The formation of an anti-Swedish coalition between Frederick IV of Denmark, Peter I of Russia and Augustus II, elector of Saxony and king of Poland, began the Great Northern War. Charles XII of Sweden retaliated by attacking Denmark and besieging Copenhagen. He relieved the besieged city of Narva from the Russians before focussing on Poland. He invaded and occupied Warsaw, and was victorious at Kliszow and Thorn, then marched into Saxony and in 1707 deposed Augustus from the Polish throne. He then turned his attentions to Russia, which had been threatening Swedish possessions in Finland and the Baltic provinces. After suffering a devastating defeat at Poltava, he fled to the Ottoman Empire and was exiled there. As the enemy coalition reformed, this time with Brandenburg and Prussia joining, Charles undertook the dangerous journey back to Sweden via Germany. He then invaded Norway twice, but was shot dead in 1718. Sometimes referred to as the ‘Madman of Europe’, Charles spent the majority of his reign on the battlefield and gained his reputation as a fearless, skilled soldier.
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