We have only to look below the surface of any historical event, to inquire, that is, into the activity of the whole mass ofpeople who took part in the event, to become convinced that the will of our historical hero, so far from ruling the actionsof the multitude, is itself continuously controlled. (Tolstoy, War and Peace, p. 1168)It seems a curious paradox of history that the election of a French marshall from Napoleon Bonaparte's Grand Army to the Swedish throne on 21 August 1810 (in the popular belief that Napoleon would help Sweden reclaim Finland from Russia) would actually lead to the cessation of centuries of intermittent Russian and Swedish expansionist quests along their common border lands around the Baltic. Finland and Norway were to play dominant roles in Sweden's necessary quest for peace, officially secured in 1814, which has lasted till the present day. Looking more closely at the events leading up to and following the final clash between the two empires in 1808/1809, the contributing factors appear almost endless and alternative outcomes more and more remote.
In dealing with this period of history the different shapes and sizes of these two countries in Europe at the end of the 18th century should not be forgotten. Poland had been finally completely obliterated in 1795 and carved up between Russia, Austria and Prussia. Giving Russia, therefore, a common border with these two countries along with the Ottoman empire in the south. Sweden still had one remaining possession on the northern coast of the European continent, Swedish Pomerania, as well as the greater part of its centuries-old eastern province, Finland.
I am particularly indebted to Päivö Tommila<1> and V.V. Roginskii<2>, who appear to be the only two scholars who have dealt exclusively with this topic. Even Tolstoy's tome, War and Peace, which deals exclusively with this period mentions the Finnish campaign casually on only 2 of its 1444 pages.<3> I could not find any material on Russian/Swedish relations during this particular period in English, although various histories of the countries involved<4> shed some light on some of the issues. I therefore hope to open this field of study to English-speaking scholars and, should there already be research in English in this field, I am only sorry that their work did not surface during my search.
Beginning with the Great Northern War between Russia and Sweden, 1700-1721, which finally ended with the Treaty of Nystad, Sweden's role as a great European power began to decline, losing all her Baltic lands (Estonia, Lithuania and Ingermanland<5>) to Russia in 1721; the south-eastern part of Finland to Russia in 1743 after two years of war; losing no territory during the 1788-1790 war with Russia (though a huge amount of money and trust in the Swedish king particularly amongst the Finnish military echelons were lost during this war); and then finally losing the whole of Finland, (40 per cent of its territory, 26 per cent of its population, 33 per cent of its army and 25-30 per cent of its national revenue<6>), in the war of 1808-1809, to Russia. This last war was initially a result of Napoleon's efforts to defeat Britain<7> economically and therefore a background to the larger enfolding European drama must be included. As noted above, the Russian/Swedish border had, however, often been disputed and acquisition of Finland had certainly been in Russia's sights and interests since Peter the Great's attempts to secure his new capital, St Petersburg. Finland's fate did not depend on linguistic or cultural discrepancies with Sweden,<8> but on her sheer strategic importance between two capitals, Stockholm and St. Petersburg.
Russia's dominance in Europe was, on the other hand, ever-increasing. The gains from Sweden noted above by Peter I (the Great) and Alexander I around the Baltic had totally secured the Russian capital St Petersburg and Russia's access to the vital Baltic sea lanes for trade. The conquests by Catherine II (the Great) along the Caucasian coast between 1770 and 1796 had also given Russia direct access to the Black Sea. With Turkey threatened by Napoleon's efforts in Egypt, Turkey and Russia concluded an alliance in December 1798 which allowed Russia access through the Bosporus Straits and the Dardanelles to the Mediterranean.<9> This peace was, however, destroyed by the resumption of hostilities in 1806. These advances in the balance of European power to Russia's advantage were to prove worrisome for other European powers and was more often than not the reason for other powers delaying alliances with or subsidies to Russia.
Economics and trade were to prove the counterweight to strained political relations between Sweden and Russia (and later Britain) with the realities of securing free trading routes through the Baltic to their relative markets overseas. Thus the two countries were drawn into various alliances, beginning in 1780 with the armed neutrality treaty between Russia, Sweden and Denmark against England. This economic sea war was based on the fact that England did not recognise the maritime law that a free ship could carry free goods as long as they were not contraband. Shipbuilding materials were counted as contraband, Britain arguing that such materials were being delivered to France. This was particularly disastrous for Sweden's exports and neutral ships were often seized by Britain for this reason. The signatories aimed chiefly, therefore, to protect their trade against British requisitions. Even after Napoleon had taken direct control of France during the Brumaire coup in 1799, a second armed neutrality treaty was signed in 1800 by Russia, Sweden, Prussia and Denmark in an increased effort against Britain.<10>
In order to safeguard her significant exports of foodstuffs to Britain, Russia agreed to a compromise with Britain, to which Sweden also linked herself in 1802. Swedish relations with France were worsening, if only gradually. A trade agreement between Britain and Sweden was reached shortly afterwards especially since war between France and England had again broken out in May 1803 destroying the Treaty of Amiens, signed by these two warring rivals in March 1802. Sweden's claims for compensation for two seized convoys were finally granted, a full five years after their seizure and the most important Swedish export goods, iron, steel, copper, herring and timber were excepted from Britain's list of goods to be confiscated. This trade agreement, while not having any direct political bearing, did further facilitate Sweden's break with France.
