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Leo von Heidenstam

The Duke of Dromund
Franz von Lenbach - Helmuth Carl Bernhard Graf von Moltke (1898).jpg
Portrait of Heidenstam in 1867
1st Premier of Geatland
In office
10 August 1867 – 12 December 1878
MonarchGunnar III
Preceded byoffice created
Succeeded byBaron Ingemar Ulf
Personal details
Leo Verner von Heidenstam

29 September 1798
Kungslandning, Ibsäm, Geatland
Died21 November 1882(1882-11-21) (aged 84)
Esholm, Geatland
Political partyIndependent (de jure)
Conservative-Monarchist Alliance
Spouse(s)Greta Mulborg
MotherLady Marta Trausch
FatherOskar von Heidenstam, Count of Kravall
AwardsGrand Knight of the Order of Eric
Military service
Allegiance Geatland
Branch/serviceRoyal Geatish Army
Years of service1816–1867
RankField Marshal
Battles/warsKing Rudolf's War
  • Battle of Karvanan
  • Siege of Fort Aalmsted

Engström Revolt

Marshal of the Realm Leo Verner von Heidenstam, 1st Duke of Dromund (29 September 1798 - 21 November 1882) was a Geatish military commander and statesman who is most renowned for crushing the Engström Revolt and serving as Geatland's first premier. He is considered among the most predominant figures in contemporary Geatish history.

Leo von Heidenstam was born into a moderately wealthy and landed noble family in Kungslandning. As the second son of an army captain, Heidenstam was made to enlist in the Royal Geatish Army at age 18. After distinguishing himself in the army academy, Heidenstam rose rapidly through the ranks and became a captain at the age of 23 in 1821. When King Rudolf's War broke out between Geatland and Azmara, Heidenstam served with valor and distinction, his most famous achievement being the siege of Fort Aalmsted in 1844. After King Rudolf's War, Heidenstam was promoted to field marshal and largely retired from his military duties, conducting mostly ceremonial matters. This changed when Gunnar III called on him to personally quell the Engström Revolt, a republican insurrection against the Geatish Crown. Heidenstam's brute force and decisive understanding of logistics proved vital in destroying the rebel forces.

After his distinguished service in the Engström Revolt, Heidenstam expected to resign from public life completely. However, in 1867 the Constitution of Geatland was ratified, and Gunnar III asked Heidenstam to serve as the nation's first premier, an offer Heidenstam reluctantly accepted. He would go on to be extremely popular in that position and enacted various policies aimed at democratizing the newly-minted constitutional monarchy and liberalizing its economy. During his eleven years in office, Heidenstam established many precedents and traditions that continue in Geatland today. His most famous achievement is extending voting rights to property-less and non-Amendist men. Despite strong popular approval, Heidenstam declined to stand as premier for a fourth term in 1875, continuing an unbroken political precedent in Geatland. He died in 1882 and was accorded a state funeral.

Heidenstam is among the most highly rated and celebrated premiers of Geatland. His military prowess, as well as his close personal relationship with and understanding of his soldiers, made him an extremely popular figure. He is considered the father of modern Geatland. In 2006, Heidenstam was declared the third greatest Geat to have ever lived, behind only Eric the Great and Otto IV. He and his descendants are among the only non-royal families to hold the title of duke in Geatland.

Early life and ancestry

Portrait of Heidenstam at age 8

Leo Verner von Heidenstam was born into an aristocratic Geatish family in the family's ancestral home in Kungslandning, Ibsäm County, on 29 September 1798. He was the second of four surviving sons of Oskar von Heidenstam, Count of Kravall and Lady Marta Trausch. Through his father's side, he belonged to the von Heidenstam family, which was given landed rights around 1701. The von Heidenstams were minor nobility with limited connection to the realm's ruling royal elite. Leo was the third cousin twice removed of the reigning Geatish monarch at his birth, Eric X. His great-grandfather, Lord Sigmund von Heidenstam, was the deputy viceroy of Eldmark from 1705 to 1711.

The von Heidenstams were maternally wealthy, though by the standards of the ruling elite they were relatively poor. Around Leo von Heidenstam's birth, the family estate had been falling into disrepair. Most of the family's wealth was reinvigorated when Oskar married Marta Trausch, the daughter of a well-heeled Cislanian businessman, and thus received a large dowry. Trausch, originally a Catholic, converted to Amendism following her marriage to Heidenstam's father. Growing up, Heidenstam learned to speak Weranic through his mother, and he would hold a strong appreciation for Weranic culture for the rest of his life.

The von Heidenstams' ancestral home in Kungslandning

For most of his early life, Heidenstam enjoyed reading and writing. Hw was a particularly avid reader of stories of and knights and chivalry. He retained a small library of traditional Geatish folklore he had initially come to own in his childhood until his death. He was particularly close to his wet nurse and nanny, Gyrid Johansson, who died in a carriage accident when Heidenstam was ten.

Until the age of 12, Heidenstam attended a local grammar school. Teachers often remarked that he was lonesome and shy but excelled in academia, especially in mathematics. He suffered from a bad stammer for which he was bullied and mocked. One tutor remarked that he was an "affectatious, insignificant boy of no remark." On Heidenstam's personal insistence, his father found him a private tutor, and he educated at home until he was eighteen. His father personally taught him horseback riding and shooting. In his later years, Heidenstam wrote, "I am my father's work."

Early career

Enlistment and the academy

The former King Eric VI Army Acadamy, where Heidenstam pursued officer training

As was the tradition for young nobility, Heidenstam was enlisted into the Royal Geatish Army, an institution he would serve for over fifty-six years. As a retired captain's son, he was destined for a career as an officer. Therefore, he was required to attend training at the King Eric VI Army Academy in Blåstad. He formally enlisted in September 1816. Training at the Academy would normally last for no more than two years at most during peacetime, even less during wartime. However, during his service at the academy, Heidenstam was frequently stricken with malaria, which rendered him bedrid. Not wishing to lose out on valuable information he may have lost while ill, Heidenstam applied for an extension of service at the Academy with the written consent of his superior officer. His petition was accepted.

