Monday, 27 April 2015

Episode 21: Gustav II Adolf

Gustav II Adolf, or Gustavus Adolphus, is one of few Swedish kings that people abroad know of and that is because of his military activities in the Thirty years war. In Sweden he was once a beloved hero, but is today probably best known for his death in the mist at the battle of Lützen and for his horse Streiff - Sweden's most famous museum object.

Gustav Adolf liked war and he was good at it. After finishing the wars with Denmark, Poland ad Russia that he had inherited from his father, in 1630 he got Sweden involved in the Thirty years war. His new tactics, in short fighting after the principle of fire and movement, won him a great victory at Breitenfeld in 1631 - raising Gustav Adolf to celebrety status in the Europe of that day. On november 6th 1632 he fell in another battle, at Lützen. His horse Streiff died the following year, on the way back to Sweden with the remains of the king.

Streiff, an oldenburg horse, carried Gustav Adolf at the beginning of the battle at Lützen but was wounded by a bullet and replaced. When he died in 1633, his skin was preserved and later mounted on a wooden frame. That frame is bit too small and somewhat strange in form. We can assume that the real Streiff was larger and more handsome - but still, we can see him at the Royal Armoury in Stockholm.