While sojourning in Swedish Pomerania and Baden between July 1803 and January 1805 (mainly to visit his wife's relatives), the Swedish king's worsening attitude towards France reached a dramatic nadir in March 1804, after Napoleon's brutal and illegal kidnapping of an exiled Bourbon prince, the Duke of Enghien, from Baden territory and his transfer to Paris where he was shot. This violent act against a person of royal blood and the illegality of such an act on foreign territory sent shockwaves through the royal courts of Europe, including the Swedish king who had been so close to the action. Gustavus IV Adolphus recalled his minister in Paris immediately but did not sever relations completely until September 1804.<ll> Neither the Russian czar nor the Swedish king recognised the title of emperor that Bonaparte shortly thereafter bestowed upon himself.
Russia was also drawing closer to Britain. In 1805 the Russo/British treaty was signed which formed the basis of the third coalition against France which Austria also soon joined. Sweden's participation was important as the coalition needed Swedish Pomerania as a base, since the formerly British electorate of Hannover was already occupied by French troops. Britain agreed to give subsidies to Sweden in December 1804 provided that Sweden allowed George III's Hannoverian troops to gather in Swedish Pomerania during spring 1805.<l2> In March 1805 a Swedish/Russian treaty was signed concerning joint operations against Napoleon, on the condition that Austria and Prussia supported the general plan and that England provided economic support. This coalition foundered, but Sweden followed the allies' course by declaring war on France on 31 October 1805, not for economic reasons, but as a reaction to Napoleon's illegal action in Europe and as a counterweight to his growing advantage in the European balance of power.<l3> Napoleon invaded Swedish Pomerania in January 1805, starting the Pomeranian war which lasted till 1807. The allied forces were badly defeated at Austerlitz on 2 December 1805 forcing Austria into a peace agreement with France and Prussia into an alliance with France, thus proving Napoleon's dominance on the continent while the British victory at Trafalgar in the same year proved Britain's dominance at sea.
After reaching Berlin in October 1806, Napoleon declared his continental blockade against Britain, hoping to crush his main enemy economically by blocking entry to her ships and goods as well as those of her colonies to all her main trading ports on the continent. It was therefore in Britain's interest to side with any country which opposed France. Although the blockade was partially successful, it also damaged the participating countries as England was the most industrially advanced market for the exports of other countries, particularly from Sweden and Russia. A lively upswing in the smuggling trade caused the blockade to leak in various areas, particularly in Sweden which had the greatest export volume to England of all European countries. Napoleon tried to plug these holes in various ways and with various threats but was not ultimately successful.
Shortly after Britain had decided to back Sweden financially, in March 1807, Napoleon retaliated with a decisive victory over the allies at Friedland in eastern Prussia on 14 June 1807, despite huge losses. Alexander I and Napoleon met at Tilsit on 7 and 9 July 1807 and there arranged peace and alliance treaties resulting in the splitting of Europe into two spheres of interest between the two remaining powerful rulers, each committed to enforcing the continental blockade against Britain. Alexander and Napoleon agreed that if Britain did not bow to France, then Denmark, Sweden and Portugal would be called upon to shut their ports and forced to declare war on Britain. Any country which refused would be treated immediately as an enemy. If Sweden refused, Denmark would be made to declare war on Sweden. (The similarity with the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact in 1939 and the subsequent invasions of Russia is startling.) The cornerstone of Sweden's alliance policy, the friendship between Russia and Britain, was now shattered.<l4>
Russia's volte-face put Sweden in a dreadful position. Swedish neutrality was no longer possible. There was a choice of joining the blockade and risking a British naval attack like the one on Copenhagen in 1801 or risking a possible Russian/Danish attack against Finland and Skåne, in southern Sweden. The British managed to force Denmark's capitulation on 7 September 1807 taking the Danish navy in exchange for the British leaving Zealand. In Sweden a feeling of hopelessness set in. Gustavus IV Adolphus returned home from Stralsund (in Swedish Pomerania) in September 1807 after first Stralsund and then Rügen were evacuated and the Swedish army only managed to get back to Sweden through Toll's cunning diplomacy with the French. Sweden declined Britain's offer of a joint attack on Zealand with the result that on 30 October Denmark signed a treaty with France and joined Sweden's enemies. Gustavus IV Adolphus was, however, now consumed with a religious fervour and was convinced that Napoleon was the Devil incarnate and believed that eternal hell would envelope him if he carried out negotiations with the Devil himself.<l5>
Russia's break with England raised the importance of Sweden as a market for British imports and exports, as a transit land, and as a barrier to Russia's influence in the North. In February 1808 a new subsidy convention was signed between Sweden and England with England pledging significant subsidies until the end of the year though no military help was offered. Once again England came to the aid of an ally with too little help too late.
To his credit, Alexander did try to pressure Sweden into the blockade and a reconciliation with Napoleon by diplomatic means first. This pressure was maintained right up until the end of 1807. France began to pressure Russia to declare war instead, although a northern war was not really in Russia's interests at that time as she was still engaged in a more important war in the Balkans. Even the final ultimatum issued to Sweden, the eventual declaration of war, was delayed by a month<l6> before the Russians finally invaded Finland on 21 February 1808, in order to force her to join the blockade or suffer the consequences of being treated as an enemy. Gustavus IV Adolphus was so bitter about Russia's volte-face that he had the Russian minister followed. The guards were able, therefore, to help the minister furnish St Petersburg with valuable information.<l7> This tense situation, along with Sweden's stubborn refusal to join the blockade, formed the official pretext for Alexander's manifesto on 1 April 1808 declaring Russia's intentions to incorporate Finland into the Russian empire. The war now became one of conquest and, in Russia's view, a more equitable balance of power between Napoleon and Alexander. Russia had not managed to advance on the Balkan front, while Napoleon was achieving one victorious advance after another. Finland became a compensatory acquisition for Russia, and a chance for Alexander to bolster his prestige before Napoleon.
