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In the middle of his first love affair the nineteen year old king arrived at the castle at Tavastehus in Finland in 1614. The Kalmarwar with Denmark had just ended and a close disaster had been avoided. He continued to Åbo castle that caught fire and burned to the ground before the kings eyes. The king travelled on to the newly conquered town of Narva to learn the art of war from his best generals, Jakob de la Gardie and Evert Horn. The russian war was completely different from the Kalmar war that actually had been little more than mutual looting of undefended territory. To Sweden the war with Russia was both a war of conquest and a defensive war. The swedish Estonia had to be protected from the poles under Sigismund that had enjoyed success in Russia. There was also an ambition to gain control over the trade routes to Achangelsk. So the swedes clung to Novgorod and all the towns and villages that had been seized in Ingermanland and deep into western Russia.

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Gustaf II Adolf

With the war against Denmark ended 6000 men, may of the foreign mercenaries, were sent as reinforcements to Russia. Names as the dutchman Mönnichhofen, the scotsmen Daniel Cobron, Rutherford and Learmouth, the frenchman de la Chapelle appear among the commanders as well as the estonian Tuffwe (later Taube) and the last of his line, Clas Sture. The army lacked provisions and a famine broke out that resulted in cannibalism on the countryside.


The russians attacked small swedish outposts with names impossible to pronounce and seized two of them, cutting down some hundred of the swedish-finnish defenders. But eight strongholds held. The king grew impatient and decided to attack Pskov. A rich merchant town. He was convinced not to by the chansellor, Axel Oxenstierna, and instead turned his eyes to Gdov. Reinforced by defected russians under Isai Aminoff he defied Axel Oxenstierna that feared for the kings life, no heir available yet, and ordered the town to be put under siege. He planned and executed the siege and the town surrendered. The success changed him for life as the danish envoyers noted. He was congratulated by ambassadors from all of Europe. Among these was a courir from Moritz of Hessen-Kassel, Johan Sobel. He told of another conflict. The increasing tension between catholocs and protestants in the empire. He urged Gustaf to enter a union with the evangelic rulers to defend themselves against catholic aggression. Gustaf listened with great interest. But he declined as he hadnt the time to interfere in Europe. Not yet.


The fighting that followed was intense. In 1615 the king led 9000 men to Pskov and put the town under siege. The general Evert Horn was killed in the fighting but the siege failed even with the swedes being superior and the town in great hunger and disease. Gustav had to withdraw. In a second fight Taube and Mönnichhofen were killed along with a few thousand of swedes. Clas Sture was mortally wounded and with him the old family of the absolute ruling classes was extinguished. Peace negotiations were commenced during the winter that brought hunger and hardship. The negotiations were led by the (very) pro-russian englishman John Mericke. The king travelled to Finland on a PR-tour since Finland carried most of the weight of the russian war and the finns had always been more friendly to Sigismund, the old king.

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The peace negotiations bogged down time after time. Not until the swedes let the russians know that they planned an alliance with Poland with intent to jointly attack Russia things got moving. The russians were so keen to get Novgorod back that they agreed to the following: Sweden got Kexholm county, all of Ingermanland and the fortress Nöteborg at the entrance of the Neva river. Additionally three more fortresses were aquired, among them Ivangorod. Tradebenefits and a sum of 20 000 rubles were thrown into the deal. Russia acknowledged Gustaf as king of Sweden. Sweden acknowledged Romanoff as Czar and withdrew Karl Filips cadidacy and returned Novgorod. Russia no longer had a harbor in the Baltic. Sweden with Finland, Estonia, Kexholm and Ingermanland was now a coherent kingdom with all parts connected by land. The peace of Stolbova 1617 was a huge success for the swedes.