firewood would not ignite in the open air, and the soldiers warmed themselves over big bonfires of straw. By the time the army reached the little Ukrainian fortress of Hadjacz in January 1709, wine and spirits froze into solid masses of ice; birds on the wing fell dead; saliva congealed on its passage from the mouth to the ground. “Nevertheless,” says an eye-witness, “though earth, sea and sky were against us, the king’s orders had to be obeyed and the daily march made.”
Never had Charles XII. seemed so superhuman as during these awful days. It is not too much to say that his imperturbable equanimity, his serene bonhomie kept the host together. The frost broke at the end of February 1709, and then the spring floods put an end to all active operations till May, when Charles began the siege of the fortress of Poltava, which he wished to make a base for subsequent operations while awaiting reinforcements from Sweden and Poland. On the 7th of June a bullet wound put Charles hors de combat, whereupon Peter threw the greater part of his forces over the river Vorskla, which separated the two armies (June 19–25). On the 26th of June Charles held a council of war, at which it was resolved to attack the Russians in their entrenchments on the following day. The Swedes joyfully accepted the chances of battle and, advancing with irresistible élan, were, at first, successful on both wings. Then one or two tactical blunders were committed; and the tsar, taking courage, enveloped the little band in a vast semicircle bristling with the most modern guns, which fired five times to the Swedes’ once, and swept away the guards before they could draw their swords. The Swedish infantry was well nigh annihilated, while the 14,000 cavalry, exhausted and demoralized, surrendered two days later at Perevolochna on Dnieper. Charles himself with 1500 horsemen took refuge in Turkish territory.
For the first time in his life Charles was now obliged to have recourse to diplomacy; and his pen proved almost as formidable as his sword. He procured the dismissal of four Russo-phil grand-viziers in succession, and between 1710 and 1712 induced the Porte to declare war against the tsar three times. But after November 1712 the Porte had no more money to spare; and, the tsar making a show of submission, the sultan began to regard Charles as a troublesome guest. On the 1st of February 1713 he was attacked by the Turks in his camp at Bender, and made prisoner after a contest which reads more like an extravagant episode from some heroic folk-tale than an incident of sober 18th-century history. Charles lingered on in Turkey fifteen months longer, in the hope of obtaining a cavalry escort sufficiently strong to enable him to restore his credit in Poland. Disappointed of this last hope, and moved by the despairing appeals of his sister Ulrica and the senate to return to Sweden while there was still a Sweden to return to, he quitted Demotika on the 20th of September 1714, and attended by a single squire arrived unexpectedly at midnight, on the 11th of November, at Stralsund, which, excepting Wismar, was now all that remained to him on German soil.
For the diplomatic events of these critical years see Sweden: History. Here it need only be said that Sweden, during the course of the Great Northern War, had innumerable opportunities of obtaining an honourable and even advantageous peace, but they all foundered oh the dogged refusal of Charles to consent to the smallest concession to his despoilers. Even now he would listen to no offers of compromise, and after defending Stralsund with desperate courage till it was a mere rubbish heap, returned to Sweden after an absence of 14 years. Here he collected another army of 20,000 men, with which he so strongly entrenched himself on the Scanian coast in 1716 that his combined enemies shrank from attacking him, whereupon he assumed the offensive by attacking Norway in 1717, and again in 1718, in order to conquer sufficient territory to enable him to extort better terms from his enemies. It was during this second adventure that he met his death. On the 11th of December, when the Swedish approaches had come within 280 paces of the fortress of Fredriksten, which the Swedes were closely besieging, Charles looked over the parapet of the foremost trench, and was shot through the head by a bullet from the fortress.
