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Author Topic: Nordic great power and the early history of North America  (Read 672 times)
politicus
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« on: March 14, 2012, 07:48:59 pm »
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Butterfly effect question for history buffs.

What happens to the history of North America if Britannia doesn't rule the waves in the Atlantic 1660 to around 1770?

Case: Sweden became a great power around 1630 after its successful intervention in the Thirty Years War. In 1658 the Swedes had conquered all of Denmark except the capital Copenhagen, which they unsuccessfully tried to capture.
If they had been successful the Swedes could have more than doubled their population and increased their territory with the Realm of Denmark  including Norway, the Faeroe Islands and Iceland (plus Holstein and colonies in West India, India, Greenland and the Gold Coast) and doubled their navy.
Sweden at the time ran one of most efficient military machines in Europe and also had one of the most efficient fiscal administrations of the day allowing the country to pull far above its weight. Most of the Baltic and German coastline as well as Finland was Swedish.

Naval power
The combined navy of the Nordic kingdoms would have been the second largest in Europe. Only Denmark and Sweden had navies in the Baltic Sea (Russia doesn't get one before 1700). So the United Kingdom of Scandinavia (UKS) could just leave a small fleet in the Baltic Sea and concentrate 80-90% of its naval forces in the Atlantic with Bergen or Trondheim in Norway as its main naval base.
Ever since The Thirty Years War Sweden was a loyal French ally. France would have the third largest fleet in Europe. The combined Nordic/French navies would make a formidable opponent for Royal Navy.
The British would also be forced to divide their navy because the Nordic navy could access the Atlantic north of Scotland.

European navies in 1650 displacement in tonnes

Sweden + Denmark 50.000 (28.000 + 22.000)
Britain 49.000
Spain 30.000
Netherlands 29.000
Portugal ca. 25.000
France 21.000

# French navy would become bigger than the other continental navies around 1665.
IRL Swedens great power status collapsed 1718-21 at the end of the Great Nordic War, but I think a united Nordic kingdom would have the strength to keep its great power status for another 40-50 years. It would be in almost perpetual war with the Russians over control of the Baltics and eventually the Russians would get the upper hand due to their much larger population. But the Russians were way behind Western Europe and the modernizing project of Peter the Great becomes far more difficult with a strong enemy like a united Scandinavia. So I think 1760-70 is a realistic time for the defeat of UKS that would lead to its loss of great power status and the ascent of Russia.

My question:

How does the loss of British naval supremacy in this period affect the history of North America?

(assuming that the French/Nordic alliance is stable).

There is of course other butterfly effects as well regarding the creation of the British Empire in general and the consequences of a later Russian involvement in Western/Central European history.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2012, 09:42:37 am by politicus »Logged

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« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2012, 01:42:45 am »

A revived Kalmar Union would have been severely playing above its weight class.  It simply did not have the manpower or the economy to sustain what it was doing.

Leaving aside the St. Petersburg area would not have developed as it did if it remained in Swedish hands, a union of all the Scandanavian countries plus the entire Baltic littoral (including parts Sweden never held) if done today would gave population of only a little over 40 million people.  (See below)

By necessity, it would need to devote considerable resources to defend the Baltic littoral from Russia, Poland, and the Holy Roman Empire.  Resouces that England did not have to devote itself to, and thus was able to use in other ways.

A Second Kalmar Union would have had neither the resources nor the inclination to be involved in thwarting British colonial efforts to any large degree, unless...

If the throne of Scotland had become united with the Scandanavian thrones in an unbroken First Kalmar Union, then you can begin to speak of a great Northern superstate that would have a reasonable chance of disputing English dominance of the seas.


Table used to generate estimate:
9.5 Sweden
5.6 Denmark
5.4 Finland
5.0 Norway
3.2 Lithuania
2.8 Schleswig-Holstein (Germany)
2.2 Pomeranian Voivodeship (Poland)
2.0 Latvia
1.7 West Pomeranian Voivodeship (Poland)
1.6 Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (Germany)
1.3 Estonia
0.9 Kaliningrad Oblast (Russia)
0.3 Iceland
0.05 Greenland
0.05 Faeroes
====
41.6 Total
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politicus
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« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2012, 07:05:43 am »
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My thesis was not, that a united Nordic kingdom would compete with Britain, but that its existence as a major naval power would change the balance of power in the Atlantic in favor of France. Which influences what is going on in North America.

It wouldn't be a new loose Kalmar Union but an extension of the highly centralised Swedish state to a larger area. IRL Sweden conquered large areas of Denmark and Norway in 1645 and 1658 and was highly succesful in assimilating those areas. I just used the term UKS for practical reasons.

France gave Sweden huge subsidies during the Thirty Year War and would likely be willing to do so again to ensure Scandinavian naval support.

The Holy Roman Empire is not a factor in European politics after the Westphalia Treaty in 1648. Hapsburg Austria didn't have the capacity to intervene in Northern Germany.
Poland is going downhill in this period (on its way to dissolution). Prussia becomes a factor around the middle af the 18th century. But its development as a great power is much slower in this scenario. So Russia is the only opponent really worth considering in the Baltic area.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2012, 07:47:29 am by politicus »Logged

"An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last."

Winston Churchill

"While I am a great believer in the free enterprise system and all that it entails, I am an even stronger believer in the right of our people to live in a clean and pollution-free environment."

Barry Goldwater

The way 90% of Atlas threads end up:
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