jueves, 2 de noviembre de 2017




Gustavus Adolphus II. Elected King of Sweden, of the Goths and Vandals

"Even such is Time, which takes in Trust,
Our Youth, our Joy, our All we Have,
And pays us but with Earth and Dust,
Who in the Dark and Silent Grave,
Where we have wandered all our Ways,
Shuts up the story of our Days
But from this Earth, this Grave, this Dust,
My God will raise me up, I trust."

—Walter Raleigh.


"Ille faciet..."
—King Charles IX, of Gustavus Adolphus II.


"Virtue alone outlasts the Pyramids
Her monuments remain, when Egypt's fall."

—Edward Young.



Gustavus returned to Stockholm, sent Oxenstierna to Potsdam to fetch his bride, and assembled twenty-four thousand men at Älvsnabben ready for a descent on Livonia.
Here he first recited to his army his new articles of war which are regarded as a turning point in military science, and the troops proceeded down the Dwina, on a hundred and fifty-eight vessels of war, to Riga, which fell on 16th September, 1621.
Sigismund had recently been defeated by the Turks at Jassy and could not leave the south to meet Gustavus, who took the capital of Courland, Mitau, and in June, 1622, forced Sigismund to an armistice which left Sweden in possession of Livonia and portions of Courland.
Again Gustavus had triumphed and returned to Stockholm more firmly fixed than ever in the affections of his people and more than ever admired by the world.
He had, however, private griefs; Duke John, his cousin, and his wife, sister of Gustavus, had both recently died, and in the rigours of the last campaign the gallant Charles Philip, the only brother of the King, had perished; Gustavus was greatly grieved at being thus bereft of the companions of his youth and particularly moved by the loss of the young brother in arms whom he had deeply loved; no spite or jealousy had ever come between them, and Charles Philip had followed the King's fortunes with eager loyalty.
These three deaths, however, restored important apanages to the Crown of Sweden and removed any possible future pretenders to the throne; the country therefore gained from the loss of the King.
Gustavus, in his foreign wars, which were in reality wars of defence, not aggression, had not, as so many warrior kings had done, neglected the internal administration of the country, which, since 1614, he had been reorganizing; in 1617 he had established rules for the Estates, Sweden then sharing with England the distinction of having a Parliamentary procedure; he had also simplified the taxation, even persuading, by the fire and charm of his character, the nobility to bear their share in the pecuniary burdens; he issued the first State Budget, he rebuilt one town, Gothenburg (which had been overrun by the Danes), and founded fifteen others, he brought over a Dutchman, De Geer, to start ironworks and mining, he began the Swedish Navy, which, under Klas Fleming, numbered sixty men-of-war.
Nor did the vigorous and enthusiastic King neglect the arts; highly cultured himself, he encouraged learning, presenting to the University of Upsala all his paternal estates to the extent of three hundred farms; Sweden began, under such a ruler, to be a considerable power; the foundations of a flourishing nation laid by Gustavus I were not only strengthened by his grandson, but began to bear a solid edifice; without the cruel distractions and the crushing expenses of a succession of wars Gustavus would speedily have raised his beloved little country to not only prosperity, but greatness.
Hugo Grotius came to this enlightened Court, the King was seldom without a copy of De Iure Belli et Pacis in his pocket and spent hours discussing international problems with the Dutch jurist; to Stockholm also came Anthony Van Dyck to paint his portrait of the great King in plate armour with a plain linen collar, holding a baton and looking out of the canvas with an air of grand, unsmiling serenity, with mild, luminous blue eyes.
The King's features were now sterner as his powerful frame was heavier; he still wore the bright yellow hair brushed back from his high forehead and cropped close; his face was fuller, but beautifully shaped, the mouth large and firmly set, the nose long and handsome; his usual expression was one of gentle mildness, but his temper remained warm and passionate and his fault was still a fiery impetuousness, curbed, however, by his own powerful intelligence as well as by the prudent counsels of Oxenstierna.
Affectionate in all his relations, he lived in harmony with his insipid Queen who had not yet brought him any children who had lived through infancy (one stillborn little girl and one who breathed her last shortly after having been baptised Christina); no other woman had taken the place of Ebba Brahe and no scandal touched the conduct of the King; his morals were as pure as the rigid Protestantism he affected demanded, he had full command of his passions and all his energies were directed to active and intellectual pursuits; music and the composition of verse and the reading of Greek were his relaxations; from his well-worn copy of Xenophon he learnt, he declared, much of that art of war which he was, in a modern sense, practically to invent.
