Learn About the Military of the Swedish Empire

Learn About the Military of the Swedish Empire


Sweden is a well known country today, but
they are not particularly well known for their military prowess. Most people today known Sweden for Ikea, pop
music, and for being a very successful and rich, but relatively small country. However, many people outside of Sweden and
the nearby countries do not realize that just a few hundred years ago, Sweden was one of
the most feared military and economic powers in the world. They held control over the trade routes through
the Baltic Sea, and at one point had a stranglehold on almost all of their neighbors, arguably
coming closer to defeating the Russians than any other world power ever has. While many people may not be aware of their
prowess, the country of Sweden and their mighty army known in later years as the Caroleans
were once the most feared force in Northern Europe. 10. The Battle Of Poltava Marked The Beginning
Of The End Of The Swedish Empire A common piece of military wisdom is that
a ground war in Russia is generally not a very good idea. They will grind you down with numbers and
use the cold and hostile environment to their advantage. People recall Hitler losing a huge chunk of
his manpower trying to attack Russia in the winter, and some people remember in history
when Napoleon tried something similar and was similarly rebuffed. The Russians even went so far as to burn villages
and crops as they retreated when fighting against Napoleon’s forces, in order to ensure
that the French army would not be able to live off Russia’s natural supply chain,
making it harder for them to sustain their forces. However, before Napoleon or Hitler ever failed
at breaking through to the main holdings of the Russian people, Sweden made their best
attempt as well. It was during the Great Northern War, a time
when the map of the world was very different and Sweden was such a fearsome power that
they had enemies to subdue on all sides. The Russians managed to drag the Swedes towards
their own territory, where they were fighting partly over who would control Ukraine. At the battle of Poltava in Ukraine, the Swedish
force tried to mount an attack against a heavily fortified Russian fortress, and lost nearly
7,000 troops. For such a small country, this was a blow
they were never able to recover from – the war lasted years longer, but it was the beginning
of the end for Sweden’s dominance. 9. The Swedish Empire Was Once Feared As a Great
Power Throughout All Of Europe And Beyond Today most people associate Sweden with the
“assemble it yourself” furniture stores they have exported all over the world, as
well as their influence on popular music, and their rather fascinating cuisine. Most people respect them and think of them
as a very clean and industrious country, but very few would consider them one of the top
economic powers, and fewer would mention Sweden if you were asking for a list of countries
with a very powerful military. However, back in the 1600-1700s, Sweden was
in such a position of prestige that they were considered a “great power.” Back in the day, the geography and borders
of Europe were very different, and Russia was not the power they are today, or even
close to it. Countries like Denmark and Poland were much
more powerful militarily, and the trade routes through the Baltic Sea to the rest of Europe
were hotly contested. Sweden, through a lot of careful militarization,
had become very skilled at making due with a fairly small but skilled force, and had
consolidated their military holdings over the years, following a series of increasingly
ambitious warrior kings. When the Great Northern War started, it as
largely due to the fact that Sweden had managed to take control of all routes through the
Baltic, and was being very stingy about letting any of their northern neighbors use it. In no time, resentment had built up, and Denmark,
Poland-Saxony, and Russia had all declared war on Sweden. 8. King Gustavus Adolphus Of Sweden Was A Great
Innovator Of Military Tactics Gustavus Adolphus was the King of Sweden during
the early 1600s and presided over their military strategy during the Thirty Years War. Many credit him as the ruler who first brought
Sweden onto the scene as a great power, and changed the destiny of his small country forever. He is also credited with multiple military
innovations, and was known for regularly trying to improve battlefield equipment, tactics,
and strategy. Necessity is the mother of invention, and
King Gustavus realized early on that with how small his country was, he needed to focus
on quality over quantity – this meant he realized he also needed to make the most of
every single soldier and piece of equipment. It’s hard to go over all of his innovations,
as he greatly reshaped the way wars were fought at the time. During that period in history, armies would
often line up in fairly simple lines, charge forward, and not really do that much in the
way of strategic thinking. Armies at the time were also not known for
being particularly well drilled. Most countries would actually conscript soldiers
or hire mercenaries shortly before a war required them, but King Gustavus knew that with such
a small country, he had to do something different. He started his own standing army that was
regularly drilled and well paid – something unheard of at the time. He brought in lighter artillery, lighter muskets,
and was able to make his men more mobile and effective than other armies of the day. He also trained his men in rolling volley
fire, a technique where a row of men would fire, crouch, then another row and on while
others reloaded, ensuring constant cover as they advanced. He also taught them to do so while marching
toward the enemy, quickly closing distance, making it hard to miss, and sometimes scaring
