Great Northern War
An alliance of three, consisting of the Russian Empire and the two personal unions Saxony-Poland and Denmark-Norway , attacked the Swedish Empire in March 1700 , which was founded by the eighteen-year-old King Charles XII. was ruled. Despite the unfavorable starting position, the Swedish king initially remained victorious and managed to get Denmark-Norway (1700) and Saxony-Poland (1706) eliminated from the war. When he was preparing to defeat Russia in a final campaign from 1708, the Swedes suffered a devastating defeat in the Battle of Poltava in July 1709, which marked the turn of the war.
Encouraged by this defeat of their former adversary, Denmark and Saxony rejoined the war against Sweden. From then until the end of the war, the Allies retained the initiative and put the Swedes on the defensive. The war, which had become hopeless for his country, was only ended after the Swedish king, who was regarded as unreasonable and obsessed with war, fell during a siege off Frederikshald in Norway in autumn 1718 . The terms of the peace treaties of Stockholm , Frederiksborg and Nystad meant the end of Sweden as a major European power and the simultaneous rise of the Russian Empire, founded by Peter I in 1721 .
Swedish rise to great power
The pursuit of the Dominium maris Baltici , that is, rule over the Baltic Sea area, was the trigger for many armed conflicts between the Baltic Sea countries even before the Great Northern War (cf. Northern Wars ). The causes of the Great Northern War were diverse. In numerous wars against the kingdoms of Denmark (seven wars) and Poland-Lithuania (five wars) as well as the Russian tsarist empire (four wars) and a war against Brandenburg-Prussia , Sweden, which was mostly victorious, was able to achieve supremacy in the Baltic Sea region by 1660 and defend it from then on.
As the guarantor of the Peace of Westphalia , Sweden officially rose to become a major European power in 1648, after it had already denied access to the Baltic Sea from the Tsarist Empire in the Treaty of Stolbowo in 1617 . However, Sweden's newly won European great power position in the Thirty Years War was on a weak foundation. The Swedish heartland (essentially today's Sweden and Finland) had only a comparatively small population of barely two million inhabitants and thus only about a tenth to a fifth of the inhabitants of the other Baltic Sea countries (the Holy Roman Empire , Poland-Lithuania or Russia ). The Swedish heartland had a narrow economic base. The great power of Sweden was based to a decisive extent on the extraordinary clout of its army. To finance them, Sweden relied heavily on sources of income such as For example, the port tariffs of large Baltic ports such as Riga (the largest city in the Swedish Baltic region), Wismar or Stettin (in Swedish Pomerania ) as well as river tariffs on the Elbe and Weser rivers.
The Second Northern War began in 1655 and ended with the Peace of Oliva in 1660. In this war, Charles X Gustav forced the Polish king John II Casimir , who was a great-grandson of King Gustav I of Sweden and the last living Vasa , to renounce the Swedish royal throne and Denmark to give up unrestricted rule over the sound . As in the Thirty Years' War, Sweden was supported by France in terms of foreign policy and subsidy payments in the following years and was thus able to preserve its property.
Sweden in particular had to fear the post-war situation, because the revision tendencies of the neighbors Denmark, Brandenburg, Poland and Russia affected by Sweden's expansion had hardly remained hidden during the peace negotiations. The legacy of the warlike era of the rise of great power for the peaceful period of securing great power after 1660 remained difficult. H. Sweden was still in a very unfavorable position in terms of its structural prerequisites for maintaining a large military potential in its own country. After the defeat against Brandenburg-Prussia in 1675 at Fehrbellin , Sweden's precarious situation also became evident abroad. For this reason, King Charles XI called. in 1680 the Reichstag. Important reforms in the state and military were initiated: with the help of the peasants, the citizens, the officers and the lower nobility, the repatriation of the former crown lands was enforced by the nobility, the Imperial Council was relegated to the advisory Royal Council, the legislation and foreign policy, the had been at the Reichstag until then, taken over by the king. The king became an absolute absolute ruler. After the political reforms, Charles XI. carried out an extensive and overdue reorganization of the military . His son and successor Karl XII. left behind Charles XI. 1697 a reformed absolutist great power state and a reorganized and efficient army.
Formation of a triple alliance
It was part of Swedish diplomacy to control Denmark and Poland through contractual reinsurance with Russia in such a way that encirclement could be avoided. In the following period could Diplomacy of Bengt Oxenstierna the danger of encirclement not ban longer.
At the end of the 17th century the following lines of conflict emerged in Northeastern Europe: Denmark had relegated from its position as the dominant state of Scandinavia to a middle power with limited influence and saw control of the remaining Baltic accesses at risk. Although the customs duties on foreign ships were the main source of income for the kingdom, the danger of outside interference was always present. A point of contention between Denmark and Sweden was the question of Gottorf's shares in the duchies of Holstein and especially Schleswig . In 1544 the duchies were divided into royal, gottorfian and jointly ruled shares. Holstein remained an imperial and Schleswig Danish fiefdom . After the Peace of Roskilde in 1658, the shares of the Gottorfer allied with the Swedes in the Duchy of Schleswig were released from Danish feudal sovereignty. Danish foreign policy, which saw itself threatened from two sides by the Gottorf alliance with the Swedes, tried to re-incorporate the lost territories. The independence of the partial duchy of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorf was only guaranteed by the Swedish government, which assumed that it would have a strategic base for troop deployments and attacks on the Danish mainland in the event of a war against Denmark. Another point of contention between Denmark and Sweden was the provinces of Schonen (Skåne) , Blekinge and Halland , which had historically been core countries of the Danish state, but had belonged to Sweden since the Peace of Roskilde in 1658. In these newly won provinces, Sweden rigorously suppressed all pro-Danish endeavors. The dispute over the state membership in Skåne had already led in 1675 to Denmark's ultimately unsuccessful entry into the Northern War from 1674 to 1679 .
In Russia, Tsar Peter I (1672–1725) opened his country to Western Europe. In his opinion, the prerequisite for this was free access to the world's oceans. Sweden dominated the Baltic approaches and the mouths of the Neva and Narva rivers in the Baltic States . As an inland sea, the Black Sea offered only limited access to the world's oceans, as the Ottoman Turks controlled its exit on the Bosporus. Russia was only able to enter into maritime trade with the rest of Europe via the Arctic Ocean port of Arkhangelsk . Although Russia had mineral resources, furs and raw materials, the country could not trade profitably with the West without a suitable sea route.
Elector Friedrich August I of Saxony (1670–1733) was elected King of Poland (and thus also ruler of Lithuania, see Saxony-Poland ) in 1697 as August II . Since the nobility had a great influence on the decisions in the Polish-Lithuanian dominion, August II strove to gain recognition, to shift the balance of power in his favor and to convert the kingship into a hereditary monarchy. He was advised by Johann Reinhold von Patkul (1660–1707), who had fled from Swedish Livonia . He said that the reconquest of the once Polish Livonia would give August some prestige. The Livonian nobility would welcome this move and rise against Swedish rule. Under King Charles XI. of Sweden (1655–1697) the so-called reductions had come about , through which part of the land held by the nobility was transferred to the crown. This practice met with resistance from the Baltic German nobility, especially in Livonia , whose leaders then sought foreign aid.
Soon after the accession to the throne of the only 15-year-old Charles XII. of Sweden (1682–1718) formed an alliance. In the first year of his reign, the young king had made his brother-in-law Friedrich IV (1671–1702), the Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorf, commander-in-chief of all Swedish troops in Germany and commissioned him to improve the national defense of the Gottorf sub-duchy. These obviously military preparations gave the impetus for the first alliance negotiations between Saxony-Poland and Russia in June 1698. In August 1698, Tsar Peter I and King August II met in Rawa , where they made the first arrangements for a joint attack on Sweden. At the instigation of Patkul it finally came on November 11th July. / November 21, 1699 greg. with the Treaty of Preobrazhenskoe for a formal alliance between Saxony-Poland and Russia. On November 23rd, Jul. / December 3rd greg. Another alliance between Tsar Peter I and King Frederick IV of Denmark (1671-1730) was concluded. Denmark had been allied with Saxony in a defensive alliance since March 1698. However, neither of the treaties explicitly mentioned Sweden as an objective of these agreements. They merely obliged the contracting parties to provide assistance in the event of an attack or if the trade of one of the countries was impaired by other countries. Furthermore, Tsar Peter had clauses inserted according to which he was only bound to the provisions of the treaties after a peace agreement between Russia and the Ottoman Empire (→ Russo-Turkish War (1686–1700) ).
Defense against the Allied attack on Sweden (1700)
Saxon and Danish attacks
On February 12, 1700, General Jacob Heinrich von Flemming, at the head of around 14,000 Saxon soldiers, invaded Livonia to take the province and its capital, Riga . The Governor General of Livonia was Field Marshal Count Erik von Dahlberg , who was also Sweden's most famous fortress builder and who put his capital in an excellent state of defense. In view of Riga's strong walls, the Saxons first took the neighboring Dünamünde (March 13-15, 1700), which was immediately renamed Augustusburg by August II . Then the Saxon troops set up a blockade in front of Riga, but without seriously attacking the fortress. After eight weeks, however, Dahlberg's Swedes took the initiative and defeated the Saxons in the battle at Jungfernhof (May 6, 1700). The Saxon troops evaded behind the Düna and initially waited for reinforcements. When she arrived in June 1700 under General Field Marshal Adam Heinrich von Steinau , August II personally accompanied her. Steinau went on the attack again in July, defeated a Swedish detachment under General Otto Vellingk near Jungfernhof and began the actual siege of Riga . When the siege made little progress, the Saxon side decided to secure larger parts of Livonia first. For this reason, Kokenhusen Castle was besieged in autumn and captured on October 17, 1700. Then the Saxons went to their winter quarters in Courland . The Swedish troops in Livonia were mainly recruited from Estonians , Latvians and Finns and were initially on their own. However, they benefited from the fact that the Livonian nobility did not rise up against Swedish rule. Instead, there were peasant revolts in the course of the Saxon invasion, which made the nobles all the more lean towards the Swedish crown.
In the meantime, on March 11, 1700, King Frederick IV of Denmark had also declared war on Sweden. A Danish corps of 14,000 men had already been assembled on the Trave under the command of Duke Ferdinand Wilhelm von Württemberg . These troops set off on March 17, 1700, occupied several places in Holstein-Gottorf and on April 22, 1700 enclosed Tönning . During the siege of Tönning , the city was bombarded with grenades from April 26th. Meanwhile only two cavalry regiments, the naval regiment and two battalions of infantry remained on Zealand . The protection of the Danish core areas against Sweden was assigned as the main task of the Danish fleet, which set sail with 29 ships of the line and 15 frigates in May. She was commanded by the young Ulrik Christian Gyldenløve and had the task of supervising the Swedish fleet in Karlskrona ; should the Swedes set course for Danish territory, the order was to attack them immediately. In May 1700, however, a Swedish army gathered from the regiments in Swedish-Pomerania and Bremen-Verden , which was under the command of Field Marshal Nils Karlsson Gyllenstierna . From the summer this was also supported by a Dutch - Hanoverian relief corps. The troops united at Altona and hurried to relieve Tönning. The Duke of Württemberg then gave up the siege of the city on June 2 and avoided a battle against the Swedish troops.
Swedish counter-offensive in Zealand
In the first phase, Sweden was largely able to determine the events of the war due to its initial successes. Central theaters of war were primarily Saxony-Poland , the up to then Swedish Livonia and Estonia, which the Russian tsarist army conquered in a separately waged side war until 1706.
In Sweden meanwhile the war readiness of the army and the navy was established. Around 5,000 new sailors were recruited, bringing the strength of the fleet under Admiral Hans Wachtmeister to 16,000 men. In addition, all merchant ships in Swedish ports were requisitioned for the upcoming troop transports. Sweden had a total of 42 ships of the line in the Baltic Sea compared to a total of 33 Danish. The army was rearmed up just as quickly. According to the system of division , the regional regiments were mobilized and a large number of new units were set up for this purpose. In total, the troops soon comprised 77,000 men. Sweden received further support in June from an Anglo-Dutch fleet of 25 ships of the line under the admirals George Rooke and Philipp van Almonde . The naval powers were concerned about the imminent death of the Spanish king, who was expected to lead to a war of European succession . In view of this uncertain situation, they were not prepared to allow their important trade and supply routes in the Baltic Sea to be jeopardized by a Danish-Swedish war. For this reason they had decided to stand by Sweden against the attacker Denmark.
In mid-June 1700, the Anglo-Dutch squadron was in front of Gothenburg , while Charles XII. set sail with the Swedish fleet in Karlskrona on June 16. The Danish fleet lay between the allies in the Oresund to prevent their opponents from uniting. However, Karl let his fleet take a narrow fairway along the eastern bank and soon reached the allied ships. Together, the allies now had more than 60 ships and were almost twice as superior to the Danish fleet. The Danish admiral Gyldenløve therefore decided to avoid a sea battle and withdrew. Now, on July 25, the first Swedish troops were able to land on Zealand under the protection of their naval guns. At the beginning of August 1700 they already had about 14,000 men compared to fewer than 5,000 Danish soldiers. They quickly succeeded in enclosing Copenhagen and bombarding it with artillery. King Frederick IV had lost command of the sea, and his army was far to the south in Holstein-Gottorp, where the fighting was also unfavorable for him. He had no other option but to communicate with Karl. On August 18, 1700, the two rulers concluded the Peace of Traventhal , which restored the status quo ante .
Originally, the Allies had agreed that Russia should open war against Sweden as soon as peace was concluded with the Ottoman Empire, but if possible in April 1700. But the peace negotiations dragged on and Peter I hesitated, despite the urging of August II to join the war. An understanding was only reached with the Ottomans in mid-August 1700, and on August 19 Peter I finally declared war on Sweden. However, he did so in complete ignorance of the fact that the day before, Denmark, an important ally of the coalition, had already ceased to exist. In a report on September 3, the Dutch envoy therefore stated: “If this news had arrived a fortnight earlier, I very much doubt whether S. Czarian's Majesty would march with her army or his Majesty the King of Sweden Would have declared war. "
However, as early as the summer of 1700, Peter I had an army set up on the Swedish borders, which largely consisted of young recruits trained on the Western European model. Overall, the armed forces were divided into three divisions under Generals Golowin , Weide and Repnin . Another 10,500 soldiers of the Cossack army joined these , so that the total armed forces amounted to about 64,000 men. Of these, however, a large part was still in the interior of the country. A Russian vanguard entered Swedish territory in mid-September, and on October 4, 1700, the main Russian army began the siege of Narva with around 35,000 soldiers . Before the war, Peter I had claimed Ingermanland and Karelia for himself in order to get safe access to the Baltic Sea. Narva was only 35 kilometers from the Russian borders, but in Livonia, which was claimed by August II. The allies therefore distrusted the tsar, and they feared that he wanted to conquer Livonia for himself. However, there were three reasons in favor of Narva as the target of the Russian attack: It was south of Ingermanland and could serve as a gateway for the Swedes into this province. It was not far from the Russian borders and was therefore a relatively easy-to-reach destination from a logistical point of view. Last but not least, it was important that almost all of Russia's trade to the west ran via Riga and Narva and that the Tsar would not have liked to see both cities in the possession of August II.
Meanwhile, Charles XII. his army withdrew from Denmark by August 24, 1700. Since then he has been preparing an expedition to Livonia in southern Sweden to face the Saxon troops there. Despite the impending autumn storms, Karl left Karlskrona on October 1st and reached Pärnu on October 6th . The Swedish associations suffered losses from violent storms. Nevertheless, the fleet was immediately sent back to transfer more soldiers and the heavy artillery. Since he found the old Dahlberg victorious in Riga and the Saxons were already in their winter quarters, he decided to turn against the Russian army at Narva. He moved his troops to Reval , where he gathered further reinforcements from the region and had his units drilled for several weeks. On November 13, 1700, he set out east with around 10,500 soldiers. The march in cold weather and almost without any supplies turned out to be difficult, but on November 19th the Swedes reached the Russian positions. The following day the battle of Narva ((20) November 30, 1700) finally took place , in which the Swedish troops defeated the outnumbered Russian army. In the course of the fighting and during the subsequent escape, the Russian army almost completely disintegrated and practically lost all of its artillery. However, the few Swedish forces were also weakened, and after Narva had been liberated, they too had to move into their winter quarters first.
