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A Swabian Cobbler-Farmer Survives the Thirty Years War – Hans Heberle (1597-1677)

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[When the Imperial army occupies the district, the people of Neenstetten flee into the forests.] But no one could stay in the forests and woods because of the great hunger, for we had no bread, salt, fat, or anything else with which to nourish ourselves, and I could get none of these things, of which we formerly had plenty, to guard my wife and children from dying of hunger. We sought only peace and quiet.

Then, my wife and I, with the little children and a whole crowd of others, were driven from the forest. We thought to take refuge in [the Duchy of] Württemberg and fled to Heuchlingen, but, dear God, there we got no peace. Two days later we had to leave the place, because the cavalry came in great numbers, plundered everything, and took whatever they could find. They stayed fourteen days in [the district of] Launssen and Urspring. [ . . . ]

The Edict of Restitution & the Swedish Invasion (1630 and 1631)

In the mandate which the emperor issued in 1629, [it was decreed that] the ecclesiastical properties were restored to the Catholics against the wishes of the Protestants, who protested strongly but in vain. More was demanded of the Duke of Württemberg than of others. Next came [the powers of] the Lower Saxon Circle, [who complained] of having to put up with this after having withstood so many wars. The Imperial free cities, too, raised complaints, appealed to the emperor and to the Diet, and took their cases to law. But no help came from any quarter.

The Saxon elector, who though a Protestant had been strongly on the emperor's side, also raised objections. The emperor, however, called the princes to a meeting at Regensburg and told the Protestants to attend (1). While the ecclesiastical properties were being discussed at Regensburg, the Swede invaded Pomerania and took from the emperor almost everything, pushing his troops back in retreat. Then the Protestants raised an army, though it did little, because they wanted to wait and see what the Swede would do and how he would fare (2).

At the Regensburg assembly little was accomplished, for things looked bad [ . . . ]. No one knew what to expect or hope for, seeing that so few wanted peace and quiet. The victors wanted war, while the losers hoped that their luck would return and that their hopes would be fulfilled and things would turn for the better. [ . . . ]

This year [1630] was a bad one for the Protestant religion everywhere, and if the Swedish king had not opposed the emperor in the field, the German princes would have been finished. Alone, they were too weak and couldn't have overcome the sly crowd. But God, Who can end and change everything, ordained that those who had dug the pit fell into it.

At year's end, it is well to notice amidst these terribly troubled and sad times, that we should not forget what God has done to us through his Holy Word, which shines so brightly and clearly on us. Therefore, we Protestants held a feast of thanksgiving in all churches on the 24th of June, St. John the Baptist's Day, for it is precisely one hundred years since the Protestant confession was submitted at Augsburg by some princes and Estates of the Holy Empire to the great Emperor Charles V. We marked this feast with divine services, prayers, song, and Communion. During the morning and noon sermons, the Confession of Augsburg was read publicly by the pastor from the pulpit, so that everyone would know what the confession is and what it contains.

(1) In fact, the electors themselves assembled at Regensburg from July to November 1630. They discussed the Estates' grievances and deposed Albrecht von Wallenstein from his Imperial command – trans.
(2) "The Swede" is, of course, King Gustavus Adolpus of Sweden, who landed his army at Usedom in Pomerania on July 4, 1630 – trans.

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