the enemy out of sheer intimidation. 7. The “Leather Cannon” King Gustavus was ever the innovator, and
one of the stranger pieces of equipment he heavily experimented with in battle was called
the “leather cannon.” While some may assume it got its name because
it was made of leather, such a weapon would likely not even fire. It received it’s name because it consisted
mostly of a copper tube wrapped in leather, likely to protect the holder from the heat
the copper tube would quickly build up. The weapon was not the most effective weapon
ever when taken into battle, but tanks were not particularly effective the first few times
they were used, either. The technology was new so it overheated easily,
and it still required two people to operate, but it was very advanced for its time. While they didn’t make a decisive difference
at first, they showed King Gustavus that having more mobile pieces of artillery in between
muskets and traditional cannons could provide more strength in firepower while allowing
for much greater mobility. King Gustavus would continue to test mobile
artillery pieces after he saw the potential of the leather cannon, which led to many more
improvements to similar war technologies – changing the face of battlefields forever. 6. The Allotment System Was A Big Change To How
Many Armies Were Raised At The Time Like we mentioned earlier, during the time
of Sweden’s day as a great power, many armies were raised on an ad hoc basis, and were hardly
trained at all. King Gustavus actually started to do away
with this and focused on having a standing army; however, his recruitment methods were
still fairly basic and didn’t account for spreading the responsibility of a standing
army throughout the entire country. King Charles XI decided that with his ambitions
to expand Sweden’s power and all the enemies they were making, it would be a good idea
to make the process for the army even more well organized. It was at this point that the allotment system
was introduced, which was a very new idea for the time. Each city or region of the country had to
provide a certain amount of troops, based on their size and economy, and help feed those
soldiers. These soldiers would drill regularly and practice
with the army, and go to war when needed, but if there was no war going on, they would
spend their downtime working on the farms of those who were feeding them. This ensured that everyone in the country
was a part of the war effort, that the burden was fairly shared, and that the army was incredibly
strictly trained and fully prepared at any time for whatever the king desired them for. This new army was to be known as the Caroleans,
and would be the elite fighting force for Sweden during the Great Northern War. 5. Excavations Of A Battle Involving The Early
Swedish Military Show Very Experienced Soldiers During the early days of Sweden’s military,
Gustavus Adolphus was leading his people against the Holy Roman Empire during the Thirty Years
War, which was the most brutal clash between Protestant and Catholic forces in history. One of the most decisive battles near the
end of the war was at the German city of Lutzen, where the Swedish forces won, but lost their
genius king during the fighting. A few years ago, the site of the battle was
discovered and archeologists got the chance to go over many of the buried skeletons and
look for anything interesting they could find. What they found is proof that the Thirty Years
War was an incredibly bloody time period, beyond even what some imagined. Many of the soldiers’ skeletons had clear
evidence of having already survived horrific wounds long before they ever started their
final battle. Sixteen of the skeletons discovered had already
had major head injuries in the past, with one unique case having as many as four injuries
to his head before he found his end at Lutzen. More than twenty other skeletons were found
to have some sort of major broken bone injury that they had healed from in the past. This gives us an interesting look into the
brutality of the time period – horrible injuries were not enough to get you time off;
if you were able to get up and fight, you fought. 4. The Battle Of Narva Cemented The Reputation
Of The Fearsome Carolean Army The Battle of Narva was an early conflict
during the Great Northern War, and it quickly shaped the reputation of the Carolean Army
as one of the toughest and boldest in the known world. It was the first test of the young king Charles
XII, who had inherited the war from his father Charles XI, and it was a test he was determined
not to fail. The city of Narva was under siege by the Russian
forces under Tsar Peter the Great, and King Charles XII had a relief force of only about
10,000 men up against a Russian force of about 40,000 besieging the city. The Swedish king decided that they needed
to act decisively and throw the Russians off guard. The Russians were surrounding the city in
a semicircle, with an icy cold river on the other side. The king ordered a charge from his relief
force against the enemy’s earthworks, with the plan being to start firing at thirty paces,
and then switch to bayonets as soon as they were within range. Once they had driven their forces straight
down the middle, they would shift off to the sides and push the Russians away from the
city, and toward the cold river and other inhospitable terrain. Luck was partly with them, as a blizzard came
up behind the Caroleans as they began their charge, but their boldness and skill was without
doubt. Even with a force only about one quarter the
size, they managed to defeat the Russian force decisively and earned a fearsome reputation
from then on. Some historians argue that Russia was so badly
beaten in this battle, that if Charles XI had decided to press on to Russia shortly
