Sweden History

By | January 8, 2023

Sweden – national flag

Sweden National Flag

The flag was officially introduced in 1906, but has been in use since the 1500’s. The colors are heraldic and originate from the Swedish national coat of arms’ three yellow crowns on a blue background, which date back to the 1300’s. In the great coat of arms, the shield is quadrupled by a yellow cross. Dannebrog is possibly the model for Sweden’s choice of a flag with the so-called Scandinavian cross.

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Sweden – prehistory

According to a2zgov, Sweden’s elongated form implies that several different natural zones are represented, and that immigration and influence from outside has come from the south, west and east. This means that several partly different cultural-historical courses have existed within the borders of the kingdom.

Paleolithic and Mesolithic (approximately 11,000-4000 BC). At the end of the ice age, immigration took place through a headland from Denmark. The Bromme culture is well represented in Scania, and the Ahrensburg culture in western Sweden. Settlements from the Maglemose culture in Scania have clear similarities with similar ones in Denmark. On the east coast, in central Sweden and in Norrland, settlements occur where quartz and quartzite tools are the most common. In the Late Mesolithic, there were large settlements in Scania, sometimes with burial sites, just as in Eastern Denmark. Similarly is also known from the northernmost part of Sweden with influence from chamber-ceramic culture.

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Neolithic (4000-1700 BC). Agriculture and cattle breeding were introduced with the funnel cup culture that spread to Central Sweden. At the end of the period, large stone tombs were built as dolmens and burial chambers, most of which are found in Scania, on the west coast and in Falbygden. Climate change at the beginning of the Middle Neolithic led to the abandonment of agriculture in Central Sweden. Through influence from the east, the pottery culture emerged. In Norrland, the eastern cultural influence continued, primarily from chamber-ceramic culture.

Through continental influence, the battle-ax culture emerged in southern Sweden. In the Senneolithic, the material expressions are similar; for example, coffins appear both on the coasts and in the interior of the country.

Bronze Age (1700-500 BC). Influence from the Bronze Age on the continent and in Denmark was greatest in southernmost Sweden, but can be traced in the construction of roses all the way up to the Norrland coast. Large-scale grave monuments such as the Kivik tomb in SE-Skåne and King Bjørn’s mound in Uppland suggest the existence of regional chiefdoms. Rock carvings are found in southern and central Sweden, but are best represented in western Sweden.

Iron Age (500 BC-400 AD). The forms of society in southern Sweden and in central Sweden are similar to those in Denmark. However, no actual village formation took place until the Late Iron Age. Iron production is attested as early as the pre-Roman Iron Age (500 BC-birth) and became an important occupation in the Late Iron Age through its rich deposits, especially in central Sweden. Imported goods from the Roman Empire reached Öland and Gotland in particular, but also settlements in southern Norrland. The settlements on the Baltic Sea are easily recognizable on the many houses with walls built of limestone.

Migration and Turning Time (400-800). Rich centers for settlement are found in southern and central Sweden, Helgö, and the laying down of gold and the construction of fortifications suggest a political unrest. In the Vendel period (550-800) small kingdoms arose, in Central Sweden, where the burial mounds in Old Uppsala were laid out, and where the important Vendel site, which has given the period its name, is found.

Viking Age. The period was expansive with the creation of trading posts with Birka as the most significant. At the end of the period, actual cities were laid out. The close contact primarily to the east is reflected in the rich silver deposits, especially on Gotland, as well as in texts that occur among the large number of rune stones in the Mälardalen valley.

Sweden – history

A king is mentioned around 830, when Ansgar served a mission in Birka. I 800-900-t. a Swedish superpower is suspected, based on trade between the Frankish Empire and the Near East on the Russian rivers. A probably Swedish prince, Rurik, is mentioned as the founder of the Russian Empire (see the Rurikids). Sweden’s oldest known rulers are Erik Sejrssæl (d. approximately 995) and Olof Skötkonung, who ruled 995-1021/22 and appears on coins. Adam of Bremen mentions in his chronicle his two sons, Anund Jakob and Emund the Old, who were replaced by Stenkil. The historical core is questionable in the battles betweensveer og göter, as the Old English poem Beowulf and the Icelandic poets describe. Most recently at the border treaty between Denmark and Sweden in the middle of the 1000’s. Sweden acts as a political entity.

