- Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden
:"For the other Swedish kings known as Gustavus Adolphus, see
Gustav IV Adolf of Swedenor Gustav VI Adolf of Sweden"Infobox Swedish Royalty|monarch
name = Gustav II Adolf
title = King of Sweden
reign = 30 October 1611 – 6 November 1632
coronation = 12 October 1617
predecessor = Charles IX
successor = Christina
Maria Eleonora of Brandenburg
issue = Christina
royal house = Vasa
royal motto = "Cum Deo et victribus armis"
("With God and Arms Victorious")
father = Charles IX
Christina of Holstein-Gottorp
date of birth = 9 December 1594
place of birth =
Castle Tre Kronor, Sweden
date of death = Death date and age|1632|11|6|1594|12|9|df=yes
place of death =
Lützen, Electorate of Saxony
date of burial =
22 June 1634
place of burial =
Riddarholmen Church, Stockholm
FixHTML|mid Gustav II Adolf, (9 December 1594 – 6 November 1632 (O.S.) [ See
Old Style and New Style dates)] or Gustav II Adolphus, widely known in English by the Latinized name Gustavus Adolphus and variously in historical writings sometimes as simply just Gustavus, or Gustavus the Great, or Gustav Adolf the Great, ( _sv. Gustav Adolf den store, from the special distinction passed by the Swedish Parliament in 1634), was founder of the Swedish Empire(or "Stormaktstiden — "the era of great power") at the beginning of what is widely regarded as the Golden Age of Sweden.
In the era, which was characterized by nearly endless warfare, he led his armies as King of Sweden—from 1611, as a seventeen year old, until his death in battle while leading a charge during 1632 in the bloody
Thirty Years' war—as Sweden rose from the status as a mere regional powerand run of the mill kingdom to one of the great powers of Europe and a model of early modern eragovernment. Sweden expanded to become the third biggest nation in Europe after Russia and Spain within only a few years during his reign. Some have called him the "father of modern warfare", or the first great modern general. It is indisputable that under his tutelage, Sweden and the Protestant cause developed a host of good generals—who continued to expand the empires' strength and influence long after his death in battle.
He is, and was even during his own time (The Italians referred to him as "The Golden King" and others as "The Lion of the North"), widely regarded as the
archetypeof what a king should be and one of the few European kings and sovereign princes during the seventeenth century worthy of the office. He was, unquestionably, one of the greatest military generals in all of history, and his battles were studied assiduously by later great military figures such as Napoleon; Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington; Carl von Clausewitz; and Patton, as they are still taught in military sciencecourses today. Gustavus Adolphus is today immortalised in two city squares, one in Stockholm and the other in Gothenburg, both named in Swedish "Gustav Adolfs torg".
Gustavus Adolphus was born in
Stockholmas the oldest son of King Charles IX of Swedenof the Vasa dynasty and his second wife, Christina of Holstein-Gottorp. Upon his father's death in #expr:1594+17, a seventeen year-old Gustav inherited the throne, as well as an ongoing succession of occasionally belligerent dynastic disputes with his Polish cousin, Sigismund III of Poland, who in the preliminary religious strife before the Thirty Years' War, was forced to let go of the throne of Sweden to Gustav's father. Sigismund III wanted to regain the throne of Sweden and tried to force Gustav Adolph to renounce the title.
In a round of this dynastic dispute, he invaded Livonia when he was #expr:1625-1594, beginning the
Polish-Swedish War (1625–1629). He intervened on behalf of the Lutherans in Prussia, who opened the gates to their cities. His reign became famous from his actions a few years later when in June 1630 he landed in Germany, continuing Sweden's involvement in the ongoing Thirty Years' War. Gustavus intervened on the anti-Imperial side, which at the time was losing to the Holy Roman Empire and its Catholic allies; the Swedish forces would quickly reverse that situation.