While in academic training, Heidenstam was frequently praised for his erudition and wisdom. By adulthood, his stammer had disappeared, and he was commonly described as a fit and athletic man. He was frequently selected among his peers to lead parades and welcome guests. Instructors and superiors at the academy encouraged Heidenstam's voracious reading habit. In 1819, Heidenstam graduated the Academy with full distinction.

Upon his graduation from the academy, Heidenstam was immediately promoted to lieutenant. This decision was rather unprecedented, as promotions of this speed were typically reserved for the sons of high-standing nobility or members of the royal family. Upon his promotion, he was assigned as an aide-de-camp to Major Ernst Byström and stationed in Esholm. While in Esholm, Heidenstam engaged in the city's social culture, often frequently bars and gambling with fellow officers. During this time, he cultivated his skills in the violin and sometimes filled in as a reserve for various Esholm orchestras. He was, however, diligent in his duties and praised for his efficacy.

Rise to captain

Portrait of Heidenstam in his major uniform, aged 30.

In recognition of his superlative qualities and industriousness, Major Byström petitioned for Heidenstam to be made a captain. Byström's petition was successful and, at the age of 23, he was gazetted in 1820. Heidenstam was one of the youngest ever military men to assume the position of captain who had not otherwise purchased their commission. Upon his successful promotion, Heidenstam petitioned to be sent as a military attaché to Cislania, his mother's homeland. Heidenstam's father and mother objected to his request, instead preferring that their son remain in Geatland and find a suitable, high-born woman to marry. Nevertheless, Heidenstam's request was granted and he was created the chief arms officer at the Geatish embassy in Cislania, where he began his tour on January 1821. Heidenstam's decision to leave against his family's advice created a rift between him and his father, and upon arrival in Cislania Heidenstam wrote to his mother and father less and less frequently. During his posting, he would later be promoted to major.

Because he could speak Weranic at a native fluency, Heidenstam quickly rose to prominence among his fellow officers in Wiesstadt. His rank and position, as well as his connection to certain Cislanian aristocratic families through his mother, offered him entry into various high-society clubs, bars and establishments. Although these activities were not officially sanctioned by the Geatish embassy, Heidenstam's popularity and attention to duty elsewhere afforded him a degree of impunity. Contemporary accounts, however, relate that Heidenstam's free-going nature landed him in some trouble. In August 1822, for instance, Heidenstam was admonished for entering into a drunken brawl.

Most of Heidenstam's time was occupied in reading and research. Disgruntled by the lack of military manuals and literature in his native land, Heidenstam read widely in tactical combat, military history, and military supply-chain management. After his service in Cislania finished, Heidenstam brought back many of his Weranic books to Geatland. They would go on the be extremely formative in his command style. During this time, Heidenstam reunited briefly with his mother's family and was reintroduced to Catholicism. Although he was choose not to convert, he reportedly greatly sympathized with the religion. Many scholars have taken this to reflect Heidenstam's tolerant stance towards Catholics in Geatland, especially as regards his decision to give Catholic men voting rights.


Greta Mulborg, known as Lady Heidenstam, married Leo von Heidenstam in 1824.

In April 1823, while at a dinner party hosted by the Amendist Mulborg family, Heidenstam met Greta Mulborg, the youngest of four daughters. Heidenstam initially dismissed Mulborg as too efficacious and childish, though he soon developed a close affinity for her, and he would often visit the Mulborg family residence in downtown Weisstadt in order to see Greta. In his private journals, Heidenstam wrote longingly of Greta's youth and nymphlike beauty. In a letter to his mother, Heidenstam wrote: "She [Greta] is surely the most beautiful creature in all of Creation." Although the Mulborg family intended for Geta to be betrothed to another man, they warmed up to the match. Though the Mulborgs were wealthy, they were not nobility and therefore cherished the opportunity to marry into the landed upper class. Heidenstam formally proposed marriage in December 1823 to Greta's father, who accepted.

Privately, Heidenstam's father staunchly opposed the marriage and instead wished that his sons to marry into Geatish nobility. When the Mulborg family promised a large dowry, however, his father tacitly accepted the marriage proposal. The army gave Heidenstam leave to return to Geatland for a month and marry. The couple were wed in the garden of Heidenstams' ancestral home in Kungslandning on 6 July 1824. Soon after the wedding was over, however, it was revealed that much of what the Mulborg family promised as a dowry was fabricated. Although he condemned divorce, Heidenstam's father was furious with Greta and his son. Heidenstam was also disappointed with his new family in law, though he chose to return to his posting in Cislania. Heidenstam would grow very close and loyal with his wife; there is no evidence Heidenstam or Greta were unfaithful to each other despite both often undergoing months of separation. In 1836, Greta gave birth to the couple's first son, Oskar.

Statue of Heidenstam outside of the Geatish consulate in Weisstadt

In 1925, Heidenstam's father contracted pneumonia and died. Upon hearing of the news, Heidenstam was heartbroken, especially since he could not return to Geatland to see his father off owing to logistical constraints. Heidenstam particularly regretted having soured his relationship with his father, and he was particularly devastated to learn that no lands were left for him, effectively making him reliant on his income and pension from the army.

Heidenstam was still stationed in Weisstadt when the Weranian Revolution of 1828, a republican revolt, erupted in Werania. The events quickly escalated into the establishment of a second Weranian republic and the overthrow of the Cislanian royal family in favor of the appointment of Ulrich von Bayrhoffer as Minister-President of Cislania. Heidenstam and his wife were therefore forced to flee to Geatland. On his return, Heidenstam railed seethingly against republicanism in his private journals and lobbied for army leaders to follow the events in Cislania more closely, to no avail. Heidenstam published a few anti-republican pamphlets, though because republicanism was not yet a widespread movement in Geatland they were only in limited circulation.

