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Great Northern War

Great Northern War

The Great Northern War (1700–1721) was a conflict in which a coalition led by the Tsardom of Russia successfully contested the supremacy of the Swedish Empire in Northern, Central and Eastern Europe.

NORTHERN WAR 1700-21, Russia's war with Sweden for the return of the Russian lands seized by the Swedes in the 16th - early 17th centuries and access to the Baltic Sea. The Rzeczpospolita, Saxony, Denmark, Prussia and other European countries took part at different times on the side of Russia. Sweden was aided by England, France, Holland, etc. Preparing for the war with Sweden Peter I in 1699 concluded an alliance with Denmark and Saxony.

The First Period (1700-06)

In 1700 the Danish troops invaded Holstein (Sweden's ally) and the army of the Elector of Saxony and King Augustus II of Poland besieged Riga. Peter I, having concluded an armistice with Turkey, declared war against Sweden on 19 (30).8.1700. The anti-Hungarian coalition (the so-called Northern Alliance) started military actions unsuccessfully. With the support of the Anglo-Welsh Navy, the Swedish Army (King Charles XII) defeated Denmark, which withdrew from the war in Aug. In 1700 the Danish army was defeated by Denmark, which withdrew from the war and signed the peace with Sweden. When the war broke out, the Russian Army (about 35,000 men and 145 cannons, commanded by the Duc de Croix, Generalfieldmmeister K. de Krois) advanced to Narva, which was besieged till late autumn. After learning about the retreat of Saxons from Riga, Charles XII landed with his army (over 32 thousand men and 37 cannons) near Pernov (now Pärnu) and Narva. On November 19(30), 1700 he defeated the Russian troops in the Battle of Narva. Peter I within a short period of time rebuilt the army, increasing its strength to 40 thousand men with 300 cannons. In the summer of 1701 Charles XII defeated the Saxons in Livonia then invaded Poland and occupied most of its territories including Warsaw. August II. was deposed and the Swedish protégé S. Leszczynski was elected in his place in July 1704. But the supporters of Augustus II, supported by the Polish Army in August 1704 continued the alliance with Russia. The Polish army in August 1704 entered into an alliance with Russia and continued their fight against the Swedes. Peter I took advantage of the Swedish forces being tied up in Poland and started resolute actions in Estonia and Ingria. On December 29, 1701 (January 9, 1702) the Russian troops under the command of B.P. Sheremeteffenka came to Tallinn. B. P. Sheremetev won the first victory in the war, defeating at Erestfer the Corps of General von Schlippenbach, which was created under the command of the Austrian Order. W. von Schlippenbach. On 18(29).7.1702 Sheremetev dealt a new, heavier defeat to Schlippenbach at Hummelshof (south-west of Dorpat). In June-August the Russian military flotilla (regiment I. A. Tyrtov) defeated twice the Swedish flotilla on the Ladoga Lake. 11 (22).10.1702 Peter I stormed the fortress of Noteburg (Nutchek) which was renamed to Shlisselburg. In the spring of 1703 the Russians took Nyenshants fortress (at the mouth of the river Okhta), Yamburg and Koporie, in the summer of 1704 - Dorpat (now Tartu) and Narva. The whole r. Neva River was in the hands of Russians, the land connection between the Swedish forces in the Baltics and Karelia was interrupted. 16(27).5.1703 under the decree of Peter I St. Petersburg was founded and then - the sea fortress Kronstadt on the island of Kotlin for covering the approaches to it from the sea. In the winter of 1704/05 Charles XII. from Silesia began to threaten Saxony. To help his ally Peter I with 60 thousand army in July 1705 moved to Vilna (now Vilnius). But on July 15 (26), the detachment of Sheremetev on the right flank was defeated, and Peter I, leaving the main forces in Vilna, with the division of Gen. A. I. Repnin and the cavalry of Gen.-L. K. E. Renne rushed to his aid. In September he occupied Mitava (now Jelgava) and repulsed the enemy to Courland, then concentrated his main forces in Grodno. The Russian fleet at that time repulsed all attempts of the Swedish squadron to break through to the Neva. Charles XII did not want to aggravate relations with Austria and left the 12 thousand corps of General K. Renshild in Silesia. Renschild and returned to Warsaw with the main forces of the army. In Poland there was a civil war between the supporters of Augustus II and Leszczynski, the population led a guerrilla struggle against the Swedes. Not expecting an enemy offensive soon, Peter I in Dec. In 1705 Peter I left for Russia in order to solve a number of urgent state problems. The Russian army which was in the area of Grodno contained about 35 thousand men. On his departure from the army Peter I entrusted the command of infantry to Field-Major G. Ogilvi (under the supervision of Repnin), and of cavalry - to General A. D. Menshikov. In January. In 1706 Charles XII with his 20-thousand army moved from Warsaw to Grodno, but did not assault it, and limited himself to a partial blockade. The main part of the Russian cavalry was withdrawn by Menshikov from under Grodno to Minsk. On learning about the campaign of Karl XII against Grodno Peter I urgently arrived to Orsha and took a number of measures to defend the borders. In February. In 1706 the Saxon army (30 thousand men including 6 thousand Russians) was defeated by Renschild under Fraustadt.

