Swedish Wars 1600-1609
Livonia - Terrain of war operations
During this period Livonia - known as Inflanty in
Polish - was an important transit region for the Grand Duchy of
Lithuania as well as the Duchy of Muscovy. The river Dzwina (Dvina)
was of particular importance as a trade route for the White
Ruthenian Lands. There were also land trade routes for Muscovy.
Livonia was divided into:-
- Swedish Estonia, with a population
of some 50,000.
- The Island Ozyla
- Polish Livonia (Inflanty), with
a population of some 200,000.
- Courland, with a population of some
The main town was Riga, a rich port, similar in many
ways to its more westerly neighbour Gdansk. It was also the most
important crossroad for overland routes. The countryside was comprised
of large tracts of forests and wilderness and had a low population
density. This gave significant supply problems for large forces,
especially after the ravages of war.
of the Polish Swedish conflict.
At the end of the 16th century Livonia became a hotspot,
triggered by the occupation of northern Estonia by Sweden. Poland
had laid claim to these lands following the agreement made in 1561
with the Livonian Order of the Teutonic Knights.
In 1588 Zygmunt Waza III (Sigismund Vasa) was elected
King of the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth. Part of his success
was the desire that this would bring the two countries closer, end
their conflicts and perhaps provide a much needed ally. Instead
it was to lead to over a century of conflict and the eclipse of
both countries by others.
In 1594, after the death of the King John III of
Sweden, his son, Sigismund became the rightful heir to the throne
of Sweden. However his Catholic faith brought him a great deal of
opposition from the mainly Lutheran Swedes, who were led by his
uncle Charles Sundermanland. Sigismund attempted to break this opposition
and in 1598 he landed with privately funded mercenary forces of
Polish, German and Hungarian infantry. He did not have the support
of the Sejm and fatally he failed to bring any Polish cavalry.
was not noted for his military skills, after some early successes
on the 4th November he was defeated at Jonkoping. He was forced
to come to terms with Charles and conceded to him in the Riksdag
(Parliament). He left Sweden, which in the next two years came under
the control of Charles and his supporters.
This did not end his hope of obtaining the Swedish
crown and to gain Polish support he gave the Commonwealth the disputed
territory of Northern Estonia, which was then in Swedish hands.
On 12th March 1600 Zygmunt incorporated Estonia into