Gustav Adolf, the King of Sweden, better known under the Latinized name of Gustavus Adolphus. In real history, he died at the battle of Lutzen in 1632. In the 1632 universe, that battle never happened and he is still alive and kicking.
Axel Oxenstierna, Gustav Adolf's principal lieutenant and second-in-command. After Gustav Adolf's death at Lutzen in 1632, Oxenstierna became the de facto ruler of Sweden so long as Princess Kristina was a minor.
These are two images of Lennart Torstensson, one of Gustav Adolf's generals. Torstensson was younger than most—only 28 years old at the time of the battle of Breitenfeld—and a specialist in artillery. In real history, by the end of the Thirty Years War he had become Sweden's most important general officer.
Other important generals in the Swedish forces were:
Johan Banér (1596-1641)
Gustav Horn (1592-1657)
And—later in the Thirty Years War—Carl Gustav Wrangel (1613-1676).
Kristina was Gustav Adolf's only child, born in the year 1626 and eight years old when her father was killed at Lutzen. She is, without a doubt, one of the most fascinating women of the time period. Extremely intelligent and strong-willed, she eventually abdicated her throne, converted to Catholicism, and moved to Italy where she spent the rest of her life until her death in 1689.
Here are some rather more glamorous images of her:
Yup. Hollywood once made a movie about her, starring Greta Garbo.
There are a multitude of anecdotes about Kristina. Probably the most famous is that she was held responsible for the death of the great French philosopher Descartes. She invited him to take up residence in Stockholm, which he did, but then insisted that he had to meet her early every morning to discuss philosophy. In one of those early-morning treks to her rooms in the winter, Descartes took ill and died.
My personal favorite anecdote, however, is that much later in life she threw a big party at her villa in Italy when one of her friends was chosen to be the new Pope of the Roman Catholic church. The party got wild and out of hand, and Kristina ordered all the guests to vacate the premises. When the unruly and drunken guests ignored her, she summoned her soldiers and ordered them to open fire on the crowd. The death toll was eight party-goers, but she did break up the party.
This is Ferdinand II, the Emperor of Austria and the Holy Roman Empire when the novel 1632 begins. His reign began in 1620 and lasted until his death in 1637. He was the dominant political figure in central Europe at the time, as well as one of the foulest. The man was not particularly bright, prone to brutality, and a religious bigot. The little fellow with Ferdinand's hand on his head in the image on the left, incidentally, is not his son. He's a court dwarf, kept around to amuse the Emperor.
Ferdinand II's son, the King of Hungary, succeeded him to the throne and reigned until his death in 1658 as Emperor Ferdinand III.
The King of Hungary was an accomplished military leader, and, in real history, joined the Cardinal-Infante from the Spanish branch of the Habsburg dynasty in leading the Habsburg forces which defeated the Swedes at the battle of Nordlingen in 1634. The following year, Rubens painted an idealized portrait of their meeting on the battlefield, which is shown above.
Don Fernando, better known as "the Cardinal-Infante," was the younger brother of the King of Spain, Philip IV. He was born in 1609 and died early, in 1641, from an ailment diagnosed as "an ulcer of the abdomen." The Cardinal-Infante was probably the best military leader produced by either branch of the Habsburg dynasty in this time era. He was made a Cardinal of the church against his wishes, and always chafed at the status. He wanted to be a soldier, not a religious figure. Somewhere around 1631/1632, the famous Spanish painter Velasquez did the portrait of him shown above while hunting.
This is Velazquez's portrait of the Count-Duke of Olivares, who was the principal government official in Spain during the time period covered so far in the 1632 series—in effect, the Spanish equivalent of Cardinal Richelieu in France or the Earl of Strafford in England.
Maximilian of Bavaria was one of the principal political figures of the time. In addition to ruling the large and important principality of Bavaria, he was also the head of the Catholic League and thus commanded the Catholic League's armies, whose principal general until his death at the Crossing of the Lech was Tilly. Early in the Thirty Years War, Maximilian also obtained the lands in the Upper Palatinate formerly controlled by the Protestant Elector Frederick, who was the shortlived "Winter King" of Bohemia and whose wife was the sister of Charles I of England. Maximillian then got himself officially appointed the Elector of that region. Maximillian is one of the most unsavory characters of the time period, and readers of the 1632 series can expect any number of opportunities to hiss and boo the fellow.