Detailed Timeline of European History


 Detailed Timeline of
European History


Exploration (1505-1650)

<< Enlightenment (1650-1789) >>

Napoleonic Wars (1789-1816)


Age of Enlightenment & Expansionism
(1650
– 1789)

Insatiable
Expansionism Precedes Democratic Ideals


Go to European
History Interactive Map

Age of
Enlightenment Interactive Map


Europe 1785 AD

English Civil War (1642-51): Pitted King
Charles against the English Parliament. Charles attempted to swing the
balance of power back toward absolute rule of the king, undermining the
democratic process, leading to civil war. Charles was defeated and
executed. England was left without a monarch until the Glorious
Revolution of 1688, and even then, the monarch would remain cautious in
overstepping his/her bounds of power, as defined by the constitution,
ever-mindful of the fate of King Charles.

(Timeline Continued Below)


Anglo-Dutch Wars Between Great Britain and
Netherlands to Establish Naval Dominance (1652-1784):
A series of four
separate wars occurring between 1652 and 1784. Began as England
attempted to surpass the Dutch (Netherlands) as a naval power and
maritime commercial leader. Initially, the Dutch maintained naval
supremacy over England. By the 1700s, the English had surpassed the
Dutch in terms of fleet size, and imposed its superior force upon the
Dutch in the final war spanning from 1780 to 1784. England (now Great
Britain) was decisively victorious, displacing the Netherlands as the
world’s leading navy and maritime commercial power.

Russian-Polish War
(1654–57):
Russia gains
control over Ukraine.


Jews allowed in England again
(1655).

Russo-Swedish War (1656-58): Russia
attempts to gain access to the Baltic Sea, but Sweden is still too
powerful for the emerging Eastern European power, and temporarily
captures Russian territory in Poland. The conflict ends in a stalemate,
with no territorial changes

Scotland Independence From England
(1660):

Scotland asserts independence from England during the chaos after the
English Civil War. It comes at a steep economic drawback, as they are
prohibited from trading with England or any of its colonies, forcing
them to join the England-dominated Great Britain in 1707.


In conflict with Spain, France gains
territory from Spanish Netherlands (1668).


France finally establishes presence in
India (1668).


Ottomans capture Crete from Venice
(1669).

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FranceFrench North America
(1682):
France claims
areas south of Great Lakes to Gulf of Mexico in modern U.S., naming it
Louisiana (after Louis XIV).



 Further
Understanding:

Rise of France

Spain and Austria were the
dominant European powers during the 16th century, supporting each other
due to the Habsburg Dynasty connection, while France struggled to keep
pace. They were sandwiched between these two great powers, which exerted
military superiority over France. As religious conflicts between
Catholics and Protestants sparked in the 16th century, all three powers
were on the Catholicism side, as staunch defenders of their faith.
During the 80 years and 30 years wars, the culmination of the European
Wars of Religion, France switched sides, to join the Protestants which
were gaining power. France’s flip-flop was the main factor in swinging
the war toward the favor of the Protestants. In which case, France
gained territory from Spain and Austria, as well as other concessions.
This catalyzed a rise for France in the 17th century, along with the
gradual decline of Spain and Austria.


Religious Restrictions Re-Introduced in
France (1685):
Staunch Catholic Louis XIV abolishes the Edict of Nantes,
which ensured religious tolerance for Protestants, gained after French
Wars of Religion.

Glorious Revolution in England
(1688):

William of Orange from Netherlands invited to invade England and to
assume the crown. First, he is compelled to agree to increased
Parliamentary powers, weakening the powers of the crown. The English
Bill of Rights is enacted in 1689, guaranteeing certain rights for all
individuals and increasing parliamentary power. Closest thing to true
democracy in Europe.

War of Grand Alliance – Coalition Against
France (1688–97):
England cooperates with other continental powers to
curb the dominance of France. Little is gained or lost but England
weakens France by routing their navy at sea. France had become a major
continental power, at the expense of Spain. Various German states,
Netherlands, Holy Roman Empire, Spain and England unite to fight France,
to diminish its dominant influence. France supports the Ottomans, who
attack the Holy Roman Empire from the east. Battles are fought to a
stalemate on land. HRE neither loses nor gains territory.


