Michael Fredholm Von Essen, The Lion from the North, The Swedish Army during the Thirty Years War: Volume 2 1632-1648 (Helion, 2020)
This book describes the Swedish army and its battles during the Thirty Years War from 1632 through to the Peace of Westphalia in 1648.
After the death of Gustavus Adolphus II, his Chancellor Axel Oxenstierna took over command of the Swedish and allied forces in Germany. Essen covers the various phases of the War in Germany, the sieges in the Imperial lands, and the on-off relationship with their French allies in some detail. He describes the main Swedish commanders of the time, their personalities, and how that impacted on strategy and tactics. The reorganisation of the Swedish army in terms of how it was raised and funded, its organisational structure, the weapons, uniforms and equipment and how these ultimately impacted on battlefield tactics are laid out clearly and concisely. In addition, there are chapters on the Swedish invasion of Denmark, the Swedish navy and Sweden’s colonies in North America, and the Gold Coast. Each of which is fascinating in its own right.
The text which is written in a very engaging style and is supported by 8 colour pages showing Swedish uniforms, 23 pages of flags, and a map of the Imperial Circles. There are also numerous black and white images of period paintings and illustrations, some of which are really inspiring. The literature most readily available in English on the Swedish Army of this period tends to concentrate on the Swedish intervention in the Thirty Years War led by Gustavus Adolphus. What we have in both this and the first volume is a far more well-rounded and balanced view of the army, its organisation, and its changing tactics. It shows the brilliance of both Gustavus Adolphus and his Chancellor Oxenstierna, and to my mind is a great example of a well written, illuminating and interesting military history.
Recommended for anyone that has heard of the Thirty Years War, Sweden, or who has just been to IKEA. Buy this book, if it doesn’t spark your interest in the Swedish Army you may need to check if you are still alive.
(Reviewed by Mike Huston)