Historical overview
ca. 11,000 BC reindeer hunters immigrate to southern Sweden
8200-4000 BC Mesolithic; Central and northern Sweden is populated by hunters and fishermen; The Maglemose, Kongemose and Ertebølle cultures
4000-1700 BC neolithic; agriculture and cattle breeding are introduced; the funnel cup culture; dolmens and burial chambers; pit ceramic culture and the battle ax culture
1700-500 BC Bronze Age; regional chiefdoms arise
500 BC-400 AD Iron Age; imports of Roman goods
400-550 migration period; rich centers in southern and central Sweden
550-800 Vendeltid; small kingdoms in central Sweden
800-1050 Viking Age; Birka, Sigtuna and Lund are founded; Viking expeditions especially to the east along the Russian rivers
1000-t. Christianity is gaining ground; the first episcopal sees are established in Skara and Sigtuna
1100-t. bishoprics established in Linköping, Strängnäs, Uppsala (archdiocese from 1164), Västerås and Växjö
approx. 1238 and 1293 2nd and 3rd crusades to Finland
approx. 1250 Stockholm is founded
1332-60 Scania in union with Sweden
approx. 1350 the plague, the black death, kills many
1397-1523 The squid union between Denmark, Norway and Sweden
1434-36 rebellion led by Engelbrekt Engelbrektsson
1477 The Nordic region’s first university is founded in Uppsala
1520 The Stockholm Massacre
1527 at the Reichstag in Västerås, the Reformation is announced, completed 1536-37
1561 Estonia under Swedish rule
1563-70 The Nordic Seven Years’ War
1570-95 war between Sweden and Russia; Sweden’s possession of Estonia is confirmed
1599-1629 The Polish-Swedish War; Livland becomes Swedish
1609-17 war between Sweden and Russia; Ingermanland and Karelia become Swedish
1611-13 The Kalmar War
1630-48 Sweden is engaged in the Thirty Years’ War; Pre-Pomerania, Wismar and the Bremen World become Swedish
1643-45 Torstenssonfejden; Gotland, Saaremaa (Øsel), Jämtland and Härjedalen become Swedish, Halland is available as a mortgage for 30 years
1657-60 The Karl Gustav Wars; Skåne, Halland and Blekinge as well as Bohuslän will be Swedish
1675-79 The Scanian War
1680’s the king gains autocratic power
1700-21 Great Nordic War; the Baltic and German provinces as well as eastern Karelia are lost
1719 autocracy is abolished. The Age of Freedom (until 1772)
1741-43 war between Sweden and Russia; western Karelia is lost
1757-62 Sweden participates in the Seven Years’ War against Prussia
1808-09 war between Sweden and Russia; Finland becomes autonomous Russian Grand Duchy
1809 by a new constitution, power is divided between the king and the Reichstag
1814-1905 Norway in union with Sweden
1865-66 with the representation reform, the two-chamber system is introduced; industrialization is intensifying
1880’s emigration to America reaches its peak
1889 Sweden’s Social Democratic Workers’ Party is founded
1914 Gustav V’s courtyard speech triggers parliamentary crisis; Sweden is neutral during World War I.
1917 the parliamentary state is introduced
1919-21 universal and equal suffrage, including for women
1921 Finland is awarded the Åland Islands
1930’s economic crisis; the foundation for the Swedish welfare state, folkhemmet, is laid
1939-45 Sweden is neutral during World War II, but has to make big concessions due to German supremacy; a military rearmament begins
1946 Sweden becomes a member of the UN
1960 Sweden is a co-founder of EFTA
1971 the unicameral parliament is introduced
1986 Prime Minister Olof Palme is assassinated
1991-94 years of economic crisis and high unemployment give rise to tight economic policies from a bourgeois four-party government
1995 Sweden joins the EU

The introduction of Christianity and the rise of the kingdom

Christianity really took hold in Sweden in the 1100’s. In Uppsala, the old pagan vi (cult site) was overthrown, and in its place was built a cathedral, where the Swedish archdiocese was established in 1164. The victorious among several warring royal subjects, Knut Eriksson, came to power in 1167 and had his father elevated to national the saint, Erik the Holy; but for the next half century the Eriksætten and Sverkerætten fought for royal power, until both dynasties became extinct with Johan Sverkersson (1222) and Erik Eriksson (1250). The turbulent period was marked by strong expansion in the Baltic countries, and Finland was colonized; see also Finland (history).