Austria Conquers Hungary From Ottoman
Empire (1699):
Austria takes full control over all of Hungary from the
Ottoman Turks. This includes Slovakia, Transylvania, and Slovenia
(eastern Croatia). Religious conflict ensues as Austria is staunchly
Roman Catholic, while Hungary had largely become Protestant while under
Ottoman control. Marks the beginning of stagnation and decline of the
Ottoman Empire.


Austria

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Russian Victory Over Sweden in Northern
War (1700-21):
Battle for supremacy of the Baltic Sea. Pitted Sweden
against an alliance of Denmark-Norway, Russia, Poland and Prussia.
Sweden had been the dominant power in the north for about a century, but
had been in a process of decline. Each of these countries had lost
territory or trade to Sweden, and allied to reverse this. Sweden was
unable to withstand the coalition against it, conceding its losses to
end the war in 1721. Sweden lost continental Baltic territories (Latvia
and Estonia), and Russia becoming the great power in the north. Poland
had served as the battlefield, and was badly decimated, falling under
Russian dominance due to its weakened state. Russia gained ports on the
Gulf of Finland, giving Russia its first access to the sea, at ports
which were not frozen the majority of the year. St. Petersburg
(established during reign of Peter I the Great) was subsequently
established (in 1703, during the early years of the war), giving Russia
the ability to engage in maritime trade with the rest of Europe.


Kingdom of PrussiaKingdom of Prussia Formed
(1701):
Bradenburg-Prussia (part of eastern buffer territories from Germans
expanding east into Slav & Balt lands) becomes a kingdom, keeping just
the name “Prussia”. Would eventually become the dominant state among the
German states, taking the lead in the creation of the modern nation of
Germany. Jews are allowed to return.

War of Spanish Succession
(1706-14):

Grandson of Louis XIV of France inherits the throne of Spain. Louis XIV
exerts control over Spanish foreign policy, causing England, Netherlands
and Holy Roman Empire to initiate war, in order to prevent a
Spanish-French union, which could dominate all of Europe. The
English-led coalition wins, with England (Great Britain) capturing
Gibraltar (which it still possesses to this day) and the Hudson Bay
territories (in Canada) from France.

England Becomes Great Britain
(1707):

Great Britain formed when Scotland and Ireland are annexed into the new
England-dominated kingdom, known as the Acts of the Union. Scotland had
technically been part of England, but had operated independently for
years. Scotland was facing financial ruin after its last attempt at
independence, due to economic sanctions imposed by England. Therefore,
being combined with England was a better alternative. From the
perspective of England, it wanted to eliminate an enemy on its northern
border.


Austria Gains Spanish Netherlands
(1714):

Gained from Spain in War of Spanish Succession.

Austria Gains Northern Italy From Spain
(1714):
Gained from Spain in War of Spanish Succession.

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Austria Gains Southern Italy & Sicily From
Spain (1714):
Gained by Austria from Spain during War of Spanish
Succession.


Spain


Note: Spain & Austria Divide.
When the grandson
of Louis XIV of France became King of Spain, other nations objected, as
France had already become the most powerful state in western/central
Europe. They now threatened to control another major power. This sparked
the War of Spanish Succession, and pitted Spain against Austria. Austria
had a claim on the throne, and attempted to forcibly make good on it,
with the help of the Dutch and Great Britain, which were mostly
interested in avoiding a unified Spain and France. As a result of this
war, Austria gained Spain’s Italian and Netherland possessions. This
would end Spanish & Austrian cooperation, which had helped to make them
the two most powerful European nations as a result of their Habsburg
connection.


Serbian Independence From Ottoman Empire
(1718):
Austria-Ottoman War, Serbs persuaded to join fellow Christians
from Austria in battle against Ottomans, freeing Northern Serbia from
Ottoman rule.


Ottoman Empire

Russian Orthodox Church
(1721):
Placed
under state control by Tsar Peter I. Authorized to collect taxes from
peasants, which would be a reason why it was persecuted during communist
takeover in 1917, as it was seen as an enemy of the people.

(Timeline Continued Below)

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Russia Gains Control Over Poland
(1725):
A
weakened and disorganized Poland-Lithuania comes under Russian
domination, serving as a client/buffer state.

War of the Polish Succession
(1733):

France and Spain want one candidate related to their respective
monarchs, and Austria wants another, part of the Habsburg family. In
war, Spain gains Naples and Sicily from Austria, but in the peace
settlement Austria/Russia are pacified with a Russian-preferred Habsburg
monarch.



