The battle of Mared was one of only two significant land battles during the Nordic Seven Years War (1563-1570) between Sweden and Denmark. The war began with the Danish capture of Älvsborg, removing Sweden’s only direct access to the North Sea. In response Erik XIV of Sweden raised an army 25,000 strong, most of which was made up of Swedish conscripts. With part of that army he attempted to capture the then Danish town of Halmstad. Despite breaching the walls of Halmstad on 5 November, Erik’s army was unable to storm the town, failing twice. In the aftermath of those failures Erik left the army, leaving a French mercenary in charge.
On 9 November the Swedish army was attacked by a smaller Danish force. The Swedish cavalry fled without offering serious resistance, leaving the infantry dangerously exposed. Fortunately for them, the 2000 arquebusiers in the Danish army were lagging behind the cavalry, and did not arrive until late in the day, allowing the Swedish force to escape. Even so, the Danes captured forty-one guns and drove the Swedes away from Halmstad. The battle demonstrated the superior fighting ability of the professional mercenary soldiers who made up the Danish army over the Swedish levies. However, Frederick II of Denmark was soon to find that his mercenary army was too expensive to maintain and for the rest of the war he was rarely able to mount large scale campaigns.
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