Great Northern War
Part of the Russo-Swedish Wars
Dates February 1701 – September 1717
Location Northern Europe; Baltic Region
Result Swedish victory
Territorial changes status quo antebellum
Karl XII (Charles XII), King of Sweden
Peter I (Peter the Great), Tsar of Russia
Contains the Point of Divergence for World of Lesnaya

In the World of Lesnaya, the Great Northern War represents a transitional point in Swedish history, a trial by fire for the small Swedish Empire, whereby Sweden was able to assert its dominance in Northern Europe, despite its very small size and population. A rigorous regime of disciplinary and managerial tactics known as the Carolean strategy made the Swedish army a juggernaut capable of overpowering enemy forces with twice the manpower (a situation that the Swedish army faced in almost every engagement during the Great Northern War).


From the years of 1701 to 1707, Sweden's small, but well-trained and well-managed army successfully and efficiently repulsed simultaneous invasions of their and their allies' territory by Denmark-Norway, Russia, and Poland-Lithuania. Charles XII then spent around five years invading and subduing Poland, ultimately dethroning August the Strong and placing Stanislaw Leszczynksi---a Polish noble with a pro-Swedish sentiment---as the king of Poland. In 1708, Sweden crossed the River Vistula and thereby began his invasion of Russia. He sent to Riga for reinforcements, and waited south of Smolensk for them to arrive. The only point of divergence for this alternate history occurs at this point in the Great Northern War.

  • 1708 -- Battle of Lesnaya (PoD). Swedish commander, Adam Ludwig Lewenhaupt, leads an army of 13,000 through the area of Lesnaya (Lyasnaya), and makes his rendezvous with the larger Swedish army north of Baturyn less than 2 days later. Russian prince Alexandr Menshikov, who had been sent with a force of 18,000 to intercept Lewenhaupt, was unable to arrive on time, and the Battle of Lesnaya --- the first time a Swedish army had lost to a Russian army in an open battlefield in over 100 years --- did not happen.
  • 1709 -- Battle of Poltava. Swedish forces (numbering 39,000) attack the fortress of Poltava, which is being defended by a Russian force of nearly 60,000 men. Despite being outnumbered, the Swedes score a monumental victory, uprooting the Russian forces. However, the Swedish supply lines are almost entirely cut off behind the main army, and Charles is forced to abandon his proposed march on Moscow, and instead turn toward Sweden's Baltic provinces to retake its many fortresses that were being occupied by Russian forces.
  • 1710 -- Battle of Riga. Charles' army returns from Ukraine, and swiftly surprises and overruns the Russian forces laying siege to Swedish fortifications in Riga.
  • 1713 – First Battle of St Petersburg. A Swedish force led by Wolmar Anton von Schlippenbach and Adam Ludwig Lewenhaupt surrounds the new Russian fortress of St Petersburg and forces the capitulation of the Russian forces in the garrison.
  • 1714 – Formal British Intervention. After two years of negotiations, Britain is finally convinced to openly join the Great Northern War on the side of Sweden. British troops provide much-needed relief for the Swedish forces, and convince Denmark-Norway and Poland-Lithuania to stay out of the conflict.
  • 1716 – Second Battle of St Petersburg. After multiple minor Russian successes in Ingria, Peter attempts to retake his recently lost seaport at St Petersburg, but the siege is broken and the Russian forces are chased out of St Petersburg by Charles' main army.
  • 1717 – Battle of Staraya Russa. After British forces were able to cut off Peter's flight from St Petersburg to Novgorod, Peter turns south towards Staraya Russa. There, he is headed off and surrounded by Swedish forces, and forced to surrender.

...more to come...