Postal round trip to Amsterdam. The private entrepreneurship within the Swedish postal organization in 1716.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article is a case study of the organization of the Swedish postal route to Europe in 1716. In the winter of 1715, the Swedish Baltic Empire lay in ruins and when the Swedish King Charles XII landed in Ystad, in the south of Sweden, he had many problems to deal with. One of the most urgent ones was to establish a postal route to the rest of Europe. During the war the traditional Swedish postal route via Denmark was stopped by the Danes, and it was difficult for the Swedish mail to reach the European continent. The king and the state administration therefore run the risk of informational isolation.
In 1716, the correspondence was sent via a postal route by sea between Gothenburg (Göteborg), on the Swedish west coast, and Amsterdam, in the Netherlands. The administration of the postal traffic was given to a private consortium of eight merchants. With privilege from the king, they were given full responsibility for the single postal route from Sweden to the rest of the world in 1716.
This article shows that it is plausible to view the entrepreneurial postal route in 1716 as an illustration of the change in the Swedish economic and organizational policy in the latter part of Charles XII’s reign. From the 1680s, the Swedish economic policy had been designed to concentrate resources in the hands of the Crown. Charles XI built up a state bureaucracy that controlled the means of the state. This resulted in a system where the Crown supervised and organized most of the resources in the kingdom. Following the wars in the early 1700s, this system broke down and the Swedish leadership sought to get hold of more money with the help of private merchants.
The use of private capital for financing state affairs was common in Sweden, and other European states, in the first half of the 1600s. The method of using private entrepreneurs for the organization of the postal route, is therefore an example of the reorientation of economic thinking in the Swedish state administration. This resulted in a policy that, in a more direct way, tried to engage private merchants and entrepreneurs in the financing of state affairs. The article shows how this policy, in one way, was a return to an older form of financing state affairs.


  • Magnus Linnarsson
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • History


  • Postal history, organizations, cameralism, early modern Sweden, economic history.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-507
JournalAjalooline Ajakiri
Issue number3/4
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Publication categoryResearch