sábado, 4 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 now crossed the Elbe, resolved to force action on Count Tilly, who was on the plain of Breitenfeld, a mile north of Leipzig, with his back to the city which he had lately occupied by threatening it with the fate of Magdeburg.
John George was now as eager in war as he had been dull in procrastination, and urged Gustavus to give battle; no action on the part of any one, however, could make up for the damage caused by the Saxon's unforgivable delays.
Tilly had also at last decided to fight; he would rather have waited for the troops of Fürstenberg, but these were too occupied in quelling the Protestants on their way to be immediately expected, and the ardent Pappenheim was eager for an encounter with the Swedes; he had no doubt that Tilly, never yet defeated, could speedily beat Gustavus.
Tilly shared this opinion, and so did his veteran troops, which included the famous tercios Spanish battalions, regarded as invincible.
Tilly sat down grimly to await Gustavus, and in the meantime Fürstenberg did actually come up, with the cavalry from Italy and Croatia under Isolani.
The Imperialists had now about forty thousand men, picked troops, of which a fourth were cavalry; among them were his famous Walloons, and the renowned Black Cuirassiers led by the brilliant Pappenheim; all were handsomely arrayed in the plunder of half Germany, coats laced with gold ana silver, fantastic plumes, heavy decked horses, glittering chains, ribbons, sashes and laces, elaborate and glittering weapons; they were in high spirits and greeted Tilly, on his familiar white steed, with shouts of confidence and delight; the veteran was seventy-two years old and also full of assurance.
Gustavus marched across the undulating plain in battle array, crossed the Loderbach and threw back Pappenheim's skirmishers and advanced on Tilly.
The Swedes formed the right and the centre, the Saxons the left; in reserve to the first line was Monro's and Ramsay's Scottish infantry; in reserve to the second line, more Scots under Hepburn; all told, Gustavus had about forty-five thousand men; Banér, Tott, Horn and Torstenson were in command under the King.
The Saxons were handsomely appointed, but the Swedes made a poor show; their horses were small and ugly, their uniforms drab and dusty from sleeping in a ploughed field; they had rather a dull air compared to the showy, newly equipped troops of John George.
They bore sprigs of green leaves in their hats or morions, and the password they had for warcry was: "Gott mit uns!"
Tilly's men sported white favours, and their password or warcry was: "Jesus, Maria!"
The King commanded the centre where floated his black and gold pennants; the three crowns and the lion, twice repeated, of Sweden, with the corn sheaf of the House of Vasa in pretence on the royal banner, was not far behind; over the whole Protestant force fluttered these coloured pennons, red, orange, blue, green, above the various companies.
Gustavus wore his usual elk-skin coat, his great jack boots, his sash and linen collar, and a plain felt hat with a green feather—green the colour of hope, like the foliage worn by his soldiers; since his Polish campaigns he had never been able to wear armour, for the lead was still in his flesh and any pressure irritated him; he had even discarded the small gorget or breast plate and was the least protected man in his army.
Drawing rein in front of his battle line, Gustavus pulled off his hat and addressed his men, his beloved rough and trusty Swedes; it was early in the morning of September 17th, 1631, nearly eighteen months since Gustavus had landed in Germany, and at last he was face to face with the enemy whom he had come so far to challenge.
Gustavus was still an imposing figure for all his sober attire; he had grown very massive and heavy, but this was set off by his great height, a very golden giant of a man he looked as the faint autumn sun gleamed on his yellow hair.
Raising his powerful voice he said:
"From a distant land, from beloved homes are we come here to battle for freedom, for truth, for Thy Gospel. Give us Victory for the sake of Thy Holy Name. Amen!"
This noble and moving prayer, of which there is not the least reason to suspect the utter sincerity, profoundly affected the Swedes and inspired these rude-looking peasants with the spirit to meet the pompous veterans of the Emperor.
Gustavus must have known that this battle would be not only the turning point of the war, but one of the decisive battles of the world's history; defeat for him would mean the overthrow of Protestantism in Germany; defeat for Tilly that set-back to the Emperor that Gustavus had declared in Stockholm two years before would "give him a good shaking."
What he could not have known was that the contest before him would come to be considered as the first battle of modern warfare, an epoch in military science as well as an epoch in history.
