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Siege of Heidelberg
Part of the Thirty Years' War
Heidelberg corr.jpg
View of Heidelberg with the Heidelberg Castle on hill and the Old Bridge.
Date23 July – 19 September 1622
LocationHeidelberg, Electorate of the Palatinate
(present-day Germany)
Result Decisive Spanish-Imperial victory[1]
Electoral Palatinate
 Kingdom of England
Spain Spain
 Holy Roman Empire
Commanders and leaders
Kingdom of England Gerard Herbert
Kingdom of England Horace Vere
Kingdom of England John Burroughs
Spain Holy Roman Empire Count of Tilly
Spain Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba
Approx: 15,000–21,000 Approx: 22,000–30,000
Casualties and losses
Unknown: 8,000 Unknown: 5,000

The Siege of Heidelberg or the Spanish-Imperial capture of Heildelberg took place from 23 July to 19 September 1622, at Heidelberg, Electorate of the Palatinate, between the Spanish-Imperial army led by Johan Tzerclaes, Count of Tilly and Don Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba against the Anglo-Protestant forces of Frederick V, Elector Palatine, commanded by Sir Gerard Herbert and Sir Horace Vere during the Palatinate campaign, in the context of the Thirty Years' War.[2] On 16 September the city of Heidelberg was taken by storm, and the Heidelberg Castle surrendered three days later to the Spanish and Imperial forces.[3]


In 1620 the Spanish commander Don Ambrosio Spinola adopted Fabian tactics[3] in the hope of wearing the enemy out, until the approach of winter compelled the English and their allies to seek quarters. Sir Horace Vere divided his troops among the three most important strongholds of the Palatinate. He himself occupied Mannheim, Sir Gerard Herbert he stationed in Heidelberg Castle, while Sir John Burroughs undertook to defend Frankenthal.[3]

Early in 1621 the Protestant Union was broken up, and the English garrisons had to give up all hope of relief. The English governors were not closely pressed that year. The garrison under Sir Horace Vere at Mannheim received a visit early in 1622 from the dethroned Frederick V, Elector Palatine, who had promised them a diversion, and who, in conjunction with Ernst von Mansfeld, had inflicted a momentary check upon the Imperialist army under Johan Tzerclaes, Count of Tilly, at Wiesloch (April).[3] A few weeks later, however, the Count of Tilly, having been reinforced by the Spanish army of Don Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba, inflicted defeats on the Protestants, capturing a large number of German towns held by Protestants, and in June, Frederick V had finally to leave Mannheim.[3]

Siege of Heidelberg

The English garrisons were now surrounded by a force of Spaniards and Imperialists under Tilly and Córdoba. Vere resolved to hold out, though he knew that the military position was hopeless. The combined Protestant forces, now numbering 25,000 strong, positioned themselves on the western bank of the Rhine River. Heidelberg came under siege by the Spanish-Imperial forces and despite an 11-week resistance, fell on 19 September 1622.[2][3]

The English commander of the Protestant forces, Sir Gerard Herbert, was mortally wounded during the siege.[3]


Frederick V of the Palatinate by Michiel van Mierevelt.

Heidelberg Castle and the Hortus Palatinus commissioned by Frederick V, and designed by the English gardener Inigo Jones and the French engineer Salomon de Caus.

The progress of the Spanish was unstoppable, and after the fall of Heidelberg, and the unsuccessful Protestant defense at Mannheim, the Spanish army captured the town.[1] Finally, the defensive Anglo-Protestant forces under Sir Horace Vere, after a futile struggle, were defeated and capitulated.[3]

Only Frankenthal remained loyal to Frederick V, Elector Palatine, defended by the forces of Sir John Burroughs, but was taken one year later by the Spanish troops, thus leaving the Electorate of the Palatinate in the hands of the Spaniards.[1]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Polišenský/Snider p.90
  2. 2.0 2.1 Polišenský/Snider. War and society in Europe (1618-1648)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 Horace Vere (DNB00)


  • Rudolf Schäfer: Höchst am Main. Frankfurt am Main 1981: Frankfurter Sparkasse 1822.
  • Rudolf Schäfer: Chronik von Höchst am Main. Frankfurt 1986: Waldemar Kramer.
  • Adalbert Vollert: Sossenheim. Geschichte eines Frankfurter Stadtteils. Frankfurt 1980: Frankfurter Sparkasse von 1822.
  • Johann Philipp Abelin: Theatrum Europaeum, Vol. 1, Frankfurt 1662, plate 1622, pages 630-633.
  • Victor Hugo: "Heidelberg" of Frankfurt am Main: Societäts-Verlag, 2003. ISBN 3-7973-0825-6
  • Harry B. Davis: "What Happened in Heidelberg: From Heidelberg Man to the Present": Verlag Brausdruck GmbH, 1977. ISBN 0007C650K
  • Josef V. Polišenský/Frederick Snider: War and society in Europe (1618-1648). Bristol: Cambridge University Press, 1978. ISBN 978-0-521-21659-3

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