300 years ago, ambassadors at the Swedish Foreign Ministry attempted to foment an invasion plan and embark a force for the British Isles, in support of the Jacobite Pretender’s claim to the throne.
In 1716, after James Francis Stuart had left Scotland, the Swedish envoys in London and Paris, Carl Gyllenborg and Count Sparre, plotted with Jacobite agents to secretly loan money to Charles XII (last of the Vasa kings in Sweden) in exchange for Sweden’s help in a new Jacobite enterprise against the Hanoverian King George I. In Britain, as intercepted Jacobite correspondence testifies, rumours circulated that James, commonly referred to as the Old Pretender, had been offered money and 12,000 Swedish soldiers by France.
Britain’s interests were far larger than those of Hanover. British statesmen and diplomats sought world trade domination and colonial expansion, while Hanover mostly sought the acquisition of Swedish territories in north Germany. The electorate of Hanover itself, moreover, had been an anti-Swedish ally of both Russia (under Peter the Great) and Denmark-Norway during the Great Northern War.
While Swedish diplomatic designs were initially anti-Hanoverian (rather than pro-Jacobite), Ambassador Gyllenborg kept in touch with crypto-Jacobite MPs in London in a Machiavellian attempt to reverse the fortunes of Sweden as a declining maritime power. Gyllenborg was an able and respectful diplomat, having done his best to foster the help of any MP sympathetic to the Swedish cause, or merchant who feared Russian rivalry in the ‘Eastland’ carrying trade; he also appealed to public opinion by pamphleteering. Continue reading »