The modern ideas of Gustavus which he was now able to put into practice in a great pitched battle consisted in breaking up his men into light columns and shallow lines—here only six deep, while he made his artillery mobile, scattering it among the troops, ready to move when needful; a third change was that the flint-lock muskets of the Swedes were light and easily carried and did not impede the movement of the men.
Tilly relied entirely on the old-fashioned methods, his tercios were drawn up fifty deep, his artillery was in a fixed position, his muskets were so heavy that they had to be placed in rests while they were fired; it was speed and lightness opposed to mass and heaviness.
Tilly had the advantages of the sun and wind behind him, and of being in position when Gustavus came up, so that the Swedes had to marshal under the fire of the Imperialists; Gustavus put his guns in line as soon as possible and returned the cannon shots three for one, while he coolly deployed and advanced his men, making sure that everything was in order before he gave the signal for attack.
Meanwhile the dust from the parched plain was blowing on to the Swedes, and the glare of the rising sun was in their eyes; Tilly, more comfortable, waited; sure of himself and slow of habit he saw no need of hurry. It was otherwise with Pappenheim, a dashing cavalry leader of the type that Prince Rupert of the Palatinate was soon to make familiar in England, and in command of five thousand of the best horsemen in the world; galled by hours of the enemy's incessant firing and impatient of old Tilly's caution, the bold and reckless Pappenheim took it upon himself to charge Banèr on the Swedish right.
As Tilly saw the cavalry thundering across the plain without his orders, he threw up his arms in rage and despair.
"They have robbed me of my glory and the Emperor of the victory!" he cried.
He was right; not only had Pappenheim undertaken a reckless act, but he failed in it; Banèr received the charge with a murderous fire, and, in between his volleys, the Finns and Goths hurled themselves on the Austrians with dauntless energy; Pappenheim turned, wheeled and tried to penetrate the flank of the Swedes; but here the cavalry reserves were ready for him and beat him off with a stern counter-charge.
The impetuous Pappenheim was not easily discouraged; seven times he rallied his splendid cavalry, seven times the Swedish front and flank, standing like a wall, repulsed him; the enraged Tilly flung the Holstein Foot to the relief of his wilful lieutenant. The Swedes cut these down as they advanced, the Duke of Holstein dropped at the head of his men; Banèr now surged forward and hurled the remnants of Pappenheim's cavalry off the field; such as were left of them fled towards Halle in disorder; Banèr returned to his place none the worse for the hot contest.
On the left the day had gone differently; Fürstenberg, without waiting orders from Tilly, had followed the bad example of Pappenheim and driven down with the Imperial cavalry on the Saxons who, "begilded, besilvered and beplumed as if they were sitting for their portraits," as Monro put it, had made so heartening a show on their big, stout German horses.
At the first shock, however, these showy warriors "fled in companies," as Gustavus afterwards wrote; in half an hour Fürstenberg and Isolani had swept them off the field, John George in the middle of them; the Elector scampered off to Eilenburg, and his men anywhere they could reach; half of the forces of Gustavus had now been scattered, and his left flank was left bare.
But one good service the runaways did, they drew off some of their pursuers from the general action; still Tilly's men now outnumbered the Swedes three to one, and Tilly saw the moment to make an attack on the weakened left of the enemy; and he moved forward behind Fürstenberg, much impeded by Torstenson's heavy fire. Now was seen the value of the quick tactics of Gustavus; before the Imperialists could reach their bare flank, Horn had advanced and covered it; the Imperialists were driven back, while Gustavus, spurring to the right, shouted commands to Banèr, put himself at the head of the West Gothland Horse, and drove in, at a wild gallop, on Tilly's flank, closing right in on the enemy and attacking them with the sword.
Four regiments, two of the Smålanders, the East Goths and the Finns, moved up to support this attack, and Gustavus dashed with them straight up the slope where stood the Imperial artillery; in a few seconds the gunners were slain, the guns, heavy as they were, swung round and fired on to the plain where Tilly now stood at bay, amazed by tactics so swift, so skilful and so new.
Tilly was now caught between two fires, his own artillery and that of Torstenson; he had no cavalry, no guns, no reserves, he was surrounded. Still his unwieldy masses stood defiant about him; the Spanish and Walloons formed round the old general in a grim square; they had no prospect of anything save death, but the troops that had believed themselves invincible stood stoutly by the chief who had believed himself invincible, in the hour of their mutual defeat.
