Pontus De la Gardie
Baron Pontus De la Gardie ca 1520 – 5 November 1585 was a French nobleman and general in the service of Denmark and Sweden
He was born Ponce d'Escouperie in Caunes-Minervois Aude, Languedoc, a son of Jacques Escoperier and X Armengaud As a youngster, he wanted to become a priest and was educated in a monastery He changed his mind however, and left Languedoc to become a mercenary in the service of Denmark De la Gardie was promoted to officer and was in charge of a regiment of mercenaries In 1565, during the Northern Seven Years' War, he was captured by Swedish troops at Varberg, and changed allegiance to Sweden De la Gardie quickly became a favourite of John III of Sweden and in 1569, after only four years in the Swedish service, he received noble status In 1571, he was created a baron and was given Ekholmen Castle
He was suspected to have taken part in a plot to assassinate John III The plot was led by Charles de Mornay, who was in contact with Christina of Denmark and the French ambassador in Copenhagen Charles Dancay John III was to be killed during a swords dance performed by Scottish mercenaries at the party which was to be given in October that year before the Scottish mercenaries departure to the Baltic After the assassination, the king's brother Duke Charles was to be placed upon the throne The plot did not materialize as de Mornay lost his nerve and never gave the sign to the mercenaries to take action In September 1574, the plot was revealed and Charles de Mornay was arrested, interrogated and executed It was never made clear who participated in the plot However, it is noted, that the suspected conspirators Hogenskild Bielke, Gustaf Banér and Pontus De la Gardie, often gathered at meetings in the apartment of Princess Elizabeth of Sweden, meetings where Princess Cecilia of Sweden had also frequently been seen, and the two sisters and their brother Charles were somewhat compromised though they were never accused Pontus De la Gardie was himself never put on trial for his suspected involvement in the affair
After Clas Åkesson Tott's resignation as the supreme commander of the Swedish forces in Finland and Estonia as a consequence of the Siege of Wesenberg 1574 during the Livonian War, de la Gardie took over Tott's office De la Gardie's skills combined with the fact that Sweden's enemy Russia had to transfer troops to defend against Polish attacks further south led to considerable military success for Sweden during the following years In the fall of 1580, Karelia was conquered De la Gardie led his troops over the frozen Gulf of Finland to capture the fortresses of Wesenberg now Rakvere and Tolsburg now Toolse In September 1581, Narva was taken after a storming that had been preceded by a massive bombardment 4,000 soldiers and civilians were killed, pointing out the fact that De la Gardie was not only a skillful warrior, but a cruel and hard commander as well De la Gardie and his Swedish troops went on to capture the fortress of Ivangorod and several other fortresses that autumn In 1582, the war with Russia was ended and Sweden got to keep the conquests made in Karelia and Ingria, but had to withdraw from Livonia
De la Gardie was the most renowned military commander in Sweden during the 16th century and has been credited with much of the country's military success in the 1580s An example of his ingenuity was the strategy of using zigzag shaped saps during the siege of Narva, a new technique at the time
De la Gardie drowned in the Narva River and is buried in St Mary's Cathedral of Tallinn His tomb chest is made by well-known artist and architect Arent Passer
On 4 February 1580 De la Gardie married Sofia Johansdotter Gyllenhielm ca1556-1583, the illegitimate daughter of John III of Sweden and a Finnish lady, Karin Hansdotter During the wedding, a gallery in the church collapsed and one person was killed Some sceptics claimed it was a bad omen or a divine act with which God condemned the marriage
Pontus De la Gardie and Sofia Gyllenhielm had three children:
- Brita Pontusdotter De la Gardie 1581–1645
- Baron Johan De la Gardie 1582–1642, statesman of the Swedish Empire
- Count and Field Marshal Jacob De la Gardie 1583–1652
- Arrhenius-Örnhiälm, Claudius 1625-1695 1690 Vita Illustrissimi Herois Ponti De La Gardie, Excercituum Sveciae Supremi Campi Ducis, Regnante Johanne III Svecorum Rege Gloriosissimo : Cujus occasione totius fere Livoniae Historia exhibetur ; Ex incorruptae veritatis monumentis concinnata Lipsiae, Leipzig: Apud Jo Frider Gleditsch
- ^ Eriksson, Bo "En katt bland hermelinerna" in Swedish Archived from the original on 10 June 2011 Retrieved 8 January 2010
- ^ a b c d e Karin Tegenborg Falkdalen 2010 Vasadöttrarna Falun: Historiska Media ISBN 978-91-85873-87-6 In Swedish
- ^ Peterson, Gary Dean 2007 Warrior kings of Sweden The rise of an empire in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries McFarland p 93 ISBN 0-7864-2873-2
- ^ a b c Eriksson, Bo 2007 Lützen 1632 in Swedish Stockholm: Norstedts Pocket pp 55–56 ISBN 978-91-7263-790-0
- ^ The stonemasons
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