Lennart Torstensson

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Lennart Torstensson, Count of Ortala (from 1647) (born August 17, 1603 on Gut Forstena , Vänersborg municipality , †  April 7, 1651 in Stockholm ) was a Swedish general and later Governor General of Västergötland , Dalsland , Värmland and Halland . He reformed the use of artillery by making it mobile as field artillery to a previously unknown extent . Torstensson achieved important victories in the Thirty Years' War and in the war between Sweden and Denmark (1643-45), which is named after him Torstensson War . The time of his high command marks one of the most successful chapters in the military history of the Swedish army .

Lennart Torstensson, portrait by David Beck.

Torstensson's signature:
Signature Lennart Torstensson.PNG


Lennart Torstensson (he himself wrote Linnardt Torstenson ) was the son of the commandant of Älvsborg Fortress , Torsten Lennartsson. He became page of King Gustav II Adolf of Sweden at the age of 15 and later served in the King's Prussian campaigns in 1628 and 1629.

Appointed lieutenant colonel in 1628 , he took over command of the Swedish artillery a year later , which under his leadership (since 1630 in the rank of colonel ) contributed significantly to the victories at Breitenfeld (1631) and the battle of Rain am Lech (1632). contributed and rose to general in 1632. In the same year he was taken prisoner by the Alte Veste and was imprisoned in Ingolstadt for almost a year .

Under Banér he performed important services in the Battle of Wittstock (1636) and during the defense of Pomerania from 1637-38, as well as in the Battle of Chemnitz (1639) and the invasion of Bohemia in 1639. An illness forced him to return to Sweden briefly in 1641, where he was appointed Imperial Councilor. After Banér's unexpected death in May 1641, Torstensson was appointed Swedish Imperial Council and Governor General of Swedish Pomerania. After appointment as Field Marshal to generalissimo of the Swedish forces, he returned to Germany and started in 1642, to the surprise of his opponents at once a new campaign direction axes earlier this year.

The Swedish army under Torstensson marched through Brandenburg , reached Saxony and defeated a newly formed Saxon-imperial army under Franz Albrecht von Sachsen-Lauenburg near Schweidnitz . After the victory, the Swedish army marched on through Silesia to Moravia and captured all important fortresses on the way. During the march back through Saxony on October 23, 1642, there was a meeting with the imperial army under Archduke Leopold , which had been reinforced by Saxon troops. In this second battle near Breitenfeld , the imperial-Saxon troops suffered the heaviest losses of dead and prisoners. In addition, all the baggage, the war chest and the artillery were lost.

In 1643 Torstensson invaded Moravia again, but was surprisingly ordered back north at the end of the year to invade Denmark via Holstein in December . This rapid and unexpected intervention in the so-called Torstensson War paralyzed the Danish defense on land, although Torstensson's position in Jutland was briefly endangered by Christian IV's skilful command of the Danish fleet . In addition, the Swedish army withdrew to Denmark was followed by an imperial army under Matthias Gallas , which was supposed to support Denmark in the fight against Sweden and had reached Kiel in August 1644. In order to escape from this army and at the same time to regain the initiative, Torstensson planned a sophisticated maneuver for the swift march back of the Swedish army south into the areas in central Germany that had largely been stripped of imperial troops. The Swedish army bypassed the opposing imperial army in Holstein unnoticed on a secret route ( Stapelholmer Weg ) and thus gained a head start on the way south.

After the sudden withdrawal of the Swedish army, Gallas and the imperial army were forced to follow the Swedish army up the Elbe to protect the areas in central Germany that had been stripped of imperial troops. In addition, due to the poor supply situation, Gallas had to split the imperial army into cavalry and foot troops, especially since Torstensson had already started to block the usual supply routes from Saxony for supplies via the Oder and Elbe. In the following years there were numerous fights in the area around Aschersleben and Bernburg and the battle of Jüterbog in Brandenburg on (23 November), in which the imperial cavalry was wiped out, and the battle of Frohse near Magdeburg, where the infantry was completely destroyed. When these battles were over, only 3,000 remained of the imperial army, originally 18,000 men.

At the beginning of November 1644 Torstensson broke into Bohemia with his army and achieved a brilliant victory in the battle of Jankau (March 6, 1645). He succeeded in destroying the allied imperial and Bavarian troops in tactically skilful individual battles. The Imperial Field Marshal Johann Graf von Götzen was killed and General Melchior Graf von Hatzfeldt was taken prisoner. After this victory the way to Vienna, where Emperor Ferdinand had fled from Prague, was free for the Swedish army. Torstensson's intention was to unite there with the rebellious Hungarian troops of Georg I. Rákóczi , who had already conquered Pressburg and thus encircled Vienna from the east. On the move to the imperial capital, Torstensson left a trail of devastation through Lower Austria ; so were z. B. Staatz Castle and the Gaunersdorf market are sacked and completely destroyed. At the beginning of April he stood in front of the Danube bridge in Vienna , but his exhausted army was no longer able to advance and was stopped by Archduke Leopold Wilhelm in Brigittenau . Torstensson, crippled with gout , was forced to resign and return to Sweden in December. Before that, however, he negotiated until August 27th July. / 6th September 1645 greg. the armistice of Kötzschenbroda , with which the Saxons withdrew from the Thirty Years War.

In 1647 he was made a count. From 1648 to 1651 he administered the western provinces of Sweden as governor general. After his death he was buried in the Riddarholmskyrkan , the Swedish pantheon .


Torstensson's warfare was so successful because of the unpredictability and rapidity of his troop movements, although his gout often prevented him from even being able to mount a horse and lead the battle from a stretcher . He is considered a military leader who put the use of artillery on a new scientific basis and made it very effective. This also included transporting the artillery, which is why he was considered one of the best and most successful pioneers in the Swedish army, who even managed to use sledges to get 60 guns when the army marched into the Battle of Jankau, the use of which then decided the battle to be transported across the Ore Mountains.


Otfried Preußler uses Torstensson in a modified spelling and with a different first name as "General Torsten Torstenson" in his classic children's book Das kleine Gespenst . The latter feels disturbed by the Swedish cannons and drives the Swedes away by visiting the general in his tent at night and being so frightened that he promises to leave and never come back.

In the Leipzig district of Breitenfeld , the street "Torstensonring" was named after him.


His son Anders Torstenson (1641–1686) was Governor General of Estonia from 1674 to 1681 . In 1727 the family died out in the male line.


  • Lars Tingsten: Fältmarskalkarna Johan Banér och Lennart Torstenson såsom härförare , Stockholm 1932
  • Paul Gantzer: Archival sources on Torstenson's incursion and campaign in Bohemia up to the battle of Jankau in 1645 . Felix, Aschersleben 1904 ( digitized version )
  • History of the Swedish campaign in Germany under the command of Field Marshal Lennart Torstensson in 1644 , by Bogislav Philipp von Chemnitz. Stockholm. 1855.

Web links

Commons : Lennart Torstensson  - album with pictures, videos and audio files


  1. ^ Lothar Höbelt: From Nördlingen to Jankau. Imperial strategy and warfare 1634–1645. Heeresgeschichtliches Museum, Vienna 2016, ISBN 978-3-902551-73-3 , pp. 374–386.
  2. ^ A b Christian Pantle: The Thirty Years' War. When Germany was on fire. Propylaea, Berlin 2017, ISBN 978-3-549-07443-5 , p. 274 f.
  3. ^ Lothar Höbelt: From Nördlingen to Jankau. Imperial strategy and warfare 1634–1645. Heeresgeschichtliches Museum, Vienna 2016, ISBN 978-3-902551-73-3 , p. 420 ff.