Return to Geatland

Coronation of Rudolf V and Queen Caroline, which Heidenstam attended

Upon returning to the Geatish Islands, Heidenstam and his wife settled down in Blåstad, where the family would raise the rest of their children. Heidenstam took up a post at the King Eric VI Army Academy, his former place of study. His instruction at the academy was mainly devoted to discipline and regimen. As a second son and therefore minor nobility, he was offered very little room for advancement beyond his rank of major. Heidenstam wrote often to his wife and family complaining about the assignment, as Heidenstam would have preferred to teach army strategy and logistics. Nevertheless, Heidenstam's position as chief disciplinarian grew on him, and when offered a chance to transfer to an academic position, Heidenstam reportedly refused.

In 1841, Heidenstam was chosen to represent his family at the coronation of Rudolf V of Geatland after Heidenstam's elder brother, Karl, had fallen ill. Upon meeting Heidenstam, King Rudolf reportedly took to him and enjoyed his company. Heidenstam was a frequent guest at the royal palace and often acted as an unofficial, impromptu advisor to the king, who valued Heidenstam's insights. In recognition of his services, Rudolf V promoted Heidenstam to lieutenant colonel in 1843 and later to colonel in 1845. At the time of his promotion, Heidenstam was the among highest-ranked members of the Geatish army who did not hold an official noble title or an estate. By 1850, Heidenstam would frequent the palace less and focus more on his duties at the Academy, though he remained steadfastly loyal to the Geatish monarch and retained close correspondence with Rudolf V. In his private diary, Heidenstam remarked that his service to the king at court was "perhaps among the times when I was most proud of who I was."

War against Azmara

Heidenstam was called to action in Rudolf V declared war against Azmara in 1852. Although the majority of the fighting theatre was exclusive to sea skirmishes, Heidenstam was placed under the command of Field Marshal Björn von Beyermann, known popularly as "Red Björn". At the war's outset, Heidenstam helped organize the standing Geatish marine force. In this role he served effectively, and despite his lack of experience in traditional naval warfare was able to organize various successful boarding parties against Azmaran naval vessels in the North Sea. Marshal von Beyermann wrote very approvingly of Heidenstam, commending him for his skill at both commanding infantry and observing the sail. Heidenstam would continue to add regiments under his command, at von Beyermann's request.

The Siege of Fort Aalmsted was a decisive victory for Geatland.

In October 1944, Geatish forces had decisively won the Battle of the Line Islands and secured control of the waters around the Line Islands. Fort Aalmsted, staffed with over one thousand Azmaran troops, had held out on the island of New Aalmsted. Heidenstam and a fellow colonel, Tomas "Tommy" Hansson, were charged with capturing the fort and securing the island for Geatland. Heidenstam and Hansson's forces landed on New Aalmsted on October 21 and were able to form a beachhead along the island's southern coast. Geatish forces advanced through the island towards the fort, positioned in what was relatively the islands center. On October 23, as the Geatish troops advanced through the town of Hyflik, a surprise Azmaran guerrila infantry mobbed them. In response, Geatish troops were forced to retreat further south, though Heidenstam fought a successful rearguard action that secured the Geatish line.

After clearing significant tracks of land, Heidenstam and Hansson prepared for an outright siege on Fort Aalmsted. At Hansson's request, Heidenstam assumed command of the operation. Using military intelligence he had acquired, most likely from spies within the Azmaran ranks, Heidenstam deduced that the Fort Aalmsted's left wall was in serious disrepair. Heidenstam ordered Hansson and a smaller regimen to attack the fort's right. This was a rouse, as Heidenstam had been counting on Fort Aalmsted's commander to devote troops to defending the right, thereby leaving the left open. Heidenstam's prediction was borne out, and, on October 26 he attacked the fort's left wall. Added by cannonfire smuggled onto the island by the Geatish navy, Heidenstam was able to confuse Azmaran forces in the fort, who scrambled to defend the lightly defended left side. Their defense was unsuccesful, and soon Heidenstam laid siege to the entire fort. A successful flanking maneuver by Hansson prevented men trapped in the fort from escaping, though Hansson himself succumbed to musket fire and died.

The Siege of Fort Aalmsted was a major victory for Geatland and a triumph for Heidenstam, who successfully drove the Azmaran military off New Aalmsted. Heidenstam reportedly mourned the loss of Hansson, who he sent back to Geatland to be buried with military honors. Upon hearing of Heidenstam's victory, Rudolf V sent a personal letter of thanks to Heidenstam and promoted him to major general. Heidenstam later participated in the Battle of Karvanan, where he played a smaller role overseeing the Geatish defensive line and securing Geatland's supply lines. Heidenstam's role at the war's close was diminished on account of a staph infection.

Field Marshal

Painting of Heidenstam upon his promotion to field marshal. The Siege of Fort Aalmsted is depicted in the background.

After Geatish victory in King Rudolf's War in 1845, Heidenstam returned to his family home in Blåstad as a general. According to Heidenstam's diary, he had considered resigning his position because of frequent bouts of illness, but was dissuaded from doing so by his wife. Heidenstam wrote intermittantly for Krimbul, a Geatish broadsheet newspaper then focused on the armed forces.

In 1846, Field Marshal Björn von Beyermann died of an unexpected heart attack. According to traditional Geatish custom, nobleman General Theodor, Count of Olander was next in line to succeed von Beyermann. Given Heidenstam's minor nobility status, he may have been traditionally passed up. However, Rudolf III preferred to make Heridenstam field marshal on account of their close personal relationship and Heidenstams' gallantry in war. Rudolf's advisors convinced him to appoint the Count of Olander as field marshal, and Heidenstam was made next in line. However, soon after his promotion, the Count of Olander developed a brain tumor and died. So, in May 1847, Heidenstam was officially made field marshal.

