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Abstract

This paper presents a theoretical explanation for Sweden’s intervention and behavior in the Thirty Years’ War. It echoes the contributions of scholars like Barkin (2003) by applying both realism and constructivism to achieve a more accurate depiction of empirical reality. Given Sweden’s disadvantageous strategic position, its decision to intervene in this conflict is an important subject for empirical and theoretical investigation. Realism provides an accurate explanation of Sweden’s national interests and its decision to intervene to reinstate the status quo. Constructivism also contributes to a more nuanced understanding of this conflict, since Sweden clearly recognized the existence of a broader normative structure and articulated its policy to appear acceptable within this social framework. This combination of realism and constructivism further explains Sweden’s early success at forging a consolidated nation-state prior to its contemporaries, facilitating its projection of power in the anarchic international system of the Thirty Years’ War.

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