Sweden in the 15th and 16th Centuries

By | December 28, 2021

The period of King Charles and the following period are characterized by great party struggles. There was a group opposed to the union which – especially in the province of Dalarna – thanks to the support of the peasants, had a certain democratic aspect; their leader was initially Charles Knutsson himself. On the other hand, there was a party in favor of union, led by members of the Oxenstjerna and Vasa families: Archbishop Jons Bengtsson Oxenstjerna was the most bitter enemy of King Charles. This party managed in 1457 to drive out Charles Knutsson, after which Christian I (1457-63) was also elected king of Sweden. But the Nordic union, thus re-established, was short-lived. A break between Cristiano and the archbishop in 1464 gave Charles Knutsson the opportunity to regain his crown; when the the following year he had to abdicate, in Sweden various aristocrats ruled as regents of the kingdom, until in 1467 Charles became king for the third time. After his death Sten Sture the major, as head of the party opposed to the union, became regent (1471-97, 1501-03); at that time the University of Upsala was created and the dominant position of the Germans in the city was abolished. Sten Sture succeeded in repelling an attempt by the king of the union, Cristiano, to reconquer Sweden once again with arms (victory near Brunkberg in 1471); even after Christian’s successor in Denmark and Norway, John (1483-1501), had been elected king of Sweden, Sten Sture was able to make sure that the realization of the decision was upset and remained in government until in 1497 discord within the party opposed to the union shook his position. But already in 1501 he was regent of Sweden again, and after his death his party retained power in Sweden under the regent Svante Nilsson Sture (1503-1512) and Sten Svantesson Sture the Younger (1512-20), who gave understand clearly to aspire to Swedish royal dignity. However, he had a mortal enemy in Archbishop Gustavo Trolle, who favored an attempt by the Danish-Norwegian king Christian II to conquer Sweden, and who was therefore deposed in 1517 by the parliament (during the 14th century by the ancient herredag ​​and by the ancient assembly for the election of the king, the parliament had developed into an effective representation of the four classes: the nobility, the clergy, citizens and peasants). A second attempt by Christian II to conquer Sweden failed, when Sten Sture defeated him in 1518 at Brännkyrka; during a third expedition the Swedish army was instead defeated in 1520 near Åsunden and Sten Sture mortally wounded. With the Stockholm capitulation, the resistance was over. King Christian II was paid homage as hereditary king. When, on the occasion of the coronation feast in Stockholm, he executed more than eighty people, who had approved the decision to dismiss Gustavo Trolle as archbishop – including several members of the Swedish aristocracy (the “bloodbath” of Stockholm),

But soon the movement began which was to definitively break the union. The young Gustavo Johannson Vasa, from a noble Swedish family, went to Dalarna, where he incited the population to rebel against the new king. In 1521 he first became captain, then regent of the kingdom of Sweden. Luck seconded his weapons; everywhere in Sweden the population revolted. By the time he made his solemn entry into Stockholm in 1523, which had been taken with the help of Lübeck, he had already been elected king of Sweden.

Gustav I (1523-60) is not only the new creator of the Swedish kingdom for the so-called war of independence. The financial condition of the Swedish krona was very bad; the debts to the city of Lübeck, which had provided military and financial aid during the war, were particularly heavy. The new taxes, which Gustavo imposed on the people and which caused several riots in Dalarna, were not enough to settle the Swedish public finances; for this more radical measures were needed. The local administration was directly subjected to the crown, the high aristocracy lost its fiefs, which it had obtained under good conditions. The assets of the church and many ecclesiastical revenues since 1527 were progressively forfeited from the crown; in connection with this Protestantism was introduced in Sweden. This did not happen without opposition: particularly serious was a popular uprising in the province of Småland (1542-43), which the king was able to suppress only by using all his strength. But the king had an important domestic political success when, in 1544, the parliament decided that the Swedish crown should be transmissible by inheritance among his male descendants, according to the birthright.

An urgent foreign policy problem was for the Swedish crown to free itself from the political-commercial subordination in which Sweden had faced Lübeck during the war of independence. This took place when Sweden, allied with Denmark, waged war on Lübeck: in 1537 the residents of Lübeck had to renounce their customs duties in Sweden, among other things. A treaty was concluded with Denmark in 1541, whereby the two states undertook to conduct a common foreign policy and to adopt a mandatory arbitration procedure in the event of disputes.

When Gustav I died, his eldest son Erik XIV (1560-69) became king; his younger son John, Duke of Finland, had already assumed that government. The first step of the new king was to abruptly restrict the very extensive powers that John had had from his father over the duchy, so much so that John, from an almost independent prince, was reduced to a subject of the king. And when, despite this, John conducted an independent foreign policy, Erik sent an army to Finland, which was conquered; John himself was taken prisoner. Erik also rigorously asserted the demands of the state against the aristocracy, and while he made more use of his father than the members of the high aristocratic families in the service of the state, he gave very important positions to people of modest origin. The king’s secretary, Göran Persson, he had an especially important part as his confidant. But Erik’s greatest interest remained foreign policy.