He was married to
Maria Eleonora of Brandenburg, the daughter of John Sigismund, Elector of Brandenburg, and chose the Prussian city of Elbingas the base for his operations in Germany. He died in the Battle of Lützen in 1632. His early death was a great loss to the Lutheran side, it prolonged the war for many years. It resulted in large parts of Germany and other countries, who for a large part had become Lutheran in faith,to be forced into Catholicism (via Counter-Reformation). His involvement in the Thirty Years' War gave rise to the old prophecy that he was the incarnation of "the Lion of the North", or as it is called in German "Der Löwe von Mitternacht" ("Literally: "The Lion from Midnight").
Legacy as a general
Gustavus Adolphus was known as an able military commander. His innovative tactical integration of infantry, cavalry, artillery and logistics earned him the title of the "Father of Modern Warfare". Future commanders who studied and admired Gustav II Adolf include
Napoleon I of Franceand Carl von Clausewitz. His advancements in military science made Sweden the dominant Baltic power for the next one hundred years ("see Swedish Empire"). He is also the only Swedish monarch to be styled "the Great". This decision was made by the Swedish Estates of the Realm, when they convened in 1633. Thus, by their decision he is officially, to this day, to be called Gustaf Adolf the Great ("Gustavus Adolphus Magnus").
Gustavus Adolphus was the main figure responsible for the success of Sweden during the Thirty Years' War and led his nation to great prestige. As a
general, Gustavus Adolphus is famous for employing mobile artilleryon the battlefield, as well as very aggressive tactics, where attack was stressed over defense, and mobility and cavalry initiative were emphasized.
Among other innovations, he installed an early form of
combined armsin his formations where the cavalry could attack from the safety of a infantry line reinforced by canon, and retire again within to regroup after their foray. He adopted much shallower infantry formations than were common in the pike and shotarmies of the era, with formations typically fighting in 5 or 6 ranks, occasionally supported at some distance by another such formation—the gaps being the provinces of the artillery and cavalry as noted above. His artillery were themselves different—he would not let himself be hindered by cumbersome heavy cannon, but instead over a course of experimentation settled on smaller more maneuverable weapons, in effect fielding the first light field artillery in history in any significant ratios.
These grouped in batteries, supported his more linearly deployed formations, the whole in his armies replaced the cumbersome and unmaneuverable traditional deep squares up to 50 ranks deep (Spanish
Tercios), used in other pike and shot armies of the day. In consequence, his forces could redeploy and reconfigure extremely rapidly confounding his enemies.
His armies were very well trained for the day, so that his
musketeers were widely known for their firing accuracy and reload speed: three times faster than any contemporary rivals. Carl von Clausewitzand Napoleon Bonaparte considered him one of the greatest generals of all time— a sentiment agreed to by Patton and others. He was also renowned for the consistency of purpose and the amity of his troops—no one part of his armies were considered better or received preferred treatment as was common in other armies where the cavalry were the elite, followed by the artillerist, and both disdained the lowly infantry. In a Gustavus' army, the units were extensively cross trained. Both cavalry and infantry could service the artillery— as his heavy cavalry did when turning captured artillery on the opposing Catholic Tercios at First Breitenfeld; pikemen could shoot—if not as accurately as those designated muskateers so a valuable firearm could be kept in the firing line, and his infantrymen and gunners were taught to ride, if needed. Napoleon thought highly of the achievement, and copied the tactics.
When Gustavus Adolphus began his push into northern
Germanyin June-July 1630, he had just 4,000 troops. But he was soon able to consolidate the Protestantposition in the north. Meanwhile, a Catholic army was laying waste to Saxony. Gustavus Adolphus met and defeated it at the First Battle of Breitenfeld in September 1631, in spite of the collapse of his Saxon allies. He then made plans for the invasion of the rest of the Holy Roman Empire.
