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Battle of Stadtlohn
Part of Thirty Years' War
File:The Battle of Stadtlohn.jpg
Battle of Stadtlohn, aerial view by Pieter Snayers.
DateAugust 6, 1623
LocationStadtlohn, North Rhine-Westphalia
(present-day Germany)
Result Decisive Catholic victory
Coat of Arms of the Bishopric of Halberstadt.svg Bishopric of Halberstadt Holy Roman Empire Holy Roman Empire
Spain Spain
Catholic League (Germany).svg Catholic League
Commanders and leaders
Christian of Brunswick Johann Tserclaes, Count of Tilly
15,000 Approx: 25,000
Casualties and losses
13,000 dead, wounded or captured 1,000 dead or wounded

The Battle of Stadtlohn was fought on August 6, 1623 between the armies of Christian of Brunswick and of the Catholic League during the Thirty Years' War. The League's forces were led by Johann Tserclaes, Count of Tilly.


A year after his defeat at the Battle of Fleurus, Christian of Brunswick found himself in command of an army of 15,000, freshly recruited and rested from winter quarters in the United Provinces. He reopened his campaign in the summer of 1623 by marching into the Lower Saxon Circle. With no support forthcoming from other Protestant princes, or even from Christian's recent ally Ernst von Mansfeld, Christian now found himself in a precarious military position with little possibility of reinforcement. To add to this, Tilly had received word of Christian's movements and was now moving to confront him. The second half of July 1623 thus became a period of retreat for Christian's forces, as Tilly's troops had marched across the Saxon border on July 13. Christian reportedly marched across the Weser River on July 27 and the Ems River a few days later, with the Count of Tilly's more disciplined troops steadily gaining ground.

When Christian left Greven (north of Münster), on August 4, Tilly was only half an hour behind.[1] Christian's rearguard managed to ward off an engagement for two more days, holding the bridges first over the Vechte (at Metelen) and then over the Dinkel (at Heek). Tilly's army continued to pursue Christian's. His vanguard, commanded by Johann Jakob, Count of Bronckhorst and Anholt, engaged Christian's rearguard, commanded by Colonel Styrum, near Heek on the morning of August 6.

The Battle

On the afternoon of August 6, Christian was forced to turn and fight just outside the village of Stadtlohn in Westphalia, a little over five miles short of the Dutch border. Taking position on a hill, Christian's forces withstood lengthy bombardment before an attack by Tilly's cavalry engulfed Christian's right flank, leading his own cavalry to break and rout. On this sight, the infantrymen also attempted to flee. Tilly's forces swept upon their retreating enemies, killing some 6,000 and capturing 4,000 more as prisoners of war. Among the losses were 50 of Christian's highest-ranking officers, and all of his artillery and ammunition. Christian himself escaped, together with 2,000 cavalrymen. Tilly's army suffered 1,000 casualties. A thousand of the prisoners of war enlisted in Tilly's army, but most deserted when they found standards of discipline higher than they had become used to in Christian's army.[2]

The captured artillery pieces were displayed on the marketplace in Coesfeld, and some of the enemy wounded were conveyed to Münster for treatment. It was reported that many of those fleeing who managed to evade their enemies, fell victim to the ill-will of the peasantry.[3]


With news of the outcome reaching Frederick V of the Palatinate, the king was forced to sign an armistice with Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II, thus ending the 'Palatine Phase' of the Thirty Years' War. Peace would be short-lived and in 1624 England, France, the United Provinces of the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Savoy, Venice, and Brandenburg would join in an Anti-Habsburg alliance to fight against Spain and the Holy Roman Emperor.

This was the last major battle and campaign that Christian of Brunswick would undertake and participate in. He would attempt to embark on one more campaign in 1626 before succumbing to an illness on June 16, 1626, at the age of 26 in Wolfenbüttel.


  1. Peter H. Wilson, Europe's Tragedy: A History of the Thirty Years' War,Allen Lane, 2009, p. 342.
  2. Wilson, Europe's Tragedy, p. 343.
  3. Avisen auß Berlin, 33 (1623), 35 (1623).

Coordinates: 52°01′11″N 6°56′48″E / 52.01972°N 6.94667°E / 52.01972; 6.94667

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