War of dethroning against August II (1701–1706)
At the end of 1700 Charles XII. Sweden successfully defended and all enemy troops driven from Swedish territory. Instead of pursuing the defeated Russian army in order to destroy it completely and forcing his opponent, Tsar Peter I, to make peace as well, the king now turned to his third opponent, the Saxon Elector and King of Poland, to give him the Polish royal throne to snatch. There has been much speculation about the exact motives of the Swedish king, and this decision of his has been almost unanimously criticized by later military historians as a serious mistake, since the chance to finally destroy the defeated Russian army and thus force Russia to peace was wasted. Decisive for the turn in the direction of Poland were probably above all personal motives of Charles XII. As a staunch Lutheran, the Swedish king harbored a personal hatred of August the Strong, as he had deviated from the Lutheran faith of his ancestors for reasons of power calculation and converted to Catholicism in order to be able to become King of Poland. In addition, Charles XII saw. in August the Strong the real warmonger against Sweden. The Livonian aristocratic opposition to the Swedish crown under Reinhold von Patkul relied primarily on Polish-Saxon support. In addition, the Swedish king fatally underestimated Russia's military potential and believed that, as with Narva in 1700, he could defeat the Russian army anew at any time. Karl considered the military development in the Baltic States to be of secondary importance.
The King of Sweden turned south with his main army and in the following 5 years of the war of dethronement passed through almost all of Polish territory. In addition, there were further battles for rule in Courland and Lithuania between Swedish troops under the command of Lewenhaupt and Russian units. The two theaters of war in the Baltic States and Poland only overlap in 1705, when a Russian army, which marched into Courland in 1705, defied the approaching Charles XII. had to withdraw without leading to an open battle. In years of campaigns, Karl spent himself with the Swedish army in Poland and Saxony, while Swedish Livonia was devastated by Russian armies. The war in Poland did not end until 1706 with the Peace of Altranstadt , in which August II was forced to renounce the Polish throne.
Occupation of the Duchy of Courland
August II was now preparing for the Swedish offensive to be expected in the new year. The refusal of his Polish subjects to support the war financially and with troops turned out to be disadvantageous. The Polish Sejm of February 1701 only obtained the support of August from a small auxiliary corps of 6,000 Poles and Lithuanians, too little for the upcoming fight against Karl. In response to the Swedish successes, August II and Peter I met in February 1701 in a completely different situation to renew their alliance. Peter needed time to reorganize and arm the Russian tsarist army . August needed a strong ally in the rear of the Swedes. Tsar Peter promised to send 20,000 men to the Daugava so that August could dispose of an army of 48,000 men from Saxony, Poland, Lithuanians and Russians to repel the Swedish attack in June 1701. Under the impression of the Swedish successes, both allies sought to leave the war for themselves: regardless of their agreement and without the knowledge of the other, they offered the Swedish king a separate peace. Charles XII. however, did not want peace and prepared more for the planned campaign against Poland. To this end, he had a total of 80,492 men deployed for 1701. 17,000 men were deployed to cover the interior of the country, 18,000 men protected Swedish Pomerania, 45,000 men were distributed across Livonia, Estonia and Ingermanland. Most of the Swedish troops in Livonia were concentrated around Dorpat .
After the usual army demonstrations , the Swedish advance to Riga via Wolmar and Wenden began on June 17, 1701 . Karl planned to move his army across the Daugava between Kokenhusen and Riga. The Saxons had suspected this approach and built field fortifications at several transition positions along the Düna. Both armies met for the first time on July 8th . / July 19, Greg. near Riga on the Daugava river. The Saxon-Russian army with 25,000 men was slightly superior to the army of around 20,000 Swedes. This advantage was lost, however, as the Saxon commander-in-chief Adam Heinrich von Steinau was deceived by Swedish diversionary maneuvers and his units split up along the Daugava. So the Swedish infantry managed to cross the wide river and form a bridgehead on the river bank held by the Saxons. The Saxon army suffered a defeat in the ensuing battle on the Daugava , but was able to rally and withdraw in an orderly manner, except for Prussian territory. The Russian troops also withdrew to Russia, shocked by the renewed defeat. The whole of Courland was open to the Swedish army. Charles and his victorious troops occupied Mitau , the capital of the Duchy of Courland , which was under Polish suzerainty .
Conquest of Warsaw and Krakow
The Polish-Lithuanian Republic protested against the violation of Polish territory through the advance of the Swedes into Courland, because not the republic (represented by the Sejm ) was at war with Sweden, only the King of Poland. When August the Strong offered to negotiate again, the advisers recommended to Charles XII that peace be made with the King of Poland. The governor-general of Livonia, Erik von Dahlberg, went the furthest, and eventually even submitted his resignation in protest against his king's war plans. But Karl remained uncompromising and asked the Sejm to elect a new king. However, this was rejected by the majority of the Polish nobility.
In January 1702, Karl moved his army from Courland to Lithuania. On March 23, 1702 the Swedes left their winter quarters and invaded Poland. Without waiting for the planned reinforcements from Pomerania, Karl marched with his army directly against Warsaw , which surrendered on May 14, 1702 without a fight. The Polish capital was forced to pay a large contribution before Charles continued his march to Krakow . The fear that Sweden would seek territorial gains in Poland in a conceivable peace treaty prompted the Polish nobility to take part in the war.
Before Charles XII. Occupied Warsaw, August II had moved to Cracow with the Polish Crown Army, some 8,000 men strong, in order to unite with the 22,000 strong Saxon army that had been newly established in Saxony. The Polish crown army under Hieronim Augustyn Lubomirski was poorly equipped, poorly cared for and little motivated to fight for the cause of the Saxon king. When the 24,000–30,000 strong Polish-Saxon army south of Kielce opposed the Swedes, who numbered only 12,000, this situation made it easier for the Swedes on July 8th . / July 19, Greg. an all-round victory in the battle of Klissow . 2,000 Saxons were killed or injured, and another 700 were taken prisoner by Sweden. The Swedes captured 48 cannons and had 300 dead and 800 injured themselves. They also captured the entire entourage as well as August's field treasury with 150,000 Reichstalers and his silver dishes. However, the low troop strength of the Swedes did not allow the defeated Polish-Saxon army to be pursued, and so August was able to regroup the remaining units of his army in the eastern parts of Poland. His quick retreat via Sandomierz to Thorn allowed Karl to occupy Krakow on July 31, 1702. Sweden now controlled the royal seat of Warsaw and the coronation city of Krakow. However, over half of the Polish Empire remained in the hands of August II.
War in Courland and Lithuania
In addition to the war events in Poland, fighting for supremacy in the Baltic States also took place in Courland and Lithuania. The victors of the previous Lithuanian-Belarusian civil war, the Oginski, had removed the sapieha from all state offices by decree. The defeated former rulers now allied themselves with the victorious Swedes, while the Oginski or Count Grzegorz Antoni Ogiński called Peter I for help. Peter I signed an agreement with the Oginskis on military aid in 1702. Another violent civil war broke out. After the march, the main army under Charles XII was to protect Courland. a Swedish corps was left behind in January 1702 under the command of Carl Magnus Stuart . Due to a non-healing wound, however, he left the actual command of the troops to Colonel Count Adam Ludwig Lewenhaupt . In Lithuania, under the command of Generals Carl Mörner and Magnus Stenbock, there was another Swedish division of several thousand men, which in June 1702 were largely Charles XII. followed, leaving only a small force behind.
While the Sapieha allied with Sweden organized peasant troops who fought against the Oginski Confederation in the Belarusian Dniepr region , they devastated the Sapieha lands with Russian support. When the Sapiehas temporarily withdrew from Lithuania after the Swedes withdrew, Ogiński took advantage of the situation and attacked the Swedish troops in Lithuania and Courland from May to December 1702. His goal was to conquer the Birze fortress as a starting point for further ventures. In one of his attempts, Ogiński's army of 2,500 Russians and 4,500 Poles provided a 1,300-strong Swedish detachment that had been sent to relieve the fortress. On March 19, 1703, the defeated Swedish division defeated the Russian-Polish army in the battle at Saladen . Ogiński then withdrew to Poland to unite with August's troops.
Swedish conquest of western and central Poland
After the defeat at Klissow on July 19, 1702, August II had again offered the Swedes peace negotiations. He wanted to meet the Swedish demands as far as possible, with the sole aim of being able to remain King of Poland. Michael Stephan Radziejowski , Cardinal Archbishop of Gniezno and Primate of Poland-Lithuania, also made proposals for peace on behalf of the Republic of Poland. He offered Charles XII. Polish Livonia , Courland and high war compensation. Karl would only have had to forego the deposition of the king, which he was not prepared to do. So the war went on. After a delay of several weeks due to a broken leg, the Swedes continued their advance along the Vistula. At the end of the autumn of 1702, Karl moved his troops to winter quarters at Sandomierz and Kazimierz near Cracow.
Forced to continue the war, August II had to build up an army again to stop the Swedish advance. He held a Sejm in Thorn , at which 100,000 men were promised to him. To raise the money for this, he traveled to Dresden in December.
In the first months of 1703 the war ceased. It was not until March that Charles XII broke. with his army in the direction of Warsaw, which he reached at the beginning of April. At the beginning of April 1703 August II left Dresden to start a new campaign from Thorn and Marienburg. He had used the time to raise a new Saxon-Lithuanian army. When Karl learned that the enemy army was encamped at Pułtusk , he left Warsaw and crossed the Bug with his cavalry . On April 21, 1703, the Saxons were completely taken by surprise in the Battle of Pułtusk . The victory cost the Swedes only 12 men, while the Saxon-Lithuanian army had to endure several hundred dead and wounded as well as 700 prisoners. After the defeat at Pułtusk, the Saxons were too weak to face the Swedish army in the open field. They withdrew to the fortress of Thorn. Charles XII. then moved north to destroy the last of the demoralized Saxon army. After months of siege of Thorn , he took the city in September 1703. The Swedes captured 96 cannons, 9 mortars , 30 field snakes , 8,000 muskets and 100,000 thalers. Several thousand Saxons were taken prisoner of war. The capture of Thorn gave King Charles complete control of Poland. In order to rule out any future resistance from the city, which had defied the Swedes for six months, its fortifications were razed. On November 21st, the Swedes left Thorn for Elblag . The chilling example had the desired effect, and under the impression of the war glory that was ahead of it, many other cities submitted to the Swedish king in order to be spared in return for paying high tributes. Shortly before Christmas, Karl had his army move into winter quarters in West Prussia , as this area had so far remained untouched by the war.
The confederations of Warsaw and Sandomir
After the catastrophic campaigns of 1702 and 1703, August II's military position became hopeless, his financial resources were exhausted and his power base in Poland began to crumble. Under the influence of the country's economic decline, the Polish nobility split into different camps. In 1704 the Confederation of Warsaw , which was friendly to Sweden, was founded and pushed for an end to the war. It was joined by Stanislaus Leszczyński , who led the peace negotiations with the Swedes from 1704. As he gained the trust of their king, Charles XII saw. in Stanislaus soon the suitable candidate for the planned new election of the Polish king.
In Saxony, too, there was resistance to the Elector's Polish policy. August introduced an excise tax to fill his war chest and arm the army. That turned the Saxon estates against him. He also aroused public resentment through aggressive recruiting methods. With Russian support, however, he succeeded in raising an army of 23,000 Saxons, Cossacks and Russians. Lithuania, Volhynia , Red Russia and Lesser Poland continued to be loyal to the Saxon king, so that August and his court were able to retreat to Sandomierz . There, parts of the Polish nobility had formed a confederation to support them, which turned against the Swedish occupation of Poland and the new king demanded by Sweden. The Sandomir Confederation under the hetman Adam Mikołaj Sieniawski refused to recognize August's abdication and Stanislaus Leszczynski's accession to the throne. However, this did not mean a real balance of forces, because the confederation was of little military importance, and its troops could at best disrupt the supply of the Swedes. Tsar Peter concluded an agreement with August II that enabled him to continue the war against Sweden in Poland-Lithuania. In the autumn of 1704 a large Russian army then moved to Belarus , which remained stationed in Polotsk for a long time and then took Vilna , Minsk and Grodno.
Election of a new King of Poland loyal to Sweden
At the end of May 1704, Charles XII broke. from his winter quarters to Warsaw to protect the planned royal election. The army consisted of 17,700 infantry and 13,500 cavalry. After Charles's arrival in Warsaw, Stanislaus I. Leszczyński was elected king on July 12, 1704, against the will of the majority of the Polish nobility , under the protection of the Swedish army .
After the election, Karl took a strong army corps against the breakaway territories that refused to obey the new king. August did not recognize the election and avoided the advancing Karl with his army. When the Swedish army advanced to Jarosław in July , August took the opportunity to move back to Warsaw. Instead of pursuing him, Karl captured poorly fortified Lemberg in an assault at the end of August . In the meantime August had reached Warsaw, where the newly elected king was staying. In the city itself there were 675 Swedes and around 6000 Poles who were supposed to protect the king who was loyal to Sweden. Most of the Polish soldiers deserted, and the Polish king also fled the city, so that only the Swedes resisted. On May 26, 1704, the Swedish garrison had to surrender to August II. After taking Warsaw, August moved to Greater Poland. The weak Swedish contingent there then had to withdraw.
At Lemberg Karl received the news that Narva had been taken by Russian troops. However, he still ruled out a move to the north. With a two-week delay, the Swedish army returned to Warsaw in mid-September to recapture the city. August did not let it come down to a fight, but fled before the arrival of Charles from his capital and transferred the command of the Saxon army to General Johann Matthias von der Schulenburg . Even this did not dare open field battle and withdrew to Posen , where a Russian contingent under the command of Johann Reinhold von Patkul had enclosed the city. After the renewed conquest of Warsaw, Karl had the Saxon-Polish army persecuted. A Russian detachment of 2,000 men was defeated in one battle, 900 Russians were killed. The remaining Russians fought almost to the last man the following day. Despite the skilful retreat of the Saxons under Schulenburg, Karl caught up with part of the Saxon army shortly before the Silesian border. In the Battle of Punitz , 5000 Saxons withstood four attacking Swedish dragoon regiments. Schulenburg managed to withdraw his troops in an orderly manner across the Oder to Saxony. Because of the strenuous marches, Karl had to move into his winter quarters at the beginning of November. For this purpose, he selected the Wielkopolska district bordering on Silesia, which had been largely spared from the war until then.
Development in Courland and Lithuania
After Lewenhaupt's victory in the previous year, Jan Kazimierz Sapieha returned to Lithuania in the spring of 1704 and strengthened Lewenhaupt's position there. After the election of Leszczyński as the new Polish king, Lewenhaupt had from Charles XII. received the order to enforce the claims of the Sapiehas in their homeland. Lewenhaupt invaded Lithuania with his troops from Courland, whereupon the supporters of August II had to withdraw under the leadership of Count Ogiński. Lewenhaupt was able to pull the Lithuanian nobility over to the Swedish side and persuade the Lithuanian state parliament to pay homage to the new Polish king, but afterwards he had to return to Mitau because a Russian army was approaching and threatening Courland.
The Russian army united with loyal Polish troops and moved to the fortress Seelburg on the Daugava River , which was only occupied by a small garrison of 300 Sweden. Lewenhaupt rushed to relieve the besieged fortress. The Russian-Polish army then broke off the siege in order to oppose the approaching enemy. On July 26, 1704, the two armies met at Jakobstadt , where the numerically outnumbered Swedish-Polish army with 3,085 Swedes and 3,000 Poles defeated a numerically superior army of 3,500 Russians and 10,000 Poles in the battle of Jakobstadt . The Russian troops had to withdraw. From the battlefield near Jakobstadt, Lewenhaupt first turned towards the Birze fortress between Riga and Mitau, which had been occupied by Ogiński's troops. The crew of the fortress, consisting of 800 Poles, surrendered immediately and received free retreat. Lewenhaupt released his troops into winter quarters for the rest of the year, which also gave the war in Lithuania and Courland a break.
Coronation of the loyal king in Warsaw
In Poland there were no military events in the first half of 1705. The Swedish army under Charles XII. camped idly in the town of Rawitsch , which was also the headquarters of the Swedes in Poland. It was decided that Stanislaus Leszczyński, elected the previous year, should be crowned King of Poland in July 1705. For the Swedes, securing the succession to the throne was so important because the peace negotiations that had already started with Poland could only be concluded with their preferred candidate. The previous King August II was also ready to negotiate peace, but with the hope of a more docile candidate on the Polish throne for their purposes, the Swedish position hardened until the Swedes saw the dethronement of the Wettin as the only possibility of peace close to their senses.
Unlike the Swedes, August II did not remain idle and, with Russian support, was able to raise an army again to prevent the coronation of the Swedish rival king. At the suggestion of Johann Patkuls, he appointed his Livonian compatriot Otto Arnold Paykull as commander , who advanced to Warsaw with 6,000 Poles and 4,000 Saxons. To ensure the safety of the heir to the throne, Charles XII. Sent Lieutenant General Carl Nieroth with 2,000 men to the capital. On July 31, 1705, both armies met near Warsaw in the Battle of Rakowitz , in which the Saxon-Polish army was defeated by the five times smaller Swedish army. Lieutenant General Paykull and his diplomatic correspondence fell into the hands of the Swedes and was taken to Stockholm as a prisoner of state. There he impressed his judges by claiming that he knew the secret of making gold . But although he took a sample of his alchemical art, Charles XII held. the matter was not worth further investigation and had him beheaded for treason .
