On This Day
1608 – The Protestant Union, a coalition of Protestant German states, is founded to defend the rights, land and safety of each member against the Catholic Church and Catholic German states.
The Protestant Union (German: Protestantische Union), also known as the Evangelical Union, Union of Auhausen, German Union or the Protestant Action Party, was a coalition of Protestant German states. It was formed on May 14, 1608 by Frederick IV, Elector Palatine in order to defend the rights, land and safety of each member. It included both Calvinist and Lutheran states, and dissolved in 1621.
The union was formed following two events. Firstly, the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II and Bavarian Duke Maximilian I reestablished Catholicism in Donauwörth in 1607. Secondly, by 1608, a majority of the Imperial Diet had decided that the renewal of the 1555 Peace of Augsburg should be conditional upon the restoration of all church land appropriated since 1552. The Protestant princes met in Auhausen, and formed a coalition of Protestant states under the leadership of Frederick IV on May 14, 1608. In response, the Catholic League organized the following year, headed by Duke Maximilian.
Members of the Protestant Union included the Palatinate, Neuburg, Württemberg, Baden-Durlach, Ansbach, Bayreuth, Anhalt, Zweibrücken, Oettingen, Hesse-Kassel, Brandenburg, and the free cities of Ulm, Strasbourg, Nuremberg, Rothenburg, Windsheim, Schweinfurt, Weissenburg, Nördlingen, Schwäbisch Hall, Heilbronn, Memmingen, Kempten, Landau, Worms, Speyer, Aalen and Giengen.
However, the Protestant Union was weakened from the start by the non-participation of several powerful German Protestant rulers, notably the Elector of Saxony. The Union was also beset by internal strife between its Lutheran and Calvinist members.
In 1619, Frederick V of the Palatinate accepted the crown of Bohemia in opposition to Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II. On July 3, 1620, the Protestant Union signed the Treaty of Ulm (German: Ulmer Vertrag), declaring neutrality and declining to support Frederick V. In January 1621, Ferdinand II imposed an imperial ban upon Frederick V and moved his right to elect an emperor to Maximilian. Electoral Palatinate also lost the Upper Palatinate to Bavaria. The Protestant Union met in Heilbronn in February and formally protested Ferdinand’s actions. He ignored this complaint and ordered the Protestant Union to disband its army. The members of the union complied with Ferdinand’s demand under the Mainz accord in May, and on May 14, 1621, it was formally dissolved.
A new separate union without connection to this one emerged twelve years later, the Heilbronn League. It allied some Protestant states in western, central and southern Germany, and fought against the Holy Roman Emperor under the guidance of Sweden and France, which were at the same time parties to that league.
Born On This Day
1794 – Fanny Imlay, daughter of British feminist Mary Wollstonecraft (d. 1816)
Frances “Fanny” Imlay (14 May 1794 – 9 October 1816), also known as Fanny Godwin and Frances Wollstonecraft, was the illegitimate daughter of the British feminist Mary Wollstonecraft and the American commercial speculator and diplomat Gilbert Imlay. Wollstonecraft wrote about her frequently in her later works. Fanny grew up in the household of anarchist political philosopher William Godwin, the widower of her mother, with his second wife and their combined family of five children. Fanny’s half-sister Mary grew up to write Frankenstein and married Percy Bysshe Shelley, a leading Romantic poet, who composed a poem on Fanny’s death.
Although Gilbert Imlay and Mary Wollstonecraft lived together happily for brief periods before and after the birth of Fanny, he left Wollstonecraft in France in the midst of the Revolution. In an attempt to revive their relationship, Wollstonecraft travelled to Scandinavia on business for him, taking the one-year-old Fanny with her, but the affair never rekindled. After falling in love with and marrying Godwin, Wollstonecraft died soon after giving birth in 1797, leaving the three-year-old Fanny in the hands of Godwin, along with their newborn daughter Mary.
Four years later, Godwin remarried and his new wife, Mary Jane Clairmont, brought two children of her own into the marriage, most significantly—from Fanny Imlay and Mary Godwin’s perspective—Claire Clairmont. Wollstonecraft’s daughters resented the new Mrs Godwin and the attention she paid to her own daughter. The Godwin household became an increasingly uncomfortable place to live as tensions rose and debts mounted. The teenage Mary and Claire escaped by running off to the Continent with Shelley in 1814. Fanny, left behind, bore the brunt of her stepfather’s anger. She became increasingly isolated from her family and committed suicide in 1816.
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