Front Page Titles (by Subject) 93.: On Wallenstein's End - Judgments on History and Historians
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93.: On Wallenstein’s End - Jacob Burckhardt, Judgments on History and Historians 
Judgments on History and Historians, ed. Alberto R. Coll (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1999).
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On Wallenstein’s End
The main excuse that he wanted to avoid war with France, in which the Empire was to become involved for Spain’s sake, is an empty and worthless one, for the French were already inside the Empire, and, as long as the war continued, France probably would interfere anyway.
Then, too, there are his inordinate desires. Ferdinand II was supposed to look on while Wallenstein, with imperial resources, established within the Empire a big hostile state which he wanted to set up for himself with the aid of parity and toleration.
Now there set in the accidental development of the crisis because of the desire of the Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand of Spain to lead German troops from Milan to the Netherlands through the Empire. To be sure, Spain wanted not only the Netherlands, but also its military road which the French had broken through in places. But if Wallenstein was against it, this was surely not due to abstract enthusiasm for the integrity of the Empire, but because he himself would have liked to have the Palatinate, among other things. Here he pitted his will against that of Spain, which had previously, including in 1632, helped to boost him. At the same time, he let the League’s interests in South Germany suffer bitter distress, so that, e.g., Regensburg became Swedish in November of 1633, and he was stationed in the emperor’s own land rather than outside. He had demonstrable immediate designs on the crown of Bohemia, with the aid of France—and for his reluctance to fight against this same France he is given so much credit. Finally, because of the sentiment in favor of the Infante he threatens to “abdicate,” i.e., he starts agitation among his officers, and this is inevitably the beginning of the contest between the emperor and the general for the army. Then comes the 12th of February, 1634, at Pilsen, the banquet and the signing of the declaration by his lieutenants; the rest is the consequence of the latter.
For Ferdinand II it is simply a matter of outbidding Wallenstein with the generals, or at least of reassuring them as to their credit and other things. The two manifestoes contain nothing about an assassination, although the second one does mention qualified high treason. In addition, there was Piccolomini’s orally transmitted instruction to Butler to bring in Wallenstein alive or dead. When at the publication of the second manifesto not a soldier stirred in Prague, it was shown how empty the power of such a condottiere is at bottom. Wallenstein’s final machinations with Bernhard as well as his movement toward Eger were mere attempts to save himself. He no longer would have brought the Swedes an appreciable number of men.
If Ferdinand had let him have his own way and had lost all his crowns in the process, he would have reaped, by way of thanks, the mocking laughter of half the world.
Wallenstein’s assassination was of great benefit to the emperor. He suddenly became the master of his army which was now an imperial army, and remained so in the future. Then, too, Ferdinand got rid of a financial obligation to Wallenstein which he would hardly ever have met after a peace. The military leaders, with their prospects of Wallenstein’s estates and more, given the alternative of betraying Ferdinand or Wallenstein, were able to betray the latter with more safety and fewer pangs of conscience. Not one foreign cabinet accused Ferdinand of a wicked deed or defended Wallenstein against the charge of treason.
Does the fondness for Wallenstein, apart from Schiller, stem from Friedrich Förster? (Later addition: No, apart from the hatred for Ferdinand it has a general reason. Wallenstein, like Magdeburg in 1631, had become a trump card in the game of the Protestant faction.)
Why did the electorates of Saxony and Brandenburg not want to listen to him in the autumn of 1633? Was it perhaps because they already knew too much and because Ferdinand II, in the final analysis, was more agreeable to them than this Wallenstein?