A Frequently Answered Questions (FAQ) file for the newsgroup
S O C . C U L T U R E . N O R D I C
*** PART 7: SWEDEN ***
Geography, climate, vegetation
Government & its spendings
the Swedish language
Free access to official documents
The school system
A chronology of important dates
A list of Swedish monarchs
the medieval time
the consolidation of the state
War all around Sweden
history of the Sweden-Finns
the native minorities
Main tourist attractions
The rest of Sweden
@ Swedish literature
@ Romanticism and Modernism
Skåne and Skåneland
Some marks in Scania's history
The Scanian flag
! Scanian literature
Membership in the European Union
Cooperation with Sjælland and the bridge over
A politically united region
Books for learning Swedish
Subject: 7.1 Fact Sheet
Name: Konungariket Sverige
Telephone area code: 46
Area: 449.964 km² / 173.629 sq mi.
[ thereof: 237.000 km² designated for reindeer herding ]
Land boundaries: Norway, Finland
Terrain: mostly flat or gently rolling lowlands;
blunt mountains in north and west;
large archipelagos on the eastern coast.
Highest mountain: Kebnekaise, 2,111 m (6,926 ft)
Natural resources: iron ore, zinc, lead, copper, silver,
timber, uranium, hydropower
Population: 8.835.000 (1996)
Population density: 19 persons / km².
Distribution: 83% urban, 17% rural. (1990)
Life expectancy: males: 76, females: 81 (1995)
Capital: Stockholm (pop. 693,000;
Stockholm's län pop. 1,686,000 [ the metropolitan area])
Other major towns: Göteborg (Gothenburg 450,000),
Flag: a yellow Nordic cross on blue background.
Type: constitutional monarchy
Head of state: King Carl XVI Gustaf
National anthem: Du gamla, Du fria
Royal anthem: Kungssången
(Finnish, Romani and Sámi languages
are acknoledged minority languages.)
Currency: krona (Swedish crown, SEK)
for the current exchange rate,
see the URL <http://www.dna.lth.se/cgi-bin/kurt/rates>
Climate: temperate in south with cold winters; sub-arctic in north.
Temp. in Stockholm: -5°C - +1°C in Feb.,
+14°C - +22°C in July.
Religion: Evangelic-Lutheran (91%) (official state-religion),
Lutheran free churches (3%),
Roman Catholic (1.5%),
Exports: machinery, motor vehicles, paper products, pulp and wood,
iron and steel products, chemicals, electronics
Subject: 7.2 General information
[ By: Ahrvid Engholm, Johan Olofsson and Antti Lahelma ]
Sweden's most valuable assets are forests, mines (especially iron, but
copper has also been important), and in modern days hydroelectric
power. The metallurgic industry was started in the 16th and 17th
centuries, and through the ages Sweden has been known as one of the
biggest iron exporters in the world. A mechanical industry came with
the industrial revolution in the 19th Century, and Swedish products
such as steel (Sandvik), paper (SCA and others), cars (Volvo and
Saab), ball bearings (SKF), electrical equipment (ASEA, now ABB),
telephone equipment (Ericsson), refrigerators (Electrolux) and cameras
(Hasselblad) have become well known. Beside cars Saab has also
produced computers and aircrafts.
More recently also medical equipment (Gambro), medicine (Pharmacia,
Astra), chemical industry (Nobel, AGA) and food-processing equipment
(Tetra-Pak, Alfa-Laval) has been developed and marketed by Swedish
companies. During the 1980s and 1990s there has been some debate in
Sweden over the reasons why new products (as for instance a flat
screen for television and computers) has to find foreign companies for
investments and marketing.
After particularly good years from World-War II to the early 1970s,
Sweden has then seen branch after branch of the industry to lose
competitive capacity. Textile industry, skinn industry and shipyards
have almost disappeared. During the 1990s the mining industry has went
through a period of radical reorganization.
The wide forests are mainly used for production of paper, contributing
with about 20% of Sweden's export (some wood export included).
[ the sections above are available at the www-page
7.2.2 Geography, climate, vegetation
[ By: Ahrvid Engholm, Johan Olofsson and Antti Lahelma ]
For some Swedish towns and provinces there actually exist English
forms of the names, but in the news group and in this faq you will
discover that Gothenburg and Göteborg, Scania and Skåne or Dalecarlia
and Dalarna are used interchangeably without any intended difference
Sweden occupies the Eastern part of the Scandinavian peninsula. It's a
long (1572 kilometers) and rather narrow country, and the largest of
the Nordic countries. It shares a long border with Norway to the west
and a shorter border with Finland in the east; Denmark lies to the
south across the Danish straits, over one of which (Öresund) a huge
bridge is being built. The Baltic Sea islands of Gotland and Öland are
integral parts of Sweden.
Norrland is on the map the dominating region of Sweden. Norrland
- that is the northernmost two thirds of the country, where almost no
people live. Except at the mines and along the coast. Northwestern
Sweden is crossed by an ancient mountain chain; the remainder of the
north is a southeast-sloping plateau that rises to between 200 and
South of Norrland, forming the regions of Svealand in central Sweden
and Götaland farther south, is a varied landscape of plains and rift
valleys. To the north of the highlands is the Central Swedish
Depression, a down-faulted, lake-strewn lowland extending across the
peninsula from near Göteborg to east of Stockholm and Uppsala. To the
south is Skåne, a low-lying, predominantly agricultural area.
1. The region Götaland should strictly speeking not be used for more
than the provinces Dalsland, Västergötland, Småland and
Östergötland, but most often also Bohuslän, Halland, Skåne and
Blekinge are understood as provinces of Götaland, as they are
incorporated in the Swedish realm after being captured in the 17th
2. Gotland as a baltic island occupies an intermediate position,
closer connected to Svealand although counted to Götaland.
3. Åland is an autonomous island-province under Finnish sovereignty
which was ceeded to Russia in 1809, and is, albeit culturally as
Swedish as Gotland, not a part of Sweden.
4. Year 1815 the Götaland province of Värmland was for a time
belonging to the court of appeal of Svealand, i.e. the Svea
Hovrätt, and since then Värmland is often counted to Svealand - at
least in weather reports - but that is of course totally
Outside of the three major urban areas (Stockholm with 2 milj.
inhabitants, & Gothenburg and W Scania with eight hundred thousand
each) the pattern from Viking times has turned out to be surprisingly
stable. The rich plain-provinces in Svealand and Götaland have today a
population density around 40 inhabitants per km² (Uppland,
Västmanland, Sörmland, Östergötland & Västergötland). The Scanian
provinces (including Halland & Blekinge) nourish 50 inh./km² while the
old wood provinces of Småland, Dalsland, Värmland and Gästrikland have
20 inh./km². For Dalarna and Norrland's southern coast the figure is
10 inh./km² and the rest of Norrland has virtually no population
density to speak of - with exception of a few towns.
It's sometimes reminded that only 10% of the inhabitants populate the
northern half of the country, but one could also say that 15% live in
the 60%-part comprising the Northern and Western wood and fjeld
region, or that 20% of the people live on 70% of the realm's area.
Most of the land in the North is designated for reindeer herding.
Because of its large area and latitudinal extent, Sweden has a number
of climate regimes. A cold, maritime climate dominates the country's
west coast. The northern two-thirds of the country has a continental
climate marked by severe winters. The south central areas experience
the long, rather cold winters of the north, but they enjoy milder
summers. The mountain regions remain cool in summer. In January
temperatures average -0.8°C at Lund in the south), -2.8°C at
Stockholm, and -13.7°C at Jokkmokk north of the the Arctic Circle. In
July, the temperature variation is lower because of the sun shines the
longer the further north one goes: 15°C at Jokkmokk, 18°C at
Stockholm, and only 17°C at Lund. Snow remains on the ground for
40 days in southernmost Sweden, 100 days in the Stockholm area, and
250 days in the northwest mountains.
Forest covers two thirds of the land area. It consists of a
summer-green forest of beeches, oaks, and other deciduous trees in the
south, a mixed forest of deciduous and coniferous trees in central
Sweden, and a predominantly coniferous forest of mainly pines and
spruce in the north. Mountain birch and dwarf birch grow in colder
upland areas, and tundra covers the highest elevations. Treeless moors
(peat moss and marshland) cover more than 14% of all Sweden and as
much as 40% in western areas of the south and parts of Norrland.
Bears, wolves and lynxes are now found only in isolated woodlands, elk
and deer are the common large animals found elsewhere.
Härad, landskap and län
Sweden consists of 25 provinces (landskap) which are divided in
hundreds (one härad - several härader). The concepts of landskap and
härad are ancient, mirroring how people in pre-historic times
identified and knew each others.
