domingo, 5 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 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.
Not for a moment was he deceived as to the stability of all this sparkling glory; his allies were more jealous than ever, his friends more disunited; worst of all, Wallenstein had at last concluded a bargain with the Emperor.
An infernal bargain it was, in substance this: Wallenstein was to raise an army by any means he could, he was to support it by any means he could, and he was to have over it supreme authority; in no way was Ferdinand to interfere, even in matters of life and death; Wallenstein was to be King and Governor over any troops he could get. This was the Bohemian's revenge for his dismissal, which still rankled so gallingly in his cold heart; the Emperor had to take him at his own terms, but with bitter resentment and the resolve to get rid of him the moment he was no longer necessary; the murder of Wallenstein, which actually took place in 1634, was no doubt decided upon when he took over the command of the Imperial forces in the spring of 1632.
Everyone hated Wallenstein; but it was a mighty name; in three months it had got together forty thousand men, the most ruthless, bloody, dishonest ruffians ever called soldiers, scoundrels of all classes, faiths, and nationalities; there was, they knew, no hope of pay from Ferdinand, but there was great hope of plunder from Wallenstein, the boldest robber, the most unscrupulous mercenary even in an age so prolific of both.
Wallenstein began by tampering with the treacherous John George; and with Arnim, his one-time lieutenant, who had recently gone over to the Protestants, he was soon in complete accord; the toils of treachery began to enmesh Gustavus.
Wallenstein soon made the terror of his name lively again in Germany; he pressed into Saxony, the Saxons ran, and blood and ruin marked the track of the fell followers of the awful Bohemian.
Gustavus left Munich, moved northwards, heard on every side bad news, the wavering of John George, the falling away of the Bavarian conquests, the march of Maximilian to meet Wallenstein, the rush of Pappenheim on to Franconia.
The Swede's great hope and desire was a pitched battle in which he could crush Wallenstein as he had crushed Tilly at Breitenfeld, but he did not know how to accomplish this; he was too beset, his operations were on too large a scale; it was almost impossible for him to have a definite and concerted plan of action.
He made a dashing attempt to prevent the junction of his enemies, but was too late. Wallenstein touched with Maximilian, June 14th, 1632, and then "All in thunder and lightning, all in fire and tempest" took and destroyed the Palatinate.
He had now sixty-five thousand troops, which his genius for command, the icy force of his character and the fascination of his name, kept in hand, villains as they were; the authority of such a man as Wallenstein over such troops as his can well be likened to the authority of Lucifer over lesser devils.
Gustavus had split up his forces so that he had only eighteen thousand men under his personal command; he fell back on Nuremberg, which he had pledged his word to protect. On came Wallenstein, bloated with the blood, black with the smoke of sacked and burning towns and villages, threatening vengeance against Nuremberg.
It was more to the honour than to the advantage of Gustavus to remain in this city; had he abandoned it to the fury of the Imperialists and fallen back on the Rhine he might have drawn up all his forces, detached Maximilian (who was not likely to fight outside Bavaria), met Wallenstein on equal terms, and come to a truce or a peace with Ferdinand.
But it was out of the question for Gustavus to abandon Nuremberg; he at once additionally fortified the city, encamped and entrenched his army round it, and waited for Wallenstein, who came up with his huge army and a train of Imperialist generals, Maximilian himself, Gallas, Aldringer, Piccolomini, Hoick and Sparre, all brave with plumes and gold, spangles and steel.
Gustavus, spying them through his perspective glass, hoped for a battle; but such was not Wallenstein's desire. At first he was inclined to betray Ferdinand to Gustavus, then he sat down to starve the Swedes out; taking no notice of the other generals, Wallenstein withdrew into his tent in the midst of his eight-mile camp and coldly waited outside the Swedish positions.
Wallenstein kept his own hordes together by sheer terror, hangings and floggings, and disclosed his mind to no one; his icy coldness seemed to scorn all men, friend and foe.
