Portrait of Charles XI (1655-1697), King of Sweden, Duke of Bremen and Verden (1660-1697), Duke of Palatinate-Zweibrücken (1681-1697), Regency (1660-1672), 1685
Charles XI, also Carl (Swedish: Karl XI; 24 November 1655 – 5 April 1697), was King of Sweden from 1660 until his death. He was the only son of King Charles X Gustav of Sweden and Hedwig Eleonora of Holstein-Gottorp. His father died when he was five years old, so Charles was educated by his governors until his coronation at the age of seventeen. Soon afterward, he was forced out on military expeditions to secure the recently acquired dominions from Danish troops in the Scanian War. Having successfully fought off the Danes, he returned to Stockholm and engaged in correcting the country's neglected political, financial and economic situation. He managed to sustain peace during the remaining 20 years of his reign. Changes in finance, commerce, national maritime and land armaments, judicial procedure, church government and education emerged during this period. Charles XI was succeeded by his only son Charles XII, who made use of the well-trained army in battles throughout Europe. The fact that Charles was crowned as Charles XI does not mean that he was the 11th king of Sweden who had the name Charles. His father's name (as the 10th) was due to his great-grandfather, King Charles IX of Sweden (1604–1611), having adopted his own numeral by using a mythological History of Sweden. Charles was born in the Stockholm Palace Tre Kronor in November 1655. His father, Charles X of Sweden, left Sweden in July to fight in the war against Poland. After several years of warfare, the king returned in the winter of 1659 and gathered his family and the Riksdag of the Estates in Gothenburg. In mid-January 1660 he fell ill and one month later he wrote his last will and died. Charles X Gustav's will and testament left the administration of the Swedish Empire during Charles XI's minority to a regency led by Queen Dowager Hedwig Eleonora as both formal regent and chair of a six-member Regency Council with two votes and a final say over the rest of the council. His mother, Queen Hedvig Eleonora, remained the formal regent, but she was careful not to embroil herself in political conflicts. During his first appearances in parliament, Charles spoke to the government through her. He would whisper the questions he had in her ear, and she would ask them aloud and clearly for him. As an adolescent, Charles devoted himself to sports, exercise, and his favourite pastime of bear-hunting. He appeared ignorant of the very of statecraft. Charles was dependent on his mother and advisors to interact with the foreign envoys since he had no foreign language skills apart from German and was ignorant of the world outside the Swedish borders. Italian writer Lorenzo Magalotti visited Stockholm in 1674 and described the teenage Charles XI as "virtually afraid of everything, uneasy to talk to foreigners, and not daring to look anyone in the face". Another trait was a deep religious devotion: he was God-fearing, frequently prayed kneeling and attended sermons.
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