On 14 March Denmark also declared war against Sweden following the terms of the new French/Danish treaty. The south and west of Sweden were now also in danger, especially since Napoleon's experienced marshal Jean Baptiste Bernadotte, had just arrived in Denmark on 15 March 1808 to take command of the invasion that Napoleon wanted to send to Skåne. The invasion did not eventuate, which no doubt improved Bernadotte's chances two years later of becoming Sweden's crown prince. Prussia was also forced to break with Sweden although there were no military consequences and trade was not affected. Sweden was now completely surrounded by enemies (Norway forming part of a union with Denmark).
The Swedish defence capability (66,000 against an estimated 80,000<18> Russians) set aside for the war against Sweden)<l9> was not sufficient to meet the two fronts.<20> By 1 July 1807 the British troops had gone home after a dispute between Gustavus IV Adolphus and John Moore, their commander, over their use and the fact that both Britain and Napoleon were turning their attention to Spain and away from the North. Thus Sweden was really left to fight Russia alone and had lost valuable time defending itself against a Danish/Norwegian attack that never eventuated. Only on 30 June 1807 did the Swedish king turn his attention to Finland.<2l>
Meanwhile in Finland, the Swedish commander, W.M. Klingspor, had ordered his troops to retreat, without engaging the enemy, to the north-western town of Uleåborg (Oulu),<22> to await fresh troops or to prepare to defend Sweden herself.<23> From eye witness accounts of this disastrous retreat, it is clear how psychologically distressing and demoralising it must have been for the soldiers to leave their lands and families to the enemy and march further and further northwards without even attempting to fight the enemy.<24> Bearing in mind that it was Göran Magnus Sprengtporten<25> who was masterminding this invasion, his local knowledge of terrain, strategy and use on propaganda to allay people's fears of the Russian advance also had their effect. He tried to convince the Finnish people that they would be better off under the Russians and that their religious freedom, certain privileges and special status in the Russian empire would be assured.
This approach marked the beginning of a pacification policy<26> adopted by the Russian czar to calm the Finnish population and to secure the northern front as peacefully and as rapidly as possible so that Russia could concentrate on Poland, Turkey and the growing friction with France. Alexander was also hoping to avoid a similar kind of guerilla war to the one Napoleon was experiencing in Spain. It was, therefore, necessary to generate a genuine feeling of loyalty amongst the Finns. A pacification policy was also more beneficial to Russia than direct military rule, as troops could be diverted elsewhere and a special status granted, keeping a distance between Russian laws and the Finnish people, who would not have warmed to serfdom overnight! The Finns were not to feel that they had been conquered but that Russia was acting in their best interests, in fact would give them more than they had had under Swedish rule.
The most glittering example of this successful propaganda campaign, lead from within Swedish ranks this time by Fredrik Anders Jägerhorn, brother of Jan Anders Jägerhorn (who had fled to Russia to escape arrest after the Anjala pact<27>), helped possibly by the fact that the officers' wives were with them at the time,<28> was the complete surrender of the Swedish defence bastion, Sveaborg, situated on islands outside Helsingfors (Helsinki), on 3 May 1807. Admiral Carl Otto Cronstedt agreed to an armistice on 6 April after minimal fighting and sent a letter to the Swedish king with the ultimatum that if at least five ship fleets did not arrive by the 3 May then he would capitulate. The letter was delayed by the Russians and despite the ice still being unbroken, making the arrival of any ships impossible, Cronstedt fulfilled his promise. The news of Sveaborg's capitulation was devastating to the Finnish troops everywhere. Cronstedt had 7000 men in Sveaborg against about the same number of Russians.<29> With Sveaborg and Svartholm fortress (on 18 March) in Russian hands, the south-eastern coast of Finland was secured. The Finns were already being treated well by the invaders. The Finnish soldiers at Sveaborg were allowed to go home after promising never again to take up arms against Russia, while their Swedish counterparts became prisoners-of-war.<30>
After a change in Swedish war strategy, lead most determinedly by Johan August Sandels and Carl Johan Adlercreutz, the Finnish army started to march southwards to attack the enemy, managing to recapture several parts of central Finland by June. However, despite several glowing examples of what the Finns were capable of achieving in the active defence of their motherland, and one successful landing of 3000 Swedish reinforcements on the Finnish west coast, it was too late to stem the tide against the Russian invasion and also the Finnish resignation to reality. No further help from Sweden was forthcoming and after another retreat, the last brigade marched over the Kemi river at the northern end of the Gulf of Bothnia on 13 December 1808. The first armistice was put forward on 29 September before the whole of Finland up to the Kemi river was given up to the Russians in the Olkijoki convention on 19 November 1808. The peace treaty was signed on 7 December.
