Youth of the Great Elector - George Upton

The Imperial Soldiers

Before Leuchtmar resumed his talk on the next evening the Prince asked a question. He recalled the miller's son they had met in the woods and inquired if this was the same Wallenstein his father had meant when he spoke of his son's joining his army.

"Yes, my Prince," replied Leuchtmar, "and the miller also said, you remember, that many young fellows in that vicinity were running away to serve in that army. This reminds me to tell you something about the soldier's life at the period of which we have been hearing." Leuchtmar picked up a paper from the table, and, glancing at it now and then, resumed: "I will name to you the Emperor's generals who were the most moderate in their treatment of our people. They were Generals Arnim and Pappenheim. Wallenstein assigned one to Altmark, the other to Ukermark. Although, as I have just said, they conducted themselves more moderately than the others in authority, yet they demanded from the people seven gulden for each musketeer, twelve for each trooper, and fifteen for each cuirassier in monthly payments. The extortions of Colonel Hebron in the Winter of 162425 were frightful. Brandenburg, Rathenow, Treuenbrietze, Belitz, Spandau, Potsdam, Rauen, and vicinity had to pay him 7,700 gulden a month in cash. A year afterwards Montecuculi was even more cruel in Neumark. He made an inhuman demand of the Landtag then in session, requiring for his staff and his own command not less than 29,520 gulden monthly, 12,000 for his table, 600 for the table of each of his under officers, 1,940 for other commands, 4,800 for recruiting service,—in all, not taking minor expenses into account, 96,860 gulden for the period of two months. With their utmost exertion the people could raise only one-third that sum. 'You dogs,' exclaimed Montecuculi to the committee which waited upon him and begged him to spare them, 'You dogs, why have you not done what I told you?' They replied they had given all they had. 'Good,' said Montecuculi; 'now I will show you what happens to those who do not pay the tax levied upon them.' The burghers and peasants were maltreated and the last of their effects were taken from them by force. This opened the eyes of those who were of the same faith. What were these soldiers, they said, but robbers? And who was their leader but the leader of a band of robbers?"

Thirty years War


Leuchtmar was greatly excited as he spoke, as well as the others. "Yes," exclaimed the Preceptor, "they will be detested as robbers to the latest times."

Leuchtmar resumed: "And while Montecuculi and his officers were carousing, the people whom they had robbed went begging from house to house and from place to place. There was dreadful consternation in all the villages. The fiends themselves could not have invented more ingenious tortures to force the villagers to disclose where they had hidden their last pfenning. In some places people were killed after they had given up all they had, then their houses were fired, and thus whole districts were desolated." The Prince said nothing, but tears streamed down his red cheeks.

"This is enough for to-day," said the Preceptor; "I will defer what I have to say until to-morrow." Leuchtmar agreed to this, and then related to the Prince the tale of Perseus by Ovid, his favorite story-teller. It made little impression upon him, however, so deeply had he been affected by the evening's talk.