, and soon the passion, commitment, and sheer aggressiveness of the student community overwhelmed their proctors and local Catholic authorities. The students began to proselytize to the local communities, creating one of modern Europe’s first populist movements. The students went to the homes of peasants’ and tradesmen’s, to their bars and their farms, and told these lowly people that their very souls were at risk if they listened to unholy clerics. The authorities found themselves unable to stop the students, many of whom could call upon well-connected friends and family. The Princes of Meissen, seeing an opportunity to weaken the influence of the Church and strip power from some of their nation’s strongest noblemen, turned a blind eye to the actions of the Originalists until the Peasant Wars forced them to take action.

These students, who spoke the same language as the burghers of the large cities, proved better spreaders of their message than any foreigner possibly could. Soon, many of the major cities in Meissen had large Originalist populations. Several converted minor nobility, long oppressed by the strongly Catholic Border Lords, broke with their nation’s faith and began greedily gobbling church lands. The Knights Rebellion and the Peasant Wars greatly weakened central authority and the power of the Border Lords. While Friedrich III, Prince of Meissen, was able to defeat the many knights and peasants who joined Sickingen’s War, many brought the new creed’s beliefs back with them to their villages. The cities, many of which had been built around the same universities and monasteries that were now full of Originalist zealots, were now joined by a peasant population that contained small pockets of Reformed Christians.

There was a problem for these Reformers when they began operating in areas controlled or influenced by the Bohemians. While at first the Hussites welcomed them into Poland and other counties that remained stubbornly committed to the Pope. Protestants and Originalists, working with a culture and a people who had been at war with the Bohemians since time immemorable, both distanced themselves from the Hussites in an attempt to become more palatable to the communities in which they worked in. Their condemnation of the Peasant Wars and Hussitic Movement allowed them to survive in Meissen. The few surviving Hussite and proto-Protestant communities in Meissen and elsewhere were co-opted by the Originalists, whose message continued to spread.


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Friedrich III was a mighty hunter, but was otherwise not an aggressive man.

Friedrich III, Prince of Meissen, was not an aggressive or violent man. While his Catholic faith was sincere, he was traumatised at a young age when he witnessed the execution of a Hussite missionary, and his reluctance to use violence or repression to control the spread of Originalism soon encouraged persecuted converted communities to immigrate to Meissen. Meissen’s population and wealth grew as many talented intellectuals and famed craftsmen settled in its cities.

The end of the Peasant War in 1526 was followed by a decade of relative peace on the national level, but underneath the surface Originalists, Hussites, Protestants, and Catholics fought a war for the soul of Europe.


1592167074849.png

The Cross of the French Originalists was soon seen throughout the Holy Roman Empire.

Both sides notched victories and losses. The defeat of the Swedish invasion of Norway bought the Danish-Norwegian crown several decades of peace, while the English Crown’s victory over their mostly Catholic Scottish subjects brought the two nations closer together.

In 1536, the Border Lords, infuriated by the spread of Originalist Doctrine in Meissen, rose in revolt against a Meissen Prince who seemed content to allow his subjects to live with religious freedom. The Brother’s War was a brutal civil war, where the mostly Catholic loyalists of the Princely Armies fought the rebellious mostly Catholic armies of the Border Lords.

1592167082218.png

The uniforms of the Princely Armies began to evolve dramatically during the early years of the war, as they sought to differentiate themselves from the ravaging hordes and the men of the Border Amies. In the years to come, many other Originalist Armies would begin adopting the Meissen Uniform.


The war dragged on for six years, as warriors and soldiers from all over Europe began to intervene with Meissen’s fratricidal struggle. Originalists, Hussite, and Catholic warbands, looters, and pillagers ravaged much of the border territories, and it was only through the direct intervention and aid of the Austrian Holy Roman Emperor that Fredrich III was able to push out the invading armies and win a massive victory against the Border Lords at the small village of Buatzen. The viciousness of the Catholics fight against the Prince of Meissen offered plentiful opportunities for Originalists propogandists to discredit Catholicism in Meissen, and soon much of the Princely Army became radically anti-Catholic. Despite his staunch Catholicism, Friedrich III despaired as he saw Originalist propaganda seep through his land.

The One True and Catholic Faith is now spat upon. Housewives curse their priests, children insult their fathers, and everywhere order is collapsing. The soldiers, my army, openly desecrate Catholic Churches. My neighbors seem convinced that I have turned away from the Catholic Faith. My people have all but entirely embraced the Originalist Heresy. My God, what am I to do?

Friedrich III



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The end of the Brothers’ War Left deep scars in the fabric of Meissen society. These scars were exploited by Originalist Missionaries who had come to see Catholicism as the root of all Meissen’s ills.

In 1542, as the Brothers’ War was reaching its conclusion, the new Pope Julius II excommunicated Friedrich III. This action came far too late to save the Border Lords, who were forced to surrender when their stronghold at Dresden was torn down to the ground by a combined Meissen and Austrian army. Friedrich III died heartbroken later that year.


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Balthasar II

His son and heir, Balthasar II, was furious at the new Pope for the excommunication and the old Pope for refusing to denounce the Border Lords. Soon the Originalists found that their work was being supported by government mandate, their pamphlets openly read aloud to the masses, and their enemies hounded and forced to leave Meissen. Balthasar II did not, at first, break with the Catholic Church, but instead slowly built support for the Reformation and stripped the surviving Catholic Border Lords of their power. While it took several decades, Meissner’s national identity became intertwined with Reformist ideology. In 1558, finally feeling confident with his standing in the Empire, Balthasar officially broke with the Catholic Church. Soon after Meissen and the other Protestant and Originalists nations of the Empire formed the League of Calenburg. The Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, furious at Meissen’s betrayal, declared war on this newly formed league. The First Pan-European War of the Reformation had begun.​
 
Last edited:

DensleyBlair

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Nothing like worldly politics to get in the way of religious commitment. A sad fate for Friedrich, but one can appreciate how Balthasar would be turned against the Church.
 
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stnylan

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Matters do not especially look to be improving.
 
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Crimson Lionheart

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A horrible end to Frederich, no wonder Balthasar turned against the church
 
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