1902 Encyclopedia > Charles XI of Sweden

Charles XI
King of Sweden

CHARLES XI. (1655-1697), king of Sweden, was five I years old at the death, of his father, Charles X., and was left under the regency of his mother and of a council. Brought up without care, he arrived at manhood unable even to read. In 1672 he assumed the government, and, under the influence of France, was speedily engaged in the invasion of the electorate of Brandenburg. The elector was assisted by Denmark and Holland; and Charles's army at first met with serious reverses ; but afterwards, taking the command in person, he won several battles, including those of Lund and Landskrona ; and in 1679 peace was signed. Charles now devoted his energy to establish the absolute independence of the kingly authority. He diminished the number of senators, and made them mere royal councillors; he reunited to the Crown all the lands which had been divorced from it since 1609; and in December 1682 the States were induced to declare that the king was responsible for the use of his authority to none but God, that he was not bound by forms of government, and that he need only seek the consent of the senate at his own pleasure. The power thus gained was creditably used for purposes of government. Charles paid the public debts, published annual accounts of the finances, travelled through the country that he might be personally acquainted with the needs and circumstances of the people, defended them from the tyranny of the nobles, established a strong and just legal administration, and commenced the drawing up of a general code. He also added largely to the territory of the kingdom. Under his reign no religion was tolerated but Lutheranism; and the king often showed himself stern and rough. He died at Stockholm in 1697.

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