After the Swedish defeat at Poltava Karl XII left his army – that shortly thereafter capitulated - and brought his followers to the other side of the river Dnestr into the Ottoman Empire. The first camp was set at the fort in Bender, but it was moved further up the river to the village of Varnitsa in Moldova. It was in this village that the well-known “skirmish at Bender” took place on 1 February 1713. As a result Karl XII was taken to the castle of Timurtasj outside Adrianople and later on to the little town of Demotika, from which he departed after five years in the Ottoman Empire in October 1714.
During most of this period Sweden was ruled from the”Royal house” in Varnitsa. From there Karl XII participated in political negotiations, ruled Stockholm and the restoration of the new royal castle there and initiated radical change in the organisation of the national rule, administration and tax system. Some example of this was the appointment of a chief ”ombudsman”, as well as a new tax system based on progressive principles, maybe the first one in the world. The King also sent out three scientific expeditions in the region, the initiation of Swedish oriental studies. The tercentenary of this unique cultural encounter must be commemorated.
Previous research on Karl XII: s and the Swedish presence in Moldova has mainly been focusing on the political and military issues. The aim of this project is to widen the scope and describe the nature of the encounter between the Swedes, the local populations and administration based on archival material in Sweden and previously unknown sources in Turkey and to deepen our knowledge on the diplomatic, administrative and economic circumstances.
The project has a clear international orientation and aims at a reinforcement of the relations between Swedish, Turkish and Moldavian researchers within relevant research areas. The project is also in line with the Swedish strategy for cooperation with Moldova. Sweden opened an Embassy in Chisinau in 2011 and is one of Moldova’s greatest bilateral donors. Varnitsa is moreover, with vicinity to Transnistria, where Bender is located, a perfect location for the development of the relations between Moldova and the region of Transnistria that is one of the goals of the cooperation strategy.
The project will be initiated with a series of research seminars in Stockholm, Chisinau and Istanbul. The papers that will be presented at these seminars are planned to be published as proceedings in a book that will be the final result of this project.