For hours the sullen formations stood to be devastated on the plain; the road to Leipzig was cut off, but some of the Imperialists fought their way out fiercely along the Düben road; the rest remained firm till nightfall, when a general confusion of retreat began; without organization the infantry broke into a flight that speedily became a stampede, flying in all directions under cover of the merciful autumn twilight; the battered Imperialists left Gustavus in complete possession of the field.
Tilly, thrice wounded, was gathered up in a cloak by his loyal Walloons and carried to Halle, and then to Halberstadt; he had shown obstinate stoutness in the battle and that was all he was able to show; the action had begun without his orders and continued without his directions, he was also completely taken by surprise by the dashing tactics of Gustavus and would probably have been defeated even without the imprudence of Pappenheim.
It is told that Gustavus went on his knees on the hard-won field and thanked God for the victory, and it is likely enough that he did so; humanly speaking, this victory was due to his own resource, courage and quickness—in a word, to his genius, ably seconded by the hard fighting qualities of the Swedes, Finns and Scots.
Seven thousand Imperialists had been slain, five thousand were prisoners. Gustavus captured not only all the artillery, but the military chest and their entire camp equipment, together with ninety flags; many thousands more of flying stragglers were killed by the peasants.
The losses of the Swedes were seven hundred men, those of the Saxons two thousand, mostly cut down in flight, thus showing it is safer to stand your ground than fly from it; the behaviour of these troops had been disgraceful to the Elector whose own conduct was as contemptible in war as in politics; it would have been well for Germany if one of Fürstenberg's men had sabred down John George in his ignoble flight. Monro, the Scots leader, says, "it was the Scots briggad's fortune to have gotten the praise of the foote service."
He also leaves this picture of the eve of the famous battle of Breitenfeld:
"We encamped upon the place of Battaille, the living merry and rejoicing, though without drinke (strong drink) at the night wake of their dead camerades and friends lying there on the ground in the bed of honour... Our bone fiers (bonfires) were made of the enemie's ammunition waggons, and of pikes left for want of good fellows to use them, and all this night our brave camerades the Saxons were making good use of their heels in flying...whereas strangers were hazarding their lives for their freedom."
The immediate moral effect of this great victory was tremendous; Gustavus became at once the "Bulwark of Protestantism," the Lion of the North; his praises were on every one's lips, medals, pamphlets, news celebrated his exploit; his country took on the position of a first-class power, and he became the most distinguished man of his times.
The Imperialists could find nothing to say save that their defeat seemed grotesque—"as if God had turned Protestant."
Laggards, prisoners and neutrals now swelled the victorious ranks of Sweden; all those who had hesitated between Gustavus and Ferdinand now came forward with offers of assistance for the victor; Tilly met Pappenheim, rallied his army, forced new recruits into it, and fell back behind the Weser.
The way to Vienna was a second time open to Gustavus; both Oxenstierna and John George urged him to take it; the Elector, elated by the startling success in which he had had no hand, confidently talked of putting the Imperial diadem on the brow of Gustavus, and had the Swede been personally ambitious no doubt he would have made a push for this prize.
But he had not come to Germany for crowns; he made at once the wise and generous decision which does him the greatest honour, to remain in Germany and protect the Protestants there; he knew, too, that even if he had been at the gates of Vienna it would not have meant the end of Ferdinand nor of Austria; that grim, wily man had many resources, and Vienna was not the real capital nor the last resource of his vague Empire.
Gustavus resolved to free and arm the Protestants of South-West Germany, thus refusing to sacrifice the interests he had come to defend for any dubious personal glory and proving the purity of his intentions. Ferdinand was desperate; he thought of flying to Gratz; Vienna was said to be "dumbstruck with fright," the walls of every city in Austria were manned, whole forests were cut down and flung across the roads along which it was feared the dreaded Swede might march; now that Tilly had collapsed, the Imperialists thought of Wallenstein, sulking in his court in Bohemia, or coddling his gout at Karlsbad.
In prosperity all had hated this overbearing, cold and arrogant man, in disaster all turned to him as the one hope; after Richelieu and Gustavus he was the most powerful personality in Europe.
