Setanta, I dont have the time to initiate a long discussion, so I will not reply your version of the history of the Great Northern War. I am just going to inform you that your version is called "the old school" in Sweden and it originated in the 19th century. It is today some what outdated.
Yes, i'm sure the Swedes put as flattering a construction upon the events of the Great Northern War as is consistent with a normal pride in one's people. Perhaps it is easier in a republic to disavow the actions and the character of the supreme exectutive than in a monrachy. I frankly don't care what modern Swedish scholars think on the subject, if it were to appear to me that they were just acting the apologist for a brilliant man, who was saddly more flawed than brilliant. My "version" of the history of that war is based upon reading modern history and biography, so your appeal to authority here is predicated upon a false premise about what leads me to write what i've written.
Modern scholars, like the ones I mentioned, gives a more favorably opinion of Charles XII:s strategic thinking. For exampel: The saxon army are regarded as the most dangerus enemy to Sweden in the early years, and had to be dealt with first. The baltic front was never abandoned, it contained more Swedish soldiers than the Polish front. The Swedish superiority in the early years have been overestimated, no peace with status quoe conditions was ever a possibility for Sweden. The target of the invasion of Russia was the best strategic choise. The invasion of Norway was dictated by common sence, Sweden needed to improve its position at the negotions table.
Yes, if someone were intent upon justifing Charles' decisions, i'm sure it would do well to attempt to establish a contention that the Saxon army were highly thought of. You'll note that i have criticized Charles for having failed to well assess the potential of the Russians. The large numbers of Swedes in the Baltic provinces had little meaning when they were shut up in fortresses and port cities. The Russians freely roamed the countryside, and there was a constant petite guerre
which occupied Swedish troops and used Swedish resources, while denying to Sweden a considerable source of her resources. At Breitenfels, the Saxon army proved its excellence sufficiently to unceremoniously decamp, abaondoning Gustav Adolf and the Swedes. There is nothing in the performance of the Saxons between 1631 and 1700 to have justified any such estimation to the mind of someone carefully assessing the potential threats. Charles allowed the Semyenovsky and Preobrezhensky Guards to march away from Narva, as well as a great many of the troops in the regularly organized regiments. The loss of the Streltsy was a positive advantage to the Russian war effort. A commander who does not lie to himself could not have failed to see that the defeated Russian army was marching away, as strong as or stronger in man-power than the Swedes who had defeated them. Charles had already been free to come to the aid of Narva because the Saxons were quiescent, and i don't agree that a realistic assessment would have seen them as a greater threat than the Russians. You point out yourself that fewer troops were needed in Poland than in Courland and Livonia, which ought to have been a wake-up call for the King as to where the credible threat lay. My point is and remains that Charles lacked the greatness and range of vision, the perspective, which sets the greatest military men apart from the merely brialliant leaders. If as you allege, the conventional wisdom considered the (to my mind, laughable) Saxon army the greatest threat, than Charles at the least stands indicted of having failed to rise above a conventional view. Hardly the hallmark of a "Great Captain."
Again, read the books i recommended, they will give you a more balanced view. I really dont have the time to embark on a discussion with a convinced "old schooler", those discussions can last an eternity.
Well, that was a pretty cheap shot: "I deny everything you've written, and i refute it thus, but i don't want to get into a discussion." You've no more reason to categorize me as an "old-schooler" than i would to suggest that you simply will hear no criticism of a Swedish military hero. How about this, when we discuss such a topic, let us assume each of the other that we are well-informed, and hold differing views. Your "old school" comments, delivered in this dismissive manner, have the character of an ad hominem argument, in that you basically say its not worth discussing with me. You've written quite a bit for someone unwilling to discuss the topic.
And by the way, whats is wrong with the term Denmark-Norway? Denmark and Norway were two independet kingdoms ruled by the same king. Calling Denmark-Norway just Denmark is like saying England instead of Great Britain.
Well, actually, i do usually say England rather than Great Britain--i see no good reason to assume that the English speak authoritatively for the Scot and the Welsh, than to assume the reverse. As for Denmark-Norway, those unfamiliar with the history of monarchy in Scandanavia might assume that the resources of two determined nations were arrayed against Sweden--and nothing can be futher from the truth. Norway's part in that war was that of victim, and your list there suggests that at the outset
Charles faced the combined resources and military of Denmark, Norway, Russia, Saxony, Hanover and Prussia. In fact, Norway does not enter the equation, as i noted earlier, until well after Swedish power was destroyed, and that because of Charles' failure to effectively deal with the Russians. The same is true of Hanover and Prussia, which both were involved in the War of the Spanish Succession until well after Charles' army had been destroyed at Poltava. Given the resources available to Charles in 1699, a simple comparison of the career of Gustav Adolf to Charles XII throws Charles' claim to fame into a bad light. Frankly, Charles made a bad situation worse, and made one ill-considered and rash decision after the other, and deluded himself on more than one occasion into believing what he would have liked to believe as opposed to attempting a realistic assessment of his situation. I remain unimpressed with his record, apart from direct personal command on the field of battle.
If you truly do not want to discuss this with someone you dismiss as an "old schooler," you simply need not reply. You might enjoy the thought perhaps, of me lurching along, in my characteristic "unbalanced" manner.