Axel Oxenstierna

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March 30, 2017 – MCAT CARS Passage

Question: What is your summary of the author’s main ideas. Post your own answer in the comments before reading those made by others.

Axel Oxenstierna was born in 1583 and died in 1654. Oxenstierna was Gustavus Adolphus’ most senior nobleman and they formed a formidable partnership together in advancing Sweden’s power in the Baltic. When Gustavus Adolphus died in 1632, Oxenstierna effectively took over the running of the Thirty Years War.

Oxenstierna was a strong supporter of monarchical power. Despite his status as Sweden’s leading nobleman, he did not share the views of other noblemen who viewed an extension of monarchical power as being at their expense. Though he had been responsible for the Accession Charter which the young Gustavus had to sign in 1611, he was a monarchist.
When Gustavus was killed at Lutzen in 1632, Oxenstierna assumed supreme command of Sweden’s forces in the Thirty Years War. He worked with considerable energy but he faced major problems – Sweden was running short of money; the German Protestant alliance was becoming increasingly difficult to maintain; Oxenstierna was mindful of Richelieu in France who he believed was trying to turn Sweden into a puppet of France. Oxenstierna also had to contend with some headstrong generals such as General Horn, Johan Baner and Karl Gustav Wrangel. That Oxenstierna kept these problems at a controllable level is a testament to his natural abilities.

The Treaty of Westphalia is a testament to Sweden’s standing in Europe by 1648. Sweden acquired West Pomerania including Stettin and the Oder Estuary, Wismar in Mecklenburg and the bishoprics of Bremen and Verdun. Sweden also got 5 million thalers from the settlement.
During the regency of Christina, Oxenstierna ruled Sweden. His Regency of Five included one of his brothers and a cousin. This way there was always a majority in the Five who would support Oxenstierna.

In July 1634, Oxenstierna drew up the Form of Government which completely modernised Sweden’s administration. Christina was highly suspicious of this document as she saw it as potentially expanding Oxenstierna’s power at her expense. Christina became convinced that Oxenstierna was taking advantage of her youth and sex.

In 1636, Oxenstierna returned to Sweden from Germany where he had been directing Sweden’s input into the Thirty Years War. It is from this time on that the relationship between Oxenstierna and Christina started to weaken. In 1644, Christina came of age and she started to assert her authority which could only impact the authority Oxenstierna had acquired. As a supporter of monarchical power, he could hardly complain about what Christina was doing. 1644 to 1654 is sometimes referred to as the “Ten Year Rule” – a reference to Christina asserting her authority and making decisions for her country at the expense of Oxenstierna.

The main source of conflict was the issue of who should succeed Christina. She had set her heart on marrying Charles Gustav. When it became obvious that this was not to be, she made it clear that she would not get married but that Charles Gustav was to be her successor. Oxenstierna believed that the government had a right to be consulted on such an important issue – a view not shared by Christina.

The Council’s main concern was that Christina was breaking down the working relationship that had developed when Gustavus was king of Sweden. Oxenstierna believed that her approach might push Sweden towards absolute monarchical rule and that a breakdown in trust would occur. They were also concerned that there was no obvious proof that Charles was a suitable candidate for Sweden’s throne.

Another issue that was getting between the crown and the nobility was the issue of resumption. This was the name given to the process whereby the monarchy attempted to buy back former royal land it had sold cheaply to the nobility so that the Thirty Years War could be adequately funded. Many noblemen had benefited from this sale and now jealously guarded what they believed was legally theirs.

Christina knew that if she appeared to be moving towards the lower estates, that would concern the numerically much smaller nobility of Sweden. In 1650, the lower estates via the Diet demanded resumption and also a limitation being put on noble power.

Christina supported this and used this support to get the nobles to agree to her choice of successor. When the nobles agreed to her choice, she returned to their side though a law was passed in 1652 which limited the extra labour a free peasant could do on ex-royal land. However, this was very minor compared to what the nobility had feared could be passed. After this, the normal relationship between crown and nobles was restored. Christina had asserted her power and Oxenstierna had to accept this.

From 1652 to his death in 1654, both resumed a ‘normal’ relationship. By the time of his death, Oxenstierna had at least maintained noble power within Sweden – no mean achievement considering the complexity of the circumstances he worked in.

Adapted from historylearningsite.

