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The battle of Lutzen was the decisive battle in the Thirty Years War, in which Protestant Sweden and France fought against the Holy Roman Empire.

On November 14, 1632, Imperial general Wallenstein split his men and withdrew towards Lutzen in Germany. No move was expected of the Protestant army led by Gustavus Adolphus, king of Sweden. However, The Protestant army moved towards Wallenstein, hoping to ambush him. However, the trap was sprung prematurely.

The battle began on November 16. The Protestant and Catholic armies both charged each other. Imperial general Pappenheim brought reinforcements to the Imperial army, but was then killed while leading a charge. Gustavus Adolphus also led a charge and was killed by gunfire. Adolphus wore only light armor due to an old musket wound, which prevented him from putting on adequate armor. The Swedish army at this point was being destroyed by Imperial gunfire and artillery fire. However, Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar assumed control of the army and rallied the soldiers to him, telling them to avenge Adolph’s death. Eventually, the Imperial army was forced to retreat, having suffered over 6,000 casualties. The Protestant army had a similar casualty count, but held the field.

This battle had far-reaching consequences during the war. The Imperial army retreated from Saxony, and ally of Sweden, while Sweden itself faltered, having no king to lead its troops. Instead, France took over as the leader of the Protestant army. Peace was achieved in 1648, leaving France and Sweden the victors.

 

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