History of Sweden Part I

By | August 24, 2021

Viking Age and Empire Formation

In Northern Europe glacial hunting and fishing cultures established already in the Stone Age. During the Iron Age, the south of what is now Sweden was densely populated with North Germanic ethnic groups. The united under the Stammeskönigtum the Ynglinge Svear, the oldest seats in Uppland and the Malaren layers (cult and ruler sites Altuppsala and Vendel, after designation of the period 550-800 AD as Vendelzeit..), Submitted in the period after the mass migration between the 6th and 8th centuries the Gauten (Götar) in Götaland. King Eric VII Segersäll (“The victorious”) ruled parts of Denmark in the second half of the 10th century. From the 9th to the 11th centuries, Swedish warrior merchants (Varangians) undertook robbery and trade expeditions. a. from the Baltic coast over the river basins of Volga and Dnieper to Byzantium; some of them established local rulers, especially over Novgorod and Kiev, as early as the 2nd half of the 9th century and were instrumental in the development of the Kiev Empire (Rurikids). The Swedish Vikings controlled important areas of northern European long-distance trade (centers: Birka, Gotland). Around 830 Ansgar missionized in Birka. King Olaf III. Skötkonung (German “Schosskönig”; about 995-1022) was baptized, but Christianization progressed only slowly and only came to an end with the establishment of the Archdiocese of Uppsala (1164).

The imperial constitution was shaped by the legal autonomy of the various parts of the country (“landscapes”) with an autonomous thing organization and their own legal tradition (“landscape rights”). According to naturegnosis, since Sweden was an elected kingdom, the king had to be confirmed by the individual landscape tiles during a tour of the country (“Eriksgata”). He therefore remained dependent on the landscape aristocracy, which developed into a privileged imperial nobility in the course of the empire-encompassing aspirations of kingship. The first crowned king was Erik Knutsson (coronation 1210). The kings have relied on the Jarle since the beginning of the 13th century. The office of jarl and king practically united Birger Jarl , founder of the dynasty of Folkunger, in person, by leading the affairs of state for his son Waldemar, who was elected king in 1250, until 1266. Birger Jarl continued the conquest and Christianization of the southern parts of Finland, where, according to legend, Eric IX. , the saint, led a crusade around 1155. Under the rule of Birger Jarl received the Hanseatic cities, v. a. Lübeck and Hamburg, trade privileges; German merchants soon dominated trade and influenced the Swedish urban system. The Folkung people strove for central royal power and found support from the church. Landscape autonomy was gradually dissolved by numerous royal legislative acts (e.g. state peace laws). At the end of the 13th century, the most important imperial offices and institutions were established: the Drost as the king’s deputy, the marshal as the military commander in chief alongside the king and the chancellor as head of the royal chancellery and administration. The Imperial Council established by the king saw itself more as a professional representation of the Swedish nobility. Birgers second son Magnus Birgersson Ladulås (* 1240, † 1290), who succeeded his brother Waldemar as king in 1275, replaced the army obligation of the peasants with a tax to be paid in kind or in money. His nickname »barn lock« shows that he knew how to protect the peasant class from the encroachment of the growing nobility. At the same time a knightly service aristocracy developed. The time after Magnus I. Ladulås was marked by the strengthening of the imperial aristocracy, power struggles within the Folkung clan and disputes between the northern empires. With the election of the underage Magnus II. Eriksson as king, who as Magnus VII. Eriksson was also in possession of the Norwegian crown, the nobility initially asserted their interests in 1319 by decreeing a “letter of freedom”. When he reached the age of majority, Magnus sought to enforce royal power against the nobility and clergy, bypassing the letter of freedom, and around 1350 issued a general land law. The resistance against him turned into open riot when in 1360 Skåne (acquired as pledge in 1332) and in 1361 Öland and Gotland with the port of Visby fell to Denmark. The aristocratic opposition deposed Magnus and in 1364 elected his nephew, Duke Albrecht of Mecklenburg, to be king. Against him and his German environment, the nobility turned to Margaret of Denmark after the victory over Albrecht united the three northern kingdoms in the battle of Åsle (near Falköping) in 1389. In 1397 her great-nephew Erich von Pomerania was crowned king in Kalmar and the Kalmar Union was confirmed.

History of Sweden 1