As a result of the battle, Stanislaus Leszczyński was crowned the new Polish king in Warsaw on October 4, 1705 . But he remained militarily and financially completely dependent on his Swedish patrons and was still not recognized in all parts of the country. Only Greater Poland , West Prussia , Mazovia and Lesser Poland submitted to him, while Lithuania and Volhynia continued to support August II and Peter I. As a direct result of the royal coronation, the Kingdom of Poland concluded the Warsaw Peace with Sweden in the person of Leszczyński on November 18, 1705 . The previous king of the country and Elector of Saxony, August II, did not accept this peace and declared that only between Sweden and Poland there would no longer be war, but still between Sweden and the Electorate of Saxony.
The war also continued in Courland and Lithuania. Due to Levenhaupt's successes in the previous year, Peter I had commissioned his Marshal Sheremetyev to cut off Levenhaupt's 7,000-strong army with a 20,000-strong army. For this purpose, the advance had to be kept secret for as long as possible in order to prevent the concentration of the opposing forces. However, this did not succeed, so that Lewenhaupt was able to gather his troops in time. On July 16, 1705, Lewenhaupt and his entire army took up battle formation against the advancing Russian army. After four hours of fighting, the Swedes won the Battle of Masonry with a loss of 1,500 men, while the outnumbered Russian army lost 6,000 men. The victory of the Swedes did not last long, however, because in September Peter sent another army, this time 40,000 strong. This time the tsar only allowed his army to march at night in order to keep the operation secret for as long as possible. Nevertheless, Swedish scouts learned of the recent Russian advance, so that Levenhaupt, promoted to lieutenant general, was able to gather his troops in and around Riga. After Peter I had been informed of this, he directed the planned advance towards the smaller fortresses of Mitau and Biskau instead of Riga . Since all Swedish troops were around Riga, all of Courland could be occupied by Russian troops.
Fight for recognition of the new king
For the first time since the Battle of Narva, Charles XII marched. with the Swedish main army in the Baltic States to help the Swedish forces oppressed there. The starting point was Warsaw, where he had stayed for the entire autumn of 1705. Karl decided to force the still breakaway territories to swear allegiance to the new king. At the end of 1705 the army began to advance across the Vistula and the Bug to Lithuania. In the autumn, Swedish reinforcements from Finland had brought Lewenhaupt's army, which had been concentrated in Riga, to a strength of 10,000 men. The Russian forces in Courland feared that they would be pinned down by Levenhaupt's troops in Riga and the advancing Karl. After the fortifications in Mitau and Bauske were blown up, they initially withdrew from Courland to Grodno, so that Lewenhaupt was able to occupy Courland again. After the Russians had withdrawn, the Lithuanians began to move more and more over to the new King of Poland, loyal to Sweden, which considerably reduced the burdens of the war for them. There was also a reconciliation of the warring Lithuanian noble families of the Sapiehas and the Wienowickis. Since Count Ogiński achieved no success anywhere with his continued struggle on the side of August II, the Swedish party in Lithuania finally won the upper hand.
On January 15th (July) the army of Charles XII crossed on the way to Grodno den Nyemen , where a 20,000-strong Russian army was under Field Marshal Georg Benedikt von Ogilvy . This had crossed the Polish border in December 1705 to unite with the Saxon troops. Karl had gone against the Russians with the main part of his army of almost 30,000 men, but there was no battle because the Russian troops did not want to engage in a confrontation with the Swedish king and retreated to Grodno . Because of the cold, a siege was out of the question, so Karl only had a blockade ring built around Grodno, which cut off the city and the Russian army from the supply of supplies.
When August II saw that Charles XII. was idle in front of Grodno, he held a council of war , which decided to use the absence of the king to destroy a further west standing Swedish detachment under the command of Carl Gustaf Rehnskiöld . This was left behind by Karl with over 10,000 men to protect Greater Poland and Warsaw. August wanted to move west, on the way to unite with all Polish detachments and then with the newly established Saxon army in Silesia under the command of General Schulenburg in order to attack the corps of Rehnskiöld and march back to Grodno after a victory. On January 18, August bypassed the Swedish blockade to the west with 2,000 men, united with several Polish troop contingents, and on January 26 entered Warsaw for the second time . From there, after a short break, he advanced with his army, which had now grown to 14,000 to 15,000 men, to attack the Swedish corps. He also ordered General Schulenburg to take up the nearby Russian auxiliary corps of 6,000 men with his troops and march to Wielkopolska to unite with him. Rehnskiöld received news of the Saxon plan and hoped to avoid annihilation by engaging the enemy in combat while they were still separated. By pretending to retreat, General Schulenburg actually let himself be tempted to attack the outnumbered Swedes. Without reinforcement by August II's Polish army, Schulenberg's Saxon recruits suffered a crushing defeat by the storm-tested Swedes in the battle of Fraustadt on February 13, 1706. After this new setback, August II broke off his advance, sent some of the troops back to Grodno and marched with the rest to Cracow. The situation in Grodno became hopeless for the Russian army due to the defeat at Fraustadt. She could no longer hope for relief, and the supply problems had worsened dramatically. In addition to the famine, illnesses spread among the soldiers, which led to high number of failures. After the news of the defeat at Fraustadt in Grodno, the Russian commander Olgivy decided to break out to Kiev with the remaining 10,000 combat-capable men. They escaped the Swedish persecutors and were able to save themselves across the border.
Charles XII. had marched to Pinsk in pursuit of the Russian army . From there he left after a break on May 21, 1706 to move to the south of Poland-Lithuania. The areas there still lasted to August and refused an oath of allegiance to King Stanislaus I. On June 1, Karl entered Volhynia . There, too, the new king, loyal to Sweden, had been recognized with military force. There was also fighting during the summer months. Several forays by the Swedes along the Russian-Polish border against Russian positions did not produce any decisive results. Based on the experience of the campaigns through Poland, which had served the purpose of enforcing the legitimacy of the new king, who was loyal to Sweden, Karl began to reconsider his strategy. As long as the Swedish army was there, the residents took the forced oath of allegiance. As soon as the Swedish army had moved away, however, they turned back to King August, who kept bringing new troops in from his retreat in Saxony. Due to the ineffectiveness of his previous strategy, Karl now wanted to end the war by taking a train to Saxony.
Conquest of Saxony and abdication of King August II.
In the summer of 1706 Charles XII broke. with his troops from the east of Poland, united with the army of Rehnskjöld and advanced on August 27, 1706 via Silesia into the Electorate of Saxony . The Swedes conquered the electorate step by step and stifled all resistance. The land was rigorously exploited. Since the battle of Fraustadt, August had no more troops worth mentioning, and since his home country was also occupied by the Swedes, he had to offer Karl peace negotiations. The Swedish negotiators Carl Piper and Olof Hermelin as well as Saxon representatives signed a peace treaty in Altranstädt on September 24, 1706, but this could only become valid when ratified by the king.
Although August wanted to end the state of war, he was also bound by alliances to Peter I, from whom he kept the impending peace with Sweden a secret. In response to the news of the Swedes' advance into Saxony, the Russian army, led by Generals Boris Petrovich Sheremetev and Alexander Danilowitsch Menshikov, had advanced from the Ukraine far into western Poland. Menshikov led an advance command in front of the main parts of the Russian army and united in Poland with the remaining Saxon-Polish army under August II. Under Russian pressure, August had to officially continue the fight and rather reluctantly defeated the united, 36,000-strong army Battle against the Swedes at Kalisch . In the Battle of Kalisch , the combined Russian, Saxon and Polish troops were able to completely destroy the numerically inferior Swedish troops under General Arvid Axel Mardefelt, who had been left behind by Karl to defend Poland . General Mardefelt and over 100 officers (including Polish magnates ) were taken prisoner. However, this did not change anything in the continued superior power of Sweden, so that August refused to cancel the peace treaty and quickly returned to Saxony to seek a compromise with Karl. On December 19, the elector announced the ratification of the Altranstadt peace treaty between Sweden and Saxony, with which he renounced the Polish crown "forever" and dissolved the alliance with Russia. He also committed himself to extraditing prisoners of war and deserters, namely Johann Reinhold von Patkul. August the Strong had already arrested the Livonian who had advised him to go to war in December 1705. After his transfer to the Swedes, Karl XII. him as a traitor wheels and quartered .
For the Polish King Stanislaus Leszczyński, who was dependent on Sweden, the treaty did not improve his situation. He failed to involve his domestic enemies, and so he continued to rely on the protection of the Swedish troops.
The Swedish advance to Saxony in 1706/07 triggered international entanglements, because the occupation of an imperial territory was a clear breach of imperial law , especially since Charles XII. was an imperial prince himself through his possessions in Swedish-Pomerania and Bremen-Verden. Moreover, the Swedes had marched through Silesia , which was Habsburg territory, without being asked . Another imperial war could not be enforced due to the simultaneous war with France. From the point of view of the Viennese court, it was also important to prevent Charles from allying himself with the rebellious Hungarians or marching into the Habsburg hereditary lands and thus creating a new constellation as in the Thirty Years War .
The danger that the Great Northern War would mix with the parallel fighting in Central Europe in the War of the Spanish Succession was great at this point in time. Both warring sides therefore endeavored to win the King of Sweden as an ally or at least to keep him out of the conflict. In April 1707, for example, the Allied commander of the troops in the Netherlands, John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough , visited the Swedish camp in Saxony. He urged Karl to turn east again with his army and not to advance further into the imperial territory. The Habsburg Emperor Joseph I also asked Karl to stay out of Germany with his troops. For this purpose, the emperor was even ready to recognize the new Polish king and to make concessions to the Protestant Christians in the Silesian hereditary lands, as they were finally agreed on September 1, 1707 in the Altranstadt Convention , in which, among other things, the permission to build so-called Gnadenkirchen was granted. Karl was not interested in interfering in German affairs and preferred to pull against Russia again.
War in the Swedish Baltic provinces (1701–1707)
Far away from the fighting in Poland, Russia gradually conquered the Swedish Baltic provinces after the defeat at Narva. Since the main Swedish army was tied up in Poland, far too few Swedish forces had to protect a large territory. Because of the numerical superiority of the Russians, they succeeded less and less. The Russian armed forces were able to get used to the Swedish war tactics relatively safely and develop their own war skills, with which they then inflicted a decisive defeat on Karl in the Russian campaign.
Russian war plans after the battle of Narva
Charles XII. After the victory in the Battle of Narva at the end of November 1700, his main army had moved south to fight August II. He transferred the supreme command of the Swedish Baltic Sea holdings to Major General Abraham Kronhjort in Finland , to Colonel Wolmar Anton von Schlippenbach in Livonia and to Major General Karl Magnus Stuart in Riga. The Swedish warships in Lake Ladoga and Lake Peipus were commanded by Admiral Gideon von Numers . At that time the Russian army was no longer a serious enemy. Because of the resulting certainty of victory, Karl turned down Russian peace offers. The tactical superiority of the Swedes over the Russians had also solidified as a prejudice in the thinking of Karl, who was so convinced of the minor importance of Russian clout that he concentrated his war efforts on the Polish theater of war even then, as a large part of Livonia and Ingermanland was under Russian control.
By shifting the main Swedish power to the Polish theater of war, however, the chances of Peter I to lead the war to a more favorable course and to conquer the desired access to the Baltic Sea for Russia increased. Tsar Peter took advantage of the withdrawal of the Swedish army and let the remaining Russian forces resume their activities in the Swedish Baltic provinces after the Narva disaster. The war strategy of the Russians was based on exhaustion of the enemy. This should be achieved through forays and constant attacks, combined with the starvation of the population through the destruction of the villages and fields. At the same time, the Russian soldiers were supposed to get used to the Swedish war tactics with their violent attacks in battle through the constant fight.
Tsar Peter used the time saved by the absence of the Swedish army to rearm and reorganize his army with enormous efforts. So he called foreign experts to train the troops - equipped with modern weapons - in the methods of Western European warfare. In order to quickly rebuild the artillery that was lost at Narva, he had church bells confiscated so that cannons could be poured from them. He had hundreds of gunboats built on Lake Ladoga and Lake Peipus . As early as the spring of 1701, the Russian army again had 243 cannons, 13 howitzers and 12 mortars. Reinforced by new recruits, it again consisted of 200,000 soldiers in 1705 after the 34,000 remaining in 1700.
In order to diplomatically support his war plans, the tsar had a negotiator sent to Copenhagen in parallel to the declarations of support to August II to persuade Denmark to invade Skåne . Since the Swedish Imperial Council had a force advance to the Sound , the alliance plans failed and the Danes postponed their attack until later.
The Swedish forces in the Baltic States under Colonel von Schlippenbach were only very weak and also separated into three autonomous corps. Each of these corps was too weak in itself to be able to counter the Russian forces successfully, especially since they were not led in a coordinated manner. In addition, these troops were not composed of the main regiments, but of newly recruited recruits. Swedish reinforcements were primarily sent to the Polish theater of war, so that one strategically important point after another could be captured by the Russian army.
Defeat of the Livonian army
After the withdrawal of their king with the main army, the Swedes initially remained offensive, at least as long as Russia was still weakened after the defeat of Narva. In order to shut down the only remaining Russian trading port in the White Sea , seven to eight Swedish warships made an advance from Gothenburg to Arkhangelsk in March 1701 . The company affected English and Dutch trade interests with Russia. Both nations reported the departure of the Swedish expedition fleet to their Russian partner. Peter then had the town strengthened its defense readiness. When the Swedish fleet reached the White Sea, two frigates ran into a sandbar and had to be blown up. The attack on Arkhangelsk did not promise success because of the precautionary measures Peter took, so that the fleet sailed home again after the destruction of 17 surrounding villages.
In mid-1701, first Swedish and then Russian forces carried out forays into Ingermanland and Livonia and marched into the opposing territory, where they fought several skirmishes . The Russian forces had recovered enough to be able to make limited offensives. From the Russian headquarters at Pskov and Novgorod , a force of about 26,000 men moved south of Lake Peipus to Livonia in September . In the subsequent campaign, the Swedish General Schlippenbach succeeded in September 1701 with a detachment of only 2,000 men to defeat the 7,000-strong Russian main army under Boris Sheremetyev in two meetings at Rauge and Kasaritz , with the Russians losing 2,000 soldiers. Regardless of this, Russian armies continued to make limited attacks on Livonian territory, which the outnumbered Swedes had less and less to oppose.
During the second major invasion of Livonia under the leadership of General Boris Sheremetyev, Russian forces defeated a 2,200 to 3,800-strong Swedish-Livonian army under Schlippenbach's command for the first time on December 30, 1701 at the Battle of Erastfer . The Swedish losses were estimated at around 1,000 men. After the victorious Russians had looted and destroyed the area, they withdrew again, as Sheremetyev attacked Charles XII. feared who was staying in Courland with a strong army . From a Swedish point of view, the unequal balance of power made a successful defense of Livonia appear increasingly unlikely, especially since the previous disdain for the Russians after their recent victory hardly seemed justified. Nevertheless, Karl refused to return to Livonia and only sent a few supplementary troops.
When Karl marched from Warsaw to Krakow in the summer campaign of 1702, thereby exposing the northern theater of war, Peter saw the opportunity again for an incursion. From Pskov an army of 30,000 men crossed the Swedish-Russian border and reached Erastfer on July 16. There, on July 19, the Russian army achieved decisive victories against the Swedes, numbering around 6,000 men, in the battle at Hummelshof (or Hummelsdorf), near Dorpat and at Marienburg in Livonia, with 840 dead and 1,000 prisoners in the battle itself, according to Swedish sources and 1,000 more suffered during the subsequent Russian persecution. The battle marked the end of the Livonian army and the starting point for the Russian conquest of Livonia. Since the remaining Swedish forces were too weak to oppose the Russians in an open field battle, Wolmar and Marienburg as well as the rural areas of Livonia fell into Russian hands in August. Extensive devastation and destruction of Livonia followed. After the looting, the Russian army withdrew to Pskov without occupying the conquered area.
