Poland, 1525-1660 Sweden, 1560-1611 Livonia, 1561-1621 Estonia, 1561-1660

Swedish-Polish War, 1600-1611

A.) Prehistory of the War

While his brother Erik XIV. was King of Sweden, Duke Johan of Södermanland married Katarina Jagiellonica, daughter of the Polish King. In 1568, King Erik was deposed, and Duke Johan succeeded him as King Johan III. He negotiated with the papal curia for a possible reintegration of the Swedish Lutheran church into the Catholic church; while the negotiations failed, he had his son Sigismund Vasa raised in Catholic faith.
Sigismund, heir-apparent to the Swedish crown, in 1587 was elected King of Poland. In 1592 his father Johan died, and Sigismund inherited the Swedish crown as well. Sigismund's Catholic belief and his residence in Cracow made him unpopular in Sweden; in 1598 Sigismund's uncle, Duke Charles, lead a revolt and defeated troops loyal to Sigismund at Stegeborg and Stängebro (Sept. 8th, 25th).

B.) The War

Sigismund, declared deposed as King of Sweden in 1599, still was King of Poland-Lithuania. He refused to recognize the new King of Sweden, Charles IX., continued to claim the Swedish crown. In Livonia, Swedish possessions bordered on Polish territory; here the Swedish-Polish War was fought.
The most significant event was the Battle of Kirkholm, fought on September 17th 1605, a brilliant Polish victory. After the death of Charles IX. in 1611 the war repeatedly was interrupted by periods of truce (1611-1613, 1614-1616). The fight in Livonia, for both parties involved, seemed less interesting than events in Russia (Time of Troubles), where both Sweden and Poland interfered.

C.) The Legacy

King Sigismund continued to claim the Swedish throne, as did his descendants. The war between Sweden and Poland was not terminated, merely postponed; Sweden was to regard Poland as her prime enemy, for the century to come. In 1620 the war resumed (Swedish-Polish War 1620-1629).

The Second Polish War, 1600-1629, from Many Swedish Wars, by Hans Högman
The Wars of Karl IX. and the Disaster at Kirkholm, 1605, from Battles in Swedish History
Swedish-Polish War 1600-1609, from Polish Renaissance Warfare

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on May 31st 2003, last revised on November 18th 2004

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