In March 1706 the Russian troops had avoided the danger of being encircled in the vicinity of Grodno and in July concentrated near Kiev. Charles XII spent two months in unsuccessful pursuit of the Russians and again put his main efforts against Saxony. In September. 1706 the Swedish army came to Leipzig. The Swedish corps under General A. Mardefeld, 7,000 men, was left in Poland. To the aid of August II Peter I sent to Menshikov 20-thousand corps, which was joined in Lublin with Polish-Saxon troops (12 thousand men). 18 (29) October, in the battle near Kalish, the Allied forces inflicted a major defeat on the Swedes and the Poles, the supporters of Leschinsky (27,000 men; Mardefeld). However, this success was not used, because back in September 13(24) August II. August II concluded a secret separate peace with the Swedes in Altranstadt (Russians learned about it only after the battle of Kalish). Under the terms of the treaty Augustus II renounced the Polish crown in favor of Leszczynski, broke his alliance with Russia and undertook to pay the contribution. Peter I's attempts to find new allies in Europe were unsuccessful. In Dec. In 1706 at the council of war in Zholkiew (Galicia) it was decided not to fight a general battle against the Swedes and move back into the country. Necessary measures for defense of the cities were taken. Before the invasion into Russia Karl XII increased the number of his army to 110,000 men, half of whom were in the main forces. The Swedish navy was ruling the Baltic. By this time Russian Army numbered about 100 000 men. Second period (1707-09).

