Northern Wars

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"Northern Wars" is a term used for a series of wars fought in northern and northeastern Europe in the 16th and 17th century. An internationally agreed nomenclature for these wars has not yet been devised. [1] While the Great Northern War is generally considered to be the last of the Northern Wars, there are different scholarly opinions on which war constitutes the First Northern War. [2]

Great Northern War Conflict between mainly the Swedish and Russian empires in 1700–1721

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. The initial leaders of the anti-Swedish alliance were Peter I of Russia, Frederick IV of Denmark–Norway and Augustus II the Strong of Saxony–Poland–Lithuania. Frederick IV and Augustus II were defeated by Sweden, under Charles XII, and forced out of the alliance in 1700 and 1706 respectively, but rejoined it in 1709 after the defeat of Charles XII at the Battle of Poltava. George I of Great Britain and of Brunswick-Lüneburg (Hanover) joined the coalition in 1714 for Hanover and in 1717 for Britain, and Frederick William I of Brandenburg-Prussia joined it in 1715.


Depending upon what date is chosen for the starting point, the Northern Wars comprise:

The Russo-Swedish War of 1554–1557, considered a prelude to the Livonian War of 1558–1583, arose out of border skirmishes. It ended when the parties agreed on a truce in the Treaty of Novgorod (1557).

Arvo Kunto Viljanti was a Finnish historian.

Livonian War 16th century war in Eastern Europe

The Livonian War (1558–1583) was fought for control of Old Livonia, when the Tsardom of Russia faced a varying coalition of Denmark–Norway, the Kingdom of Sweden, and the Union of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of Poland.

See also

War in the North

The War in the North, in the Spanish Civil War was the campaign in which the Nationalist forces defeated and occupied the parts of northern Spain that remained loyal to the Republican government. The campaign included several separate battles. The Biscay Campaign resulted in the loss of the part of the Basque Country still held by the Republic and Bilbao, the greatest Spanish industrial center. This part of the campaign saw the Bombing of Guernica and Durango. The Battle of Santander caused the loss of the province of Santander in Cantabrian Castile for the Republic. The Battle of El Mazuco lead to the capture of the Republican-controlled part of Asturias and the fall of Gijón, the Republic's last stronghold in the North, to the Nationalists. The campaign ended on October 21, 1937 with a decisive and total Nationalist victory.

The Polish–Swedish Wars were a series of wars between the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and Sweden. Broadly construed, the term refers to a series of wars between 1563 and 1721. More narrowly, it refers to particular wars between 1600 and 1629. These are the wars included under the broader use of the term:

Early modern warfare History and description of warfare in the early modern period

Early modern warfare is associated with the start of the widespread use of gunpowder and the development of suitable weapons to use the explosive, including artillery and firearms; for this reason the era is also referred to as the age of gunpowder warfare.


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Second Northern War conflict

The Second Northern War was fought between Sweden and its adversaries the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (1655–60), the Moscow Tsardom (1656–58), Brandenburg-Prussia (1657–60), the Habsburg Monarchy (1657–60) and Denmark–Norway. The Dutch Republic often intervened against Sweden.

Janusz Radziwiłł (1612–1655) diplomat (1612-1655)

Prince Janusz Radziwiłł, also known as Janusz the Second or Janusz the Younger was a noble and magnate in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Throughout his life he occupied a number of posts in the state administration, including that of Court Chamberlain of Lithuania, Field Hetman of Lithuania and Grand Hetman of Lithuania. He was also a voivode of Vilna Voivodeship, as well as a starost of Samogitia, Kamieniec, Kazimierz and Sejwy. He was a protector of the Protestant religion in Lithuania and sponsor of many Protestant schools and churches.

Union of Kėdainiai

Union of Kėdainiai was an agreement between several magnates of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the king of the Swedish Empire, Charles X Gustav. It was signed on 20 October 1655 during the "Swedish Deluge", part of the Second Northern War. In contrast to the preceding Treaty of Kėdainiai of 17 August, which put Lithuania under Swedish protection, the purpose of the Swedish-Lithuanian union was to end Lithuania's union with Poland, and set up two separate principalities in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. One of these was to be ruled by the Radziwiłł (Radvila) family, while the rest of the duchy was to remain a Swedish protectorate.

Russo-Polish War (1654–1667) 1654–1667 major conflict between Tsardom of Russia and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

The Russo-Polish War of 1654–1667, also called the Thirteen Years' War, First Northern War, War for Ukraine or Russian Deluge, was a major conflict between the Tsardom of Russia and the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Between 1655 and 1660, the Swedish invasion was also fought in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and so the period became known in Poland as "The Deluge" or Swedish Deluge. Because of this, it is sometimes referred as Russo–Swedish Deluge.

The Treaty of Constantinople or Istanbul was signed on 13 July 1700 between the Tsardom of Russia and the Ottoman Empire. It ended the Russo-Turkish War of 1686-1700. Russian tsar Peter the Great secured possession of the Azov region and freed his forces to participate in the Great Northern War. The treaty was superseded by the Treaty of the Pruth in 1711, after the Ottoman Empire became involved in this war.