In times of peace, the position of field marshal was relatively ceremonial, and therefore Field Marshal Heidenstam was relieved of all but the most ceremonial of his duties. Heidenstam lived in Blåstad for most of the year, though he occasionally summered at his brother's estate in Kungslandning. During his offtime, Heidenstam journaled regularly and practiced woodworking. On occasion, he supervised operations at King Eric VI Army Academy.

Engström Revolt

The Engström Revolt initially began as a tax protest against heavy taxation of free farmers' land, but quickly turned into a pro-republican and anti-monarchist revolt against the Geatish Crown. When the revolt began in March 1866, Heidenstam had been on leave in his family home in Kungslandning, and therefore news of the insurrection was somewhat slow to reach him. As with most Geatish military and political officers, Heidenstam initially brushed off the serious threat posed by the revolt. In his private journal, Heidenstam referred to Henrik Engström, the revolt's leader, as a "petty vagrant" and "cockroach". Nevertheless, Heidenstam cut his leave of absence in Kungslanding short and returned to Blåstad to oversee the armed response. Heidenstam's indirect management saw the commitment of small numbers of troops against the republican rebels, whom Heidenstam viewed as small and poorly equipped. Instead, however, Engström's guerilla forces were able to outrun and pick off the forces sent against them. Geatish commanders had minimal experience quelling armed insurrections against guerilla opponents, and so many of them buckled. What was once a nuisance became a major threat when Engström's forces successfully captured the city of Varssala in September 1866. At the urging of King Gunnar III, Heidenstam took personal command.

Heidenstam (center right) discusses the events of the revolt with King Gunnar III and his council.

Heidenstam acted first to seed out and block Engström's supply lines, which were maintained clandestinely by secret agents across the Geatish Islands. Wherever Heidenstam's army landed, he declared immediate marshal law and declared that any person found abetting Engström's war effort would face certain summary execution. Heidenstam organized a complete mobalization of the Geatish Army, something which many of his contemporaries thought was excessive, and forced country folk to quarter troops in their homes. He entrusted command of smaller, more mobile units to commanders beneath him to quell flames of rebellion along Gormö's western seabord while Heidenstam committed himself to countering Engström in his headquarters at Varssala. By November, most of the rebellion had been snuffed out, though significant resistance remained in Varssala.

Upon amassing his forces at Varssala, Heidenstam sent a warning to the rebels, promising to raze the city. Heidenstam appealed for the rebels to evacuate the city's civilian population. The rebels initially refused but acquiesced on November 8. Heidenstam's forces began shelling Varssala. However, rather than risking the destruction of the city outright, Heidenstam instead chose to conduct attrition warfare against the Geatish Republican Front in the city. Heidenstam intermittently shelled the republican garrison, though he was forced to temporarily divert his forces when republican stirrings were detected elsewhere. Varssala fell in January 1867, though Heidenstam and a small contingent fled to the countryside.

Heidenstam personally gave chase to Engström, cornering him and a small escort outside of Firf on 9 February 1867. After a brief shoot-out and a botched attempt to escape, Engström surrendered to Heidenstam the next day. Although he had grown to respect Engström for his surrender, Heidenstam advocated for his execution and was ultimately responsible for overseeing it on 13 February, when Engström and fifty other republicans were hanged.


Top: Signing of the Constitution of Geatland on 13 July 1867. Heidenstam was in attendence, though did not vote to ratify the Constitution.

Bottom: King Gunnar III opens the Riksdag on 10 August. Heidenstam was declared Geatland's first premier the same day.

After having served in the Geatish armed forces for over fifty years and led a decisive victory against the Republicans in the Engström Revolt, Heidenstam fully expected to resign and be decommissioned. However, rapid political happenings in Blåstad forced Heidenstam to put off his resignation. In March, King Gunnar III called upon the Riksdag to draft a constitution that would establish an electoral democracy and limit the Crown's power. Heidenstam privately opposed these developments, as he was broadly in favor of absolute monarchy and divine right theory. Although he favored minor reforms to the Riksdag, his own personal leanings preferred the authority of the monarch over the authority of parliament. Nevertheless, Heidenstam was invited to be an honorary representative at the convention in Blåstad, an invitation he accepted. Heidenstam never voted on any proceedings nor signed his name to the final draft of what was to be the Constitution of Geatland. He was reportedly silent for the entirely of the session.

After the Constitution of Geatland was ratified by the Monarch and the Riksdag on 13 July 1867, the legislature was dissolved and elections were scheduled. Because of his distinguished service in the military and noble birth, Heidenstam was automatically appointed to the Landsting, the newly-formed upper house. Although he accepted the honor and lordship, he considered retiring from the post after two years.

Heidenstam's attitude would change when, in 1 August, King Gunnar III asked Heidenstam to form Geatland's first government as its premier. As Geatland was politically riven between staunch monarchists and liberals, Heidenstam was judged to be a moderate choice. Furthermore, Heidenstam's swift defeat of the rebels earned him national fame and renown. Although he was politically averse, Gunnar III reasoned that Heidenstam was primely positioned to lead the country as head of government.

Heidenstam, an independent, considered refusing the commission, though refusing a request from the monarch would be considered extremely disrespectful and shameful. By all accounts, Heidenstam was incredibly reluctant to take up the position and reported as much to the King's confidants. Nevertheless, Heidenstam accepted the offer and set about forming a cabinet. On 10 August 1867, Gunnar III formally opened the Riksdag, and on the same day Heidenstam was formally commissioned as premier. Heidenstam designated Johan Edlund, Count of Wisborg as his first deputy premier, though replaced him with the commoner Ingemar Ulf in 1874.