Gustavus IV Adolphus was one of very few people who thought that Finland could be won back. He prepared for a new war in 1809 and thereby sealed his own fate. The Swedish king desperately needed increased subsidies from England, the war costing so far 11.5 million riksdaler,<3l> but England would not increase them. Civil war was a possibility between the royalists and those revolutionaries, lead by Adlercreutz and Adlersparre, who wanted the king to stop his futile crusade and if he didn't do so, to abdicate. The king realised his position on 12 March 1809 but despite an attempt to escape, he was arrested on 13 March 1809. His uncle, Karl, was talked into becoming Sweden's leader at the head of a cabinet council made up largely of Gustavus IV Adolphus' main advisers. On 14 March Parliament was recalled, and the Swedish king abdicated on 22 March. A new constitution was signed by Karl on 6 June 1809 and Karl became King Karl XIII on the same day.<32>
An immediate result of the revolution was that Britain annulled its alliance with Sweden and ceased all subsidies. War costs for the whole of 1808/1809 had reached 23 million riksdaler with 7 million coming from subsidies and the whole Swedish economy balancing at 4-5 million riksdaler. This meant the finance department had to print more money which increased inflation, and even then Sweden did not have enough money to continue the war. Russian advances along the north-eastern Swedish coast and the Åland islands meant that Sweden itself was now at risk. The main cause of the revolution, a necessary desire for peace, meant that in March 1809, the cabinet asked for an armistice on all fronts. On 25 March the Swedes capitulated at Kalix and Sweden was made to support the continental blockade, although the smuggling continued. Shortly thereafterwards peace efforts were begun, in the Finnish town of Fredrikshamn (Hamina), once the new Swedish cabinet had been formed in June 1809, and the final international peace treaty was signed on 30 August, officially incorporating Finland into the Russian empire.
An imperial manifesto, issued on 17 June 1808<33> by Alexander, had acknowledged the annexation of Finland to Russia and promised to uphold all Swedish laws in force prior to the Swedish revolution of March 1809, i.e. Gustavus III's 1772 constitution and his 1789 Union and Security Act.<34> (Paradoxically the Swedes did away with these laws themselves on 6 June 1809 with their new constitution.) Gustavus III's absolute rule coincided, fortunately for the Finns, with Alexander's role as Russian czar. After a meeting with Napoleon at Erfurt in September 1808, at which Napoleon approved Russia's actions in Finland and gave Alexander a free hand in the North, Alexander granted Finland its special and privileged status within the Russian empire in a manifesto issued on 1 December 1808.<35>
Russia's own administration was, from 1808, the subject of a thorough reform process and an attempt to encode Russia's administration in law, carried out by Alexander's secretary and chief adviser, Michael Speranskii, who had come up with the initial idea of a constitutional monarchy with autonomous administrative provinces.<36> Speranskii emphasised the importance of protecting the rights of each class of the population.<37> What was important for Finland though was that the reforms were in progress, thereby creating for Alexander the possibility of allowing Finland to continue under its relatively efficient Swedish laws instead of imposing the already confused state of affairs in the Russian administration on her. The lucrative trade between Sweden and Finland was also not altered. Alexander took direct control of Finnish affairs with the post of Governor-General being created to act directly under the orders of the czar, thus doing away with the usual necessity of Russian officials and intermediaries and thereby creating a barrier between the huge differences in life as a Finnish official and that of a Russian official. Sprengtporten was nominated Finland's first Governor-General, fulfilling his own personal ambition. All successive Governors-General were Russian, but all other Finnish officials were Finnish nationals who knew the Swedish laws and the Finnish people.
All Alexander had to do now was get the Finnish people to swear allegiance to him. This he did by convening the Borgå (Porvoo) Diet on 29 March 1809, on the advice of Sprengtporten, two weeks after the Swedish king had been arrested and imprisoned on 13 March, and one week after the Swedish king's abdication on 22 March. The Finns now had no reason to feel disloyalty towards their former sovereign. As Tommila suggests, the Finns swore allegiance to Alexander as an act of instinctive preservation, as Finnish representatives had not been invited to the immediate recalling of the Swedish states on the 14 March, as would previously have been the case.<38> This was the first clear sign that Finland was seen by Sweden as completely lost, although the final peace treaty was not signed until 30 August 1809.
The Borgå Diet, convened by Alexander and not the Finnish people, was merely a chance for the conquering sovereign to welcome his new subjects into the Russian empire, to receive their swearing of allegiance personally (which could have been transmitted to him in St Petersburg), to confirm the will of the Finns to separate from Sweden and to make them feel that they had contributed in some slight way to or at least accepted their new status. Alexander had already made all the necessary decisions concerning the constitution, internal affairs and relations with Russia in his manifestos of 17 June and 1 December 1808. The fact that the Diet was not called again by a Russian czar until 1863 demonstrates how unimportant the Diet was and also how little autonomy Finland really had. The Finnish administration could merely discuss and exercise its laws, it could not make or change them without the czar's consent, nor could it introduce new taxes. Finland also had no international standing outside Russia. Even as late as 1861, J.V. Snellman wrote that 'the Borgå Diet was important only for the fact that it was held, not for what it achieved.'<39> This may have been a little unfair but Finland was certainly not raised 'to the rank of a nation'<40> as Alexander's flowery oratory hoped the Finns would believe, in order for the vanquished people to look favourably to a future within the Russian empire. They did, however, now have their own administration which they did not have while being ruled from Stockholm. They owed their whole predicament, however, to the goodwill of the czar, in his effort to secure the northern front as quickly and as peacefully as possible. C. E. Mannerheim, president of the Finnish delegation, described the convening of the Diet as a simple method of 'assembling the Finnish people and calming their souls.'<4l> A. I. Arwidsson, himself present at the Diet, called it simply 'a political parade'.<42>
After the final peace in August 1809, relations between Russia and Sweden were focussed on Finland and the stabilisation of the new situation. It is worthwhile to bear in mind here that the great majority of Finns (87 per cent in 1810<43>) did not speak Swedish and did not therefore take an active part in the administration of their own country. Thus Russia needed a two-pronged pacification policy: one to keep the day-to-day life for the average Finns the same, to avoid any backlash from the majority of Finns who feared Russia and serfdom, and another to give the powerful Finns (i.e. the Swedish-speaking minority) more than Sweden could offer, in order to quash any thoughts of rebellion, uprising or revanchist ideas in cohorts with Sweden. With Finland now having its own administration there were immediately more jobs to be filled by the upper echelons of Finnish society than were available while Finland was administered in Stockholm. Other high-ranking, powerful Finns were bought with either higher pay, better jobs, titles, decorations, noble status or a combination of these privileges. Officers in the now dissolved Finnish army were allowed to keep their lands and received a higher pension than they would have received from Sweden.<44> These raises in pay put Finnish functionaries not only in a better position vis-a-vis their Swedish counterparts but also way above the position of their Russian compatriots. These payouts actually caused several Finnish officials working in Sweden to return home to Finland! It has been estimated that peace in Finland cost Russia 103,270 Swedish riksdaler.<45> By 1810 Speranskii could state that the Finnish bourgeois classes were satisfied and even grateful for their new status and advantages.<46> Accusations against Sweden for their bad conduct during the war for Finland also had their effect.
