Nearly at the end of the war the French defeated the invincible Spanish infantry. France was now the largest, richest, most populous, and most warlike country in Europe. ... The Thirty years War proved fruitless in the end. More significant, indeed momentous, was the treaty concluded at mid-century and the cultural consequences of the war. The battles, the sieges, the marches and countermarches devastated large parts of Germany, depopulating villages, reducing towns to poverty and the numerous states to perpetual weakness. The upshot was that for the next two hundred years disunited Germany was the theater of war, the indicated playground for the European powers to fight out their dynastic rivalries. The Germans were the people without a country. ... The Thirty Years War, the last of the wars of religion, had turned during its own course into the monarchic type. The treaty that ended it implicitly recognized the national idea by declaring the Netherlands and Switzerland, two mainly Protestant countries, independent. That word means sovereign, which means in turn that the interests of the state come first, ahead of any religious allegiance to the papacy or to a state church.
-- Jacques Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence (2000), page 178.
Thirty Years War in Württemberg and the Palatinate
1) The Bohemian War (1618-1624): In 1618 the Bohemians deposed their new Catholic king from the House of Habsburg, and offered the crown to the Protestant Prince, Elector Friedrich V of the Palatinate. Most of his councilors and several friendly princes advised him against accepting. But Friedrich opted for the Bohemian crown. With Elisabeth, his young English wife (daughter of England's James I), he moved his Court from Heidelberg to Prague. In November 1619, he was crowned there. Unfortunately, in November 1620, he lost the Battle of White Mountain, fought near Prague to the armies of the Catholic League. Subsequently, Friedrich and his wife went into exile in the Netherlands. Along with the Bohemian crown, he had also lost the Palatinate. The War continued at a lower level for several more years, mostly by mercenary armies paid for by the Netherlands (for the Protestants) and by the Spanish (for the Catholics).
2) The Danish Phase of the War (1625-1629). In 1625, King Christian IV of Denmark entered the War on the Protestant side. This part of the War was fought mainly in northern Germany. The German southwest was spared for many years. However, by 1629, the Danish army had been defeated and Denmark dropped out of the struggle; it began to appear that the Habsburg Emperor and the Catholic League would achieve victory.
3) Swedish Phase of the War (1630-1634): The Protestants were rescued in the nick of time by the intervention of the Swedish King, Gustavus Adolphus, on the side of the Protestants (1630). His triumphal procession led him deep into the German south. Even Baden-Durlach and Württemberg welcomed him as a liberator. The fortunes of war, however, were loyal to neither side. Next both sides lost their greatest commanders: Gustavus Adolphus fell in the battle of Lutzen near Leipzig. Wallenstein, the commander-in-chief of the Habsburg troops, was murdered in 1634 in Eger. For the Protestants, the year 1634 was catastrophic. The Swedish lost the decisive battle at Nördlingen. Habsburg troops flooded into the Duchy of Württemberg. the towns of Waiblingen, Herrenberg and Calw were burned to the ground and Stuttgart, capital of Württemberg was occupied. The Protestant Cause looked very dim indeed!
4) French Phase of the War (1635-1648): The French now came into the war. Though France was nominally Catholic, its de facto ruler, Cardinal Richelieu (1585-1642), decided to ally France with the German Protestants to keep the Habsburgs from becoming too powerful. The bottom line was that there was now no chance that the Habsburgs could win the war. Even so, it took them several years to recognize that fact.
Unfortunately for southwest Germany, from 1638-1648, French armies were sent into the Palantine-Württemberg area; the German southwest again became the major theater of war. For the lands on the Upper Rhine and the Neckar, the worst years began. A whole array of battles took place here: Rheinfelden (1638), Tuttlingen (1643), Freiburg (1644), and Herbsthausen (1645). Although neither side won a decisive victory, the population suffered terribly from both friend and foe. The armies of both sides foraged off the local land, behaving like swarms of locusts. The last battle of the war took place at Zusmarshausen, west of Augsburg, on 17 May 1648, when French and Swedish troops defeated the main Habsburg army.
During the first few years of direct French military participation, the Imperial armies more than held their own. However, in 1643, the French decisively defeated a Spanish army at Rocroi in northern France. Subsequently, French military fortunes began to substantially improve. The French and Swedish victory at the Battle of Zusmarshausen in 1648, marked a permanent shift in the balance of military power on the European continent. France now became the dominant military power, a position they retained until the defeat of Napoleon in 1815.
After the Habsburg defeat at Rocroi in 1643, negotiations between both sides commenced at Osnabrück and Münster in Westphalia. Five months after the Imperial defeat at the Battle of Zusmarshausen in May 1648, the Treaty of Münster was signed, on 24 October 1648, formally ending the Thirty Years' War.
1) Jacques Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence (2000). pages 177-182.
2) Geoffrey Parker, Editor, The Thirty Years War (2nd edition - 1997).
3) Mike Pantel, "History of Baden-Württemberg - The Thirty Years War" - Online Article.
4) Wikipedia, "Thirty Years War" - Online Article.