As a member of the Landsting, Heidenstam was officially an independent, though he caucused with the Conservative-Monarchist Alliance. Along with Ulf, he is the only indepedent politician to have ever been premier of Geatland.

Domestic affairs

Heidenstam, still dressed in military uniform, in his office as premier, 1869

Heidenstam's domestic policy was primarily animated by a desire to balance the wishes of the nobility and the crown against those of the common people. In this aspect he was seen as a staunch moderate. Heidenstam attempted to match policies protecting the landed mobility with those meant to improve the condition of the common people. Heidenstam was often criticized by both monarchists, who believed he was kowtowing to greater republican pressure, and by liberals, who believed he advanced the interests of the aristrocracy at the loss of the common people. Heidenstam was particularly critical of both these camps, whom he referred to as "petty obstructionists."

The first test of Heidenstam's tight-rope approach to social class came in 1869, when farmers challenged various aristocratic property monopolies in Geatland's north. Geatish traditional law allowed for noblemen to own undeveloped tracts of lands without paying tax. Many of these lands were arable, and farmers were particularly annoyed that they were legally enjoined from allowing their cattle to graze. Heidenstam defended the rights of noblemen to retain these lands. However, fearing another Engström Revolt, Heidenstam arranged for parcels of kungsland (lit. "king's land", i.e. land owned by the Geatish government) to be sold off to needy farmers. The North Geatish estate monopoly, as it is often called, would be rolled back by Heidenstam's successor, Ingemar Ulf.

A pub in Blåstad in 1875. Heidenstam's decision to lift sin taxes on beer caused a boom in the Geatish alcohol industry and made Geatland a major exporter of beer.

Some of Heidenstam's other policies favored the common people. In 1871, for instance, he resolved to remove prohibitions on fishing in coastal waters. Previously, fishermen who caught in government waters were required to pay fees as a punitive tax unless they were accredited. Heidenstam's decision to lift these restrictions was extremely popular and greatly beneficial to the Geatish fishing industry. Furthermore, Heidenstam lifted taxes on beer, an extremely popular beverage in Geatland. This punitive sin tax, originally created to milk revenue out of a popular industry, gave rise to far-reaching bootlegging. Heidenstam's repeal of various taxes and prohibitions made Geatland one of Euclea's most alcohol-tolerant nations. By 1873, Gealtand became a major exporter of alcoholic beverages to Continental Euclea.

Heidenstam's relationship with the Geatish monarch is the subject of much scrutiny. King Gunnar III, despite having his powers gelded, was still an active force in Geatish politics and the de jure source of all political authority. Gunnar III chaired meetings of the cabinet and often directed government policies directly. Heidenstam did not oppose this arrangement per se, though he often complained of feeling nervous to propose a policy that may bring displeasure to the king. Although Heidenstam was a close confidant of Gunnar III, he reportedly had a better working relationship with Gunnar III's more open-minded and liberal successor, Gunnar IV.

In addition to various economic liberalization projects, Heidenstam rolled back some laws proscribing treasonous speech. In particular, Heidenstam removed Geatland's strict restrictions on the import of "non-conformist literature." However, Heidenstam did not believe in free speech. In 1873, Björn Jansson, a cartoonist and satirist from Esholm, was arrested for slandering the person of Gunnar III. Jansson published various cartoons depicting the monarch defecating on the Riksdag building. Heidenstam refused appeals to grant Jansson clemency, who was sentenced to five years of hard labor. Instead, Heidenstam's government responded by making lèse-majesté punishable by up to twenty years in prison.

Furthermore, Heidenstam refused to introduce a codified bill of rights, which he believed would be unnecessarily divisive. He feared that a codified bill of rights would concede too much to the republicans and liberals, and therefore discouraged his cabinet ministers from raising the issue. A legally enshrined Geatish bill of rights would not be enacted until after the Great War in 1937.

Foreign affairs and trade policy

Memorial to Heidenstam in Aalmsted, commemorating his commitment to rapprochement with Azmara

For most of the early and middle 19th century, Geatland had hostile relations with the emerging republics in Euclea. As an absolute monarchy, official Geatish policy was to not abet republican governments and instead favor the monarchies those republican governments overthrew. The Engström Revolt and the end of the Euclean Spring shifted Geatish foreign policy objectives somewhat. For his part, Heidenstam attempted to smooth over relations with Euclea's newly-minted republicans. For instance, he authorized the creation of a Geatish embassy in Etruria, which had been closed since that country's republican revolution. Heidenstam maintained correspondence with Eduard Olsov, the president of Narozalica. Despite his tolerance for republics, Heidenstam was closest with Euclea's monarchies, particularly with Werania. Heidenstam maintained close contact with Weranian chancellors Johann Franz von Gieslingen and Franz Gustav von Reichenstein.

Heidenstam is credited with thawing relations between Geatland and Azmara, whose relationship had been riven by King Rudolf's War and the Geatish annexation of the Line Islands. Heidenstam hosted the Azmaran president in a state visit in 1872. Geatland and Azmara signed a formal accord of friendship in 1877, near the end of Heidenstam's premiership.

The Heidenstam government removed tariffs and quotas. Informed by traditional capitalist ideas from the Euclean continent, Heidenstam committed to promoting free trade. The removal of tariffs allowed proved to be beneficial for the Geatish economy, which grew as much as 31 percent in three years from 1970 to 1973. Average incomes rose significantly. Geatish exports, particularly beer and fish, boomed as much as 50 percent during Heidenstam's premiership. Blåstad grew especially prosperous, as it once again became common and affordable for Continental Euclean merchant marine to lay over in Geatish ports before crossing the rest of the Vehemens Ocean to reach the Asterias.

