War and Peace in the Baltic, 1560-1790

War and Peace in the Baltic, 1560-1790

War and Peace in the Baltic, 1560-1790

War and Peace in the Baltic, 1560-1790

Synopsis

Describes and explains the course of the series of struggles for power among the states surrounding the Baltic between the middle of the sixteenth and end of the eighteenth century.

Excerpt

In the middle of the sixteenth century the Baltic was thus surrounded by three independent kingdoms-Denmark-Norway, Sweden-Finland and Poland-Lithuania; a number of secular principalities owing allegiance to the Holy Roman Empire-the duchies of Holstein, Mecklenburg and Pomerania and the lands of the Livonian Order; ecclesiastical territories in Livonia headed by the archbishopric of Riga; and surrounding the Sea in an arc from east to south-west, self-governing towns and cities, most of them members of the Hanseatic League-Narva, Reval, Riga, Elbing (Elblg), Danzig, Stralsund, Lübeck and Wismar.

Of the kingdoms, only Sweden was an hereditary monarchy and had become one as recently as 1544. Since finally breaking away from the Danish-dominated Kalmar Union in the early 1520s, King Gustav, the first of the house of Vasa, had built up a powerful position by his own personality and energy. For by western European standards his system of government was still rather primitive, relying as it did on the king's close personal supervision with only a rudimentary civil service to carry out decisions. Central government headed by the Chancery lay within an itinerant court, travelling from royal castle to royal castle throughout the year in medieval fashion. While Stockholm was the largest town and the most important commercial centre of the realm, it was not to be a centre of administration for nearly a century. Local control was exercised through royal bailiffs in charge of estates which had grown considerably as a result of the Reformation settlement and from which much of the king's regular income was drawn, and through the royal castellans. The system was financed largely by assigning the revenues (largely in kind) of royal farms for the support of specific offices. The

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