|Kalmar-Wessex War (The Kalmar Union)|
The Danish positions at Ramsgate bombarded by Wessex, Summer 1691
|Commanders and leaders|
| Count Philip of Kaltenholzhausen||Sir Roger Levacher , Marshall of Normandy|
The Kalmar-Wessex War (or Wessex-Kalmar War) was a 15-year war largely fought between Wessex and Anglia which was characterised more by careful sieges of the large well-provisioned fortresses lining their respective borders than fluid movement of armies. Although the Anglian force is generally recognised as being superior its ability to wage war was hampered by the ineffectual 'help' provided by its Kalmar partners. The war's progression effectively wrote the Kalmar Union off as an alliance force for the time being.
The Fifty Years War had devastated Northern Germany. Hunger, poverty and religious factions stifled most attempts to fix the deep issues and it spurred further conflict. Whilst a general religious tolerance had been accepted by all parties at the Treaty of Copenhagen a significant minority on both sides rejected it. Moreover the movement of peoples following the peace to repopulated abandoned land had jumbled the religious picture. A Catholic force was soon marauding through Northern Germany. It was a open secret however that Wessex agents were funding the commanders with tacit approval from the Papacy. The European powers were simply too exhausted from the debts and unrest caused by the long war to deal with the army for a year and it proved an indelible force in the Brunswick duchies.
Wessex had proved an irritation during the Fifty Years War; disrupting France's attempts to get to grips with Luxembourg. With its lands largely untouched by the war it had emerged from the war confident and relatively wealthy compared to the bankrupt states of the continent. Meanwhile, using Luxembourg initially as a cover, the Wessex navy had grown vastly in size and strength throughout the war. Its merchants now roamed freely over the Atlantic and Indian oceans, taking much of its market share from Kalmar states and beginning the occupation and colonisation of several islands.
On 3rd April 1686 a Wessex spy was caught in Hamburg by Danish officials with several thousand marks and letters definitely showing they were bound for the Catholic army. Armed with definitive proof Denmark declared war on Wessex, announcing it would be removing 'its unwelcome army' from Brunswick.
Wessex reacted with admirable speed to the declaration and reached out to its usual allies. Luxembourg declined to help its erstwhile ally however, John IV was also Holy Roman Emperor and was desperately attempting to restore peace across his own territories as well as the Empire; while he was certainly inclined to wage war, it would not be in favour of a state disrupting his own authority. Kalmar was therefore left free to pursue the war largely unimpeded. John meanwhile, free from Kalmar interference, pursued his own war against France in the Speyer War.
Kalmar was not the united force it occasionally claimed to be and, while Wessex quickly mobilised and began plans to capture Anglian positions, Danish calls on its allies were met with stony silence. Hordaland, with its Manx and Irish territory, was already embroiled in an on-off war with Wessex anyway and would continue its own operations independent of Denmark. Lade and Iceland were simply uninterested, Vinland and Álengiamark made excuses. Gothenland would eventually raise an army but took its time. Anglia, Denmark's obvious partner in the war, was merely presented with the declaration of war as a fait acompli, effectively not given a voice in the matter. It would therefore bear the brunt of Wessex's initial attacks almost before it could organise a defense. Wessex's large army crossed the Anglian border in June, seizing the newly-improved fortress of Kettering after a month of withering bombardment. While an important blow, the focus on the fortress cost Wessex the initiative and advances to Peterborough and Nottingham were rebuffed by hastily raised Anglian militia. Indeed the Battle of Oundle on 4th September, although an inconclusive engagement, largely saved the Anglian position from collapse.
It is good fortune that King Louis had overseen a root-and-branch reorganisation of the Anglian forces during his peaceful reign and once the Anglian army had gathered at full strength under the command of the King Henry V's uncle, Count Philip of Kaltenholzhausen, it could comfortably rebuff Wessex's probing attacks. While Wessex could maintain a numerical superiority of around three-to-two, especially once forces from Normandy were deployed, Anglia's reforms of the previous decade had given it a slight tactical and technological edge. It also had a better grip on the supply-side issues of warfare and was able to deploy its army much earlier in the year than Wessex, allowing it to dictate much of the years' activities. However, an inordinate amount of the war was focused on the new fortresses which lined the border areas. There was little in the way of deep thrusts into each other's territory and barely any full-on battles. It seemed that both sides were more concerned with avoiding a battle than inflicting a definitive blow.