Religious policy

Although Heidenstam was sympathetic to Solarian Catholics, given that many in his family were of that creed, he insisted that the Church of Geatland should continue to be the official state religion and church of government. Heidenstam particularly disliked secularism, which he compared to state-promoted atheism. Although Heidenstam's government allowed for Catholic churches to be constructed in certain areas of the country, it also insisted that Geatish Amendism be taught in all schools. Although Heidenstam favored allowing Catholic men the vote, he nevertheless opposed allowing them to hold political office. Heidenstam became increasingly unpopular with Geatland's Catholic minority when he levied heavy taxes against Catholic churches and clubs. This "Catholic tax" as it was called would not be repealed until 1925. Pressured by Gunnar III, Heidenstam's government also banned the sale and distribution of the Latin Vulgate outside of strictly Catholic institutions. Further, Catholic churches were prohibited from proselytizing and were often met with harsh retribution if they were found to do so. In one instance, Heidenstam condoned the burning of a Catholic church in Nygard that was found selling illicit "Catholic contraband."

Universal male suffrage

Further information: Universal manhood suffrage

In a speech to the Riksdag, Heidenstam declared the government's support for universal male suffrage, 1875.

In 1874, King Gunnar III died and was succeeded by his eldest son, Gunnar IV. As premier and the monarch's chief advisor at the time, Heidenstam was responsible for overseeing the transition of the crown, as well as advising the newly annointed king on his duties. Gunnar IV was more liberal than his father, who was considered a staunch Geatish traditionalist. Although Gunnar IV was of a much younger generation, Heidenstam developed a good rapport with him, and Gunnar IV often treated Heidenstam as a father figure.

Gunnar IV had voiced support for expanding the right to vote to non-property-owning men, an idea that was considered by members of Heidenstam's cabinet. Before 1874, Heidenstam was reportedly ambivalent about the issue. However, the enthusiasm of the new king convinced Heidenstam to sue for universal male suffrage. The idea was already proposed in the previous election and proved popular among the common folk. Disapproval was strong among the landed class, who viewed voting rights as an extension of their land-owning status. Although the king had declared private support for universal male suffrage, many in the Geatish cabinet and government advised Heidenstam against pursuing the policy. Ulf, Heidenstam's deputy premier, was amenable to the idea, though he believed that it would be politically impractical.

Questions of how universal voting rights would be abounded. Many politicians were in favor of extending voting rights to non-landowners, though only those that belonged to the Church of Geatland, the nation's state church. Heidenstam was cool to these proposals, and he instead favored replicating the continental system of extending voting rights to all male citizens irrespective of religion. Heidenstam was criticized for being obstinate, though a public endorsement of universal manhood suffrage from Gunnar IV quickly shifted the political winds. Heidenstam declared the government's intent to introduce universal manhood suffrage in an address to the Riksdag in February 1875. In April, the Male Affranchaisement Act 1875 was passed by both chambers of the Riksdag with bipartisan support, and all men were given the right to vote in the next Geatish election in 1878. According to his diary, passing universal manhood suffrage was Heidenstam's proudest political achievement.

Decision to retire

Photograph of Heidenstam with various cabinet members taken on 11 December 1878. He would formally resign the next day.

Sometime in June 1877, Heidenstam informed his sovereign Gunnar IV that he did not wish to hold his position anymore and would seek to be decommissioned. Gunnar IV convinced Heidenstam to retain his post, but agreed to push the upcoming election forward to October 1878. Heidenstam's abrupt request to resign surprised his contemporaries, though in his private diary Heidenstam wrote at length about the stress accompanied with his position. Heidenstam and his government had survived three elections, though he was personally never on the ballot. At the age of 78, Heidenstam was increasingly aged and tired. In a letter to his son Johann, Heidenstam complained of physical fatigue and mental burnout. Furthermore, Heidenstam's later rule was racked by sundry scandals against his cabinet. One in particular revealed that Finance Minister Kjell Orslon, Count of Berglund had frequented brothels and was unfaithful to his pregnant wife. Heidenstam dismissed Orslon, but the scandal stuck with him.

Heidenstam formally announced his intention to step down following the election in January 1878 after rumors swelled. It is reported that, when Heidenstam declared his intention to resign, members of the Riksdag leaped to their feet in anger. Many members were reportedly moved to tears, as Heidenstam had been for the past decade the father of Geatish democracy. Various cabinet members attempted to convince Heidenstam to forestall his resignation, possibly until death, though he rebuffed all such attempts. Heidenstam's private diary indicates that he chose to retire because of political and physical fatigue rather than a respect for democratic precedence. Nevertheless, Heidenstam believed it to be important that public officials only hold power for a small amount of time, as if they held it any longer they may be perceived as a threat to the monarch.

The ensuing election once again brought a pro-establishment victory. Heidenstam promoted Ulf as his successor, despite the two men's deep disagreements on policy and the rifts between them. Heidenstam did this because he preferred that the Geatland's next premier be an elected official accountable to the Folkting, which Ulf was. This brought Geatland closer in line with the parliamentary traditions of other countries, wherein the head of government originates from the lower house. In his teary last address to the Riksdag, Heidenstam ended by saying:

I learnt but a day ago that Geatland has endured one thousand years since its unification under Gorm. If this country is to be led by the steady hand of qualified leaders, Geatland's flame shall surely endure for one thousand years more. I believe I have done my part, but now I must remit this ultimate responsibility into your hands. May you steel yourselves for it accordingly. Good luck and godspeed, gentlemen.

Retirement and later life

Portrait of Heidenstam painted in 1881, one year before his death

Heidenstam formally ceased to be premier on 12 December 1878, when Gunnar IV formally invited Ingemar Ulf to become Geatland's next premier. Heidenstam was given a formal farewell attended by almost all of the members of the Riksdag. Heidenstam intended to return to Kungslandning immediately, though he fell ill soon after leaving office and judged too frail to travel. Heidenstam resided in Blåstad until 16 January 1879, when he was given a formal escort to his family's estate in Kungslandning.

