Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar


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Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar

Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar (săksˈ–wīˈmär, zäksˈə-vīˈmär), 1604–39, Protestant general in the Thirty Years War, duke of Weimar. Under Ernst von Mansfeld and the margrave of Baden, Bernhard fought against the imperial forces in defense (1622) of the Palatinate. He served in the Netherlands and later allied himself (1631) with King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, after whose death at Lützen (1632) he took command. In 1633, Bernhard became joint commander of the army of the Heilbronn Confederation, created under Swedish auspices. The Swedish government also granted him the newly created duchy of Franconia, formed out of the captured German bishoprics of Würzburg and Bamberg. His capture of Regensburg (1633) made him the hero of the Protestants. In 1634 he suffered a crushing defeat by the imperial army at Nördlingen and soon afterward lost Franconia. Bernhard and his army were taken into French pay in 1635. Victories at Breisgau and Breisach (1638) brought him control over Alsace and the Upper Rhine. He died suddenly of a fever.
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Born in 1609, the fifth son of King Philip III and Margarita of Austria; created a cardinal by Pope Paul V (1619); made lieutenant cardinal of Catalonia (1632) and appointed governor of Milan (1633); as governor of the Spanish Netherlands (1634), he joined forces with an Austrian army under his cousin Ferdinand, King of Hungary and Bohemia (later Emperor Ferdinand III), and defeated the Swedish-Weimarian army of Marshal Gustav Horn and Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar at Nordlingen (September 6, 1634); later led an invasion of France and captured Corbie (1636); fell ill suddenly and died (November 1641).