Why do we not hear of small wars between the many minor German states?

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Sid Guttridge
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Why do we not hear of small wars between the many minor German states?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 02 Jul 2021 11:38

Almost all of the hundreds of German statelets before 1800 had their own small armies, yet we never seem to hear of minor wars between them.

Why? Did they not happen, or have they simply been overlooked, or did the much derided Holy Roman Empire provide an effective mechanism for defusing such tensions?

Cheers,

Sid.

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Sheldrake
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Re: Why do we not hear of small wars between the many minor German states?

Post by Sheldrake » 02 Jul 2021 11:51

Mostly because wars cost far more money than available to a small German state. The smallest states that seemed to take part in wars on their own behalf were Bavaria, Hannover, Saxony Prussia and Austria - but usually as part of a coalition

The Holy Roman Empire did provide a mechanism for reconciling disputes between principalities that owed their legitimacy to their membership of the Empire. A state that attempted to take over another might itself be over-run by bigger neighbours acting in the name of the Empire.

Soldiers were a police force as well as a deterrent against invasion. Some states hired their soldiers out as mercenaries e.g. Hessen Kassel to Britain.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Why do we not hear of small wars between the many minor German states?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 02 Jul 2021 16:29

Hi Sheldrake,

War can be waged proportional to the size of the state and its wealth. I don't think size need be an obstacle to internecine warfare between the minor German states as long as nobody over reaches themselves any more than larger powers did.

The hundreds of minor German states must have had their share of over ambitious little Napoleons, yet not one seem to have invaded their neighbours. If the mechanism that prevented this was the Holy Roman Empire, one has to wonder how such an apparently toothless polity managed it?

Cheers,

Sid.

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Hans1906
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Re: Why do we not hear of small wars between the many minor German states?

Post by Hans1906 » 03 Jul 2021 18:37

Sid, about what "minor" wars was your question about, did I read you wrong ?

Or is it the "Heiliges Römisches Reich Deutscher Nation" ?

Buying more and more books, for sure not a mistake... :roll: :wink:


Hans

The pure proud of my greatgrandfather Heinrich-Christian, he passed away in the 1947, was to hang out a very large "Oldenburg"
flag from the attic of his house, never a Swastika flag, and his son was an officer in the RAD in these years.

Oldenburg Flagge https://oldenburgische-landschaft.de/wi ... flagge.php


Hans
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Es ist im Leben wichtig, viel zu wissen.
Manchmal ist es noch wichtiger, zu wissen, daß man nichts weiß.

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Sheldrake
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Re: Why do we not hear of small wars between the many minor German states?

Post by Sheldrake » 03 Jul 2021 22:47

Sid Guttridge wrote:
02 Jul 2021 16:29
Hi Sheldrake,

War can be waged proportional to the size of the state and its wealth. I don't think size need be an obstacle to internecine warfare between the minor German states as long as nobody over reaches themselves any more than larger powers did.

The hundreds of minor German states must have had their share of over ambitious little Napoleons, yet not one seem to have invaded their neighbours. If the mechanism that prevented this was the Holy Roman Empire, one has to wonder how such an apparently toothless polity managed it?

Cheers,

Sid.
Germany was fragmented politically. The big players were the K u K, the Imperial crown and Hungarian monarch, and Prussia only part of which was in the Empire. Bavaria and Saxony had pretentions but even they went to war with bigger allies. External states such as France, Sweden dabbled in German affairs. Great Britain became sucked into the defence of north west Germany courtesy of the house of Hannover. Smaller states had to pick sides. If any small state went rogue it would have been suppressed and gobbled up by one of the bigger players who had real armies. All of the wars listed by hans1906 were between the large players with the small states as willing or unwilling allies or the theatre of war.

The eighteenth century age of enlightenment was in the shadow of the devastating 30 years war and the preceding century of religious wars. No one wanted to return to the chaos of the bauenkreig or the siege of Muenster after the Anabaptists seized control. There is little that Al Quaeda, the Taliban or IS have done that surpasses the worst of these conflicts.
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Loïc
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Re: Why do we not hear of small wars between the many minor German states?

