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A 4 pages term paper on Gustavus Adolphus II

     Gustavus Adolphus (1594-l632, king of Sweden 1611-1632) was one of the dominant figures of the early seventeenth century. He made Sweden the leading power of Northern Europe; was the champion of the northern Protestant cause in the Thirty Years War; and was a great administrator as well as a brilliant soldier, whose reforms helped define the development of the modern state. His dazzling career, brought to a premature end on the battlefield of Lutzen when he was still well short of forty, is an obvious subject for treatment in the Profiles in Power series. Longman published Michael Roberts’s magisterial two-volume study of Gustavus Adolphus in the 1950s. It is still the standard biography; but from the very outset its monumental scale put it beyond all but the most serious student of the age. In 1973, to meet the need for a concise account of the subject designed for students and general readers, Professor Roberts published Gustavus Adolphus and the Rise of Sweden. It has itself been unavailable for some years, and the need for a short authoritative book in English on Gustavus Adolphus is again pressing. That earlier book now forms the basis of the present volume, and is issued under the Longman imprint for the first time. Professor Roberts has revised and expanded the text to take account of work that has appeared on the period since 1973, and to fit it to its new series context. The bibliography has been updated, enlarged and modified. Intended for those who don't read Swedish, it indicates the increasing number of Swedish-language works that are published with an English summary. The entire work has been redesigned and reset. Its essential purpose, however, remains as before: to make accessible to a non-specialist readership the large and complex fields of action in which Gustavus and his chancellor Oxenstierna played so conspicuous a part and to bring them alive as human beings. In both these aims it triumphantly succeeds. Its appearance, reuniting Professor Roberts and Gustavus Adolphus (and, incidentally, Longman) for the first time in a generation, will be widely welcomed.

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     It is a massive tome, covering a century of European warfare in considerable detail. Not only was it huge in size and scope, but the prose, given the age of the text. This is quite simply an extraordinary military classic. Robert is an exceptional military historian and possessed of exceptional military judgment. This is no chairborne commando, but an insightful and experienced soldier whose wealth of practical military experience brings the reality of 17th Century warfare alive.

     Any understanding of military history from 1618-1815 will be deficient without this book. Dodge tells the critical story of how armies evolved from relatively disorganized and short-term field armies to vast, professional military establishments controlled by the monarchs of Europe. The evolution of the modern state cannot be fully understood if one does not appreciate this facet of the military revolution of the 1600s. Robert is equally adept at bringing the battlefield tactics of the time to life, and illustrating their development. He skillfully guides the reader along the path of military evolution, which ultimately sets the stage for Frederick the Great and Napoleon Bonaparte.  The caveats of this book are that it is long on text and short on maps. The lack of maps makes following the course of marches and counter-marches somewhat difficult. Furthermore, a basic knowledge of the geopolitics of the time is helpful.  For anyone with the fortitude, this book will bestow upon him or her deeper understanding of a seminal period in European history.

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     Gustavus Adolphus by Robert Michael is a very good book on the subject of the political forces and their interaction that happened in "Thirty Years War". He looks at not only the policies of the major actors in Europe at that time but also at the area of religion and what factor it played in this conflict. The book is useful for individuals with a strong understand of the political factors and major European powers of the 17th century. As for others, this book may be a little hard to follow. A map of the region is provided in the front, but additional maps encompassing those specific areas that specific chapters covered to be included in those chapters might have been useful. I would have also liked to see a little bit more of the military aspects of this conflict to be covered in depth. However, even with this minor request, Robert Asch's book is a great resource covering an interesting period of sometimes forgotten European history. It should be required read for those interested in state politics and to understand how the European states came into existence.

     After Danish period comes Swedish period.  Gustavus II (Gustavus Adolphus) of Sweden now came into the war. His territorial ambitions had embroiled him in wars with Poland, and he feared that Ferdinand's maritime designs might threaten Sweden's mastery of the Baltic. Moved also by his Protestantism, he declared against the emperor and was supported by an understanding with Catholic France, then under the leadership of Cardinal Richelieu.  Swedish troops marched into Germany. Meanwhile, Ferdinand had been prevailed upon (1630) to dismiss Wallenstein, who had powerful enemies in the empire. Tilly now headed the imperial forces. He was able to take the city of Magdeburg while the Protestant princes hesitated to join the Swedes. Only John George of Saxony, vacillating in his support between Tilly and the Swedish king, joined Gustavus Adolphus, who offered him better terms.

