|Stable system of alliances|
|Members||Sweden-Tverland, Poland, Ukraine, Greece, Dalmatia|
|Importance||Challenged and fundamentally altered the political structure of Europe|
The Eastern Coalition is a reference by modern historians to a fairly stable system of alliances between Sweden, Poland, Ukraine, Greece and Dalmatia that lasted from the 1710's to the 1770's. It was the dominant political alliance in Europe for nearly half a century, starting in the 1730's and ending during the buildup to the Anglo-Swedish Wars.
The Coalition was first formed in 1718 by the victorious nations after the Great Northern War (Sweden, Poland and Ukraine), as an alliance against the Ottoman Empire, which, until the signing of the Coalition, had actually been an ally of Sweden. Many historians regard 1726, the year that Sven I reaffirmed Sweden's participation in the War of the Eastern Coalition, as the actual beginning of the Eastern Coalition, because the alliance had been looser, and Sweden had not fulfilled its part of the bargain, before that.
First Continental War
In the years prior to the First Continental War (1743-1752), the Eastern Coalition experienced its first major trials. Greece occupied of Istanbul, and thus controlled trade between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. Although Sweden, Poland and Ukraine (each of whom owned a chunk of land on the north shore of the Black Sea) were granted greatly reduced rates on the port dues at Istanbul, the growing political unity in the Coalition prompted them to jointly request complete exemption. Greece, under the impression that the port dues were the foundation of their economy, tried to suggest alternative bargains, which only caused the three eastern members to resent Greece.
The Adriatic War (1743-1748) began when Venice, Austria and France judged Greece an easy target due to its estrangement from the eastern members of the Eastern Coalition, with the tiny Dalmatian League as its only allies in the whole Mediterranean. However, Greece proved itself a much more powerful naval force than anybody (including Greece) had predicted, and the war went disastrously wrong for the anti-Greece alliance. The fighting also had the effect of reinforcing, rather than severing, the solidarity of the Eastern Coalition, which was an important factor in the Eastern Coalition victory in the First Continental War.
The exact point at which the Eastern Coalition broke up is difficult to pinpoint. Sven II was more nationalistic, and less coalitionistic, than his father, and preferred using his solitary political power to the united might of the coalition in negotiations and diplomacy, and thus, gradually withdrew from Eastern Coalition activity. His successful accession to the throne of Norway in 1763, and increased colonization and exploitation of the Swedish Gold Coast and Tobago only reinforced his tendency to stand alone, rather than as a member of an alliance.
After the First Continental War, Queen Anna of Poland dedicated most of her time and energy to internal reforms, helping revitalize her country’s political and economic system, and working to improve the impoverished conditions of her exhausted peasants. Greece became involved in a series of wars with the Ottoman and Persian Empires, and lost interest in the affairs of Europe beyond continued expansion of its Mediterranean thalassocracy. By this time, the Dalmatian League had become the self-stable Republic of Dalmatia, and, while retaining its formal alliance with Greece, spent a great deal of time competing with the Greek merchants.
Meanwhile, the impending conflicts between Britain and Sweden led the other Eastern Coalition powers to distance themselves somewhat from Sven II, whose diplomatic actions had begun to be a bit brash and reckless. Sweden became so involved in that series of wars, that diplomacy was relegated to a lower priority, and the Eastern Coalition was forgotten.
It is interesting to note, however, that, aside from the Siberian Crisis (in which all Eastern Coalition nations had taken the English side), none of the Eastern Coalition powers would go to war against any other until the 1820’s, in the Polish-Ukrainian War.