The landskap are (approximately from north to south):
The härader play no role in the Swedish society any more - except for
folk costumes. But well into the 20th century rural judges were called
häradsdomare [literally härad's judges], which reminds about the
function of the härad as the area from which the people assembled for
the local Thing.
For civil service the country is divided in 24 län [literally "fiefs"]
(currently being reduced in number). The governor for the län and his
board are appointed by the central government. Since 1634 this
administration handles governmental matters equal in all of the realm.
The landsting are regionally elected assemblies, mostly for the same
areas as for the län, with responsibility mainly for health care,
which is why the landsting decide about local taxes. Usually län is
translated to "county" and landsting to "county council" in English.
The very word "landsting" means the Thing of a landskap, but that is
not entirely valid any more. :-)
The country is divided in 286 independent kommuner - mostly one town
and the country around. In the newsgroup and in this faq the English
word "municipality" will most of the time be used for kommuner
regardless of their size or degree of urbanity. The kommun decides
about local taxes too.
[ the sections above are available at the www-page
7.2.3 Government & its spendings
Sweden is a constitutional Monarchy, but the monarch only acts as a
ceremonial head of state. A parliament (Riksdag) composed of 349
members is elected every four years; it elects the prime minister,
passes laws, decides on taxes and approves the state budget. The
cabinet holds office only as long as it retains the support of a
majority in the Riksdag. The state authorities are comparably
independent of the cabinet: their highest officials being appointed by
the cabinet for six years, and usually the term is extended unless
serious problems occurred in the contact between the authority and the
There are laws with constitutional status, for instance: the
Instrument of Government, the Parliament Act, the Succession Act, and
the Freedom of the Press Act.
The county councils and the 286 municipalities are obliged to provide
services to their inhabitants as stipulated by law, but are
independent to decide the means without interference from state
authorities. Municipalities are mainly responsible for education and
social service. The provinces are through the county councils
(landsting) responsible mainly for hospitals, medical practioners and
other health care.
The representational councils for municipalities and provinces (i.e.
counties) are elected by the residents, regardless of citizenship,
which in the most extreme cases means that nearly 20% of those
eligible to vote are aliens.
After the era of the Kalmar Union between Denmark and Sweden
(1387-1521), King Gustaf Vasa created a more modern nation and made
Sweden Lutheran. After the losses of territories 1718 and 1809
democratic reforms where made, but it lasted to 1921 until all adult
citizens had the right to vote (for men: 1907), and first 1971 the
constitution was altered to reflect the long-time practice of
During the 1990s the state church is in the process of liberating
itself from the state, or maybe more accurate: the state is giving up
its power over the church, and the church will lose some of the
authority connected to its status as state church. A decrease in
number of members is expected.
Sweden has not been involved in a war since 1814, mainly due to luck
and a strong policy of neutrality. This policy may change as Sweden in
January 1995 joined the European Union (but the future isn't very
Sweden became a member of the United Nations in 1946, the year after
the organization was founded. Since that time, active commitment to
the United Nations has been a corner-stone of Sweden's foreign policy.
Sweden is the fourth largest contributor to the UN, and is one of the
countries that meet the UN's goal of 0.7% of GNP for development
assistance. More than 70,000 Swedes have served with the UN forces
over the years. Sweden has participated in most peace-keeping
operations since the 1960s.
Individual Swedes have successfully served the UN in various
capacities. Dag Hammarskjöld was UN Secretary-General from 1953-1961.
The first UN mediator was Count Folke Bernadotte (assassinated in
Jerusalem 1948). Several other Swedes subsequently carried out
mediation assignments: Gunnar Jarring, Olof Rydbeck, Olof Palme and
Jan Eliasson. Others who have recently held prominent positions in the
UN include Jan Mårtenson, Hans Corell, Rolf Ekéus and Lennart
Aspegren. As the EU High Representative, Carl Bildt reported regularly
to the Security Council on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
There are old proto-democratic traditions in Sweden. In the middle
ages the kings were elected for life by representatives of the
different "landskap" (provinces). Even when the monarchy was made
hereditary after the Kalmar Union, the elected estates at the Riksdag
retained substantial power (though the king sometimes managed to push
this power back). These traditions played an important role as modern
Democracy gradually took over in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Two important political concepts emerge from Sweden: the ombudsman, a
representative elected by the parliament to watch public
administrations and with the power to prosecute, and the
constitutional principle of official documents
("offentlighetsprincipen" constituting a part of the Freedom of the
Press Act), which says that all governmental documents are a priori
public (unless declared secret under special laws).
The principal political parties are
* the Social Democratic party (led by the prime minister Göran
* the "Moderata Samlingspartiet" (the right wing party with liberal
policy but a conservative heritage; led by former prime minister
* the Center party (with agrarian dominance and subsequently
* the (Social) Liberal party "Folkpartiet",
* the Christian Democratic party,
* the Environmentalists (De Gröna "The Greens"),
* the Left (formerly the Communist) party, and
* the populist "Ny Demokrati" (New Democracy - now committing
From the 1930's onwards, the Social Democrats has been the dominant
party, their position secured by economic prosperity and a broad
program of social initiatives. In the 1970s and 1980s, however,
dissatisfaction grew among the voters over high taxes and a lagging
economy. An anti-Socialist coalition governed from 1976 to 1982, and
another one under Carl Bildt from 1991 to 1994, as the Social
Democrats under Carlsson again came to power. When in trouble, as for
the moment, the Social Democrats have a tradition to lean against the
Center party, with regular negotiations and agreements, but without
forming coalition cabinets.
In the last elections the results has been as follows:
1973 1976 1979 1982 1985 1988 1991 1994
Left 5,3 4,8 5,6 5,6 5,4 5,8 4,5 6,2
Green (1,7) (1,5) 5,5 (3,4) 5,0
Soc.Dem. 43,6 42,7 43,2 45,6 44,7 43,2 37,7 45,3
Soc.Lib. 9,4 11,1 10,6 5,9 14,2 12,2 9,1 7,2
Center 25,1 24,1 18,1 15,5 12,4 11,3 8,5 7,7
Christ. (1,9) (2,9) 7,1 4,1
Right 14,3 15,6 20,3 23,6 21,3 18,3 21,9 22,4
Popul. 6,7 (1,2)
left 48,9 47,5 48,8 51,2 50,1 54,5 42,2 56,5
right 48,8 50,8 49,0 45,0 47,9 41,8 53,1 41,4
In parentheses: results below the 4,0% limit for representation.
Maybe due to the dominant position of the Social Democrats the
political life in Sweden has been characterized by semi-rigid right
and left blocks, defined as oppositional to, or supporters of, the
Social Democrats. During some periods the Social Democrats have
succeeded to cooperate with one of the right block parties, as during
1996 with the Center Party, which the other parties have seen as
weakening of the opposition.
Account over municipal responsibilities
Approximately 50% of the municipal services are financed through
direct taxes, only 15% by direct fees, and about 20% as state
contributions. (Don't ask about the remaining 15% - the municipal
tomtar might change their minds.) Totally 350 milliards SEK are used
for municipal activities, and 170 milliards SEK for the province
councils, of which nearly all goes to the health care sector.
The main municipal expenditures are (in percents of the 350 milliard
brutto, regardless of fees and state subsidies):
* Primary and secondary education (21%),
* caring for elderly (17%),
* caring for children (11%),
* support of disabled and poor (8%),
* supply of ground and housing (10%),
* supply of water, energy and garbage disposal (7%),
* public transportation (4%), and
* sport and leisure (4%).
[ Figures above for year 1993 ]
In recent years cash support to poor people has increased. 8% of the
population received such at least once during 1994. In this figure
almost no elderly are included. The service for elderly (and also
younger disabled persons) includes:
* 5% of the (country's whole) population getting subsidies for taxi
* 2% of the population getting help in their home by municipal
employees (with food, tidying and sometimes personal care or
* 1.5% of the population living at nursing homes and other
institutions for elderly.
Account over state revenue
Approximately 550 milliards SEK are distributed by the state budget,
of which 75 milliards go straight to the municipalities and provinces
The rest is distributed on:
(memorizeable figures, in the range +/- 10% of exact figures)
* 100 mill. National debt interest
* 75 mill. pensions to aged and disabled
* 75 mill. state consumption (defence, police, universities etc)
* 75 mill. transfers to families, unemployed, diseased and others
* 45 mill. transfers to private corporations
* 30 mill. transfers to state enterprises
* 15 mill. foreign aid
[ Figures above for the fiscal year 1993/94 ]
[ the sections above are available at the www-page
The nation has its roots in the different kingdoms of the Viking Age,
and is said to have been created when the king of the Svenonians
("Svearna") assumed kingship over Goths ("Götarna") as well in early
middle ages. The word "Sverige" ("Sweden" short for "Svea rike" in
Swedish) comes from the Svenonians; "Sverige" means the realm of the
Svenonians. The English form of the name is probably derived from an
old Germanic form, Svetheod, meaning the Swedish people. In medieval
times the Swedes also pushed north to colonize the province now known
as Norrland, and over the Baltic Sea to conquer Finland.