The People’s Kings and the strong aristocracy

The extinction of the two royal families brought the Folkungarne to power. Sweden’s actual regent in Erik Eriksson’s last year, Birger Jarl, had his son Valdemar installed as king in alliance with the church in 1250. The prize was a series of reforms that laid the foundation for the Swedish church’s strong, independent position in the late Middle Ages. A crusade against Finland and a treaty with Lübeck and Hamburg, guaranteeing the mighty Hanseatic cities duty-free in Sweden, were included in the agreement. In addition, Birger built the heavily fortified Stockholm. After his death, the Folkungarne were divided by a protracted fratricide that eventually wiped out the dynasty. The question of the allotment of crown estates and counties to Birger Jarl’s younger sons led to an open revolt in 1275, when Magnus Ladelås defeated Valdemar. Magnus died in 1290, and under his three sons the pattern repeated itself. In the beginning, Marshal Torgils Knutsson ruled as guardian of Birger Magnusson. Under pressure from his brothers, Dukes Erik and Valdemar, imprisoned Birger in 1305 the marsh, which was executed the following year. Nevertheless, in 1306 Birger and his Danish wife, Margrete, were captured by the brothers (seeHåtunaleken) and was first released when Birger recognized Erik and Valdemar as Sweden’s rulers. In 1317, Birger attempted a counter-coup, capturing Erik and Valdemar at Nyköping’s Gästabud. They both perished in prison, but their followers, led by Drost Mattias Kettilmundsson, expelled Birger, executed his son and in 1319 installed Duke Erik’s 3-year-old son Magnus Eriksson as king. The weak rule of the peoples became a time of greatness for the powerful and combative Swedish aristocracy, which in 1280 had secured tax exemption for its estates. The nobility was described as savior, and a so-called letter of freedom from 1319 remained as Sweden’s constitution for 400 years. The exploits of the great men were glorified in the national epic Erikskrönikan, perhaps written for the young Magnus Eriksson as a royal mirror. Another mouthpiece for the aristocracy was Birgitta of Vadstena.

Magnus came of age in 1332 and immediately celebrated a great foreign political triumph by acquiring Scania as a mortgage on Holstein’s Count Johan den Milde. Valdemar 4. Atterdag conquered Scania back in 1360, but the Danish provinces east of the Sound remained a target for Swedish expansion. Magnus also ruled over Norway, which he had inherited from his grandfather, Håkon V, in 1319, but the external success was paid for by mortgages to the Mecklenburgs and the Holstein counts, which financially undermined his rule. A revolt in 1356 brought down Magnus and his controversial adviser Bengt Algotsson. The king’s eldest son, Erik, was installed as regent, but died as early as 1359. Magnus sought support in an alliance with Valdemar Atterdag, which was sealed with the marriage between Magnus’ youngest son, Håkon, and Valdemar’s daughter Margrete (1st).three kroner part of the Swedish national coat of arms, and blue and yellow became national colors. Albrecht was strongly supported by the Hanseatic cities, which had major interests in Swedish ore exports. The People’s Kings did not relinquish the throne willingly, however, and a civil war did not end until 1371, when the first councilor, Drosten Bo Jonsson Grip, actually took over the government, while Magnus and Håkon were left to western Sweden. After the drost’s death, the Royal Council recognized Queen Margrethe as ruler in 1388, and when she defeated Albrecht at the Battle of Åsle in 1389, the Nordic three-state union was a reality.

Union time

Squid Unionbrought Sweden a long period of peace. Already under Margrete’s authoritarian rule, however, a reluctance to Danish hegemony sprouted, and when exports from the mines were hampered during Erik VII of Pomerania’s war against the Holstein and Hanseatic cities, a revolt broke out in 1434 in Dalarna, led by Engelbrekt Engelbrektsson. At a rebellion meeting in Arboga in 1435, which has been mistakenly perceived as “Sweden’s first Reichstag”, he was elected the king’s captain. Soon, however, he was maneuvered out by Marshal Karl Knutsson (Bonde), who became head of state in 1438. Thus began the long rivalry between Danish union kings and national heads of state. In 1441, the union king Christoffer III was recognized by Bavaria, but after his death in 1448, Karl (8th) Knutsson was elected king in a coup. It was the signal for the first of the Danish-Swedish union wars, which first ceased in 1523. Inner Swedish divisions drove Karl to flee to Danzig (now Gdańsk) in 1457, and Christian I was able to ascend the throne. A revolt against Christian in 1464 called Karl Knutsson back, but he soon came into conflict with the powerful family Oxenstierna and had to leave Sweden again in the beginning of 1465. In 1467, Karl was summoned for the third time, this time by the Danish-Swedish Akselsønner (of the familyThott). On his death in 1470, his nephew Sten Sture (d.æ.) became head of state. With his crushing victory over Christian I at Brunkeberg in 1471, Sten Sture effectively secured his position of power, thus initiating an almost unbroken series of stable national empires of a dynastic nature. Sten Sture d.æ. died childless in 1503. He was succeeded by Svante Nilsson Sture (1504-12) and his son Sten Sture (dy) (1512-20).

Sten Sture d.æ. and his successors, however, ruled far from unchallenged. A pro-union opposition was led by the Trolle family, who trumped the call of King Hans (1497-1501) and later paved the way for Christian II (1520-21). The Stockholm Massacre in 1520 was intended to crush the entire Sture party and secure Christian II’s dominance, but instead provoked a national uprising, led by the young Gustav Vasa, Sturernes heir. Strongly supported by Lübeck, who was Sweden’s most important trading partner, in 1521 he was elected head of state and 6.6.1523 king; at the same time Stockholm surrendered after a year and a half of siege. The Squid Union had irrevocably gone to its grave.