What If the Swedish Empire won the Great Northern War?

Nothing: the things would be pretty much as they were before the war.
Well, to a certain extent it depends on how quickly and at what cost Sweden wins. Remember, the War of Spainish Sucession is going on at the same time, and a Sweden with an army and war chest still more or less intact has the ability to weigh in. Especially if such a victory comes (As id argue the best opportunity for this scenario) from an alliance/co-operation with the Ottomans. Alao, at the very least, you butterfly away St. Petersburg, which has a major conservative impact on Russian court culture
 
A victory at Poltava could have set Russia back a century. The loss of Peter the Great would have had an incredible impact and would likely have held back westernization efforts for decades if not longer. A victory at Poltava and a suitable followup would probably keep the Danish from reentering the war, allow Carl to refocus on the PLC and might even see the establishment of an independent Cossack Hetmanate.

The question is whether Carl can leverage such a victory to secure the long-term viability of the Swedish Empire and whether he intervenes in the War of Spanish Succession.

This is one of the PoDs I have played around with a bit, but I haven't really put research time into it yet.
 
Well, to a certain extent it depends on how quickly and at what cost Sweden wins.

Of course. I was tempted to add possibility of Charles marching to fight the Hapsburgs but decided against it: why add extra dimension to the simplistic question? :winkytongue:

Remember, the War of Spainish Sucession is going on at the same time, and a Sweden with an army and war chest still more or less intact has the ability to weigh in. Especially if such a victory comes (As id argue the best opportunity for this scenario) from an alliance/co-operation with the Ottomans. Alao, at the very least, you butterfly away St. Petersburg, which has a major conservative impact on Russian court culture

In the best case scenario Charley could manage without the Ottomans: kick Peter out of the game by successfully attacking Novgorod (which was expected in OTL) and then making a generous offer of keeping the pre-war borders and trade arrangements. Charley with the brains would give Peter Ingria (it was pretty much worthless) with the provisions limiting construction of the fortresses, etc..

As for St. Petersburg and its impact on the court culture, even before the GNW Peter's court had been wearing western costumes and danced western dances, the "western style" palaces had been built in Moscow (actually, the 1st one had been built before Peter's "reforms"), army had been wearing the western style uniforms and having western organization and the ranks (again, started before Peter). Most of his not too attractive habits (sorry, "education" ;)) Peter picked up in a "German Settlement" on Moscow outskirts.

The popular picture of pre-Petrian Russia being completely cut from the rest of the "western" world simply does not stand up to any scrutiny. To start with, port of Archangelsk had been functioning since the early 1550's (actually, an active trade in the area goes back to at least XII century with the main trade center of the area being Kholmogory on Dvina River). Then, the fact that the Swedes possessed the coast simply means that they had been getting the custom dues from the merchandise passing through the ports on that coast (Riga still remained a major outlet for the Lithuanian grain exports and for Russia Narva played the same role). Why would they kill the trade from which they had been benefiting?

St-Petersburg was a very costly experiment with no clear benefits (except for the XX - XXI centuries tourists), obvious inconveniences of governing a huge empire from a place on its border, vulnerability to the Swedish attacks (all the way till the early XIX when Russia got Finland), a need to build system of canals and sluices to provide a river way from the areas producing export goods to St-Petersburg and artificial "suppression" of the existing Baltic ports (Riga and Revel) to channel the traffic to St-Petersburg .
 
Of course. I was tempted to add possibility of Charles marching to fight the Hapsburgs but decided against it: why add extra dimension to the simplistic question? :winkytongue:



In the best case scenario Charley could manage without the Ottomans: kick Peter out of the game by successfully attacking Novgorod (which was expected in OTL) and then making a generous offer of keeping the pre-war borders and trade arrangements. Charley with the brains would give Peter Ingria (it was pretty much worthless) with the provisions limiting construction of the fortresses, etc..

As for St. Petersburg and its impact on the court culture, even before the GNW Peter's court had been wearing western costumes and danced western dances, the "western style" palaces had been built in Moscow (actually, the 1st one had been built before Peter's "reforms"), army had been wearing the western style uniforms and having western organization and the ranks (again, started before Peter). Most of his not too attractive habits (sorry, "education" ;)) Peter picked up in a "German Settlement" on Moscow outskirts.

