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The Danish king Christian IV had for many years manoeuvred to get the upper-hand on the Swedes. Axel Oxenstierna, the Swedish army commander, decided to take the advantage of a situation when the Danes were without any allies and generally un-prepared for battle. The Swedes had a big army in northern Germany and Oxenstierna gave orders to Lennart Torstensson to advance from Holsten and occupy Jutland. But this advance was to no avail since the deciding battle took place at sea outside the Kiel fjord at Kolberger Heide.

King Christian IV had sailed from Copenhagen on the 29th of June 1644 with approx. 40 ships. Meanwhile, the Swedish Admiral Klas Fleming had departed from Dalarö outside Stockholm on 1st of June with a comparable amount of ships. His intention was to bring his fleet to Jutland to support Oxenstierna's troops. On the 28th of June they reached Fehmarn which was easily occupied. At this point, Christian IV's fleet had reached the area and on the 1st of July they engaged in the battle. The Swedish ships were better equipped since they had cannons. After a lengthy but undecided struggle between the Kiel Fjord and Fehmarn, marked by strong winds, the Danish king was struck by a stray bullet aboard his ship "Trefoldigheden" whereby the kings' right eye was hurt. Sören Hofman, the King's doctor, attended to the damage but could only determine that the eye-sight was lost. During the night, both fleets retracted from the scene without having had any major losses (the Danes lost ca. 200 men and the Swedes ca. 100 men).

Later, in 1644, the Swedes managed to overcome the Danes and settle a favourable peace agreement in Brömsebro (1645) where Denmark-Norway lost the island of Gotland and Ösel, the counties of Härjedalen, Jämtland and Halland. Christian IV never really recovered from the battle at Kolberger Heide. He died in 1648.

Page updated: 1-May-2024

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