The spectacular career of Gustav Adolf by no means established Sweden as a great power. In the four years after his death such a development became increasingly improbable. At Westphalia in 1648 the improbable became a fact; but the momentum of Swedish imperial expansion did not culminate until 1658, when Charles X imposed peace upon a prostrate Denmark. The core of this volume of four essays, by the doyen of historians of Sweden, lies in the two studies of the man who bestrode the summit. One, an examination (if Charles X's domestic policies and constitutional significance; the other, a discussion of the objectives of his foreign policy. Both are matters of controversy, and these studies attempt to assess the debate. Flanking these essays are a study of Oxenstierna's magnificent failure in Germany between 1633 and 1636, and an examination of the great controversy surrounding the death of Charles XII.