Russo-Swedish War of 1656–58

Russo-Swedish War of 1656–58

 

a war that arose as a result of Russia’s desire to regain the territory in the northwest that had been seized by Sweden in the 16th and 17th centuries and to gain access to the Baltic Sea. In 1655, King Charles X of Sweden took advantage of the weakened condition of Poland during the Russo-Polish War of 1654–67 and attacked Poland; by the end of the year, Swedish forces had occupied a significant part of the country. Now it was no longer Poland but Sweden, with its wide-ranging and aggressive plans, that represented the greatest threat to Russia. A. L. Ordin-Nashchokin, who directed Russian foreign policy, believed that the right moment had come to solve a key problem in foreign policy—how to gain access to the Baltic Sea and capture Livonia, which belonged to Sweden. The Russian government concluded an armistice with Poland and in the summer of 1656 declared war on Sweden.

Part of the forces were sent to occupy the Neva River line and in July they captured Noteborg (Russian Oreshek, now Pe-trokrepost’) and Nienschanz (Russian Kantsy). In July and August the main forces of the Russian army occupied Dinaburg (now Daugavpils) and Kokenhusen (now Koknese) and then in late August besieged Riga. A separate detachment besieged Dorpat (now Tartu), which surrendered in October. Because of a shortage of forces and lack of support from the sea, the siege of Riga failed and was lifted in October.

During the period 1657–58, Swedish forces, having received reinforcements, began vigorous actions, inflicted a series of defeats on the numerically small Russian forces, and regained part of the territory occupied by the Russians. The renewal of the war with Poland forced Russia to conclude the Valiesar Treaty of 1658 for a three-year armistice; however, failures in the war against Poland in 1659 and 1660 and Poland’s conclusion of the 1660 Peace of Oliva with Sweden forced the Russian government to sign the Treaty of Kardis in 1661, by which all the conquests gained between 1656 and 1658 were lost.

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