Conquest of the Newaumland and Ingermanland
Since the Livonian army was de facto annihilated, Peter was able to set about creating the territorial prerequisites for his actual war goal, the establishment of a Baltic port. After the victorious campaign, Field Marshal Boris Sheremetyev led the Russian army northwards towards Lake Ladoga and Newaumland , as the Baltic Sea came closest to Russian territory there and appeared suitable for the construction of a port. This area was secured by the Swedish fortresses Nöteborg and Kexholm and a small navy on Lake Ladoga, which had hitherto prevented all Russian advances. In order to counter this threat, Peter I had a shipyard built on the southeastern beach section of Lake Ladoga near Olonetz , which subsequently built a small Russian navy. With it the Swedish ships could be pushed back to the fortress Vyborg and further actions of the Swedes on the lake could be prevented. Then the Russians turned against the fortress Nöteborg, which was on an island in the Neva at the mouth of Lake Ladoga and protected the river and the lake. At the end of September, the siege of Nöteborg by a 14,000-strong Russian army led by Field Marshal Sheremetyev began. The Swedes tried to relieve the fortress from Finland, but a 400-strong Swedish reinforcement was repulsed by the besiegers. On October 11, 1702, the Russians captured the citadel, which was last held by only 250 men. By taking Nöteborg, Peter now controlled Lake Ladoga, the Neva, the Gulf of Finland and Ingermanland. Because of the strategic importance of the fortress, the Tsar changed its name to Shlisselburg .
Peters' next step was the siege of Nyenschanz in March 1703 , a viable trading center and strategically important point at the mouth of the Neva in the Gulf of Finland . 20,000 Russian soldiers attacked the Swedish fortress. They began the siege and bombing of the fortress. On May 4th, Boris Sheremetyev's troops, with the help of the new Russian Navy , captured the fortress, which was occupied by 600 men. On May 18, Russia achieved its first victory at sea. Eight Russian rowing boats under the command of Peter I managed to defeat two Swedish ships in a naval battle at the mouth of the Neva .
Since the Neva was now completely controlled by Russian forces, Tsar Peter began building a fortified city in the swampy river delta in 1703, which was to become the new Russian capital in 1711 under the name of Saint Petersburg . The new city, however, needed protection. The occupation and fortification of Kotlin and, opposite in the sea, the building of Kronstadt made it impossible for the deep Swedish warships to penetrate from the sea. At the same time, the tsar had the fleet enlarged in order to be superior to the Swedes at sea. As early as the spring of 1704, Russia had a war fleet of 40 ships in the Baltic Sea.
The rest of Ingermanland including Jaama and Koporje could also be occupied by the Russians within a few weeks after the capture of Nyenschantz by a Russian infantry command under Major General Nikolai von Werdin, as the Swedes did not have any significant troops or fortresses there. In the north in particular, the Finnish fortresses Viborg (Viipuri) and Kexholm (Käkisalmi) were too close to the conquered areas. In July 1703, therefore, the first Russian attack on Finland took place, with the Viborg fortress as its target. This should be attacked on the sea side by the rowing fleet, on the land side by a siege corps under Menshikov. On the way, a Swedish-Finnish contingent opposed the Russian forces at Sestrorezk (→ Battle of Systerbäck ), which, however, had to retreat to Vyborg after eventful battles. However, for fear of a landing by Swedish forces, the siege plans were abandoned and the Russian forces were ordered back.
After the return of the Russian corps from Finland, Peter had it marched to Livonia and Estonia to support the beleaguered Polish King August II. Instead of besieging the sparsely occupied fortresses of the Swedes, the Russians contented themselves with devastating the country.
Consolidation of the Russian position in the Baltic States
Even after the Russian successes in the Neva area, Karl was not prepared to reinforce the Livonian armed forces or to intervene personally in this theater of war, although at the beginning of 1704 he had moved into winter quarters in nearby West Prussia. On his orders, all levies on the Swedish heartland had to be carried out to Poland, and in July 1704 the King of Sweden bared Livonia even further when he moved to Warsaw with 30,000 men to secure the election of his favorite as Polish king.
The fleet armored by Peter I, which was directed against Swedish merchant shipping, was also only allowed to be fought by a few frigates. To disrupt the Russians' plans for a new Baltic port, a small Swedish fleet with a ship of the line, five frigates and five brigantines sailed to the Gulf of Finland after the winter , with the order to destroy the Russian fleet and the new city in the Neva Destroying swamps. An attack on land and at sea was to be carried out with 1000 men reinforcement from Viborg. After an initially successful landing on the fortified island of Kronstadt , the venture had to be abandoned due to stubborn resistance, and the fleet sailed back.
Further battles were fought on Lake Peipus , the control of which was a prerequisite for the conquest of Livonia. At first the Swedes dominated here, who had 14 boats with 98 cannons. To counter this, the Russians built a number of boats during the winter months of 1703/04. At the beginning of May 1704, during the battle on the Embach , the Swedish fleet was completely destroyed. By controlling the lake, the Russian armed forces could now also be supplied via the inland waters for the further conquest expeditions.
As early as the summer of 1704, a Russian army under the command of Field Marshal Georg Benedikt von Ogilvy (1651–1710) was sent from Ingermanland to conquer Narva . At the same time another army advanced against Dorpat . The aim of these operations was the capture of these important border fortresses in order to protect the Ingermanland conquered in the previous year with the planned capital and to conquer Livonia . A Swedish relief attempt under Schlippenbach with 1,800 remaining soldiers failed with the loss of the entire armed force. Dorpat was included in early June, and on July 14, 1704, the city fell into Russian hands. As early as April, Narva was surrounded by 20,000 Russians in the presence of Peter I. Three weeks after Dorpat, this fortress also fell on August 9th after a violent assault and heavy fighting in the city. 1,725 Swedes were captured in the conquest of Narwas.
Unsuccessful Swedish attacks on St. Petersburg
After the successes of previous years, Russia remained on the defensive in 1705 and concentrated on securing the conquests. The Swedes, on the other hand, went on the offensive after being startled by the rapid progress in the construction of St. Petersburg. To this end, 6,000 recruits were sent to the Baltic provinces to reinforce the armed forces. A first attack by Swedish troops against the newly fortified Kronstadt in January 1705 was essentially unsuccessful. In the spring a fleet of 20 warships sailed from Karlskrona to Viborg and then to Kronstadt. The landing company failed as in the previous year, with the Swedes claiming several hundred deaths. A third attempt to land on Kronstadt failed on July 15 with the loss of 600 Swedes. Until December, the Swedish squadron crossed the Gulf of Finland and stopped trade in goods. However, there was already a disagreement among the regional Swedish commanders, who tended to go it alone, which the Russians were able to ward off without much effort.
In 1706 there was only a few fighting in the Swedish Baltic provinces. In the first half of the year, the Russian troops were deployed on the Polish theater of war to support the hard-pressed King August II and Charles XII. tie in Poland. In the north, Peter I therefore remained defensive. The Swedish forces were not strong enough for offensive ventures. In addition to a few forays into Russia, another naval advance with 14 warships to St. Petersburg was undertaken, but again remained unsuccessful. Vyborg, from where Petersburg had been attacked several times, was briefly besieged from October 11, 1706 by a 20,000-strong Russian army, which, however, was also unsuccessful. Nevertheless, in 1707 only a few main towns and fortresses in the Baltic States were still in Swedish hands, including Riga , Pernau , Arensburg and Reval . The anticipated attack by Charles on Russia, however, led to a pause in this theater of war.
The Russian victories had always been ensured by a clear numerical superiority. The tactic focused on the enemy's weak points with attacks on isolated Swedish fortresses with small garrisons. In the beginning, the Russian army avoided attacking larger fortresses. The planned use of scorched earth tactics was a hallmark of warfare on the part of the Russians. Their goal was to make the Baltic region unsuitable as a Swedish base for further operations . Numerous residents were abducted by the Russian army. Many of them ended up as serfs on the estates of high Russian officers or were sold as slaves to the Tatars or the Ottomans . The Russian army had gained self-confidence through the successful missions in the Baltic States. They proved that the tsarist army had developed effectively in a few years.
The turn of the war (1708–1709)
With the peace of Altranstädt it was Karl XII. after six long years of war, he succeeded in persuading August II to renounce the Polish throne. However, the success was marred by the fact that the Swedish Baltic provinces were now majority in Russian ownership. In addition, a Russian army had marched into western Poland in 1706 and was occupying it. During his march to Saxony, Karl had promised the concerned Western European great powers not to interfere with his army in the War of the Spanish Succession, but to turn to the East again. Tsar Peter, Charles's last opponent, should therefore be eliminated by a direct campaign on his capital Moscow. However, this turned out to be extremely unfavorable for the Swedes, as the Russian armed forces consistently used the scorched earth tactic and thus prepared the Swedish army in need of supplies. Karl tried to counter these difficulties by taking a train to the Ukraine in order to attack Moscow from the south. In 1709 he suffered a decisive defeat at Poltava , which meant the end of the Swedish army in Russia. At the news of the defeat of the Swedish king, who had been practically undefeated, Denmark and Saxony entered the war again, while Karl, cut off from his motherland, fled south to the Ottoman Empire, where he was forcibly exiled for the next few years. However, a direct invasion of Denmark in southern Sweden failed, preventing a quick Allied victory and prolonging the war.
The Russian campaign of Charles XII.
The main goals of Charles after the Peace of Altranstädt were to liberate the occupied territories in the Swedish Baltic Sea provinces and to make a lasting peace that secured Sweden's position as a great power. Therefore, in February, June and August 1707 in Altranstädt, he turned down several offers of peace by the Tsar because he considered them to be a deception and only wanted to make peace with Peter I on his own terms. In fact, Russia was ready for peace and would have been satisfied with Ingrianland . The Swedish king forced him to continue the war.
Charles XII. hoped to achieve his war aims without turning the Swedish Baltic provinces into a battlefield. For this reason, an advance on St. Petersburg was ruled out from the outset. Instead, Karl wanted to maneuver the Russian army out of Poland in order to avoid further devastation of the country, which was now allied with Sweden. From the Russian border the Swedish army was to advance directly towards Moscow, while at the same time the allied Ottomans were launching an attack on the Russian southern border.
In September 1707 the long-prepared campaign against Russia began. The main Swedish army consisted of 36,000 experienced and well-rested soldiers, newly dressed and armed with new weapons. The Swedish war chest had grown by several million thalers. The advance should be made by direct route through Smolensk . On the Russian side, it was hoped that Menshikov's army, which was still in Poland, could hold off Charles's advance long enough for Tsar Peter to organize the defense along the Russian border. However, it was not intended to hold Poland. Instead, the retreating Russian Army of Menshikov was supposed to apply the scorched earth policy , thereby depriving the advancing Swedish army of the basis of supply. On September 7, 1707 it crossed the Polish border at Steinau an der Oder . Menshikov's army avoided battle and withdrew from the western part of Poland towards the east behind the Vistula. As they retreated, Menshikov had villages along the way burned, wells poisoned and all storage facilities destroyed. At the end of October 1707, because of the mud period that began in autumn, Karl had his army held east of Posen , where new recruits increased the Swedish armed forces to a strength of 44,000 men. After the frost had made the roads passable again and the rivers frozen over, the Swedish army crossed the frozen Vistula in the last days of 1707 after a four-month break . Menshikov avoided a confrontation and withdrew further. Instead of following the trail devastated by the Russian army, the Swedes marched through the impassable Masuria , thereby bypassing the prepared defensive lines of the Russians.
The direct advance on Moscow fails
In mid-January 1708 the Swedish army left Masuria behind and reached Grodno on January 28, 1708 . Tsar Peter, who met Menshikov not far from the city, considered the strength of the Russian army to be too weak to be able to stop the Swedish army there and ordered the further retreat to the Lithuanian-Russian border. The Swedish advance lasted until the beginning of February, until the army of Charles XII. moved to winter storage near the Lithuanian town of Smorgon . During this stay, Karl met with General Lewenhaupt. The effects of the Russian tactics were already noticeable in the lack of supplies, which jeopardized the further advance. So Karl and Lewenhaupt agreed that the latter, with the 12,000-strong Livonian army and a supply train, should not join Charles's main army until the middle of the year. The supply shortages forced the Swedish army to move to Radovskoviche near Minsk in mid-March , where the supply situation was less precarious. The army stayed there for another three months to prepare for the upcoming campaign. In order to support the Polish King Stanislaus I. Leszczyński during the absence of Charles, 5,000 men were posted and sent back, so that the army was reduced to 38,000 men. The Swedish army was now divided between Grodno and Radovskoviche, while the 50,000-strong Russian army had formed itself along the line from Polotsk on the Daugava to Mogilew on the Dnieper . In addition to the protection of Moscow by Sheremetev, the Russian army also sought to counter a possible threat to St. Petersburg, which led to a greater division of forces. A suggestion made by his advisor Carl Piper to direct the advance on St. Petersburg and thus secure the Livonian provinces, Karl rejected and decided to continue the march on Moscow. After the beginning of the summer campaign on June 1st, the Swedish army crossed the Berezina on June 18th . The Russian forces were able to evade an attempt to bypass the Swedes and withdrew behind the next river barrier, the Drut . On June 30, Karl reached the Vabitch, a tributary of the Drut, near the village of Halowchyn. That was where the main line of defense of the Russian army was, and fighting broke out. In the Battle of Golovtschin on July 14, 1708, the Swedes defeated the 39,000-strong Russian army under Sheremetev, who was able to withdraw his troops in good order. The victory is classified as the Pyrrhic victory of the Swedes, as many of the 1,000 wounded died due to inadequate medical care. The battle itself was not decisive, although the Swedes were able to overcome the north-south river barriers and the way to Moscow was open.
In order to await the arrival of General Lewenhaupt with reinforcements from Livonia and the urgently needed supply trains, Karl had the advance of the main Swedish army stopped at Mogilew . Lewenhaupt had actually set out from Riga at the end of June with 13,000 reinforcements and 16 cannons, but bad weather delayed his advance. When the main Swedish army crossed the Dnieper in the first week of August, Levenhaupt's army had still not arrived. Karl now marched southeast to attract the attention of the Russians and protect the supply army from attack. On August 21, the Swedes reached Chemikow on the Sosch River , where they paused for another week. When Karl directed his advance north again on August 23, the way to Smolensk was clear, as Peter I had left his position at Horki and followed him because of this advance .
Peter I had to march north again to block the Swedish advance. When the Swedes reached Molyatichi , they found a considerable number of Russian army forces blocking the way to Smolensk. In the following battle , the defeated Russians had to take 700 dead compared to the 300 dead of the Swedes again higher losses. A possible battle with the Russian main army did not take place because the Russians withdrew when Karl brought in reinforcements. The meeting at Malatitze was important, however, because the Russians there finally demonstrated their increased morale and combat skills. The tsar's troops had meanwhile reached at least the level of the Saxons, as a Swedish commander noted after the battle:
"The Swedes have to admit to the Muscovites that they have learned their lesson, much better than they did in the battles near Narwa or Fraustadt, and that they are equal, if not superior, to the Saxons in terms of discipline and courage"
The Swedish supply army is destroyed
Peter kept his strategy of not engaging in a decisive battle; his army withdrew into the woods. On September 4, Karl continued his advance and reached Tatarsk and Starishi . There, however, he had to admit his hopeless situation when the food supply reached a critical point and scouts reported that nothing lay ahead of them but devastated land. The desertions increased, and news of Lewenhaupt supply column were still unavailable. Finally the Swedish king decided to break off the march on Moscow. His main objective now was to keep his army alive, and so on September 15th he turned south to the regions not yet devastated.
When Karl left Tatarsk in mid-September, Levenhaupt's supply army was still 80 miles from the main Swedish army. Peter planned to take advantage of the gap between the two armies and put General Sheremetev in command of the main Russian army, which was to follow Charles's army. Together with his closest confidante Menshikov, whom he had made Duke of Ingermanland after the victory of Kalisch, the Tsar himself took command of ten battalions of his most experienced infantry, ten regiments of dragoons and four batteries of mounted artillery, a total of 11,625 men. Lewenhaupt's troops consisted of 7,500 infantry and 5,000 riders who accompanied a supply train with almost 1,000 wagons. Lewenhaupt reached the Dnieper on September 18 . The crossing over the river dragged on for a whole week, during which the Russians approached the Swedes in order to finally take up the chase. On September 27, the Swedes were caught near Lesnaya village . In the Battle of Lesnaya they lost their entire supply train, as well as 607 horsemen, 751 dragoons and 4,449 infantry men, of which 3,000 men were captured. Lewenhaupt led the remaining remnants to the Swedish main army ten days later, and so the king received quite different news of his supply train on October 6th than he had hoped.
Far away from this, another Swedish advance was repulsed by Russian forces at the same time. A Swedish force of 12,000 men was to conquer Ingermanland from Finland and burn down the new Russian city of Saint Petersburg . Due to the strong defense of the city, however, the Swedes had to give up the plan and retreat to Vyborg with the loss of 3,000 men .