Sweden has a relatively homogeneous population in ethnic stock,
language, and religion.
Because of the country's isolation only few non-Swedes have intermixed
with the Swedes before very recent times; the major groups that have
done so were Finns 1580-1660 and Walloons from present-day Belgium,
who settled in the Bergslagen area in the 1620s.
Groups that maintain their distinct ethnic identity today include a
Finnish minority on the border to Finland (in Tornedalen and adjacent
areas), about 15,000 Sámi, and recent immigrants.
Since 1987 the Tornedalen-Finnish, Sámi languages and Romani have
special status as minority languages, and since 1993 the Sámi minority
elects a representative assembly, the Sámi Parliament, which however
has limited power. Constitutionally this assembly, despite its name,
is little more than a lobby organization with the authority to
distribute the funds the Swedish government lets it dispose.
The national minorities' rights to preserve and develop their own
cultural and social life is granted by Sweden's Constitution
(Instrument of Government, chapter 1 article 2). The constitution does
not list minorities.
In the furtest north geographical names make the Lappish heritage
obvious. The following words in Sámi languages are usual in
tjuolma = land between rivers,
luokta = bay,
jaure = lake,
jokk = small river,
kaise = steep peak,
tjåkkå = blunt peak,
vare = fjeld mountain,
tuottar = fjeld plain (without trees).
The Finnish language has a relatively strong position as it is
1. the biggest minority language
(the Tornedalen variety is mother tongue for maybe as many as
30'000 natives of Sweden),
2. until recently also the dominating immigrant language, and
3. since the 1950s covered by certain Nordic treaties.
Although Sweden by the very most Swedes is still perceived as
mono-cultural and mono-lingual, other languages have become
increasingly important as domestic languages. Finnish has a leading
position among them, despite Arabic, Spanish and Persian being spoken
by larger groups of residents.
* After the reformation of mandatory schools in 1962, Finnish could
be studied as (or instead of) a second foreign language in grade
7-12. (English is taught from grade 3 or 4. French and German are
the common choices as second foreign language.)
* The Swedish government funds (in cooperation with the Finnish
government) a state committee taking care of and guiding the usage
of Finnish in the Swedish society.
* Sweden cooperates with Finland in the distribution of Finnish
television to Finns in Sweden.
* Bi-lingual education in Swedish & Finnish is advocated by the
* The Swedish government has decided to support exams in
Standard-Finnish to facilitate studies in Finland for Swedish
pupils and students.
* The Swedish State Church requires priests in Tornedalen, and in
some other parishes, to be bi-lingual.
* The Church's service-book and the hymn-book is to be confirmed
also in a Finnish translation.
* The municipality of Stockholm (with almost 20'000 immigrated Finns
among its residents) has organized secondary high school
(Gymnasium) education with Finnish used as educational language -
with a special permission from the State School Board. (The
unsatisfactory interest is however a menace to the continuation of
In all these respects the position of Finnish is unique compared to
other foreign and minority languages in Sweden. (On the first point
the situation improved from 1970 for all minority and immigrant
language as parental mother-tongue could be studied one to three hours
a week in grade 1-12.)
11% of the population are 1:st generation immigrants:
from the Baltic countries (1944); Hungary (1956); Yugoslavia, Greece,
and Turkey (in the 1960s and '70s), Czechoslovakia (1968), Chile
(1973), Iran and Iraq (in the 1980s), Palestina/Lebanon, and recently
arrived refugees from the civil wars in Yugoslavia. A third of the
immigrants (4,4%) has arrived from the neighboring countries Finland,
Norway, Denmark, Germany and Poland. Another third comes from Asia,
most of all from the middle East, and a small but visible share comes
from Africa (5% of the immigrants).
The main difference to more typical immigrant countries (as for
instance USA with 10% of the population being 1:st generation
immigrants) is that immigration to Sweden is a fairly recent
phenomena. Swedes also tend to expect more of integration and
assimilation from the immigrants than is the case in for instance
Today about half of the immigrants have Swedish citizenship. Many
prominent Swedes are actually 1:st or 2:nd generation Swedes (i. e.
immigrants), but that's not generally acknowledged.
During the 1990s the public radio (and to some degree also the
television) seems to have initiated a campaign to increase the number
of journalists with immigrant family names. But the 18.7% first and
second generation immigrants (Jan 1st 1997) are still clearly
underrepresented among journalists and many other influential
7.2.5 The Swedish language
Swedish is a Germanic language, very closely related to Danish and
Norwegian (most Swedes can understand Danish and Norwegian), and
somewhat less close to Icelandic, German, Dutch and English. There are
many words borrowed from German, French (18th Century) and English
(later). Except for in Sweden, Swedish is spoken by a native minority
in Finland, and a nowadays very small minority at the Estonian coast
Peculiar is that there exists not only one, but at least four hight
status dialects (and sociolects): One southern, connected with Scania
and the University in Lund, one western spoken by affluent people in
and around Gothenburg /Göteborg, one eastern valid in Finland (for
instance on stage in Helsinki /Helsingfors), and finally the sociolect
spoken by higher officials, actors and others in the capital, which
serves as high status standard for the rest of Sweden, connected with
the University in Uppsala. Besides there exist at least a dozen of
still distinguishable dialects, or dialect groups, but after the
breakthrough for radio and TV these dialects have been heavily
influenced by the equalizing effect of the broadcasting media. (A
recent unsolved dispute in the newsgroup was whether the Scanian
dialects rightfully are to classify as East-Danish together with the
dialect on Bornholm, or with the dialects of Götaland i.e. in
Östergötland, Småland, Västergötland and around Gothenburg.)
For non-Nordics who attempt to learn the Swedish language, the
pronunciation might seem rather difficult, since Swedish (at least the
"standard" variety of it spoken in Sweden) has several unusual vowels
and consonants, e.g. retroflexed dentals and the whistle-like
"sj"-sound in sjuk "sick" which are not found in other European
languages. Distinct word tones also characterize certain elements of
its vocabulary, for which reason acquisition of a good Swedish
pronunciation requires a considerable amount of commitment and work.
The serious student of Swedish also has to learn to deal with regional
varieties such as Scanian and Finland-Swedish, both of which differ
sharply in pronunciation from the Stockholm-area oriented "standard
Swedish has (approximately) 18 different vowel sounds except
diphthongs, compared to (approximately) 14 in English.
The dialects around and between Stockholm, Gothenburg and the coast of
Norrland are characterized by fewer diphthongs. The rural Swedish
spoken on Gotland, in Finland and in Southern Sweden use diphthongs in
the most vowel positions.
The vowel sounds appear to be ordered in nine pairs [i, e, ä, a, y, ö,
u, o, å]. In each pair one of the sounds is always long and the other
short. In written Swedish the short sounds can usually be identified
as vowels followed by at least two consonants belonging to the same
syllable. In some dialects the short sounds of 'o' and 'u' tend to be
indistinguishable. The same goes for the short sounds for 'e' and 'ä'
in many dialects. Stressed syllables can have both short and long
vowel-sounds, however it's usual to find the unstressed vowels as
Vowel sounds in Swedish
rid gryt hus bo
vill trygg ull ~ port
sed död nåd
vägg ~ sedd höst pojk
väg - -
The 'r'-sound is the most prominent marker between southern and
central Swedish dialects. In the south 'r' is pronounced "in the
French way" deep in the throat. In Finland, and on most of the
Scandinavian peninsula, 'r' is pronounced as Italians do - with the
tongue vibrating against the back side of the front teeth. In an
intermediate zone both kinds of 'r'-sounds are in use, but in
different positions in the words. In unstressed syllables the
'r'-sound is also often modified to kinds of the "British" 'r'-sound.
Finally the 'r'-sound uses to modify preceding vowels. The difference
sad-said, man-men, bad-bed exists in Swedish, but in most dialects the
former only when followed by 'r' while the latter is the pronunciation
of the 'ä'-vowel in other cases. (The same goes for the 'ö'-vowel.)
Hence some Swedes have problems with these basic English sounds.
Erland Sommarskog <email@example.com> replies:
To be fair, dialects of Swedish are not worse than say of Italian.
- Or for that matter, English.
You don't need to bother about the "sj" in "sjuk". While as noted
above, this is a strange creature, it is also subject to huge
variation, and if you get in conversation with some Swedes you
might find that everyone is pronouncing the sound differently -
even that the same person is chosing different realisations on
different occassions. Phonemically you would write them all /S/,
you can use the sound for "sh" in "shoe" without being particularly
wrong. You will then have to learn to distinguish this alevoar
fricative from the palatal fricative in "tjuv" - then again, there
are Swedes who don't.
