Matthias Gallas, Graf von Campo und Herzog von Lucera (Count of Campo, Duke of Lucera) (Matteo Gallasso; 1584 in Trento – 1647 in Vienna), was an Austrian soldier, who first saw service in Flanders, then in Savoy with the Spaniards, and subsequently joined the forces of the Catholic League as captain during the Thirty Years' War.
On the general outbreak of hostilities in Germany, Gallas, as colonel of an infantry regiment, distinguished himself, especially at the battle of Stadtlohn (1623). In 1630 he was serving as General-Feldwachtmeister under Count Collalto in Italy, and was mainly instrumental in the capture of Mantua in the War of Mantuan Succession. Made count of the Empire for this service, he returned to Germany for the campaign against Gustavus Adolphus. In command of a corps of Wallenstein's army, he covered Bohemia against the Swedes in 1631-1632, and served at the Alte Veste near Nuremberg, and at Lützen. Further good service against Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar commended General Gallas to the notice of the emperor, who made him lieutenant-general in his own army.
Upon being approached by Joachim Friedrich von Blumenthal at the Emperor Ferdinand's behest, he became one of the chief conspirators against Wallenstein, and after the tragedy of Eger was appointed to the command of the army which Wallenstein had formed and led. At the great battle of Nördlingen (23 August 1634) in which the army of Sweden was almost annihilated, Gallas commanded the victorious Imperial forces. His next command was in Lorraine, but even the Moselle valley had suffered so much from the ravages of war that his army perished of want.
On 17 July 1635, Gallas tried in vain to conquer the Palatine town of Deux-Ponts, being defended by Reinhold von Rosen. A further try in October of the same year succeeded in contrast. This time the village was defended by French troops. By reason of a confirmation of free retreat the French disposed the town to the Imperial-Catholic troops to looting.
Still more was this the case in northern Germany, where Gallas commanded against the Swedish general Banér in 1637 and 1638. At first driving the Swedes before him, in the end he made a complete failure of the campaign, lost his command, and was subject to much ridicule.
It was, however, rather the indiscipline of his men (the baneful legacy of Wallenstein's methods) than his own faults which brought about his disastrous retreat across North Germany, and at a moment of crisis he was recalled to endeavour to stop Torstensson's victorious advance, only to be shut up in Magdeburg, whence he escaped with the barest remnant of his forces. Once more relieved of his command, he was again recalled to make head against the Swedes in 1645 (after their victory at Jankow). Before long, old and warworn, he resigned his command, and died in 1647 at Vienna.
Gallas's "ineffectiveness severely damaged the Habsburg cause in the latter stages of the Thirty Years’ War". His army had earned for itself the reputation of being the most cruel and rapacious force even in the Thirty Years' War, and his Merode Bruder have survived in the word marauder. Like many other generals of that period, he had acquired much wealth and great territorial possessions (the latter mostly his share of Wallenstein's estates). Although Gallas was victorious in the first of the battles of Nördlingen (1634), carelessness and drunkenness thereafter marred his conduct of the war. He later became known as the “destroyer of armies,” especially after his disastrous campaigns of 1637, 1638, and 1644, each of which resulted in the annihilation of his troops.
Gallas was the founder of the Austrian family of Clam-Gallas, which furnished many distinguished soldiers to the Imperial army.
- Regarding personal names: Until 1919, Graf was a title, translated as Count, not a first or middle name. The female form is Gräfin. In Germany since 1919, it forms part of family names.
- Regarding personal names: Herzog is a title, translated as Duke, not a first or middle name. The female form is Herzogin.
- Chisholm 1911, p. 413.
- EB staff 2012, Matthias Gallas, count von Campo.
- EB staff (8 November 2012). "Matthias Gallas, count von Campo". Encyclopædia Britannica (Online ed.). Britannica Inc.
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