The Lands of Germany (and neighbors), 1651 part 2
The Lands of Germany (and Neighbors), 1651 part 2:
The example of Nuremberg provides a spur for many other similar uprisings across the Holy Roman Empire. Some of them are quickly and bloodily put down, but enough survive long enough to encourage even more rebellions and to link up and join forces with both other rebellions and the regular coalition forces opposing Philip and Henri.
Barring exceptional local leadership such as the Ravens had possessed before them, or the likes of Andreas Hofer, it is probable that for all their widespread fury, these would have produced much noise and fire, but little of lasting substance. Three risings in the Rhineland are put down in six, four, and ten days respectively, with only the last requiring reinforcements from other districts to be suppressed. But Leopold provides a force behind which they can rally. It is notable that many peasant rebellions appeal to the monarch for redress, and in this instance, for once, the monarch is not only willing but eager to listen.
The banner of Leopold helps to give these rebellions organization and coherence, because these rebellions are finally what push the majority of Imperial princes off the fence where they have studiously been trying to stay. They are scared of Henri, but also concerned about their own people, and their own people are closer. Furthermore, by rallying to Leopold they can hopefully get out ahead of popular discontent, while supporting the Saxon Duke is far more ideologically palatable then championing a ‘rising of the people’. Most princes are more akin to Elizabeth in their lack of sympathy for such an idea, but now they have no choice but to go along with it.
Much historiography of the German Vespers focuses on the nationalist aspect since that feels the most modern and forward-looking. There is an element of that, with Leopold being the face of that. Young and stunningly good-looking (to this day, he is a popular icon in the German gay community, with even some historical depictions and descriptions being decidedly homoerotic), he is ideally suited for the role.
However usually this element is overemphasized. Leopold’s play wouldn’t even have begun if not for Elizabeth, and her motives are entirely dynastic, to secure at least the core inheritance for her son Karl Manfred.
More significantly, what gives the German Vespers its weight and power is the religious component. This is usually labeled as ‘medieval’, a labeling that implicitly argues that modern people don’t engage in religious violence, to differentiate it from ‘modern’ nationalism. But this pivotal moment in modern German history would’ve been a dud if not for this supposedly medieval component.
The nationalist rhetoric that is circulating around Germany at the time is making substantial waves in society, but in the towns and cities of Germany, among the urban elites, intellectuals, and the relatively-well-off artisanal classes. In the countryside, its influence is extremely meager. And the countryside is where 85%+ of the population lives. Cries of defending ‘sacred Germany’ won’t move the peasants, who don’t understand or care about such an idea. But a cry of defending ‘Holy Mother Church’ will rouse them to fury.
Henri, for his part, had been very careful not to stir up the religious question. That it ends up exploding shows how even the powers of even one of the most powerful 17th century monarchs are limited compared to the modern standards. Triune troops were Bohmanist and they were marching through and occupying Catholic territories. Now in the Rhineland there were substantial Bohmanist minorities in many places, but east of the great river was Catholic land.
Most troops generally behaved themselves, and if and when they caused trouble it was the typical grievances of troops not getting enough pay or supplies or sex or getting too much drink. It was terrible and infuriating and traumatic for those on the receiving end, but there was no religious component.
Yet there were a few exceptions, where Bohmanist troops did trash Catholic churches and monasteries, smashing images as ‘idolatrous’, and even using such structures as stables and lavatories to deliberately profane the buildings. Here there clearly was a religious aspect, and while in the minority these incidents inevitably made the most press. English troops seem to have been more likely to have committed such outrages; England in general was more stridently Bohmanist and anti-Catholic in rhetoric than France. There were some French soldiers involved in some of these incidents, but overwhelmingly the stereotype in both Germany and France is that this kind of behavior is English.
This issue has already, by 1651, been causing some tension between the French and the English. Triune officials, recognizing the horrible effects such incidents had on German opinion, both popular and princely, had tried to stop or at least punish such instigators. Thus, French officials were coming mostly after English soldiers. English clerics who supported such iconoclasm reacted with fury, condemning their opponents for their supposed laxity in religion, but increasingly in nationalist terms as well. Frenchmen returned fire in the same terms.
