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Northern War,1700–1721, general European conflict, fought in N and E Europe at the same time that the War of the Spanish SuccessionSpanish Succession, War of the,
1701–14, last of the general European wars caused by the efforts of King Louis XIV to extend French power. The conflict in America corresponding to the period of the War of the Spanish Succession was known as Queen Anne's War (see French and
..... Click the link for more information. was fought in the west and the south. It arose chiefly from the desire of the neighbors of Sweden to break Swedish supremacy in the Baltic area, and from the conflicting ambitions of Peter IPeter I
or Peter the Great,
1672–1725, czar of Russia (1682–1725), major figure in the development of imperial Russia. Early Life
Peter was the youngest child of Czar Alexis, by Alexis's second wife, Natalya Naryshkin.
..... Click the link for more information. of Russia and Charles XIICharles XII,
1682–1718, king of Sweden (1697–1718), son and successor of Charles XI. The regency under which he succeeded was abolished in 1697 at the request of the Riksdag. At the coronation he omitted the usual oath and crowned himself.
..... Click the link for more information. of Sweden. Many other interests were involved, however. Although there was no direct link between the Northern War and the War of the Spanish Succession, Sweden generally received the diplomatic support of France, and England supported Russia early in the war, but withdrew support later.
The Course of Hostilities
The outbreak of the war was preceded by the alliance (1699) of Peter I, Frederick IVFrederick IV,
1671–1730, king of Denmark and Norway (1699–1730), son and successor of Christian V. He allied himself (1699) with Augustus II of Poland and Saxony and with Peter I of Russia against Charles XII of Sweden in the Northern War, but was forced to sign the
..... Click the link for more information. of Denmark, and Augustus IIAugustus II,
1670–1733, king of Poland (1697–1733) and, as Frederick Augustus I, elector of Saxony (1694–1733). He commanded the imperial army against the Turks (1695–96), but had no success and was replaced by Prince Eugene of Savoy as soon as he
..... Click the link for more information. of Poland (who was also elector of Saxony) against Charles XII, whose youth and inexperience they hoped would make him an easy victim. The war began with the invasion of Swedish Livonia by the Poles and of ducal Schleswig (which had rebelled against Danish rule with Swedish support) by the Danes. The bold and unexpected landing of Charles XII in Sjæland threatened Copenhagen and forced Denmark out of the war (1700).
Charles then turned his attention to the east; late in 1700 he routed a much superior Russian force at Narva and relieved Riga, which the Poles were besieging. Invading Poland, Charles took Warsaw and Cracow (1702), secured the election of Stanislaus IStanislaus I,
1677–1766, king of Poland (1704–1709, 1733–35) and duke of Lorraine (1735–66). He was born Stanislaus Leszczynski. Early in the Northern War (1700–1721), Charles XII of Sweden overran Poland and expelled King Augustus II.
..... Click the link for more information. as king of Poland (1704), followed Augustus into Saxony, and forced him to break his alliance with Russia and to recognize Stanislaus as king by the Treaty of Altranstädt (1706). While Charles was victorious in Poland, however, Peter I occupied Ingermanland and part of Livonia.
Resuming (1707) his campaign against Russia, Charles invaded Ukraine, where MazepaMazepa, Ivan
, c.1640–1709, Cossack hetman [leader] in the Russian Ukraine. He was made hetman (1687) on the insistence of Prince Gallitzin, adviser to the Russian regent, Sophia Alekseyevna, and he aided Gallitzin in his campaign against the Tatars (1689).
..... Click the link for more information. had promised to foment an anti-Russian uprising. Mazepa's project failed, and the Swedes, cut off from reinforcements and in need of a stronghold, laid siege to the fortress of Poltava. There a superior Russian army utterly defeated (1709) the Swedes, and Charles retired with a handful of men to Bessarabia, on Turkish territory.
His intrigues at Constantinople induced the sultan to declare war on Russia (1710). Peter I, allied with Prince Constantine BrancovanBrancovan, Constantine
, 1654–1714, prince of Walachia (1688–1714). A skillful politician who secured domestic peace, he furthered Walachia's economic and cultural development.
..... Click the link for more information. of Walachia and Prince Demetrius Cantemir of Moldavia, invaded these two vassal principalities of Turkey and entered Jassy, but he soon found himself outnumbered and consented (1711) to the disadvantageous Treaty of the Pruth (see Russo-Turkish WarsRusso-Turkish Wars.
The great eastward expansion of Russia in the 16th and 17th cent., during the decline of the Ottoman Empire, nevertheless left the shores of the Black Sea in the hands of the Ottoman sultans and their vassals, the khans of Crimea.
..... Click the link for more information. ).
While Charles was stubbornly refusing to leave Turkey, Augustus II took advantage of his absence; he invaded (1709) Poland and expelled Stanislaus I, while Peter I completed the conquest of Swedish Livonia, Ingermanland, and Karelia. Frederick IV of Denmark also resumed the war, seized ducal Schleswig, and conquered the Swedish duchies of Bremen and Verden in Germany, which he sold to Hanover on condition that Hanover join in the war against Sweden. Swedish Pomerania was taken by the Poles, and Prussia, fishing in troubled waters, seized Stettin. In 1714, Charles XII returned to Sweden. Undaunted by the coalition of Russia, Denmark, Poland, Saxony, Hanover, and Prussia, he began military operations in Norway (then ruled by Denmark), where he was fatally shot in 1718.
Charles's successor, Ulrica Leonora, and her husband, Frederick I of Sweden, began peace negotiations. Peace was made with all enemies but Russia in the treaties of Stockholm and Frederiksborg (1719–20). Augustus II of Poland restored all his conquests; Hanover retained the duchies of Bremen and Verden, but paid a large indemnity; Prussia received Stettin and part of W Pomerania, the rest reverting to Sweden; Denmark restored its conquests for a payment, but Sweden permitted the union of ducal Schleswig with royal Schleswig under the Danish crown and renounced Swedish exemption from customs duties in the Sound. By the Treaty of Nystad with Russia (1721) Sweden ceded Livonia (including Estonia), part of Karelia, and Ingermanland, but retained Finland. The lasting results of the Northern War were the waning of Swedish power, the establishment of Russia as a major power of Europe, with its "window" on the Baltic Sea, and the decay of Poland.
See L. Cooper, Many Roads to Moscow (1968).