From my experience the retroflexes do not cause much problems
either. Odd as they are, foreigners seem to pick them up quite
easily. And, again, it is possible to avoid them. They arise when
'r' is followed by 's', 'n', 'd', 't' and 'l', but several dialects
pronounce them separately. And while in Sweden this is dialects
which have an uvular or velar 'r', I know people who speak with a
front 'r' and yet do not use retroflexes without having any
Finland-Swedish ancestry at all. How this has come about I don't
know, but I'm suspecting these individuals to have abandoned their
original dialect for an over-correct standard Swedish.
There are nevertheless some difficult sounds in Swedish. 'u' as in
"kul" is a rounded semi-high front vowel which has few equals. To a
foreigner it might seem close to 'y' which is a rounded high front
vowel, but I can assure you to a Swede they are most definitely
Then again, I once spoke with a British gentleman who said
"Sturegatan". His 'u' was perfect, but the first 'a' in "gatan"
revealed him directly. To wit, the 'a' is the same as in "father"
but with slightly different colour.
Anyway, Swedish pronouciation is probably difficult because it is
so irregular. Not so bad as English, but bad enough. One thing we
are particularly fond of are homographs, that is words with the
same spelling but different pronounciation: "vän", "kort", "hov",
"hänger" (friend/friendly, short/picture, court/hoof, hang/devote).
Swedes work hard, pay high taxes, try to be open minded towards other
cultures (there is much immigration, which most people seem to
accept), enjoy their traditions (around Christmas and Midsummer, for
instance), but it is not true we should be among the heaviest drinkers
in the world. Statistics in the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet January
7th 1995 shows Swedish alcohol consumption to be on only 21st place
among a selection of the industrialized nations, with 6.1 (100% pure)
liters of alcohol/year (after most Western European countries and
USA). On the other hand we do (most of us do) still follow our old
custom to drink only occasionally, but then with the goal to get
drunk. [ For further information, see the article in part 2 about
festivals and Nordic alcohol customs. ]
Swedes take pride in making the society friendly to children and their
parents including long government-paid paternal leaves, subsidized
pre-schools and municipal investments for sport and leisure-time
activities. Swedish women have one of the highest fertility rates in
the industrialized world, giving birth to 1.97 child each, and the
highest rate of breast feeding. It is however wide spread
misconceptions that Sweden should suffer from high number of suicides
or that Swedes should work less than others. Sweden is on the 15th
position on the list of suicide rates in Europe, and only England and
Portugal have longer working weeks than Sweden.
In the same intention to make the society friendly and to lighten the
lives of its members, Sweden has also put certain effort into making
public buildings, and also ordinary tenement houses, available for
The nature, the big woods and the mountains, have a particular place
in the hearts of the Swedes. The General Right to Public Access
("Allemansrätten") is unique for the Scandinavian countries, and the
most important base for outdoor recreation, providing the possibility
for each and everyone to visit non-cultivated land, to take a bath in
seas, and to pick the wild flowers, berries and mushrooms.
The religious rites such as baptizing, confirmation, wedding and
funeral are deeply rooted in the culture, although only a small
minority participate in ordinary mass. Despite the fact that the
Swedes have honored the old Germanic tradition that the people follow
the religion of the king, and subsequently all Swedes were obliged to
communion long into the 19:th century and to membership in the state
church long into the 20:th century, it can also be noted that Swedes
are one of the most secularized peoples in the world.
The church, and its services, are perceived more as a cultural
heritage, than as a religious. As for instance at 1:st Sunday in
Advent and at Christmas Eve - the two days of the year when the
churches are filled.
The Church of Sweden ("Svenska Kyrkan") is Lutheran. Most of the
Swedish people belong to this church. The bonds between State and
Church will be somewhat loosened around year 2.000.
Besides the Church of Sweden there are several other Christian and
non-Christian denominations. In most major towns you can find the
Catholic Church, Islamic centers, the Baptist churches, Pentecoastal
congregations and the Covenant Church of Sweden ("Svenska
missionsförbundet") which is related to the Reformed Churches, and in
some towns there is also a Jewish community.
Science and technology also play an important role in the contemporary
Swedish society. Private companies fund substantial research and
development, and also the government funds research at the
universities. Examples are the JAS Gripen fighter project, and the
information technology strategies put forth by the Bildt (1991-1994)
government. (The following cabinets, led by Ingvar Carlsson and Göran
Persson have been less enthusiastic about these projects.)
Leading cultural institutions (in Stockholm) are the Swedish Royal
Opera; the Royal Dramatic Theater; the National Touring Theater; and
the Swedish Academy, which awards the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Literature is important in Swedish culture. Authors like August
Strindberg (1849-1912), Selma Lagerlöf (1858-1940) who wrote Gösta
Berlings Saga (awarded with the Nobel Prize) and Astrid Lindgren
(1907-) are among the best known. At the previous turn of the century
public libraries were organized by different organizations in nearly
every village with a church or a school. Most of them still remain,
but now run by the municipalities. A curious detail is that most
Swedes probably would not count authors as Edith Södergran (1892-1923)
and Tove Jansson as Swedish authors, despite the fact that they have
written in Swedish - their mother tongue.
There aren't many internationally known Swedish composers, but Swedes
have an ancient fondness for ballads and troubadours (Carl Michael
Bellman (1740-1795) is dearly loved by Swedes), and in the later days
Swedish pop and rock groups have reached international fame (e.g ABBA,
Army of Lovers, Roxette, Ace of Base, etc).
Many popular cultural personalities are of immigrant background, but
few have let this become a part of their image. Maybe with exception
of the poet Theodor Kallifatides and Finland-Swedish actors, as Stina
Ekblad, Jörn Donner, Birgitta Ulfsson and Lasse Pöysti. The Finnish
conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Finnish singer Arja Saijonmaa
should belongs to the most famous Sweden-Finns. Promising is however
how a lot of new Swedish rock bands come from suburbs with immigrant
majorities, and how some of the most popular rock and pop artists are
clearly visible proud immigrants, as for instance Dr. Alban.
Sweden also has a strong movie tradition, already from the days of the
silent movies, people such as Victor Sjöström (1879-1960), known in
the United States as Victor Seastrom, and Mauritz Stiller (1883-1928).
The director Ingmar Bergman (1918-) is world-famous and actors like
Ingrid Bergman (1915-1982) and Greta Garbo (1905-1990) have played in
several of the classics of the movie history.
Max von Sydow and Viveca Lindfors can be mentioned as other
internationally well known film actors.
Various sports are popular in Sweden, especially team sports like
soccer and ice hockey, but also for example tennis and table-tennis,
outdoor activities like skiing and orienteering.
Food should of course be mentioned in a cultural chapter, but since
the Swedes in the s.c.n. news group seem to be more interested in
consuming than in producing this particular kind of culture we have no
other alternative than to direct recipe interested readers to the
splendid Family Santesson's collection of recipes for Swedish Cooking
[ the sections above are available at the www-page
7.2.7 local democratic traditions
If Swedes aren't proud of the violent past with Vikings, wars and
conquers then instead the long and strong democratic tradition is a
very important part of the cultural heritage.
To trace this tradition is almost impossible, since already in the
first written laws (from the 1220s) it seems obvious that the customs
are time-honored. Villages had had time at least since the Iron age to
develop traditions. To distinguish Sweden's conditions compared to
Finland, Denmark or the European continent is also hard, but a few
differences are obvious.
While solitarily living families have been more important in parts of
Finland and Norway, villages and works are the most prominent
communities in Sweden. The Danish tradition is influenced by feudalism
and the absence of woods and works. Fishing villages have been of the
greatest importance on the long Norwegian coast and on the many Danish
islands. These societal differences are usable when one tries to
analyze the differences between "national characters" - still one must
remember the resemblance is more prominent than the differences.
The Scandinavian peninsula and Finland has had only a rudimentary
feudal system. Most land has been owned by commoners paying taxes to
the king and without being directs subordinates to any lords. The
great forests has made it hard for the lords to pester and punish the
In Sweden the villages were left to rule themselves without any
superior to interfere. Each villages had, until the 19:th century, one
fenced field precisely marked in shares for each property. (On the
rich plains some villages had two or even three fenced fields where
the crops were changed systematically, but in these cases each farm
had property on each field. Actually these rich plains were also
exceptional inasmuch feudal lords could have significant influence
over decisions of "their" villages.)
Outside of the fence the cattle had to graze between sowing and
harvest. The farmers were responsible for one part each of the fence.