after instead of waiting years, history as we know it may have ended up very different. 3. A Swedish Power Metal Band Called Sabaton
Made A Song Called “The Caroleans Prayer” Even among those who are familiar with the
Great Northern War, the Caroleans are a name that is not very well known around the world
today. Many history books mention the Swedish military
and their tactics, but the name itself is not often talked about much in the United
States or Western European countries. However, the Swedish still know well their
heritage, and are rightfully proud of what the Carolean Army once accomplished. A Swedish power metal band called Sabaton
wanted to honor the past achievements of the Carolean Army, so they wrote a song about
them called “The Caroleans Prayer,” which you can listen to in the video above. Religion was very important to the Carolean
Army, and they were trained to pray regularly and be extremely pious, which makes the title
of the song quite fitting. The song also speaks of their incredible boldness
and bravery in battle, proving themselves willing to overcome the fear of death through
the strength of their faith – marching into battle to protect God, king and country. While Sweden isn’t a particularly religious
country today, this was not long after the Swedish Empire had greatly sacrificed to fight
on the side of the Protestants during the Thirty Years War, and were still quite religious
at that time. As a historic tidbit, Sabaton claims on their
website that the Carolean Army was trained to not fire until they could see the whites
of their enemies’ eyes. While this may be slightly hyperbole, it is
true that the Caroleans were known for advancing very boldly, and waiting to fire until they
were so close it was almost impossible for them to miss. 2. The Carolean Death March Signaled The Final
End To The Great Northern War During the last years of the Great Northern
War, Sweden was losing territory and slipping badly – with their enemies constantly besieging
their many holdings they were finding themselves falling back farther and farther. They had lost a lot of territory to Russia
and with their army dwindling and the size of their country small to begin with; Charles
XII was becoming desperate to find a way to regain some territory and ensure that Sweden
remained a great power. He decided that a large force should concentrate
on Norway, in the hopes that they could get some kind of concessions out of them to bolster
the power of Sweden and regain some control of the situation. Charles began a path of conquest into Norway
itself, and sent a Lieutenant General named Karl Gustav Armfeldt to lead another attack
in a different part of Norway to draw off their forces. Unfortunately, while the Carolean military
was very well trained, they were also spread incredibly thin at this point. Both campaigns failed miserably, and things
quickly went from bad to worse. The king’s campaign ended with the king
himself dying while trying to take the fortress city of Fredriksten and before long all Swedish
forces were being recalled back to the homeland, with the war nearly utterly lost at this point,
and Sweden’s forces in shambles. General Armfeldt, with rumors that the king
was dead and the war was effectively over, and his own campaign a failure, decided that
it was time to make his way back to Sweden as quickly as he possible could — with the
roughly 6,000 soldiers he had left from the original force of 10,000 he had started with. Unfortunately, this would turn out to be a
horrific tragedy. The Carolean Army tried to cross through the
mountains, and the horrible weather conditions led to a very sad loss of life. Nearly 4,000 brave men out of the 6,000 he
started off with perished in the mountains due to exposure, malnutrition, and other similar
issues. There is a classical piece about the Carolean
Death March, which you can listen to in the video linked above. 1. Charles X Gustav Of Sweden Literally Took
From The Rich Nobles And Redistributed The Wealth In between Gustavus Adolphus, King Charles
XI, and King Charles XII, there was the lesser known king: Charles X Gustav, who instituted
his own reforms – although he had a very short rule. In fact, Charles X Gustav only reigned for
six years, but he accomplished a surprising amount in such a short time. Like other warrior kings of Sweden, he was
greatly interested in expanding the holdings of the Swedish Empire, and invaded what is
now Poland, bringing himself up against several other nearby countries at the same time, such
as Russia. While he was interested in increasing the
power and prestige of Sweden, he also found the country in a rather bad position economically
when he came to power. The country was very nearly bankrupt, and
far too much money was in the hands of the nobles. Going against the advice of many, including
past precedent set by King Gustavus Adolphus, he decided to seize much of the nobles’
land and basically redistribute it to the lower classes. The nobles owned the vast majority of farmland
and to make matters worse, because of past legal agreements, it was non-taxable land. While the nobles were not happy with him,
it worked out the best for everyone in the end. Before the end of the century, the rich were
down to a much smaller minority of non-taxable holdings, and many more of the lower class
owned their own farms that they felt personally invested in – it didn’t hurt, either,
that these lands were fully taxable. These reforms actually paved the way for the
allotment system that proved so effective in creating the mighty Carolean Army that
was once feared and respected all over Europe. With the wealth slightly better distributed
and many well-kept farms and communities run by their own, the Swedish rulers had a steady
and healthy supply of proud and prospering villages from which to raise and keep a powerful
and well drilled standing army.

