The Edict of Restitution was Ferdinand’s attempt to restore the religious and territorial settlement after the Peace of Augsburg (1555). The “Ecclesiastical Reservation” forbade the secularisation of Catholic land (i.e. being converted to some form of Protestant belief) after 1555. However, during the decades of weak emperors, princes had secularised Catholic land simply because it was so valuable and they had got away with it as no emperor was powerful enough to enforce the “Ecclesiastical Reservation”.
The main proposal of the “Edict of Restitution” was to ensure that the “Ecclesiastical Reservation” was enforced and it affected the secularised archbishoprics of Bremen and Magdeburg, 12 bishoprics and over 100 religious houses. The Edict resulted in a great transfer of power and property away from the Protestants to the Catholics. Thousands of Protestants had to leave where they lived and go to states that were Protestant.
The German princes could do nothing. They had seen the Coalition destroyed and Wallenstein had a massive army in the field – 134,000 troops – to enforce Imperial authority if required.
Ironically, Wallenstein disliked the Edict as it trespassed into the region his considered his own but he played his part for the emperor to the full. He stated that “he would teach the Electors manners. They must be dependent on the emperor, not the emperor on them.” Ferdinand would have approved of such words. The response of the princes was to group behind Maximillian of Bavaria to pressurise Ferdinand into dismissing Wallenstein.
Their chance came in 1630 when Ferdinand had to call a meeting of the Electors because he wanted his son, also called Ferdinand, elected King of the Romans. Ironically, the man with so much apparent power, had to rely, by law, on the votes of the Electors to maintain his dynasty in power. The meeting was held in Regensburg. Ferdinand also hoped to persuade the Electors to approve greater Imperial involvement in the wars that were being fought in Europe.
John of Saxony and George William of Brandenburg (both Protestant) stayed away in protest at the Edict of Restitution. Those Electors present realised that they had little to gain from involvement in wars that meant little to them. However, Maximillian still asked Ferdinand for the dismissal of Wallenstein.