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     The combined forces crushed Tilly at Breitenfeld (1631), thus winning N Germany. Gustavus Adolphus triumphantly advanced and Tilly was defeated and fatally wounded in the battle of the Lech (1632). Wallenstein, recalled with some pleading by the emperor, took the field. He defeated the Saxon forces and later met the Swedish forces at Lützen (Nov., 1632); there the imperialists were defeated, but Gustavus Adolphus was killed and the anti-Hapsburg troops were disorganized. Wallenstein after his great defeat remained inactive and entered into long negotiations with the enemy. Meanwhile, the able anti-imperialist general, Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar, stormed Regensburg (1633).

     Imperialist conspirators murdered Wallenstein in 1634. Soon afterward the imperial forces under Gallas defeated Bernhard at Nördlingen (Feb., 1634). Germany was in economic ruin, her fields devastated and blood-soaked. There was strong feeling in Germany against the foreign soldiers that overran the land. A general desire for peace led to the Peace of Prague (1635). This agreement drastically modified the Edict of Restitution, thus helping to reconcile Catholics and Protestants. Almost all the German princes and free cities accepted it. A united imperial army was to move against the Swedish troops in Germany. A general peace seemed to be forthcoming, but Richelieu was unwilling to see the Hapsburgs retain power.

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     During Franco-Swedish Period France entered openly into the war in 1635. Oxenstierna, the Swedish chancellor, anxious to preserve Sweden's hold in Germany, supported Richelieu. The final stage of the Thirty Years War began. The war now occupied most of Europe, with fighting in the Low Countries, where the United Provinces and France opposed Spain; in Italy, where France and Spain struggled for power; in France; in Germany; in the Iberian peninsula, where Portugal revolted against, and France attacked, Spain; and in the North, where Denmark opposed Sweden.

     The Austrian forces went into France and achieved some success, but this was temporary. For the most part this period of the war was disastrous for the empire. Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar and the Swedish general, Baner, were victorious in Germany. In 1636 Baner won a notable victory at Wittstock. Bernhard conducted a series of brilliant campaigns, culminating in the capture of Breisach (1638). Bernhard died in 1639, Baner in 1641. Meanwhile, Emperor Ferdinand II was succeeded by Ferdinand III (1637). In 1642 Richelieu died; his successor, Cardinal Mazarin, continued the established French policy. Germany was exhausted.

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     Peace negotiations were begun before 1640, but the intricate diplomacy proceeded slowly and haltingly. Meanwhile, the empire was reduced by the armies of the Swedish Torstensson, Louis II de Condé, and Turenne. Torstensson defeated the imperialists at Breitenfeld (1642), defeated Gallas after going north to subdue Danish opposition, then won a climactic victory over Hatzfeldt at Jankau (1645). Meanwhile, Condé had destroyed the flower of the Spanish infantry at Rocroi (1643); in 1645 he and Turenne (after a severe defeat) were victorious near Nördlingen. Austria had been stripped of all conquests and her enemies were at the very door of Vienna. Austria's strongest ally, Bavaria, was overrun. The Swede Wrangel and the Frenchman Turenne were carrying on a successful campaign when the long-delayed peace was obtained.

     The general results of the war may be said to have been a tremendous decrease in German population; devastation of German agriculture; ruin of German commerce and industry; the breakup of the Holy Roman Empire, which was a mere shell in the succeeding centuries; and the decline of Hapsburg greatness. The war ended the era of conflicts inspired by religious passion, and the Peace of Westphalia was an important step toward religious toleration. The incredible sufferings of the German peasantry were remembered for centuries. The political settlements of the peace were to the disadvantage of Germany as well as the Hapsburgs. The estrangement of N Germany from Austria, then begun, was to continue for more than two centuries.

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Works Cited

Gustavus Adolphus (Profiles in Power Series) (Paper) Gustavus Adolphus by Michael Roberts.  Dec.7, 2001 <halleuropeanhistory.com/europe/2703.shtml>

Roberts, Michael.  (1908). Gustavus Adolphus.  London [England]; New York: Longman, c1992.  Edition 2nd ed.

Roberts, Michael.   Gustavus Adolphus (2d. Edition). Longman Publishing Group. ISBN: 0-582-09000-8 (paperback).  Dec.7, 2001 <http://www.pipeline.com/~cwa/Bibliography.htm>

Thirty Years of War.  Dec.7, 2001 <http://www.encyclopedia.com/printablenew/12815.html>

 
 


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