Oxenstiern (a), AXEL GUSTAVSSON, one of the most illustrious statesmen of the 17th century, especially prominent in upholding the cause of the Reformation at a most critical period, was born June 16, 1583, at Fanoe, in the province of Upland, Sweden. He was descended from an ancient highly aristocratic family, distinguished in Swedish history. Early deprived of his father, he received under the direction of his mother an educational training becoming his rank. As if in preparation for the ministry in the Lutheran Church, which bad already been introduced and established as the state religion by Gustavus Vasa (1523-60), he attended the German universities of Rostock, Wittenberg, and Jena, studying at the same time jurisprudence; but it does not appear that he ever held an ecclesiastical office; yet even in his subsequent career of diplomacy, he always preserved a fondness for theological subjects, and a zealous enthusiasm for the maintenance and propagation of the evangelical doctrines. After having finished his academical course by graduating at Wittenberg, he visited most of the German courts. In 1603 he returned home, and was called into state service by Charles IX (1604-1611). He was sent on several diplomatic missions, in which he showed such tact and skill that the king, verging on the grave, appointed him guardian of the royal family, and placed him with six others at the head of the regency. It was at Oxenstiern's urgent suggestion, after the death of the king, that the crown prince, though only seventeen years old, was declared of age at Nykoeping (1611), and succeeded to the throne as Gustavus Adolphus. Oxenstiern was selected to act as chancellor of the kingdom, and:in this high office he enjoyed and justified the full confidence and friendship of his sovereign, who leaned on him, as did Henry IV of France on Sully, in all the political conflicts and complications in which his reign from beginning to end was involved, his cool insight and prudence tempering the ardent impulses of the king, and contributing thereby not a little to his glory. It was also by Oxenstiern's influence, assisted by the queen-mother, that Gustavus Adolphus gave up contracting what in those days would have been considered a mesalliance with Ebba Brahe, and married the gentle and beautiful Mary Eleonore, a princess of the house of Brandenburg, which proved a mutually happy- union. In 1613 (Jan. 16), as Swedish plenipotentiary, Oxenstiern signed a treaty of peace with Denmark, to give the country an opportunity, in a measure, to recover from internal and external commotions. In 1614 he accompanied the king to Livonia, and soon had the satisfaction (1617) of terminating hostilities between Russia and Sweden by an honorable treaty at Stobowa. In 1621, after the king had departed for a campaign in Poland, he was despatched with several regiments to occupy and govern certain districts of Prussia, then under the suzerainty of Poland, which the Swedish arms had gained, and he filled this post four years to the advantage of the country. When, in 1628, Austria and the Catholic league attempted to secure the Baltic coast, he negotiated with the duke of Pomerania and the king of Denmark to replace or re-enforce the Danish garrison of Stralsund by Swedish troops, and thus frustrated all efforts to capture that stronghold, so that Wallenstein, the imperial general, who had boasted that he would take that city even if it were bound by chains to the sky, had to beat an inglorious retreat. He succeeded also, supported by the mediation of England and France, in effecting an armistice for six years with Poland. All these proceedings appear as arrangements preparatory to that grander undertaking of his administration-an expedition into Germany. The pious and chivalrous king had long meditated, it, and was prevented only by the cautious remonstrance of his minister; but now the measure was determined on, alike from the policy of self-preservation and the moral motive of succoring the sorely oppressed co-religionists who, since 1618, were waging an unequal struggle against the combined forces of Romanism. It is beyond our design here to delineate the origin and progress of the. Thirty-years War (q.v.); we have only to sketch the course pursued by the great chancellor of Sweden. We will state briefly: Gustavus Adolphus landed in July, 1630, on the German coast with 15,000 choice troops, accompanied by his minister. Oxenstiern had put all his energy into the execution of the plan, procuring men, money, and material; and his diplomatic talent had ample scope to overcome the lukewarmness and jealousy of the German Protestant princes. Their united activity restored again the fortunes of Protestantism. Gustavus Adolphus advanced into the heart of Germany as in triumph, defeated Tilly near Leipsic, and fell, Nov. 16, 1632, on the bloody field of Liitzen, Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar finishing the battle victoriously against Wallenstein. The death of the king, well calculated greatly to encourage one and to dismay the other of the contending parties, did not move Oxenstiern to give up the cause as lost, though it added much to his embarrassments and responsibilities. Here may also be remarked, as a proof of the authority and confidence he enjoyed at home, that when he sent what purported to be the testament of the late king, and drawn up by him, but not signed by the royal hand, it was accepted as binding; and its tenor observed by the Swedish Dict. Oxenstiern was appointed a delegate to Germany with full powers to make any arrangement which he might deem best for the welfare of his country. He immediately exerted himself to increase the number and strength of the armies in-the field, and went to Dresden and Berlin to concert measures for the effectual continuation of the war. In March, 1633, he convened a congress of the German princes at Heilbronn, and by that assembly was declared director of the evangelical alliance. Also Holland and France, from which latter Sweden had been subsidized. with money since Jan. 1, 1631, he tried to interest and stir up to more energetic assistance. At his re turn to Saxony (1634), finding affairs in the saddest disorder-the confederates vacillating, the soldiers dissatisfied and lost to all discipline, and after the disaster of Noirdlingen almost all despairing, even the elector of Saxony openly gone over to the enemy — his mind, rich in resources even in these perplexing circumstances, discovered ways and means to rescue his party from imminent ruin. This accomplished (1636), he returned to Sweden, whence he had been absent for ten years. Longing for a more quiet sphere of action, he resigned in the first session of the senate he attended his plenipotentiary powers, with the advice never to confide so much power as he had been intrusted with to any one person, lest it might be abused; he retained only his seat as chancellor of the kingdom, and as one of the