War by Contract, Credit and Contribution: The Thirty Years War

TitleWar by Contract, Credit and Contribution: The Thirty Years War
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsMortimer, Geoff
Book TitleEarly Modern Military History, 1450–1815
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan

Asked to list the great powers of the day, an informed European in the mid-1600s would undoubtedly have named Sweden, if not first at least in the first breath, along with France, Spain and the Holy Roman Empire. This surprising fact arises from Sweden’s intervention in the Thirty Years War in 1630, and her central role in the conflict during the following 18 years. Although the war had no clear winner, Sweden emerged as the main gainer at the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, securing large territories on the German Baltic coast and a huge cash indemnity for her war expenses. This did not seem a likely outcome in 1630, at which time the Imperialist side did not perceive a significant Swedish threat, and Gustavus Adolphus himself invaded Germany equipped with maps only for a limited war in the north (Roberts, 1992, p. 138). In the event he took Munich two years later, and although there were many setbacks his successors later threatened Vienna, while at the end of the war almost half of the 250,000 troops estimated to be on active service within the Empire territories were in Swedish units (Parker, 1988, p. 303).

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