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Gustavus Adolphus (Gustav II Adolf) (1594-1632, r. 1611-1632).

"The Lion of the North." Swedish monarch. Principal wars: War of Kalmar (1611-1613); Polish Wars (1617-1629); Thirty Years' War (1618-1648). Principal battles: Dirschau (Tczew) (1627); Sztum (1629); Breitenfeld I (near Leipzig) (1631); the Lech (1632); Alte Veste (near Nurnberg) (1632); Lutzen (1632).

Born at Stockholm (December 9, 1594); interested in military matters from an early age; succeeded his father as King (October 30, 1611) during the War of Kalmar, in the course of which he had recaptured Oland and seized Christianopol by ruse in an energetic campaign (September-October 1611); appointed Axel Oxenstierna chancellor (January 1612); his campaign plan for 1612 was frustrated by the strategy of Christian IV of Denmark but he saved Stockholm by a forced march from Norway (September 1612); advanced into Russian Ingria (region around Leningrad) from Finland (1615) and stormed Gdov, but was repulsed at Pskov after a three-month siege; concluded Treaty of Stolbova (near Leningrad) with Russia (February 27, 1617), Sweden gaining Russia's last provinces on the Gulf of Finland; engaged in administrative and military reforms (1616-1621); invaded and conquered northern Livonia (1617); prepared for a new campaign against Poland and landed in Livonia with an army (August 14, 1621); captured Riga after a short siege (late August-September 15, 1621); temporarily occupied Kurland (Courland), and occupied Mitau (Jelgava) (October 15); concluded armistice with Poland (August 11, 1622); foiled plans of Poland and Danzig to invade Sweden by sea, by sending his fleet in a show of force off Danzig (Gdansk) (June 30, 1623); after failure of negotiations with Sigismund, he invaded Livonia again (July 12, 1625) and swiftly conquered Kurland and all Livonia; surprised and annihilated Stanislas Sapieha's small army at Wallhof (near Plavinas) (January 17, 1626); landed at Pillau (Baltiysk) to begin the conquest of Prussia (June 16, 1626); swiftly occupied Konigsberg (Kaliningrad) and several other towns and blockaded Danzig; defeated Sigismund's attempt to relieve Danzig at Gniew (late September 1626); after brief visit to Stockholm, returned to Pillau with reinforcements (May 8, 1627); wounded in the unsuccessful assault on Danzig Head (June); captured the Elector of Brandenburg and his force near Mohrungen (Mearag) (July 16, 1627); defeated Hetman Alexander Koniecpolski at Dirschau (August 17, 1627); after being seriously wounded in a skirmish, returned to Sweden and strengthened his navy (winter 1627-1628); landed at Pillau with more troops (May 25, 1628); his assault on Danzig was repulsed with heavy losses (early June); engaged in an indecisive campaign of maneuver with Koniecpolski's army, ravaging Poland as far south as Brodnica (June-September 1628); after another brief truce (February-June 1629), returned to Poland determined to end the Polish War; defeated, wounded, and nearly captured in a cavalry action at Sztum (June 27, 1629); after inconclusive operations and Polish failure in siege of Sweden, held Marienburg (Malbork) (July-August 1629); concluded the Treaty of Altmark (region around Stendal) (September 26, 1629) with Poland, gaining several Prussian ports, northern Livonia, and important economic rights; during the Polish Wars, Gustavus completed his military reforms, including the introduction of new types of infantry, cavalry, and artillery equipment, as well as new 3-pounder regimental guns, and the implementation of new tactics, emphasizing combined arms tactics, mobility, and shock action; he also strengthened his forces and prepared for intervention in the ongoing Thirty Years' War in Germany (winter 1629-1630), strengthened by promises of subsidies from the French government of Richelieu; landed at Usedom (July 4, 1630), capturing nearby Stettin (Szczecin) (July 20, 1630); undertook a brief winter campaign to enlarge his base (December 24-27?, 1630); stormed Frankfurt an der Oder (Frankfurt, East Germany) (April 2-3, 1631); frightened Elector George William of Brandenburg into an alliance (June 22); rebuffed Tilly's cavalry at Werben (near Cottbus) (July 27) and repulsed Tilly's attack on the Swedish camp at Werben (August 8); when Tilly moved against Saxony, Gustavus made an alliance with Elector John George; marched to relieve Leipzig (September 16); destroyed Tilly's army at Breitenfeld (September 17, 1631) despite the flight of the Saxons; marched into southern Germany and conquerred Franconia (October-November); relieved Nurnberg (early December); besieged and captured Mainz (December 19-22, 1631); joined Horn and stormed Donauworth (March 26, 1632); defeated Tilly in the assault crossing of the River Lech (April 15-16); captured Augsburg (April 20) and Munich (May 5); was blockaded in Nurnberg by superior forces of Maximilian of Bavaria and Wallenstein (July-August); despite supply shortages, he stormed Furth (September 1-2) but was repulsed at the Alte Veste, Wallenstein's fortified camp (September 3-4); followed Wallenstein when he invaded Saxony (October-November) but could not prevent capture of Leipzig (October 31); attacked Wallenstein in the bloody battle of Lutzen, where he was killed but his army was victorious (November 16, 1632).

Gustavus was a brilliant general, an excellent strategist and tactician, and an inspired innovator and organizer; he was also an intellectual and a gifted administrator; because of his personal boldness, he was frequently wounded and finally killed in battle; one of the great captains. <BL>
Dodge, Theodore Ayrautt, Gustavus Adolphus. 2 vols. Boston,
Dupuy, Trevor N., The Military Life of Gustavus Adolphus. New York,
Noel, E., Gustaf Adolf. London, 1905.
Roberts, Michael, Gustavus Adolphus: A History of Sweden, 1611-1632.
     2 vols. New York, 1953-1958.
Sweden, Generalstaben, Sveriges krig, 1611-1632. 6 vols. Stockholm,

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Author:Bongard, David L.
Publication:The Harper Encyclopedia of Military Biography
Article Type:Reference Source
Date:Jan 1, 1992
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