Russian foreign policy aims had also been achieved - Finland was under Russian dominance, creating a buffer state between Sweden and Russia, securing St Petersburg and weakening Sweden to the point where she was no longer a realistic threat due to her dreadful financial situation and low national morale. The Fredrikshamn treaty merely confirmed the already existing state of affairs in an international peace agreement. On 10 December 1809, peace was signed between Sweden and Denmark with no territorial adjustments. Peace was concluded between Sweden and France on 6 January 1810. In June Sweden was forced to break diplomatic relations with Britain with all British goods in Swedish Pomerania to be requisitioned. The smuggling continued, however, over the North Sea.
Thoughts of winning Finland back had not completely vanished but the Swedish cabinet now turned its attention to Norway as compensation and as a source of political strength.<47> A bizarre Swedish idea that the naming of the Danish commander-in-chief of Norway, Prince Kristian August of Augustenborg as Swedish crown prince would result in Norway's acquisition. The prince accepted the Swedish offer in July 1809 (i.e. before Finland was officially lost) but would not come to Sweden until Sweden had made peace with Denmark. This occurred on 10 December 1809 but Norway did not form part of the prince's package when he arrived in Sweden in January 1810. He was adopted by Karl XIII and took the name Karl August. He died of a stroke on 28 May 1810.
By the beginning of 1810, however, Swedish hopes for a revanchist war against Russia for the return of Finland were increasing and being fuelled by Napoleon, in an ironic display of his attempts to bait countries to acquiesce to his wishes. He was offering Sweden the chance to regain Finland in a joint action against Russia, after Finland had been the prize for Russia in her efforts to pressure Sweden into joining his continental blockader There were attempts in Sweden to spread news of the miserable state of affairs in Finland in order to justify a future reconquest of Finland, although a personal letter written in the autumn of 1809 by a Swede living in Pomerania, von Yhlen, testified incredulously to the great benefits enjoyed by the Finns under the czar.<48> Russia went to great lengths to prevent Sweden's revanchist hopes from taking hold in Finland; firstly by approving Swedish designs on Norway as compensation for the loss of Finland; secondly by making the transfer of revanchist ideas from Sweden to Finland more and more difficult by stopping free travel between the two countries, limiting access to only those people who had a legitimate reason to travel (either trade or personal relations in Finland) and keeping a close watch and record of those people who did travel in either direction; and thirdly by closely monitoring the literature coming into Finland from Sweden.<49> Russian policy in this matter was enacted from the supposition that it would be only natural for Sweden to want to regain Finland. Ideas to replace Swedish as the administrative language with either Russian or Finnish were, however, dropped as being impractical or nearly impossible.
