(For those of you who forgot where we were.)
De la Gardie’s victory in Russia was short lived. He was forced out of Moscow when Poland stormed into Russia with their own candidate, Sigismund’s son, Vladislav. Vladislav became the new tzar, but not for long.
De la Gardie got his act together again and conquered Novgorod. He was able to control a large part of Russia for a few years and eventually force them to accept a Swedish tsar. The Russians decided on Karl Filip, the 11 year old son of Karl IX. His mother didn’t like the idea and by the time she decided to go along with it one of the Romanovs had become tsar. Karl Filip went back to Sweden and Karl IX began trying to raise money for more troops and cannons, but was unable to. He got so frustrated he had a heart attack which was followed by another heart attack. People could barely hear him when he gave his last speech at the Riksdag in 1610.
The Danes thought it looked like a good time to attack Sweden again and destroyed Göteborg while another Danish army lead by Kristian IV was heading for Kalmar. Karl IX was 61 by that time and partially paralyzed by all the strokes he had had, but the idea of another war turned him on. He was able to get another army together and started off for Kalmar. It was the bloodiest war ever fought between Sweden and Denmark. Kalmar castle was surrounded by the Danes and after a short siege the Swedish steward was bribed to open the gates. Karl IX freaked out and challenged Kristian IV to a duel that would decide everything, but the Danish king laughed at the idea. Karl IX died not too long after that, in 1911.
By this time Sweden was at war with both Russia and Denmark and their relationship with Poland was iffy. Swedes in Darlana and Norland were not happy. It was a realm without a king. Gustav Adolf ended up with the job when he was seventeen. He was manipulated into signing a Royal Oath which gave more privileges to the nobility. Some people refer to this oath as the first constitution. It stated that the king could not declare war, or peace, or hire troops, or increase taxes without the approval of the council, and that only the nobility could become councilors. All senior posts in the government were reserved for the nobility.
Sweden now had a choice. Should they try to expand into Poland and Russia, or stay at home? They decided to expand, no matter what the cost. “Beware the Swedes,” neighboring peoples used to say.