75 thoughts on “Learn About the Military of the Swedish Empire

  • If Peter the Great hadnt lost the battle of Narva, then St. Petersburg would have probably been founded on the site of Narva rather than at the mouth of Neva river and I wouldnt speak estonian as my native language..so thanks Karl XIIth! Also thanks to king Gustav II Adolf for signing the founding documents of University of Tartu on the battlefield before getting killed in 1632.

  • Thank you for your information, I guess the information that I listened to my great grand)parents and grandparents that immigrated to U.S.A. that had bad whatever I can't say about the SWEDES only remembered story's true or false.

  • It's not "Carolean" It's Carolinian. Or Karolinska in Swedish.

    And Gustav Adolf was a revolutionary…. literally, he started a revolution and became king. But the real hero of the Swedish empire was Karl XII who was also known as "The Lion Among Four Pots". Pot (kruka in Swedish) is old Swedish slang for coward. The four pots (or cowards) were the four main adversaries to Sweden at the time, Russia, Poland-Lithuania, Denmark-Norway, and Germany. All of which were simultaneously at war with Sweden, with Sweden emerging victorious.

  • @TopTenz
    One more strategy the Swedes found was that the musket wasn't very accurate at the normal shooting distances of ~100meter (I think it was meters or maybe feet?) So they instead lined up as if they were to fire at the enemy. Let the enemy fire a volley at them where they wouldn't hit many. While the enemy reloads they charged forward until about 20 meters(feet?) and fired the still loaded gun and hit almost every shot. This made their collumn have a big numerical advantage as they charged the remaining distance and took to bayonet.
    I heard one battle with the Russians where they did this they had 3000 men and the Russians had over 15000. At the end of the battle the Russians had lost 7500~ and the Swedes 1500~.
    In pokemon terms. It was SUPER EFFECTIVE xD

  • Karl den tolfte hade hundratusen man,
    Karl den tolfte hade hundratusen man,
    Karl den tolfte hade hundratusen man, när han tågar fram i rök och makadam.

    Karl den tolfte hade hundratusen man,
    Karl den tolfte hade hundratusen man,
    Karl den tolfte hade hundratusen man, när han tågar fram i rök och makadam.