The popular picture of pre-Petrian Russia being completely cut from the rest of the "western" world simply does not stand up to any scrutiny. To start with, port of Archangelsk had been functioning since the early 1550's (actually, an active trade in the area goes back to at least XII century with the main trade center of the area being Kholmogory on Dvina River). Then, the fact that the Swedes possessed the coast simply means that they had been getting the custom dues from the merchandise passing through the ports on that coast (Riga still remained a major outlet for the Lithuanian grain exports and for Russia Narva played the same role). Why would they kill the trade from which they had been benefiting?

St-Petersburg was a very costly experiment with no clear benefits (except for the XX - XXI centuries tourists), obvious inconveniences of governing a huge empire from a place on its border, vulnerability to the Swedish attacks (all the way till the early XIX when Russia got Finland), a need to build system of canals and sluices to provide a river way from the areas producing export goods to St-Petersburg and artificial "suppression" of the existing Baltic ports (Riga and Revel) to channel the traffic to St-Petersburg .

While I definitely see your points (And agree that Peter the Great wasen't the only factor in Russian modernization, though he did do some important work to make it permenantly stick long-term), my position on St. Petersburg has been that in acted in many ways as the Russian equivalent to Versailles as an answer to the "Provencals Problem"; namely, how to establish Absolutism in a state where power had traditionally been widely distributed to local power-brokers (like the Church and hereditary petty nobility) with independent power bases, perceptions of legetimacy, and interests that largely ran in a conservative/particularist rather than a broader national welfare direction (A problem, for example, that hamstrung the Commonwealth and Ottomans in the 18th century). By creating an entirely new capital from which Royal power was projected, you forced the local power brokers to physically distance themselves from their connections and positions in power in order to compete in the game of countrly politics that allowed them to keep up with their rival peers, granting more leverage to the monarch and allowing a centralized will to stick by putting anybody who wasen't willing to play ball out in the cold.
 

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St-Petersburg was a very costly experiment with no clear benefits (except for the XX - XXI centuries tourists), obvious inconveniences of governing a huge empire from a place on its border, vulnerability to the Swedish attacks (all the way till the early XIX when Russia got Finland), a need to build system of canals and sluices to provide a river way from the areas producing export goods to St-Petersburg and artificial "suppression" of the existing Baltic ports (Riga and Revel) to channel the traffic to St-Petersburg .
To be fair, the area around St. Petersburg was always an important trade gateway, and more connected to the Russian interior than the rest of the Baltic coast had been. Transport from the Baltic to the Volga clearly wasn't a new innovation of Peter the Great. Even if he hadn't built St. Petersburg and expanded the canal system, trade would have gravitated along that route anyway, as it had from Kievan Rus' to the Soviet Union. Increasing throughput would have been necessary as the population of Russia increased, so it makes sense to develop a city there. During the reigns of later Tsars and well into the Soviet period, the Volga-Baltic Waterway was continually expanded, indicating that the strategic importance of the Neva River was not just a delusion of Peter.
 
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The popular picture of pre-Petrian Russia being completely cut from the rest of the "western" world simply does not stand up to any scrutiny. To start with, port of Archangelsk had been functioning since the early 1550's (actually, an active trade in the area goes back to at least XII century with the main trade center of the area being Kholmogory on Dvina River). Then, the fact that the Swedes possessed the coast simply means that they had been getting the custom dues from the merchandise passing through the ports on that coast (Riga still remained a major outlet for the Lithuanian grain exports and for Russia Narva played the same role). Why would they kill the trade from which they had been benefiting?

Glad someone else shares my hobby-horse.

I think that honestly, the truly unique Petrine innovations were 1. the (de-facto) lifelong conscription (in fact, the whole country was subordinated to the army for generations because of that, IMO) 2. amazing amounts of new gentry created (which both removed the old players in palace coups, and set the stage for the next century of palace coups) 3. the investment in the navy (obviously Alexey Mikhailovich was in favour but nothing like the Voronezh wharf resulted from that effort) and 4. the long-due abolition of the silver standard due to Russia's dearth of specie. Other aspects of so-called Westernization were already happening long before Peter, and in some cases the direction the country took under Feodor Alexeyevich and Sofia was more in line with how other European countries were developing. Even the diplomatic revolution, really wasn't. Golitsyn worked very hard to place Russia within a European network of alliances, the big difference was Peter favouring the Protestants over the Catholics.
 
