60 mm C-in-C base of Charles XI for
my Battle of Lund 1676 collection.
Miniatures are from Warfare.
Charles XI came into this world in 1655 at the Royal castle “Tre Kronor” in Stockholm. He was born at a time when the expansionistic legacy of Gustavus Adolphus and Charles X, saw Sweden at its pinnacle of Empire with land possessions all around the Baltics and in Northern Germany.
The Swedish Empire at its pinnacle 1658.
Both Charles XI and Charles XII would be forced to
fight to keep it together.
Charles XI was only four years old when his father died shortly after returning from a military campaign in Poland. As the young boy was deemed “Unfit to rule”, the rains of Sweden was thus placed into the hands of a cabinet of advisors called “Förmyndare”, consisting to a large degree of old and new nobility connected to the Swedish military expansion.
Charles XI on his horse "Brilliant" - a present from Louis XIV.
This is the portrait I used as inspiration for the vignette.
As a young boy Charles was subjugated to a rigorous and very ambitious study plan, reflecting the official view of a modern and “enlightened” monarch suited to rule the great Nordic Empire of Sweden. The studying proceeded, apparently with very little result for the young monarch. What wasn’t known at the time was, that Charles XI suffered from strong dyslexia. This would result in a very “personal” style of writing and spelling, which today can be appreciated though his journal, which he kept on a daily basis.
Charles XI in the midst of battle,
crossing through the enemy's lines.
Charles ascended to the throne in 1672, and with his practical and pragmatic mentality, he quickly found that the Cabinet of advisors had mismanaged affairs to a alarming degree, and the need for some hands on change was imminent. Immediately he set upon a long and controversial restructuring process, not only reducing the political power of the Swedish nobility but also strengthening the Crown’s economy by widespread confiscations of land, from both nobility and church.
A typical soldier's farm from the "Indelningsverket".
If the soldier got killed in battle, his widow could marry a new soldier
or be forced to vacate the farm.
Not only the hard pressed Swedish economy got a galvanization, but also the army, which now had suffered about 50 years of decline since the glory days of Breitenfeld and Lutzen. Ever the practical man, Charles XI implemented a genius system – the “indelningsverket”. A simple concept where each soldier under the Crown would get a small farm to keep in peace time. Here he could grow crops, raise a family and live a good and healthy life.
Each farm clearly marked the regiment and company to which its resident belonged.
Here the Wartofta Company of the Royal Skaraborg Regiment.
When war lured, the king could effectively call up 18.000 foot soldiers and 8.000 cavalrymen from these farmsteads on a very short notice, as each unit already had a drilled and predetermined mobilization plan. The regiments were strong in morale, as each unit consisted of men from the same shire or “socken” in Swedish. So when the fighting was at its worst, with bullets and cannonballs tearing through the ranks, these men who were all acquainted from back home, would stand fast as no one wanted to loose their face in front of the neighbour.
This reform was the very hearth the Swedish army of this period, later referred to as the “Karoliner” period due to the name of the ruling kings, Charles XI (Karl in Swedish) and his son Charles XII.
Another shot of the monarch as he gallops
across the battle field on his horse Brilliant.
Early on Charles XI proved to be much more the hands on reformist and modernizer of Sweden, rather than an expansionistic warrior king like his father and the earlier Gustavis Adolphus, with his campaigns during the Thirty Years War.
In an attempt to diplomatically cool things down with the Nordic arch-rival, Denmark, Charles XI was engaged to the Danish King’s sister, Ulrika Eleonora, one year younger than Charles.
At the battle of Lund Charles got so caught up in the action,
that he rode up to a Danish regiment and gave the order to attack.
They were a good match, and would later have a seemingly happy marriage, but due to the pan-European intrigues of France and Holland, and a complex network of alliances and defensive pacts, Sweden and Denmark suddenly was forced to declare war on each other – The Scanian War. Something the Danish King, Christian V apparently did not mind too much, as he saw it almost as his life’s mission to re-conquer the lost East-Danish provinces. Thus the wedding was postponed, and the reformist Charles was forced to become a warrior king.
Risking everything, Charles dashes through the Danish lines
and rejoins his main force at the battle of Lund.
At the decisive battle of Lund Charles lead his army in person. The odds were sky high, but Charles proved his worth and the fate of the battle was decided with him, when he bravely risked his own life breaking through the Danish lines to reunite his army, and create a crushing pincer manoeuvre, that would break the entire Danish army.
After the Scanian War, Charles XI continued on his reforms, strengthening Sweden against future threats. Now much wiser from his previous experience of “profitable” European alliances, he managed to keep Sweden neutral and out of the power sphere and wars of Louis XIV.
Close up - Warfare offers some nicely proportioned horses,
and there is not much flash to clear.
In 1697 the now 41 years old Charles XI became ill. After a long and painful fight against pancreas cancer he died on the 5th April 1697, leaving the Swedish Empire economically fit and with Europe’s most professional army. Something his son would need much sooner than he had preferred.
Thanks you very much for reading!