The Swedish Intervention

How the Thirty Years War Became International


  • T. Michael Davis


“The Swedish Intervention” examines the international implications of Sweden’s involvement in the Thirty Years War in 1630. The article argues that the Swedish intervention clearly marked the Thirty Years War’s transition from an internal conflict to a continental war. The diplomacy that allowed Sweden to launch a campaign into Germany without fear for its Baltic territories is particularly important to this argument; since, it was not motivated by religion and betrayed a wide international interest in the war. Sweden’s policy of expansion in the Baltic region suggests that the kingdom may have been looking for an excuse to invade Germany, and France’s long-running rivalry with the Holy Roman Empire made its involvement all but certain. The first twelve years of the war involved German principalities almost to the exclusion of all others, but the last half of the war saw Germany turned into Europe’s battlefield as Swedish, French, Spanish, and German armies fought each other to a bloody stalemate.