Sweden History - Wars against Russia

Sweden History – Wars against Russia


According to agooddir, the long war and defeat also brought about the end of royal absolutism. In 1719 the Riksdag refused to recognize the sister of Charles XII, Ulrica Eleonora, as a monarch by hereditary right, electing her queen only on the promise that she would reign according to a constitution approved by the Riksdag itself. In 1720 Ulrica Eleonora abdicated in favor of her husband Frederick of Hesse, under whose reign (1720-51) the Sweden adopted a strictly parliamentary form of government: the constitutional laws of 1720-23 practically deprived the sovereign of any power, for the benefit of the Riksdag. For about twenty years political life was dominated by A. Horn, president of the chancellery, who worked for the economic recovery of the country, conducting a prudent foreign policy, especially towards Russia. Encountered growing opposition from the party of the so-called hattar (“hats”), which organized itself starting from 1730 calling for a more decisive foreign policy towards Russia and a more rigid mercantilism, Horn had to resign (1738); the hattar came to power and in 1741 declared war on Russia. Although defeated, with the peace of 1743 the Sweden underwent only limited territorial transfers in Finland, since the previous year the Riksdag had agreed to elect Adolfo Federico of Holstein-Gottorp, a favorite of the Empress of Russia, Elizabeth, as successor to the throne.  ● Maintaining the government even after the accession to the throne of Adolfo Federico (1750-71), the hattar forged an alliance with the France, leading the Sweden in the costly Seven Years War against Prussia (1757-62) and dragging the country to financial collapse. The opposing party of the so-called mössor (“caps”) took advantage of this, and in 1765 managed to prevail. However, due to the worsening of the economic crisis, in 1769 the Mössors had to surrender the government to the hattar again. The struggle between the two parties had reduced the Sweden to the object of European politics; the two factions in fact represented in the country the conflicting interests of the European powers (the mössor those of Russia, Great Britain and Denmark, the hattar those of France) from which they were subsidized. ● In 1772 the new king, Gustavo III, succeeded in imposing a new Constitution, which reaffirmed the sovereign’s authority over the Riksdag; the formation of an opposition against this form of autocracy was inevitable. Gustav III believed he could stave off discontent by a victorious war against Russia, but many Swedish officers preferred to make common cause with the enemy against their own ruler. To overcome the opposition, mostly formed by the nobles, the king relied on the other orders of the Riksdag and in 1790 he managed to conclude a peace with Russia that restored the status quo. Two years later Gustavo III fell victim to a conspiracy of nobles; his son, Gustavo IV Adolfo, who became king when he came of age (1800), promoted a great agrarian reform. Less fortunate was his foreign policy, which resulted in a new war with Russia, which ended in defeat (1808).

The reforms of the 19th century

Inspired by the army, which hoped to obtain more lenient peace conditions from Russia, the Riksdag overthrew the monarch, electing in his place his uncle, Charles XIII (1809), and appointing the French marshal JB Bernadotte (1810) as crown prince. A new Constitution was also promulgated in 1809, based on a strict separation of powers. The internal upheaval, however, did not alleviate the conditions of peace imposed by Russia: Finland became an autonomous grand duchy, subject to the sovereignty of the tsar. The crown prince, assuming the name of Charles John, soon became the true architect of Swedish politics; in search of compensation for the loss of Finland, he promoted the country’s accession to the anti-Napoleonic coalition, with the assurance of the purchase of Norway. The latter, recognized as an independent kingdom, in 1814 it formed a union with the Sweden, after a formal act of transfer by Denmark, which had exercised its sovereignty there until then. Charles John ascended the throne under the name of Charles XIV in 1818 and his peaceful reign lasted until 1844. ● Advanced liberal reforms in domestic politics and economics were introduced by Oscar I (1844-59), who loosened ties with the Russia and aimed to absorb Denmark into the Swedish-Norwegian union. The same design was cultivated by Charles XV (1859-72). Under the reign of Oscar II (1872-1907) land tax was abolished and the army reformed. From the point of view of economic conditions, the end of the 19th century. constituted a period of strong expansion for the Sweden but in the countryside the demographic growth that occurred during the nineteenth century contributed to the creation of a large agricultural proletariat, which had no other resource than emigration to America. The government reacted to the crisis in the countryside by adopting protectionist measures, while the cooperative movement spread among the peasants, which contributed, together with the workers’ unions, to the birth of the Social Democratic party (1889). In the very first years of the 20th century. there was also the electoral union of the liberal forces (1900) and that of the conservative forces (1904). together with the workers’ unions, at the birth of the Social Democratic Party (1889). In the very first years of the 20th century. there was also the electoral union of the liberal forces (1900) and that of the conservative forces (1904). together with the workers’ unions, at the birth of the Social Democratic Party (1889). In the very first years of the 20th century. there was also the electoral union of the liberal forces (1900) and that of the conservative forces (1904).

Sweden History - Wars against Russia