De Grote Noordse oorlog. Hoe Staatse diplomaten de oorlog in 1706 van het Spaanse conflict wisten te scheiden
Beek, E.E. van de
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At the eve of the war of the Spanish Succession the tension at the Eastern and Northern borders of Europe rose, the teenage king Charles XII of Sweden found himself surrounded by hostile coalitions. The Swedish Empire had barely survived the adventurous foreign policy of Charles X, grandfather of Charles XII, but was still large and strong enough to be a threat to the surrounding kingdoms. The rancour was also alive, combined with the eager of a new generation of leaders, of which Peter I (the Great) of Russia is ,nowadays, the most famous. All these ingredients resulted in the Great Northern War. During this war the alliance against Louis XII, forged by the statholder-king William III of Orange, relied heavy on soldiers from the Holy Roman Empire/the princly states. Especially the Dutch Republic relied on foreign troops, the interest of the Dutch leaders was peace in the North, the opposite happened. The question is, how did the coalition against France manage to keep the wars separated? In the year 1706 the situation was severe, the tsar was beaten at Narva, Poland lay in ruin and Charles XII marched at the head of his army towards the German electorate of Saxony. At the same time a minor conflict about the heritage of a bishop at the Danish border caused nearly a war between Sweden, Hannover and Denmark. The diplomats from the Republic were able to pacify the latter conflict, but couldn't stop Charles from invading Saxony. The main problem in the foreign politic of the Dutch regents was their lack of vision, while their leader grand pensionary Heinsius blindly followed the orders of Westminster, he couldn't decide what to do in the East of Europe. Combined with the internal discussions between the elite of The Hague , which was pro-Sweden, and Amsterdam , pro-Russian, the diplomats in Poland, Denmark and Sweden were rejected and had to work without clear directions. After the Northern war the Dutch had 'won' the War of the Spanish Succession, it turned out to be a Phyrric victory, the lack of political slyness and diplomatic cunning were incipience. The same could be said about the Dutch influence in North and East Europe, lack of interest and prejudice resulted in the downfall of the Dutch. The Dutch were easily replaced by British traders and diplomats, as everywhere in the world.