He had one advantage over Gustavus, the possession of the Croats, light cavalry excellent at forays, "the ranke riders and common harryers of the Imperial army" who scoured up all available provisions for miles round, while the Swedes had no horsemen.
For two months this inaction went on; then hunger, then plague broke out in the town, in both camps; Gustavus had to see people die so fast graves could not be made to hold them, dead horses tainting the air, men fighting for a pittance of bread, a fragment of meat.
In those ghastly summer months 29,000 souls perished among besiegers and besieged, the wretched Frederic fell ill, the famous discipline of Gustavus began to break.
This infuriated the King; he blamed, and justly, not the Swedes, but the Germans.
"They are no Swedes that commit these crimes," he said sternly to the troops, "but you Germans yourselves. Had I known you to be such a people...I would never have saddled a horse for your sakes...I came but to restore every man to his own, but this most accursed and devilish robbing of yours does much abate my purpose. I have not enriched myself by as much as by one pair of boots since my coming to Germany, though I have had forty tons of gold pass through my hands."
While Gustavus was thus inactive in Nuremberg he was not idle; he drafted out, in common with the German Princes with him the terms of a peace to be offered to the Emperor, one of which was the acceptance by Ferdinand of the cherished Corpus Evangelicorum of Gustavus.
The conditions in town and camps became more terrible; Wallenstein regarded the agonies of his men with dark indifference, but Gustavus could not endure the sufferings of the Swedes; when, on 12th August, his reinforcements under Oxenstiern, Banèr and Bernard reached Nuremberg he resolved to storm the Imperial camp on the hills at Alte Veste. He had hoped that Wallenstein would be drawn out to prevent the reinforcements coming up; but the Bohemian never stirred and Gustavus began to be desperate from sheer want of food.
On the 24th August a general assault was made on Alte Veste, a frantic fight of twelve hours against awful odds (with the King as usual in the hottest of the contest) which ended in the repulse of the Swedes; they left four thousand dead on the slopes, Banèr wounded, Torstenson a prisoner; Gustavus had had his boot shot away, Bernard's horse had been killed under him. Wallenstein remained unmoved, but admitted that the battle had been hot; to the Emperor he wrote that "the King's course is already downward, he has completely lost credit and will be completely done for as soon as Pappenheim arrives."
While he wrote this Gustavus had drawn off from Nuremberg, leaving a garrison behind him; four days afterwards Wallenstein, too, left the walls of the famished city.
Gustavus had, with touching, simple gallantry, sent him a challenge, which he had ignored, but now he was after the Swede to defeat him in the open; at Merseburg he met Pappenheim while Gustavus was returning to the siege of Ingolstadt. On hearing that the enemy was in Saxony, Gustavus swung round, left Bavaria, and in eighteen days was at Erfurt—"as if he had flown," said Wallenstein, checked in his advance on Dresden; he, too, turned and came up to Naumburg, to entrench himself against the King.
It was late October now, and cold. Wallenstein did not believe that Gustavus would fight that winter.
But the King had decided to do so; he felt that his only security lay in the possibility of another victory like Breitenfeld; he was filled, too, with a strong presentiment that his work was over, his life done; it would be a miracle indeed if he could continue to fight as he had fought, expose himself as he had exposed himself, and live.
With Oxenstierna, as they had marched through the autumn forests of Thuringia, he had spoken of his beloved kingdom and his little child, drawing up a plan of regency for Christina if he should fall; at Saale, where the marketplace was packed with people praising him, he had said:
"Think not of me, I am a weak and dying man. Think of the Cause."
He took a kind farewell of his Queen, who had come to Erfurt, of his Chancellor, charged the garrison to have a good care of them, and rode after his troops, on the 31st of October 1632.
Wallenstein took Leipzig, but Gustavus saved Naumburg; the inhabitants went on their knees to him in their gratitude and the King was troubled.
"God will surely punish me for receiving such adoration—yet I hope He will not suffer my work to fail whatever becomes of me."

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