Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Wallenstein or Gustavus?

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Wallenstein or Gustavus?

    Among military historians it is not uncommon to find adorers of Gustavus II Adolphus, the Lion of the North, the savior of Protestantism and the great military innovator of the 17th century.... While undeniably a charismatic and impressive individual, his alleged inventiveness has lately come under fire. More thorough study reveals that many of the inventions attributed to the Swedish king either predate him, never took place to begin with or appeared later, such as national conscription (on and off attempts by Swedish kings since the 1560's) and charging home with cold steel (in Germany, the heavily armored cuirassiers specialized in this task. The harquebusiers were essentially support and skirmishing troops).

    And then there is Albrecht von Wallenstein. By all accounts a ruthless, Machiavellian and selfish individual, he receives little sympathy from anyone, be it contemporary writers or later historians. The poetic justice in his death just cements this view. And yet, all things considered, there might be more to him than cartoon villain material. Wallenstein made advances in supplying his army, by creating a substantial logistical basis for it in his demesne. The supply hub allowed him to outfit and feed more men. By enforcing a wartime economy, he could also fund it. Through pragmatism and great efforts in administration, Wallenstein managed to swell his army to well over a hundred thousand men, an achievement not repeated for perhaps a thousand years or more, since the decline of the Roman empire. What more, despite this gargantuan increase from dozens of thousands to hundreds, quality of troops remained serviceable, parallel to Gustavus's complaints about how increasing the numbers of his army was met by a corresponding decrease in quality, and the utter mess that was the Catholic League.



    So the question is, who do you believe was more important for the evolution of modern armies, Gustavus the warrior king, or Wallenstein the pragmatic generalissimo?
    16
    Gustavus Adolphus
    81.25%
    13
    Wallenstein
    18.75%
    3

  • #2
    Gustavus Adolphus. Wallenstein was a logistical and organizational not battlefield genius. Gustavus was an all in one deal.
    First Counsul Maleketh of Jonov

    Comment


    • #3
      I would also say that Gustavus was at the head of a pioneering enterprise of early Modern Period state-building enterprise, which Wallenstein was not. Gustavus kingdom was completely retooled for greater administrative control and efficiency to be able to make all these wars. It was a model that could and would be used elsewhere as well.

      Wallenstein by comparison looks more like one of the late, if great, private "condottiere", making war as a private enterprise if under contract from a prince, in a mold handed down from previous centuries. From the time of their encounters onwards, clearly the European historical impetus was for building administratively stronger and more capable states, with private operators like Wallensten being phased out.

      By comparison Wallenstein recruited armies as mercenary as himself. Gustavus at least presided over the inception of a process that would see the formation of specifically national armies (of Gustavus' own was still relatively short on them).

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Delenda estRoma View Post
        Gustavus Adolphus. Wallenstein was a logistical and organizational not battlefield genius. Gustavus was an all in one deal.
        So you really believe that the ever changing niche of tactics is more important than the logistics supporting them?

        Tactics don't win wars. Also, Gustavus was not a logistical innovator:
        1) National conscription, usually attributed to him, had been used to varied success by the Swedes since the 1560's.
        2) Uniform gear... Well, let's just say that G2A's armies never had uniformed gear, at least not any more than the German armies did.
        3) He in fact complained about his inability to match Wallenstein's expansion in numbers without losing the quality.

        @Johan National armies weren't invented by Gustavus. An example is the army of Rome. National, private and mercenary armies have always existed and even coexisted.

        Then again, might be that the average member of these forums is far more interested in tactics than long-term strategy and logistics.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Roachthegreat View Post
          @Johan National armies weren't invented by Gustavus. An example is the army of Rome. National, private and mercenary armies have always existed and even coexisted.
          The process of building centralised nation states in the early modern period begins with building standing national armies (and that sorted, the modern state then does public education, then public health). Sweden was operating at the cutting edge of these processes at the time of Gustavus. Afaik Wallenstein wasn't part of any such process.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Johan Banér View Post
            The process of building centralised nation states in the early modern period begins with building standing national armies (and that sorted, the modern state then does public education, then public health). Sweden was operating at the cutting edge of these processes at the time of Gustavus. Afaik Wallenstein wasn't part of any such process.
            He wasn't. But Gustavus did little to further it. If I had to look for the best example of a monarch advancing the ideas of a centralized nation state, it would be Louis XIV of France.

            G2A's army was in very large part a force of German mercenaries, FYI. And since the standing conscript army had been pioneered by his predecessors, not him, he doesn't deserve any credit there either. Wallenstein, OTOH, fielded a gargantuan army by himself, turning his estates in a large logistical support network. And yes, that's an achievement, because the gigantic barbarian armies of antiquity can quite decidedly be proven as bullshit.

            Comment


            • #7
              You're underrating Gustavus and overrating Wallenstein as a commander and giving Wallenstein too much credit for being a logistician.

              All of the armies of the period had problems with logistics because of the nature of the beast during the period. Gustavus did have a logistic system, which could not last because of the length and breadth of the campaigning area in Germany, and Wallenstein generally lived off the land. Both armies had to move after they had stripped an area of all possible supplies.

              You might try three references that could be helpful: John Elting's The Superstrategists, van Creveld's Supplying War, and Lynn Montross' War Throught the Ages.

              Gustavus was also a military innovator, artillery being one of his main projects. His tactical innovations, learned by both defeat and victory in his early campaigns, were one of the reasons he won.

              Sincerely,
              M
              We are not now that strength which in old days
              Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
              Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
              To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Roachthegreat View Post
                He wasn't. But Gustavus did little to further it. If I had to look for the best example of a monarch advancing the ideas of a centralized nation state, it would be Louis XIV of France.
                And you'd be looking in the wrong place.

                Gustavus was part of a double act. The other half of it was Axel Oxenstierna. Oxenstiernas reforms completely trandformed Sweden. He provided what is arguablythe first Swedish constitutio ("regeringsformen", the Government Form, 1619).
                The country still operates on the basic adiministrative structure Oxenstierna implemented. (Czar Peter later copied it to get Russia up to speed as well.)
                All Swedish medieval towns were pulled down and then rebuilt effectively to act as counting-machines for the central administration in Stockholm.

                Oxenstierna for a while turned Sweden into a world-beater in the field of cost-effective administration, doing a lot with a little. Which meant Sweden created among other things the world's forst national bureau of statistics ("Tabellverket").

                All of this was eagerly and actively supported by Gustavus, and both men were in perfect agreement that it was all done to ensure Sweden's ability to engage in Gustavus' particular forte, waging war. It's why Sweden of the day, population 1,2 million, could field standing armies of 150 000 men.

                As Mazarin put it:
                "If all the Chancellors of Europe took to sea, and had to agree on a commander, by virtue of competence alone the honour should go to the Swedish Chancellor."

                And he was Louis' Chancellor.

                All in all, I happen to number myself among those who consider Gustavus the lesser man of the two of course.

                There are striking similarities between the reforms of Richelieu/Mazarin and Oxenstierna, but Oxenstierna imo has them beat for providing Sweden with a meritocratic system of public administration, not one based on aristocratic privilege, which ended up hampering France.

                Comment

                Latest Topics

                Collapse

                Working...
                X