Sweden: Seeking Foreign Waters
In the sixteenth century, the Swedish navy was one of the largest in Europe; two hundred years later, it had shrunk to one of the smallest. But the ambitions from earlier centuries persisted: to make the Baltic Sea a Swedish lake and to gain control over all the tolls and taxes of its trade. Sweden fought four wars across the eighteenth century, and the pressures of regional conflicts combined with new Enlightenment ideas to transform the organization, education, and professional character of the naval officer corps. The naval profession in eighteenth-century Sweden was an arduous occupation for most men that required skill and experience but rarely led to fame or riches.