Charles XII. moves south to Ukraine
The aim of Charles XII, to march from Severien along the road from Kaluga to Moscow, as soon as the army's supply situation had improved, was no longer achievable due to the disaster at Lesnaya. Karl therefore resorted to a new strategy: he had been in contact with the hetman of the Ukrainian Cossacks , Ivan Masepa, for a long time . The Bulavin uprising of the Cossacks and peasants broke out in the Don region in the autumn of 1707 ; it was directed against the tsarist rule and was rigorously suppressed by Peter I. Masepa had fallen out of favor with the Tsar; he considered this to be Russia's violation of the Treaty of Pereyaslav . Since then he has been looking for a way to free Ukraine from Russian embrace. He also promised the King of Sweden that he would support him with an army of 100,000 men when the Swedes advanced into the Ukraine. Charles XII. then marched against the advice of his generals in Ukraine. But the expected reinforcement by the Cossacks did not materialize; the Russians had dispatched an army under General Menshikov, whose troops occupied Masepa's capital Baturyn and killed many of his supporters without reading a bunch, with 6,000 to 7,500 civilian casualties. Masepa was only able to provide a small number of the men that had been promised, initially 3,000 and later 15,000 men. Karl spent the winter in Ukraine, still confident of achieving his goals for the next year. On December 23, a Russian battalion at Weprik am Psel , which was able to withstand the attackers until January 7, opposed the Swedes. At the end of January 1709 he continued his march south. However, the winter of 1708/09 , the hardest of the century, was devastating for the Swedes.
The Poltava disaster
At the beginning of the spring of 1709, fewer than 30,000 men with few cannons, almost half of the Swedish army, were ready for action in Russia. The soldiers recruited in Germany in particular had not been able to cope with the cold. They were supported by the associations of the Zaporozhian Cossacks , who forced Tsar Peter to divide his forces. Despite the tense supply situation, Karl decided to besiege the city of Poltava , a supply base with large stocks of gunpowder and other supplies. He blocked the city in early April 1709 with 8,000 of his soldiers, expecting a quick surrender. However, the Russian garrison under Colonel A. Kelin was supported by Ukrainian Cossacks and the local population and held out for 87 days. After Tsar Peter had defeated the Zaporozhian Cossacks, he and his 60,000-strong army turned to Poltava to relieve the besieged city. They crossed the Worskla River and set up a fortified camp a few kilometers north of the city. When the Russian command learned of the difficult situation of the Swedish army, the tsar gave up his evasive policy. Charles XII., Who died on June 28th . had been wounded during a reconnaissance, decided to forestall the impending attack by attacking the fortified camp. In order to concentrate all forces on this task, Lewenhaupt demanded the siege be abandoned, but the king refused and allowed Poltava to be besieged further. In the actual battle, therefore, only 20,000 men were deployed under Field Marshal Rehnskiöld. Since there was a lack of gunpowder, the soldiers had to go into battle with bayonets attached and mostly unloaded muskets. Only 4 out of 32 cannons could be used for the attack. So it happened on July 8th, 1709 greg. in Ukraine for the decisive battle at Poltava . A surprise attack was supposed to throw the Russians into confusion and disintegration. But after the Swedish attack had only very limited successes, the Russians took part in open battle, in which they inflicted a devastating defeat on the Swedes thanks to their superior strength. Many Swedish officers, including Field Marshal Rehnskiöld, were taken prisoner by the Russians.
After the battle, the returning army, which only consisted of around 15,000 men and 6,000 Cossacks, gathered in the camp near Pushkariwka. After a reorganization and refreshment, the army was to be returned to Poland on a southern line of retreat through Ottoman territory. On the day of the battle, the soldiers marched south along the Worskla. On July 10, the army arrived at Perevolochna at the confluence of the Vorerskla and Dnepr rivers . It was found that there were no bridges or fords there and the few boats available were insufficient to evacuate the entire Swedish army.
The Swedish headquarters now decided that the wounded and an escort from Sweden and Cossacks should cross the Dnepr and move to Ottoman territory. The army, on the other hand, was supposed to march back on the Worskla, swing south to the Crimea and meet the king there again. On the night of June 30th, Jul. / July 11, 1709 greg. put the king with Ivan Masepa , his companion Kost Hordijenko as well as 900 Swedes and 2,000 Cossacks across the river. The army, now under the command of General Lewenhaupt, prepared to leave for the following morning. At eight o'clock, however, a Russian unit of 6,000 dragoons and 3,000 Kalmyks arrived under the Menshikov, who was still promoted to field marshal on the Poltava battlefield. Lewenhaupt immediately started negotiations and an agreement was reached on a surrender, although the Swedes were numerically almost double the number of the opposing Russian troops. On the morning of June 30th, Jul. / July 11th greg. at 11 a.m. the Swedish army surrendered with around 14,000 soldiers, 34 guns and 264 flags. Most of the remaining Cossacks fled on horseback to avoid punishment as traitors. In total, almost 30,000 Swedes were taken prisoner by Russia in Poltava, including 2,300 officers. Only the most distinguished were allowed to live in Moscow, such as General Lewenhaupt and State Councilor Piper, who never saw their homeland again.
The troops around King Karl reached the Bug on July 17th, where the Pasha von Ochakov gave permission to enter the Ottoman Empire . A rearguard of 600 men could not make the transition and was overtaken by 6,000 Russian horsemen north of the Bug and killed. Charles's campaign in Russia thus ended with a catastrophic defeat, which was the decisive turning point in the entire war.
Renewal of the Nordic Alliance
After the defeat at Poltava, the Swedish heartland was largely bared from the protection of its own troops. In addition, the Swedish king was thousands of kilometers away from his kingdom. Under these favorable conditions, the former allies renewed the old alliances.
Even before the Battle of Poltava, the Electorate of Saxony had revived its alliance with Denmark on June 28, 1709 in Dresden . At the meeting of the Three Kings in Potsdam and Berlin, August the Strong and the Danish monarch Frederick IV courted the Prussian King Frederick I at the same time as the decision in the Ukraine in July 1709 , who, however, resigned himself due to the burdens in the War of the Spanish Succession and in memory of earlier neutrality agreements with Sweden could not get through to join the alliance.
After the Russian army marched into Poland and Peter I negotiated with his former ally, the Elector of Saxony terminated the peace between Altranstädt and Sweden in August . On August 20, 1709, Saxon troops invaded Poland again. The weak Swedish troops under the command of General Krassow withdrew with 9,000 men to Stettin and Stralsund in Swedish Pomerania . The Polish King Stanislaus I. Leszczynski, enthroned by the Swedes, fled to Stockholm via Stettin and Kristianstad . Tsar Peter I had the Swedish troops pursued as far as Pomerania by a Russian detachment under the command of Menshikov. Poland's role as a belligerent power had diminished steadily since the beginning of the war. In the following years, the country only had a subordinate function, as August II failed to strengthen the power of the monarchy. The re-establishment of the royal dignity for August could only take place with Russian assistance. This was a symbol of the increasing foreign control and external control of the Polish republic.
On October 7, 1709, the anti-Swedish Saxon-Russian alliance was renewed in the Treaty of Thorn . At Jarosław the Danish-Russian assistance pact followed on June 10, 1710. After King Charles XII. refused peace negotiations again from his exile in the Ottoman Empire, Denmark and Russia agreed a plan to threaten the Swedish capital Stockholm in order to force their opponents to peace. In the following years, however, there were only joint Allied actions on the theater of war in northern Germany, while the fighting in Finland and in the northern Baltic Sea was largely fought by Russia alone.
The Danish invasion of Skåne
The joint Danish-Russian plan of attack envisaged a pincer movement on two opposing routes of conquest. The Danish advance on Stockholm was to lead through southern Sweden, while Russia, after conquering Finland and the Aland Islands, intended to advance its attack from the seaside. The southern route of attack was viewed by the Allies as the more important and primarily pursued. In the late autumn of 1709, the Danes began preparations for the invasion of Skåne and gathered a large fleet on the Øresund . On November 1st, Jul. / November 12th greg. / November 2, 1709 in Sweden , the invasion force landed at the fishing village of Råå . The Swedish side offered almost no resistance there. Although the Swedish army had started recruiting new soldiers shortly after Poltava, the Swedish commander Magnus Stenbock was only able to present a single combat-ready Skåne regiment in the late summer of 1709. Since a counterattack seemed pointless, they withdrew to Småland . In December Denmark controlled almost all of central Skåne with the exception of Malmö and Landskrona . The aim of the Danish war planning was to capture the Swedish naval base in Karlskrona . The Danish army defeated a smaller Swedish unit at Kristianstad in January 1710 .
Magnus Stenbock meanwhile worked to strengthen the Swedish army. Several new regiments gathered near Växjö , where the inexperienced troops practiced fighting techniques on the ice of a frozen lake. Until February 4th jul. / February 15, greg. On February 5th, 1710 in Sweden , Stenbock's troops had moved to Osby , where other associations joined them. The Swedish forces in southern Sweden now numbered 16,000 men. Helsingborg was, in Stenbock's opinion, the key to Skåne, and so the army marched south to cut off the Danish supply lines. In the battle of Helsingborg the decision was made in favor of the Swedes. After their defeat, the remnants of the Danish army holed up behind the ramparts of the city. Since their own strength was insufficient in view of the fortified position of the Danes, the Swedish War Council decided not to launch an assault and Magnus Stenbock ordered the siege of Helsingborg. On March 4th jul. / March 15, Greg. / March 5, 1710 Swed. Were the Danish associations so far weakened that they left Scania and embarked to Denmark. The company had failed and the original war plan could no longer be fulfilled. The Danish losses in the failed invasion attempt were devastating. Over 7,500 men were killed, wounded or taken prisoner. The Swedish side had about 2,800 dead or wounded.
A meeting of the Swedish fleet under sergeants and the Danish fleet under Ulrik Christian Gyldenløve in October 1710 in the Køgebucht ended with an advantage for the Danes.
Russian offensives in the east (1710-1714)
After the turn of the war, the allies had agreed on the further attacks against Sweden. After Denmark suffered a heavy defeat in the hasty invasion of southern Sweden, it concentrated, along with Russia and Saxony, on conquering the Swedish possessions in northern Germany. At the same time Russia attacked the last possessions in the Swedish Baltic provinces. The declaration of war by the Ottoman Empire initially delayed further offensive undertakings against Sweden. Tsar Peter I suffered a defeat against the Ottomans, but was able to resume the war against Sweden in 1713 and conquer all of Finland by 1714. The Russian naval construction program resulted in the gain of naval supremacy in the Baltic Sea, which left the Swedish coast defenseless against Russian attacks in the years that followed.
Complete conquest of Livonia and Estonia
While Charles XII. negotiated with the Sultan about the entry of the Ottoman Empire into the war, Tsar Peter completed the conquest of Livonia and Estonia. The Russians seized Vyborg in June 1710 , and on July 4, 1710, Riga surrendered after a long siege by the troops of Field Marshal Boris Petrovich Sheremetyev . On August 14, 1710, after a brief siege, Pernau surrendered . After the capitulation of Arensburg and the conquest of the island of Ösel by the Russians, Reval (today's Estonian capital Tallinn) was the last fortress Sweden claimed in Livonia. After the Russian campaign through Livonia in the late summer of 1704, the fortifications were extensively renewed and expanded, and the garrison was increased to almost 4,000 men. The siege of the city by Russian troops began in mid-August 1710. At the beginning of August the plague broke out, the spread of which was accelerated by the influx of refugees and the resulting overpopulation. The situation deteriorated so much that the Swedish leadership finally signed the surrender on September 29 and left the city to the Russian commander Fyodor Matveyevich Apraxin .
Under the command of Roman Bruce , a brother of General Feldzeugmeister Jacob Bruce , a contingent of Russian troops was sent from Vyborg to the other side of the Karelian Isthmus to capture the fortress of Kexholm on the north-west bank of Lake Ladoga. After more than two months of siege, the Swedish fortress Kexholm surrendered on September 19, 1710. This averted the danger of surprise attacks from the north for Petersburg. With the end of the campaign, the Russians received three seaworthy Baltic ports and a wide, heavily secured area surrounding St. Petersburg, which was declared the new capital of the Russian Empire. Subsequently, Russia's attention shifted south for some time due to the war against the Ottoman Empire.
The war against the Ottomans
Tsar Peter's great victory at Poltava and his subsequent conquests in the Baltic States were followed with suspicion, especially at the court of the Sultan, where apart from Masepa and Charles XII. The Crimean Khan Devlet II Giray also urged countermeasures. Peter sent his ambassador Peter Tolstoy to Istanbul and demanded the extradition of Charles, but this was refused. When Tsar Peter emphatically demanded a decision by the Sublime Porte on war or peace, Sultan Ahmed III. throw the ambassador in jail in response. After Devlet II Giray invaded Ukraine in January 1711 with over 80,000 Tatars , supported by 10,000 pro-Swedish Ukrainian Cossacks , more than 4,000 Poles and 700 Swedes, Peter I declared on February 25 in the Uspensky Cathedral in Moscow Kremlin waging war against the Ottoman Empire. On March 8, 1711, the Ottomans declared war on the Russian monarch. This created a dangerous situation for Tsar Peter, which could call the success at Poltava into question, since he was now in a two-front war and could hardly expect any effective help from his allies.
For this reason, Peter I sought the decision on the offensive and invaded the Ottoman Empire with his army across the Dniester . He hoped for an uprising by the Orthodox Christians in the Balkans , which would prevent the Ottoman troops from crossing the Danube. This uprising, which had been promised to him by the Moldovan Prince Dimitrie Cantemir , did not materialize. On July 5, 1711, the Tsar, weakened by a serious illness, reached Jassy . On July 17, the vanguard reported the advance of the Ottoman Grand Vizier Baltaji Mehmed Pasha . The entire Russian army now rushed back to the Prut and was constantly involved in retreat skirmishes. When the 38,000 Russians holed up near Huși , a small town on the Prut, on July 19, they were surrounded by Ottoman troops, which were several times superior. Peter was now at the mercy or disfavor of the Grand Vizier, who, however, renounced the possible starvation of the Russians and instead accepted the tsar's offer of peace, who apparently helped by paying 250,000 rubles in order to receive an honorable deduction. In the Peace of the Prut , Russia ceded the Azov fortress, which had been conquered in 1696, to the Ottoman Empire and committed itself to withdrawing from the Cossack territories. Charles XII. remained in the Ottoman Empire and tried two more times in November 1711 and November 1712 unsuccessfully to persuade the Sultan to go to war against Russia. The Hohe Pforte, however, had no financial means for further warlike endeavors. The peace of Adrianople of June 24th 1713, mediated by the sea powers, cleared the remaining differences between Russia and the Ottoman Empire.
Conquest of Finland
After the unsuccessful campaign on the Prut, Tsar Peter turned back to the theater of war on the Baltic Sea to increase the pressure on Stockholm. After overcoming some logistical problems, the long-planned invasion of Finland began in the spring of 1713. For the campaign in Finland, a cooperation between the army and the navy was planned. To this end, the expansion of the Russian fleet was accelerated. In 1713, 13 large warships and frigates were available, and more ships were bought in the Netherlands and England. However, special attention was paid to the construction of smaller ships. The galley fleet was given a fixed structure: three divisions of 50 ships each with 5400 marines were formed . Tsar Peter I had meanwhile left the siege of Tönning on February 14, 1713 and reached St. Petersburg on March 22. The upgraded Russian fleet, a total of 204 ships with 16,000 men, left Petersburg at the end of April and landed near Helsingfors on May 10 . The Swedish commander there, Georg Lybecker , did not wait for the bombardment of the invasion force, but burned the city and, after evacuating the Finnish capital Åbo (Turku) from the Russian persecutors, withdrew to the east with the 3300-strong Swedish garrison , back to Borgå, (Finnish Porvoo) , where a 15,000-strong Swedish corps stood. The Russian galley fleet then prepared an attack on Borgå. On the evening of May 22nd, Russian marines landed unhindered near this city. Meanwhile, a Swedish squadron under Vice Admiral Lillie had appeared off Helsingfors. The Swedes avoided a battle. In pursuit of them, three Russian ships of the line ran aground, but two could be made afloat again, and the third had to be burned. The Russians wrongly blamed Vice-Admiral Cornelius Cruys , of Dutch and Norwegian descent . The Russian seafarers were not yet able to master the difficult maneuvering of large warships in the difficult fairway of the Gulf of Finland with its sandbanks, skerries and islands. The large warships were therefore sent back to St. Petersburg, while the more agile galley fleet remained in the Borgå area.
Before Tsar Peter, who attended the operation as rear admiral, returned to Russia in September, he transferred command of the fleet to Fyodor Matveyevich Apraxin . With the Swedes, the unsuccessful Lybecker was replaced by General Carl Gustaf Armfeldt in August 1713 . Lybecker had left behind a poorly equipped, starving and demoralized army, in which the main problem was reconnaissance, as the cavalry was no longer able to perform such tasks. When the Russian general Mikhail Golitsyn marched on Ostrobothnia in February 1714 , Armfeldt placed his forces in a defensive position near the village of Napo, east of Vaasa . After the Russian victory in the Battle of Storkyro on February 19, the entire Swedish army in Finland was destroyed.