The fence was the most important subject the villagers had to
cooperate about, but as the field was organized it was also
practically and often necessary to do the work coordinated on the same
days. The village meeting had to discuss and decide about this, but
also about the use of woods, fishing water, common roads, boats and
The village meeting was however not for crofters or other poor.
Instead it often regulated how many lodgers the village could feed,
forcing people to move. (From the oldest written laws there is an
important distinction between the former owners of a farm and other
poor. The law forced the elderly to transfer their land to the next
generation when their physical strength weakened, but the law also
forced the new owner to support the previous for their remaining time
in life. Conflicts regarding this duties were common cases at the
The main rule was, that changes in the statues for a villages were to
be accepted by all farmers unanimous. The statues could however
stipulate that other decisions were to be made by a majority.
Unanimity was however the basic rule for how decisions were to be made
at meetings in villages and parishes.
This tradition of unanimous decisions must have contributed to the
Swedish custom of adjustment of ones attitudes to the perceived
majority. Unanimous decisions demand a high degree of compromises from
The pre-Christian culture was a tribe culture like many other of the
pre-Christian cultures among the indo-Europeans. The members of a
tribe were obliged to avenge injuries against their dead and mutilated
relatives. A balancing structure is necessary to hinder tribe fights
to lead to anarchy destructing the society. In the North-Germanic
cultures the balancing institution was the Thing ("ting" or "þing").
The Thing was the assembly of free men in an area, as in a hundred
("härad") or in a province / county ("landskap"), at which disputes
were solved and political decisions were made. Before Christianity
chieftains where at the same time political and religious leaders,
with the main purpose to bring the people good times ("fred" -
nowadays actually the word for peace). The place for the Thing
("tingsplats") was often also the place for public religious rites,
and sometimes the place for commerce.
The þing met at regular intervals, legislated, elected chieftains and
judged according to the law recited and memorized by the law speaker.
The þing's negotiations were presided by the chieftain or often by the
law speaker. In reality the þing was of course dominated by the most
influential members of the community, but in theory one-man one-vote
was the rule.
Gotland, as an example, had in late medieval time twenty Things, each
represented at the island-Thing (landsting) by its elected judge. (The
judge also conducted the local Thing.) New laws were decided at the
landsting, which also took other decisions regarding the island as a
whole. The landsting's authority was successively eroded after the
island being occupied by the Tyska Orden (the "German Order") 1398,
then sold to Erik of Pomerania and after 1449 ruled by Danish
In late Swedish medieval time the Thing-court consisted of twelve
representatives for the farmers (free-holders or tenants).
An important function of the king or the chieftain was (probably) to
distribute of his own luck to all of the people. Therefore men with
much luck were ideal kings. The people were dependent of good luck in
many aspects: good harvests, good trade, good hunting, good fishing
and no attacks from enemies.
In case of bad times the people could sacrifice their leader (before
Christianity literally!), or maybe less violently select another
leader. As the Christian missionaries then convinced the most
respected among the Viking magnates, an abyss opened between the
ordinary agrarian people an their converted magnates; and the old
order was disrupted.
Free peasants who were used to participate in the decision making in
the village, in the province and in the realm did not easily accept to
be left unquestioned when the Svea kingdom expanded.
The Engelbrecht rebellion is probably the best picture we can get of
how kings had been elected in older times. Engelbrecht was elected to
captain for Dalarna where he and the people had promised each other
allegiance, then he went to Västmanland, where the people summoned to
the "tingsplats" expressed their support and allegiance, then to
Uppland where Engelbrecht and the people promised each other
allegiance, then to Östergötland, where the procedure was repeated,
and then to Västergötland where he was honored by the people, then to
Halland (the part which at that time was identified with Götaland and
Sweden). All this occurred in the end of the summer 1434. In January
1435 a diet appointed Engelbrecht as captain for the Swedish realm,
and as such he that year negotiated with the union-king - with poor
result. In response to demands from the country a new diet was
summoned in 1436 where Engelbrecht was elected king. As king he
requested the people in Stockholm to swear allegiance. The
Stockholmians (most of whom were Germans) had to choose between a
battle and a new king, and accepted the new king.
The nobility's exemption from land tax after 1280 had the consequence
that farmers pawned or sold their land to the noble bailiffs. Also the
Church's exemption from tax in year 1200 had in practice the same
effect. Subsequently the crown's tax incomes diminished, and strong
royal rulers as Magnus Eriksson and Queen Margrete tried to hinder
after the medieval time
During the 16th century a lot of land was taken by the state from
parishes and convents. These lands were then often transferred to the
nobility, particularly from 1567 to 1680, which had important
consequences for the peasants. Tenant farmers on state property could
be forced to do extra work in addition to the law-regulated taxes,
which was a less favorable situation than for farmers owning their own
land, but farmers on land sold/given to noble masters had additionally
lost their right to participation in the elections of peasant
representatives at the diets.
Works (bruksorter) is the contrasting element, organized in much as a
manorial estate, where the owner had the duty to act as a good master
in a strictly hierarchical household. The works was a closed society,
taking responsibility for the people living there from the cradle to
the grave. United the people could express their wishes and
propositions, and a wise master would not act against the best of the
people. But the power was his. Many masters of works were descendents
of nobilitated industrialists from Walloonia invited in the early 17th
The rules of order at democratic meetings got changed in the 19:th
century. The villages were split, many farmers' houses were moved away
from the village, each farm got it's field separated from the others,
and the village meeting became obsolete. The traditions from the
higher assemblies, where the majority ruled, were found fit for the
parishes also, particularly when these came to grow due to the
urbanization. With the Free Churches, the Temperance movement and the
workers unions foreign influences were added to the old traditions.
Today fairness and equality are important parts of the order at a
meeting. The word is given to speakers in the order they have asked
for it, no-one is to be unfairly favored. The assembly and the chair
are not supposed to interrupt the speaker, unless he/she breaks any
decided rules (as a time limit) or humiliates others. All who wish to
speak are entitled to do so prior to the voting, all are entitled to
put propositions forward, all propositions are to be equally handled
(almost!), and in case of the majority taking a position one feel
impossible to take responsibility for, then all are entitled to get
ones dissentient opinions taken to the records.
But still traces of the unanimity tradition is visible in the attitude
that people who suspect they belong to a minority should better not
utter their opinion - to the best of all - in order to reinforce the
feeling of unity and unanimity. ...and after a decision all
participants are expected to advocate the opinion of the majority -
whatever they thought before.
7.2.8 free access to official documents
The history of the Rights of Free Expression is dialectic and full of
contradictions. From 1718 to 1844 the liberties of thought and the
parliament's right to decide over laws and wars were hot topics in
Sweden as in the rest of Europe, many times leading to changes of
rulers: 1680 the common estates of the parliament handed over all
power to the king, in reaction against the nobility. 1720 the
parliament made the king almost powerless after Karl XII:s failed
wars. 1756 the king was made really powerless after a failed coup
d'etat. However 1772 the king succeeded in a coup d'etat and the
parliament approved a new constitution. 1789 the king again gained
dictatorship which is abolished in a revolution 1809 and laws are
again to be agreed on by the king and the majority of the estates.
Surprisingly it lasted until the 1760s until the politicians took up
serious debates regarding legal guarantees for the freedom of the
press. Until then the ruling party had gained from the advantages of
power and secrecy, and used this to suppress its enemies as much as
they could, and when another party gained majority, it did the same.
But after the royal court's failed coup 1756 the royalists and the big
opposition party in the parliament found each other in the wish to
gain knowledge about the government's actions. And when the parliament
majority changed, Freedom of the Press and the public's free access to
official documents ("offentlighetsprincipen") were decided after
English model and given constitutional status.
Although it lasted until 1809 before the free access to official
documents had become more than lip service by the bureaucracy, and
another 30 years before the Freedom of the Press could be used for
critics of the king and his government without acts of reprisal, these
aspects are now understood as very important foundations for a working
In 1831 the newspaper Aftonbladet is founded by Lars Johan Hierta in
Stockholm, important because of its struggle to increase the freedom
of the press. The king, Karl XIV Johan, at the time had the right to
retract permissions to publish newspapers. When Aftonbladet criticized
the king, he retracted the publish rights - but the paper immediately
reappeared as "The Second Aftonbladet", "The Third Aftonbladet" and
all the way to the "28th Aftonbladet". 1838 the civil service officer
responsible for revocal of the governmental license declares this
method unfit and useless, and 1844 it's also formally abolished.