In recognition of Heidenstam's services, Gunnar IV declared Heidenstam the Marshal of the Realm as opposed to a normal fältmarskalk (Geatish for field marshal). Marshal of the Realm was used intermittently and informally as a title of Geatish monarchs in recognition of their position as commander-in-chief of the Geatish Armed Forces. Although Heidenstam retained no military duties, the conferring of a title typically reserved for sitting monarchs was considered a great honor. No Geat has been referred to as Marshal of the Realm since. He was also declared the Duke of Dromund upon his retirement, a title he would pass on to his eldest son Karl.

Eighty years old at the time of his retirement, Heidenstam was significantly less active than his earlier robust self and typically confined himself in bed. He revived his habit of keeping an extensive diary, in which he often complained of back pains and ulcers on his feet. In his free time, Heidenstam would read, exchange letters with friends, and fish on the family's lake property. On occasion, Heidenstam would personally patronize local farmers' markets and visit schools.

Political leaders wrote letters to Heidenstam until his death, typically asking for advice. Despite their somewhat sour relations while Heidenstam was premier, Ingemar Ulf regularly corresponded with Heidenstam and kept him apprised of political developments in Blåstad. By Heidenstam's death, the two had reconciled most of their differences.

Death and funeral

Heidenstam's death mask
State funeral procession of Leo von Heidenstam

In November of 1882, Heidenstam and his wife agreed to spend the winter at their estate in Esholm. Heidenstam, who was 82 at the time and prone to illness, was feeling healthy and in good spirits. When Heidenstam arrived in Esholm, he developed a fever and soon thereafter fell ill. Heidenstam's condition worsened despite doctors' best attempts. Heidenstam wished to be taken back to his family estate in Kungslandning, but was judged incapable of travel. He died of pneumonia on 21 November, surrounded by his family and close friends.

News reached King Gunnar IV the next day. After hearing of Heidenstam's death, Gunnar IV reportedly began sobbing loudly and publicly. The monarch three-week mouring period and arranged for Heidenstam's body to return to Blåstad so that a state funeral could be held in the late marshal's honor. The three-week mourning period and state funeral were of great cultural significants, as these honors were heretofore reserved for the sovereign. The government of Ingemar Ulf was responsible for overseeing the funeral proceedings. Soon after his death, Heidenstam's body was taken by train from Esholm to Blåstad. Heidenstam lay in state in the Riksdag building for seven days. Upwards of 60,000 people came to pay their respects.

Gunnar IV originally intended for Heidenstam to be buried in St Andrew's Cathedral, the mother church of Geatland. His plans were complicated when it was discovered that Heidenstam's will requested that he be buried on the grounds of his family's estate in Kungslandning. Gunnar IV elected to honor Heidenstam's testament; the funeral service would be conducted from St Andrew's, after which the former premier's body would once again take the train to Kungslandning, where he would be laid to rest.

Heidenstam's formal funeral service began on 2 December at roughly 9:45. Heidenstam's casket was hauled on a gun carriage to St. Andrews', where the funeral service would last roughly two hours. It was without precedent for the Geatish monarch to attend the funeral of a commoner, but Gunnar IV decided to attend anyway. The king's show of humility to Geatland's first premier, as well as a close confidant, won wide-spread public sympathy. Following the funeral service, Heidenstam's body along with a small retenue were loaded onto a train for Kungslandning. On his family's estate, Heidenstam received a smaller service of just family and friends and was buried on December 4. The family announced that Greta von Heidenstam was buried alongside her husband when she died in 1887. The grave is currently on private property owned by Heidenstam's descendants and therefore not open to visitors.

Personality and leadership style

Tell them that when I did it, I did it for the love of my King, for the glory of my country, and for the prosperity of my people.

 — Heidenstam's famous last words

Heidenstam was known for being quiet, reserved and loyal. He often spoke in a low, often hushed tone, and he often criticized overweening and boastful subordinates. Although he was particularly active in social circles during his posting in Cislania, Heidenstam never much enjoyed court life, and he actively shunned it in his later life. Heidenstam was respected in court circles, though he was not particularly well-liked, as most courtiers saw him as stiff, cold and distant.

In marriage, Heidenstam was particularly faithful to his wife, Greta, and never chased after women. Their marriage was loving despite long bouts of separation, and after Heidenstam's death Greta went into mourning until her death in 1887.

As field marshal, Heidenstam oversaw the Geatish armed forces' response to the Engström Revolt. He was praised for being an effective military commander

As a military officer, Heidenstam had a close relationship with his troops and often concerned himself with their care and safety. At one point during King Rudolf's War, Heidenstam served as an impromptu medic during a shortage. Heidenstam's attention to the common rank and file won him the admiration of his men as well as the respect of his fellow officers. Heidenstam would often seek the counsel of ordinary foot soldiers, a practice that was rather unheard of in the Geatish Army. Heidenstam was always cautious in his military maneuvers, and he often consulted military manuals while on campaign. In a letter about Heidenstam to the king, Field Marshal Björn von Beyermann wrote:

"When I arrived, I saw, of all the men under the sun, that there was none more willed in his conviction, none more cunning in his style, and yet none more heedful of the needs and desires of his men than [Heidenstam]. There may be no greater pleasure, no greater honour available to any soldier of Geatland than to serve under such a man, for verily this Heidenstam is a man first among all other men."

In later life, Heidenstam grew increasingly tired of political life and developed great nostalgia for his military life. Heidenstam was fiercely proud of his military service, and he continued to wear his military uniform as Marshal of the Realm during his service as premier.

