Count Galeazzo Gualdo, a Venetian Roman Catholic, who spent some years in both the Imperial and the Swedish armies, says of Gustavus Adolphus that “he was tall, stout, and of such truly royal demeanor that he universally commanded veneration, admiration, love, and fear. His hair and beard were of a light-brown color, his eye large, but not far-sighted. Eloquence dwelt upon his tongue. He spoke German, the native language of his mother, the Swedish, the Latin, the French, and the Italian languages, and his discourse was agreeable and lively. There never was a general served with so much cheerfulness and devotion as he. He was of an affable and friendly disposition, readily expressing commendation, and noble actions were indelibly fixed upon his memory; on the other hand, excessive politeness and flattery he hated, and if any person approached him in that way he never trusted him.”
AXEL OXENSTIERN, his friend, companion, and prime minister, was of like mind and character with himself. He was high-born, religiously trained, and thoroughly educated in both theology and law in the best schools which the world then afforded. He was Sweden’s greatest and wisest counselor and diplomatist, liberal-minded, true-hearted, dignified, and devout. In religion, in patriotism, in earnest doing for the profoundest interests of man, he was one with his illustrious king. He negotiated the Peace of Kmered with Denmark, the Peace of Stolbowa with Russia, and the armistice with Poland. He accompanied his king in the campaigns in Germany, having charge of all diplomatic affairs and the devising of ways and means for the support of the army in the field, whilst the king commanded it. He won no victories of war, but he was a choice spirit in creating the means by which some of the most valuable of such victories were achieved, and conducted those victories to permanent peace.
When Gustavus Adolphus fell at Luetzen a sacrifice to religious liberty, the whole administration of the kingdom was placed in Oxenstiern’s hands. The congress of foreign princes at Heilbronn elected him to the headship of their league against the papal power of Austria; and it was his wisdom and heroism alone which held the league together unto final triumph. Bauer, Torstensson, and Von Wrangle were the flaming swords which finally overwhelmed that power, but the brain which brought the fearful Thirty Years’ War to a final close, and established the evangelical cause upon its lasting basis of security by the Peace of Westphalia (1648), was that of Axel Oxenstiern, the very man who sent to Pennsylvania its original colonists as the founders of a free state.