Since then the free access to official documents is understood as a
right for any citizen to request a list of received and sent documents
from any state authority (after the 1930s also municipal authorities)
and then immediately look at (or receive copies of) single documents
unless these necessarily are to be kept secret, according to special
laws, in order to protect:
* the security of the realm and its currency
* negotiations with foreign powers
* ongoing supervisory activities of the authority
* the interest of preventing or prosecuting crimes
* the personal integrity of individuals
* the free competition between enterprises
Of course it could be argued that these exceptions can be made wide
and very wide, but it's important that it is the governmental agency
which has to prove its right to keep a document secret, if a case goes
to court, and that the constitution clearly express that exceptions to
the main rule are to be scrupulously specified. The definition of
"document" is wide including pictures, sound records and other
messages which can be comprehended by means of technical aids.
If officials want their private letters to be secret, then they must
be sent to their private address. But if letters regarding the
authority are sent privately to officials, then they must be taken to
the office. Documents which are in the process of production are
however not available for the public until they are sent or used for a
decision by the authority.
Today this principles is among them which by Swedes are perceived as
the most differing in comparison with other cultures. One of the most
commons points of suspicions among Swedes against the European Union,
which Sweden entered 1995, is the fear that lack of access to
documents of the Union's authorities not only harm the democracy in
the European Union, but even worse that Sweden might be affected and
the Swedish democratic society will be severely harmed.
7.2.9 School system
Children start school at the age of six or seven. The compulsory
education (Grundskolan) spans nine years with the pupil finishing
junior high school (högstadiet) at the age of fifteen or sixteen.
High schools (Gymnasier) provide a broad selection of study courses
/ programs ranging from vocational university-preparatory, to lasting
three or four years.
One year in pre-school (förskola) and three years in high school is
what virtually all pupils complete, although this is not required. A
few years ago all high school programs were made to last at least
three years in order to make all pupils formally entitled to
Many children also attend kindergarten (daghem). When both parents
work, another option exists. The parents may have their child taken
care of by a municipality-employed "nanny" (dagmamma - literally "day
mother"). The child stays in her private home, usually together with
2-3 other children).
As a rule all children attend public schools. Private schools are
rare, and those that exist often have a specific educational
philosophy or religious affiliation. The degree of governmental
financing of private schools has been changed several times in the
1990s. Currently it is usual for municipalities to pay about 80% of
their average cost per pupil for those attending private schools.
[ the sections above are available at the www-page
Subject: 7.3 History
(A brief chronicle is to find in the sections 7.3.3-7.3.7.)
7.3.1 A chronology of important dates
The German bishop Ansgar introduces Christian mission to Sweden
(however travelers, captured wifes and slaves had most probably
made both Islam and Christianity known before).
King Olof Skötkonung was baptized, and made Christianity the
official religion of Sweden. Several pagan kings followed him,
With the first archbishop of Lund, Scandinavia was made a
separate church province, no longer belonging to Hamburg.
Norwegian "crusade" to Småland gave 1800 heads of cattle.
Bishop Henry in Uppsala resumes securing (conquering) of
Finland for Catholicism in a "crusade".
A separate arch-bishopric for Sweden was instituted in Uppsala.
Until 1152 the archbishop in the Scanian town Lund in Denmark
had been the primate for all of Norden.
Estonians invade and burn Sigtuna.
After the example of the Scanian Law (written down in circa
1210) also the Swedish provinces () start to write down their
landskapslagar. 1240 the movement has reached Västergötland,
and Äldre Västgötalagen is written down.
Falu copper mine is opened.
Stockholm becomes the capital, after Birka and Sigtuna, founded
by Birger Jarl, Earl of Sweden and 1250-1266 guardia for the
under age King Valdemar.
The Swedish King Birger (Ladulås) claims supremacy over
The king is supplemented by a State Council with a chancellor
(rikskansler), commander in chief (riksmarsk), minister of
Justice (riksdrots), the bishops and some other peers.
Viipuri/Viborg is established at/as the eastern border of
King Birger is imprisoned by his brothers duke Valdemar and
duke Erik, the so called Håtunaleken.
Sweden is split in three dutchies.
King Birger imprisons his brothers, at a Christmas party, and
let them starve to death (the so called Nyköpings gästabud),
but is forced to escape out of the country. Crown-prince Magnus
Peace with Novgorod in Nöteborg / Pähkinälinna. The borders of
this peace lasted beyond year 147 when the Grand-Duchess Moscow
Personal union with Norway under King Magnus Eriksson.
Also Gotland & Scania (including Bornholm, Halland & Blekinge)
are ruled by King Magnus Eriksson. At the Thing in Lund the
Scanian Archbishop and magnates had elected Magnus Eriksson,
the king of Norway and Sweden to become also king of the
Scanian provinces when he had come to age (16 years). (Well,
there were some debts the king's regent promised to pay in
Slavery was abolished.
St. Birgitta (1303-1373), an important opponent to King Magnus
and Sweden's most important medieval saint, starts to write
down her Heavenly Revelations and decides to start a convent in
Vadstena. The Brigittine Order exists even today in many
The Black Death (the Plague)
The first Swedish national law replaced the local
The Danish King Valdemar Atterdag conquers Gotland.
Finland's status as an equal part of the realm is confirmed by
participation in election of king.
The Nordic kingdoms are united as the "Kalmar Union", led by
The Engelbrecht rebellion against the Union-King's
export-endangering wars with German Counts and the Hansa. After
this the Union-Kings never regained authority in Sweden.
Uppsala university founded; the oldest university in the Nordic
Stockholm blood bath ignites Gustav Vasa's rebellion.
Gustav Vasa is elected regent.
June, 6th, Gustav Vasa is elected king of Sweden.
The New Testament and hymnal is printed in the Swedish language
- 1541 is the whole Bible ready
- 1551 the New Testament on Finnish.
Reformation decided at the Diet of Västerås.
Printing of books is made a royal privilege.
Royal censure is enacted 1539, import control of books 1550.
The Diet declares the monarchy hereditary. After this the
principle of all four Estates participating in the Diets i
Estonia surrenders to Sweden.
Expulsion is the penalty for spread of beliefs divergent from
King Erik is imprisoned and 1577 poisoned.
Lutheranism is confirmed by a Church meeting in Uppsala.
The Catholic Sigismund inherits the throne, Sweden in civil war
while in personal union with Poland.
Linköping's blood bath.
Academic printer established at the university (Uppsala).
Sweden pays ransom for the fort at Älvsborg, where 1619
Gothenburg i founded.
Justice reform leads to royal courts of appeal in Stockholm,
Turku/Åbo (1623) and Tartu/Dorpat (1630).
Sweden gets the Kexholm province and Ingria ("Ingermanland") in
the peace of Stolbova with Russia.
Possession of printed propaganda from foreign powers gets
sentenced by death penalty.
King Gustav II Adolf land on the European continent to take
part in the 30-years war.
Poland cedes Livonia to Sweden in the peace of Altmark.
The university in Tartu/Dorpat is founded.
Gustav II Adolf is killed in the battle of Lützen.
The university in Turku/Åbo is founded.
Sweden gets Gotland, Saaremaa/Ösel, Jämtland and Härjedalen
from Denmark in the peace of Brömsebro.
In the peace treaty of Westphalia, Sweden wins the German
territories (Vorpommern, Rügen, Stettin, Wismar, and
Bremen-Verden) and becomes a major power.
The peace treaty of Roskilde gives Sweden Bohuslän and the
Scanian provinces of Bornholm, Skåne, Blekinge and Halland
Bornholm is returned to Denmark after an uprising 1660. The
Swedish territory of today is thereby collected.
The university in Lund is founded.
Nobel masters have right to sentence their employees.
The battle at Lund.
Gotland is annected by Sweden, followed by Blekinge 1680,
Halland 1693 and Scania 1721.
The Stockholm Castle ("Three Crowns") burns down.
The Great Northern War, with the battles at Narva 1700 and
Poltava 1709. Finland occupied. Swede loses Viipuri /Viborg on
the Karelian isthmus, southern Karelia, most of the German and
all of the Baltic territories. The power shifts from the king
to the Estates.
Konventikelplakatet counteracts Pietism by prohibiting
religious meetings without ordained priests (except for prayers
and teachings inside the household in a strict sense).
Celsius designs a thermometer.
The Estates confirm the democratic forms for decisions at the
A failed coup d'etat by the royal Court leads to the king's
function becoming less more than ceremonial.
Storskifte, first reform of Swedish farming decided.
The liberty of Press and "Offentlighetsprincipen" was declared
Scheele discovers oxygen.
Gustav III performs a coup and the Diet restores the monarchy.
Torture is abolished in Sweden.
Freedom of religion for aliens make immigration of Jews
The absolute monarchy is enforced - partly with illegal
methods, partly decided by a Diet.
Bellman publishes the Fredman collections.
Gustav III is assassinated at a masked ball.
Enskifte, grand reform of Swedish farming decided. Villages
were split into separate farms, so farmers came to live closer
to their land, more distant from their neighbors.
The War of Finland: the whole of Finland (extended also by a
part of the northern county Norrbotten) was joined to Russia. A
new constitution is written that puts an end to autocracy.
