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#OTD 1611: Sweden’s 16-year-old Crown Prince went to war


Gustavus Adolphus or better known as King Gustav II of Sweden was born in 1594. At the age of only 16, Gustav was a war-torn young Crown Prince who was eager to take over the Swedish throne. When Denmark-Norway stirred up a new war in 1610, it was only a question of when the war would break out.

The two arch-enemies were preparing for war and in 1611 came the declaration of war when Denmark-Norway attacked Swedish fortresses in the region of Skåne. The 16-year-old Crown Prince called for war, but he was considered to be too young. Swedish royals, politicians and commanders gathered in the fortress city of Ørebro, which was strategically located in the Swedish inland.

During the meeting in Ørebro, Crown Prince Gustav managed to convince the much older assembly. So, on this day in 1611, Crown Prince Gustav was declared to be of a proper age to lead the army. He had the right as Crown Prince to lead the Swedish army to battle in the war against Denmark, and so he did.

The Declaration of Authority is regarded as an important document as it is considered to be the beginning of Gustav’s time as a sole ruler of Sweden. The 16-year-old Crown Prince was to become King later that very year when his father, King Karl IX, died.

The war raged in 1611 while the young Crown Prince gathered his army. After becoming King in the fall and assembling a large army in 1612, the now 17-year-old King was able to initiate his own participation against the Danish-Norwegian King. He started his attack in Skåne. No less than 24 parishes were plundered and burned down. Although the young monarch was a capable army leader, the Danes had better officers. Denmark-Norway won the war in 1613. Sweden had to relinquish its claim to the Norwegian-controlled Finnmark-coastline but was allowed to sail through the Øresund Strait without paying taxes. This was the first of many wars Gustav would come to fight.

About author

Senior Europe Correspondent Oskar Aanmoen has a master in military and political history of the Nordic countries. He has written five books on historical subjects and more than 700 articles for Royal Central. He has also interview both Serbian and Norwegian royals. Aanmoen is based in Oslo, Norway.