In March 1632, Gustavus Adolphus invaded
Bavaria. He forced the withdrawal of his Catholic opponents at the Battle of Rain. This would mark the high point of the campaign. In the summer of that year, he sought a political solution that would preserve the existing structure of states in Germany, while guaranteeing the security of its Protestants. But achieving these objectives depended on his continued success on the battlefield.
Gustavus Adolphus was killed at the Battle of Lützen, when, at a crucial point in the battle, he became separated from his troops while leading a cavalry charge into a dense
smogof mist and gunpowder smoke. After his death, his wife initially kept his body, and later his heart, in her castle for over a year. His remains (including his heart) now rest in Riddarholmskyrkanin Stockholm.
In February 1633, following the death of the king, the Swedish
Riksdag of the Estatesdecided that his name would be styled Gustav Adolf the Great (or "Gustaf Adolf den Store" in Swedish). No such honor has been bestowed on any other Swedish monarch since.
The crown of Sweden was inherited in the Vasa family, and from Charles IX's time excluded those Vasa princes who had been traitors or descended from deposed monarchs. Gustavus Adolphus' younger brother had died years before, and therefore there were only female heirs left. Maria Eleonora and the king's ministers took over the government on behalf of Gustavus Adolphus' underage daughter Christina upon her father's death. He left one other known child, his illegitimate son Gustav, Count of Vasaborg.
The German Socialist
Franz Meharring(1846–1919) wrote a biography of Gustavus Adolphus with a Marxistperspective on the actions of the Swedish king during the Thirty Years' War. In it, he makes a case that the war was fought over economics and trade rather than religion.
In his book "Ofredsår" ("Years of Warfare"), the Swedish historian and author
Peter Englundargues that there was probably no single all-important reason for the king's decision to go to war. Instead, it was likely a combination of religious, security, as well as economic considerations.
Gustav II Adolf's success in making Sweden one of the top nations in Europe, and perhaps the most important nation in the Thirty Years' War, was not only due to military brilliance but large changes in the Swedish system of government. For example, he was the creator of the first
central bankin the world, Riksbanken, and the first in the world to start with Parishregistration.
*July 1626. Gustavus Adolphus and his army disembark at
Pillau, Prussia, during the Polish-Swedish War (1625–1629).
August 18, 1627. The King is seriously wounded in the battle of Dirschau ( Tczew).
*June 1629 his troops meet up with imperial troops under
Hans Georg von Arnim-Boitzenburg, who used to serve under Gustav Adolph, and is ordered by emperor Ferdinandto aid Sigismund III.
*May 1630 and
July 6Gustav Adolph lands in Germany.
*September 1631. At the Battle of Breitenfeld, Gustavus Adolphus decisively defeats the Catholic forces led by Tilly, even after the allied Protestant Saxon army had been routed and fled with the baggage train.
*April 1632. At the
Battle of Lech, Gustavus Adolphus defeats Tilly once more, and in the battle Tilly sustains a fatal wound.
*May 1632. Munich yields to the Swedish army.
*September 1632. Gustavus Adolphus attacks the stronghold of Alte Veste, which is under the command of Wallenstein, but is repulsed, marking the first defeat in the Thirty Years' War of the previously invincible Swedes. This leads to defection of some mercenary elements in the Protestant army.
*November 1632. At the Battle of Lützen, Gustavus Adolphus is killed but the Swedes win the day, thanks to
Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar, who assumed command, and defeat Wallenstein. The Swedish war effort was kept up by generals Gustav Horn, Johan Banér, Lennart Torstensonand chancellor Axel Oxenstiernauntil the Peace of Westphalia.
A history of Gustavus Adolphus' wars was written by
Johann Philipp Abelin.
Gustavus Adolphus Day is celebrated in Sweden each year on
November 6. On this day only a special pastry, with a chocolate or marzipan medallion of the king, is sold. The day is also an official flag day in the Swedish calendar. In Finland, the day is celebrated as "svenska dagen" or "ruotsalaisuuden päivä", "Swedishness Day", and is a customary flag day. In both countries, November 6is the name dayfor Gustav Adolf, one of the few exceptional name days in the year.
