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BARON VON SCHUTZ GEORG HEINRICH VON G...

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Originally appearing in Volume V12, Page 262 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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BARON VON SCHUTZ GEORG HEINRICH VON GORTZ (1668-1719), Holstein statesman, was educated at Jena. He entered the Holstein-Gottorp service, and after the death of the duchess Hedwig Sophia, Charles XII.'s sister, became very influential during the minority of her son Duke Charles Frederick. His earlier policy aimed at strengthening Holstein-Gottorp at the expense of Denmark. With this object, during Charles XII.'s stay at Altranstadt (x706-1707), he tried to divert the king's attention to the Holstein question, and six years later, when the Swedish commander, Magnus Stenbock, crossed the Elbe, Gortz rendered him as much assistance as was compatible with not openly breaking with Denmark, even going so far as to surrender the fortress of Tanning to the Swedes. Gortz next attempted to undermine the grand alliance against Sweden by negotiating with Russia, Prussia and Saxony for the purpose of isolating Denmark, or even of turning the arms of the allies against her, a task by no means impossible in view of the strained relations between Denmark and the tsar. The plan foundered, however, on the refusal of Charles XII. to save the rest of his German domains by ceding Stettin to Prussia. Another simultaneous plan of procuring the Swedish crown for Duke Charles Frederick also came to nought. Gortz first suggested the marriage between the duke of Holstein and the tsarevna Anne of Russia, and negotiations were begun in St Petersburg with that object. On the arrival of Charles XII. from Turkey at Stralsund, Gortz was the first to visit him, and emerged from his presence chief minister or " grand-vizier " as the Swedes preferred to call the bold and crafty satrap, whose absolute devotion to the Swedish king took no account of the intense wretchedness of the Swedish nation. Gortz, himself a man of uncommon audacity, seems to have been fascinated by the heroic element in Charles's nature and was determined, if possible, to save him from his difficulties. He owed his extra-ordinary influence to the fact that he was the only one of Charles's advisers who believed, or pretended to believe, that Sweden was still far from exhaustion, or at any rate had a sufficient reserve of power to give support to an energetic diplomacy—Charles's own opinion, in fact. Gortz's position, however, was highly peculiar. Ostensibly, he was only the Holstein minister at Charles's court, in reality he was everything in Sweden except a Swedish subject—finance minister, plenipotentiary to foreign powers, factotum, and responsible to the king alone, though he had not a line of instructions. But he was just the man for a hero in extremities, and his whole course of procedure was, of necessity, revolutionary. His chief financial expedient was to debase, or rather ruin, the currency by issuing copper tokens redeemable in better times; but it was no fault of his that Charles XII., during his absence, flung upon the market too enormous an amount of this copper money for GSrtz to deal
End of Article: BARON VON SCHUTZ GEORG HEINRICH VON GORTZ (1668-1719)
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