While I definitely see your points (And agree that Peter the Great wasen't the only factor in Russian modernization, though he did do some important work to make it permenantly stick long-term), my position on St. Petersburg has been that in acted in many ways as the Russian equivalent to Versailles as an answer to the "Provencals Problem"; namely, how to establish Absolutism in a state where power had traditionally been widely distributed to local power-brokers (like the Church and hereditary petty nobility) with independent power bases, perceptions of legetimacy, and interests that largely ran in a conservative/particularist rather than a broader national welfare direction (A problem, for example, that hamstrung the Commonwealth and Ottomans in the 18th century).

Well, situation you described had been non-existent since at least early XVI century and probably since even earlier times: Ivan IV was simply ending the process that started much earlier and Time of the Troubles probably end it completely. In the Tsardom of Moscow the highest position was "boyarin", a member of the royal council. The boyar families grew from those serving the Princes of Moscow leaving old Rurikid "udel princes" (people about whom you are talking) out of the power circle. Ivan IV, after conquest of the Volga area launched a massive resettlement of the descendants of the "udel princes" cutting off their ties with the historic areas of their power. Ditto for the power in the provinces: the leading administrative/military positions (voyevodships) had been given to the "service" people and granting/taking them back was completely in Tsar's power. In that sense Tsardom of the mid-XVII was much more "absolutist" than France of Louis XIII where the members of top aristocracy still could have their own towns and private armies independent from the royal power.

Situation with the petty nobility was even simpler: most of their estates had been "pomestie" granted for military service (with an explicit identification how many armed people the owner must raise from that land and how exactly they should be armed), subject to the regular reviews and revocation in the case when conditions of service had not been met. A hereditary land ("votchina") was almost non-existent for the lower nobility and not adequate for independence in the case of the higher aristocracy. Plus, because it was increasingly more difficult to maintain the estates in the cases of the prolonged wars or regular mobilizations (as in the Southern border against the possible Crimean raids), government could also add some monetary compensation. In other words, there was a complete dependency upon the central power well before Peter's reign. Quite different from France of that period when noble owned the hereditary land ("votchina", in Russian equivalent) unconditionally.

The Orthodox Church was formally independent in the spiritual area but in practice it was tightly controlled by the Muscovite rulers. Granted, removal of a Patriarch was a somewhat cumbersome process requiring invitation of his peers from the Ottoman Empire but on the lower levels things had been much easier all the way to execution.

Now, notion of "a broader national welfare" did exist but it was understood, both in France (by Richelieu and Louis XIV) and Russia as a combination of "glory of the state" (mostly military glory) and "state knows better" attitude.
 
Glad someone else shares my hobby-horse.

I think that honestly, the truly unique Petrine innovations were 1. the (de-facto) lifelong conscription (in fact, the whole country was subordinated to the army for generations because of that, IMO) 2. amazing amounts of new gentry created (which both removed the old players in palace coups, and set the stage for the next century of palace coups) 3. the investment in the navy (obviously Alexey Mikhailovich was in favour but nothing like the Voronezh wharf resulted from that effort) and 4. the long-due abolition of the silver standard due to Russia's dearth of specie. Other aspects of so-called Westernization were already happening long before Peter, and in some cases the direction the country took under Feodor Alexeyevich and Sofia was more in line with how other European countries were developing. Even the diplomatic revolution, really wasn't. Golitsyn worked very hard to place Russia within a European network of alliances, the big difference was Peter favouring the Protestants over the Catholics.

Great summary (#2 is my favorite subject ;)). As far as the navy was concerned, the whole "investment" had been done in a typical Petrian fashion: expensive and lousy. Quality of the ships had been bad on the Sea of Azov and it remained bad on Baltic. An idea to have wooden ships staying in the Gulf of Finland with a low concentration of salt in a water was quite typical for everything Peter was doing. Not that all that effort had any practical effect: only during the reign of Catherine II Russian navy started venturing out of the Baltic Sea.