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29 Comments


  1. Christina and Ox relationship conflict=who succeed Christina+resumption

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  2. Axel was a great partner to Gustavus in advancing Sweden’s power in the Baltic during the latter’s reign / Axel supported the monarchy and was given command of the army after Gustavus’ demise; Axel faced many challenges from France, the Germans and his own generals but his was capable / Axel ruled Sweden when he was Regent and Christina was suspicious of him usurping power / Christina attempted to exert her authority in Axel’s presence and this placed a strain on their relationship / When Christina could not marry Charles, she announced that Charles would be made her successor which did not sit well with Axel; Council was concerned that Christina might lose the trust of her nobles / Nobles were afraid that their cheaply acquired land would be repossessed by Christina and took steps to limit the power of the Crown; Christina showed good faith and did not do anything detrimental to her relationship with the nobles; she managed to assert her power / Axel managed to maintain his noble power during Christina’s reign as well, a commendable feat considering the complexities of that period

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  3. ox and Christina = weaken relationship + conflict on succession

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  4. Oxenstierna is remembered for being a skilled political power who managed to largely maintain his influence throughout his career.

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  5. MI1: Axel faced problems + handled them well
    Mi2: axel & christina ties weekened
    MI3: resumption = a concern
    MI4: power b/w crown and nobles = restored

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  6. O=supporter if monarchical power
    C= caused conflict w/ O & Swedish society + resolved

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  7. Alex became swedish ruler => power problems
    Christina resored the noble/crown relationship

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  8. Oxenstierna = Supporter of monarchical power + commander of Sweden’s forces who managed many problems
    Chrsitina vs O = conflict on who succeed Christina & resumption -> Christina asserted her power, O remained noble power

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  9. A. O. = monarch supporter + did a lot for Sweden power; A.O + Christina = different views = weak relationship + relationship = restored

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  10. MIP: Oxenstierna was commander of Swedish forces and supporter of monarchical power. Conflict with Christina and he on who would succeed Christina and the possible kickbacks of the decision.

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  11. C & O relationship = bad + C asserted power, resumption = problem

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  12. MIP: Oxen supports monarchy; His ruling = problems; Oxen& Christina = weak relationship
    Tone: Neutral

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  13. Oxen= command of sweden
    Christina+oxen relationship= strained but then normalized
    Gustav= christinas successor

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  14. To provide information on the lifelong journey of Axel Ox. in advancing Sweden’s power and problem faced.

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  15. Ox+ Chris= bad relationship+ conflict, but eventually resolved

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  16. While Oxersternia ruled and supported monarchial power, Christina took over and got support from nobles in the process

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    1. And the relationship soured between the two

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  17. MI= OX is a good person; Conflicts happens with Chris; resolves by the help of nobels.

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  18. MIP: Ox rules during regency; Ox/Christina relationship weakness + Christina asserts power; relationship restored + Ox maintains noble power.

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  19. Ox and Christina both leaders for Sweden had complex conflict for leadership, Christina at the top

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  20. Oxel = controlled problems; issue of resumption; normal relationship restored

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  21. Oxenstierna ruled Sweden for 30-Years War after king’s death. Christina suspected he intended to expand power -> Conflict. Oxenstierna died but remained in noble power

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  22. Axel Oxenstierna = a nobleman, very powerful political figure in Sweden, had a conflict with Cristina, the conflict was resolved.

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  23. MIP: Christina asserted her power over Oxen.; tone = neutral

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  24. MIP: Oxe, a nobleman, wanted to rule as a monarch but failed to Christina.
    Tone: neutral

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  25. When Gustavus died, Oxenstrien his most senior nobleman took over the running of the thiry years war and had to take care of several stressful tasks, such as a lack of money, and hard headed generals. Nonetheless, he was able to follow through and achieved great things during that time, such as taking over land and receiving a ggreat sum of money.
    Oxenstein did not have a great relationship with Christina, the ruling crown, and the crown-noble relationship was weak. Christina had plans for auccession different from the nobles, and passed legislation that the nobles thought might hurt them. But that was not the case and in the end the relationship improved and Oxenstein died.

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  26. Ox = command + problem + controllable; Ox modernized sweden Admin + Christina suspicious; conflict = Christina’s successor and resumption of land; lower estates demanded resumption with Christina’s support and gained power. Ox = noble power; author neutral

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  27. The relationship between Oxenstierna and Christina weaken first and then resume, surrounding the problem of who would be the successor.

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