Many of the Imperial states are clerical, ruled by bishops or monastic charters, and while small are quite wealthy and influential. These princes are particularly outraged by such attacks, and as they come off the fence for Leopold after Nuremberg, they encourage the secular princes to do likewise. Giving the push more weight, and deep resonance in the countryside, is the Pope, who puts the whole weight of the Catholic Church on the scale for his nephew. In other circumstances, the declaration of a Holy War against the Bohmanist heretics here might be viewed as a cynical papal effort undertaken for nepotistic means, but the aforementioned Triune iconoclasm and sacrilege means it is taken genuinely and seriously. 
The Pope cannot provide any battalions, but he can provide both the moral authority and the money to raise many battalions. And Henri can’t effectively retaliate without invading Arletian territory to get to Avignon, an act which would disintegrate all the gains of his longstanding charm offensive in Arles, and be eventually met with a Spanish army counterattacking from the other side of the Pyrenees.
The rest of 1651 is a flurry of activity as Philip and Henri engage in damage control while Leopold and a wary Elizabeth seek to capitalize on their momentum. With Imperial and Triune forces running around trying to stomp down bushfires, Elizabeth is able to march into Bavaria and within two months takes the whole principality. The Imperial-Triune garrisons are either withdrawn or overwhelmed, since in the chaos there is no chance of them getting reinforcements.
Riding into Munich substantially improves Elizabeth’s mood, but she moves quickly to take control. She is happy to accept volunteers to fight Philip and Henri, since she knows they will strike back when they get the chance, but she wants these units under the command of officers she can trust. These are the Bavarian aristocracy, with a long tradition of service under Wittelsbach arms. She doesn’t want any weapons or military experience getting into the hands of any would-be Ravens 2.0.
By the end of 1651, the rough battle lines have settled down. Eastern Germany, as opposed to just the northeast corner, has declared against Philip and Henri, while western Germany has been mostly tamped down. But while Philip and Henri have reestablished rough control there, they are suffering sharply from guerrilla attacks and it is clear their control, east of the Rhineland, lives and dies by the sword alone.
Relations between Henri and Philip are becoming increasingly strained by the stress. Henri curses Philip for falling to scotch Leopold before this situation snowballed, but Philip is unwise enough to criticize Henri by pointing out that Leopold was Henri’s man.
Henri’s response to the crisis in Germany is sharp. Two field armies are marshalled in the lower and upper Rhineland, troops, equipment, and supplies gathering for the 1652 campaigning season. It is a level of force unseen since the initial Triune attack on Lotharingia and the Holy Roman Empire fifteen years earlier. The first is commanded by Henri’s first cousin, Gaston, Duc d’Orleans, who had led the original great invasion that had conquered the Rhineland and slew Archbishop Bone-Breaker. The second is led by Gaspar de Rochechouart, Duke of Nemours, conqueror of Strasbourg who also crushed the Bernese-Spanish army at Mulhouse. At his side, as a key part of his military education, is the Dauphin Louis, nearing his fifteenth birthday.
Leopold knows what forces are gathering along the Rhine. He knows if he matches gun-line to gun-line, he will lose. He has plenty of recruits, enthusiastic but raw. But he has an exemplar for just such a scenario, and with Andreas Hofer helping him is well-placed to implement them. He will copy Raven tactics. Instead of gun-lines, he will have columns of troops, marching fast and attacking hard with the emphasis on cold steel, using speed and steel and numbers to overwhelm the enemy, supported by Saxon, Brandenburg, Russian, and other German regulars as necessary.
Such tactics had served the Ravens quite well in similar situations. Admittedly one Duc d’Orleans was able to defeat the Ravens anyway, but Leopold has some advantages unavailable to the Ravens. He has disciplined regulars and artillery and cavalry of his own to back up the columns, and now, finally, numbers far greater than the Ravens ever managed to muster.
 Although given substantial crusading rhetoric, this is not a numbered crusade, as only holy wars directed against the Holy Land or in that direction, such as the Fourth and Tenth, get such distinction. [Author’s note: For an OTL analogy, see various Holy Leagues against the Ottomans. There was crusading rhetoric, but no historian to my knowledge tries to list Lepanto or 1683 Vienna as a numbered crusade.]