Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Donnelly, Alton S.||George, Charles H. (Charles Hilles), 1922-

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of History


Charles XII; King of Sweden; 1682-1718


Charles XII, King of Sweden from 1697 to 1718, played a major role in the history of northern Europe during his reign. His memory is still held in reverence by many people and he Is still regarded as a military genius by many historians. The object of this study has been to review his career with the idea of ascertaining whether he actually served his country well and had the qualities of military genius attributed to him. Sweden was in excellent circumstances both internally and internationally when Charles began his reign. An examination of his career reveals that his conduct of Sweden's affairs did not serve the best Interests of his country. In the diplomatic field Charles failed to secure advantages which were both available and necessary to him. His antipathy to the techniques of diplomacy led him to pursue the disastrous course of military action which resulted in his defeat. Charles XII also Ignored many possibilities which were open to hits in the commercial-economic sphere. The natural resources and geographic position of Sweden could have been made the basis of a sound domestic economy and a profitable foreign trade. She could also have benefited by judicious use of commercial agreements with her neighboring states. But her King chose to ignore these opportunities. Most of Charles' time, energy, and talents were expended In military campaigns. If he had possessed any real genius it should have been revealed in this area. However, his military career reveals that he committed many errors as Commander-in-chief of the Swedish armies. His record is primarily one of defeat. Sweden was ruined economically and impotent militarily when death ended the career of her young King. Evidence shows that the disastrous change in her domestic and international status was brought about by Charles' lack of Judgment and skill in the major areas of his responsibility, He was lacking In many qualities necessary to successful leadership. To a large extent his deficiencies were a result of unfavorable personality factors. Charles XII exerted a disastrous influence as Sweden. He inherited a country with a sound economy and a strong position among the powers of Northern Europe. He left to his people a country defeated, destitute, and disgraced. It is paradoxical that many still regard him as a hero.


Includes bibliographical references.


vi, 94 pages




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