Magnus Stenbock

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Magnus Stenbock at Helsingborg
Stylised painting of Magnus Stenbock in wig
Equestrian Magnus Stenbock in Helsingborg

Count Magnus Gustafsson Stenbock (22 May 1665 – 23 February 1717) was a Swedish military officer at the time of the Great Northern War.


He was born in Stockholm, the son of Gustaf Otto Stenbock and Christina Catharine de la Gardie.

He was educated at Uppsala and at Paris, chose the military profession, and spent some years in the service of the United Provinces.

Returning to Sweden he entered the Army, and, in 1688, became major. He served with the Swedes in the Low Countries and on the Rhine, distinguishing himself for skill and courage at Fleurus. During the Nine Years' War he was employed not only in the field but also as a confidential agent in diplomatic missions.

He married Eva Magdalena Oxenstierna on 26 December 1690 in Stockholm. She was the daughter of Bengt Gabrielsson Oxenstierna and Magdalena Eriksdotter Stenbock.

Soon afterwards, as colonel of the Dalecarlian regiment, he led it in the astonishing victory of Narva. He distinguished himself still more at Dünamünde, Klissow and Cracow. In 1703 he fought the successful battle at Pułtusk, and three years later, having reached the rank of general of infantry, was made Governor-General of Scania. He led the Swedish troops to victory in the Battle of Helsingborg (1710), the last battle between Denmark and Sweden in Scania.

He was a great favorite with Charles XII in the earlier campaigns, but later the two drifted somewhat apart. It is recorded that the king, before whom General Lagercrona accused Stenbock of drunkenness, replied that Stenbock drunk was more capable of giving orders than Lagercrona sober.

His activities were not confined to war and diplomacy; the University of Lund was under his care as Chancellor for some years, and he had no mean skill as a painter and a poet. He became Privy Councillor in 1710, and Charles gave him his field marshal's baton in 1712.

In the same year, with but 9000 men he invaded Mecklenburg in order to relieve besieged Stralsund in Swedish Pomerania. He won the Battle of Gadebusch, but numbers prevailed against him in the end: Cut off at the Siege of Tönning, he was forced to surrender after a gallant resistance, and passed into captivity. During his captivity he produced extraordinary fine ivory miniatures, which often included referrals to the number 51 — a reference to Psalm 51, “Have mercy on me, O God.”[1] He died in Copenhagen, after five years of harsh treatment.

Cultural references[edit]

The painting Magnus Stenbock i Malmö (“Magnus Stenbock in Malmö”) was made by Gustaf Cederström in 1892, one of several paintings of Swedish history by this artist.


  1. ^ Matthias Schulz (2009). "Kunsthandwerk: Der Herr der Ringe". Der Spiegel.