The common cause : the life and death of the Anglo-Swedish Alliance against France,1805-1809
This thesis will view the Napoleonic War from three distinct angles. Firstly, as a world war that was fought beyond the narrow confines of Europe where events on other continents were as important as those taking place in Europe. Secondly, the thesis will view the war from an Anglo-Swedish angle with an emphasis upon the northern and Baltic regions of Europe. This region of Europe is often forgotten when the Napoleonic War is written about despite the fact it was of vital economic and strategic importance to Britain. Thirdly, this military contest between the Great Powers will be viewed from 'below' or in other words from the perspective of a minor power unable to influence events as much as these powers. One good reason for Anglo-Swedish friendship was the strong trade links between the two countries, which led to their successful but neglected economic sabotage of Napoleon's Continental system. Yet economic factors, though vital, did not primarily account for the creation and continued life of the 'common cause'. Instead geopolitical and ideological factors gave rise to the 'common cause'. Firstly, although seeing themselves as nations apart from the continent Sweden and Britain's independence and strategic security depended upon no one power being able to upset or usurp the European balance of power. Secondly, in the eyes of Swedish and British conservatives (they ruled both countries for most of the alliance's life) Napoleonic France was not only a direct threat to their external security but Napoleon also came to symbolise everything they disliked about the new European order. To the architect of the alliance, Gustavus IV , and his fellow conservatives, Napoleon had to be defeated at all costs if Sweden, Britain and all of Europe was to survive. But the conservatives had a monopoly on neither political power nor the truth, for powerful groups in both countries opposed the war with Napoleon. These groups, in opposition during most of the war in both countries,believed an accommodation with Napoleon was possible. In 1806 the British Whigs tried and failed to find a peaceful accommodation with Napoleon. Following defeat at Russian hands and the diversion of British interest to the Iberian peninsula, the Anglo-Swedish alliance was almost dead when in early 1809 the Swedish opposition took power through a coup. They managed, unlike their British colleagues, to get peace with Napoleon, but at a high price. Defeat, despair and domestic turmoil the following year led to the election of marshal Bernadotte as ruler of Sweden. Within two years Bernadotte had begun rebuilding the 'common cause' with Britain, and in 1814 Sweden finally saw its great protagonist Napoleon defeated. The pro-war line had showed itself to be the only realistic and viable long-term option for either country.