Thursday, January 9, 2014
Lion of the North and his Horses - Streiff
finally I can turn to the history and images of the last horse of King Gustavus II Adolphus.
The Livrustkammaren Museum has the second horse that is known by his name, Streiff, after a Swedish cavalry colonel Johann Streiff von Lauenstein who sold this stallion to king Gustav for a 1000 riksdalers (Swedish thalers) in 1631. It was a huge sum by Swedish standards, typically cavalry horses were bought at 69-70 thalers.
Elbląg (then known as 'Elbing' in Royal Prussia and then under the Swedish occupation) between 14-24th of November 1631AD.
chestnut and his nice brown colour still survives, and as we can see below he was ungelded; from his conformation, a bit 'overstretched ' aspect aside, generally he was quite powerful a charger. His seemingly unimpressive height, by modern standards, is actually fine and quite symptomatic/typical of the war horses through out the centuries of use of riding horses in war until the late XIX century. Smaller, but more robust, with better conformation and more vitally, these war mounts were able to withstand the rigors of war, wounds, stress, irregular and often spoiled feed, fatigue and inclement weather etc.
Returning to Streiff's association with his rider, he probably became the preferred mount for the King, when the grey one died at Ingolstadt, nota bene it can be said with certainty that King had more than these 2 horses.
I am sure that the Swedish historians of Gustavus Adolphus must have came across information on other horses used by the King during his war in the Germanies (name I use since there was not a single Germany then, since Germany came about in 1870 when Prussia won the Prussia-French war), perhaps more names etc. So we know that King Gustav rode Streiff during his last battle at Lutzen in Novemeber 1632, where the king was killed and Streiff wounded; the Museum information states that the battle charger died from his wounds in route to Sweden in late December 1632 or January 1633. The skin was prepared by a taxidermist in Wolgast in the Spring 1633.
There is also King's saddle and tack that Streiff was saddled with during their last battle. It is known, from surviving documents etc, that this saddle and harness were the New Year's gift from Queen Maria Eleonora when she visited the king in German states during the winter of 1629/30. Streiff and King's last saddle are for ever united in this Royal Museum display we have the photos of.
As per the bridle, we can see a very impressive curb-bit, with long shanks. The bridle, reins and breastplate were made(over the leather base) from the same embroidered velvet (?) as were the saddle and pistol holsters. In sum this complete tack was worthy the King in its splendour, colour and Baroque embroidery. Perhaps they were made in any of the German states or Flanders, or Holland?
Hail to these war horses and let us remember them and their faithful service to their 'caballero-king' (using a Cid-esque term).
probably in the future I will talk in more detail about King's adventures while at war, as there are some.