In the spring of 1698 Duke Frederick IV of Holstein-Gottorp arrived in Stockholm, where he was to marry Princess Hedvig Sophia, the sister of Charles XII. The Duke was almost 11 years older than Charles and (if foreign diplomats are to be believed) made a deep impression him - resulting in a number of adventures. These almost always find their way into biographies of Charles, more often than not markedly overshadowing the rather dull everyday work the King spent most of his time on.
The alleged incident historians particulary love is said to have taken place in late May/early June, when according to the French envoy D'Avaux the King and his cousin spent 8 days decapitating dogs, sheep and calves in the former's quarters on the second floor in the Wrangel Palace. The young scoundrels threw out the heads through the windows and the furniture went the same way.
The remarkable thing about this is that no one has (as far as I know) been able to find any sort of corroborating evidence, i.e. no records of large purchases of animals, replacement furniture or massive cleaning of the King's rooms. So the story remains very hard to believe. D'Avaux's letter is dated 11 June (New Style), the equivalent of 1 June O.S.
The previous letter from d'Avaux is dated seven days earlier (25 May O.S.), so if the envoy's story is correct the killings must have started the same day and continued until 1 June. But the facts don't add up: On the 23rd, 27th, 30th and 31st of May as well as on 1 June the King met with the Council in it's role as Supreme Court - in the very same building where the orgy (according to d'Avaux) continued for eight days without pause...
The story of course makes very little sense. The King is for example known to have been fond of dogs. I can certainly see the point in killing a few animals in a sort of competition, but for eight days? And indoors? "Sorry Frederick, I have a meeting with the Council in the next room, but I'll be back in a few hours. You can keep on killing animals while I am away". Rather absurd, in my opinion.
Amomg the items made digitally available by the National Archives is a collection called "Kungliga arkiv". One of the volumes (K 33) contain some financial records from the period May-July 1698. The content is a lot less sensational. The King hands out money to a worker in the garden at Karlberg, to three soldiers from Pomerania, to a poor clergyman, to a poor soldier from Holstein and to many others - high and low. One item stands out: 82 thalers for some cattle the King and his cousin had shot at Kungsör. Is this verified "prank" the rather modest origin for the story D'Avaux told?
An ox apparently cost about 9-10 thalers in 1698, so maybe they shot half a dozen cattle and paid well above the market prize as compensation?