The Hall No4 « The first period of the Great Northern war (1700 – 1708)»

At the beginning of the war, the Swedish King Charles XII, was only 18 years old. He took command of the army created by his father and began his participation in the war with defeat of Denmark (August 1700). Then he defeated the Russian army of Tsar Peter It in the Battle of Narva (November 18, 1700). 

In the spring of 1701 King Charles XII turned south to fight the army of Augustus II, Elector of Saxony, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania. After a few victories over his counterpart the Swedish king forced August II to sign the Treaty of Altranstädt (1706) in which he made peace with the Swedish Empire, renounced his claims to the Polish crown, accepted Stanislaw Leszczynski as King of Poland, and ended his alliance with Russia. After the brilliant completion of the Polish campaign, King Charles XII reached the peak of his might, and in 1707 he decided to enter Moscow Tsardom and start his Russian campaign. However, on his way, the Swedish army met the ruined and burned by the Russian army territory of Belarus and in the fall of 1708 Charles XII was forced to make a temporary stop.

Tsar Peter I began the war at the age of 28. While getting ready for the war, Tsar Peter I created a new army of the European type, and build a new Russia’s navy. At the time when King Charles XII “got stuck” in Poland, Tsar Peter I drew his attention to the Baltic provinces of Sweden and due to significant numerical superiority he recaptured Ingermanland and laid down on May 16, 1703 a new northwestern outpost of his country – the city of St. Petersburg. Tsar Peter I moved the capital from Moscow to St. Petersburg in 1712. 

Fulfilling the conditions of Kolomak articles, Hetman Mazepa provided Tsar Peter I with substantial military assistance from the very beginning of the Great Northern war. Many Cossack regiments participated in the combat actions while other regiments carried an auxiliary service.

Ukraine not only participated in the war with its armed forces, but also suffered economic losses and provided human resources for the implementation of Tsar Peter I’s construction projects (the Ladoga Canal, St. Petersburg, Pechersk Fortress). All this led to the growth of anti-Moscow sentiments in the Ukrainian society and to the dissatisfaction of the Cossack Commanders with the Russian Tsar’s policy towards Ukraine. When the Swedish king took a decision to advance his army into Ukraine, Hetman Mazepa allied with King Charles XII on October 28, 1708.

It should be noted that this decision, which was taken by the Swedish king, was the result of the implementation of the so-called “Zhovkva plan of scorched earth”, which Tsar Peter I used against advancing Swedes on their way towards Moscow.

The main reason why Hetman Ivan Mazepa took such a difficult decision was the centralization policy of Tsar Peter I, the main elements of which were: an offensive on Cossack rights and freedoms, the restriction of the rights of the Ukrainian administration, heavy tax and economic pressure on the Cossack state, Tsar Peter I’s intention to eliminate the regimental administrative system in Ukraine and transform the Cossack army into regular Russian regiments. While entering Ukraine, King Charles XII hoped to receive, first of all, winter quarters and food supplies because he planned to resume an advance on Moscow in the spring of 1709.

Visitors of the museum can see in this hall many portraits of King Charles XII, Tsar Peter I, King August II, King Stanislaw Leszczynski. Particular attention is paid to the participation of Ukrainian Cossacks under the command of the Colonel Danylo Apostol in the Great Northern war. Visitors can also see a few samples of the Cossack uniform. They can also learn about the development of new lands on the Baltic Sea coast and participation of Ukrainian Cossacks in this process. Medallions and medals from the time of the Great Northern war are important testimonies to history. They show us a powerful ideological war of Tsar Peter I, for whom it was very important to propagandize Russian victories earned in the Baltic region.