As the Swedish revanchist movement gathered momentum, Suchtelen, the Russian minister in Stockholm, received a new set of orders from Alexander: to hinder the annexation of Norway to Sweden as it would strengthen Sweden (particularly now that Swedish revanchist hopes were high) and would reactivate her troops; to encourage trade between Sweden and Finland so as not to deprive Swedes of any commercial benefits they were used to gaining from Finland, in an attempt to cast Russia in a more favourable light; and to turn Swedish attention to her possessions in Germany to divert the attention of the Stockholm Cabinet away from the east.<50>
Suchtelen began a strong propaganda campaign against Swedish revanchist ideas in Sweden, pushing the need for friendly relations between Russia and Sweden and assuring Swedes that Finns were happy with their new status. By March 1810 he could report that the attitude in Stockholm was no longer as 'ferocious' towards Russia as it had been previously.<5l> This reaction in Sweden was rightfully regarded by Russia as being natural, since Finland, and particularly the Åland islands, had been central to Sweden's defence. Russia now lay directly opposite Stockholm and Swedes felt a constant threat of attack from the east. As the Swedish minister in St Petersburg, von Stedingk, made clear to his king at the height of this period of revanchism: How can Sweden maintain equal relations with a giant? Russia will not be satisfied till she has reached the North Sea and thereby definitely secured her northern flank. According to Stedingk the only way to prevent this catastrophe was to annex Norway before the two separate countries disappeared completely 'within the next 50 years'.<52>
Amid this changed atmosphere in Sweden, a search for another successor to the throne began in earnest. The cabinet's first selection was Kristian August's brother, Fredrik Kristian of Augustenborg, who was married to the Danish king's sister. Two copies of the Swedish intentions were sent to Napoleon by separate couriers asking him for his opinion. One of the couriers, Carl Otto Mörner, who arrived in Paris on 20 June 1810, decided to pursue his own personal plans in the matter, after having delivered the king's letter. Wanting Sweden to draw closer to Napoleon in the hope of waging a revanchist war to recover Finland and possibly also Norway, Mörner, with the support of the Swedish charge d'affaires in Paris, Elof Signeul, and general Fabian Wrede, approached the French marshall Jean Baptiste Bernadotte, who was well-known for his capable military leadership, particularly in the successful French campaigns in Northern Germany. Bernadotte responded positively to the offer. Since England had stopped all subsidies to Sweden in March 1809, France was the only hope Sweden had to improve her disastrous economic plight. Sweden was also in need of a strong and sturdy leader, particularly after the public's dreadful murder of von Fersen, on 20 June 1810.<53> Bernadotte was the brother-in-law to Napoleon's brother, King Joseph of Spain. Bernadotte's wife, Desirée Clary, had even been engaged for a short while to Napoleon and relations between the emperor and Desirée remained close.
What Mörner didn't know was that Napoleon and Bernadotte did not get on particularly well, Bernadotte's plans and strategies often being thwarted or changed by Napoleon, and that Bernadotte was tired of being totally controlled by Napoleon. Desirée had had to work hard to keep the peace between the two men. The offer of the Swedish throne provided him an escape route and a chance to act independently of Napoleon though at the same time managing to stay in his favour by knowing his strategies and how to appear, at least, to please him.
When it became obvious that Fredrik Kristian would not be able to accept the Swedish offer due to opposition from the Danish king, Bernadotte was elected crown prince of Sweden by the government on 21 August 1810, despite his Catholicism, his inability to speak Swedish, little knowledge of Swedish affairs and the possibility of war with Britain. Russia and France were still allies at this stage, albeit the relations between the two powers were fragile. Suchtelen had been ordered not to intervene in the succession for fears that any Russian interference would push Sweden into France's hands.<54> On 26 September, after receiving Napoleon's permission to this dramatic decision, it was further decreed that male members of the house of Bernadotte would thenceforth inherit the Swedish throne - a decree still in force to this day. Bernadotte left Paris on 27 September 1810 and entered Stockholm on 2 November 1810. On 5 November he was adopted by Karl XIII and took the name Karl Johan. His emotional distance from earlier events in Sweden may ultimately have proved beneficial to Sweden, although Finland was in fact to play a central role in his foreign policy, as was Norway.
Despite a general feeling of concern in St Petersburg after the election of a French marshall to the Swedish throne, Alexander's reaction was calm and he wished Sweden peace and goodwill. One of his colonels, Tchernyshev, who had personally represented the czar on previous visits to Paris, had been in contact with Bernadotte since spring 1810.<55> Tchernyshev could report to the czar that Bernadotte was very well disposed towards Russia and would help Russia guarantee her northern flank in a possible war against France and Austria.<56> As soon as Bernadotte received Mörner's offer, Bernadotte had asked Tchernyshev, in the utmost secrecy, to confirm Alexander's support, and to assure Alexander that he had no designs against Russia nor against Russia' s acquisition of Finland and that above all he desired good relations with Russia. As a military man, Karl Johan understood Russia's needs and was also influenced by the theory of 'natural borders' (i.e. Finland should be part of Russia and Norway part of Sweden) prevalent at this time.<57> Alexander in return guaranteed Swedish trade with Britain which was critical at that time, and Sweden's acquisition of Norway as compensation for the loss of Finland. In other letters sent by Bernadotte at this time, which he knew would be opened by the police, he announced his intentions to 'abandon himself blindly to the Emperor's (Napoleon's) politics and affections.'<58> Thus Alexander knew about Bernadotte's true intentions and future political double play<59> before either the French or Swedes did. These were further confirmed by a secret meeting between Karl Johan and Tchernyshev in Stockholm on 18 December 1810, arranged by Alexander.<60>
On 13 November 1810 Napoleon tested his former marshall's allegiances by giving the Swedish government an ultimatum that under threat of war with France,<6l> Sweden had to declare war on England, and requisition all British ships in Swedish ports and confiscate all British and colonial products in Sweden. Karl Johan declined to participate in the debate due to his recent arrival, so it was the Swedish cabinet who bowed to Napoleon's request and declared war on Britain on 17 November 1810. The war lasted till 1812 but no miliary action was ever taken and the war remained only on paper as the smuggling trade continued, to a lesser extent, regardless. There was, however, no formal alliance concluded between France and Sweden, Napoleon not wanting to break relations with Russia too prematurely.