But Wallenstein was a mercenary; he had been wronged by the Emperor to whom he had never felt any attachment, and his pride was without measure.
He began to negotiate with Gustavus, but the Swede would have none of such a man; he could not trust the Bohemian, though his defection would have been the last blow to the Emperor's cause; Ferdinand made further appeals and Wallenstein played with them, in cruel delay.
Ferdinand did not lose heart; he was not likely to give way while a province or a regiment remained, and he raised all the troops he could to reinforce Tilly, who had recovered from his defeat with admirable speed and been joined by Aldringer with the last instalment of the Italian army.
The Anhalt Princes joined Gustavus, who marched with two columns, often by torchlight, through the Franconian forest, through the "Priests' Alley" as the Bishoprics were called, took all the forts in his way and came out before Würzburg, the capital of Franconia (October 3rd, 1631), which was stormed by Colonel Axel Lilly and the Scots with the greatest daring, and captured together with the vast riches the Franconians had deposited in the fortress, the Marienberg, which was supposed to be divinely protected.
Here the King made a treaty with the Franconian Circle and with the mighty free city of Nuremberg, also with Ansbach and Bayreuth; all the dealings of Gustavus were marked by honesty and moderation, the Catholics being treated with toleration and kindness, no light achievement in 1631.
All the Protestants welcomed him as a Deliverer, "a gracious gentle master," and his marches after Breitenfeld had been like triumphal progresses.
On the other side was confusion; Maximilian of Bavaria, though an able man, had lost his head; he gave such contradictory orders to Tilly that the galled old warrior threatened to throw up his command; Pappenheim quarrelled with Tilly and went back to the Weser on his own; it is noteworthy that he and Bernard of Saxe-Weimar were the only German generals of value engaged in this German war.
No one knew which side Wallenstein would espouse; England was tempting him now and he refused to respond to Ferdinand's appeals; Gustavus went into winter quarters at Mainz with the largest army ever seen in Germany, 153,000 foot and 43,500 horse.
Everywhere the Protestants were in the ascendant, and the Emperor had his back to the wall; he asked Poland for troops, but got none as the Poles were waiting an attack from Russia; Spain could do nothing; Philip III had taken the place of Philip II; the brief brilliancy of the Peninsula was already over.
Ferdinand appealed to the Pope; Christ had leaned from His Cross to tell the iron Habsburg, "Ferdinand, I will not forsake you," but this promise was not confirmed by His Vicegerent; the Pope would have none of the champion of Catholicism; Urban VIII was as hostile to Ferdinand as Innocent XI to James II, or Paul IV to Philip II.
A tolerant, wise and honourable man, His Holiness eyed the German holocaust with horror, and roundly declared that he would be no party to a war that was clearly to serve the ruthless ambitions of the Habsburgs and not to advance the interests of the Church.
Pope Urban VIII, while assisting neither side, did not disguise that his good wishes went with Gustavus. Thus abandoned on all counts and finding Wallenstein intractable, Ferdinand began some tentative overtures towards peace.
Gustavus was at Mainz holding Court in some splendour, the most watched, the most dreaded, the most admired man in Europe; his Queen had joined him and he and his armies enjoyed some of the luxuries of the South, but the King was short of money and anxious.
The people might praise him, but the Princes were jealous; the rulers of Europe watched him enviously lest he should grow too great; his allies were shifty and selfish, and he had in a supreme degree that common weakness of mighty men, i.e. all the fabric of his achievement hung on his own life; his heir was a little girl; on his death all he had done and all his hopes would alike vanish.
All the Kings sent envoys to Mainz, to watch as well as to flatter; continual negotiations were going on, with Mecklenburg, with Brunswick, with Lübeck, with Württemberg and Strassburg; the King was the centre of all, as indispensable in the Cabinet as in the field; through all he pursued his original aim, the Protestant League, Corpus Evangelicorum; it would have been easier to have made himself Emperor of Germany, but this was not to his mind.
The great King looked round on Europe and saw it all at odds; England, which should have been his ally, played a feeble shiftless part under Charles I, weak and false as his father, who was, in fact, tampering with the desperate Ferdinand for the restoration of his brother-in-law, "the Winter King," now the guest of Gustavus at Mainz.
