Portrait of Axel Oxenstierna (1583-1654), Count of Södermöre (1645), Lord High Chancellor of Sweden (Swedish: Rikskansler) from 1612 to 1654, de facto Regent of Sweden (1632-1644), 1651
Axel Gustafsson Oxenstierna af Södermöre (1583–1654), Count of Södermöre, was a Swedish statesman. He became a member of the Swedish Privy Council in 1609 and served as Lord High Chancellor of Sweden from 1612 until his death. He was a confidant of first Gustavus Adolphus and then Queen Christina. Oxenstierna is widely considered one of the most influential people in Swedish history. He played an important role during the Thirty Years' War and was appointed Governor-General of occupied Prussia; he is also credited for having laid the foundations of the modern central administrative structure of the State, including the creation of counties (Swedish: län). On 6 January 1612 Oxenstierna became Lord High Chancellor (Rikskansler) of the Privy Council. His controlling, organizing hand soon became apparent in every branch of the administration. When Sweden entered the Thirty Years' War in the summer of 1630, tolls from Oxenstierna-controlled Prussia, as well as food supplies acquired by Oxenstierna, were pivotal assets. He had also obtained credits from foreign businessmen, ensuring large sums of money making it possible to hire mercenary soldiers to the army used in Germany. In the Battle of Lützen, on 6 November 1632, Gustav II Adolf died. This meant that Oxenstierna became supreme commander of the Swedish troops in Germany, although he let his subordinate generals be responsible for the military operations on a lower level. He moved his headquarters to Mainz, which in practice became the new Swedish capital. Oxenstierna was now absolute ruler of the significant area that the Swedish army had conquered in Germany. He was offered the position as prince-elector of Mainz, but, after serious considerations, the offer was turned down. When King Gustavus died in November 1632, his only legitimate and surviving child, Christina, was almost six years old. Until her declaration of majority at 18, a regency council ruled Sweden. This council was headed by Lord High Chancellor Oxenstierna, who wrote Instrument of Government (1634), a new constitution. Swedish troops remained in Germany all the way until 1648 and the Thirty Years' War's end. Oxenstierna, however, left Germany and returned to Stockholm in 1636, after ten years duty as premier Swedish representative in Prussia and Germany. Oxenstierna more directly claimed his place within the regency of Queen Christina and became the young queen's teacher in statesmanship. His presence at home dominated all opposition, and such was the general confidence for Oxenstierna, that for the next nine years his voice, especially as regarding foreign affairs, remained omnipotent in the Privy Council.
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