Rider: Not much further and I will finally reach you! Hail, Lengerich! You surely saved me a ride or two.
In 1644, delegations of the warring parties arrived in Münster as well as Osnabrück. Like this, some of the parties could get out of each other’s way. Also, some difficulties concerning the record-keeping could be avoided. I have heard about meetings, which never took place because of endless discussions about who should pay more respect to whom or how many horses may be harnessed to the carriage. Everything seemed to be a matter of position and rank.
The downside of having two congress venues, however, is the fact that the Lords had to inform themselves about what was happening in the other congress venue, permanently.
Hence, every now and then, it seemed a bit more practical so simply meet in the middle. There were a few possible locations. But Lengerich appeared to be the preferred “locum tertium”, a third venue. There were good streets and enough space to accommodate the noble lords in proper fashion, considering that it had remained mostly undestroyed by the war.
As early as 1644, envoys of the emperor and of the allied Spaniards met here.
Actual negotiations started taking place in Lengerich in May 1645. Up to this point, it had not been clear, who would participate in the peace congress on German behalf. Looking at the state of the war, basically all territorial lords and free cities would have had to take part, as all of them, at some point, had sided with one of the parties. The emperor surely didn’t like this idea, though. He still claimed the right to solely represent the empire.
In July 1645, four electorates, representatives of the Estates of the Empire, and the two imperial delegations held a conference in Lengerich. The conclusion of the conference, the so-called “Lengerich Conclusum”, advised the emperor to invite all Estates of the Empire to the congress, so that all decisions made there would be binding. No deadline for this invitation had been fixed, though, which put the Swedes in turmoil. The latter implicitly wanted their German allies to be part of the negotiations.
His Imperial Highness played for time, hoping that the fortunes of war would play into his hands and improve his negotiating position. However, in the first half of 1645, the Swedes managed to reinforce their position and the emperor had to accept another defeat near Alersheim. Therefore, he finally gave in and invited the Estates of the Empire to the peace congress, simultaneously surrendering his right to solely represent the empire.
There are going to be consequences – for the empire, for the princes and for the peace, that will be made soon!