Swedish–Novgorodian Wars

Swedish–Novgorodian Wars

Swedish–Novgorodian Wars

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In the Swedish–Novgorodian Wars, the Republic of Novgorod and medieval Sweden were engaged in conflicts for control of the Gulf of Finland, an area vital to the Hanseatic League and part of the Varangian-Byzantine trade route. The Swedish attacks against Orthodox Russians had religious overtones, but before the 14th century there is no knowledge of official Crusade bull issued by the Pope.


The conflict was rooted in the Viking Age when the Varangians had a trade outpost in Ladoga and controlled the course of the Neva River. The Slavicization and Christianization of Northern Russia accounted for the deterioration of relations between the Vikings and Novgorod at the turn of the 11th century. Eiríkr Hákonarson raided Ladoga in 997, followed by his brother Sveinn Hákonarson in 1015. After Yaroslav I's marriage to Ingegerd of Sweden in 1019, the conflict was settled by making Ladoga a jarl in the orbit of Kievan Rus. It was ruled by Ragnvald Ulfsson, father of King Stenkil. Stenkil's granddaughter Christina married Mstislav of Novgorod, upon whose death in 1132 Novgorod seceded from Kievan Rus.

Fighting resumes

The 12th century is poorly documented in Sweden, and Russian documents are fragmented. From the surviving sources, however, it seems evident that the newly founded republic and Sweden drifted into hostilities that could not be permanently settled ever again.

According to the First Novgorod Chronicle, the Swedish troops attacked the Novgorod merchants...
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