ItalyAustria Gains Tuscany During Poland War of
Succession (1733).


Southern Italy & Sicily Retaken by Spain
from Austria during War of Polish Succession (1733).

Kingdom of Sardinia Formed
(1733):
Island
of Sardinia is ceded to Savoy by Spain, resulting in the new Kingdom of
Sardinia (Savoy + Sardinia).


Prussia Gains Territory From Austria in
War of Austrian Succession (1740):
Prussia invades Austrian Empire to
claim throne after it comes into dispute. France and Bavaria join
Prussia and invade Prague, but are driven out by the Austrians. Fighting
in Italy and Germany largely ends in stalemate, except with Prussia
retaining the Austrian region of
Holy Roman Empire
Silesia, making them the clear victor
in the conflict.


Note: Austria-Prussia Rivalry
. Austria is no
longer the undisputed leader of the Holy Roman Empire, as Prussia has
now risen to challenge it as the dominant German state. Prussia
eventually overtakes Austria decisively in the 19th century, becoming
the basis for the modern nation of Germany, while leaving Austria to
become a separate, less powerful state.

Beginning of French and Indian War
(1754):

Conflict between France and Great Britain over disputed lands west of
British colonies in modern U.S. Would become incorporated in Seven Years
War in Europe.

Seven Years War in Germany
(1756-63):

Incorporates French & Indian War, being waged in North America. Austria
attempts to regain the region of Silesia, taken by Prussia in the War of
Austrian Succession in 1740. Russia and France join Austria, while
England joins Prussia. Battles would take place primarily in Germany.
Great Britain and France also battle in India. Prussia is left to fight
the land theater of the battle largely alone, against the three powers
joined against it. The fact that it fights this opposition to a
stalemate without losses or gains is a victory, establishing Prussia as
the pre-eminent land-based power in Europe. France performs poorly,
sending France into a downward spiral, which helps bring about the
French Revolution.

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End of French & Indian War – Great Britain
Thoroughly Defeats France (1763):
Great Britain (GB) gains Florida from
Spain. As compensation, Spain is given Louisiana (large tract of land
covering much of the modern U.S. midwest), which was taken from France.
Some Caribbean possessions are traded back and forth between GB and
France. GB also gains Canada from France, ending French colonial
presence in North America.



 Further Understanding:


France Decline

France falls from its
dominant position among European powers, while Great Britain (GB) rises
to top after the French & Indian War. This propelled England to the
status as the dominant global power, gaining much of France’s
possessions throughout Asia and the Americas. France still remains a
continental power, due to its population, geopolitical position and
cohesion. France also benefits from non-threatening states to each side,
as Spain and the Holy Roman Empire are in a process of decline. GB is
mostly a naval threat to the north (not a serious threat to conquer
France, too large of a task for an army of lesser size). Due to mercantilistic mind set (all or nothing), France tries to thoroughly
defeat GB in all theaters where they clash (western hemisphere, India),
rather than attempt to co-exist. This proves to be a fatal mistake for
their overseas empire, badly damaging their economy, prestige and
collective psyche, helping to bring about the French Revolution.


France Purchases Corsica
(1764):
France
purchases Corsica from Rep. of Genoa, part of France ever since.


RussiaOttoman Empire Loses Territory to Russia
(1768–74):
Russo-Turkish war, ended in Russian victory. Began with
Ottomans declaring war on Russia. Russia gains Southern Ukraine,
Northern Caucasus and Crimea, giving it access to the Black Sea, along
with a large addition to its Turkish constituency.

First Partition of Poland
(1772):
Poland
becomes a protectorate of Russia, but threatened by Prussia and Austria
to the west. Prussia, Austria and Russia agree to divide
Poland-Lithuania amongst themselves. Russia agrees, realizing it does
not have the resources to control/defend the entire nation. The bulk of
Poland-Lithuania remains intact, but largely under foreign domination.
Russia gains eastern tract of land from Poland-Lithuania. Austria gains
a portion of western Ukraine, and Prussia annexes territories spanning
across the northern section of Poland.

