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The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Charles IX. (Sweden)

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CHARLES IX., king of Sweden, fourth son of Gustavus Vasa, born in 1550, died Oct. 30, 1611. Eric XIV., successor of Gustavus, excited the dislike of the people, and his brothers John and Charles united against him; he was deposed, and succeeded by John, who died in 1592. His legal successor was his son Sigismund, who had been elected king of Poland, being the son of a princess of the house of Jagiello. Sigismund being a Catholic, and bitterly hostile to Lutheranism, which had been introduced into Sweden by Gustavus Vasa, Charles, by the consent of the senate, assumed the government, and a decree was passed that Lutheranism should be the only religion of Sweden, and that Sigismund should not be recognized as king until he had signed the decree. This he did, and was crowned in 1593, but he became obnoxious on account of the favor which he manifested to Catholicism. There was also a party, led by Charles, opposed to a union of the crowns of Poland and Sweden. A war ensued. Sigismund was defeated, and resigned the crown of Sweden in favor of his young son Ladislas, who was sent to Sweden to be educated as a Protestant, under the eye of Charles, who was appointed regent. After a while Sigismund renewed his pretensions, and was opposed by Charles, to whom the crown of Sweden was offered. This he at first declined, and made propositions to Sigismund, which were rejected, and the war broke out afresh. At length the states again offered the crown to Charles, making the succession hereditary in his family. He accepted, and the coronation took place in 1604. Charles carried the war into Poland, but there had little success. He also became involved in hostilities with Russia, where his general, De la Gardie, gained important advantages. This alarmed Christian IV. of Denmark, who declared war against Sweden, and captured several strong places. Charles, in spite of his age and infirmities, challenged Christian to mortal combat, which was contemptuously declined. Charles died soon after, leaving the war with Denmark and Russia to his son Gustavus Adolphus. Charles IX. was a monarch of considerable ability, though harsh and cruel in character. He instituted a new code of laws, founded several cities, established the university of Gothenburg, and in other ways did much to promote education. He wrote a rhymed chronicle of Sweden, which is often quoted by historians. His letters to Henry IV. of France, the elector palatine, and the landgrave of Hesse, on the means of making peace with Sigismund III. of Poland, have been published in German (4to, Amsterdam, 1608).