Truce/Treaty of Vilna or Truce/Treaty of Niemieża was a treaty signed at Niemieża near Vilnius on 3 November 1656 between Tsardom of Russia and Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, introducing a truce during the Russo-Polish War (1654–67) and an anti-Swedish alliance in the contemporaneous Second Northern War. In return for ceasing hostilities and fighting Sweden alongside Poland–Lithuania, the treaty promised Alexis of Russia succession in Poland after John II Casimir Vasa's death. The cossacks under Bohdan Khmelnytsky were excluded from the negotiations, and subsequently supported the Transylvanian invasion on the Swedish side.

Siege of Tönning 1700 military action

During the Great Northern War, the fortress of Tönning (Tønning) in the territory of Holstein-Gottorp, an ally of the Swedish Empire, was besieged twice: Denmark-Norway was forced to lift the first siege in 1700, but a combined force of the anti-Swedish coalition successfully besieged and took Tönning in 1713–1714.

Capitulation of Estonia and Livonia peace treaty

With the Capitulation of Estonia and Livonia in 1710 the Swedish dominions Estonia and Livonia were integrated into the Russian Empire following their conquest during the Great Northern War. The Livonian nobility and the city of Riga capitulated on 4 July (O.S.) / 15 July 1710 (N.S.), Pernau (Pärnu) in August, and the Estonian nobility and the city of Reval (Tallinn) on 29 September (O.S.) / 10 October (N.S.). Russia left the local institutions in place and confirmed the traditional privileges of the German nobles and burghers as was established in Privilegium Sigismundi Augusti, especially with respect to the Protestant faith. The land reform of the so-called reduction which had been introduced by the Swedish king Charles XI, and transformed many serfs to subjects of the Crown, was reversed.

Treaty of Vienna (1656)

The treaty of Vienna, concluded on 1 December 1656, was an Austro–Polish alliance during the Second Northern War. Habsburg emperor Ferdinand III agreed to enter the war on the anti-Swedish side and support the Polish king John II Casimir with 4,000 troops. The treaty was, however, dissatisfying for John II Casimir, who had hoped for more substantial aid, and further ineffective as Ferdinand III died three days after giving his signature. A similar, but more effective alliance was concluded by Ferdinand III's successor Leopold I in the Treaty of Vienna (1657).

Treaty of Vienna (1657)

The Treaty of Vienna, concluded on 27 May 1657, was an Austro–Polish alliance during the Second Northern War. After Habsburg emperor Ferdinand III had agreed to

The Treaty of Kėdainiai or Kiejdany, signed on 17 August 1655, was a Swedish–Lithuanian agreement during the Second Northern War. After the Polish forces had been decisively defeated in the Battle of Ujście, whereupon the Poznań and Kalisz palatines surrendered to Sweden, Lithuanian hetman Janusz Radziwiłł decided to discontinue the war. In Kėdainiai, he accepted Swedish protection. The treaty further specified that the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was not dissolved and Lithuanian forces would not fight Polish forces, although the text of the treaty included protests against the lack of Polish support. On 20 October, the treaty was superseded by the Union of Kėdainiai, which united the Grand Duchy of Lithuania with the Swedish Empire.

The Battle of Koniecpol was an encounter in November 1708 during the Great Northern War. Near Koniecpol in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, pro-Swedish forces under Stanisław Leszczyński met with anti-Swedish forces of the Sandomierz Confederation, loyal to Augustus the Strong and allied with Russia. Both armies had a strength of about 10,000 men. Leszczyński was defeated, and thus unable to aid Charles XII of Sweden in his unfortunate Russian campaign.

The Treaty of Narva was concluded on 19 August (O.S.) / 30 August 1704 during the Great Northern War. The faction of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth loyal to Augustus the Strong joined the anti-Swedish alliance between the Saxon electorate and the Tsardom of Russia.

The Treaty of Warsaw was concluded on 18 November (O.S.) / 28 November 1705 during the Great Northern War. It was a peace treaty and an alliance between the Swedish Empire and the faction of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth loyal to Stanisław Leszczyński.

The Treaty or Peace of Pozvol, Pasvalys or Pozwol was a peace treaty and an alliance concluded on 5 and 14 September 1557 between the Livonian Confederation and the Polish-Lithuanian union, whereby the former put its territories under Polish-Lithuanian protection. The treaty was preceded by disputes between the members of the Livonian Confederation and military pressure by Sigismund II Augustus, king of Poland and Grand duke of Lithuania, and provoked Russian tsar Ivan IV "the Terrible" to start the Livonian War.

Vasknarva Village in Ida-Viru County, Estonia

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The civil war in Poland (1704–1706) was a part of a larger European conflict, the Great Northern War. It focused on the struggle for the Polish throne between King Stanisław I supported by his Warsaw Confederation and Sweden, and the Russian-backed Sandomierz Confederation of Augustus II the Strong. The war ended with Stanisław's victory and the Treaty of Altranstädt in 1706 in which August II renounced his claims to the Polish throne. Stanisław's triumph would be short-lived, however, as by 1709 he would be forced to give up the throne to Augustus II once again.


  1. Frost (2000), pp. 12–13
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Frost (2000), p. 13
  3. "Second Northern War". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. 23 October 2008. Retrieved 31 March 2014.


Robert I. Frost is a British historian and academic. His interests are in the history of Eastern and Northern Europe of 14th-19th centuries, with primary focus on Poland-Lithuania and the history of warfare of the period.

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