If I may add to #1: The live-long service mean that the nobility could not concentrate on managing their estates with any degree of efficiency. Another byproduct of his "model" was modification of the relatively restricted serfdom into slavery in everything but name. Basically, it pretty much killed normal development of the Russian industries (which was presumably one of Peter's goals) for century and a half: not only did it almost completely eliminate pool of the free employees, it created a perception that only the serfs could be used a a labor force. When Catherine II called its "Grand Commission", even the merchants had been arguing that only the forced labor is a reliable one, basically asking for expansion of a serfdom to allow the merchant class possession of the serfs.
 
Well, situation you described had been non-existent since at least early XVI century and probably since even earlier times: Ivan IV was simply ending the process that started much earlier and Time of the Troubles probably end it completely. In the Tsardom of Moscow the highest position was "boyarin", a member of the royal council. The boyar families grew from those serving the Princes of Moscow leaving old Rurikid "udel princes" (people about whom you are talking) out of the power circle. Ivan IV, after conquest of the Volga area launched a massive resettlement of the descendants of the "udel princes" cutting off their ties with the historic areas of their power. Ditto for the power in the provinces: the leading administrative/military positions (voyevodships) had been given to the "service" people and granting/taking them back was completely in Tsar's power. In that sense Tsardom of the mid-XVII was much more "absolutist" than France of Louis XIII where the members of top aristocracy still could have their own towns and private armies independent from the royal power.

Situation with the petty nobility was even simpler: most of their estates had been "pomestie" granted for military service (with an explicit identification how many armed people the owner must raise from that land and how exactly they should be armed), subject to the regular reviews and revocation in the case when conditions of service had not been met. A hereditary land ("votchina") was almost non-existent for the lower nobility and not adequate for independence in the case of the higher aristocracy. Plus, because it was increasingly more difficult to maintain the estates in the cases of the prolonged wars or regular mobilizations (as in the Southern border against the possible Crimean raids), government could also add some monetary compensation. In other words, there was a complete dependency upon the central power well before Peter's reign. Quite different from France of that period when noble owned the hereditary land ("votchina", in Russian equivalent) unconditionally.

The Orthodox Church was formally independent in the spiritual area but in practice it was tightly controlled by the Muscovite rulers. Granted, removal of a Patriarch was a somewhat cumbersome process requiring invitation of his peers from the Ottoman Empire but on the lower levels things had been much easier all the way to execution.

Now, notion of "a broader national welfare" did exist but it was understood, both in France (by Richelieu and Louis XIV) and Russia as a combination of "glory of the state" (mostly military glory) and "state knows better" attitude.

Thank you for the enlightening insight. I'll readily admit my knowledge of internal Russian affairs is... spotty at best, and my conclusion isen't the most educated in the world.
 
To be fair, the area around St. Petersburg was always an important trade gateway, and more connected to the Russian interior than the rest of the Baltic coast had been. Transport from the Baltic to the Volga clearly wasn't a new innovation of Peter the Great.

Of course, it was not that's what the port of Narva had been for.
 
Might we look away from the east for a moment and consider the impact? Let's go with @alexmilman and say King Charles stays in the north and roughshod up the Ruskies enough to get them to accept a status quo antibellum peace (In Russia; I assume Stanislaw is still going to keep his throne in Poland) sometime between 1704 and 1709. Now with the War of Spanish Succession raging and their southern and eastern positions (for the moment) secured, does Sweden decide to press her thumb on the scale (Or, indeed, does Denmark?). Certainly, the now perceived as crack Swedish army would be a valuable commodity on the international market, and the war would have highlighted to Charles the danger of his nation's diplomatic isolation and thus the need to earn some potential allies. If the Nordic nations do weigh in, is it on the side of the Bourbons or the Grand Alliance? (I'd say the later is more likely, given the presence of the two great Maritime empires on that side, the usefulness of Austrian goodwill in keeping a check on Russia, and the greater likelihood of compensation from the Spanish Empire, but that's just me). Could we see the revival of a Swedish colonial presence, or a stronger Norse influence in the northern Germanies?
 
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