Men from the high north

Danes, Norwegians and Swedes in the service of Austria

Karl Liko

„Migration background“ was no special problem in the armed forces of old Austria. Foreigners came in swarms and integrated themselves well. They came from France, Italy, and Spain, from Ireland and Scotland, from Switzerland and from the numerous principalities and Duodez-States of the Holy Roman Empire. Many of them severally distinguished themselves; a number of them achieved high positions in the military hierarchy. Prince Eugene, certainly the greatest general in Austria’s history, was one of them. Most of them were Catholics, but several also came from Protestant areas. Only in the high north of Europe the interest in a military career in the Habsburg Empire seems to have been not really great. The distance between the Scandinavian countries and the Danube area was long, though – and not only in a geographical sense. Nevertheless, there were some applicants from the states of Northern Europe who entered Austrian services. After all, seven interesting fates can be presented here. In the beginning, there was a Danish mercenary leader from the Thirty Years War. He was followed by another three Danes, two Swedes, and one single Norwegian. In the following presentation, their order, however, is not determined by their nationality, but by historical sequence of events, which reaches back to the 17th up to the 19th century. The author portrays the political-military careers of the persons in question, who were in the service of Habsburg during the respective eras.