American Revolutionary War
(1775-83):

American Revolutionary War with American colonists. Decentralized nature
of colonists spread British troops thin, preventing them from
maintaining captured cities and subduing the revolutionary activity. The
involvement of the French made American victory possible. The Dutch and
Spanish – French allies – also aided the revolutionaries. As the
financial cost of the war mounted, and prospects of a decisive victory
grew dim, Great Britain finally recognized American independence.
Although British prestige took a hit, North America was the least
profitable sector of its overseas empire. Even small, individual islands
in the Caribbean were far more profitable than North America as a whole.
Despite the loss, Great Britain would continue to grow in worldwide
dominance through the wealth generated in the Caribbean, India, East
Asia and Africa.


Note: Prussia Expansion.
Continues to expand
eastward into Slav lands, while also taking territory from a weakened
Poland-Lithuania state. Begins to challenge Austria’s dominance within
the Holy Roman Empire, conquering the Silesian region from Austria.


Note: Holy Roman Empire Decline.
After a few
centuries of Catholic-Protestant division and warfare, the Germans of
the HRE became fragmented. They are further wedged apart by the
Prussia-Austria struggle for dominance.


Note: Austria.
Conquers Hungary from the Ottoman
Empire and annexes lands away from Poland. Also conquers Spanish
Netherlands and Northern Italy from Spain. Remains the leading German
state, but Prussia begins to rival its power and influence within the
Holy Roman Empire.


Further Understanding of the Enlightenment:


The Age of Enlightenment:
The Age of Enlightenment was driven by advancements in western
philosophy, scientific and academic understanding. After nearly constant
warfare in the preceding centuries, Europeans (now more educated in
general) began to question motivations and actions of state and church.
They began to imagine a better way of life built on pragmatism,
reasoning, fairness, individual rights (humanism), as opposed to the
years of oppression, superstition, religious fanaticism, absolutism,
tyranny, etc. As opposed to the traditional mode of thought, where the
public was thought to be destined to serve authority (Kings, Priests,
etc.), people began to reason that the state should exist to serve the
individual, in order to ensure the greatest amount of good for the
greatest number of people. This was in opposition to the
traditionally-held view of striving for the greatest amount of glory,
power and wealth for the select few. This philosophy would contribute to
the wave of revolutions throughout the Americas and Europe toward the
end of the 18th century and into the 19th century. Monarchist
governments that did survive the revolutions of the 1800s would
generally be forced to share power with a democratically-elected
parliaments.
The Enlightenment Leads to Capitalism: As Europe was transformed
by a shift from monarchist to democratic governments, the average person
became more enfranchised in the affairs of their respective governments.
This enfranchisement of the individual also spread to the economic
realm, resulting in systems that gave the individual a greater
opportunity to share in the wealth. Under new Enlightenment ideals, it
was no longer acceptable to force the general public to buy goods at
inflated prices from government-protected monopolies, established among
and between the elite. Fair competition was seen as a much more
equitable approach, where anyone concievably had the opportunity to
compete for business, which also gave consumers a choice, rewarding fair
pricing, sufficient quality and efficiency. Thus, Mercantilism
(protectionism, monopolistic, market manipulating, win-lose mentality)
gave way to Capitalism (free competition, free markets, win-win
mentality). It was argued that free markets would result in the greatest
degree of efficiency, as the individual pursuit of self-interest would
result in the collective good of the society. The labor class could also
benefit, by essentially selling their services, and accepting the most
attractive offer, which in turn could benefit the merchant (contrary to
previous belief) by gaining a more skilled and productive work force (as
workers had more motivation to improve themselves and work
productively). Great Britain led the way in operating as a capitalistic
economy by ending protectionism (monopolies, excessive tariffs, etc.), a
trend that spread to other western European nations. Eastern Europe
would remain behind Western Europe, as they were not able to compete in
free markets on a level playing field. Therefore, Eastern Europe
remained feudalistic. The U.S. also subscribed to the Free Market
Economy, adding another significant trade partner for Great Britain and
other Western European nations. However, it was not applied in all
participating nations equally. France was a more elitist society than
Great Britain, with a much less-educated middle/lower class. Elitist
policies bred inefficiencies, contributing to economic collapse that
helped bring about the French Revolution. Also, Great Britain did not
always extend its capitalistic ideals to its colonies. Forcing American
colonies to buy from government-backed monopolies helped cause the
American Revolutionary War.
Industrial Revolution: Capitalism coincided with the rise of the
Industrial Revolution as production became much more efficient, a
natural development in a capitalistic system. The Industrial Revolution
began in Great Britain in the late 1700s, and spread throughout the rest
of Europe, U.S. and Japan from there. Great Britain had a well-educated
middle/low class, access to generous coal deposits, and a dense
population without room to expand (forcing innovation to sustain).
Furthermore, Britain was less ravaged by the wars that severely
inflicted continental Europe. It also had (by far) the most powerful
navy and adept commercial fleet, enabling a competitive advantage in
international trade, further fueling the Industrial Revolution. France
would lag behind, since it had a top-caliber upper class, but an
uneducated lower-class, and would be ravaged by war in its near abroad
and on it own soil, as was also the case with much of the rest of
continental Europe. France also lacked sufficient coal deposits. Germany
would not experience the industrial revolution until late in the 1800s,
as it was still fragmented, and tariffs existed between principalities,
resulting in a more backward economy which was not conducive to
sophisticated advancements. Italy would not be involved either, as it
was still a divided, foreign-ruled nation. Up until this time, the
Netherlands was the wealthiest nation, but upon being militarily
devastated by both Great Britain and France, and not being able to keep
up during the Industrial Revolution (lack of coal deposits), it fell
behind.



