Saturday, December 19, 2009

Daddy Dearest

The fork bearded fellow above is our 120th hero of the day. His name is Gustaf II Adolf, better known to us non-Swedes as Gustavus Adolphus born this day 1594 in Stockholm, Sweden. He has the added heroic quality of being the father of yesterday's heroine. So two days in a row we are graced by Swedes who just happen to be father and daughter. He became king at the age of seventeen, when he emerged victorious after a wee dynastic dispute. Gustaf led Sweden into the Thirty Year's War on the Anti-Imperial side. Winning battle after battle with the best organized, and best trained army in the field. He has been called the father of modern warfare, not too sure that would make him overly happy, and I suspect he would not take credit for the mass slaughter of WW I, and WW II. He did, however, make advances in how his army was trained that were copied by Napoleon, and Patton considered him on the best generals of all time. High praise even if it does come from a couple of butchers. He helped transform Sweden from a mere regional power to a "superpower." A force to be reckoned with, and a major player on the world political stage. However, this glory was to be gained at a price, and in Gustaf's case the price was the ultimate price. He was killed (probably by friendly fire), at the battle of Lutzen on November 6th, 1632. His wife, a bit of an odd bird, kept his body and his heart at Nykoping castle for over a year before allowing it to be buried in Stockholm. I have actually laid eyes upon the church in which his remains rest, and I was quite impressed. Nothing like visiting the grave sites of your heroes to put your life into some sort of context. After his death the Swedish parliament officially bestowed upon him the title of "the Great" something that no other Swedish monarch before or since has been allowed. He would be succeed to the throne by yesterday's heroine, and thus the circle of heroes has been completed. So, for putting Sweden on the big stage to play with the big boys, and for being the only Swedish monarch allowed to be called "the Great," Gustaf II Adolph Magnus (December 19th, 1594- November 6th, 1632), you are my hero of the day.

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