The Swedish army (30-35 thousand men) left Saxony in August 1707. On 26.1 (6.2).1708 the Swedish Army (30-35 thousand men) occupied Grodno and moved to Minsk expecting to defeat the main forces of the Russian Army (about 60 thousand men; B.P. Sheremetev). But the Russian army did not accept the battle and retreated to Vitebsk. Charles XII did not dare to pursue it, so he stopped at Radoshkovici (northwest from Minsk), where he remained till June. Under the influence of the information about Bulavin's revolt in 1707-09 and secret negotiations with the Ukrainian hetman I.S. Mazepa he developed a plan of his march to Moscow. In June 1708 the Swedish army crossed the Berezina River. The Russian army concentrated near Golovchin (north-west of Mogilev), where on 3 (14) July it was defeated and retreated behind the Dnieper. The enemy occupied Mogilev and did not wait for the corps of A. L. Levenhaupt corps (16 thousand men), which in June came from Riga with large transports of weapons, food and ammunition, in early August, moved to Smolensk. In the battles near Dobroe village and near Raevka village the Swedish vanguards were defeated with losses up to 5,000 men. This forced Charles XII to turn to Ukraine, where Mazepa promised him the support of 20,000 Cossacks, counting on the entry into the war against Russia of Turkey and the Crimean Khan. However Russians pre-empted the enemy, occupying the settlements where the Swedes intended to stay for the winter. At this time the Russian command received the information about the movement of the corps of Levenhaupt. Against him came the flying corps (corvolant), led by Peter I. In the battle of Lesnaya Corps of Levenhaupt lost more than half of its forces and a huge army column and was defeated. The Swedish offensive against St. Petersburg which had been launched simultaneously from Estland and Vyborg also ended in failure: the Russian army and navy, under the command of the general-admiral Apraksin defeated the enemy near Rakobor and in the Koporsk Hall. This allowed Peter I to transfer a part of his forces from the North-West to Ukraine, where the main events were taking place. At the end of October Mazepa appeared to Karl XII with only 2 thousand Cossacks, a half of which soon left. In February 1709 the Swedes were joined to the Swedish. Cossacks of Zaporozhye (6-8 thousand), led by Otaman K.H. Gordienko, joined the Swedes in February, 1709. Mazepa's betrayal complicated the course of military actions, but did not cause confusion among the Russian generals. A. D. Menshikov's daring raid on Baturin, undertaken on November 2 (13), made it possible to destroy all the food supplies, weapons (including artillery) and ammunition prepared for the Swedes there. Another major base of Mazepa - Bila Tserkva - was captured by Prince D. M. Golitsyn. D. M. Golitsyn. The bulk of the Cossacks remained loyal to Russia. Cossack army, headed by the new hetman I. I. Skoropadsky joined the fight against foreign invaders. Bold demonstrative actions of Azov flotilla, which was headed by Apraksin, made Turkey and Crimean Tatars abstain from entering the war on the side of Sweden. In November 1708 the Swedish army was wintering in the area of Priluki, Lokhvitsy, and Gadiach, where, in essence, it was in a strategic encirclement. During the winter period Cossack detachments were especially active, which stopped all the attempts of the enemy to resupply food and forage and caused much damage to them. In early spring of 1709 Charles XII. moved to the southeast to the areas of Poltava which were not yet devastated by the war, so he could assault Moscow from the south. On April 25. (May 6) the Swedes besieged Poltava, defended by 4,000 garrison (regiment A. S. Kelyn) and the inhabitants. The attempt of the enemy to seize this small fortress on the move was unsuccessful. The Swedes did not succeed also several assaults. This enabled the Russian army, which was stationed near Poltava, to prepare thoroughly for the general battle, which both sides were seeking. On June 27 (July 8) the Russian army under the command of Peter I. On June 27 (July 8), the Russian army under the command of Peter the Great defeated the Swedes at the Battle of Poltava in 1709. The remnants of Karl the XII army which escaped from the battlefield were caught by the Menshikov troops on the crossing of the Dnieper near Perevolochna and capitulated on June 30 (July 11). Charles XII and Mazepa fled to Turkey. The victory at Poltava was a turning point in the Civil War, deciding its outcome in favor of Russia. It led to the restoration of the Northern Alliance, which had broken up at the beginning of the war. In July 1709 in Potsdam Prussia, Saxony and Denmark entered into an alliance against Sweden which in October was joined by Russia. The theater of military actions had moved to the Baltics and North Germany. B. P. Sheremetev's troops besieged Riga and Menshikov's cavalry entered Poland. S. Leszczynski fled the country. August II. returned to the Polish throne and again declared himself an ally of Russia. England, Holland and some other powers were alarmed by appearance of Russian troops in Germany and tried to reconcile Russia and Sweden, but Charles XII, who was in Bender (Turkey), refused to accept the mediation. The third period (1710-18)