Comments


Fervent Nationalism: Major powers
developed insatiable appetites for expansion, gaining resources, wealth,
military build up, and power. The mercantilistic mind set dictated that
nations cannot exist harmoniously with one another in the same
proximity. One must completely triumph over the other. Therefore, it was
critical to gain at the expense of rivals, leading to conflict on the
continent and abroad, which fed uninhibited colonial expansion. In the
pre-capitalist, pre-democratic era, wealth was used to create war
machines instead of promoting the greatest amount of good for the
greatest amount of people, such as humanistic/social causes or economic
development. Great Britain-French conflicts were a prime example. With
vast amounts of land in America, they still fought each other (along
with the natives) as though it were a zero-sum game (fight until
somebody wins everything), rather than coexisting, with everyone
prospering due to the vast amount of land and resources available for
all. This culminated into first “global war” (French & Indian War which
dovetailed into the War of the Grand Alliance). In this case, Great
Brtain rose to become the world’s greatest super power, while France was
devastated, leading to the French Revolution at the end of the 1700s.


Great Britain’s Rise to Dominance. France
falls from its dominant position. England rises to supremacy after its
overwhelming victory over France in the Seven Years War and French and
Indian War. This propels Great Britain (GB) to the status as the
dominant global power, after it gains much of France’s overseas
possessions throughout Asia and the Western Hemisphere. GB became more
advanced than France, moving toward democracy and capitalism, while
France remained feudalistic and elitist. Financial irresponsibility was
a natural consequence for France, placing it in economic ruin.
Therefore, unlike GB, France was prevented from properly administering
to its colonies and developing its navy, giving GB the upper hand in the
race for world dominance.


Italy Remains Under Foreign Domination:
Italy is largely subdivided, with its separate parts used as pawns by
the super powers of Europe. Often neglected by its master kingdoms,
Italy falls behind much of Europe. Savoy, Genoa and Venice remain
independent, although in decline. The Papal States fiercely defend their
sovereignty, despite rebellions from within. Foreign powers do not dare
tamper with the Church dominated state, due to the political and
religious ramifications involved.


Danish Colonial Empire. The peak of the
Denmark-Norway Empire occurs during the 17th and 18th centuries.
However, it is still very modest compared to those of its fellow
European nations, such as Great Britain, France, Spain, Portugal and the
Dutch.