Post by Loïc » 03 Jul 2021 23:37

The list of XVIIIth century wars in german forgets the only one between german states - a kind of phoney war -
the War of the Bavarian Succession 1778-1779 between Austria against Prussia Saxony and Bavaria known as Potato War but none of them was a "minor state"

after the Thirty Years War, ignoring the major conflicts between Great Powers where the German States participated of course, not many concerning "minor" German States between them, but almost all with a great power
1st Swedish Bremen War 1653-1654 and 2nd in 1666
Münster submission 1661 by the Dutch Republic, Erfurt submission by Electorate of Mainz 1664, Magdeburg submission by Brandenburg 1666, Cologne submission by Dutch 1668
Münster East Frisia border conflict 1663-1664
Siege of Braunschweig, the city of that name by Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel 1671
Siege of Hamburg 1686 with Free City of Hamburg Denmark Brandenburg Hannover

taken from Bruno Mugnai's Wars and Soldiers in the Early Reign of Louis XIV - Volume 2 The Imperial Army 1657-1687 at Helion
(a further volume about German States should be published in 2022)

Given the tiny size of most of them the system of the Holy Roman Empire federalize the various contingents in Circles who had to join others to raise consolidated regiments and the same prevailed for minor States under the Napoleonic Confederation of the Rhine and the German Confederation, it didn't mean they were always fully obedients to the Austrian before 1792, they can be reluctant to join or even to furnish a contingent*
add to that the intricated close intertwining of their territories with countless enclaves that had the States everywhere it would be difficult to exist "militarily-speaking" and to have "imperial" dreams and so to have their own independant policy to each of 347 german states living under the shadow of major states (is San Marino really and fully independant from Italy, Monaco from France, Andorre and Liechtenstein from both neighbours, on the paper and from the International Law yes of course but...)

*e.g. Liechtenstein under Napoleon has to recruit 40 men to serve in the 2nd Nassau Regiment of the Confederation of Rhine
then to save its Independance in 1813-1815 recruited twice the number, 80 men, to join the Coalition against Napoleonic France again merged with an other bigger german state contingent, thanks to its geography it escaped to the German unification and disbanded its army in 1868

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Sheldrake
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Re: Why do we not hear of small wars between the many minor German states?

Post by Sheldrake » 05 Jul 2021 13:03

Loïc wrote:
03 Jul 2021 23:37
The list of XVIIIth century wars in german forgets the only one between german states - a kind of phoney war -
the War of the Bavarian Succession 1778-1779 between Austria against Prussia Saxony and Bavaria known as Potato War but none of them was a "minor state"

after the Thirty Years War, ignoring the major conflicts between Great Powers where the German States participated of course, not many concerning "minor" German States between them, but almost all with a great power
1st Swedish Bremen War 1653-1654 and 2nd in 1666
Münster submission 1661 by the Dutch Republic, Erfurt submission by Electorate of Mainz 1664, Magdeburg submission by Brandenburg 1666, Cologne submission by Dutch 1668
Münster East Frisia border conflict 1663-1664


On my study wall I have a print of the 1662 bombardment of Muenster, the suppression of a citizens revolt by the Prince Bishop Christoph Bernard von Galen. He was quite a punchy chap for a cleric. Muenster was the largest bishopric in the Holy Roman Empire and von Galen had enough of an army to throw huis weight around. The Muenster East Fresia conflict was von Galen's attempt to grab that part of the Netherlands for the Catholic faith - in the name of the counter reformation. But this is really the last gasp of the religious wars - except in Ireland. By this time the Dutch have had the financial innovation of government debt which enabled the commercial classes to make serious money from war and price princelings out of war as an option of statecraft.

von Galen has a link to the subject matter of the AHF. He established his family as the heriditary prince bishops of Muenster.

One of his descendants Clemens von Galen spoke out against the euthanasia programme from the pulpit and denounced Nazi racialo theories, persecution other church and injustice. After WW2 he denounced British actions in dismissing public servants without reason and rapes by allied troops. He pleaded for the life of Kurt Meyere after he had beenn sentenced to death .

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