    Tune: Battle Hymn of the Republic

  • Actually this isn't true at all.

    What we did is that our wizards resurructed all fallen vikings and equipped them with magical battle axes +3 and had them go berserk all over Europe.

  • Sweden men are these days mostly known as being a feminine cucks who are happy that they will go extinct in next two generations and are happily letting their women get raped by muslims.

  • You keep refering to Sweden as a small country it is the fifth largest country in Europe. Larger than Germany, UK, Itally.. Etc

  • How to slaughter swedish history, part 1.

    Found more then 14 times you went inaccurate, got to fix that for future refrence.

  • Your points on the allotment system contains a number of errors. Generally, soldiers got a "Torp" (Specifically, a "soldattorp), from several smaller farms. The level is not primarily on the level of cities, but individual farms, and the soldiers had their own land to farm, they were not what in Swedish is called "Drängar", field hands. One of the most important factors was Indelningsverket, where instead of the state inefficiently collecting taxes centrally (In essence gathering it all in the capital), but instead directly moving products from producer directly to users. Basically, instead of a few small farms paying taxes, they gave of their goods to soldiers, regiments etc, wasting far less and being more administratively efficient. This worked very well with a very robust mandatory service system where every man was considered for service, produced a very highly skilled and motivated soldier. In most places in the world, being a soldier at the time meant that you would be facing scorn by a lot of your countrymen, because so much of the military were scum. In Sweden, it was very highly honored.

  • A bit disappointed that you didn't talk about the March Across The Belts. A very one of a kind event that was very important for Sweden's power in the North

  • In Europe we're a medium sized country by population. Probably larger than at least half the countries in the world by population.

  • Actually it was Karl the 12th who led the caroleans at the battle of Narva.
    Also it was Karl the 11th who redistributed the wealth as Karl the 10th died before he had the opportunity chance.

  • Sweden did invade Denmark-Norway again in the early 1800s and conquered Norway succesfully. Norway achieved independence from Sweden peacefully in the early 1900s.

  • Saying that Swedes were close to winning with Russia is not only slap in the face for Russians but also Poles, French, Germans, Mongolians even Huns

  • Why do people always call Sweden a small country? 10 million people isn’t that much but the area it covers currently makes it one of the largest Nations in Europe

  • At 2:26 the map of Sweden says “Öland” and ”Småland” like it is, but why is “scania” scania and not “Skåne” like it is?

  • i made it 8 seconds in. "not known for their military prowess"????? so the whole army reform made by King Carl Gustav that made sweden a power to be reckoned with on par with the british and french empire at the time doesnt count??? dislike on account of missing research and i shall NOT be finishing the vid.

    sidenote, Sweden is the biggest exporter of weapons in europe. so saying "not known for military prowess" is a double error.

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  • Imagine my surprise when I recognised the church at 11:06 – it's the city church of Umeå. Which seemed a bit odd to me; I mean, it's a perfectly lovely church, I'll give you that, but there are others which have far more history behind them, the cathedrals in Lund, and Uppsala in particular.

  • Was it king Gustavo’s who wanted to be in the fight on horse and lose his guards and then shouted “Jag är Kung av sverige!” Or “I am king of Sweden!” And the enemy heard it from the smoke and began shooting him and he died? Or was it someone else?

  • Sweden transformed into an Economic empire! When the Soviet- Union fell in 1990. Swedish, Bankers and Military plotted to re-create a "Baltic empire" by economic means, much like Great Britain still is an empire in influence, trade and economy. The Swedish influence can be seen to this day in Finland and Estonia with a smaller Swedish speaking population.

  • Sweden have been to war against almost all European countries (Not Finland though wich was part of Sweden for at least 800 years called Österland). From 1220-1521 about 95 times and after 1521 31 times. Biggest disaster was during the "great northern war" when we lost about 200,000 soldiers. At that time the population was about 1,5 million people in the kingdome.

  • It's certainly not hyperbole. It was an outspoken Swedish strategy to walk until they saw the "white in the enemies eyes" and shoot then charge.

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