Decline of Ottoman Empire: The decline of
the Ottoman Empire was a long, gradual process. It began with naval
defeats to the Europeans in Mediterranean Sea in the late 1500s, ending
their naval dominance, a key to controlling surrounding nations as it
had been for the Roman Empire. They were also weakened by the end of
their stranglehold on Euro-Asian trade, as Europeans found naval routes
to Asia. The Europeans became more advanced due to increased
technologies and maritime expertise. Naval dominance was not taken
seriously enough by the Ottomans, as they were able to remain dominant
for so long without it. Western European powers innovated out of
necessity, as it was their only way to overcome the Ottoman’s
stranglehold of the pass between Europe and Asia. Due to Western
Europe’s decisive naval advantage, they became wealthier, while the
Ottoman economy suffered from loss of trade control. The Ottoman empire
was also becoming less centralized, as various provinces became
essentially independent, loyal to Ottoman Empire in name only. As the
Ottoman empire rose to dominance, it enjoyed a run of several gifted and
aggressive sultans. During this era when the empire stagnated, it had a
run of several ineffective sultans. During the rise, the empire
cultivated learning institutions which combined the latest advances in
science and other technological fields. During the stagnation, cutting
edge learning was suppressed, as the regime became more conservative and
regressive. Furthermore, the military brass was hesitant to update its
battlefield strategies and tactics. Since the ascent of the Ottomans,
the Janissary military order had played an important part. However,
their tactics had become outdated, and fell behind the Europeans. This
resulted in their disastrous defeat at the Battle of Vienna, where the
Ottomans were pushed back by the Europeans, losing Hungary. Military
regression was also evident in a series of defeats to the Russians,
losing vast territories in the Caucuses (between Black/Caspian Seas).


Russia Domination in the East: When Peter
the Great became Tsar in the late 17th century, he had a strong taste
for all things Western. Plus, he felt that Russia needed Western allies
in their conflicts with the Turks to the south. He toured Europe, and
learned about Dutch shipbuilding, England commerce and industry, and
Prussian military organization and battlefield strategies. Peter applied
many of these lessons learned to his own empire, a vast kingdom in terms
of land and population. Due to sheer size, Russia had a great deal of
potential, but was still a backwards nation, something which Peter was
determined to rectify. He also saw how France had successfully
centralized its government, becoming much more powerful in doing so, and
saw that this was needed in Russia to leverage its potential. He
brutally submitted nobles and military to his new, more centralized form
of rule, killing large numbers that revolted. He placed the Russian
Orthodox Church under state control. The most glaring thing missing was
the absence of a navy, which required access to ports at the Baltic and
Black Seas. They were blocked by Sweden to Baltic access, and the
Ottomans to Black Sea access. Peter used his new, forward-thinking
reforms to gain an advantage over both rivals in the 18th century,
achieving this objective of sea access through conquests of Swedish and
Ottoman lands around the Baltic and Black Seas, respectively. Russia was
aided by the decline of both Sweden (due to constant warfare in the
north) and the Ottoman Empire. Poland was also easy pickings for Russia,
as it was even more sparsely populated than Russia, especially in the
east. It had no natural defenses (mountain ranges or difficult terrain),
making logistics for the numerically superior (and now also
organizationally superior) Russia. The fact that this could be done, and
there was motivation in doing so (satisfying expansionist appetite),
meant that it was inevitable.


Decline of the Dutch: The Netherlands
became a dominant naval and maritime commerce power by the mid 1600s.
Their expanding wealth and power attract the emerging English and French
nations. In the late 1600s, the Dutch would be devastated in war with
these two powers. After Dutch noble William of Orange became King of
England during the Glorious Revolution in 1688, he caused the systematic detioriation of the Dutch navy. It soon became no match for the rising
English/Great Britain navy, minimizing the Netherland’s power overseas
and in Europe.


Swedish Decline: Sweden had the best
trained, most effective army in Northern Europe, pound for pound. But
Sweden was not a densely populated nation, and could not effectively
occupy territories it conquered, preventing it from extracting tribute
from conquered areas. During this time period, Russia had become more
consolidated, unifying the large numbers of Rus people (East Slavs) that
had inhabited the vast lands of historic Russia for centuries. Sweden
blocked Russia’s access to the all-critical Baltic Sea, preventing it
from competing and trading with other European nations at sea. By
harnessing its large numbers, Sweden was powerless to stop Russia from
achieving its critical objective of a warm-water port. Furthermore, most
of the north joined Russia against Sweden in the Northern Wars, to
avenge previous property losses to Sweden, and to make sure they were on
the winning side, in hopes of gaining territories and other concessions
at the end of the war. At the end of the war, Sweden lost its
territories around the eastern end of the Baltic Sea, falling from its
position as a major power. The weakening spiral would continue, as
Sweden would also lose all of Finland to Russia by the 19th century.

Next: Napoleonic Wars (1789 – 1816)

Previous: Age of Exploration (1505 – 1650)


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