CHARLES XIII. (1748-1818), king of Sweden and Norway, the second son of Adolphus Frederick, king of Sweden, and Louisa Ulrica, sister of Frederick the Great, was born at Stockholm on the 7th of October 1748. In 1772 he co-operated in the revolutionary plans of his brother Gustavus III. (q.v.). On the outbreak of the Russo-Swedish War of 1788 he served with distinction as admiral of the fleet, especially at the battles of Hogland (June 17, 1788) and Oland (July 26, 1789). On the latter occasion he would have won a signal victory but for the unaccountable remissness of his second-in-command, Admiral Liljehorn. On the death of Gustavus III., Charles, now duke of Sudermania, acted as regent of Sweden till 1796; but the real ruler of the country was the narrow-minded and vindictive Gustaf Adolf Reuterholm (q.v.), whose mischievous influence over him was supreme. These four years were perhaps the most miserable and degrading in Swedish history (an age of lead succeeding an age of gold, as it has well been called) and may be briefly described as alternations of fantastic jacobinism and ruthless despotism. On the accession of Gustavus IV. (November 1796), the duke became a mere cipher in politics till the 13th of March 1809, when those who had dethroned Gustavus IV. appointed him regent, and finally elected him king. But by this time he was prematurely decrepit, and Bernadotte (see Charles XIV.) took over the government as soon as he landed in Sweden (1810). By the union of 1814 Charles became the first king of Sweden and Norway. He married his cousin Hedwig Elizabeth Charlotte of Holstein-Gottorp (1759-1818), but their only child, Carl Adolf, duke of Vermland, died in infancy (1798). Charles XIII., who for eight years had been king only in title, died on the 5th of February 1818.
See Sveriges Historia vol. v. (Stockholm, 1884); Drottning Hedwig Charlottes Dagbokshandteckningar (Stockholm, 1898); Robert Nisbet Bain, Gustavus III. and his Contemporaries (London, 1895); ib. Scandinavia (Cambridge, 1905).
(R. N. B.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)