British Diplomacy and Swedish Politics, 1758-1773

British Diplomacy and Swedish Politics, 1758-1773

Michael Roberts
Series: Nordic
Volume: 1
Copyright Date: 1980
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 556
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctttshj9
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  • Book Info
    British Diplomacy and Swedish Politics, 1758-1773
    Book Description:

    This book has three objectives; to shed light on the central issue in British foreign policy during a period inadequately explored by historians; to present, for the first time in English, an account of the dramatic last decade of Swedish “liberty” and its final overthrow by Gustavus III; and finally, to direct the attention of historians to the career of Sir John Goodricke -- a diplomat whom Lor Rochford called “the best man we have abroad; you can trust him with anything -- except money.” These themes are in fact inextricably linked. For Great Britain, emerging from the Seven Years War victorious but isolated, needed to safeguard her trade with Russia and British statesmen felt that an Anglo-Russian alliance could best be achieved by first concluding a treaty with Sweden to which Russia would adhere. To achieve this aim, it was essential to break French influence in Stockholm, to oust the francophile Hats from power, and to install their anglophile rivals the Caps. Thus Swedish party politics, and the Swedish constitutions, unexpectedly became matters of great consequence in Whitehall. To win the necessary victory in Stockholm Britain needed a minister of peculiar talents and no little ability. Sir John Goodricke was such a minister. And the record of his exertions, and of his eventual failure, is necessary to any proper understanding of British policy in the postwar decade. This book is an important contribution to both British and Scandinavian history and, since it also illuminates the subject of European political relations in the eighteenth century, it will be welcomed by diplomatic historians and specialists in eighteenth-century studies as well. Michael Roberts tells his story with customary verve and grace, and effectively refutes any idea that diplomatic history need be dull.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-6417-7
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
    M. R.
  4. Introduction The Tranquillity of the North
    (pp. xiii-2)

    The language of diplomacy, as it developed and achieved consistency from the seventeenth century onwards, acquired a precision appropriate to the binding character of the international agreements toward which its efforts are directed; but it combined this (at least until our own time) with a highly stylized diction, designed to give dignity and weight to trifling dispatches, to put a gloss of amenity upon protests which might otherwise appear unduly sharp, and to clothe even menace in the decent forms of courtesy. Diplomacy, in short, like other professions, has created its own jargon. And one useful and timesaving element in...

  5. CHAPTER I The Road to Stockholm, 1758–1764
    (pp. 3-37)

    March 1758. The Seven Years War ablaze in three continents; the outcome everywhere uncertain. No decision upon the high seas: England must wait a year yet for Lagos and Quiberon. No decision in America, where Fort William Henry had lately fallen to the French, and the stolid Abercromby was making heavy weather of the preparations for this summer’s campaign. The French flag still flew over Louisburg, and while that bastion remained untaken England could boast no trophy which might serve to buy back Minorca, if it should come to negotiations for a peace: Admiral Boscawen, sailing westward with reinforcements, could...

  6. CHAPTER II A Diplomatic Revolution, 1762–1764
    (pp. 38-63)

    The coming of peace at the beginning of 1763 inaugurated, for most of the combatants, a period of painful readjustment. Wartime partnerships dissolved when the war was over; and statesmen groped their way to new connections to meet the changed perspectives which the peace had brought. The international landmarks were altering their shape and shifting their position; old patterns were dissolving, new ones had not yet come into focus.

    Nowhere was the change more evident than in the microcosm of Swedish affairs. Whether in regard to domestic politics or international groupings, all was labile, uncertain, and confused. In the 1740s...

  7. CHAPTER III The Overthrow of the “French System,” April 1764–January 1765
    (pp. 64-110)

    If foreign ministers looked upon Copenhagen as a social desert, they did not make similar complaints about Stockholm. There the trouble was not tedium, but rather the hectic pace of life and the high cost of living.¹ By the middle of the eighteenth century Stockholm had grown to be a city of perhaps 70,000 inhabitants. For more than a century it had been expanding beyond the confines of the old town, huddled on the islands which separate the Mälar from the tide-water: to the north, and more recently to the south, extensive new urban areas had come into existence, climbing...

  8. CHAPTER IV Lord Sandwich in Search of a Policy, 1765
    (pp. 111-138)

    The election was won; Rudbeck waslantmarskalk; benchmen, electors, Secret Committee, were all firmly in the hands of the friends of England. Their success confronted Lord Sandwich with the need to come to a decision on three closely interlinked issues. First: was he to continue to pursue the plan of 31 August, once the “preliminary stage” of that plan had been completed, and to draw on the Civil List for the purpose of “keeping the party together” thereafter? Secondly: what concrete advantage for England should he try to obtain, in exchange for the support which had already been given to...