*Gustavus Adolphus plays an important supporting role in
Eric Flint's 1632 series, living beyond his battle death after being warned by the Americans, fitted with eye-glasses, and becomes Emperor of the United States of Europe.
Gustavus Adolphus's ancestors in three generationsahnentafel4
Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden
Charles IX of Sweden(Vasa)
Christina of Holstein-Gottorp
Gustav I of Sweden(Vasa)
Margaret Leijonhufvud Adolf, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp
Christine of Hesse
Erik Abrahamsson (Leijonhufvud)
Ebba Eriksdotter (Vasa)
Frederick I of Denmark
Sophie of Pomerania
Philip I, Landgrave of Hesse
Christine of Saxony
History of Sweden— Rise of Sweden as a Great Power
Gustav Gustavsson af Vasaborg
Gustavus Adolphus College
Gustav Adolf Grammar School
*Brzezinski, Richard; (illustrator: Hook, Richard)"The Army of Gustavus Adolphus". Osprey Publishing (1993). ISBN 1855323508.
* [http://www.aquinas.edu/history/research.html "The Great and Famous Battle of Lutzen"..., transcription]
* [http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Gustavus_II_Adolphus Gustavus II Adolphus, 1911 Britannica article]
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Gustavus Adolphus College — Infobox University name = Gustavus Adolphus College established = 1862 president = Jack R. Ohle motto = E Caelo Nobis Vires (Latin, Our Strength Comes From Heaven ) [http://gustavus.edu/publications/style/seal.cfm] type = Private liberal arts… … Wikipedia
Gustavus Adolphus — noun king of Sweden whose victories in battle made Sweden a European power; his domestic reforms made Sweden a modern state; in 1630 he intervened on the Protestant side of the Thirty Years War and was killed in the battle of Lutzen (1594 1632) • … Useful english dictionary
Gustavus Adolphus — /gʊsˌtavəs əˈdɒlfəs/ (say goos.tahvuhs uh dolfuhs) noun 1594–1632, king of Sweden 1611–32. Also, Gustavus II … Australian English dictionary
Gustavus — may refer to: *Gustavus, Alaska, a small community located on the edge of Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve *Gustavus Adolphus College, a private liberal arts college in southern Minnesota *Gustavus, the Latin name given to several Swedish… … Wikipedia
Sweden — • The largest of the three Scandinavian countries and the eastern half of the Scandinavian peninsula Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Sweden Sweden … Catholic encyclopedia
Gustavus — [gəs tā′vəs, gəs tä′vəs] n. 1. Gustavus I (born Gustavus Eriksson Vasa) 1496 1560; king of Sweden (1523 60) 2. Gustavus II (born Gustavus Adolphus) 1594 1632; king of Sweden (1611 32): grandson of Gustavus I 3. Gustavus III 1746 92; king of… … English World dictionary
Gustavus II — (Gustavus Adolphus) ( Lion of the North ) 1594 1632, king of Sweden 1611 32: national military hero (grandson of Gustavus I). * * * … Universalium
Gustavus IV — (Gustavus Adolphus) 1778 1837, king of Sweden 1792 1809 (son of Gustavus III). * * * … Universalium
Gustavus — Gus•ta•vus [[t]gʌˈsteɪ vəs, ˈstɑ [/t]] n. 1) big Gustavus I, (Gustavus Vasa) 1496–1560, king of Sweden 1523–60 2) big Gustavus II, (Gustavus Adolphus) (“Lion of the North”) 1594–1632, king of Sweden 1611–32 (grandson of Gustavus I) 3) big… … From formal English to slang
Gustavus II — noun king of Sweden whose victories in battle made Sweden a European power; his domestic reforms made Sweden a modern state; in 1630 he intervened on the Protestant side of the Thirty Years War and was killed in the battle of Lutzen (1594 1632) • … Useful english dictionary