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Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden

Gustavus Adolphus
ReignOctober 30, 1611-November 6, 1632
(Government from December, 1611)
CoronationOctober 12, 1617
Royal motto "Cum Deo et victribus armis"
("With God and victorious arms")
QueenMaria Eleonora of Brandenburg
Royal HouseVasa
PredecessorCharles IX of Sweden
SuccessorChristina of Sweden
Date of BirthDecember 9, 1594
Place of BirthStockholm
Date of DeathNovember 6, 1632
Place of DeathAt the battle of Lützen, Germany
Date of BurialJune 22, 1634
Place of BurialRiddarholmskyrkan, Stockholm

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.

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 largest cities in the kingdom were Riga (currently the capital of Latvia), Stockholm and Reval (today known as Tallinn, 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.

Gustavus Adolphus at the Battle of Breitenfield

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 the Royal Swedish Armoury at the Royal Palace in Stockholm.

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.

In February 1633, 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). Such an honor has not been bestowed on anyone else since.

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


Gustavus Adolphus

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


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