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Poltava's Dread Day: The Great Northern War

Item #: Poltava's Dread Day: The Great Northern War
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Price: $24.95

    "Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it."

    George Santayana’s famous quote has often been cited when failed plans are analyzed... when something—like Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union—seems to have had a precedent that people should have "learned from," like Napoleon’s disasters in the same locale. Should Napoleon have "known better" before invading Russia?

    The Swedes would say, "Yes." When they invaded Russia, they lost an army, a monarch, and their place as one of the leading nations of Europe.

    The staggering part to realize is, after the disaster/great victory (depending on one’s point of view) at Poltava, the "Great Northern War" was only half over!

    Today, we forget how large an empire Sweden controlled, including the Baltic states and large portions of what are today Poland, Germany, Denmark, Finland, and Norway. The Great Northern War began as the rulers of Denmark and Saxony/Poland perceived weakness in the 18 year old Charles and thought this was a chance to regain lost lands. Peter I of Russia (before he was called "the Great") also saw his chance to reverse earlier misfortunes and gain access to the Baltic. The war grew, as Prussia joined the coalition, Polish and Ukranian separatists joined Sweden, while England and Hannover spent time on both sides! The Turks were also involved, sometimes helping Sweden, sometimes not (Charles "stayed" with them for five years after Poltava.)

    In the beginning, the Swedes were successful everywhere but diplomatically, and they might have ended the war to their advantage on a number of occasions, as coalition partners were knocked out but left able (and motivated) to return to war later.

    In the end, Charles would be considered mad. Peter would be called "the Great." Prussia and Saxony would be rising powers whose ambitions conflicted just 30 years later.

    And, it seems, Europe would be "doomed to repeat it" over and over. But that can change, with you in command of Sweden or the Coalition forces against her.


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