Useful Notes: Carolus Rex

"I was chosen by Heaven! Say my name when you pray! To The Skies, See Carolus Rise!"

"I have resolved never to start an unjust war, but never to end a legitimate one except by defeating my enemies."
Carolus Rex, upon the outbreak of the Great Northern War

Charles XII (17 June 1682 – 30 November 1718, reigned from 5 April 1697 to 30 November 1718), perhaps better known outside Sweden as Carolus Rex (latinized form of King Charles) was a King of Sweden full title . Amongst the various Notable Swedish Monarchs, Charles XII was one of a kind: The only surviving son of the previous King, Carolus (crowned king when he was fifteen) soon saw himself in a time of great political strife between his nation and Russia, where tensions were heating up in a dispute for control of the Baltic territories. In this delicate time, Tsar Peter The Great decided that there would be no better hour to strike than this. The King of Sweden was a young teenage boy with little experience on the throne, and a triple alliance of Denmark–Norway, Saxony–Poland–Lithuania and Russia took advantage of this and united against Sweden. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

But Tsar Peter did not foresee just who this teenage boy was. Charles XII did not drink, he did not spend his time with women, while he executed some very important political reforms and was a skilled politician, this was nonetheless a man who disciplined his mind, body and spirit for a single-minded purpose: War. And in this purpose Carolus displayed unprecedented brilliance. He made the Caroleans (as his army was called) into what was described in his own time as one of the best, if not the best war machine of Europe.

King Charles went to war and proceeded to completely annihilate all of his foes with the singular exception of Russia: Denmark, Norway, Poland, Lithuania, Saxony were outmaneuvered and crushed by the Swedish Army and Navy with terrifying speed. The Swedish Empire's military and political prestige reached its very height with Carolus' crushing victories over all of his foes (despite said foes vastly outnumbering his army). He turned his attention to Russia, the final foe. In his invasion Carolus achieved tremendous success at first (with one memorable episode, which Carolus immortalized in a medal, involving Tsar Peter himself fleeing at full gallop from the Swedish Army), but it was in this moment of history that Russia revealed the weapons that would doom so many other invaders after King Charles: an unforgiving winter and ruthless scorched Earth tactics. The Carolean Army was slowly whittled and beaten down by the terrible conditions, and Carolus was seriously injured and had to leave command. This proved to be disastrous with the Battle of Poltava, in which the Russians decisively defeated the Swedish. The Swedish Empire started to crumble, and the Russian Empire began its ascension.

Charles XII was exiled to the Ottoman regions, where he awaited for the time being to make a Rightful King Returns sort of situation when his time was due. After fourteen years, it was evident he had to return (namely because the Ottoman hospitality was wearing thin and because Sweden was hanging by a thread). After a two-week long horseback journey across Europe, he once more marched to war, this time against Norway. But fate has a way of making epic stories less-epic, for it was at this time that, during a siege, Carolus Rex, 36 years old, was fatally shot in the head. To this day it is unknown by whom. Theories range from a mere Norwegian sharpshooter to his own brother-in-law, attempting to take hold of the throne (which he later did).

His death marked the effective end of the Swedish Empire (or Sweden as a de facto military or political power) and the decline of absolute monarchy in Sweden in general. Today he is revered as a heroic, lionic figure by many historians (sometimes acquiring the moniker of "Last of the Vikings") and is a popular figure in his native Sweden. He is also unfortunately revered by Neo-Nazis.