"Offentlighetsprincipen" and freedom of press get restored.
June 6, 1809
Duke Karl signs the new constitution.
One of Napoleon's generals, Jean Baptiste Bernadotte, is
elected as the heir to throne. Despite this Sweden joins the
British-led anti-Napoleon alliance. In 1818, he becomes King
Carl XIV Johan.
Göta Kanal is built across Sweden from Söderköping to
Personal-union between Norway and Sweden.
The parish meetings are reformed by law. It's settled that also
craftsmen, tradesmen and industrial workers shoul have right to
vote (if they earn enough).
A national compulsory public education system, "Folkskolan", is
introduced, and is to be administrated by the parishes,
followed 1843 by law on municipal self rule.
Daughters get equal rights as sons to inherit land.
The first Swedish Free Church congregation and baptizing.
Swedish troops are located to Jutland as support for Denmark
against a rebellion in Schleswig-Holstein. Prussia supports the
rebells. The Swedes are never participating in military
Electric telegraph between Stockholm and Uppsala.
Railway between Örebro and Ervalla. Later the same year the
first state railway is opened between Malmö and Lund.
The prohibition of religious meetings in the absence of a state
church priest is abolished. 1860 it becam allowed for Swedish
citizens to switch religious affiliation from the State Church
to certain other approved (Christian) Churches.
Feminist pioneer Fredrika Bremer publishes Hertha.
The Estates refuse to live up to the promise by the king to
support Denmark when attacked by Prussia.
The obligation to yearly communion is abolished.
The parliament is reformed. The system of the four Estates is
abandoned and a new system of two chambers is introdued. The
right to vote remains dependent on income and gender.
The parish meeting is reformed, majority decisions are enforced
instead of the former tradition of consensus, disciplinary
matters are to be decided by a committee.
Sweden becomes very Germany-oriented, both economically and
culturally - in particular after Prussia's military successes
against Denmark, Austria and France.
Nordic currency and postal union.
The metric system is introduced.
Hjalmar Branting is elected the first Social Democrat in
First Nobel Prize award.
The universal military service is organized. All men become
trained for defense of the country.
Railroad from Narvik at the Norwegian coast to Kiruna where
iron ore mines get exploit.
Norway declares itself independent of the Swedish king.
Major spelling reform.
Men get equal rights to vote.
Strike by 300'000 Swedish workers, but no revolution.
Olympic Games in Stockholm.
Law on public pension.
Public demands of rearmament of the fleet leads King Gustav V
to approve a demonstration march (bondetåget) in a public
speech (borggårdstalet) without the consent of the Cabinet
Council. The parliamentarian cabinet resigns and an
anti-parliamentarian cabinet under Hjalmar Hammarskjöld is in
function February 1914 - March 1917.
A Swedish troop of 600 man intervene on Åland, attempting to
mediate when the civil war of Finland led to Finnish troops
fighting on Åland. The Finnish and Swedish troops leave after a
German fleet had approached.
Law on eight hours workday (six days a week).
Women get rights to vote equal to men.
Death penalty abolished (in times of peace).
A proposition to prohibit alcoholic beverages is narrowly
defeated in a referendum.
The Conservative Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Hederstierna
resigns after having suggested a defense alliance with Finland
in a speech at a dinner at which too much of inebriating
refreshments must have been served.
Swedish employees get minimum two weeks of yearly paid vacation
The ferry Hansa en route between Stockholm and Gotland was sank
by a Soviet submarin. 84 passengers drowned.
Count Folke Bernadotte was (assassinated in Jerusalem by a
Jewish terrorist organization (lead by Yitzhak Shamir) when
mediating between Jews and Arabs.
General right for members of the state Church to submit one's
resignation. General freedom of religion for Swedish citizen.
A Swedish computer, BESK, is for a time the fastest in the
A referendum supports a Social Democratic proposal for
mandatory participation in a retiring allowance scheme with
minimal funds. The alternative was a voluntary funding system.
40 years later a mandatory funding system is decided.
Right for women to be ordained as priests in the State Church
(until 1982 combined with a right for male priests to abstain
from working together with female priests).
First in 1997 the first femle bishop is ordained.
The aircraft of Dag Hammarskjöld, the UN secretary general, is
shot down during mediating in Africa.
Bar prohibition revoked. Public establishment did no longer
lose their licence if they served alcoholic beverages to guests
who hadn't ordered food. (The rationing of alcohol was
abolished already in 1956.)
1965-77 it was also legal to sell beer (mellanöl) in ordinary
The Riksdag becomes unicameral. Parliamentarism is written into
the king loses his political influence (including formation of
The right of "ethnic, linguistic and religious minorities to
preserve and develop a cultural and social life of their own"
is added to the constitution.
Referendum says nuclear power is to be liquidated.
A Russian submarine runs aground in the Blekinge archipelago.
The prime minister Olof Palme is assassinated Feb 28.
April 26th nuclear radiation is discovered outside of the
nuclear plant Forsmark to the north of Stockholm. After some
time it turns ou to come from Ukraine, but large areas of
Sweden are struck, with slaughter of reindeers and restrictions
against using wild berries and mushrooms for many following
The ferry Estonia sank in Åland's sea. About 900 drowned.
A referendum supports joining of the European Union.
As of January 1st 1995 Sweden became a full member of the EU.
7.3.2 A list of Swedish monarchs
the late viking age:
ca 990 Erik (the
victorious) ca 995-1020 Olof Skötkonung, baptized as a Christian in
1008 ca 1019-50 Anund Jakob
ca 1050-60 Emund den gamle (the old) ca
1160 Stenkil ca 1066-80 Halsten ca 1080 Blotsven ca 1080-1110 Inge the
elder ca 1110-18 Filip ca 1118-20 Inge the younger ca 1130 Ragnvald ca
1135-56 Sverker the elder ca 1158-60 Erik IX den helige (St. Eric)
1160-67 Karl VII Sverkersson 1167-96 Knut Eriksson 1196-1208 Sverker
Karlsson the younger 1208-16 Erik X Knutsson 1216-22 Johan Sverkersson
1222-29 Erik XI Eriksson läspe och halte (lisp and limp) 1229-34 Knut
Holmgersson den långe (the long) 1234-49 Erik XI Eriksson läspe och
halte (lisp and limp) 1250-66 Birger Jarl, earl (regent) of Sweden
1250-75 Valdemar Birgersson, under age until 1266 1275-90 Magnus
Birgersson Ladulås 1290-1318 Birger Magnusson, under age until 1298
1290-1317 Duke Erik Magnusson (regent) 1319-62 Magnus Eriksson, under
age until 1332. 1357-59 Erik Magnusson (most of the realm) 1362-64
Håkon of Norway 1364-89 Albreckt of Mecklenburg
the Kalmar Union:
1388-1412 Margareta (regent of the Kalmar
Union) 1396-1434 Erik of Pommerania (king of the Kalmar Union) 1434-36
Engelbrecht (Captain of the Realm) 1436 Engelbrecht (king of Sweden)
1436-40 Karl Knutsson (regent of Sweden) 1440-48 Kristoffer of Bavaria
(king of the Kalmar Union) 1448-57 Karl Knutsson (king of Sweden)
1457-64 Kristian I (king of the Kalmar Union 1448-1481) 1464 Karl
Knutsson (king of Sweden) 1464-66 Erik Axelsson (regent of Sweden)
1467-70 Karl Knutsson (king of Sweden) 1471-97 Sten Sture the elder
(regent of Sweden) 1497-1501 Hans (king of the Kalmar Union 1481-1513)
1501-03 Sten Sture the elder (regent of Sweden) 1504-11 Svante Nilsson
Sture (regent of Sweden) 1512-20 Sten Sture the younger (regent of
Sweden) 1520-21 Kristian II (king of the Kalmar Union 1513-1523)
1521-23 Gustav Eriksson Vasa (regent of Sweden) 1523-60
Gustav I Vasa (king of Sweden) 1560-68 Erik XIV [ dethroned ] 1568-92
Johan III 1592-99 Sigismund III Vasa of Poland and Sweden [ dethroned
] 1599-1604 Johan, under age [ abdicated 1604 ] 1600/04-11 Karl IX [
appointed to king by the Estates in 1600 ] 1611-32 Gustav II Adolf
1632-54 Kristina, under age until 1644 [ abdicated ]
1654-60 Karl X Gustav 1660-97 Karl XI, under age until
1672 1697-1718 Karl XII 1719-20 Ulrika Eleonora [ abdicated ] 1720-51
Fredrik I [ consort of Queen Ulrika Eleonora ]
1751-71 Adolf Fredrik 1771-92 Gustav III
1792-1809 Gustav IV Adolf, under age until 1796 [ dethroned ] 1809-18
1818-44 Karl XIV Johan 1844-59 Oscar I 1859-72
Karl XV 1872-1907 Oscar II 1907-50 Gustaf V 1950-73 Gustaf VI 1973-
Carl XVI Gustaf
[ the sections above are available at the www-page
7.3.3 prehistoric and medieval time
The first found traces after the Ice Age are from northern Scania
13'000 years ago. From 8'000 years ago great settles are found along
the coastal line of that time. 6'000 years ago agriculture was
established. After a change of climate 5'000 years ago most of the
farmlands were abandoned for colonization of the coasts and Baltic
islands (for instance Åland), followed again by spread of settlements
in the Scandinavian inland 4'000 years ago.
