Conference reports The Peace of Stolbova 1617 – a seminar on the beginning of a peaceful co-existence

The 400th anniversary of the peace treaty between Sweden and Russia has for obvious reasons been in the shadow of […]

Published in the printed edition of Baltic Worlds Baltic Worlds 3:2017, p 96
Published on balticworlds.com on november 8, 2017

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The 400th anniversary of the peace treaty between Sweden and Russia has for obvious reasons been in the shadow of the revolution(s) and coup(s) that occur 300 years later. But apart from the fact that the political changes affected the same area of the Russian-Swedish-Finnish borderland, the Stolbova peace marked the beginning of almost a century of relatively good relations between the neighboring states, with many interesting aspects on trans-border interactions.

A seminar on this theme was arranged by Armémuseum, the Swedish Army Museum in Stockholm, in cooperation with the Section for Slavic languages at Stockholm University, on Friday, October 13, 2017. Associate professor Elisabeth Löfstrand, Stockholm University, gave a background and described the great political disorder in Russia at the time of the treaty and the Swedish attempts to intervene in the complicated succession to the Russian throne. Her colleague, professor Per-Arne Bodin, spoke about two contemporary Swedish authors’ description of Russia, Petrus Persson Petrejus in a lengthy monograph from 1615 and Johannes Botvidi in a short doctoral dissertation in 1620, and especially their attempts to describe the Orthodox faith as “relatively Christian” (i.e. Lutheran) in contrast to Papism.

Professor Adrian Selin of St. Petersburg Higher School of Economics gave a talk entitled “After the assignment: Agitation, repatriation, delimitation. The peace process and the treaty contained many aspects, some trivial, and some of great importance. From Selin’s introduction: “The Treaty of Stolbovo was signed on February 27, 1617. It was the final point of a long confrontation between Russia and Sweden, each filled with different political ideas and conversations. Peace between the two powers was assumed, and the conversations in 1615—17 were primarily about money, territories, and the souls of Novgorodian servicemen, peasants and priests. However, the result was the appearance on the Baltic coast of new type of territory that could at best be called a borderland. Sweden received territory inhabited by an Eastern Orthodox Christian population. This new Swedish province existed for more than eighty years.” Selin’s book Russko-Shvedskaya Granitsa (1617—1700 gg.]: Formirovanye, Funktsionirovanye, Nasledie [The Russian-Swedish boundary (1617-1700): Formation, functionality, heritage] was published in St. Petersburg in 2016 but has so far not been translated. Docent Aleksandr Tolstikov of Petrozavodsk University described the boundary as a symbolic resource.The transition into Russia by foreign officials was organized as “entering the home of the tsar”, while Orthodox believers from the Swedish side were badly treated in Novgorod. While monks and priests were demanded to leave within 14 days, or to stay in the new Swedish territories, the Orthodox faith was thus not forbidden and churches and even priests and monks lived on but were not replaced, as explained by docent Alexander Pereswetoff-Morath of Stockholm University. Non-ethnic Russian Orthodox believers, Finns, Ingrians and Votians, were seen with suspicion and expected to convert to Lutheranism.

In the Swedish propaganda, Poland and Denmark were the eternal enemies, while Russia was a friend or foe depending on the actual situation, as explained by Dr. Anna Maria Forssberg of the Army Museum. As a result of the treaty, Russian and Swedish merchants were allowed to set up commercial “exclaves” in the other country, and Elisabeth Löfstrand described the “Russian Court” in Stockholm, where the merchants were allowed to observe the Orthodox faith inside the premises, while their seasonal import and export voyages were rummaged through the Swedish customs officers.

On February 16—17, 2017, a seminar on the Peace was held at Lund University, organized by Professor Arne Jönsson, comprising other aspects on and around the Treaty. The lectures given at both seminars will be published in a joint anthology. ≈