His life was simple in the extreme; he showed that indifference to comfort, to fine food, to any luxury, that hardihood, that stern attention to duty, that laborious application to business, so characteristic of his House.
With all this he was neither grave nor harsh but affable and accessible, with gracious manners and ready courtesy for all; every class of his people adored him for his mere personal graces; devotion to the King kept the Swedes together like a cord binding them.
His attire was of the plainest; the buff coat, the loose breeches, the high boots, the sash and sword belt, the plumed hat, the small moustache and close beard that he wore came to be the familiar type of the seventeenth-century soldier; in everything he did and was, he impressed himself upon his times, his was the character and the figure eagerly to be hailed as a symbol of the heroic warrior.
European affairs now gathered into a knot that almost defied the untying, from every corner war, fierce, relentless and desperate, threatened.
Gustavus, looking abroad during the Polish truce, saw everywhere menace and confusion and also that his part in a contest fast becoming universal could not long be delayed; the most ghastly war in modern history was in preparation and he was to be the hero of it; but, impetuous and fiery-minded as he was, he did not lightly throw himself into the terrible contest, the true significance of which he and one other in Europe, Richelieu, were alone aware.
What is called the Thirty Years' War had, amid endless complications, two mainsprings, the desire of the House of Habsburg to turn a nominal Empire into a real one, and the force of the Catholic reaction which was almost overwhelming Protestantism; many of those supporting the first cause did not show much enthusiasm for the second, nor were all the ardent Papists ardent Imperialists; in the end this conflict of views was largely to ruin the Emperor's design, but for the moment Hapsburg and Pope stood together against the Protestants.
These were in their turn divided, not only into Lutheran and Calvinist, but by internecine jealousies and disputes; Gustavus might dream of uniting them into a solid union, but a dream it was to remain.
The notable Protestant countries, England, the Netherlands, Denmark, played, naturally, for their own hands; they put their advantage before their religion, and were, all of them, in awe of Spain and the Emperor; Gustavus saw that the first two were likely to remain neutral, and that the third would be a jealous and difficult ally.
Not only were the German Protestant Princes disunited, but some of their neighbours remained faithful to the Emperor; one of these, the Catholic Maximilian of Bavaria, had lately been invested with the rich Palatinate abandoned by the unhappy Frederic, and made a formidable wedge of Imperialism in the Reformed country.
Protestantism had been entrusted to the feeble hands of the Elector Palatine, and he had let the chance of being its champion slip; mockingly termed the "Winter King" of Bohemia, he was now a despised fugitive in Europe, and his Protestant fellow Princes held back, frightened, or passive, or stupid.
France held back too; Richelieu was at once against the Protestants and against the Hapsburgs; he waited, watchful and alert.
Gustavus waited too; he governed a small, poor nation of barely a million and a half souls, and though he had recently acquired territory and strengthened his position it was impossible for him to do more for Protestantism than plan a League, of which he believed—he was destined to be the spirit and the leader.
The question went deeper even than religion with Gustavus; he saw, as Richelieu saw, that the balance of power was in danger and that the House of Hapsburg was making a bid for that universal dominion that had always been the dearest ambition of her haughty Princes.
Meanwhile the truce with Poland expired (1625) and Gustavus was again fighting on his own Livonian frontier; he won his first pitched battle, that of Wallhof, January 1626, without loss of a man, and again invaded Courland and Lithuania.
His object was to force Poland to a peace so as to leave his hands free for other enterprises, and in the next campaign he invaded East Prussia in the hope of getting control of the Vistula as he had already got control of the Dwina.
He had, for the moment, to give over the wider aims of Protestantism on a wider field, though there had been several earnest appeals for his assistance in Germany, but Gustavus knew that to answer these would be but to join weakness to weakness; he had neither men nor money sufficient for such an enterprise, and the three friendly Powers who had both, France, England and the Netherlands, were reluctant to offer substantial help.