Initially Danish efforts were focused on Germany and, while its main army and transport ships were gathered, a smaller corps was sent into Brunswick to meet and destroy the Catholic rebels. The rebel force however evaded the Danes and it would not be until 3rd May 1687 when a Danish-Luxembourg army pinned the rebel force down at Unna and crushed it. A small Vikene army had joined the Anglians already however, offsetting some of the instant damage the Wessexians had inflicted. The Danes would finally join the fray in 1691, and they would land in Kent attempting to open another front rather than bolster the Anglian forces. Though they quickly secured the 'Isle' of Thanet they essentially became trapped as they could not advance into Kent nor retreat as the grand Wessexian navy chased off the weaker Danish fleet and bombarded the garrison. Their hapless position would force Philip of Kaltenholzhause to initiate a siege of London when all plans that year called for a campaign against Derby. London would fall to Anglia after a two month siege and the Danish army was able to escape northward across the Thames.
Holding London, recapturing Kettering in 1692 and advancing unchecked to Rugby the year after, all seemed to give the balance of power to Kalmar, however when the two opposing armies finally met at Naseby on 17th July 1693 Wessex proved superior and the Kalmar army fell back to Kettering where the commanders fell into deep arguments. The Danes were widely blamed for the defeat, having deployed poorly and falling apart under cavalry charges. Wessex's follow up attack was blunted at Eye Brook but not without a considerable loss of life.
While 1693 was a year of pitched battles the rest of the decade lapsed back into sieges and relief. By 1694 peace negotiations were underway, brokered by Aquitaine, however these got nowhere. Indeed, the war was widening rather than winding down.
Over the winter of 1693/4 Kalmar diplomacy brought Brittany-Maine into the alliance and the Duchy made a swift gain in early 1694 when it captured the Wessexian island of Liamuiga in the Carib Sea. Breton merchant ships had long been considered fair game for Wessexian convoys and a chance to take Wessex down a peg or two was very much on the Duchy's mind. Funds for war would realistically only last a year or two but the concentration of Wessex's naval power in the Channel and North Sea had given the Bretons a little leeway. While the Breton army, small and generally using out of date weaponry, made ineffectual attacks on Normandy, a revolt, stirred up by Anglia broke out in South Wales. Brittany captured another Carib island, Waitukub, in 1695 but this was lost two months later. All this meant Wessex had to split up its forces which slightly offset the endless arguments which were consuming the Kalmar camp. Prince Eric of Närke had arrived with his small Gothenlandic army in early 1695 and almost immediately fell out with Philip of Kaltenholzhause. The Gothenlandic army was poorly equipped and Prince Eric was widely derided as a buffoon. Despite the increase in size of the Kalmar side and the division of Wessex's forces London would still fall to siege in July 1695.
Waitukub would fall again, this time to Anglian (and Vinlandic) levies in 1696 but attempts to seize New Devon would initially fail and Wessex captured several Kalmar cargo ships along the Indian coast. Brittany would be more or less contained by a fresh Norman army and regular naval bombardments of Brest and St. Malo. Despite Count Philip's overall command being reaffirmed by a generally outraged Witenage and Henry V, continued Kalmar lethargy ceded the advantage to Wessex. This continued until early 1701 when finally, a decisive battle at Woburn was fought. Wessex's army fell into a disorganised retreat and, refusing to let this opportunity slip, Count Philip ignored the fortresses and marched his army toward Bristol. Years of war had taken its toll on the Wessex army despite its successes whilst the Anglian army had retained much of its pre-war coherence.
Peace of Lancaster
Anglia and Man were handed Wessex's northernmost shire; Derbyshire, which they carved up between them. The new Manx Derbyshire was simply added wholesale to the Salford Wapentake where its largely Catholic populace chafed against the increasingly ideological Lutheran edicts emanating from Trondheim and Nidaros. Anglia's portion, Lutheran leaning anyway, was renamed Trentmark and, receiving small parts of its neighbouring shires, fitted into Anglian political life without much fuss. Most of the Anglian shires bordering Wessex bore the scars of constant troop movements and it would take decades for some areas to recover.
Wessex's holdings in the Carib were divided: Anglia taking Waitukub and Brittany-Maine taking Liamuiga. Anglia would also receive the Wessexian island of New Devon (see Anglian Indian Ocean Islands) in the Indian Ocean, adding to its meagre overseas holdings. Little attempt was made to evict or to convert the Catholic population on any of these islands. Despite these gains Anglian political opinion was largely incensed by the war and Denmark's haughtiness in particular. Anglia had only really rejoined the Kalmar Union as a first step to regain Fryslân not to be dragged into a general conflict. As a result it largely retreated from Kalmar activities.
Danish opinion was largely appalled by its army's, and commanders', performance during the course of the war. Its supposed equal partners in the Kalmar Union who barely lifted a finger to assist the war were loudly denounced. Calls for a more absolutist style of government which some believed would lead to a re-invigoration of the state, would slowly grow through the next two decades until the ascension of Christopher V, which would in turn lead inexorably into civil war.