Ruling over his country between 1611 and 1632 Gustavus Adolphus is credited as having brought sweden from insignificance to the status of a great european power history remembers him as one of the greatest military commanders of the last 500 years Gustavus

 Adolphus was born on december the 19th 1594 to duke charles of the ruling vasa dynasty in sweden at the time of Gustavus birth his cousin sigismund was king of sweden but was ruling it from poland during the child's formative years a struggle unfolded between his father who was protestant and his catholic cousin for rulership in 1599 charles managed to wrestle the kingship away from sigismund he ruled as regent for the next five years before taking the title of king charles ix in 1605. 

young Gustavus was groomed to be a military leader from an early age by the age of 14 he was gifted the duchy of gagner floda in dalcahlia two years later he was riding at the head of the swedish armed forces in east scania as they fended off danish invasion when his father died in 1611 the swedish parliament was so impressed with the fighting ability and over all maturity of the young man that they waived the age restriction and allowed him to rule unfettered from the age of 17. 


the teenager inherited a kingdom that would have been challenged even the most experienced of rulers war was threatening not only with denmark but also with russia and poland at the same time sigismund saw the death of charles as his opportunity to reclaim the throne and made efforts to do so by forcing Gustavus to renounce the title the most immediate concern however was to face up to the threats from the danish leaving domestic affairs in the hands of his trusted chancellor Axel Oxenstierna Gustavus led his army into denmark as that country's army was invading his this bold and daring move was to characterize the original and brilliant military strategies that were to make Gustavus one of the greatest military leaders the world has ever seen the invasion of denmark was not a military success but it did manage to bring about peace with sweden's most threatening neighbour this allowed Gustavus to focus on the next threat russia between 1613 and 1617 he led his army on a victorious campaign that not only ended the threat of russian invasion but increased sweden's territory and cut off access to the baltic sea from moscow 

At the age of 23 Gustavus embarked upon his third major military campaign as king this time the target was poland gustavus led his army up the eastern coast of the baltic taking possession of such strategically important polish ports as livonia a truce was agreed upon for two years after which he invaded the southern coast of the baltic the thoroughly defeated and demoralized poles agreed to a six-year truce in 1629 by now the military exploits of the young warrior king were internationally renowned and he had gained the title of lion of the north the ending of the war with poland freed up the swedish army to intervene in the 30 years war in germany from 1627 onward gustavus had contributed small numbers of men to support the danish war against germany but now the swedish king was determined to do more in order to ensure the safety of his kingdom and the baltic and to liberate the oppressed lands in germany.

In early 1630 Gustavus convened a council of his ministers and laid before them his case for invading germany he told them that he was convinced that once emperor Ferdinand had quashed all protestant resistance in his own land he would attack sweden he also reminded his ministers that the habsburg empire had actively supported poland in its fight against sweden this despite the fact that germany and sweden were officially at peace with each other and just a few months ago during the peace negotiations at lubeck bohemian statesman Albrecht von Wallenstein had rudely dismissed the swedish envoys out of hand when these men refused to leave they had been threatened with violence this had greatly angered the king in the final part of his appeal to his ministers Gustavus spoke of the oppression that the protestants were facing at the hand of the catholics in germany Gustavus was certainly no fan of emperor Ferdinand ii he believed that Ferdinand had personally insulted the swedish flag and went out of his way to disrupt peace negotiations between poland and sweden on top of everything else gustavus adolphus loved war in fact if any man was born for war then he was that man from 1629 swedish military preparations had been underway for an invasion of germany large quantities of nitrate and sulfur were gathered and factories were at full production turning out swords armor and other weaponry a war tax was also put in place with emphasis on the nobility for the first year of the campaign three-quarters of the total tax revenue of sweden was directed toward the war effort all males between the ages of 16 and 60 were also ordered to sign up for military service this included nobles who were to serve in the cavalry the army also brought in troops from abroad with two regiments of scots soldiers being transferred across from the danish army mercenaries from other parts of europe and from england also made their way to sweden the total force gathered was around 76 000 men 