Tropes Applied to Carolus Rex and his life

  • The Ace: When it came to military affairs. Some even called him "The Alexander of the North".
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Historians diverge on whether he was a rightful, brave King who fought for his nation against overwhelming odds or an arrogant, mad warrior who led his country to ruin. The general consensus is usually that he was a combination of both: Charles was a great man, a great leader, and definitely a great military commander, but he was not suited to be the ruler of a country, and he led Sweden to ruin while trying to do his best for his country.
  • Animal Motifs: He's frequently associated with lions.
  • Arch-Enemy: With Peter the Great. The respective leaders of their nations, fiercely devoted to warring with one another.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: Could be the Trope Codifier.
    • Wich is mildly ironic, considering that from the Swedish viewpoint, the Great Northern War was a defensive war. It was started by Russia, Saxony and Denmark. Also, since 1658 and the treaty of Roskilde, the Swedish Empire had been relatively isolationist. Enough territory had been won already, now it was time to safeguard and consolidate it.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Par the course for a Frontline General
  • Badass: A reputation he rightfully earned.
    • Badass Boast: The quote above. He had another great one when he heard a Musket shot for the first time: "Henceforth, this shall be my music!"
    • Four-Star Badass: Being the leader of the Swedish army. Not only did he reform the Swedish army into one of the most effective war machines of his time, he led his men in battle and fought alongside them.
  • Badass Army: The Caroleans were some of the best soldiers in all of Europe.
  • Blood Knight: Carolus was most comfortable in the heat of the battle.
  • Boom, Headshot: The manner of his demise.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: While battling the Russians at the Battle of Narva, Carolus had his shoulder lightly wounded by a bullet one horse killed by a sharpshooter and another beheaded by a cannonball. His response to all of this was commenting about the Russians: "These fellows make me exercise."
  • Celibate Hero / Asexuality: He was either asexual or celibate, considering he abstained from women.
  • Cool Pet: He had a goddamn bear for a pet.
  • Deadpan Snarker: See the Casual Danger Dialog above. Carolus seemed to be prone to this.
  • Decapitated Army: A non-fatal example when he was injured and unable to lead, leading to defeat of Poltava. And later on an actually fatal example when he was shot in the trenches of Norway.
  • Doomed Moral Victor: Historians sympathetic to him tend to view him this way.
  • End of an Age: His death marked the end of the Swedish Empire, and the end of Sweden as a world power.
  • The Exile: To the Ottoman Empire for a long time.
  • Feel No Pain: Was said to be able to withstand the most horrifying of pains without changing his expression.
  • Frontline General: As was custom at the time. Interestingly he could be seen as a deconstruction: When he was injured in combat and unable to lead, the army was a lot less threatening.
  • Genius Bruiser: Though he had one of the most brilliantly innovative and ruthlessly efficient military minds of his time, he also led his men in battle and fought alongside them
  • Honor Before Reason: His acknowledged crippling flaw, even by his contemporaries. Charles was so focused on old-school chivalric honor that it worked against him and his nation. Ironically, though he believed in old-school honour, his tactics were innovative and rendered old ways of thinking obsolete.
  • Immune to Bullets: A common legend about him in his time. Some even say he wasn't killed by a bullet, but by a button, as he was bullet-proof.
  • I Have Many Names / Red Baron: "The Young Hero", "The Beardless Thundergod", "Ironhead", "The Swedish Meteor", "The Last Viking", "The Alexander Of The West", etc.
  • Manly Men Can Hunt: Before the war broke out, hunting was one of his favorite activities. He thought hunting bears with muskets was unfair to the bears, so he proceeded to hunt bears with a pitchfork.
  • Memetic Badass: For his contemporaries, he had all sort of mythical aura around him, including the aforementined Immune to Bullets legend.
  • Misaimed Fandom: Even Historians who dislike him think he does not deserve to be a Neo-Nazi icon.
  • Neologism: Swedish word kalabalik (and Finnish "kalabaliikki"), meaning an intense, noisy disorganized mob riot. After the battle of Bender, where 500 Swedes fought up to 12,000 Turks for several hours. Turkish "qalabalik" means "disorder", "uprising" or "unrest".
  • Nerves of Steel: Not only did Charles have them himself, but he forced his army to have them as well. One of the biggest reasons the Caroleans were so effective was their use of offensive tactics. Caroleans would almost always advance at the enemy, and this always meant subjecting themselves to musket and cannonfire. The only way this could work was if the attacking army was disciplined to never break ranks, no matter how many of them fell, and the Caroleans were nothing if not disciplined.
  • Religious Bruiser / Real Men Love Jesus: You know the worst crime in the Carolean Army? Taking God's name in vain. Punishable by death. Suffice to say King Charles was incredibly religious.
  • Rightful King Returns: What he intended to invoke with his return after the exile. It was subverted.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: One of Sweden's, if not humanity's, best examples.
  • Sergeant Rock: Carolus shared all of his army's misfortunes to make himself an example. If they starved in the winter, he did so alongside them.
  • The Stoic: Emotionally Unshakeable in all regards.
  • Straight Edge: Could be said to be a proto-follower of this doctrine.
  • Unfriendly Fire: It is assumed he did not die from a Norwegian sniper's bullet, but that the fatal bullet came from a traitor in own ranks
  • Young and in Charge: Crowned King at fifteen.
  • Young Conqueror: He was eighteen when he marched to war (and victory) for the first time.

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