Why did Sweden lose Finlandin 1809?

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Scandinavia in the Revolutionary Era


                   Why did Sweden lose Finland in 1809?

After centuries of war on their frontier it was natural for either of the two countries, Russia or Finland, to take opportunity to strike at the other. Gustaf III had done so in 1789 and now favourable circumstances were on Russia's side. Also, there came repeated reminders from Napoleon of the commitments of the Tilsit pact. Accordingly, at the beginning of 1808 the Russian attack on Sweden began by having invaded Finland on February 21, using as justification Gustaf IV Adolf's stubborn adherence to his British alliance. However, Alexander's desire was to avoid war as long as possible, which was borne out by the fact that delivery of the already prepared declaration of war was postponed for a month. Denmark declared war on Sweden the following month, and a French army under the command of Marshal Bernadotte began to gather on Zealand preparing for an attack on her in the south.

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The Swedish army numbered about 66,000 men under arms, which did not compare badly with the 80,000 on Russia's part. The former figure was raised to nearly 100,000 by universal conscription, but the quality of the troops enrolled in this way was doubtful, and commissariat and medical services left much to be desired. On the other hand, Sweden had to stand also against Denmark-Norway, now allied with Russia. And when the Swedes tried to expand their forces according to the old pattern of universal conscription, the new troops were depleted by disease caused by bad sanitary conditions and, as a ...

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