Improbable Wars - The War of the Jülich-Cleves-Berg Succession (1609-1614) & The Dusseldorf Cow War (1651-1668)
In 1609 Duke John William of Jülich-Cleves-Berg died without a direct male heir. Duke John William's closest kin were the descendants of his elder sisters, who were on opposite sides of the great "confessional divide" in Germany, that is, some of them were Catholics and some were Protestants, and, of course, all were equally were eager to kill each other in God's name if given the chance. This set off the War of the Julich-Cleves-Berg Succession, which saw the duchies claimed by the Catholic Duke Wolfgang William of Palatinate-Neuberg and the Protestant Elector John Sigismond of Brandenburg, a Hohenzollern, while for a time the Holy Roman Emperor, another Catholic, intervened to exercise his theoretical claim to the lands as an imperial fief. Naturally, Protestant and Catholic princes across Germany meddled, and both the Catholic King of France and the Protestant Dutch Republic became involved as well. Anyway, after some desultory campaigning, and even a siege of Julich, a settlement was reached that divided the lands between Brandenburg and Pflaz-Neuberg. So things settled down for a time.
But in 1651 the grandson of Elector John Sigismond of Brandenburg, Frederic William “The Great Elector,” decided to revive the Hohenzollern claim to the lands held by the now rather elderly Duke Wolfgang William. He mobilized 16,000 men and invaded Julich. But Duke Wolfgang mustered 20,000 troops, and secured the support of the Duke of Lorraine. A desultory, relatively bloodless struggle ensued that dragged on for years, during which the most dramatic events involved the lifting of cattle by raiding parties. The issue was settled after Frederic William's death in 1668, when imperial mediation between Wolfgang William 's successor Johann Wilhelm and Frederick III of Brandenburg settled the issue on the basis of status quo ante bellum.