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The army at the end of the 17th century

The Swedish army uniform

Local peculiarities

On the order of the Swedish government several military units were also formed of local men, including in Tallinn. In all the units there could be about 10 000 Estonians. The unfinished fortifications in Tallinn were equipped only with few cannons during the Great Northern War, thus for instance in 1710 there were only 54 cannons in Tallinn.

Handling matchlock musket in early 17th century.


The pike was a typical infantry weapon in the 17th century used to defend the musketeers against the cavalry. The spearhead was steel and the pike could be up to 5 metres long.

Cavalry sword

The cavalry swords in early 17th century had a broad straight blade and a strong hand guard.


In the 16th-century invention the gunpowder was ignited by striking flint against the frizzen. By the year 1700 it had replaced the matchlock and wheel lock mechanisms.


A metal capsule resembling a church bell that was filled with gunpowder, attached to the walls of the enemy fortification and exploded.


By the mid-17th century, the armour of the heavy cavalry had shrunk to an iron helmet and a breastplate – cuirass – after which the cavalrymen came to be referred to as cuirassiers. They usually wore a long leather coat under the breastplate and long gloves. The pikes disappeared from weaponry in about 1620 and thereafter only two swords and pistols came to be carried.

17th century artillery

According to the reforms of King Gustav II Adolf of Sweden, the Swedish army was to include light cannons, which however took long to implement. Cannons came to be distinguished by the weight of the fired cannonball, gradually the system became less complex. The 32-pound cannon was called a cartow (Kartaune), 24-pound a semi-cartow (Demi-Kartaune), 18-pound a Schlange and a 9-pound cannon a Demi-Schlange.

Light artillery cannon

Lighter field cannons easily transported by two horses were developed under the leadership of King Gustav II Adolf of Sweden in about 1630. The calibre of such a field cannon was approximately 75 mm.

Fort cannon in the 17th century

Similarly to ship cannons, the fort cannon was placed on a four-wheel gun carriage.

Leather cannon

The experimental attempt to create a lighter cannon clad in leather enabling the use of lighter barrels. However, the leather cannon tested by King Gustav II Adolf and occasionally used in the Thirty Years’ War is generally considered a failed model.


Swedish army weapons during the Great Northern War