Johann Tserclaes, Count of Tilly

Johann Tserclaes
Count of Tilly
Johann Tserclaes Tilly.jpg
Count Tilly on a portrait by Anthony van Dyck.
Nickname(s)The Monk in Armor
BornFebruary 1559
Castle Tilly, Walloon Brabant, Spanish Netherlands in the Holy Roman Empire (present-day Belgium)
Died30 April 1632 (aged 73)
Ingolstadt, Electoral Bavaria in the Holy Roman Empire
BuriedAltötting
AllegianceSpain Spain
 Holy Roman Empire
 Bavaria
Service/branchArmy of Flanders
Imperial Army
Years of service1574–1632
RankGeneralfeldmarschall
Battles/warsEighty Years' War

Long Turkish War
Thirty Years' War

Bronze statue of Count Tilly in the Feldherrnhalle on Odeonsplatz in Munich
Statue of Tilly in Altötting
Statue of Tilly in the hall of fame of the Museum of Military History, Vienna

Johann Tserclaes, Count of Tilly (Dutch: Johan t'Serclaes; February 1559 – 30 April 1632) was a field marshal who commanded the Catholic League's forces in the Thirty Years' War. From 1620–1631 he had an unmatched string of important victories against the Protestants, including White Mountain, Wimpfen, Höchst, Stadtlohn and the Conquest of the Palatinate. He destroyed a Danish army at Lutter and sacked the city of Magdeburg but was then crushed at Breitenfeld in 1631 by the Swedish army of King Gustavus Adolphus. A Swedish cannonball took his life at Rain. Along with Duke Albrecht von Wallenstein of Friedland and Mecklenburg, he was one of two chief commanders of the Holy Roman Empire’s forces in the first half of the war.

Early years

Johann Tserclaes was born on February 1, 1559 in Castle Tilly, Walloon Brabant, now in Belgium, then the Spanish Netherlands. Johann Tserclaes was born into a Roman Catholic Brabantine family and after receiving a Jesuit education in Cologne, he joined the Spanish army at age fifteen and fought under Alessandro Farnese, Duke of Parma and Piacenza in his campaign against the Dutch forces rebelling in the Eighty Years' War and participated in the successful Siege of Antwerp in 1585. After this he joined in the Holy Roman Empire's campaign against the Ottoman Turks in Hungary and Transylvania as a mercenary in 1600 and through rapid promotion became a field marshal in only five years. When the Turkish Wars ended in 1606, he remained in the service of Rudolf II in Prague until he was appointed commander of the Catholic League forces by Bavaria under Maximilian I, Duke of Bavaria in 1610.[1]

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