in this article we will talk about that why did the Swedish Empire Collapse? across the European continent many fantastic imperial powers have left their footprint on their own soil and abroad but one european empire that tends to deserve more credit than it’s often given was the mighty empire of sweden the swedish empire is generally said to have started with the reign of gustavus adolphus in the early 17th century and is usually believed to have ended roughly.
a century later with the great northern war and its aftermath this sadly means that the imperial might of sweden was short-lived in comparison to other empires in the region but nonetheless it still existed for the reign of multiple monarchs and was far from being irrelevant in its day so what happened with the swedish empire was it ended by war economic strife poor leadership or something else well let’s take a look throughout history intelligence and espionage have been very important elements when one kingdom or empire tried to conquer.
before the reign of gustavus adolphus came that of king gustav vassa who would solidify his place in swedish history through his sweeping efforts to reform the swedish state over his 37-year rule and would lead sweden into its role as a prominent state in the newly incited protestant reformation by the time gustavus adolphus claims the throne this strong protestant conviction in sweden dragged the kingdom into the 30 years war with the catholics of the holy roman empire it was this war that resulted in the gaining of new territory for sweden throughout.
the dominion of the holy roman empire and coincided with swedish colonial efforts in both west africa and north america which meant a sudden increase in sweden’s global influence over only a few decades sweden was suddenly turning itself into an empire and at first it was going quite well problems within imperial sweden were not slow to arrive nevertheless following the reign of gustavus adolphus came the ill-liked rule of his daughter christina.
the new queen was a very intelligent woman but she was also a woman who much enjoyed a bit of extravagance her spending was viewed by the public as unappealing and eventually became so much so that she nearly drove the state into bankruptcy public disapproval ultimately reached an all-time high and pushed christina into her abdication at which point the throne was taken over by her cousin charles gustav in 1654. charles was a markedly better ruler in the eyes of the public and they quickly looked to him to mend this state’s issues ranging from finances to relations with the people and the nobility to solve.
the financial problem and tackle the whopping national debt charles decided to address an ongoing issue relating to alienated crown lands and taxes on the nobility in a process known as the reduction meanwhile charles who had been first and foremost a soldier decided to put added effort into military action and gaining glory on behalf of himself and sweden which prompted mixed reactions as he decided to attack the polish lithuanian commonwealth early into his reign.
the subsequent polish sweden wars were not necessarily a failure but they weren’t quite what the nation needed charles’s personal reputation and success grew as a result but the warfare didn’t solve sweden’s financial and political issues back home which would continue into the reign of his successor charles x technically charles xi was only four years old at the time of his ascension so a regency council was put in place to actually run the empire.
until he came of age during the time of his childhood the regency council hopes to end the ongoing wars not only with poland but also with russia the electorate of brandenburg and their long-time rival of denmark norway in an immediate effort to do this the treaty of olivia was signed in the spring of 1660 by the swedish empire the holy roman empire the polish lithuanian commonwealth and brandenburg prussia to end the chronic hostilities and resolve some of the remaining territorial and political discord between the states encouraged by the peace talks denmark norway.
then opted to open their own negotiations with sweden and the treaty of copenhagen was signed shortly after lastly the following year hostilities were put to an end with the zardom of russia after the russia swedish war had ended in 1658 which more or less puts an end to all discontent and conflict between the swedes and their neighbors peace had come at a price and a dwindling passion for upholding protestantism within their realm was also earning the swedes a new wave of enemies from the inside only about half a century into its existence.
the swedish empire had already nearly gone bankrupt suffered from abdication from one of its monarchs juggled multiple wars at once and was now struggling to build up national confidence sweden became notoriously corrupt and its loyalty was viable something that france took quick advantage of by 1675 france had convinced the swedish empire to invade the electorate of brandenburg which resulted in an embarrassing defeat for the swedish army and greatly emboldened their other rivals leading to the scanion war this marks the point.
in time where the trajectory of the swedish empire quickly pitched downhill brandenburg denmark norway and austria all began to capture more of sweden’s territories and the new war went fairly poorly for the swedes but they were able to maintain a certain level of success militarily within their own borders and thanks to the alliance with france the resulting treaties restored sweden’s lost territories charles xi now governing of his own accord opted for sweeping reforms in response to the war then shifting the empire into a semi-absolute monarchy.
which actually went over quite well with the people he was also able to rebuild the swedish royal navy which had been essentially demolished in the recent war and used additional reforms to improve the military as a whole it seems that the swedish empire would be saved thanks to charles x but his death would mark the continuation of the imperial powers rapid downhill tumble the next king charles xii would be left in a precarious position when in 1700.
sweden’s off and on rivals in denmark norway russia and poland simultaneously declared war and the years to follow were a bit chaotic poland and denmark were in and out of the war and sweden did well against russia with the help of some allies but russia was eventually able to capture what is modern day finland charles xii’s death in battle in 1718 would mostly put an end to sweden’s defense efforts and its time as a global power now sweden remained a relevant regional authority but its time as an empire was all but over despite the dedicated efforts from charles xii and his father to save their imperial state.
unfortunately for the swedes the empire never had a strong foundation its early years were respectable enough but the reign of christina brought in fresh skepticism and distrust from the people massive financial burdens and the early inklings of governmental corruption her abdication was good in the short term but set an unsavory tone in the long run as it marked the shortcomings so early into the empire’s existence her successor was an improvement and surely.
a brave soldier but not enough was accomplished by him to make up for the damage she had done over the next few reigns a common thread of disorganization instability and a growing list of enemies made it incredibly challenging for sweden to make any significant progress war was financially taxing and worked to isolate the young empire which pushed sweden from one issue to another.
whether it be internal conflict over which war should and shouldn’t be fought or the growing displeasure from the people due to the corruption and willingness by the government to be bought as an ally to those who would take them still the last two kings put in a fair effort to save their crumbling empire but it ultimately would not be enough the momentum had already begun and was impossible to stop so the reason.
why the swedish empire quietly collapsed after a short century is due both to external pressures but also and maybe more importantly due to internal instability and a shaky foundation from the beginning unfortunate circumstances combined with just as unfortunate decisions led to the empire never having a chance to get its head on straight and eventually brought about its untimely demise.
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