What was the Anglo-Swedish War (1810-1812)?

Introduction

During the Napoleonic Wars until 1810, Sweden and Great Britain were allies in the war against Napoleon.

As a result of Sweden’s defeat in the Finnish War and the Pomeranian War, and the following Treaty of Fredrikshamn and Treaty of Paris, Sweden declared war on Great Britain.

The bloodless war, however, existed only on paper, and Britain was still not hindered in stationing ships at the Swedish island of Hanö and trade with the Baltic states.

Background

The Treaty of Paris, concluded on 06 January 1810, forced Sweden to join the Continental System, a trade embargo against Great Britain. Since Great Britain was Sweden’s biggest trade partner this caused economic difficulties, and trade continued to take place through smuggling. On 13 November 1810, France delivered an ultimatum to the Swedish government demanding that within five days Sweden:

  • Declare war against Great Britain;
  • Confiscate all British ships in Swedish ports; and
  • Seize all British products in Sweden.

France and its allies threatened to declare war against Sweden if it did not meet the French demands. On 17 November, the Swedish government declared war against Great Britain.

The War

No acts of war occurred during the conflict and Britain was even allowed to station boats in Hanö, thus “occupying” the island.

Sweden did not try to hinder this as Britain used the island to continue trading with Sweden.

The only bloodshed during the war occurred on the 15 June 1811, when Major-General Hampus Mörner with 140 men acted to disperse a group of farmers in Klågerup in Scania who objected to the conscription policy. In the Klågerup riots, Mörner’s soldiers killed 30 farmers.

Aftermath and Legacy

The elected Crown Prince of Sweden, Danish Prince Charles August, had died on 28 May 1810, and on 21 August 1810, the French Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte was elected crown prince of Sweden. Although Bernadotte was only the Crown Prince and technically subservient to King Charles XIII, the King’s deteriorating health and disinterest made the Crown Prince the de facto ruler of Sweden.

Under Bernadotte’s rule, Sweden’s relationship with Napoleonic France deteriorated. When France occupied Swedish Pomerania and the island of Rügen in 1812, Sweden sought peace with Great Britain.

After long negotiations, the Treaty of Orebro was signed on 18 July 1812. On the same day and at the same place, Britain and Russia signed a peace treaty to end the Anglo-Russian War (1807-1812).

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