Negotiations between England, Sweden and Russia at this time were particularly delicate as Russia was still in theory Napoleon's ally and any definite treaty with England would immediately amount to a declaration of war against France. All three countries seem to have been playing for time at this stage, waiting for Napoleon to make the first move.<62> Alexander did, however, keep England informed of Russia's intentions and on 28 December 1811 Alexander ordered Baron Nicholai, Russian charge d'affaires in Stockholm, to seek a possible alliance with Sweden. Norway was to be the bargaining counter in Alexander's attempt to divert Sweden's attention westward. Various proposals were made for an alliance between Russia and Sweden, the general purpose of which can be expected to have been known by Napoleon. Sweden was not the focal point of Russia's foreign policy at this stage but in order to secure her northern flank and to release troops from that area for the coming war against Napoleon, an alliance with Sweden was crucial.<63> An alliance would also allow Sweden to import Russian bread wholesale which was not permitted to other countries and was important for Swedish food imports after years of bad harvests.<64> More important for Russia was the peace treaty signed with Turkey in May 1812. All Russian forces were now available for the central European war against Napoleon.
On 27 January 1812 France invaded Swedish Pomerania, officially to plug a hole in the continental blockade but in reality to provoke Sweden into action one way or the other. This invasion of a country that was not yet France's enemy would have a significant effect on Swedish opinion towards France in the future. Karl Johan took up direct contact with Britain and Russia, although was prepared to play a cautious waiting game in order to keep his options open for any eventuality. In Sweden's estimation, the Russian and French armies were of equal size and the victor was not at all clear at this stage. In February 1812 Sweden declared herself neutral in the British/French war. Sweden offered Britain an alliance in exchange for subsidies and Norway and the Danish island of Zealand, knowing full well that Britain wouldn't and couldn't fulfill these conditions. Not until 18 July 1812 (i.e. 23 days after Napoleon had invaded Russia) did Britain conclude peace treaties in Örebro with Sweden and Russia without any alliance obligations. This, according to Roginskii, amounted to a failure of Russian diplomacy.<65>
Sweden and Russia, meanwhile, in expectation of the forthcoming French/Russian break, had eventually managed to agree to a more meaningful alliance. In the secret treaty of 5 April 1812 signed in St Petersburg, both sides guaranteed each other's possessions, which amounted mainly to Sweden's willingness not to try to reclaim Finland, the focal point of Karl Johan's foreign policy right from the beginning. Russia would instead help Sweden acquire Norway as compensation. If Fredrik VI of Denmark let Norway go willingly, Denmark would be given compensation in Germany. If he did not acquiesce, Denmark would be treated as an enemy and face a possible joint attack on Zealand itself. Once Sweden's back (i.e. Norway) was secured, then a joint Swedish/Russian action against the French in Germany would be undertaken with Karl Johan commanding 25-30,000 Swedes and 15-20,000 Russians. On 9 April 1812, after delays in communication due to bad weather, another treaty was signed in Stockholm along similar lines. The St Petersburg treaty was, however, more advantageous to Alexander and this was the only one ratified. Russia's troops were ready by June but England would not give Sweden any money till she had committed herself against Napoleon. Nevertheless Swedish troops were mobilised by the end of July. On 8 April 1812, Alexander ordered the Finnish provincial capital to be moved from Åbo (Turku) to Helsingfors (Helsinki), in order to distance it from Stockholm and Swedish revanchist ideas, to move it closer to St Petersburg and to reinforce Finland's domination within the Russian empire.<66> The new capital was not, however, ready until 1819 as it had been almost totally destroyed during the war.<67>
Napoleon and Karl Johan were still in contact, Napoleon offering Finland which Karl Johan refused claiming no money and the British navy as obstacles. Napoleon's dominance over Sweden was also certainly not on Karl Johan's agenda though he had a powerful revanchist group around him and he had to satisfy them as well as Napoleon and Alexander! No outright break with France was achieved however. Napoleon's invasion of Russia on 24 June 1812 upset the conditions of the St Petersburg treaty. Karl Johan proposed a plan whereby Sweden would come to Russia's aid through Finland with Finland being 'temporarily' placed at Sweden's disposal for this purpose. Alexander declined the offer of help and Karl Johan also declined an offer by the czar to use Riga, Ösel and Dagö as temporary pawns instead.
On 30 August 1812, an additional treaty was signed between the two sovereigns in Åbo (Turku) according to which the Russian support troops would be increased to 35,000 men, 25,000 of which would land in Skåne by the end of September or as soon as conditions allowed.<68> Therefrom a joint attack against Zealand would be launched to force Denmark's hand in regard to Norway. Sweden was also promised a loan from Russia of 1 1/2 million roubles. The purpose of this treaty seems to have been an attempt by both sides to moderate the St Petersburg treaty and to postpone it due to the fact that Russia needed her troops elsewhere and Sweden was still not ready to commit herself but needed to do something to get aid from England and to placate Napoleon, by preparing for war. A secret treaty offering Russian guarantees for the future of the house of Bernadotte was also signed. This was a personal touch from Alexander to ensure that Sweden did not switch sides. French victories in Russia, however, necessitated a verbal agreement to allow the Russian support troops to be used in securing the Baltic provinces first, above all Riga. This postponement thus satisfied both men's interests.
