Michael the Baltics while the Poles and Danes

Michael VardanianMrs. Smith1 December 2017English 12              Life Studies Essay The Person I am reading about is Charles XII who is also known as Carolus Rex. I am reading about him due to his many successes and failures such as defending Sweden for 18 years during the Great Northern War , however failing massively during his invasion of Russia. Charles XII is important due to his many reforms during the early Enlightenment era, as well as his disastrous invasion of Russia which resulted in the complete collapse of the Swedish armies and eventually the loss of Sweden as a great power. The monarch was at first controlled by a council of regents, however at the young age of fifteen he became the King of the Sweden.”The young King (he was only fifteen) was present in the council every day and took a deep and growing interest in the discussions there.He spoke frequently and much to the point on all subjects except foreign affairs, and his utterances we are told argued a  maturity of judgement far beyond his years” (33,34 Bain)  The sight of a mere boy as the King of Sweden alerted their neighboring states. In 1700, a triple alliance of the kingdoms of Poland, Russia and Denmark launched a attack on the Swedes. The Russians attacked them in the Baltics while the Poles and Danes attacked the Swedes in Northern Germany which thus began the Great Northern War. “It looked as if Charles XII would lose his empire but he was to prove himself to be a military genius.” (Bain 43) Charles then launched a surprise attack on Copenhagen and pulled the Danes out of the war. Charles then secured a major victory over a much larger Russian army in 1700 during the Battle of Narva, where Peter the Great narrowly escaped with his life.The Swedes secured devastating victory by Swedish forces under general Rehnskiöld over the Russians and their allies at the Battle of Fraustadt in 1706. By that year all the enemies of  was the last one standing Charles XII had been eliminated and only Peter the Great remained at war. The Russian Tsar attempted to  sue for peace only to be rejected by Charles who decided to invade Russia. “By this time, Charles XII was popularly known as ‘The Alexander of the West’, a comparison with Alexander the Great.” ( 83 Bain). Any other fifteen year old ruler would have been crushed by the armies of Russia , Denmark , and Poland. However due to Charles XII’s skills as a military leader. He was able to defeat the Polish , and Danes. He continued the war against Russia “Charles marched his army into Livonia. The Swedes and the Russians clashed in the Battle of Holowczyc. Charles XII was confronted by a massive Russian army that was numerically superior to his own, however the Swedish king secured a great victory with only minimal losses.” ( 98 Bain) Even though he was outnumbered , Charles XII was able to claim victory over Russia in another battle. However his luck would soon run out in later battles as the Russians switched to guerilla tactics , where they would use hit and run rather than meet the Swedes on a field of battle.”Tsar Peter the Great and his inner circle, developed a strategy that avoided direct confrontation. Their patience was rewarded and the hungry and cold Swedish army was forced to gamble on a battle at Poltava to quickly win the war.” (76 Bain) This was a disaster which sealed the fate not only of the Swedish invasion but also the Swedish Empire. The strategy employed by Peter was to a large extent like that adopted by Tsar Paul I which was used against Napoleon and then by Stalin during Hitler’s invasion.Charles XII was one of the most talented military leaders of the 1700s, who used tactics to use own advantage and planned out many battles and events such as the forcing of the Duna River.Then there was the strategy of the Russians, who used the geography and climate to their own advantage.Then there were the vast empty spaces and poor weather of the Russian Steppe and these played a crucial factor in the defeat of the Swedish invasion.Works CitedBain, R Nisbet. Charles XII and the Collapse of the Swedish Empire. First Rate Publishers, 2015

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