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Gustav II Adolph of Sweden
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Gustav II Adolph of Sweden

Gustav II Adolph , also known under the Latin name Gustavus Adolphus or the Swedish form Gustav II Adolf, was a King of Sweden. He is also known as Gustav Adolph the Great. He was born on December 9, 1594 in Stockholm, the son of Charles IX of the Vasa dynasty and Kristina of Holstein-Gottorp.

Gustav II Adolph
ReignOctober 30, 1611-November 6, 1632
(Government from December, 1611)
CoronationOctober 12, 1617
Royal motto "Cum Deo et victribus armis"
("With God and victorious arms")
QueenMaria Eleonora of Brandenburg
Royal HouseVasa
PredecessorCharles IX of Sweden
SuccessorChristina of Sweden
Date of BirthDecember 9, 1594
Place of BirthStockholm
Date of DeathNovember 6, 1632 (Julian calendar)
or November 16 (Gregorian calendar)
Place of DeathAt the battle of Lützen, Germany
Dat of BurialJune 22, 1634
Place of BurialRiddarholmskyrkan, Stockholm

He was the king of Sweden from 1611, and as such one of the major players in the Thirty Years' War where he was styled as "The Lion of the North - Savior of Protestants". Gustav Adolf was married to the daughter of the elector of Brandenburg-Prussia, Maria Eleonora and chose Prussia's city of Elbing as base for his operations in Germany. He died in battle on November 6, 1632 at Lützen in Germany.

During his reign, Gustav founded the city of Gothenburg as well as a number of smaller cities. He is also the founder of the University of Tartu in Tartu, Estonia, which then belonged to the kingdom of Sweden. In this time, the three largest cities in the kingdom were Riga (currently the capital of Latvia), Stockholm and Tallinn (capital of Estonia).


As a general, Gustav is famous for employing mobile artillery on the battlefield, as well as a very active tactic where attack was stressed over defense and mobility more important than in the usual linear tactic.

This was only part of the reason why Carl von Clausewitz and Napoleon Bonaparte idolized him as the general above all others. His character both of purpose and of amity with all his troops from commanding officers right down to the rank and file, earned him unassailably documented fame which most commanders in chief would gladly accept as mere joking anecdotes.

The king was an active participant in the battles, and was wounded several times, amongst them gunshot wounds to the throat and the abdomen. The war wounds led the king to adopt a flexible armour of hide instead of the customary metal cuirass, and this is what he wore in the Battle of Lützen. Gustav's armour is currently on display in the Royal Swedish Armoury at the Royal Palace in Stockholm.

Gustav was killed in the renowned Battle of Lützen where he was misled by dense fog and poor eyesight to charge into an enemy formation. After his death, his wife Maria Eleonora of Brandenburg initially kept his body, and later his heart, in her bedroom for the rest of her life. He now rests (including heart) in Riddarholmskyrkan in Stockholm.

In February 1633, following the death of the great king, the Swedish Riksdag of the Estates decided that his name would be accompanied by an accolade and that his name was to be styled Gustav Adolph the Great (or Gustav Adolf den Store in Swedish). Such an honor has not been bestowed on anyone else since.

Maria Eleonora and Gustav Adolph's daughter Christina of Sweden took over the government upon her father's death.


A history of Adolphus' wars was written by Johann Philipp Abelin.

The Day of Gustav Adolph is observed each year on November 6 in Sweden. On this day a special pastry, with a chocolate medallion of the king, is sold. The day is also an official flag day in the Swedish calendar.

See also

Preceded by:
Charles IX
King of Sweden Succeeded by: