Russia has been a major factor in the foreign relations of nations for centuries. This has been especially true in regards to Scandinavia. To the Russian factor, we find Britain’s relations with the European mainland, especially its dealings with France. The crazy quilt of European foreign relations heated up to a boiling point with the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte to power.
At the dawn of the nineteenth century, most of Northern and Western Europe diplomatically agreed to Napoleon’s Continental System or blockade. This policy decree forbade the British trade with any nation allied with or occupied by France. The reason, of course, was to harm Britain.
Great Britain declared war on France in 1803 with the intent of overthrowing Napoleon. The cluster of wars and conflicts in alliance with other countries like The Holy Roman Empire, Prussia and Russia was called, collectively, the Napoleonic Wars. There were other nations that were not directly involved in the conflicts, but had gotten drawn into the whirlpool of battles simply because of their geographical location in Europe.
One of the nations involved, in a minor way, was Sweden. They controlled a small territory known then as Swedish Pomerania. (Pomerania is now included in the Baltic coastal areas of Germany and Poland.) Sweden leased the territory to Great Britain so the British could utilize it as a military base against France. At the same time, Sweden didn’t wish to attract French reprisals, so the Swedes kept their war efforts at a bare minimum.
The Swedish policy changed in August of 1805 when Russia offered to help Sweden in any invasion by Napoleon’s forces. The Russian czar promised up to 40,000 soldiers to their new allies.
Sweden then declared war on France on Hallowe’en Day in 1805. The conflict became known as the Pomeranian War. In the following weeks British, Prussian, Russian, and Swedish forces moved to liberate French occupied Hanover. After Hanover was liberated, the British and Russians evacuated and left the Swedes alone to face Napoleon. This caused a retreat back to Swedish Pomerania after France and Prussia signed a peace agreement in the spring of 1806.
The summer of 1806 witnessed Prussia forming the Fourth Coalition against France. So, again Sweden became involved in fighting in the western German area. France got the upper hand, so Sweden again had to retreat. Napoleon began his offensive against Swedish Pomerania in January of 1807. The Swedes capitulated in August; they signed a favorable agreement; and withdrew all their forces and munitions back to Sweden in September.
The Russians were defeated by Napoleon and a peace treaty was signed in early 1808. This left Sweden and Great Britain as the sole allies against France. Russia invaded Finland, then declared war on Sweden. Denmark, Norway, and Spain were allied with Napoleon, so they declared war on Sweden, too. Preparations for an invasion of Sweden were readied, but the invasion was canceled so that Napoleon and his allies could fight in Portugal. At the same time, Britain sent a large expeditionary force to Sweden to discourage Danish aggression. The British remained until mid Summer, when they too, sailed for Portugal.
The treaty of Fredrikshamn was signed between Russia and Sweden. It legitimized the Russian occupation of Finland. Another treaty was signed in December of 1809, between Denmark-Norway and Sweden that did not include any territory changes. Sweden then formally surrendered to Napoleon on January 6, 1810 by signing the Treaty of Paris.
Once again, we take note of Napoleon’s Continental System. The terms of the Treaty of Paris required that Sweden join the blockade. The Swedes were to no longer trade with their former allies, the British. However, acceptance of the Continental System proved to be unrealistic and practically impossible for Sweden. The French, in turn, issued an ultimatum. The French would again declare war on Sweden and invade if the Swedes didn’t obey the Treaty of Paris. Napoleon required the Swedes to confiscate all British goods within Sweden, take possession of British ships in their harbors, and declare war against Great Britain. Sweden bowed to Napoleon and complied, on paper, with the French conditions.
On November 17, 1810, Sweden declared war on Great Britain. The British navy had already stationed ships on Hanö Island but Sweden did nothing to oust the British forces. In fact, there were absolutely no acts of war by either side in the Anglo Swedish War. Neither side lost a single sailor nor soldier. Mutual trade continued in secret between the two nations. Britain still used the port at Hanö, and probably others.
As a precaution against the French possibly enforcing the Treaty of Paris and just in case Great Britain decided to take the declaration of war seriously, Sweden enacted a military draft. In June of 1811, a group of Swedish farmers near Klågerup in Scania rioted against their own government’s conscription. A force of 140 Swedish troops arrived to disperse the protesters. In the domestic action, some 30 Swedish civilians were killed by Swedish forces. This was the only bloodshed of the entire war.
After the death of Swedish Crown Prince Charles August, a new crown prince of Sweden was elected, in May of 1810. Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte did not favor continued peaceful relations with Napoleon, so again, France and Sweden became enemies. In 1812, Napoleon’s armies invaded Swedish Pomerania and Rügen Island. Immediately afterwards, the government of Sweden petitioned for peace with Great Britain.
That peace agreement was signed on July 18, 1812. The signing coincided with the Treaty of Örebro which brought the Anglo Swedish War and the Anglo Russian War to their conclusions.
The Blue Jay of Happiness has this link to another odd ball war that had no casualties: http://tinyurl.com/oy8ygjl