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The last flotilla. Private squadron of August II Wettin in the years 1700-01. Organization, military operations, political background

The aim of the project is to investigate the origins of the establishment and operation of the privateer flotilla, established by August II Wettin in the first months of the Great Northern War. In the fall of 1700, the king set up a small flotilla of several or a dozen ships, whose captains were recruited for service in Denmark and Dunkirk (including Cornelius Neuvell, the commander of the “Postilion” frigate), who were to fight the Swedish Baltic shipping and support the fighting coalition partners in bearing the burden of war. It was also the last successful attempt in the history of the Republic of Poland to create a larger naval force. The raiding activities initiated by the royal privateers were a surprise for the Swedes, so they soon made efforts to annihilate the flotilla and nip the threat in the bud.

The research on the subject to date, undertaken by Przemysław Smolarek in the 1950s, did not go beyond the source contribution stage. How was the flotilla established? How numerous was it and how long did it last? Was it supposed to serve other purposes, for example political purposes, apart from strictly military activities? Was her activity a form of hybrid war, calculated by August as a Saxon elector, to involve the still neutral Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth into the war with Sweden? We still do not know the answers to these and many other questions.

The main source of the research will be the materials of Swedish, Danish and Saxon-Polish diplomacy of that period, stored in Hauptstaatsarchiv in Dresden, Riksarkivet in Stockholm, Rigsarkiv in Copenhagen, and Latvijas Valsts vēstures arhīvs in Riga; The adopted research assumptions are to present the history of the flotilla not only in a strictly military context, but above all in terms of the policy of the Baltic states and their mutual interactions (military, diplomatic and economic) at the beginning of the 18th century, largely unexplored to this day. An attempt will also be made to present the activity of Augustus II’s flotilla against a broader background, comparing it with the practices of the then resilient West European privateer.