chapter  6
Pages 10

Sweden’s intervention in Germany, that was originally limited both in its aims and its scope, developed into a massive military engagement that lasted for 18 years. In the course of this period, the ‘German war’ transformed into what has been called a ‘total war’1 or a ‘European war in Germany’.2 The ability of a small and sparsely populated peasant state to sustain a  Š›ȱŽě˜›ȱ˜›ȱœžŒ‘ȱŠȱ•˜—ȱ™Ž›’˜ȱ˜ȱ’–Žǰȱ ’‘ȱŠȱ‘žŽȱ’–™ŠŒȱ˜—ȱ‘Žȱ™›˜›Žœœ’˜—ȱ˜ȱ‘Žȱ Š›ȱ and on its eventual outcome, has fascinated historians and laypeople alike. This chapter discusses some central issues related to the Swedish war in Germany, such as Sweden’s ›ŽŠœ˜—œȱ Š—ȱ “žœ’ęŒŠ’˜—ȱ ˜›ȱ ’—Ž›ŸŽ—’˜—ǰȱ ‘Žȱ œ‘’ȱ ˜ȱ ’œȱ Š›ȱ Š’–œȱ ž›’—ȱ ’œȱ Œ˜ž›œŽǰȱ ’œȱ collaboration with imperial estates in the context of the constitution of the empire, and the œ¢œŽ–ȱ˜ȱ Š›ȱę—Š—ŒŽȱŒ›ŽŠŽȱ‹¢ȱ ŽŽ—ȱž›’—ȱ‘ŽȱŒ˜—Ě’Œǯ

The question of Gustav Adolph’s motives behind his intervention has been one of the perennial issues in historical scholarship. The eighteenth-and nineteenth-century romantic image of a Protestant hero who intervened in the German war in order to save his fellow Protestants and German liberties from imperial tyranny has long been replaced by a more sober assessment of his motives.3 The prevailing account acknowledges that Gustav Adolph  ŠœȱŠȱ™›Š–Š’ŒȱȁŽŠ•™˜•’’”Ž›Ȃȱ ‘˜ȱę›œȱŠ—ȱ˜›Ž–˜œȱŠŒŽȱ’—ȱ ‘Šȱ‘ŽȱœŠ ȱŠœȱ‘Žȱ’—Ž›Žœȱ of his own state. This account coincides with the king’s own interpretation of his motives. In October 1630 he wrote to Chancellor Axel Oxenstierna retrospectively that the chief reason and aim (scopus) of the war was ‘the security of the fatherland against the designs of the enemy’. The king asserted that the best means to achieve security against this particular enemy, the expanding Habsburgs in co-operation with the counter-reforming Pope, was the restitution of the German Protestant princes to their former status, so that ‘we could be safe in our fatherland through their security’.4