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Carl Gustav Armfelt and the Struggle for Finland during the Great Northern War

Series : Century of the Soldier 1618-1721 #65

Author : Eirik Hornborg
Translator : Erik Faithfull

Carl Gustav Armfelt and the Struggle for Finland during the Great Northern War


General - Pages : 284 | Images : 53 b/w & 17 colour illustrations, 9 b/w & 6 colour maps

Paperback - Date of Publication : March 2021 | Size : 248mm x 180mm | ISBN : 9781913336479 | Helion Book Code : HEL1273

Charles XII’s planned conquest of Norway died with him at Fredriksten fortress on 30 November 1718 (OS), and the small Swedish-Finnish army simultaneously besieging Trondheim was ordered to return to Sweden.  Setting off on the final stage across the mountains on New Year's Day 1719 the army was struck by a blizzard harsher than any in living memory, and an orderly withdrawal turned into what has become infamously known as the Carolean Death March.  That army was commanded by General Carl Gustav Armfelt, one of the great and tragic figures of Finnish and Swedish history, hero of Finland's brave but ultimately hopeless struggle against Russia under Peter the Great during the Great Northern War 1700-21.

This book draws on much primary source material to describe Armfelt’s military career. He was already an experienced soldier at the outbreak of the war having spent 11 years in the army of Louis XIV. The book describes his role in opposing the relentless march of the Russian forces in rolling back the eastern frontier of the Swedish empire from his Ingrian homeland through Finland and into Sweden itself. It concludes with the ill-fated Trondheim campaign during the empire’s final death throes and Armfelt’s final years in Finland after the war.

The author, Eirik Hornborg (1879-1965), was one of Finland’s leading and most prolific historical writers. The book was originally published in 1953 and this translation, by a descendent of General Armfelt, provides the first comprehensive account in English of the Great Northern War in Finland. 


"I’m really impressed with this book, as it provides in amazing details fascinating picture of less known aspects of Great Northern War, with struggle for Swedish Baltic provinces and Finland. Hornborg was great storyteller and he guides his readers through skirmishes and long marches, allowing insight into structure and day-to-day problems of Finnish and Swedish troops. It’s also sad story of the general who had to lead soldiers against overwhelming odds, without much hope to succeed in his mission. I’m really happy that this important work was translated into English, making it much easily accessible for those interested in GNW. Definitely very useful addition to the ‘Century of the Soldier’ series." Michał Paradowski


"One could make an argument for the Great Northern War being a niche interest in English, (Though Helion have more than successfully done their best to change that) so what can one make of a translation of a 1953 Swedish book on the 'Forgotten Fronts' of Finland and Norway in that conflict, viewed from the life of a commander who ISN'T Charles XII? (Translated by a descendant of the eponymous hero). An extremely good book is what's been made of it! With marvellous new illustrations, including aerial colour photos of the battlefields, other period and modern pictures, and some of the clearest maps seen in a Helion book, it's a splendid guide to Armfelt's military life told in a compelling narrative. Building to a tragic climax in the Carolean Death March of 1719, there is more than enough here to inspire military historians and wargamers. One wonders if there's anything left for Helion to cover on the GNW, but I sincerely hope there is! Highly recommended." Steve Stanley

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