Russia wins maritime domination in the Baltic Sea
Sea supremacy in the northern Baltic Sea was a prerequisite for the threat to Stockholm. On land, the Russian armed forces were superior to the Swedish. On the water, however, the Swedes dominated with their large ships of the line that could carry many guns. The only chance the Russian fleet had of victory was a battle near the coast. Using all means, the tsar doubled his Baltic fleet and placed the ships under the command of experienced Venetians and Greeks. At the end of May 1714, Admiral Apraxin set sail from Kronstadt with the task of covering the further advance in Finland and landing on Åland . In August 1714, the two fleets faced each other near the Hanko Peninsula. After Peter I personally brought in additional reinforcements from the Baltic States, the Russian galleys fought their way through the Swedish gunfire during a persistent doldrums and boarded the immobile Swedish ships. Then the Russians landed on the Åland Islands. The Russian fleet thus ruled the northern Baltic Sea.
The naval victory of Hanko was of strategic importance. The Swedish ships used in the Gulf of Finland withdrew. The Åland Islands were taken without a fight in August 1714. In addition, the victory also secured the conquest of southern Finland, which was completed with the capture of the city of Nyslott (Savonlinna) on August 9th. The Gulf of Bothnia was now open to Russian ships . Even attacks against the Swedish heartland were now possible and measures were taken in Stockholm to defend against attacks at sea. In autumn 1714, Russian troops landed directly on Swedish territory near Umeå for the first time , the city was abandoned by the garrison after a brief battle. After the destruction of important military and economic facilities, the Russians withdrew to Finland again in October. Prince Golitsyn was appointed governor of Finland. The time of the Russian occupation between 1713 and 1721 went down in Finnish history as a time of great strife .
Battle for the Swedish possessions in Northern Germany (1711–1715)
While Russia had conquered the remaining Swedish fortresses in Livonia and Estonia in 1710 and 1711 and also brought all of Finland under its control in the following years, conquering the Swedish possessions in northern Germany was much more difficult. The reason for this was the strong fortifications in Wismar , Stralsund and Stettin . In addition, the Swedes ruled the southern Baltic Sea and were able to land supplies and fresh troops several times in order to thwart the siege efforts of the Allies. The Danes, Russians and Saxons, for their part, had to walk long distances. Although the Allies made a coordinated, coordinated appearance on this scene for the first and only time, disagreements and mutual distrust delayed a more effective approach, so that it took them three attempts to capture the last Swedish bastions in Swedish Pomerania. It was not until Hanover and Prussia entered the war in 1715 that the coalition finally gained the military upper hand.
Siege of Wismar and Stralsund in vain
After the failed invasion attempt in Skåne in 1710, Denmark's war efforts shifted to northern Germany in the following year. Originally the Danish King Frederick IV had planned another attack on Sweden from Zealand , but the plague on the island prevented the implementation. Therefore, he decided to concentrate his further war efforts on the Swedish possessions in northern Germany. The states of the Grand Alliance had a strong interest in keeping the war away from Germany. In the Hague concert on March 31, 1710, Emperor Joseph I von Habsburg established the neutrality of the Swedish and Danish possessions in Germany in agreement with Holland and England. But since Karl XII. protested against this contract, the Danes subsequently also failed to adhere to the agreement. A Danish army of 19,000 men gathered in Holstein and started the campaign in July. After a successful advance, the Wismar fortress was blocked by a Danish containment corps under Lieutenant General Schönfeld on August 17, 1711 . However, the allies of King Frederick IV, especially Augustus the Strong , were able to convince him to concentrate all efforts on conquering the more important Stralsund fortress . So the Danish army resumed its march through Mecklenburg , leaving only a weak observation and blockade corps in front of Wismar, which the Swedish enclave could not conquer. On August 29, 1711, Danish troops invaded for the first time under the command of their king near Damgarten in Swedish Pomerania. The Swedes had only 8,000 men there under Colonel Karl Gustav Düker . Russian troops under Field Marshal Menshikov and Saxon troops under General Flemming from Poland joined the Danes in early September 1711 . They had passed through the Brandenburg Neumark and the Uckermark and united with the Danish army before Stralsund. This was the first time that the members of the Northern Alliance were involved in a joint operation. The numerically inferior Swedes limited themselves to the defense of the two fortresses Stettin and Stralsund as well as the island of Rügen due to the opposing superiority .
From September 7, 1711, Stralsund was first sieged by the allied armies, which was followed by others in the following years. The crew of the Swedes consisted of 9,000 men under the command of Major General Ekeblad. The siege continued, however, because the Allied siege army lacked heavy artillery and food for the roughly 30,000-strong troop. The reason for this was coordination difficulties between the allies. It was not until the beginning of November that some ships with the requested artillery reached the siege army, which at that time was already suffering high losses due to illness and hunger. The Swedes still had naval control in the southern part of the Baltic Sea and were able to effectively relieve the besieged fortress from the naval base opposite in Karlskrona. On December 4, the Swedish fleet, consisting of 24 ships of the line and four frigates, set sail from Karlskrona with this order. On December 8, 1711, she set 6,000 Swedes ashore near Perth on Rügen in support of Stralsund. Frederick IV gave up hope of an early conquest and withdrew on January 7, 1712 with the remaining forces to Wismar and Mecklenburg. During the seventeen week siege of Stralsund he had lost more than a third of his troop strength. Before Wismar, the Danes succeeded in winning the battle near Lübow against a large-scale failure of the Swedish garrison. But after the fortress had received a further 2,000 men from Sweden from the seaside, the Danes also withdrew there to winter camps in Mecklenburg.
Conquest of Bremen-Verden
In the 1712 campaign season, Denmark concentrated on the Swedish imperial territory of Bremen-Verden , while Russia and Saxony attacked Swedish-Pomerania . In 1712 the 12,000-strong Danish army marched into the Swedish Duchy of Verden . This distant Swedish property was very poorly protected. In the main town of Stade , the Swedish governor Count Mauritz Vellingk had 2,200 men and an unreliable country militia . The mood of the local population was increasingly hostile to Sweden due to the years of recruitment , so that an uprising broke out that could only be suppressed by force of arms. Since the Elector of Hanover prevented the Danish army from marching through his country, the advancing Danes put their troops across the Elbe on July 31, 1712 with 150 ships near Brockdorf and Drochtersen . Buxtehude and the Schwingerschanze were no obstacles, and after Saxon artillery had arrived, the Danish army advanced in front of Stade. On September 6, 1712, the city was handed over to the Danes. On October 1, 1712, the Bremerland fell. All of Bremen-Verden was conquered by Denmark.
Ottersberg and Verden were occupied by Kurhannover , which did not want to allow itself to be cut off from the sea again by the Danish increase in power. It was therefore in Hanover's interest to register its claims to the entire area for later peace negotiations. The Hanoverian ruling dynasty of the Guelphs tried to persuade Denmark to renounce the duchies through diplomatic channels. In the lengthy negotiations that followed, no breakthrough could initially be achieved, as Denmark pushed for high financial compensation. Only when George I became King of England at the end of 1714 and had a great power with a strong navy behind him did the negotiations begin to move. Great Britain did not take part in the war directly, but it did help the Nordic allies indirectly through its naval presence in the Baltic Sea. When Prussia guaranteed Hanover the possession of Bremen-Verdens in an alliance agreement on April 27, 1715, Denmark could no longer refuse diplomatic pressure in the anti-Swedish coalition and ceded Bremen-Verden on May 2, 1715 in return for a Hanover compensation payment.
Swedish campaign to Holstein
Russia's war efforts in the campaign year 1712 were initially directed towards Szczecin, with whose conquest it was hoped that Prussia, who was interested in the mouth of the Oder , would enter the war against Sweden. To this end, the Russians gathered 40,000 men in front of the city in June 1712. Denmark wanted to support the attack by transferring its siege artillery; the Russian army was unable to take its own with it because of the long distance it had to travel to. Due to the delays in the transport of the Danish mortars and cannons, Field Marshal Menshikov lifted the blockade and moved on against Stralsund, for whose second siege 7,000 Saxons and 38,000 Russians were mobilized. In Sweden, meanwhile, new recruits had been made to carry the war on German and Polish soil and so relieve the beleaguered fortresses in Swedish Pomerania. On September 3, the Swedish fleet from Karlskrona left with 24 ships of the line , three frigates and 130 transport ships with 10,000 men. A few days later, Magnus Stenbock, promoted to field marshal, landed on Rügen with the Swedish army . However, the majority of the transport ships were destroyed by the Danish navy on September 28, 1712 (→ Battle of Rügen ), as the Swedish warships were outmaneuvered by the Danes and they left the unarmed transport fleet defenseless. Due to this loss, the supply of the Swedish troops landed was interrupted, and the planned second transport with a further 6,000 men, the artillery and the entourage could no longer take place. After the Swedish soldiers had recovered a little on Rügen, they were brought to Stralsund.
Due to the landing of the Swedish troops, the siege of Stralsund by the Allies had to be broken off again. But the city was not able to supply such a large army in the long term. Because repatriation was also impossible, Stenbock had to dare to break out in order to push the coalition associations back from Pomerania and to relocate the war to Mecklenburg and Holstein . Since the Saxon and Russian troops had dug trenches from Greifswald to Tribsees while Stralsund was blocked , a breakthrough for the Swedes in Pomerania was not possible and so Stenbock had to make his way through Mecklenburg. On November 2, he set out with 14,000 infantry and cavalry. The eruption led over the pass near Damgarten over the Recknitz to the Pomeranian border. On November 4th the whole Swedish army was on Mecklenburg soil. The Danish and Saxon troops standing there then withdrew. On November 5th, the Elector of Saxony, who had advanced to Tribsees and Sülze, had the situation explained to King Frederick IV of Denmark and asked for the troops to be united. However, this had become impossible due to the advance of the Swedes. The Swedish army moved on to Rostock and took the city because better communication with Wismar , Stralsund and Sweden was possible from there. The Saxon and Russian troops had followed Stenbock's movements and moved to Güstrow . During negotiations between the warring parties, a fortnightly ceasefire was agreed upon, which the Allies wanted to use to encircle the Swedish army and gain time, as the Danes were still behind in their advance.
Stenbock saw the need to attack the opponents individually before they could unite. Further reinforcements for the planned enterprise arrived from the garrison in Wismar. When Stenbock heard of the approach of the Danish army under Frederick IV, he decided to attack the Danish army first before it could unite with the Saxons and Russians. He therefore gave orders to march to Neukloster . After the campaign in Bremen-Verden and as a result of further losses through diseases and desertions, the Danish army consisted of only 17 battalions of infantry under nominal strength, 46 squadrons of cavalry and 17 pieces of light artillery , a total of around 15,000 men, 6,000 of them horsemen. The Danes expected Saxon reinforcements, but they did not arrive until after the battle began, with a strength of around 3,000 men.
In the following battle at Gadebusch , the Swedish army triumphed on December 20, 1712 against the allied Danes and Saxons, who lost 6,000 men and fled. However, the Swedish army also suffered heavy losses in the battle and continued to suffer from supply shortages. The Danish infantry had been dispersed, but was soon able to reorganize itself and remained operational despite the high losses. Field Marshal Stenbock therefore decided to march with his battered army to Holstein, as a better supply situation was to be expected there and Denmark could be put under further pressure. During the advance he had the city of Altona burned down in January 1713 in retaliation for the previous Danish attack on Stade. He then moved on to the Danish duchies of Schleswig and Holstein . However, the union of the Danes with the Saxons and Russians made the situation for the Swedish army in Holstein untenable. The Russian army had meanwhile caught up with the Swedes, and the Russian Tsar Peter I personally directed this undertaking. On January 31, 1713, Russian troops pushed the Swedish army into the Tönning fortress belonging to Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorf . Magnus Stenbock was surrounded there in February 1713 with 11,000 men by an overwhelming force of Danish, Russian and Saxon troops and, after a three-month siege , forced to surrender on May 16, 1713. The Swedish general spent the rest of his days in Danish fortress custody, where he worked as a miniature carver, whose inimitable filigree work is a technical riddle.
Conquest of Szczecin
Bremen-Verden, Stettin and the unprotected land in Swedish Pomerania were under Allied control at the beginning of 1713. At the same time, Russian forces took offensive action against Finland. With the loss of the field army under Stenbock, the remaining forces could not change the situation in Swedish Pomerania. The forces of the Swedish Empire were already too strained for that. Gottorf also seemed lost for Sweden. Even Prussia, which had hitherto kept out of the conflict, was only waiting for a favorable moment to enter the war. In order to save the German possessions for Sweden, diplomatic agreements were to be made with which the fate of Szczecin was to be placed in the hands of a third, neutral power. However, Sweden's assignment negotiations with Prussia failed. Instead, the new Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm I negotiated a cession of Szczecin with the Allies. After the siege of Tönning they marched unhindered from Holstein back to Pomerania. In retaliation for the destruction of Altona, Wolgast and Gartz were reduced to rubble and ashes. In August 1713, Russian and Saxon units under the leadership of Prince Menshikov began an attack on Szczecin, which had a garrison of 4,300 men. The city surrendered on September 19, 1713 after an eight-hour bombardment by the Saxon siege artillery had destroyed large parts. A few days after the handover, the Allies reached an agreement with Prussia in the Treaty of Schwedt , which was to take over the city as a neutral occupying power and was allowed to keep it in future against payment of 400,000 Reichstalers. After this sum had been paid, Prussian troops marched into Stettin on October 6, 1713. In June 1713 a Saxon army began the third siege of Stralsund. At the same time, a Saxon-Danish army landed on Rügen, but was unable to gain permanent ground there. Due to supply bottlenecks and coordination problems among the Allies, the siege of Stralsund was given up again in October.
The entry of Prussia and Hanover into the war
With the exception of Stralsund and the enclave of Wismar, Swedish Pomerania had now been completely conquered by the allied Danes, Russians and Saxons or occupied by Prussia as a neutral power. Prussia ended its policy of equalization between its opponents, which it had pursued for more than ten years, after Frederick I had signed the Treaty of Utrecht to end the War of the Spanish Succession. The Berlin leadership therefore seized the opportunity to intervene with the troops that had become free in the final phase of the Northern War in order to achieve the old goal of displacing Sweden from the southern Baltic coast.
After the death of the first Prussian king in February 1713, the new policy was also by his successor I. Friedrich Wilhelm continued. On June 22, 1713, he signed a treaty with Denmark, which provided for a joint occupation of Western Pomerania and Prussia held out the prospect of the part south of the Peene . On October 6, 1713, Russia and Prussia also agreed that Prussia should receive administration of the area up to the Peene (with Usedom and Wollin ). On June 12, 1714, they signed a contract that finally assured Prussia that it would acquire part of Western Pomerania. An alliance between Prussia and Hanover of April 27, 1714 served the same purpose. The circle of enemies of Charles XII. joined when Kur-Hannover , which Denmark had granted ownership of Bremen-Verdens, joined the Russian-Prussian agreement in November 1714. The Elector of Hanover had also been King of Great Britain and Ireland from 1714. After Bremen-Verdens was handed over to Hanover, Prussia declared war on Sweden on May 1, 1715, taking the Swedish occupation of Usedom as an opportunity. On October 15, Hanover declared war on Sweden. The Kingdom of Great Britain remained excluded from the war, which only affected the ancestral lands of George I.
The two sea powers England and the Netherlands were very concerned about their sea trade in the Baltic Sea due to the war . After Charles XII. had ordered its merchants to cease trading with all enemies, England sent a British fleet to the Baltic Sea in May 1715 under the command of Admiral John Norris to protect the English and Dutch merchant ships. The British fleet united with Dutch warships there, forcing the Swedish navy in Karlskrona to be idle. The Anglo-Dutch fleet also actively intervened in the war itself, with eight English and Dutch ships joining the Danish navy during the siege of Stralsund in July 1715.
the return of the King
Neither Stralsund nor Wismar took place in 1714. The Saxons had withdrawn from Pomerania and Peter I was busy conquering Finland. Denmark itself had no financial means for a new campaign. Even in this extremely critical situation for Sweden, Charles XII refused. made several peace offers. But after there was no prospect of the Ottoman Empire entering the war again against Russia and the latter had to leave his camp in Bender (in today's Moldova ) in February 1713 in a scuffle with Bender , Karl returned to Swedish Pomerania in November 1714 in a fifteen-day violence . In addition to the sultan's request, the political upheavals in Sweden, which threatened to seriously endanger his rule, moved him to return. Cheered by the townspeople in Stralsund , his aim was to restore the previous balance of power in Pomerania, ignoring the situation. Under his leadership, the expansion of the fortifications was accelerated, in which up to 10,000 people were involved. In addition, he set up a small army again, which, although poorly equipped, was loyal to him.
