Supplementary Appendix: Summary of Schiller’s Wallenstein Trilogy

Wallenstein Summary

From Robert Webber Moore, History of German Literature (Hamilton, New York 1900), 162–63:

1. Wallensteins Lager (Camp). In this the hero, the spirit of the whole, does not appear at all. It gives a clear picture of the wild soldier life, and at the same time shows the real roots of the general’s power. In the individual soldiers is reflected the army and the commander to whom they are all perfectly devoted.

Several other characters besides soldiers are woven into the “Lager,” and they are all true to life. Although many elements are here brought together, one spirit holds them as by magic; for Wallenstein they will live or die; and when they hear that the emperor is on the point of disbanding their army, they all object; neither power nor artifice can separate them from their father.

2. Die Piccolomini. This part, in five acts, presents us the hero, who has perfect confidence in the army which he has created and with which he expects to make himself master of Germany. He is anxious for the crown of Bohemia, which he can obtain only by an alliance with the Swedes. He hesitates to turn traitor, and waits for some decisive indication of the stars. To remove him from his inaction, two of his officers, Illo and Terzky, resort to deception. By interpolation they obtain the signatures of all the generals, pledging themselves to remain obedient and true to their commander, even if he should desert the emperor. One of them notices the deception — it is the apparently true friend of Wallenstein, Octavio Piccolomini, to whom the commander is most warmly attached, without suspecting that he is sent to watch him and to lead him to ruin.

Between the two stands Octavio’s son Max, a noble, straightforward youth, who admires the commander and honors him as a father, and at the same time is deeply in love with Wallenstein’s daughter, Thekla. Thus is prepared the moral conflict in his soul, in which he soon has to choose between filial duty and love. To him the treachery of the great man seems inconceivable; and when his father warns him that Sesin, who has been conducting negotiations with the Swedes for Wallenstein, has been arrested, he will believe nothing of the whole affair, but will go to the duke and ask him himself.

3. Wallensteins Tod (Death). The storm gathers in an ever more threatening aspect over the general, who now steps entirely into the foreground. He had played with dangerous thoughts, and is now driven to the fulfillment of them by the fact that his enemies have damaging evidence against him.

Wrangel, the Swedish general, convinces him that he can not retreat. Thus he comes to open revolt; he forms an alliance with the Swedes, and thereby completes his treachery, and seals his own doom. With obstinate blindness, he entrusts to Octavio Piccolomini the most important position, which the faithless friend (declared general-in-chief of the army by the secret command of the emperor) uses to win over to his side the generals, especially Butler, who had been the faithful devotee of Wallenstein. Under his influence whole regiments leave the duke, and once more swear allegiance to the emperor. Wallenstein, with a small remnant of his army, is proscribed, but even now he does not lose courage. The hardest trial for him is the desertion of Max Piccolomini.

The catastrophe approaches with increasing suspense. Max seeks and finds a soldier’s death in the tumult of battle; Thekla hastens to his grave, there to die. Her father’s fate is sealed, and he withdraws to Eger, where he is soon assassinated.

Schiller’s play as well as his history of the Thirty Years War (Geschichte des Dreißigjährigen Krieges [1791– 93]) generated considerable interest in the figure of Wallenstein (see in general Steffan Davies, The Wallenstein Figure in German Literature and Historiography 1790–1920 [London 2009]).

One publication influenced directly by the trilogy was the essay “Wallenstein” by Karl Ludwig Woltmann in the Historischer Kalender auf das Gemein-Jahr 1803: Wallenstein von Woltmann, an essay for which Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki provided accompanying illustrations for six scenes from Wallenstein’s life, not all of which N.B. occur in Schiller’s play and the final two of which were etched in reverse position (here corrected) (images in the periodical itself as well as in the Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur DChodowiecki AB 3.1020, AB 3.1023, AB 3.1024; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):

(1) Wallenstein’s dismissal; (2) Wallenstein and the Prince of Eggenberg:


(3) Maximilian of Bavaria and Wallenstein; (4) Wallenstein and Seni:


(5) Wallenstein blinded by astrology; (6) Wallenstein’s death: