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  • Writer's pictureGeorge Castrioti

May 20th, 1631 - The Sack of Magdeburg

Conflict: Thirty Years' War

Combatants: Catholic League vs. Magdeburg

Location: Germany

Outcome: Catholic victory

On this day in 1631, after seven months of siege, Catholic forces stormed the Protestant city of Magdeburg. The garrison, commanded by Hessian Dietrich von Falkenberg, was unable repulse the assault. Falkenberg himself was killed in the melee. Then, angered by a long winter with little food, enraged Catholic soldiers engaged in rampant slaughter and plunder which their Field Marshal, the Count of Tilly, was helpless to staunch. By mid-day, fires had broken out in the city forcing both the attackers and defenders to flee. Some 20,000 inhabitants of Magdeburg perished.

The Siege of Magdeburg by Peter Meulener

Points of Interest:

  • The destruction of Magdeburg galvanized the support of recalcitrant Protestant powers the Netherlands and Brandenburg.

  • The destruction of the city also harmed the Catholic cause by removing a much-needed center for supplies and communication.

Jean Tserclaes von Tilly, 1559-1632 by an unknown artist

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