In 1710 the Russian troops achieved great successes. The army of B. P. Sheremetev occupied the whole Livonia and Estland, took Riga and Revel (now Tallinn). On June 13 (24), 1710 the Corps of F. M. Apraksin with the support of the navy captured Vyborg and then Kexholm (now Priozyorsk). The Russian fleet had an opportunity to exit the Finnish Gulf. Then the island of Vyborg (now Pryozersk) was also captured. Later the Russian fleet was captured and Esel (now Saaremaa) was taken. In Poland the forces of General Field-Minister A. D. Menshikov cleared the Baltic Fleet. A.D. Menshikov's troops had cleared most of the Swedish territory. The successes of Russian arms provoked counteraction of major European powers which did not want Russia to become stronger. With the help of England and Austria Charles XII succeeded in dragging Turkey into the war (1710). The main forces of the Russian army were diverted to the South which gave the Swedes the necessary respite. The Prut campaign of 1711 of the Russian troops ended in failure and Peter I was forced to conclude a truce with Turkey at the cost of returning Azov to Turkey. In 1712 the Swedes concentrated in Pomerania a 25-thousand army (Field-Marshal Stenbock) which in December defeated the Danes at Gadebusch and moved to Bremen. But the corps of Menshikov and the Saxons came up and drove the Swedes to Schleswig, where in May 1713 they capitulated. In 1713 all of Pomerania was occupied by the allied forces, only Stralsund remained in Swedish hands. But as military operations in Pomerania were not decisive because of disagreements between the allies, Peter I. withdrew his corps from there by the end of 1713. 1713 the Corps of Menshikov was recalled from there and the main blow was transferred to Finland. In July 1713 the Corps of Apraksin (16 thousand men), supported by the rowing fleet (200 galleys) took Helsingfors (now Helsinki), and in August - Abo (now Turku). By the fall of 1713 the whole south coast of Finland was occupied by the Russian troops. On October 6(17), the detachment of general M. M. Golitsyn the Elder defeated the main Swedish force (general K. Armfelt) in the battle near the village of Pälkäne and on February 19 (2.3), 1714 - near Lappola and took the town of Vasa. In July 1714, the Russian Navy inflicted a heavy defeat on the Swedes at the Battle of Gangut in 1714. In August the Russian troops with the support of the navy occupied the Aland Islands. The result of victories of the Russian army and navy in 1713-14 was a final pushing of Swedes from Finland. The conditions were created for transferring military operations to the territory of Sweden. In Dec. In December 1715 the Allies captured Stralsund, in April 1716 - Wismar. 1716 - Wismar. Swedish possessions in Germany were divided between Denmark, Prussia, and Hanover. In 1716 an attempt to unite the naval forces of Russia and Denmark was made. In July 1717 the Russian troops landed on the island of Gotland. On the land, the Russian troops advancing along the coast of the Gulf of Bothnia to the north entered Sweden and reached Luleå. The Russian diplomacy was very active. In 1717 Peter I succeeded in getting France to renounce its alliance with Sweden. This forced Charles XII to negotiate. In May 1718 the Åland Congress was opened. After a long negotiation the Swedes agreed to the Russian terms, but by the end of 1718 Charles XII. 1718, Charles XII was killed during the siege of Fredriksten Fortress in Norway and a party with the support of Queen Ulrika Eleonora came to power in Sweden. The terms of peace (not without the influence of England and France) were rejected by Sweden, and the war resumed. The concluding period (1719-21).

In 1719 F. M. Apraksin's troops and galley fleet devastated the Swedish coast to the north and south of Stockholm. In May the Russian squadron defeated the Swedes in the Battle of Åsel in 1719. Sweden was on the verge of complete depletion, its financial and human resources had dried up. In the beginning of 1720 Queen Ulrika Eleonora gave up the throne in favor of her husband, Duke Fredrik of Hessen, who was a supporter of stopping the war. In January. 1720 Sweden concluded a treaty with Great Britain, which did not want Russia to establish itself in the Baltics. In May 1720 the British squadron, Admiral J. Norris, entered the Baltic Sea. In the same year Sweden made peace with Prussia and Denmark. An attempt to attack the Swedish-British fleet at the Russian naval base in Revel proved fruitless. The English repeatedly tried to provoke a clash with the Russian fleet and destroy it. But Peter I by diplomacy managed to prevent the war with Great Britain and foiled its attempts to involve other countries in the war against Russia. 27.7(7.8).1720 the galley fleet (general-ansheff M. M. Golitsyn the Senior) won the victory in the Battle of Grengam. In 1720-21 the Swedes were no longer able to defend their own territory from the large Russian landings. Exhausted by the war for many years Sweden was forced to conclude the Peace of Nystadt in 1721. The Russian victory in the Nistadt Peace Treaty finished its century-long fight for access to the Baltic Sea and the return of the lands earlier torn from it. Together with the major domestic reforms of Peter the Great it made Russia a great power, which played a great role in European politics.

Battle of Narva - Battle of Düna - Battle of Poltava - Battle of Gangut - Battle of Gadebusch


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