The Great Northern War begins

to map

12. February 1700

In the end of the XVII century a coalition was formed against Sweden, which had been left into political isolation. The coalition consisted of Denmark, Russia, and Poland together with German Electorate of Saxony.
The coalition against Sweden was finalized in Dresden in December, 1699.

Preparations for the initial attack were made by the king of Poland and king Augustus II the Strong by rallying considerable forces to Lithuania and Courland, under the excuse of needing to control the self-minded nobility there. The plan for attacking and conquering Riga was drawn up by the exiled leader of the noble opposition - Johann Reinhold von Patkul, who as a former Swedish officer, knew the weaknesses in their defenses.

The surprise attack was planned to take place on the night of February 12. Because that would be the night of Shrovetide/Shrove Tuesday, they hoped the city defenders would be off guard due to the feasts and drinking. The German cavalry that set out from Courland, ran in to a small Swedish squad, which they eliminated. One of the wounded managed however, via side trails, to make it back and warn the city. Thus the surprise attack failed. Seizing the city also failed due to a lack of forces. In the beginning of September, the assaulting forces withdrew.

Source: Eesti ajalugu. IV, Põhjasõjast pärisorjuse kaotamiseni. Tartu: Ilmamaa. 2003
Eesti ajaloo atlas. Tallinn: Avita, 2006.                                                                                                       Photo
: http://www.europe.org.uk/europlus/images/latvia/Riga_old.jpg


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