While the Russians were otherwise engaged, Karl Johan thought about attacking Norway on his own but he soon had to accept that the Russians would not be coming at all. With Napoleon in Moscow in September/October 1812, Karl Johan again offered to help Russia in October 1812 using Finland as its temporary pathway. The tide began to turn for Russia with Napoleon's retreat, the victor was becoming clearer to Karl Johan and no help was needed. The fact that Sweden remained neutral during this precarious time was, however, advantageous for Russia. Norway was now the only goal that could satisfy the revanchists. Sweden wanted Norway as a precondition to entering the war and as compensation for the 1808/1809 war and Alexander wanted to award it as compensation for entering the war against Napoleon.<69> There were still fears in both England and Sweden that Russia would sign another peace agreement with France like the one in Tilsit 1807, despite Alexander's insistence that he would continue the war.<70>
On 3 March 1813 a Swedish/British treaty was signed with Britain promising diplomatic or naval support in Sweden's acquisition of Norway, one million pounds in subsidies and the West Indian island of Guadeloupe, recently acquired from France and Britain's approval of Sweden's future acquisition of Norway. In exchange Britain was permitted to construct trading stations in Gothenburg, Karlshamn and Stralsund. In April 1813, a Swedish/Prussian treaty for mutual help was signed. Swedish troops were sent to the continent for an attack on Denmark from the south - to stab Napoleon in the back. Russia meanwhile was making an attempt to get Denmark into the alliance against Napoleon so any ideas of attacking Denmark for Sweden to get Norway were postponed. Sweden broke relations definitively with Denmark in April 1813 but could not take any military action due to the delicate diplomatic situation and the fact that Britain refused to pay more subsidies. After Denmark refused a Swedish/British/Russian proposal that Denmark only give up the Norwegian land north of Trondheim, Denmark staked her hopes on Napoleon. The tables were, however, beginning to turn for Napoleon. After the disastrous retreat from Russia, the winter of 1812/1813 saw only fragments of Napoleon's Grand Army in Germany. Napoleon was back in Paris by October 1812 and he came back to Germany with more troops in spring 1813 to conquer Berlin and crush Prussia.
During the winter of 1812/1813 when the final victor seemed clearer, Sweden had begun preparing her army and in March sent about 30,000 troops to Pomerania to fight alongside the Russians, thereby securing the Russo/Swedish alliance. At the same time Karl Johan sent a letter to Napoleon declaring that, 'In politics, Sire, there is no friendship or hate - there are only duties to fulfill towards those people Providence has called upon us to rule.'<7l> On 17 May 1813, Karl Johan went to Pomerania himself and took command of the Swedish army. He kept his troops out of the worst areas of fighting and the allies were not terribly impressed with the late and lack-lustre tenure of the Swedish commander. Various reasons have been given for this - the uncertain political situation, not wanting to commit himself too early and the possibility of another French/Russian alliance after French advances in Sachsen in May 1813. Such an armistice was actually realised between Russia, Prussia and France on 9 June 1813. However at Trachenberg on 9-12 July 1813, Karl Johan became commander of the Northern Army consisting of 158,000 Prussians, Russians and Swedes.<72> This appears to have been a tactical step by Alexander, enticing Bernadotte's military and personal vanity in order to bring him definitely into the war on side and to maintain Russian/Swedish relations. This army was one of three set up to fight Napoleon.
By the middle of August, the armistice was dead, and Sweden was now seriously committed to the war. Karl Johan's actions were still, however, considered very careful and lame. He was saving his troops for an attack on Denmark and keeping a careful watch on the French throne (with an eye to possibly procuring it for himself after Napoleon's imminent fall), but putting the allies' trust in him at risk. Examples of his behaviour on the field were evident at the battle of Dennewitz on 6 September 1813, despite the Northern Army's victory. Against a loss of 10,000 Prussian lives lost, only 12 Swedes were sacrificed. Relations between Sweden and Prussia worsened as a result. Again at the human slaughter at Leipzig on 16-19 October 1813, the Northern Army only participated on the last two days, the allies losing 56,000 men, the French 73,000 and the Swedes 180.<73>
Karl Johan also refused to cross the Rhine with the rest of the Allies, directing 60,000 men to Denmark instead of Holland.<74> By 7 December the Swedes occupied Kiel. The Danes fled northwards and by the end of the year an armistice was organised. When the battle flared again Russia and Austria withdrew their diplomatic support from Denmark, causing Denmark to give up the fight. On 14 January 1814 peace was concluded between Sweden and Denmark. The Danish king now relinquished Norway to Sweden though Norway declared herself independent in March 1814. The Danes received Swedish Pomerania and the island of Rügen and one million riksdaler.<75> Sweden attacked Norway in July 1814 and an armistice was arranged on 14 August 1814. The Norwegian parliament decided it was better for Norway to have a proper alliance on 20 October 1814. Sweden took part of the Danish debt but Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands remained in Danish possession.<76>
Russia, Prussia and Austria now rejected unanimously a British idea that Sweden be treated as a great power at the forthcoming negotiations. Karl Johan' s noncommittal approach to the war had lead to a continual weakening of Sweden's power (in Russia's interest) and his time as a leading European statesman was now over. Napoleon's power also came to an end but not before a short burst in 1814 when he was finally defeated by the British at Waterloo. The allies occupied Paris in March 1814, lead by Alexander, the 'saviour of Europe and of humanity'.<77> Napoleon abdicated on 2 April. Shortly afterwards peace was concluded between the Allies and the newly elected French king Louis XVIII. In the peace agreement on 30 May 1814 Louis XVIII approved Sweden's acquisition of Norway.
Russia's role in guaranteeing Norway for Sweden was decisive
and in her own best interest to secure Russia's acquisition
of Finland. Finland's status in the Russian empire was now
stabilised and reinforced by internal and external politics.
At the Vienna congress of 1814/1815, Finland and Norway were
barely mentioned, so readily were their fates accepted.<78>
In the interests, therefore, of both Russia and Sweden, the
election of Bernadotte to the throne of Sweden brought Peter
the Great's endeavours to their 'inevitable' end.