Capture of the last Swedish fortresses
In January 1715, Charles XII occupied the south and east coast of Rügen to secure the Stralsund fortress. On February 23, he took Wolgast , which was occupied by a Prussian post of twenty men. On April 22nd, Swedish troops landed on the island of Usedom and took a small Prussian detachment by surprise.
Thereupon Friedrich Wilhelm I had the Swedish envoy expelled and gave instructions for the start of the planned Pomeranian campaign . Prussia declared war on Sweden on May 1, 1715. On the same day the Prussian army moved into a field camp near Stettin , which was joined a fortnight later by a Saxon corps of 8,000 men under General August Christoph von Wackerbarth . The supreme command of the Prussian contingent was taken over by King Friedrich Wilhelm I himself. Under him, Field Marshal Prince Leopold I of Anhalt-Dessau was in command. In the second half of June the Danish army began the advance through Mecklenburg. A Danish division of four battalions and twelve squadrons under the command of Lieutenant General Friedrich von Legardt included Wismar , the Swedes' second base on German soil with a crew of 2,500. King Friedrich Wilhelm I reinforced the siege troops with two battalions and twelve squadrons under the command of Major General George Friedrich von der Albe . The siege corps now numbered about 8,000 men. At sea, Danish ships blocked access to Wismar.
On June 28, the Prussian-Saxon army broke out of their camp near Stettin. Without meeting any resistance, the Prussians crossed the Peene by means of a pontoon bridge at Loitz and the Saxons at Jarmen and united with the Danes in front of Stralsund in mid-July. The Danes had crossed the Recknitz near Damgarten under the command of Field Marshal Carl Rudolf von Württemberg and had also not encountered any enemy resistance.
Charles XII. had previously withdrawn his remaining troops in Pomerania to Stralsund, because he did not want to depend on a decision in a field battle due to the numerical and qualitative superiority of the Allied forces. On July 12, 1715, the three allied armies united in front of Stralsund and began the siege. A Swedish squadron that was operating near Ruden in front of the Peene estuary was defeated on August 8, 1715 in the naval battle near Jasmund by the Danish navy, which had since arrived in full. As a result of the naval battle, the Swedes' strength at sea was broken and their fleet had to withdraw permanently to Karlskrona. The Allies succeeded in conquering Rügen on November 17th, making the situation of the besieged city almost hopeless. After months of siege Stralsund, the enclosed Swedes surrendered on December 23, 1715. At the last moment, King Karl was able to escape under fortunate circumstances in a fishing boat across the Baltic Sea to Sweden. The siege of Wismar , for which two battalions and four squadrons of the Electorate of Hanover arrived on November 2nd , dragged on over the winter and caused great complaints among the siege troops because of the severe cold. After ten months of siege, Wismar was finally captured by Prussian and Hanoverian troops on April 19, 1716. With that, the last Swedish possession in northern Germany also fell.
The final phase of the war (1716–1721)
After his return to Sweden, Charles XII. several campaigns to Norway. In the meantime, the Russian Navy dominated the Baltic Sea and carried out disruptive actions against the Swedish coast. Overall, however, the final phase of the war was characterized more by diplomatic faults on the part of the alliance partners than by military actions. The shift in the balance of power triggered by the Russian victories over Sweden, which was very consciously perceived at the European courts, sparked fears among the established European great powers about possible Russian supremacy in the Baltic Sea region. England turned out to be the greatest opponent of Russian power domination in Northern Europe. Since Tsar Peter maintained large contingents of troops in Denmark, Mecklenburg and Poland at times, the Holy Roman Empire, the Netherlands, France, Saxony and Denmark joined the English line.
Charles XII. tried to use the tensions between his war opponents and negotiated peace agreements with both sides. Historians doubt the seriousness of these advances. So until the end Karl believed that he would bring the war to a favorable end for Sweden by military means. Only after his death in 1719 did Sweden turn completely to England, make peace with Denmark, Prussia and Hanover and hope, with the support of England, to regain the Baltic provinces that had been lost to Russia. However, due to the danger of a new war with Spain, the powers were not ready to dare an open war with Russia, so that Sweden was left alone and had to make peace with Russia on unfavorable terms.
Europeanization of the Baltic Sea issue
Further efforts by Tsar Peters I to gain a foothold in northern Germany reinforced the mistrust of the other allies, which resulted in delays and discrepancies in the further course of action against Sweden, which prolonged the war. George I , King of England and Elector of Hanover, supported Russia in order to win a land bridge to England with Bremen-Verden, but was also afraid that Russia would dominate the Baltic Sea too much and was therefore ready to change course. The English fears became acute when Tsar Peter I signed an alliance treaty with Duke Karl Leopold of Mecklenburg on April 19, 1716 , to whom he also offered the hand of the Tsar's niece Katharina Ivanovna . This gave Russia a base for its army on German soil and gained Mecklenburg as a further ally against Sweden. In return, the duke received help against his estates in the conflict with the knighthood. In the winter of 1716/17, 40,000 Russian soldiers set up their quarters in the Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin . From then on, the tsar played an important part in imperial politics due to his family ties to Mecklenburg . The English parliament now wanted just like Emperor Charles VI. prevent further Russian penetration into the Baltic Sea region because it feared that Russia could monopolize the Baltic Sea trade . After complaints from the Mecklenburg estates because of the continued violations of the law by their duke, Emperor Charles VI. 1717 an execution order against Karl Leopold von Mecklenburg.
Formation of an anti-Russian alliance
After Charles XII. had returned to Sweden from Stralsund, he used the Allied disagreements in his efforts to restore his empire by concentrating his forces against Denmark-Norway . During the winter of 1715/16, Karl planned to march across the frozen Baltic Sea from Skåne to Zealand . However, the winter was mild, so that this plan could not be implemented. So he decided to move against the Danish province of Norway. Although he was able to conquer Christiania (today's Oslo) in Danish-controlled Norway , which was abandoned by its inhabitants, and then moved against Fredrikshald , after the burning of his fleet by the Danes, he had to return to Sweden in July, which resulted in the failure of the Norwegian campaign of 1716 .
The invasion of Norway encouraged Copenhagen to invade Sweden again. The plan for a joint Russian-Danish invasion has been discussed for some time. In February 1716, Peter I presented a detailed invasion plan on his second trip to Europe in Altona. Russian troops were to be transported to Sjaelland . From there it was planned to invade Sweden together with Danish troops, supported by a British fleet.
The diplomatic upheavals, which were essentially caused by the Russian activities in Mecklenburg, disrupted the invasion plan and fueled the allies' distrust of the tsar. At the European courts it was suspected that Peter had concluded a separate peace with Sweden and only wanted to use the invasion plans as a mask for an expansion of the Russian bases in Germany. At a meeting of Peter I and Friedrich IV on May 28, 1716 in Hamm and Horn near Hamburg, the invasion plans were further deepened. In September 1716 an army of 30,000 men was shipped to Zealand on Prussian ships from Warnemünde in Mecklenburg. A 24,000-strong Danish army was already standing there. The Danish war fleet, consisting of 24 ships of the line, was reinforced by the Russian war and galley fleet as well as British and Dutch fleet squadrons. The allied invasion fleet, consisting of 67 ships of the line and frigates, was now ready for the invasion of Skåne. But then the tsar, who was on his way back to Europe, surprisingly canceled the landing that had already been planned, thereby re-awakening the mistrust of the allies, who continued to suspect that Peter I only wanted to establish himself in the empire. After the tsar's attempt to forge a Franco-Russian alliance during a stay in Paris was unsuccessful, a diplomatic offensive by England finally led Russia into foreign policy isolation. Around January 1717, George I concluded a triple alliance between Great Britain-Hanover, the Netherlands and France. Hanover and Denmark withdrew from the Nordic coalition. In March 1717, the English parliament approved the use of the fleet to implement the new English foreign policy. The triple alliance was supplemented by Austria in August 1718, which had just made peace with the Ottoman Empire. The now formed quadruple alliance was expanded by the Treaty of Vienna in January 1719, with which Saxony, England-Hanover and Austria joined forces to push Russia back from Poland-Lithuania, which maintained an army of 35,000 men there.
Russian-Swedish peace negotiations begin
While diplomatic upheaval took place in 1717, the year brought a military break for all warring parties. Despite all the defeats and the overwhelming superiority of his enemies, King Karl constantly developed new ideas and plans. Georg Heinrich von Görtz , the closest adviser to Karl in his last years, sensed a chance to reach a separate peace with the Russians in order to have a free hand for reconquests in Northern Germany and Denmark.
At a meeting with Tsar Peter in Het Loo in Holland in August 1717, Görtz was able to dispel the Tsar's major reservations about rapprochement, and the following year, from May 1718, peace negotiations took place on the Aland Islands. The negotiators were Görtz and Carl Gyllenborg for the Swedes , Heinrich Ostermann for the Russians and the Scottish general James Bruce . The Swedish plan was for Russia to keep all of its possessions except Finland, but for Norway and Hanover to go to the Swedes. A landing in Scotland was also intended to prepare a return of the Jacobites to the throne there.
The death of the king
The Allied disagreements gave rise to new hopes for a favorable peace agreement in Stockholm. The beginning of the new Norwegian campaign was intended to demonstrate to the tsar and the English the seemingly unbroken strength of Sweden. While Karl himself moved with the main army against Frederikshald , General Armfeld and another division had to move north across the Kiölen towards Trondheim in order to cut off the connection between the parts of the country. In Sweden, however, the campaign met with general disapproval. The country was at the end of its tether, and in Stockholm starved people were found on the streets. Many officers and soldiers were also starving, and the greater part of the Swedish army had torn clothes. When King Charles XII. on November 30th jul. / 11 December 1718 greg. fell victim to an enemy bullet in the forefront of the siege of Frederikshald , the Northern War was almost over in one fell swoop. Immediately after the king's death, his brother-in-law Prince Friedrich lifted the siege and led the army back to Sweden.
The Trondheim campaign also ended in disaster. When Armfeldt ordered the retreat to Sweden on January 12, 1719, when the news of the king's death was heard, a snowstorm so violent set in on Öyfjell that 3,700 of the 5,800 soldiers froze to death . The fall of Armfeldt's army went down in history as the Carolinian death march .
With the death of Charles XII. the Swedish line of the Wittelsbach family ended in the male line. After him, his sister, Ulrika Eleonore , ascended the throne. Her coronation was made dependent on the condition that she accepted a new constitution that dissolved the absolutist monarchy and transferred legislative power to the Reichstag , consisting of representatives of the four estates (nobility, clergy, citizens and peasants) . The executive power lay with a secret committee of the first three estates. In this way, the anti-Russian aristocracy regained control of the country's government, a position of power that it retained for more than 50 years. After his wife resigned, Friedrich von Hessen-Kassel , the husband of Ulrika Eleanora and brother-in-law of Charles XII, obtained the Swedish crown, but subsequently remained dependent on the Imperial Council . In one fell swoop, the foreign policy course changed. On the advice of French and English envoys, negotiations with Russia were broken off; Instead, with the mediation of France, peace negotiations with Great Britain-Hanover, Prussia and Denmark were advanced. A strong European alliance against Russia was now emerging, the outlines of which became clear when, in February 1719, the emperor commissioned the electorate of Hanover to carry out the execution of the imperial execution that had been imposed two years earlier and 12,000 Guelph soldiers chased Duke Karl Leopold out of Mecklenburg.
Peace with Hanover-England, Prussia and Denmark
After lengthy negotiations, Sweden was the first to conclude peace with Hanover-England . As recently as 1718, the Swedish king had only agreed to cede a small part of Bremen-Verden, but not the entire duchies of Bremen and Verden. Only after his death at the end of 1718 was the way free for promising peace negotiations, which began in Stockholm in May 1719. Points of contention were the amount of the transfer fee for Bremen-Verden, the extent of Sweden's future losses in Pomerania and the use of the English fleet to protect Sweden against a Russian or Danish attack.
Sweden was also under strong military pressure from Russia. The Russian fleet won its first victory in the open sea battle at Ösel on May 24, 1719 . In order to force Sweden to sign the peace treaty, Peter I decided to land in the Swedish heartland. At the same time there was a landing south and north of Stockholm in August 1719. 20 ships of the line, several hundred rowers and 26,000 landing troops were involved in the operation. Eight larger cities were destroyed in the course of the invasion, including Norrköping , the second largest city at the time . Through Grand Admiral Apraxin, Tsar Peter had the coast of Western Bothnia burned down. 13 cities, 361 villages and 441 noble estates were destroyed.
The Russian advances accelerated Sweden's peace agreements with its other opponents. In November 1719 Denmark stopped fighting with Sweden. Under the mediation of the English agent John Carteret , the war with Great Britain was ended on November 22, 1719 in a preliminary peace in Stockholm. Hanover received the duchies of Bremen-Verden for a payment of one million Reichstalers and indirectly promised English support to Sweden. The assignment was only finally recognized in the Hamburg settlement of 1729.
On January 21, Jul. / February 1, 1720 greg. After lengthy negotiations between Prussia and Sweden, the peace of Stockholm came about . Prussia kept Stettin, the islands of Usedom and Wollin and Western Pomerania up to the Peene for a financial consideration of 2 million Reichstalers. On July 3rd jul. / July 14, 1720 greg. Denmark and Sweden ended the war in the Peace of Frederiksborg after more than eight months of negotiations . Denmark returned Rügen and Western Pomerania north of the Peene, as well as the rule of Wismar, to Sweden, who paid 600,000 thalers for it and waived duty-free in the Sound. Denmark returned only the Holstein parts of the occupied Gottorf to Duke Karl Friedrich , while all of Schleswig was now united under the Danish crown.
By this time England had built a grand coalition against Russia, but it was not enough to end the war in the north. Prussia and Saxony tended to move away from Great Britain in order to turn to the Tsar again. The Emperor in Vienna also became restless due to the continued occupation of Mecklenburg by Guelph troops.
Peace with russia
The decision of England to use its fleet sailing in the Baltic Sea under the command of Admiral Norris against Russia fell short of expectations as a result. The English squadrons could not follow the Russian ships into the Gulf of Finland. The English fleet also failed to stop the Russian attacks on the Swedish mainland. On August 7, 1720, a Swedish squadron was defeated by a Russian in the sea battle at Grönham , and in 1721 Stockholm itself was saved from a Russian attack only by the arrival of a British fleet. Britain now realized that it was unable to form an effective war coalition against Russia. Prussia adhered to a strict course of neutrality, and the other English initiatives at the courts in Vienna and Warsaw were also unsuccessful. As a result, the United Kingdom has now also pressed for peace negotiations with Russia to begin as soon as possible. As a result of a speculative crisis , it was no longer possible for the British King George I to support the Swedes financially. Thus, the unsupported Sweden had no choice but to enter into direct peace negotiations with Russia under French mediation, which began on April 28, 1721 in Nystad , a small Finnish town not far from Åbo .
On September 10, 1721, Sweden ceded the areas of Ingermanland, Livonia, Estonia, the islands of Ösel and Dagö and South Karelia to Russia in the Nystad Peace Treaty . In return, it got Finland back, which Peter I had conquered in 1714. In addition, Russia paid Sweden reparations amounting to 2 million Reichstalers. Sweden was given the right to buy duty-free grain to the value of 50,000 rubles in Riga, Reval and Arensburg every year; excepted were years of poor harvests.
In the course of the peace negotiations at the end of the war, Queen Ulrika Eleonora also offered August the Strong an armistice on January 7, 1720. In this offer, she deliberately chose the address "Friedrich August" and thereby expressed that the Saxon elector was still not recognized as a Polish king by Sweden after his re-election in 1710. Although August II hoped to combine the recognition of his Polish royal dignity with a revision of the Altranstadt Peace , it did not come to a conclusion. Although Saxony-Poland was an active party in the war, it was not involved in the peace agreements that ended the Great Northern War. A mutual affirmation of the actual state of peace between Saxony and Sweden did not take place until April 1729. The Polish Sejm had previously decided in Grodno in 1726 to enter into peace talks with Sweden and to confirm earlier peace agreements, primarily the Treaty of Oliva . After an initial declaration of intent in 1729, negotiations began again, during which Sweden in February 1730 and Poland in September 1732 submitted drafts that resulted in a bilateral declaration of peace.
Consequences and effects of the war
The war had a serious impact on the population development in the Swedish Empire. In the end there were only three men for every five women, which meant that predominantly women had to take over agricultural work. Finland had suffered the highest casualties, losing 16 percent of its population. In Sweden the blood toll was ten percent. Finland was so badly hit that the Swedish governor refrained from collecting taxes for six years.
The Great Northern War resulted in a fundamental shift in the relationship between European powers. Sweden lost its possessions in the Baltic States and in Germany (with the exception of Wismar and Western Pomerania north of the Peene), as a result of which the Peace of Westphalia was revised at the mouths of the Weser and Elbe with the displacement of Germany from the seas. As a result, Sweden lost its position as a major Nordic power, even if some in Sweden did not want to admit it - a war against Russia was started in 1741 , which ended in another disaster. In Sweden, the so-called period of freedom followed until 1772 - an epoch designation that refers to the overcoming of absolute royal rule. From then on, the stalls were in charge.
