Historisk Tidskrift. Utgiven av Svenska historiska föreningen
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Historisk tidskrift 134:3 • 2014

Innehåll (Contents) 2014:3

Uppsatser (Articles)

I imperialismens kölvatten? Ett maritimt perspektiv på stormaktsspel, kolonialism utan kolonier och den svensk-norska konsulsstaten, 1875–1905

Aryo Makko

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A maritime perspective on great power politics, imperialism without colonies and Swedish-Norwegian consulship, 1875–1905

This article investigates the Swedish-Norwegian consular establishment during the age of empires in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. It presents preliminary results from an on-going research project, which explores consular archives previously overlooked. The article’s main purpose is to offer a fresh perspective on the relevance of shipping and the role of consuls in the foreign policy of the United Kingdoms of Sweden and Norway. It departs chronologically and thematically from the so-called Concert of Europe in 1815 and the subsequent expansion of European imperialism in the mid-19th century, and theoretically from theories of informal empire and free trade imperialism. Sweden-Norway could not keep up with the military build-up of the great powers, such as Great Britain, France, Germany and Russia. At the same time, the Nordic union had one of the world’s largest merchant fleets at its command. A growing number of consulates all over the world allowed Swedish and Norwegian manufacturers and merchants a presence that enabled them to participate in and profit from the globalizing economy. At its peak, the small Nordic state commanded over 100 consulates with more than 800 increasingly professional and legally trained consular staff. With growing significance came greater prestige and an increasingly intimate relationship between the diplomatic corps and the consular service. This article suggests that the military superiority of the great powers forced small states such as Sweden-Norway to respond by developing and employing global trade strategies and making them an integral part of their foreign policy.



Sweden, Norway, consuls, foreign policy, trade, shipping, imperialism