En begivenhed der ikke fandt sted. Den dansk-russiske landgang i Skåne 1716

  • Hans Bagger


An Event That Never Happened the Danish-Russian invasion of Sweden 1716The present study deals with an important turning point in the Great Northern War. On 3 June 1716 Frederick IV and Peter the Great signed a pact in Altona to carry out a joint Danish-Russian invasion of Sweden. The main forces of the allies were to assemble on Zealand and sail across the sound to Scania in southern Sweden, while a smaller Russian contingent was to be ferried across the Gulf of Bothnia and disembarked in Sweden north of Stockholm. The goal of the invasion was to force the King of Sweden, Charles XII, to negotiate a peace. Russia wanted Ingria, Karelia, Estonia, and Livonia. Denmark saw a chance of winning back its provinces in southern Sweden, which it had lost in the wars of 1657-60.On 19 September, after a large Danish-Russian invasion force had been assembled on the outskirts of Copenhagen, Peter the Great categorically declared that the invasion of Scania had to be called off, since it was too late in the season to carry it out. The present study of the Czar’s motives takes as its starting point the official explanation given by the Russian government: Denmark had dawdled so long with its military preparations that the harvest in Scania was already in, making it difficult for the invasion forces to find sufficient supplies of food and fodder. In addition, Charles XII had been able to muster all his troops in Scania, because the Danish government had refused to detach three to four warships to cover the Russian diversionary attack from the Gulf of Bothnia.An analysis of Russian internal deliberations from 10 to 18 September shows that the official reasons should be taken at face value. The study also reveals that the Russian generals had nothing but scorn for the Danish army, while they themselves overestimated the size of the Scania defence forces. On the other hand, there is no evidence for the claim that the Russian government had begun separate, secret negotiations with Sweden. In fact, a ministerial response to the Czar noted that calling off the invasion of Scania could lead to Russia’s diplomatic isolation.Confidential information from Vice-Chancellor Shafirov to the Prussian envoy, Cnyphausen, throws further light on Peter the Great’s motives. His relationship with Frederick IV had become strained. They were to share command of the forces invading Scania, but the czar found it dangerous to go to war with an ally he found so nervous and suspicious. According to Shafirov, Frederick IV feared that Russia would have too much influence at the peace negotiations, and that this was why he refused to give naval support to the Russian diversion from the east.Both Shafirov and the Russian generals criticized the Danish operational plans for leaving the initiative to the enemy. The Altona Pact stipulated that the war should be pursued with vigour, and the czar’s intention was to drive forward deeply into Scania and deal Charles XII a decisive blow, after which it would be possible to demolish the Swedish fleet at Karlskrona. The Danish strategy, which was presented to the czar late in the planning, was distinctly defensive and aimed at "entrenching" the forces once they had taken the fortress at Helsingborg and perhaps Landskrona. There is strong indication that by 1716 Frederick IV had given up the dream of reconquering all the lost provinces across the sound. He wanted to recover the western parts of Scania, Halland, Bohus, and Jämtland, thus creating a stable territorial link with Norway. He wished, in addition, to retain the ducal parts of Schleswig and Holstein, which he had conquered in 1713. In compensation the Duke of Holstein-Gottorp could be given Livonia, which the Russians had captured in 1710. The conflict of interest over Livonia is probably the key to understanding the Danish government’s behaviour in August and September 1716.Translated by Michael Wolfe
Bagger, H. (2013). En begivenhed der ikke fandt sted. Den dansk-russiske landgang i Skåne 1716. Historisk Tidsskrift, 103(1). Hentet fra https://tidsskrift.dk/historisktidsskrift/article/view/56049