The Lion from the North

Volume 1, The Swedish Army of Gustavus Adolphus, 1618-1632

Michael Fredholm von Essen

The book describes and analyses the early modern Swedish army, with a particular emphasis on the reforms introduced by King Gustavus Adolphus before and during the Thirty Years War.
Date Published :
September 2020
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Series :
Century of the Soldier
Illustration :
119 b/w illustrations, 10 b/w maps, 15 tables, 32pp color plates
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781911628576
Pages : 304
Dimensions : 9.75 X 6.75 inches
Stock Status : Available


The book describes and analyses the early modern Swedish army, with a particular emphasis on the reforms introduced by King Gustavus Adolphus before and during the Thirty Years War. Furthermore, the book expands our understanding of the Swedish army during the Thirty Years War by also focusing on its operations on the eastern front, against Russian and Polish opponents, and not only on the better-known operations in Germany against the Catholic League and the Holy Roman Empire. Sweden had a long history of conflict with neighboring countries, and the reforms introduced by King Gustavus Adolphus had their origin in wars fought in the early seventeenth century, before or in the early phases of the Thirty Years War. The Kalmar war with Denmark, the Novgorod and Pskov campaigns in Russia, the conquest of Livonia, and the war with Poland played important roles in preparing the Swedish army for the wars on the continent from 1630 onwards. While some of the technical and tactical innovations attributed to the Swedish Army in the Thirty Years War are myths, others were real. Possibly of yet more enduring importance were the Swedish Chancellor Axel Oxenstierna’s administrative reforms. A conscription system was established which consistently managed to raise troops, despite the small population of Sweden and its territories. A logistics system was introduced which could supply the armies, despite the vast geographical depth of operations. The intelligence service was developed into a comprehensive support establishment to military operations. It is fair to say that the Swedish army that entered the Thirty Years War and the organization that enabled it formed the foundation for the subsequent Swedish rise to regional great power status. While the army of Gustavus Adolphus has been described elsewhere, the book includes current research that has not yet appeared in the English language. It also, unlike most previous works, explains how the Swedish experiences on the eastern front influenced Gustavus Adolphus and his views on how to build a modern army that could challenge the established great powers on the continent.

About The Author

Professor Michael Fredholm von Essen is an historian and former military analyst who has published extensively on the history, defence strategies, security policies, and energy sector developments of Eurasia. He currently is the Head of Research and Development at IRI, an independent research institute. Educated at Uppsala, Stockholm, and Lund Universities, Michael Fredholm von Essen has lectured, including during conferences and as visiting professor, at numerous institutions and universities around the world. He is the author of a large number of books, articles, and academic papers, including Muscovy’s Soldiers: The Emergence of the Russian Army, 1462-1689 (Helion, 2018); Charles XI’s War: The Scanian War between Sweden and Denmark, 1675-1679 (Helion, 2018); Transnational Organized Crime and Jihadist Terrorism: Russian-Speaking Networks in Western Europe (Routledge, 2017); Understanding Lone Actor Terrorism: Past Experience, Future Outlook, and Response Strategies (Routledge, 2016); Afghanistan Beyond the Fog of War: Persistent Failure of a Rentier State (NIAS, 2018); Eight Banners and Green Flag: The Army of the Manchu Empire and Qing China, 1600-1850 (Pike and Shot Society, 2009); and a large number of articles on early modern warfare in the Arquebusier, the journal of the Pike and Shot Society.


" essential book for anyone wanting to understand the Swedish army under its most famous commander. ... descriptions of Gustavus’s major battles in the Thirty Years War are particularly good. This book is also packed full of illustrations and informative colour plates, as you might expect from Helion’s excellent Century of the Soldier series. And this is only Volume I of von Essen’s examination of the Swedish army in the 17th Century, so I eagerly anticipate Volume II as I am sure you will too.’’

- Wargames Illustrated

" excellent read and a valuable reference."


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