Richelieu was tempting Maximilian of Bavaria to leave the Emperor; the Netherlands were serving their own ends, those of gain.
Gustavus in his achievement, as in his attempts, had to still stand alone; he could count on no one but his Swedes, Oxenstierna and his generals, and his brother-in-law, John Casimir, ruling faithfully for him at home.
But outwardly all was lustrous with success. Gustavus saw his line stretch from the Rhine to the Moldau, the Palatinate cleared of the Spanish, John George in Prague, the rich library of the Marienburg sent to Uppsala, as a set-off to the Heidelberg library sent to the Vatican at the start of the war. He heard himself called the "Protestant Emperor" and credited with the design of marching not only on Vienna but on the stronghold of Papacy itself across the Alps; to those who came to fawn and flatter at Mainz, everything seemed possible for the Swede to achieve; he alone knew the immense difficulties that hampered him at every turn.
Maximilian of Bavaria was in terror for his rich country and thought of nothing but protecting it; old Tilly, despite his vexation with this selfish Prince, remained loyal to the House of Habsburg, but Wallenstein still showed an icy front to the Imperial prayers, and Gustavus again lingered over the idea of employing the redoubtable mercenary.
In the early spring, 1632, Gustavus must fight again, however uncertain the way looked, however shifty his allies or bitter his enemies, however jealous his friends. Tilly advanced from the Danube, Gustavus with the main army drove him back into Bavaria.
The magnificent free city of Nuremberg invited Gustavus to visit her rich dark streets, her glowing churches, her jutting castle, and the Protestant champion was received there with joyous pride, and the wealthiest town in Central Europe gave the "Liberator" a fitting welcome.
Gustavus and Frederic of Bohemia marched through the streets packed with enthusiastic citizens, and, says Monro, "they gifted unto the King of Sweden four half cartowes (cannon) with all furniture belonging to them, together with two silver globes, one celestial, one terrestrial."
That same night the rapid southward march was continued; Donauworth fell, and the Swedes were over the Danube in a hostile Papist country where all the stragglers were murdered and tortured by the peasantry; Tilly, defending Bavaria, waited in a strong position on the opposite bank of the Lech at Rain; with him was Maximilian, a brave man, if no great soldier, and wishful to fight for his country; this position was considered impregnable, but Gustavus did not think so; under the heavy fire of the Imperialists, he threw a pontoon bridge, crossed his men under cover of a smoke screen made by burning damp straw, and sent some of his cavalry up stream to a ford. These operations drew Tilly; at the head of some picked troops he sallied out of his camp, but the Swedes threw them back in confusion.
After a sharp tussle of six hours the Imperialists were defeated; the Bavarians had lost three thousand men, the Swedes two thousand; more important, Tilly was wounded to the death; as night fell a messenger was sent to Gustavus asking him to allow the surgeon of Ansbach, and even the Crown Surgeon himself, to attend the dying man; the King at once consented, but Tilly was beyond aid.
Maximilian took him in a litter, with the remnants of the army, in the dark to Ingolstadt, while Gustavus occupied Rain.
A fortnight later, Tilly died, advising Maximilian, as the last hope, to get hold of Wallenstein; bitter advice for the Elector who loathed the Bohemian and had been the main cause of his dismissal three years before.
Gustavus continued his victorious march, occupied the wealthy Augsburg, cradle of Protestantism, and advanced into Bavaria; booty, spoils of foe and gift of friend, became more than the troops could carry.
Before Ingolstadt—where Tilly lay dead—the Swedes were repulsed; Maximilian drew off to Regensburg and Gustavus pursued his way to Munich; on May 17th the keys of Maximilian's capital were brought to the Swede and Bavaria lay at the feet of a conqueror; Gustavus was master from the Arctic to the Alps where Bernard of Weimar had penetrated.
Frederic of Bohemia was able to march in triumph through the capital of the man who had driven him from his own; this must have been the proudest moment in the life of the poor Elector who knew so little of pride.
Gustavus remained three weeks in Munich, his affable manners, his charming personality, his moderation and justice winning love even from the Roman Catholics; he carried his toleration so far as to attend High Mass on Ascension Day, where for two hours he listened to, and beheld the solemn pomp and imposing ceremonies of the faith he had come to combat and to check.

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