He was born in 1547 in Gimborn, in North Rhine-Westphalia, in a family of Frankish origin. At first, Schwarzenberg fought in the army of King Philip II of Spain, in the Catholic League. His commander, Karl von Mansfeld was given a new post in Hungary during the autumn of 1594. Mansfeld was ordered to hire 2,000 infantrymen, 1,000 cuirassiers, and 1,000 Walloon cavalrymen. At Mansfeld’s request, the Military Council appointed Adolf von Schwarzenberg to recruit 2,000 cavalrymen and march them to Hungary. Ortelius knew about Schwarzenberg’s promotion already in February 1595 but he received the official “Bestallung” (letter of appointment) about it only on 17 June 1595.
In the meantime, the cavalrymen were being assembled along the Rhine river but their upkeep was too much for the local settlements. They were plundering and sacking the area all around. Finally, they arrived at Vienna on 15 July 1595 and they could join the siege of Esztergom on the last day of July. According to the chronicle of Istvánffy, the 2,000 Walloon riders participated in the fight with the Ottomans on 2 August, and they were chasing the Ottoman reinforcing army back to their camp. They took their share of the bigger battle as well, two days later: they helped the Hussars of Pálffy and Nádasdy Ferenc to defeat the Ottoman army. You can read more about this battle here:
When Karl von Mansfeld died in the epidemic on 14 August, Schwarzenberg took over the command and became the leader of the Walloon troops. Schwarzenberg led the assault against the Water Town of Esztergom castle, causing the defenders to flee to the castle. We also know that Schwarzenberg and the Walloon cavalrymen were involved in the ambush at Vörösvár on 26-27 August when they scattered the assembling Ottoman reinforcing army. They were there at Buda on 3 September when the Ottomans were defeated again.
After these successes, Schwarzenberg gained a good reputation and he was going to take over the post of Vice-Feldgeneral from the deceased Mansfeld but he still had to wait a bit for this. He was officially appointed Obrist-Feldmarschal on 15 June 1596, he became responsible for creating the strategic and tactical plans and he was in charge of carrying them out.
Schwarzenberg fought at the siege of Hatvan castle where he got sick but could recover soon and participated in the coming Battle of Mezőkeresztes on 26 October 1596. Before the main battle, he had fought in the preliminary clashes. He had a serious role in the sorrowful outcome of the battle of Mezőkeresztes, just like Pálffy Miklós, Christoph Tieffenbach, and Király Albert had. He should not have left the left wing of the Christian army without cover while the army was crossing. Also, at the time of the Ottoman counter-attack, he and Maximilian left the battlefield so hurriedly that the reorganization of the fleeing troops became impossible.
After the battle, he was thought to have died in the fight. Yet, he reappeared and the Habsburg court in Vienna / Prague continued to trust him. He became the commander of the garrison in Vienna in April 1597, and a month later he was included in the Military Council of the court, too. In 1598, he was appointed field marshal (Obrist-Feldmarschall) of the Hungarian armies. He set out at once, and along with Pálffy Miklós, they took Győr castle back on 29 March with a quick ambush. It was said to have been his greatest deed in Hungary.
Schwarzenberg had already proposed attacking Győr and Buda castles two years before. At the taking of Győr, he was very carefully preparing his moves, and he applied the “petard” (an explosive for blasting castle gates) with success. Then, he tried to take Fehérvár castle back on 12 May in a similar manner but this time, he failed. During the “lightning” campaign of the summer of 1598, the Christian troops, commanded by Schwarzenberg occupied Tata, Csókakő, Veszprém, Palota, and Gesztes castles.
In August, he was promoted and became the Chief Captain of the Borderland of Győr castle (Grenzoberst in Raab, supremus capitananeus Iaurensis) and he wore this title until his death. Schwarzenberg also was in command of the campaign launched against Buda in the autumn of the same year. He arrived there on 3 October, and he was in charge of the siege until Archduke Matthias arrived on 9 October. After this, he still had an active role in the campaign. Unfortunately, due to the bad weather and the logistic problems, the Christian army’s efforts were in vain and they had to withdraw at the beginning of November.
In April 1599, he, Pálffy, and Nádasdy did try to ambush Buda, similar way to the taking of Győr. Yet, they were not successful this time. To show up something, they blew up the small palisade castle of Zsámbék, not very far from Buda. On 9 May, Schwarzenberg and his 12,000 soldiers ambushed Székesfehérvár castle, and they could even explode the gate of the outer city with a “petard”. The troops could get into the outer districts but they could not take the town. Here is more about this:
Emperor Rudolf knighted him on 5 June 1599 in Prague, and he was accepted to join the Reichgrafstand, and he became the second in command after the Chief General (who was one of the Archdukes, in fact). He remained an Obrist-Feldgeneral, a field marshal of Hungary. He must have liked the “petarda” very much because he made an attempt to take Pest on 17 August 1599 by using one but the Turks were already expecting such attacks.
During the summer of 1600, he and his army set out to put down the mutiny of the Walloon mercenaries of Pápa castle. He tried to ambush the rebels on 24 June but it was in vain. Then, he began the systematic siege on 12 July but he was killed in combat during a sally on 29 July. He received a shot. Adolf von Schwarzenberg was a brave, good, and educated soldier although he had suffered a few failures, too. He was buried on 6 December 1600 in Vienna, in the church of the Augustinians. He left behind a son called Adam. The statue of Schwarzenberg is in Győr on the bank of the Danube river, he is in the company of Pálffy Miklós, his comrade and friend.
Sources: Szibler Gábor and Bagi Zoltán Péter: Adolf von Schwarzenberg a hadvezér. In. Hadtörténelmi Közlemények. 131. évf. 2018/2.
Bagi Zoltán Péter: Adolf von Schwarzenberg első éve a Magyar Királyságban 1595. In. Dominkovits Péter – Horváth József (szerk.): Győri Tanulmányok. 2015/35
You can read more about the mutiny of the Walloons here: