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Gustavus Adolphus: The King of Sweden

Known as ‘Lion of the North’, Gustavus Adolphus was the King of Sweden from 1611 to 1632. He is regarded as one of the greatest military commanders in modern history by some historians.

Gustavus Adolphus came to the throne at the age of 16. He inherited three wars, one against the Russians, one against the Danes and one against the Poles, from his father Charles IX of Sweden. Under his rule, Sweden emerged unscathed in all the three wars. His integration of infantry, cavalry and unorthodox use of artillery, earned him the title of the ‘Father of Modern Warfare’. Unlike many contemporary kings, Gustavus Adolphus did not enrol any mercenaries in his army for which his army was never accused of looting, raping and torturing.

Gustavus Adolphus, apart from being a military strategist, earned name as a charismatic leader too, granting greater autonomy to peasants, implementing domestic reforms that dragged Sweden from the medieval period into the early modern world and reforming administrative structure that helped forming the basis of the Swedish Empire.

According to German socialist Franz Mehring, Gustavus Adolphus fought wars over economic consideration and trade rather than religion unlike his contemporaries. Gustavus Adolphus’s own “manifesto of war” also did not mention any religious motivations and just spoke of political and economic reasons.

Gustavus Adolphus day is marked in Sweden on 6 November, the day the king died in a battle at Lütze.

Written by Wasim Subhan Choudhury

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