Several marriage plans were nurtured to serve his foreign policy designs: particularly dear to him was the thought of establishing close relations between England and Sweden by marrying Queen Elizabeth of England. At first he had a great success in foreign policy: in 1561, after the collapse of the state of the order of Livonia, the city of Reval and most of Estonia paid homage to him. When, after banning trade in Narva, he wanted to move the main commercial center with Russia to Reval, he ran into a conflict with Poland, Denmark and Lübeck. In 1563 war broke out (the Nordic Seven Years War), which was fought with great violence and relentlessness on land and sea, without any definitive results being achieved. A new situation was created only with a political upheaval in Sweden: very suspicious of the aristocracy, Erik believed that members of this systematically thwarted his plans and conspired against him. In 1567 several nobles were arrested – in particular from the Sture family – and were executed in circumstances that have never been well clarified. Erik himself killed one of the gentlemen. It became evident that the king was not in control of himself. Repentant, he then released his brother Giovanni, but already in 1568 he resumed his old system of government and married his concubine Catherine Månsdotter, of lower class. At this point his brothers, Dukes Giovanni and Carlo, led a rebellion. Erik was defeated and overthrown in 1569 by the parliament. John III (1569-92) ascended the throne, and the change of kingdom created a new situation: the war with Poland ceased immediately, since John was closely related to the king of Poland by his marriage. In 1570, peace with Denmark and Lübeck was concluded in Szczecin, without territorial changes; however, a war with Russia followed, which ended only in 1595. The change of kingdom, from the point of view of internal politics, marked an aristocratic reaction against Erik’s policy: a reaction that lasted however only until 1589. The nobility received new, important privileges. without territorial changes; however, a war with Russia followed, which ended only in 1595. The change of kingdom, from the point of view of internal politics, marked an aristocratic reaction against Erik’s policy: a reaction that lasted however only until 1589. The nobility received new , important privileges. without territorial changes; however, a war with Russia followed, which ended only in 1595. The change of kingdom, from the point of view of internal politics, marked an aristocratic reaction against Erik’s policy: a reaction that lasted however only until 1589. The nobility received new, important privileges. For Sweden history, please check areacodesexplorer.com.

There was also a reaction in the ecclesiastical field. John, who was married to a Catholic princess and who had his son Sigismund educated in Catholic doctrine, was himself well disposed towards Catholicism. The negotiations he had with the pope, however, did not yield any results, since the pope did not agree to the conditions set by John to pursue a Catholic policy – among other things, the abolition of celibacy for priests. However John gave the Swedish church a new liturgy (Röda boken ; 1576) influenced by the Catholic one; and the prospects for a Catholic restoration in Sweden were not insignificant, since Sigismund, the crown prince, who had been elected king of Poland in 1587, was a fervent follower of Catholicism.

When Giovanni died in 1592, Sigismondo (1592-1599) was in Poland. His uncle, Duke Charles, a fervent Protestant, and the council of state took advantage of the occasion and convened a national council in Upsala in 1593 where the King John liturgy was abrogated and the Augsburg confession was recognized as a symbol of the Swedish church. Sigismondo, on his return to Sweden, had to promise not to change these provisions. Important was the question of the functioning of the government during the king’s absence in Poland. The king himself wanted to govern – as far as possible – Sweden from Poland by means of a regent; Duke Charles wanted for himself the position of regent with full royal powers; the aristocratic program, on the other hand, aimed at having the duke and the council of state govern the government in common. The question was by no means resolved when Sigismund left Sweden in 1594. He clearly demonstrated his opinion when he created lieutenants in the different parts of Sweden and gave them extraordinarily great powers. Duke Charles and the council of state proceeded against these measures and in 1595 convened a Swedish diet, which recognized the duke as regent for all of Sweden: thus he also won victory over the council of state. This already made the council of state reluctant to follow the duke; and when Charles was about to impose his authority over the royal lieutenants by arms, the council of state broke with him. Several members fled to Poland. Sigismondo in 1598 landed with an army in Sweden; however, it was won at Stångebro and concluded an armistice with the duke. After leaving Sweden, he was dethroned in 1599 from the diet; some members of the council of state, who fell into the hands of Duke Charles, were sentenced to death in 1600 and executed (Linköping’s “bloodbath”). Finally in 1604 the question of the government was definitively resolved: Charles IX (1599-1611) remained regent and king; a new order of succession to the throne was adopted.

Sweden in the 15th and 16th Centuries