Read Here: Fredriksten Fortress, Halden, Norway

Fredriksten fortress was begun as a direct result of Norway losing Bohuslän and Bohus fortress to Sweden in 1658. Three successive attacks by the Swedes against Halden in the period 1658-60 convinced King Fredrik III of the need for a modern and strong border fortress.

The Swedes attacked Fredriksten Fortress three more times, and during the war in 1718, King Karl XII ended his days in front of the walls of Fredriksten Fortress.

All the attacks on Halden after 1658 clearly showed the need for a strong fortress in Halden. By royal command, therefore, a large-scale development of Fredriksten fortress began in 1661.

So when the legendary Swedish king Karl XII with 2,000 men makes a surprise attack on Halden on a foggy July night in 1716, there is a well-developed fortress that towers over the town.

The guard forces down in the city are taken to bed. In just their underwear, they rescue themselves in the fortress. The fighting rages in many places, and beyond the morning, the Swedes have control over the city, although there are still basket roofs in the streets and houses.

Eventually, all the Norwegian defenders gather in the fortress while children and women are brought to safety outside the city.

Bombs and cannonballs rain down on the city from the fortress, shots are fired at the Square from a barge out in the harbour, and Norwegians are lying on the slopes shooting at everything Swedish. Then the people of Halden decide to set fire to their own town.

Two maids and a servant boy throw burning pitch wreaths into several of the town’s houses, and soon the entire south side of the town is on fire. The Swedes must escape to the north side, where they set fire to the houses to cover the retreat.

Two years later, Karl XII tried again. With 6,000 men, he besieges Fredriksten. He conquers the fort Gyldenløve (The Golden Lion) and digs the trenches ever closer to the main fortress from the north.

On the evening of 11 December, he crawls up to the edge of the trench to get an overview of the excavation work. Suddenly he collapses, hit by a bullet that has passed through his head. The following day, all Swedish forces withdrew from Norway. Since then, there has been debate whether Karl XII was shot on his own or by an “honest Norwegian bullet”.

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