Military pact, formed in 1780 as a response to the outbreak of hostilities between Britain and France in 1778. Original signatories to the treaty were Russia, Denmark, Sweden and Portugal, later joined by the Netherlands.
The League was formed at the instigation of Catherine II of Russia, and its stated intention was to guarantee free trade by neutral states. However, the League's doctrine of "Free Ships, Free Goods" was essentially anti-British, leading to a war between Britain and the Netherlands in 1780.
By 1800, the cavalier attitude of the British to sea laws led to a renewal of the League, this time consisting of Denmark, Sweden and Russia. A brief closure of the Baltic and German ports to British shipping was followed by the Battle of the Roadstead of Copenhagen, in which Horatio Nelson seized the Danish fleet1. After this development, the League collapsed.
Using, I might add, methods that we would today classify as war crimes
- such as holding hostage
captured crews aboard prize ships
, and threatening to burn them alive with the ships, if the Danes
did not surrender