See Charles XII., Die eigenhändigen Briefe König Karls XII. (Berlin, 1894); Friedrich Ferdinand Carlson, Sveriges Historia under Konungarne af Pfalziska Huset (Stockholm, 1883–1885); Robert Nisbet Bain, Charles XII. and the Collapse of the Swedish Empire (London and Oxford, 1895); Bidrag til den Store Nordishe Krigs Historie (Copenhagen, 1899–1900); G. Syveton, Louis XIV et Charles XII (Paris, 1900); Daniel Krmann, Historia ablegationis D. Krmann ad regem Sueciae Carolum XII. (Budapest, 1894); Oscar II., Några bidrag till Sveriges Krigshistoria åren 1711–1713 (Stockholm, 1892); Martin Weibull, Sveriges Storhedstid (Stockholm, 1881). (R. N. B.)
CHARLES XIII. (1748–1818), king of Sweden and Norway, the second son of Adolphus Frederick, king of Sweden, and Louisa Ulrica, sister of Frederick the Great, was born at Stockholm on the 7th of October 1748. In 1772 he co-operated in the revolutionary plans of his brother Gustavus III. (q.v.). On the outbreak of the Russo-Swedish War of 1788 he served with distinction as admiral of the fleet, especially at the battles of Hogland (June 17, 1788) and Oland (July 26, 1789). On the latter occasion he would have won a signal victory but for the unaccountable remissness of his second-in-command, Admiral Liljehorn. On the death of Gustavus III., Charles, now duke of Sudermania, acted as regent of Sweden till 1796; but the real ruler of the country was the narrow-minded and vindictive Gustaf Adolf Reuterholm (q.v.), whose mischievous influence over him was supreme. These four years were perhaps the most miserable and degrading in Swedish history (an age of lead succeeding an age of gold, as it has well been called) and may be briefly described as alternations of fantastic jacobinism and ruthless despotism. On the accession of Gustavus IV. (November 1796), the duke became a mere cipher in politics till the 13th of March 1809, when those who had dethroned Gustavus IV. appointed him regent, and finally elected him king. But by this time he was prematurely decrepit, and Bernadotte (see Charles XIV.) took over the government as soon as he landed in Sweden (1810). By the union of 1814 Charles became the first king of Sweden and Norway. He married his cousin Hedwig Elizabeth Charlotte of Holstein-Gottorp (1759–1818), but their only child, Carl Adolf, duke of Vermland, died in infancy (1798). Charles XIII., who for eight years had been king only in title, died on the 5th of February 1818.
See Sveriges Historia vol. v. (Stockholm, 1884); Drottning Hedwig Charlottes Dagbokshandteckningar (Stockholm, 1898); Robert Nisbet Bain, Gustavus III. and his Contemporaries (London, 1895); ib. Scandinavia (Cambridge, 1905). (R. N. B.)
CHARLES XIV. (1763–1844), king of Sweden and Norway, born at Pau on the 26th of January 1763, was the son of Henri Bernadotte (1711–1780), procurator at Pau, and Jeanne St Jean (1725–1809). The family name was originally Deu Pouey, but was changed into Bernadotte in the beginning of the 17th century. Bernadotte’s christian names were Jean Baptiste; he added the name Jules subsequently. He entered the French army on the 3rd of September 1780, and first saw service in Corsica. On the outbreak of the Revolution his eminent military qualities brought him speedy promotion. In 1794 we find him as brigadier attached to the army of the Sambre et Meuse, and after Jourdan’s victory at Fleurus he was appointed a general of division. At the battle of Theiningen, 1796, he contributed, more than any one else, to the successful retreat of the French army over the Rhine after its defeat by the archduke Charles. In 1797 he brought reinforcements from the Rhine to Bonaparte’s army in Italy, distinguishing himself greatly at the passage of the Tagliamento, and in 1798 was sent as ambassador to Vienna, but was compelled to quit his post owing to the disturbances caused by his hoisting the tricolor over the embassy. On the 16th of August 1798 he married Désirée Clary (1777–1860), the daughter of a Marseilles banker, and sister of Joseph Bonaparte’s wife. From the 2nd of July to the 14th of September he was war minister, in which capacity he displayed great ability. About this time he held aloof from Bonaparte, but though he declined to help Napoleon in the preparations for the coup d’état of November 1799, he accepted employment from the Consulate, and from April 1800 till the 18th of August 1801 commanded the army in La Vendée. On the introduction of the empire he