Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden

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Gustav II Adolf (9 December 1594 – 6 November 1632, O.S.), widely known in English by his Latinized name Gustavus Adolphus and variously in historical writings also as Gustavus, or Gustavus the Great, or Gustav Adolph the Great (Swedish: Gustav Adolf den store, a formal 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 the Golden Age of Sweden. He was the King of Sweden (1611–1632) who led the nation to military supremacy during the Thirty Years War, helping to determine the political as well as the religious balance of power in Europe. His most notable military victory was the Battle of Breitenfeld (1631). With a superb military machine with good weapons, excellent training, and effective field artillery, all backed by a highly efficient government back home that paid the bills on time, Gustavus Adolphus was poised to make himself a major European leader, but he was killed in battle in 1632. He was assisted by Axel Oxenstierna (1583–1654), leader of the nobles who also acted as regent after his death.

In the era, which was characterized by nearly endless warfare, he led his armies as king from 1611 (at age 17) until his death in battle while leading a charge during 1632 —as Sweden rose from the status as a mere regional power and run-of-the-mill kingdom to one of the great powers of Europe and a model of early modern era government. 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",[1] or the first great modern general. Under his tutelage, Sweden and the Protestant cause developed a number of excellent commanders, such as Lennart Torstensson, who would go on to defeat Sweden's enemies and expand the boundaries and the power of the empire long after Gustav Adolph's death in battle.

He was known by the epithets "The Golden King" and "The Lion of the North" by neighboring sovereigns. Gustavus Adolphus is today commemorated by city squares in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Sundsvall. Gustavus Adolphus College, a Lutheran college in St. Peter, Minnesota, is also named for the Swedish king.


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