The swedish invasion of germany began on july the sixth sixteen thirty it was led personally by gustavus adolphus himself and consisted of around thirteen thousand troops his army arrived at pinamunda on the island of uzidom gustavus was the first one to disembark however he slipped and fell on the shore recovering quickly he knelt down and offered up prayers for the successful landing he then stood and took hold of a spade that was handed to him digging it into the sand this was the signal to his men that they were to busy themselves with the work of digging entrenchments to cover the landing it took two full days for the swedish army to disembark by the time that all of the men were landed however gustavus became aware that there was a severe shortage of food available for them this infuriated the king who severely criticized Johan Skytte the man in charge of insuring the food supply he then issued that food stores be obtained from straussen and that supplies from prussia be fast tracked on the third day after his arrival on the island the king took 1200 musketeers and a force of cavalry and moved to a position opposite vulgast he then took his time to reconnoiter that town the imperialists had built a fortress to defend the town after assessing its strengths and weaknesses Gustavus sent back the order for a thousand musketeers to be sent up he then ordered his men forward to take the fortress upon arrival however it was discovered that the fortress had been abandoned and that the imperialist troops had moved back to volgas itself Gustavus left a thousand men at the fortress and then set out with 3500 foot soldiers and 2500 cavalry in order to clear all imperial resistance out of uzidom as these swedish forces systematically made their way up the island imperial troops retreated across the water to a number of bases that had been established opposite the island Gustavus had his men garrison each of these bases as he continued to sweep userdom clear of imperial troops the german forces offered no resistance as they retreated across the volin bridge the port of staten was reclaimed with the imperial forces being pushed back from the coast Gustavus quickly assumed overall command of the allied forces leading them to one victory after another over the germans in september 1631 he won a brilliant victory at the battle of brayton field at the battle of reign in april 1631 he scored another huge victory one which left his adversary johan cerclame the count of tilly mortally wounded on the field of battle when he learned after the battle that the opposing general was near death Gustavus sent his personal position to attend to tilly before dying the count told the doctor your king is truly a noble knight tilly was replaced as head of the catholic forces by albrecht von waldenstein he won a victory against Gustavus with an assault on his fortified positions at alta vest on september the 3rd 1632 the following month despite having suffered serious losses Gustavus attacked waldenstein's entrenched position at lutsen near leipzig the morning of the battle november 6 1632 brought with it a dense fog nothing could happen until it was lifted which didn't take place until noon at about 11: 45 am the swedish king knelt before his men and offered up a prayer for victory this aroused his men who similarly fell to their knees and began to offer up a hymnal Gustavus then mounted his horse and began to ride up and down the line to encourage and motivate his men when the fog cleared Gustavus and his man saw that the town of lutsen was in flames Wallenstein had ordered his men to put it to the torch earlier that morning in order to prevent Gustavus from using the town as a cover from which to out flank him the swedish king now gave the order to advance the charge was sounded and the cavalry rushed forward as the infantry made their way toward the high road and the entrenched positions of the imperial musketeers the swedish advance was immediately greeted by a hail of musket fire and artillery from the windmills on the hill however Gustavus's men pushed on but at the loss of many lives they managed to overwhelm the imperial musketeers in the trenches who abandoned their positions and rushed back to the main force the attackers were now able to move into and beyond the trenches the seven cannon there were taken possession of and turned against the imperials the ravaging swedish infantry with support of the cavalry now advanced upon the first of the formed imperial brigades it was soon overcome and forced back as was the second and the third just as it seemed as if the imperial army was about to collapse entirely its supreme commander Wallenstein appeared in the thick of battle to rally his men his powerful presence and booming commands stopped their flight bringing up three regiments of cavalry he managed to reform the shattered brigades and turn them to face the oncoming enemy Wallenstein urged his men into hand-to-hand combat fierce man-to-man fighting now ensued the combatants were too close to each other for firearms to be of any use now muskets were used as clubs and swords and pikes were employed slowly but steadily the swedish advance was pushed back after an hour of intense and bloody turmoil the imperials managed to recover lost ground forcing the swedes back beyond the trenches this allowed the imperials to regain the seven cannons position there at this stage of the battle the advance of the swedish centre had not gained a single inch of land yet it had already lost more than a thousand men while this action was taking place Gustavus was leading an attack on the imperial left wing the finnish who charged behind their king overwhelmed the croats and poles on the other side they were quickly routed and forced into a retreat it was during this period with his advance achieving overwhelming success that gustav received notice that his infantry had been pushed back and was retreating on the far side his right wing was also beginning to cave in under the pressure of the artillery fire coming from the windmills on the hill gustavus immediately resolved to personally right the situation.

 He handed over command of the left wing to general horn and then taking with him a regiment rushed towards the right flank in order to bolster it back up the swedish king's magnificent mount carried him across the battlefield at a rapid pace however his regiment soon lagged behind gustavus soon came upon his disorganized infantry who were being hard pressed upon by the imperials he rushed forward to reconnoit to the situation and tried to find a weak spot in the enemy's line that he could mount a counter-attack against as gustavus moved along the melee his men respectfully made way for him this did not go unnoticed by the enemy an imperial commander gave orders to a musketeer to fire upon that man remarking that he must be a man of consequence the musketeer took aim and within seconds the king's left arm was shattered and bleeding among his concerned men the cry went up the king bleeds the king is shot gustavus tried to reassure his men by telling them that it was nothing and that they should continue to follow him but the pain that he was experiencing was excruciating within minutes he called the duke of loundberg to his side speaking in french so that none of his men could hear he told him to discreetly escort him out of the cauldron in order to make the king's exit as unobserved as possible laurenberg took him on a circuitous route towards the right wing before they could get there however the king was shot a second time this bullet struck him in the mid-back as the life drained from his body gustavus whispered to lionberg brother i have enough look only to your own life with that he fell from his horse there his body was struck by several more enemy bullets his horse with its distinctive saddle covered in blood now charged rideless through the battlefield it gave the unmistakable message that the king was down by the time his men reached his body the enemy in the form of croats had already got to it a savage fight now took place over its possession in the end his corpse was left lying under a pile of bodies as the battle raged on the death of the revered king rallied the swedish army and they fought on to defeat their fore it was gustavus's last possumous victory if you enjoyed this post subscribe us if you have any other suggestions for future topics you'd like us to cover please leave a comment below and we'll see you next time on history Marche