The Thirty Years' War broke out with the Bohemian Revolt in May 1618. Spain was being ruled by Habsburgs, and it was involved in the politics of HRE. Once the news of the revolt reached Spain, they sent an army to Bohemia and defeated the Bohemian forces in the Battle of the White Mountain on 8th November 1620.

I came to know from a reliable source that the news of the Bohemian took a few months to reach Spain. This seems long, even by early modern standards. How much time would it generally take for such an important news to reach from Bohemia to Spain in early 17th century? Was there any particular reason why it took so long, especially given that Spain was involved in politics of HRE?

I can't find any freely available source on the internet to back this up (and the original source is a purchasable lecture series), but I don't think there is any reason why the instructor would lie about this.

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    It was probably treated as a local matter at first; the inability of local authorities to handle the situation resulted in an armed force being raised and sent. Negotiation is much cheaper than armed force, especially at long distance. Commented Jun 25, 2016 at 21:58
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    @PeterDiehr But if I understand correctly, surely it was an important matter because the key vote of Bohemia could decide the HRE, as the other votes were divided as 3 Catholic and 3 Protestant.
    – taninamdar
    Commented Jun 25, 2016 at 22:34
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    My advice is to research the local events, which should hold the answer to your question. I would expect round-trip messages from Bohemia to Spain would take 4-6 weeks, which supports your question. Commented Jun 26, 2016 at 8:33
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    there's another question about historical travel time in Europe. The destination and the exact time doesn't match this question, but there are some well researched answers there.
    – user69715
    Commented Jun 26, 2016 at 12:02

2 Answers 2


The 1618 Prague defenestration took place on May 23th, 1618 and Oñate's news about it arrived to Madrid in July 1618. This is compatible with the duration of the communication to be 5-7 weeks which is absolutely reasonable. 200,000 ducats were immediately reserved to beat the courageous Czechs and additional 500,000 ducates were sent in November.

The distance between Prague and Madrid is some 1800 kilometers by air. The actual route could have been substantially longer, perhaps 2500 kilometers, and Alps are in between. 40 days of transmission of the signal is absolutely reasonable without any electromagnetic communication – some 60 km per day.

  • Thanks, that explains it. I did expect it the travel time to be around several weeks. But when I heard "it took some months to reach the news to Madrid", I thought it reached in late 1618- early 1619. That would have been curiously long.
    – taninamdar
    Commented Jun 26, 2016 at 15:22

In the Middle Ages and in the early modern era, theoreticaly the message could have reached 100-150 km per day, once there was a good network of postal stations and the horses and messengers were changed. The message could have travelled also by ship and in that case, it took even less time. Naturaly, people normaly travelled ca. 25-30 km per day, but the armies were not sent directly from Spain, but from Netherlands, or Italy, or they were just hired for Spanish ducates that could have been transfered via message.

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    Hah. the news travelled by the infamous Bohemian Navy through the Alpine, Carpathian and Pyrenees mountains I presume. Commented Apr 11, 2017 at 21:50
  • @PieterGeerkens, take the Vltava River down to its junction with the Elbe, then follow that to Hamburg. At Hamburg, take ship to a suitable Spanish port (Bilbao looks good), and from there, travel overland to Madrid.
    – Mark
    Commented Apr 12, 2017 at 0:51
  • Thou art perfect then, our ship hath touch'd upon // The deserts of Bohemia?
    – andejons
    Commented Apr 12, 2017 at 9:29

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