Charles XII

Image - Portrait of Charles XII by Johann Heinrich Wedekindt (1719)

Charles XII, b 17 June 1682 in Stockholm, d 30 November 1718 in Fredrikshald, Norway. King of Sweden from 1697. In the Great Northern War (1700–21) against the coalition of Russia, Denmark, and Saxony (headed by the Polish king Frederick Augustus II), Charles conquered Denmark, occupied Poland, and forced Augustus to abdicate. In the course of the war with Russia Charles entered into negotiations with Hetman Ivan Mazepa (initially through the mediation of the new Polish king Stanislaus I Leszczyński, then directly), which were soon formalized in a Ukrainian-Swedish alliance. In the fall of 1708 Charles advanced into Ukraine, where in 1709 he suffered defeat by Russia in the decisive Battle of Poltava. With the remainder of his army and his Ukrainian allies led by Mazepa Charles found refuge in Turkish territory at Bendery, Moldavia. After Mazepa’s death in October 1709 Charles negotiated an alliance with Hetman Pylyp Orlyk and the Crimean Tatars and induced the Tatars, for a time, to engage in war with Russia (the Prut campaign).

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 1 (1984).]

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