This book examines the meteoric rise of Sweden as the preeminent military power in Europe during the Thirty Years War during the 1600's, and then follows its line of warrior kings into the next century until the Swedes finally meet their demise, in an overreach into the vastness of Russia.
This book examines the meteoric rise of Sweden as the pre-eminent military power in Europe during the Thirty Years War during the 1600's, and then follows its line of warrior kings into the next century until the Swedes finally meet their demise, in an overreach into the vastness of Russia.
A small Scandinavian nation, with at most one and a half million people and scant internal resources of its own, there was small logic to how Sweden could become the dominant power on the Continent. That Sweden achieved this was due to its leadership—a case-study in history when pure military skill, and that alone, could override the demographic and economic factors which have in modern times been termed so preeminent.
Once Protestantism emerged via Martin Luther, the most devastating war in European history ensued as the Holy Roman Empire sought to reassert its authority by force. Into this bloody maelstrom stepped Gustav Adolf of Sweden, a brilliant tactician and strategist, who with his finely honed Swedish legions proceeded to establish a new authority in northern Europe. Gustav, as brave as he was brilliant, was finally killed while leading a cavalry charge at the Battle of Lützen.
He had innovated, however, tactics and weaponry that put his successors in good stead, as Sweden remained a great power, rivaled only by France and Spain in terms of territory in Europe.
And then one of his successors, Karl XII, turned out to be just as great a military genius as Gustav himself, and as the year 1700 arrived, Swedish armies once more burst out in all directions. Karl, like Gustav, assumed the throne while still a teenager, but immediately displayed so much acumen, daring and skill that chroniclers could only compare him, like Gustav, to Alexander the Great.
This book examines thoroughly, yet in highly readable fashion, the century during which Swedish military power set an example for all Europe. While the Continent was most visibly divided along religious lines—Catholic versus Protestant—geopolitical motives always underlined the conflicts. Sweden’s reliance on its military skill was especially noteworthy, as it veritably founded the modern concept of making wars pay through conquest.
Karl XII finally let his ambitions lead him too far, as did Napoleon and Hitler in following centuries, into the vastness of the nascent Russian Empire, where he was finally defeated, at Poltava in Ukraine. Thus the period of Swedish supremacy in Europe came to a close, albeit not without leaving important lessons behind. In this work, by renowned author Henrik O. Lunde, these are clearly to be seen.
MAP AND BATTLE SKETCH INDEX PREFACE AND ACKNOWLEDGMENTS INTRODUCTION
Chapter 1 Gustav Adolf ’s Danish and Baltic Campaigns Chapter 2 The Military Revolution—Dutch and Swedish Reforms Chapter 3 Sweden Intervenes in the Thirty Years War Chapter 4 The Breitenfeld and Rhine Campaigns Chapter 5 The Tortured Road to Lützen Chapter 6 Swedish Military Operations in Germany 1633–1648 Chapter 7 Defending an Empire—Karl X and Karl XI Chapter 8 Karl XII’s Danish and Baltic Campaigns Chapter 9 The Russian Campaign—Karl XII’s Exile and Death
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
Appendix I BIOGRAPHIC SKETCHES OF SELECTED SOURCE AUTHORS Appendix II SELECTED EUROPEAN RULERS 1500–1700 Appendix III LIST OF FIELD MARSHALS MENTIONED
Colonel Henrik O. Lunde served three tours in Vietnam in the U.S. Army. After a prestigious career in the military, Lunde has written a number of books, including four military history books and numerous articles on military history.
"...delivers insights such as how Sweden's reliance on its military skill was notable because it established the modern concept of making wars pay through conquest. The author also shows how important lessons can be learned from Sweden's ascent to superpower and downfall"
~Toy Solder & Model Figure
"The idea that Sweden has played a key role in shaping European history at first seems unlikely. But by telling that history from an entirely Swedish perspective, Lunde demonstrates how his country both broke the Holy Roman Empire, and then woke Russia from sleeping-giant status. An intriguing read: file under “surprisingly insightful”."
~History of War
A very readable and informative introduction to military developments in Sweden and the careers of its two famous soldier-kings that may inspire wargamers to explore the Thirty Years’ War and/or the Great Northern War in more depth and to refight battles such as Breitenfeld, Lutzen and Poltava on the tabletop.
"…a solid survey of Sweden’s most glorious century, militarily speaking. […] an interesting and engaging book that made me want to dig deeper into the warrior kings. Other readers of 17th Century warfare will certainly want this on their shelves."
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