By Defeating My Enemies

Charles XII of Sweden and the Great Northern War

Michael Glaeser

This book looks at the life and reign of Charles XII of Sweden and provides context and reassessment of his military career in the Great Northern War.
Date Published :
November 2020
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Series :
Century of the Soldier
Illustration :
113 b/w illustrations, 23 b/w maps, 4 color plates
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781913336462
Pages : 190
Dimensions : 9.8 X 7.1 inches
Stock Status : Available


By Defeating My Enemies is a military biography of Charles XII of Sweden, the first written in English in over 50 years. It challenges several traditions created by historians of both the old and new schools of Carolean historiography and through a chronological review provides a balanced account of the king’s life.

Ample space is dedicated to exploring the undervalued pre-war life of the king as his upbringing influenced key decisions on war and how he waged it. As the Great Northern War begins, Charles’s involvement on the battlefield and his deep connection with the Carolean army are studied to assess his growth as a commander. The king is followed into the crucible of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the fateful march on Russia, exile in Ottoman territory, and the desperate rearguard actions culminating in a second invasion of Norway and his mysterious death at Fredriksten fortress.

Had Charles not inherited the crown, he would be ranked among the great generals of the period and left at that. However, he was the only Swedish monarch born to absolutism and his actions as king, for better or worse, helped decide the fate of his kingdom. Occasional tangents are taken to explore his domestic and foreign policy decisions, and an entire chapter is used to highlight the creation, expansion, and struggles of the Swedish Empire and how Charles had to cope with the geopolitical ramifications left to him by his predecessors.

The book concludes with a review of the king’s reputation and literary persona post mortem. An appendix covers additional characteristics of the king that did not fit into the flow of the main text such as image, health, marriage and sexuality, and wealth. Lavishly illustrated with maps and photographs, this book supplements the existing Helion publications on the Great Northern War.

About The Author

Michael Glaeser is an early modern historian with interests in Tudor England and the Swedish Empire of the 17th/18th centuries. He is published in the Great Northern War Compendium and taught history at the University of New Hampshire- Manchester. After completing his graduate work at the University of Sheffield, he returned to the United States where he lives with his wife Susan and son Henry who is most definitely not named after Henry VIII of England.


"While the book itself is less than 200 pages, it still gives the reader all of the history of the period. There is no glossing over of any part of Charles's life or the history of The Great Northern War."

- A Wargamers Needful Things

"Recommended for those who would like a better sense of who Charles XII was and what he achieved in his short lifetime, and if you are new to the Great Northern War this will only whet your appetite for more."

- Wargames Illustrated

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