  9. CHAPTER V The Caps and the Court, 1765
    (pp. 139-178)

    While Lord Sandwich had been endeavoring to concentrate is mind about the place to be allotted to Sweden in the broad strategy of British foreign policy, Sir John Goodricke had had his hands full with the minor tactics of diplomacy. In these local skirmishes he found an evident satisfaction; and he tried hard to instill into his superiors in London an appreciation of their significance for the general plan of campaign. Despite his familiarity with the local terrain the battle was not without its surprises. The alignment of the forces engaged long remained less than perfectly clear. And it may...

  10. CHAPTER VI The Rockinghams and Goodricke’s Treaty, 1765–1766
    (pp. 179-212)

    The attack on the Hat senators was just gathering impetus, the party struggle was just moving to a climax, when on 12 July the duke of Grafton succeeded Lord Sandwich as Secretary of State for the Northern Department. After nearly two months of political uncertainty the Rockingham administration had at last been installed in office; and though the king, the nation, and Lord Rockingham himself had all alike been disappointed of the hope of the leadership of Pitt, it was now their business to present as Pittish an appearance as was possible in the great man’s absence. The laths must...

  11. CHAPTER VII The End of the Cap Diet, 1766
    (pp. 213-232)

    In the still waters of Whitehall Goodricke’s treaty might make no more than a transient ripple; but in more sensitive quarters it produced reactions which belied its innocuous appearance. In vain Löwenhielm gave Breteuil reiterated assurances that there was nothing in it to cause offense to France; in vain he pointed out that it gave no hint of an English subsidy.¹ The French did not mistake its significance. They knew, well enough, that if it did not in itself establish an English system, it was designed to be the basis upon which an English system could be built: once the...

  12. CHAPTER VIII Drift, Deflation, and Defeat, 1766-1768
    (pp. 233-274)

    By November 1766, then, Goodricke and the Caps stood poised to implement the program which they had laid down in the spring of 1765. The French system was broken, France’s payment of arrears was indefinitely suspended, the Senate indignant at the language which Choiseul and Breteuil had latterly seen fit to hold towards them. Goodricke’s treaty had provided that negotiations for a regular defensive alliance should start when “time and conjunctures” should be opportune: that time, surely, had now arrived.

    The reply of the Estates to the Secret Proposition on foreign affairs which had been laid before them at the...

  13. CHAPTER IX Lord Rochford and the Hat Diet, 1769–1770
    (pp. 275-325)

    It was in no festive spirit that Goodricke greeted the end of the old year and the opening of the new. In four months the Extraordinary Diet was due to meet in Norrköping; and four months was far too little to give time for the upturn in the economy, already perceptible, to have its effect upon the elections. Without some such recovery, the outlook was undeniably bleak. It was indeed possible to hope that the alliance of Court and Hats which had made possible the success of the Inactivity would break down, once its immediate object had been attained; but...

  14. CHAPTER X Interlude, 1770–1771
    (pp. 326-348)

    The Diet was over; the members, dispersed. The political clubs closed their doors, no doubt to the regret of the innkeepers of Stockholm; the exhausted diplomats made up the accounts of corruption, congratulating themselves that with reasonable good fortune it would be three years before the meeting of the next ordinary Diet exposed them to renewed importunities; and the surface of politics in the capital assumed a more tranquil aspect. Goodricke, with obvious relief, predicted a quiet summer.¹ His colleagues seem to have been of the same opinion; for one after another they betook themselves homeward. Count Lascy, the Spanish...

  15. CHAPTER XI Failure of a Mission, 1771–1772
    (pp. 349-403)

    At the beginning of June, then, Swedish politics were still poised in uncertainty, and no man could be sure to which side the balance would incline. If Gustav III were minded to seize the opportunity which this state of affairs offered to him, he had not much time at his disposal. In a fortnight the crucial divisions which followed the meeting of the Diet would resolve these doubts; and thereby, perhaps, deprive him of the chance to influence the course of events. But if time was short, he did not waste it. Nor did he hesitate about the course to...

  16. Tranquillity Preserved, 1772–1773
    (pp. 404-414)

    The revolution of 19 August 1772 was an event in the history of England, no less than in that of Sweden. It was not simply that it had obvious consequences for Anglo-Swedish relations. It marked the end of a quite distinct period in the history of British foreign policy, for it dealt the final blow to the assumptions upon which that policy had been founded since 1763.

    After the Peace of Paris the essential objective of successive administrations in regard to foreign affairs was the preservation of peace: a policy which coincided with the wishes of the great majority of...

  17. Notes
    (pp. 417-494)
  18. Bibliography
    (pp. 497-512)
  19. Index
    (pp. 515-528)