Lancashire History Quarterly Vol. 4, No. 2, June 2000 (pp. 25-31)

For a note on errata, etc. see Part One. Illustrations included in the original article were:

  1. Gustav Adolph with some generals in the Thirty Years War
  2. An artist’s impression of the Mayflower and Speedwell in Dartmouth harbor
  3. A bird’s eye view of Holland during the siege of Leyden in 1584, with Leyden on the left and Delftshaven just below Rotterdam on the right. (From Bescrijving der Stadt Leyden, Ian Iansy. Orlers, Leyde, 1642)


PILGRIM FATHER CAPTAIN MYLES
STANDISH OF DUXBURY, LANCASHIRE AND MASSACHUSETTS

(Part Five)

Helen Moorwood

THE “LOST YEARS

We left Myles in Leyden in 1609-10 (Part Four), wondering where and how he might have spent his “lost years” until 1620. In 1609 he was in his early twenties, already a lieutenant and a veteran soldier and had met John Robinson's exile community there. His later American life full of adventure, discovery, initiative, leadership and military skills suggests that these qualities might have developed much earlier, and would therefore have led him during the lost years to seek another scene of adventure, rather than stay twiddling his thumbs on garrison duty in the Netherlands.

He must also have continued to show leadership qualities somewhere to be promoted to captain. Where? The only wars being waged in northern Europe at this time were by Gustav(us II) Adolph(us), the new young King of Sweden, who had inherited wars on three fronts against Denmark, Poland and Russia, as a result of his father's inept policies. When he succeeded to the throne in 1611 he was not yet seventeen. The war against Denmark was terminated in 1613 by a treaty involving crippling reparations, but the other two continued. The cessation of hostilities between Sweden and Denmark was welcomed by James I (of England, VI of Scotland), most particularly because Christian IV, King of Denmark and Norway, was his father-in-law. The peace treaty also meant that any English or Scottish mercenary could now fight for the Swedes without being considered disloyal to James.

The war in the Low Countries had served as a military academy for the Swedish as well as the English and Scottish nobility and gentry, who wished to learn from the progressive tactics and innovations of Prince Maurice, as well as from the brilliant leadership of the de Veres.

Swedish General de la Gardie had absorbed from these leaders some of the tactics which were later to lead to Gustav Adolph's spectacular successes in the Thirty Years War. It was presumably in the Netherlands that de la Gardie met Alexander Leslie, later 1st Earl of Leven arid Lord Balgonie, a Scot who fought in the Netherlands, joined the Swedish army in 1605, and rose to become a field-marshal under Gustav Adolph. How many more English and Scottish soldiers were recruited from Holland for the Swedish army? Could Myles have been one of them?

The strongest argument against this speculation is that Myles never mentioned it loudly enough for it to have been recorded or for any oral tradition to have survived among his descendants. But his library later contained two volumes on the Thirty Years War, including a biography of Gustav Adolph (GA) (“the Garman (sic) History” and “the Sweden Intelligencer”). Does the presence of these volumes speak volumes? Were they there just because of his general interest in the great war raging in Germany and his desire to read about military tactics?

Copyright © 2013. All Rights Reserved.