five guardians of the only child and daughter of Gustavus Adolphus, who was but seven years old at the time of his death. Concerning the latter he proved a faithful Mentor, taking particular pains to give her daily lessons in the science of government and international law, and found in Christina an apt and quickwitted pupil. In this connection may be mentioned the proposal of Richelieu — who wished to render him more pliable for his own ends, and promised him all the French influence — to transfer the crown of Sweden by a marriage of one of Oxenstiern's sons with the royal heiress into his own family. The Swedish chancellor resisted the alluring temptation and declined the offer. Meanwhile the politico-religious contest in Germany was maintained on the part of Sweden by the generals Horn, Baner, and Torstenson with varying success. In 1645 he sent his son John there to watch more closely the interests of Sweden, and assist in bringing about a satisfactory settlement. Neither party gave up until both were nearly exhausted. After protracted negotiations at Munster and Osnsabriick, they agreed to what is styled the Peace of Westphalia (q.v.), which, besides other political changes, established the principle of at least partial tolerance in religious matters (signed Oct. 24, 1648). Sweden, universally and uniformly Lutheran, received as indemnity five millions of thalers, a part of Pomerania, Bremen, Verden, and Wismar. In 1643 Oxenstiern secretly organized a war with Denmark, which had subjected Sweden to long-standing humiliations, and by skilful management obtained the advantage of his adversary, In the negotiations necessitated in consequence, Oxepstiern, who attended them personally, extorted in the peace of Bromsebro the most favorable terms, ending with an increase of territory. Christina, who since December, 1644, had become queen of Sweden, acknowledged his services by raising him to the rank of a count (of Sodermark), and the University of Upsala elected him its chancellor. Engrossed as he was with the business of foreign relations, he was by no means unmindful of domestic affairs and home rule. In 1634 be submitted to the Swedish Dict a constitution, which was considered a masterpiece of statesmanship, and was gladly accepted. He abolished many oppressive taxes, urged economy in administration, favored and fostered all kinds of industry, and caused canals to be constructed, in order to facilitate intercourse in the interior and commerce with other nations. Nor was he backward in providing for the moral and intellectual advancement of the people; he was instrumental in founding the universities of Abo and Dorpat, and many new schools and academies, five of which he established out of his own purse. The last years of his life were much embittered by the conduct of the young queen, who, endowed with high intelligence and knowledge, might have shone a star of the first magnitude in the north of Europe; but, disregarding older and wiser counsels, under the influence of unworthy favorites she indulged sin passions and caprices that created general discontent. Yet when made aware of the public sentiment she decided to resign, and nominated her cousin her successor (1649). Oxenstiern, averse to a foreigner as sovereign, remonstrated most strenuously against such a step as unworthy of her talents, and fraught with evils for the country. She for the time desisted, underwent in 1650 coronation, and for a while manifested more proper attention to governmental affairs, but soon relapsed into her former ways, and, impatient of the restraint imposed upon her as the head of a moral and sensitive, nation, carried out her resolution, and in 1654, in a diet purposely convoked, laid down the royal insignia to confer them on her cousin, Charles Gustavus, prince palatine. Oxenstiern, under the pretext of sickness, kept away from the deliberations necessary for the execution of this measure. He died in the same year (Aug. 28, 1654). Christina, not altogether too well affected towards him, bears this testimony to his character: He had great capacity and knowledge of secular affairs and interests; he knew the strong and weak points of all the European states. He was possessed of consummate wisdom and prudence, had a vast capacity and a great heart. State affairs were for him amusement. He was ambitious, but loyal and incorruptible." He was certainly the greatest politician and statesman which Sweden has produced. An extraordinary sagacity and immovable calmness characterized all his decisions, and energy and perseverance their execution. Nothing was deferred to the following day, and still less forgotten, and his activity never tired. His faculties in this respect border on the marvellous. On all important affairs his activity, his will, his loyalty is impressed. There is not a single branch of the Swedish government which does not owe to him improvements. His vast activity would have been impossible without strict gravity and order; which he exacted of others as well as of himself. His good health and equanimity served to lighten the burden of work and care. He was unusually unselfish and disinterested; he never used his influence, extensive as it was, to amass property by perverse means; on the contrary, he repeatedly advanced considerable sums for public .purposes without interest. Frugal in his household, he was for display and luxury where he acted as representative of the state. As a negotiator he ranked with the highest diplomats of the period, even Richelieu not excepted. Cool, reserved, fully acquainted with human character, penetrating to the smallest details of the situation, he conducted affairs with a sure glance; only his haughtiness, which was sometimes excessive, damaged him now and then. His bearing was imposing, though his stature was only a little above middle height. As a diversion and refreshment from his serious practical occupation, he read Greek and Latin classics, in which latter tongue he- could fluently converse; and perused the Bible and the fathers of the Church. His letters to Grotius allow us to form an opinion of his vast erudition; often in his despatches to the king he would attach long treatises on the subjects under consideration. There are, however, few of his writings published. He is known as the author of the second volume of Chemnitz's Historia belli Sueco Germanici; and his correspondence with his son John (1642-1649) has been edited by Gjorwell; but there remain in the royal archives of Stockholm six vols. fol. of letters written by him from 1626 to 1632; and in Ridderstolpe and Falkenberg a still larger number of documents of his hand are preserved. See Geier, Svenska Folket's Historia; Schiller, Geschichte des dreissigjahrigen Kriegses; Lundblad, Svensk Plutarch (Stockholm,. 1824, 2 vols.); Coxe, House of Austria; Gardner, Thirty-years War (N. Y. 1874, 12mo), p. 145-148, 166, 172, 174, 192.

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