Allah Will Know His Own: On Religious War, Part 1

On the morning May 20, 1631, the army of the Habsburg Holy League, commanded by Count Tilly and Graf Pappenheim, breached the works of the city of Magdeburg. Desperate last—ditch sorties by the defenders were swept aside, and two of the city's gates were opened to the main body of the imperial army. It had been a long siege, lasting over six months, and two previous assaults on the 17th and 18th had been repulsed with heavy losses, so the troops were ready for blood. Apart from Germans, the army consisted of Walloon and Croat mercenaries who had signed up for thrills and loot. The army was predominantly Catholic, viewing the Protestant citizens as heretics and schismatics who deserved whatever they got. Tilly saw no need to hold them back: 'The soldier must have some reward for his danger and toils.' Those words triggered a slaughter for which, J.C.F. von Schiller wrote: '...history has no language —— poetry no pencil.' Most of the townspeople were hiding in their...(Read Full Article)