On this day in 1713 Ottoman forces managed to capture Swedish king Charles near the city of Bender in what is today Moldova. Bender is located around 100 km from the Black Sea, near the current border between Ukraine and Moldova.
What was a Swedish king doing in that area? King Charles XII was a very ambitious conqueror who received the nickname “Alexander of the North”.
Already at the age of 18 he invaded his neighboring countries. He was surprisingly successful, managing to defeat a many times larger Russian army at Narva. His victories allowed him to temporarily defeat even Emperor Peter the Great.
Charles XII broke into Poland, and then set off towards Moscow. However, Peter the Great managed to defeat him near Poltava, after which the defeated Charles XII escaped south, trying to find refuge on the territory of the Ottoman Empire.
After he spent some time on Ottoman territory, Charles XII was captured by the Ottomans in a very uneven battle. Namely, Charles XII had only 43 Swedish soldiers under his command, while the Ottoman force numbered around 10,000.
The battle was fought hand-to-hand, and Charles XII managed to personally slay at least one Ottoman soldier. A Swedish Guardsman named Axel Erik Roos allegedly saved his king’s life three times during that day. Charles XII was captured despite his courageous resistance. He spent some time in Ottoman captivity, but was later set free and returned to Sweden.