From then on, Sweden was replaced as a major Nordic power by the Russian Empire , which not only rose to become the new supreme power on the Baltic Sea, but also played a decisive role in the reorganization of Europe. The Northern War, however, had demanded the utmost performance from the Russian people. At times, 82 percent of the state's revenue was spent on the war. Between 1705 and 1713 alone there were ten drafts that called around 337,000 men to arms. The service conditions were so bad that 54,000 Russian soldiers died of disease during the Great Northern War, compared to around 45,000 fatally wounded. Peter's new capital, Saint Petersburg, was built on the Baltic Sea, protected by wide coastal areas - a development that the sea power Great Britain, concerned about its Baltic Sea trade , had to reluctantly see. In the middle of the war, Peter the Great laid the foundations for Russia's position as a great power; to underline the new claim, he had the Russian tsarism renamed "Russian Empire" and officially changed his title from "tsar" to "emperor" (Император, Imperator). After centuries of alienation caused by Mongol rule , Russia was once again an integral part of the European system of states and alliances.
The war also decided the fate of Estonia and Livonia. Livonia, which from then on belonged to Russia, was able to maintain its internal autonomy for some time. In the Peace of Nystädter in 1721, Emperor Peter endowed the estates with privileges binding under international law, which were confirmed by all subsequent empresses up to Alexander II (1855). The privileges include: freedom of belief, German administration, German language, German law. Estonia, Livonia and Courland (from 1795) are therefore also referred to as the “German” Baltic provinces of Russia.
The rise of Russia was also linked to the decline of Poland-Lithuania, which slipped into political anarchy (symbolized by the Liberum Veto ) and came under the sphere of influence of the Tsarist Empire, from 1768 de jure sank to a Russian protectorate and until 1795 by its neighbors (Prussia , Austria and Russia) was completely divided. The Northern War left the territory of Belarus , which is part of Lithuania, completely devastated. The Russian army did not leave the country until 1719. Agriculture, handicrafts and trade were ruined. Thousands of people died as a result of the plague, so that the population of Belarus was reduced by almost a third. In 1700 it was 2.2 million people, in 1721 it was only 1.5 million people.
The decline of Sweden and Saxony-Poland-Lithuania, in turn, freed Brandenburg-Prussia from two strong potential opponents in the region and coincided with its rise in power politics, even if, following British intervention, Sweden was able to keep the northern part of Swedish Pomerania and in tow from England henceforth a counterweight against Brandenburg should form. After having risen in power politics in the course of the Great Northern War in the ranks of the European states, Russia and Prussia completed the pentarchy of the great European powers in the following centuries alongside France, Austria and Great Britain .
Denmark emerged from the war slightly strengthened. On this basis, a compromise between Denmark and Sweden, who had waged so many wars against each other in the past century, was now emerging.
In addition to the sometimes drastic effects of the war on individual states, the entire Baltic Sea region was hit by an enormous plague epidemic (see Great Plague in Prussia ) during the Great Northern War in the period from 1708 to 1712 . Starting from the spread of the epidemic in Poland, the plague reached a deadly dynamic within a few years that reached as far north as Stockholm. The main catalyst of the plague was the Great Northern War, which allowed a significant number of people to cross large parts of northern and eastern Europe within a short period of time and thus made a decisive contribution to the spread of the plague.
Warfare and Strategic Aspects
The warfare in Europe was characterized by a fundamental similarity in the weapon systems and tactics of the opposing armies and fleets. Turn of the century new weapons and techniques were developed, such as in the late 17th century, the spouts bayonet and the flintlock . This resulted in increased firepower and greater tactical flexibility as all of the infantry were now armed with muskets. A more effective drill was also now possible, with drill and discipline being critical to firepower . Even more linear infantry formations were used on the battlefield .
There were far fewer fortifications in Eastern Europe than in Western Europe at the time. For example, through the buildings of Vauban , France had a system of fortresses in front of it, which made war on the move and extensive operations difficult. In contrast, it was easier for those involved in the Great Northern War to carry out major advances, as was the case with the invasion of Charles XII. was the case in Poland in 1701, in Saxony in 1706, and Ukraine in 1708. But also in northeastern Europe there were individual fortresses that could be of importance for the control of individual regions. For this reason, the conquests of Vyborg, Reval, Mitau and Riga in 1710 by Russia, or of Stettin in 1713, Stralsund in 1715 and Wismar in 1716 by Denmark and Prussia were important stages in the collapse of the Swedish Empire.
The Swedish military machine was under Charles XI. after the disappointing results of the Northern War from 1674 to 1679 subjected to a comprehensive reform. Sweden's long borders in particular were difficult for the Swedish army to defend. For this reason, Charles XI. a defensive strategy in which he had new fortresses built, developed rapid mobilization procedures (system of division ) and maintained a large army even in peacetime. Sweden had 50 fortresses and 40 redoubts on its outer borders. Since the Baltic Sea was largely a Swedish body of water, fortresses on the borders of the empire were supposed to hold off enemy attacks until the Swedish fleet (assuming sea supremacy) transported a relief army from the motherland across the sea. This strategy was used very successfully , especially at the beginning against Zealand , before Narva and before Riga.
It was precisely this maritime supremacy in the Baltic Sea that was fought bitterly. By 1720, Russia had become the strongest sea power in the Baltic Sea. In addition to skirmishes between warships with great drafts, there were also battles between galley fleets. These were particularly useful in shallow and island-rich waters as they often occur in the Baltic Sea, z. B. in the Gulf of Finland. Fights on lakes, in lagoons and on rivers were also important. For example, Swedish and Russian flotillas fought each other on Lake Ladoga and Lake Peipus at the beginning of the war.
The fighting style of Gustav II Adolf (Sweden) was retained in the fighting tactics on land . Due to the long borders and the limited resources, the Swedes relied on fast, daring offensive advances with close coordination of the branches of arms of infantry, cavalry and artillery. Infantry and cavalry often attacked the opposing lines at the same time, so that they often collapsed completely due to the force and resulted in a quick battle decision. However, these missions required a very high level of discipline and highly experienced officers and men. The bold general art of Charles XII , always geared towards attack . resembled that of the Persian prince Nadir Shah rather than the cautious style of many, if not all, Western European generals. The victory at Klissow in 1702 over a larger Saxon army was typical of the daring general art of Charles XII, who was always ready to take risks. In particular, the brilliant victory at Narva in 1700 over the Russian professional army , which was still being built up, was confirmed by Charles XII. knowing that the art of war had to be the epitome of the political. However, he did not take sufficient account of the fact that security policy was still constitutional policy , i.e. that it was fundamentally based on legal claims. As a result, the diplomats in Stockholm and in his field chancellery were relegated to extras. Charles's military thinking thus led to isolation in the long term. The heavy defeat at Poltava in 1709 was therefore only the military expression of a political non-awareness of the realities in a Europe that was simultaneously experiencing the War of the Spanish Succession in the south-west.
The Russian approach to warfare relied on the availability of larger resources . In the battles up to 1709 in particular, the Russian victories were primarily based on numerical superiority, since the military reforms carried out after 1700 only achieved their full effect in the long term. For example, at the beginning of the war, Russian metallurgy, which was still developing, was unable to meet the army's needs for muskets until 1712 , so that in 1707 the proportion of pikemen compared to musketeers was even increased. Peter's efforts to rebuild a Western-style army focused primarily on military organization and administration. He created a general staff and, in response to the Swedes' fierce attack, introduced the infantry attack with the bayonet attached as a shock tactic . He also had a highly mobile field artillery developed. He introduced the genus of dragoons - mounted infantrymen, based on the Swedish model. He had disciplined persecution tactics worked out and intensified efforts to establish an organically sustainable officer corps. While the infantry gained a high degree of effectiveness, the cavalry remained weak, also due to incorrect tactical missions and poor quality of the horses. Overall, the Russian army grew into a powerful organization that was in no way inferior to the Swedish or other armies. After the battle of Narva in 1700, the Russian military power was 34,000 men; in 1705 the total was 200,000 men.
Memory and images of history in the national historiographies
Although it is the same historical event, the Great Northern War is often viewed very differently in the countries affected by the war. Because every country has its own culture of memory. The national histories of the various neighboring nations were not simply summed up (side by side), but rather - with different emphasis - a structure-related understanding of the region and a discussion of the evaluation of the war reveal. The Baltic Sea is the historical bracket of the greater region of Northeast Europe and helped to shape the event in an epochal context and to condense into a historical spatial identity. The reporting on the Great Northern War, in which the events and events were made accessible to a larger section of the population outside the war zones, was important for the development of a historical picture.
Regardless of the country-specific variances in the historical processing of events, the memory of the Great Northern War remained closely linked to two names that have always fascinated the world and posterity. The one appears as a great outmoded, the other as the executor of the zeitgeist, the one is considered a radiant and tragic hero , the other as a passionately superior statesman : Karl XII. of Sweden and Peter I of Russia.
- Finland: At the beginning of the 18th century, Finland became a theater of war for the first time in its entirety . During the Great Northern War, Russia occupied Finland and the eastern part of the Swedish Empire. This occupation remained in the collective memory of Finland in the following centuries as a threat and was updated in the minds of many Finns , especially during the Second World War (see Winter War and Continuation War ). Studies on the Russian occupation appeared especially in the period between the world wars, when Russia was declared a hereditary enemy of Finland. After the Second World War, during the “friendship and cooperation” between Finland and the Soviet Union , such research was no longer opportune.
- Latvia: In contrast, the Swedish era , which ended after the end of the war in Latvia , represented a predominantly positive point of reference in Latvian historiography . There is, however, a contrast between the Latvian and German-Baltic view of history. While the Latvians regarded the period up to 1721 as a "bright age", the Baltic Germans painted a rather negative picture, which brought Sweden's course of confrontation towards German knighthood to the fore. In the Latvian public after 1918, on the other hand, the Swedish dominium became a positive myth. Above all, those who went into exile after 1945 continued to propagate a friendly image, while in Soviet-Latvian historiography the integration of Livonia into the empire of Peter the Great was emphasized and, especially after 1953, the positive portrayal of the Swedish era as a falsification of the history of the Latvian bourgeoisie was defamed. Since 1991, the early modern times and with it the preoccupation with Sweden and the Great Northern War have been considered a stepchild in Latvian historiography.
- Estonia: Under Swedish rule, Estonia was united for the first time within its entire borders by a central power. Consequently, in the popular opinion of the Estonians, the time of Swedish rule was considered the good old Swedish time . This idealized form emerged through the peasant-friendly land reforms in the 17th century and Estonia's later experiences. The Great Famine and the Death of Charles XI. were seen as a bad omen for bad times. The war, the plague and the increasing privileges of the nobility at the expense of peasant rights were the reasons why even in the 19th century Estonia was nostalgic for the Swedish era, which ended forever in 1710.
- Sweden: In Sweden , too , a broad and differentiated processing of the Great Northern War, its tragic king and the end of the great power era began in collective memory. In the 19th century, there was a predominant paradigm about the Swedish-Baltic empire in Swedish historiography, which had come to an end, and some of it has remained valid to this day. So the history of Sweden was a story of kings. In particular by the way in which the role of Charles XII was assessed. one showed whether one belonged to the political left or right. This resulted in contradicting but also continuous historical images that offered points of contact for many political camps in Sweden. Ultimately, a left and a right perspective merged and led to a merging of the memory strands around the historical heritage, which strengthened the inner cohesion in Sweden but did not promote revanchism . This academic interpretation of the past eventually found its way into collective memory through schools, military traditions, monuments and holidays. The result was a picture that Karl XII. mediated as a Spartan warrior king, supported by loyal, obsessed and patient subjects who could endure terrible suffering. The literature in the interwar years of the First and Second World War also contributed to the development of this historical image. They designed heroic images of a nation whose strength and pride were based on poverty and defeat.
- Ukraine: While in Sweden a combination of two different points of view began to assess the Great Northern War, two opposing points of view developed in the Ukraine , which are irreconcilably opposed to one another to this day. The decisive debate revolves around the change of sides by Ivan Masepas , who fought on the Russian side against Sweden until 1708 but then changed sides. He and 3,000 other Cossacks perished in the Battle of Poltava together with the Swedes. At the beginning of the 20th century, nationalist groups in the western part of the country discussed this change of side. In their opinion Masepa wanted to save the Cossack democracy from the attack of the Russian central state and see in him a Ukrainian national hero and used this image to stand up for independence from the Soviet Union. The pro-Russian side rated Masepa's change of side in the following decades and centuries as a betrayal of Tsar Peter. Today's Ukrainian historiography is concerned with creating positive associations with the historical personality Masepa. She portrays him as the first western-minded leader of the Ukraine. In particular, Peters refused to give assistance to Masepa against the Poles and the actions of 1708, when the retreating Russian army devastated numerous Ukrainian villages as part of the scorched earth tactic, are used as justifications for the Change of sides listed.
- Russia: The successes of the Russian arms, the territorial expansion of the country and the increased international standing of the Russian Empire through the victory in the Great Northern War gave rise to proud, patriotic feelings among the educated classes in Russia in the 18th century.
The Political Legacy of the Northern War in the 21st Century
After France's supremacy in Europe ended in 1713, a balance of power was to follow in Europe . Since the contradictions in the north threatened to disturb this, the “ calm in the north ” was necessary to maintain peace in Europe . This was initially accompanied by the ideal of a balance between the Nordic powers, but this shifted to absolute dominance of Russia in the 19th century, while the calm was maintained. But this imbalance led to new trouble spots in the emerging age of nation states. As in east-central and south-east Europe, the basic conflict was also at work in north-east Europe, in which states tear nations apart and therefore nations try to tear states apart. This is evidenced by the formation of states by Norwegians, Finns, Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians and Poles in the second decade of the 20th century. As a consequence of the National Socialist expansion policy and the security needs of the new Soviet Union, the world of small states in the interwar period from Danzig to Tallinn disappeared again - initially through the division of spheres of interest between Hitler and Stalin in 1939 and the German war of aggression and annihilation in the east, then through the post-war demarcation of the new blocs of NATO and the Warsaw Pact .
The end of the bipolar world in 1989 led to the dissolution of the USSR, the reunification of Germany and the restoration of the north-eastern European nation states of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus and the Ukraine. The upheaval of 1989 brought about a return to the political reality of the European region of Northeast Europe. B. the 1992 founding of the Baltic Sea Council . The epochal year 1989 brought about a déja vu experience that continues to this day in St. Petersburg and Stockholm and once again made people aware of the historical similarities between the two Nordic metropolises. The public and the governments of Finland, Sweden and Denmark finally “rediscovered” their joint security policy responsibility for the Baltic states.
Russia's access to the Baltic Sea shrank significantly due to the dissolution of the Soviet Union . There remained the area around St. Petersburg (the former Ingermanland, which belonged to Sweden at the beginning of the Great Northern War) and northern East Prussia, which remains an outpost of Moscow as the Kaliningrad area . As a result, the north-eastern European center of Petrine Russia, expressed in the translatio imperii from Moscow to the city of Peters, changed. Nevertheless, the contours of north-east Europe can be clearly seen in modern Russia, as the “Novgorodian” north-west with Leningrad, renamed St. Petersburg, is an important electoral base for the reform forces.
Another integrating element in the 21st century is trade. The region is intersected by two main trade routes , the Northern Route and the Baltic Sea Route . Periodically, both routes were not only of regional and European importance, but also of global economic importance, since in the early modern period they functioned as transit routes between China, Central Asia and the Middle East on the one hand and the trading states of England and the Netherlands on the other. The Tsar of Moscow, Poland-Lithuania, Sweden-Finland and especially Denmark-Norway with its strategic positions on Øresund and North Cape benefited from the region's role as a world trade hub, as did other states and cities - Brandenburg-Prussia, Holstein-Gottorp , Lübeck and Kurland . This specific geographical position of Northeastern Europe in the early modern trade was therefore - in addition to its function as a producer and exporter of goods such as grain, forest goods, shipbuilding materials, non-ferrous metals and others - a constituent element. The implosion of the Soviet Union in 1991 brought with it a new version of this transit function, as a large part of the increasing exchange of goods between the EU and the CIS is now conducted via north-eastern Europe (e.g. the Baltic Sea pipeline ).
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- Also known as the Third Northern War .
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- Ranking of the Sapieha family: Jan Kazimierz Sapieha the Younger had the title of duke since 1700, but his relative Jan Kazimierz Sapieha the Elder was given to Charles XII. Appreciated even higher for his military qualities and appointed Grand Hetman of Lithuania in 1708 .
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