In 1624 he had indeed made a wise offer to England to undertake the common cause in Germany; the terms were high, subsidies, seventeen thousand men, two ports, one on the Baltic, one on the North Sea, and there was no statesman in England of sufficient breadth of view to accept a proposal which, carried into effect, would have given a very different complexion to the Thirty Years' War.
Meanwhile, the fiery and imprudent Christian IV, jealous of the growing glory of Gustavus, underbid Sweden with England and threw himself single-handed at the Emperor; he was speedily and disastrously beaten.
The defeat of Denmark meant the danger of Sweden; the shadow of the eagles was falling across the Baltic, and, while Gustavus was holding back the Poles and investing Danzig (Gdansk), he heard that Wallenstein, the dreaded Imperialist general, had seized the Danish islands, was laying waste Jutland and commanding the Baltic coast with a powerful army.
The deadly menace of the Hapsburgs had suddenly come to the very door of the Protestant King; the long arm and iron fist of the Emperor had swiftly stretched out to squeeze the life out of Northern Protestantism.
Gustavus did not hesitate, he at once took up the contemptuous challenge, and, while Wallenstein was marching haughtily on the shores of the Baltic, the King of Sweden concluded an alliance with the hard pressed King of Denmark, his ancient enemy; he believed that now at least Christian would unite heartily in affronting a common enemy, and he saw that while Denmark had been defeated on land she might yet do something at sea, for Wallenstein, sabre-rattling with his title of "Admiral General of the Baltic," had not a single ship on that disputed ocean.
The two Northern monarchs met in the simple room in a country parsonage at Halland (February 1629), Gustavus in his war-worn uniform, Christian more splendid, a swarthy, fierce figure with frowning eyes and black locks; he did not lack character and ability and was the most interesting of the Danish Kings; but he could not take the measure of a man like Gustavus.
Over the bad food and bitter frozen wine of their strange banquet he snarled out those counsels of prudence to which heroism has ever been forced to listen; the Emperor, he said, had overrun Germany, the Protestants were disunited, even such leaders as they had had, Christian of Anhalt, Christian of Brunswick, Mansfeldt, adventurers who had done no good to the cause, were beaten or dead; supplies came meagrely from the Protestant Powers, each playing their own game, which was not the game of Sweden or Denmark.
"Better," growled Christian IV in conclusion, "leave the Emperor alone."
Gustavus listened to this advice of the defeated King with what patience he could muster; he had now learnt to control that hot temper which in youth had made him give a blow as soon as a word.
He used his rare eloquence (he was reputed the finest orator in the North) to persuade Christian to stand shoulder to shoulder with him in what must be a death struggle; it was obvious that the Hapsburgs must be curbed or Protestantism, and all the smaller countries that held by Protestantism, be utterly crushed. The Emperor was no merciful conqueror, no tolerant ruler; a man of iron, of considerable gifts, courage and energy, Ferdinand of Styria was as ruthless and determined a fanatic and tyrant as any of these German Cassars who affected the Imperial purple and the Imperial power; triumphant with the sweeping success of an eight years' war, having now well in view that universal dominion so long hoped for by the House of Habsburg, he had resolved to extirpate heresy in Germany and whatever lands into which the eagle could thrust her talons.
So argued Gustavus, but the sullen Christian, smarting from Imperialist whacks, advised the Swede to "leave Ferdinand alone."
Anger then overcame Gustavus: he cried out passionately:
"Let Your Highness be sure that whoever threatens Sweden -Kaiser, King, or ten thousand devils-, he'll get such a pull by the ears as will make his hair stand on end!"
Christian was moved to no more than a dubious neutrality, which, indeed, he kept; the Emperor offered him favourable conditions which he accepted; he was always "temptable" and a lukewarm Protestant; the Treaty of Lübeck put him out of the war for the moment; Ferdinand had been very generous with him because he wished to detach him from Sweden, a far more dangerous opponent.
Swedish delegates were refused admission to the Peace Conference at Lübeck, and during the next campaign of Gustavus in Prussia, Ferdinand sent ten thousand Imperialists to assist the Poles; the Emperor was as determined to crush Gustavus as Gustavus was determined not to be crushed.
A last and desperate appeal from Germany reached Gustavus, and he saw, ready or not ready, he must take a hand in the ruthless and atrocious struggle.

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