The siege and massacre of Magdeburg

History of Sorts

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On this day in 1631 the city of Magdeburg in Germany is seized by forces of the Holy Roman Empire and most of its inhabitants massacred, in one of the bloodiest incidents of the Thirty Years’ War.

In November 1630, King Gustavus sent his colonel Dietrich von Falkenberg to direct Magdeburg’s military affairs and promised his personal protection.

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Backed by the Lutheran clergy, Falkenberg had the suburbs fortified and additional troops recruited. When the Magdeburg citizens refused to pay a demanded tribute to the emperor, in a matter of months, Imperial forces under the command of Count Johann Tserclaes of Tilly laid siege to the city.The city was besieged from 20 March 1631 and Tilly put his subordinate Imperial Field Marshal Gottfried Heinrich Graf zu Pappenheim in command while he campaigned elsewhere.

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In fierce fighting, the Imperial troops conquered several sconces of the city’s fortification and Tilly demanded capitulation. At…

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