In the twelve years since the Austro-Bavarian army had defeated Bohemian hopes of independence at White Mountain, the Catholic forces of central Europe had continued on the offensive. The Austrians had gone on to chase the Palatine Elector Frederick V from his Palatinate holdings, and then beat up on the Duke of Brunswick who prematurely sided with the Protestants. Christian IV of Denmark took his turn as Habsburg whipping boy from 1625-1629. By 1630 the specter of a recatholicization of the northern Empire, along with expanding Austrian influence along the Baltic coast, led the Swedish “Lion of the North”, Gustavus Adolphus, to declare war. His army of Swedish conscripts and mercenary troops decisively defeated the Austrian forces at Breitenfeld in 1631, and proceeded to rampage throughout central Germany. In the following year, on this day,* another major battle would be fought at Lützen in Saxony. Once again the Swedes would be victorious, but it was a Pyrrhic victory, for their King Gustav Adolf would be killed in the fog of battle. The loss of their leader crippled the Swedish cause, and would force the French to bankroll the Swedish war effort, and eventually enter the war themselves.
Less remarked upon in the annals of history is that a logging town on the North Shore of Lake Superior (Minnesota) would take on the name of Lutsen from its Swedish settlers, and that a century after that, a budding EMEMHian from the Twin Cities would vacation there, at the Lutsen resort. Small world indeed.
* Given the difference between Old Style and New Style calendars (post to come), the Swedes still commemorate Gustav Adolf’s death on 6 November. You might be able to make it out in the legend on the lower-right corner of the map above.