Thursday, 20 May 2010

The sack of Magdeburg

This day…..379 years ago saw the most notorious atrocity of the dreadfully destructive 30 Years War – the sack of Magdeburg. Most of its people were Protestants, and on May 20, 1631, the city fell to the army of the Catholic League.

It had been under siege for six months, and once they entered, the conquering army - and particularly its Walloon and Croat soldiers - embarked on an orgy of murder, rape, looting and destruction. The great German writer Friedrich Schiller said it was “a scene of horrors for which history has no language – poetry no pencil.”

After they had reduced the city to rubble, the Catholic soldiers carried off thousands of women, and the atrocity caused such revulsion throughout Europe that the leader of the Catholic cause, the Holy Roman Emperor, had to call off the victory celebrations.

Altogether it’s estimated that 30,000 people may have been killed. For more details, see A Disastrous History of the World. (For more on the 30 Years War, see my blog of May 23, 2009.)

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