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Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden

Gustavus Adolphus is the Latin name form of Swedish king Gustav II Adolph or Gustav II Adolf in Swedish. He is also known as Gustav Adolph the Great.

Gustavus Adolphus

He was born on December 9, 1594 in Stockholm, the son of Charles IX of the Vasa dynasty and Kristina of Holstein-Gottorp[?].

He was the king of Sweden from 1611, and as such one of the major players in the Thirty Years' War where he was styled as "The Lion of the North - Savior of Protestants". Gustav Adolf was married to the daughter of the elector of Brandenburg-Prussia, Maria Eleonora and chose Prussia's city of Elbing as base for his operations in Germany. He died in battle on November 6, 1632 at Lützen in Germany.

During his reign, Gustav founded the city of Gothenburg as well as a number of smaller cities. He is also the founder of the University of Dorpat[?] in Tartu (Dorpat), Estonia, which then belonged to the kingdom of Sweden. In this time, the three biggest cities in the kingdom were Riga (now the capital of Latvia), Stockholm and Tallinn (now the capital of Estonia).

As a general, Gustav is famous for employing mobile artillery on the battlefield, as well as a very active tactic where attack was stressed over defense and mobility more important than in the usual linear tactic[?].

This was only part of the reason why Carl von Clausewitz and Napoleon Bonaparte idolized him as the general above all others. His character both of purpose and of amity with all his troops from commanding officers right down to the rank and file, earned him unassailably documented fame which most commanders in chief would gladly accept as mere joking anecdotes.

The king was an active participant in the battles, and was wounded several times, amongst them gunshot wounds to the throat and the abdomen. The war wounds led the king to adopt a flexible armour of hide instead of the customary metal cuirass, and this is what he wore in the Battle of Lützen. Gustav's armour is currently on display in Livrustkammaren[?] in the Swedish royal palace.

Gustav was killed in the renowned Battle of Lützen where he was misled by dense fog and poor eyesight to charge into an enemy formation. After his death, his wife Maria Eleonora of Brandenburg initially kept his body, and later his heart, in her bedroom for the rest her life. He now rests (including heart) in Riddarholmskyrkan[?] in Stockholm.

Following the death of the great king the Swedish Riksdag of the Estates decided that his name would be accompanied by an accolade and that his name was to be styled Gustav Adolph the Great or Gustav Adolf den Store, in Swedish. An honor which has not been bestowed on anyone else since.

Gustav Adolph and Maria Eleonora's daughter Christina of Sweden took over the government upon her father's death.


Gustavus Adolphus
  • May 1630. Gustav lands with his army in Pomerania. On July 6 he lands in Germany.
  • September 1631. The Battle of Breitenfeld[?], Gustav decisively defeats the catholic forces led by Tilly, even after the allied protestant Saxon army was routed and fled with the baggage train.
  • March 1632. The Battle of Lech[?], Gustav defeats Tilly once more, and in the battle Tilly sustains a fatal wound.
  • May 1632. Munich yields to the Swedish army.
  • September 1632. Gustav attacks the stronghold of Alte Feste, which is under the command of Wallenstein, but is repulsed. This leads to defection of some mercenary elements in the protestant army.
  • November 1632. The Battle of Lützen, Gustav is killed but the Swedes win the day and defeat Wallenstein. The Swedish war effort was kept up by generals Horn and Oxenstierna until the Peace of Westphalia.

A history of Adolphus' wars was written by Johann Philipp Abelin.

The Day of Gustav Adolph is observed each year on November 6 in Sweden. On this day a special pastry, with a chocolate medallion the king, is sold. The day is also an official flag day in the Swedish calendar.

See also: History of Sweden - Rise of Sweden as a Great Power, Axel Oxenstierna

Preceded by:
Charles IX
List of Swedish monarchs Succeeded by:

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