Swedish–Norwegian War (1814)

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Swedish–Norwegian War of 1814
Part of the Napoleonic Wars
Eidsvoll riksraad 1814.jpeg
The Constituent Assembly at Eidsvoll in 1814
Date 26 July – 14 August 1814
Location Norway
Result Swedish victory, Convention of Moss
Belligerents
Norway Norway Sweden Sweden
Commanders and leaders
Norway Christian Frederick
Norway Johannes Sejersted
Norway Frederik von Haxthausen
Sweden Charles John
Sweden Charles XIII
Strength
30,000 men
8 field batteries
7 brigs
150 gunboats
45,523 men
117 field batteries
4 ships of the line
5 frigates
24 smaller ships
60 gunboats
Casualties and losses
Unknown Unknown

The Swedish–Norwegian War, also known as the Campaign against Norway (Swedish: Fälttåget mot Norge), or the Norwegian Campaign (Norwegian: Det norske felttoget); was a war fought between Sweden and Norway in the summer of 1814. The war resulted in Norway entering into union with Sweden, but with its own constitution and parliament.

Background[edit]

Treaty of Kiel[edit]

As early as in 1812, prior to the Napoleonic invasion of Russia, the Swedish Crown Prince Charles John had entered into an agreement with Tsar Alexander I that Russia would support a Swedish attack on Norway in order to force Denmark-Norway to cede its northern part to Sweden.[1] The Swedish attack against Norway was rejected, however, and Swedish forces were instead directed against France in Central Europe. The Swedish troops were deployed against Napoleon's forces as a result of agreements between Charles John and diplomats from the United Kingdom and Prussia, which indicated that Norway would be ceded to Sweden after France and its allies (which included Denmark-Norway) were defeated.[2]

By the Treaty of Kiel in January 1814, King Frederik VI of Denmark-Norway had to cede Norway to the King of Sweden, due to Denmark-Norway's alliance with France, and its defeat during the later phases of the Napoleonic Wars. This treaty was however not accepted by the Norwegians.

The Norwegian Constituent Assembly[edit]

Prince Christian Frederick of Denmark, heir presumptive to the thrones of Denmark and Norway and Governor-general of Norway, took the lead in the insurrection, and he called for a constitutional assembly. This adopted the liberal constitution of 17 May, which also elected Christian Frederick as the king of an independent Norway.

As the head of the new state, Christian Frederick desperately tried to gain support from the United Kingdom, or any of the other major powers within the Sixth Coalition, in order to maintain Norway's independence. However, the foreign diplomats gave no hope for any outside support to the Norwegians.

Armies[edit]

The Norwegian Army mustered 30,000 men, and it had taken up positions away from the border with Sweden, in the fear of being outflanked. The Norwegian navy had few vessels, and most of them were stationed at the islands of Hvaler, close to Sweden.

The Swedish Army consisted of 45,000 men, experienced and well-equipped soldiers. The Swedish Navy had a number of large vessels and a capacity for moving and landing troops.

Major Commanders[edit]

War[edit]

The hostilities opened on 26 July with a swift Swedish naval attack against the Norwegian gunboats at Hvaler. The Norwegian army was evacuated and the vessels managed to escape, but they did not take part in the rest of the war. The main Swedish offensive came across the border at Halden, bypassing and surrounding the fortress of Fredriksten, and then continuing north, while a second force of 6,000 soldiers landed at Kråkerøy outside of Fredrikstad. This town surrendered the next day. This was the start of a pincer movement around the main part of the Norwegian army at Rakkestad.

On the front towards Kongsvinger the forces were more evenly matched, and the Norwegian army eventually stopped the Swedish advance at Lier on 2 August, and won another victory at Matrand on 5 August. On 3 August, King Christian Frederick reached the front at Østfold and was persuaded to change his strategy and use the 6,000 men stationed at Rakkestad in a counterattack against the Swedes. The order to counterattack was given on the 5th of August, but the order was recalled a few hours later. The Norwegian forces therefore withdrew over the Glomma river at Langnes in Askim.[3] The last major battle of the war was fought on 9 August at the bridgehead at Langnes, where the Swedish forces once more were driven back.[4]

Although the Norwegian Army had won at Langnes, it was nevertheless clear to both the Norwegian and Swedish military authorities that a defeat was inevitable.[4] Even as they had managed to deliver several minor offensive blows to the Swedes, thus applying pressure on the Swedes to accept Norway as a sovereign nation[citation needed], it was considered impossible to try to stop the Swedes in the long run.[4] The Swedish offer of negotiations was therefore accepted as the war had put a heavy strain on the Norwegian finances. Every day of delay in securing Norway by the Swedes brought uncertainty to them regarding the outcome, so both parties were interested in a quick end to the war.

For the ordinary Norwegian soldier the war had seemed ill-prepared and ill-fought,[4] the allegations of the loss were against Christian Frederick and the Norwegian general Haxthausen; the latter was accused of treason. For the Norwegian government it probably[citation needed] had been more of a matter of getting the best possible bargaining position, as without the support of major powers Norway's independence was impossible to secure. But by agreeing to talks following the victory at Langnes they were in a situation where they could avoid an unconditional surrender.

Aftermath[edit]

Negotiations started in Moss, Norway on 10 August 1814, and after a few days of hard negotiations, a cease fire agreement, called the Convention of Moss, was signed on 14 August 1814. King Christian Frederick was forced to abdicate, but Norway remained nominally independent within a personal union with Sweden, under the Swedish king. Its Constitution was upheld with only such amendments as were required to allow it to enter into the union, and the two united kingdoms retained separate institutions, except for the King and the foreign service and policy.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Footnotes
  1. ^ Angell, Henrik (1914). Syv-aars-krigen for 17. mai 1807-1814. Kristiania: Aschehoug. p. 219
  2. ^ Angell, p. 220
  3. ^ Dyrvik, Ståle; Feldbæk, Ole (1996). Aschehoughs Norgeshistorie - Mellom brødre - 1780-1830. 7. Oslo: H. Aschehough & Co. p. 159
  4. ^ a b c d Syv-aars-krigen for 17de mai 1807-1814 (1914) by Henrik Angell (1995), ISBN 82-90520-23-9
Literature