Heidenstam's command strategy greatly informed his premiership. As Geatland's first head of government, Heidenstam rarely took action without extensive consultation of his cabinet and advisors. Heidenstam therefore saw himself as a first among equals rather than a natural superior to his cabinet ministers. Compared to Heidenstam's successor Ingemar Ulf, who was often characterized as headstrong and intransigent, Heidenstam preferred to build agreements through consensus. Nevertheless, Heidenstam was assertive in his views and often ignored his cabinet members' advice. A much-cited example is Heidenstam's commitment to introduce universal male suffrage against the advice of many of his closest advisors, including Ulf.


Scholars continue to debate what Heidenstam's personal ideology was, though they generally agree that, as a political leader, he attempted to moderate between the monarchist, who wished to see expanded powers for the monarch or the status quo ante bellum, and the liberals who wished to see more control in the hands of the Riksdag. On a personal level, Heidenstam was a monarchist. In his diary, Heidenstam supported absolutism as the "most natural order of affairs" and actively resented republicanism. It is believed that Heidenstam gradually embraced constitutional monarchy in his later life, though he still argued for the sovereign to play an active role in politics. In terms of social and economic policy, Heidenstam is broadly pegged as a conservative. Although he was responsible for various economic liberalization policies, Heidenstam often wrote suspeciously of the free market and wished to see more government control in key industries, particularly mining. This would greatly influence many of Heidenstam's protégés and successors.

Heidenstam regularly corresponded with Geatish historian and social theorist Greger Lange, though the two never met. As premier, Heidenstam called on Lange to give him advice on being a proper ruler. In private letters, Heidenstam wrote appreciatively of Lange's great man conception of history, as well as his theories of social stratification and his formulation of the chaos-order spectrum. Heidenstam kept an annotated copy of Lange's magnum opus History of the Euclean Peoples (published 1877) in his Kungslandning estate.


The Fatherland Awaits, a monument commemorating Leo von Heidenstam

Heidenstam's influence continues to reverberate in Geatish politics and society long after his death. For many in the armed forces, Heidenstam epitomized strong, stable command, compassion for his men, and resolve in battle. In this respect he is often credited as being Geatland's greatest military leader and has therefore served as a symbol of Geatish militarism. FOLK leader Ström Moller invoked the image of Heidenstam to oppose premier Örjan Olsson's cuts to military spending. Heidenstam was likewise a figurehead for Geatland's pro-functionalist government during the Great War.

Internationally, Heidenstam is best known for being the last great liberalizer whose policies marked the end of the Euclean Spring. As Geatland's foremost premier, he is one of the country's most well-known politicians. he period during and following Heidenstam's premiership has become known as the Heidenstam era, and is most prominently characterized by greater democratization and economic liberalization.

The field marshal's greatest influence, however, was the precedents he set as premier. In that position, Haidensteim respected the will of the Riksdag and frequently submitted himself before it for questioning. Heidenstam's ability to balance the objectives of the crown and the Riksdag without conflict informed the leadership style of his successors. Indeed, three of Geatland's premiers — Ingemar Ulf, Fredrik von Malmberg and Henrik Hermansson, Count of Bron — served in some capacity in Heidenstam's government. Furthermore, Heidenstam's decision to voluntarily relinquish power after his term set a precedent: no premier since has served for more than three terms. His decision to step down marked him not only as a military victor and exemplary politician, but also a man of exceptional integrity. The Heidenstam Era of Geatish history is often used to describe the formative years of Geatish parliamentary democracy.

Because of his alignment with the Conservative-Monarchist Alliance as well as conservative politics, Heidenstam has been an icon of the Geatish right-wing. This had garnered Heidenstam some criticism from the Geatish left, who point to his illiberal policies towards religion and his suppression of Geatish farmers in the north.

Heidenstam has been the subject of numerous biographies. The most well-known biography, Heidenstam: Life of the Commander Statesman by Kent Schauman (1911), paints a rather flattering picture of the leader. According to Schauman, Heidenstam was a particularly heroic figure who stepped in to lead his country during a time of great uncertainty. More recent biographies have taken a more nuanced view of Heidenstam's life. In his History of Geatland 1778-1878, Geatish biographer Gösta Eriksson depicts Heidenstam as a reluctant, pessimistic leader. According to Eriksson, Heidenstam respected the position of his office, though he hated holding the position. Heidenstam still occupies a hero's ethos in Geatland, as 94% of Geats surveyed hold him in a positive light.

Memorial to Heidenstam in Kungslandning

In 2006, a poll of Geatish citizens found that Heidenstam was the third greatest Geat to have ever lived. He was nearly beaten out by Otto IV, Geatland's much celebrated monarch during the Great War. He was also appraised as the best Geatish premier by a poll of Geatish historians and political scientists.

Memorials to Heidenstam

There have been many memorials to Heidenstam, and he likely the most sculpted Geatish historical figure. The most famous of these memorials is The Fatherland Awaits. Built in 1890, The Fatherland Awaits is a 170 foot (52 m) column commemorating Heidenstam's military and political achievements, including his victory in the Siege of Fort Aalmsted. Heidenstam's statue faces west towards the Line Islands, where Heidenstam considered his greatest victory to be. The monument sits on Heidenstam Square in downtown Blåstad, where he is joined by statues of other Geatish military leaders like Björn von Beyermann and Adolf Krimbul. In addition, there are over eleven other statues to Heidenstam in cities like Esholm and Firf, as well as in his home city of Kungslandning.

Various places have been named in Heidenstam's honor. These include the Leo von Heidenstam National Library in Esholm the Heidenstam Train Station in Blåstad.

The Leo von Heidenstam Fund, a charity established by Heidenstam's estate in his memory, funds and provides pensions for Geatish military veterans with physical or mental disabilities. The fund was created in 1937 after the Great War. The fund has expanded to providing services for all veterans, their spouses, and children. In addition to being government-funded, it is among the largest charitable organizations in Geatland.