Gustavus Adolphus, sometimes known as “The Lion of the North,” was the eldest son of Charles IX, and was just short of 17 years of age when he succeeded his father to the Swedish throne in 1611. Since Charles had overthrown Sigismund III – who was also king of Poland – to seize the Swedish crown, the resulting dynastic squabble involved Sweden and Poland in a war that lasted 60 years. Charles had also managed to blunder into a war with Russia. And Denmark too after he defaulted on loans. Finally, various Catholic powers were threatening to end Sweden’s Lutheran leanings … violently. So Gustavus had a few “challenges” to face.
Gustavus managed to negotiate a peace with the Danes in 1613, at the cost of a heavy indemnity. That same year the election of Mikhail Romanov to the throne of Russia ended that threat, although Adolphus decided to take advantage of the upheaval by seizing the Russian holdings of Ingria and Kexholm, thus linking Swedish Finland to Swedish Estonia. In 1617, that war too was over. This left Gustavus and his brilliant chancellor Oxenstierna free to focus on internal reforms, which included the restructuring of the Swedish army. The Lion then used it to bludgeon Poland into the Truce of Altmark in 1629, which saw Sweden acquire Livonia on the Baltic.
Which was just as well, as Gustavus had become embroiled in the Christian feud known as the Thirty Years' War. To “support and protect” the Protestants in Germany, Gustavus undertook an invasion. He first consolidated the Protestant positions in the north, and then defeated a Catholic army under Tilly that was laying waste to Saxony. In March 1632 he entered Catholic Bavaria, a staunch ally of the Holy Roman Emperor. The subsequent battle of Lutzen was another Protestant victory, but in the process Gustavus Adolphus was shot down by enemy troops.
- Gustavus Adolphus's daughter, Kristina, is the Swedish leader in Gathering Storm.
- Gustavus Adolphus was the Swedish leader in Civilization V: Gods & Kings.