Sweden Travel Guide - Sweden Tourist Attractions, Sweden Transportation, Sweden Hotels and Accommodations


Sweden Travel Guide
Sweden History - Swedish Empire

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During the 17th century Sweden emerged as a European Great Power. Before the emergence of the Swedish Empire, Sweden was a very poor, scarcely populated, barely known of country in northern Europe with no significant power or reputation. Sweden rose to European power during the tenure of king Gustavus Adolphus, thanks to territories seized from Russia and Poland-Lithuania and the Thirty Years' War. These military victories made Sweden the continental leader of Protestantism until the Empire's collapse in 1721.

Gustav Adolphus' war against the Holy Roman Empire had a high cost; during the Thirty Years' War, a third of the population of the Holy Roman Empire died, and the Holy Roman Empire lost its position as the mightiest country in Europe. Sweden managed to conquer approximately 50 percent of the Holy Roman states. Gustav Adolphus planned to become the new Holy Roman Emperor over a united Scandinavia and the Holy Roman states; however, after his death in 1632 at the Battle of Lützen, this plan was scrapped. After the Battle of Nördlingen, Sweden's only military disaster, the pro-Sweden feeling among the German states was severely injured. These German provinces excluded themselves from Swedish power one by one, leaving Sweden with only a couple of northern German provinces: Swedish Pomerania, Bremen-Verden and Wismar.

In the middle of the 17th century Sweden was the third largest country in Europe by land area, only superseded by Russia and Spain. Sweden reached its largest territorial extent under the rule of Charles X (1622–1660) after the treaty of Roskilde in 1658. The foundation of Sweden's success during this period is credited to Gustav I's major changes on the Swedish economy in the mid-1500s, and his introduction of Protestantism. The 17th century saw Sweden engaged in many wars, for example with the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth with both sides competing for territories of today's Baltic states, with the disastrous Battle of Kircholm being one of the highlights.

This period also saw the Deluge — the Swedish invasion of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. After more than half a century of almost constant warfare, the Swedish economy had deteriorated. It would become the lifetime task of Charles' son, Charles XI (1655–1697), to rebuild the economy and refit the army. His legacy to his son, the coming ruler of Sweden Charles XII, was one of the finest arsenals in the world, a large standing army and a great fleet. Sweden's largest threat at this time, Russia, had a larger army but was far behind in both equipment and training.

After the Battle of Narva in 1700, one of the first battles of the Great Northern War, the Russian army was so severely decimated that Sweden had an open chance to invade Russia. However, Charles did not pursue the Russian army — instead turning against Poland-Lithuania and defeating the Polish king Augustus II and his Saxon allies at the Battle of Kliszow in 1702. This gave the Russian Tsar time to rebuild and modernize his army. After the success of invading Poland Charles decided to make an invasion attempt of Russia which ended in a decisive Russian victory at the Battle of Poltava in 1709. After a long march exposed to cossack raids, the Russian Tsar Peter the Great's scorched-earth techniques and the cold Russian climate, the Swedes stood weakened with a shattered morale, and enormously outnumbered against the Russian army at Poltava. The defeat meant the beginning of the end for the Swedish empire.

Charles XII attempted to invade Norway 1716; however, he was shot dead at Fredriksten fortress in 1718. The Swedes weren't militarily defeated at Fredriksten, but the whole structure and organization of the Norwegian campaign fell apart with the King's death and the army withdrew. Forced to cede large areas of land in the Treaty of Nystad in 1721, Sweden also lost its place as an empire and as the dominant state on the Baltic Sea. With Sweden's lost influence, Russia emerged as an empire and became one of Europe's dominant nations.

In the 18th century, Sweden did not have enough resources to maintain its territories outside Scandinavia and most of them were lost, culminating with the 1809 loss of eastern Sweden to Russia which became the semi-autonomous Duchy of Finland in Imperial Russia.

In interest of reestablishing Swedish dominance in the Baltic, Sweden allied itself against its traditional ally and benefactor, France, in the Napoleonic Wars. Sweden's role in the Battle of Leipzig gave it the authority to force Denmark-Norway, an ally of France, to cede Norway to the King of Sweden on 14 January 1814 in exchange for northern German provinces, at the Treaty of Kiel. The Norwegian attempts to keep their status as a sovereign state were rejected by the Swedish king, Charles XIII. He launched a military campaign against Norway on July 27, 1814, ending in the Convention of Moss, which forced Norway into a personal union with Sweden under the Swedish crown, which was not dissolved until 1905. The 1814 campaign was the last war in which Sweden participated as a combatant. Swedish troops, however, have participated in war many times since.

Source: Wikipedia Encyclopedia

 






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