About 4'000 years ago the contacts between South-Scandinavia and the
European continent increased, and approximately at the same time the
central and northern parts of Scandinavia came in closer contact with
Russia and Siberia. Cattle and stock-raising became important in the
South, and in the North a complement to hunting, fishing and
Iron Age 500 B.C. - 1050 A.D.
At the rise of the Roman Empire contacts between South/Central
Scandinavia and the European continent seems to have surged, as
indicated by rich finds of import objects and houses with stone
foundations. Runic characters are introduced. Denmark dominates
southern Scandinavia. Germanics often serve as mercenaries for the
Roman armies. In early 6th century a group of disposed mercenaries of
the Heruli tribe is said to have resettled in Västergötland.
Approximately 500-700 A.D. the Sámi population is pushed further north
during a Germanic expansion. Svenonians ("Svear") come to play a
dominating role, and the Goths ("Götar") a subordinate role. Ironworks
make the Svenonian area west for Uppland rich, and is the ground for
extensive contacts also with what today is Russia, Finland and the
Baltic states. The Åland islands are believed to have been colonized
around 550 A.D.
The realm of the Vikings is probably better described in terms of
water-ways and coastal strips along their trading routes, an not in
terms of land areas. On some places there ought to have come up
permanent trade stations, as for instance at the Ladoga shore.
The best and most secure settlements were deep in bays ("vik" in
Swedish) were only skillful navigators could find their way. The town
Birka is founded in the 800:th century at such a position. As it looks
there was from the beginning a strong garrison protecting Birka all
around the year.
800-1050 Viking age
It was a prosperous period. Swedish Vikings traveled trading fur and
slaves to Russia, Byzantium and all the way down to the Arab caliphate
at Baghdad. Possibly also silk trading was of major importance until
The Svea kingdom gets a leading position, at least it gets best known
abroad. Its capital is in Gamla ("Old") Uppsala. The Svea vikings seem
to have had a couple of trade stations along the water-way from lake
Ladoga to the south. The trade through Russia was in competition with
the Gutar from Gotland, Danes (including Scanians) and with Östgötar
from Östergötland. Svea Vikings possibly inhabited also Åland and
coastal areas in Finland and Norrland.
The Russian leader Rurik was obviously a Viking Chieftain, who settled
in Gårdarike (Russia) in the mid 9th century, and whose descendants
ruled Russia until year 1598. Novgorod and Kiev were important
stations on the way to Persia and Byzantium.
At the end of the previous millennium the trade and plundering became
less profitable, and the magnates on the great plains became more
powerful than the Viking leaders at the coast. Sweden at this time can
be said to consist of six rich agricultural provinces with great
plains, their neighboring dark woods (see the table) and the more
independent people at the coast and in the archipelago.
King Olof Skötkonung converted to Christianity, was banned from the
pagan Svealand, got accepted as a refugee in Skara (or as king over
Västergötland?) where Sweden's first bishopric was established.
Sweden becomes Christian, and the country is united into a single
kingdom. Due to pressure from the mighty Danish kingdom, which had
united maybe a hundred years before, the warring landscapes of Sweden
settle into an uneasy truce and start to elect a king to rule them as
one kingdom. This kingdom was often called the "Svea kingdom", because
traditionally this was the only stable entity and the only kingdom
that foreigners had heard of. Västergötland (often with Värmland and
Dalsland) remained the most independent province for many hundred
The royal power and authority were limited to leadership in combat and
sometimes to function as the highest judicial authority.
Norwegians and Svenonians participate in attempts to make the people
on the coast of Finland Christian. During the second half of the
century the Svenonians seem to have a succeeded with colonies north of
1076 Bishop Adam of Bremen writes the history of the bishopric of
Hamburg, describing the christianization of Sweden, which is one of
our main sources to the early history of Scandinavia.
After the Christianization Sweden is ruled by kings elected by the
nobility - most of the time from two rival dynasties. Formerly kings
were elected by each "landsting" (that was a combined court and
law-giving meeting of the free men in a province). First in 1319 the
peasantry would again be officially, participating in the election of
The title king of the Svears did however not give much power. Neither
among the Svears nor in more distant parts of the country. The forces
of particularism were very strong during the first centuries and often
there would be two or three claimants to the throne engaged in civil
This time is characterized by the power being divided on so many local
magnates assuring no individual command too much power, and becoming a
threat against the other magnates. A suitable king could well be
chosen from Götaland, perhaps because that person would find it hard
to make his power be felt in Svealand.
Earls (jarlar) were commanders of the fleet (leiðungr) and deputy in
Svealand when the king resided in Götaland.
1152 a papal cardinal refuse to organize a separate Swedish
archdiocese tired of the quarrel between Götar and Svear, who couldn't
agree on one of the two alternatives: Linköping in Östergötland or
Uppsala in Uppland. Until the beginning of the 13th century
Östergötland appears as the stronghold for the Christian Kingdom, with
(heaten?) opposition particularly in Uppland.
Sweden conquers the Finnish woods for Catholicism through a series of
"crusades". Most of the coast on both sides of the Bothnic sea, Åland
and the plains in southern Finland of today is believed to have been
colonized by Svears already. (After the first crusade 1155 Uppland was
rewarded with the archdiocese.) Finland is not participating in the
elections of kings until 1362.
The dominance in the Baltics by the Gutar from Gotland island is
competed by the Germans in the Hansetic League, who from 1161 has an
agreement with the Gutar. The situation for Götar and Svear is not
improved, but Gotland gets weaker, with civil war in the end of the
13th century, and finally defeat under the Danish king Valdemar
Atterdag 1361. Swedish kings had ambitions to rule also over Gotland,
but the Gutar were not too interested.
The first one to yield such power that he could issue grants of land
in both Götaland and Svealand (showing that he had territorial power),
was Knut Eriksson (late 12:th century). In his early days this son of
the throne claimant Erik, "Erik the saint", used the title king of
Götaland, but after coming out on top in a civil war he also called
himself king of Svealand and also used the titles together. Before his
days the king can be said to have wielded power only with the consent
of the local upper class.
Knut Eriksson is also believed to have initiated the building of stone
towers in Kalmar, Borgholm and Stockholm which later were extended to
castles. Stockholm, as situated at the very center of the realm,
between the rich Svealand provinces, becomes the constant residence
for the crown's administration.
13th & 14th century
The crown and the realm increase in strength and stability - slowly,
but though. The common people play the non-speaking parts in the drama
of the noble families' competition with each other. And the kings?
They participated in the competition as much as they could. The kings
more than once were appointed at very low age. Probably it was easier
to agree upon kings in the three-years age for the noble magnates who
then had a long time to strengthen their influence.
1248 at the church meeting in Skänninge (in Östergötland), on demand
from the catholic pope, the Swedish church introduces celibacy for
priests, and the priests should now be appointed by the bishop.
Earlier, priests were elected by their parish (or its noble master)
and they married. The independence of the Church is now secured (until
the Reformation 1527).
From the latter half of the 13th century the kings are requested to
"cooperate" with [maybe sooner: be balanced and controlled by] a
Council for the realm, with representatives for the highest nobility:
a chancellor (kansler / rikskansler), commander in chief (marsk
/ riksmarsk), minister of Justice (drots / riksdrots), the bishops and
some other peers.
1319 it is settled how king's election should take place, requiring
the king to take an oath that no one could be imprisoned unless he'd
been found guilty according to law, and that only domestic men were to
be appointed as bailiffs. As a national law is proclaimed 1350 the
power of legislation and taxation is still formally regarded as an
issue solely for the landsting of the seven provinces to decide (1362
Finland was acknowledged as the eight).
Until the Plague 1350 the forests were increasingly colonized for
agriculture. Then followed a long time characterized by decrease in
population and wealth. The reasons are not well known, but a change in
the climate might be a possible explanation.
On the map to the left Sweden as it was understood between 1336 and
1561 is marked with a darker shade of gray, and the provinces
temporarily ruled by king Magnus Eriksson (Norway, Gotland and the
Scanian provinces) are marked with a lighter shade of gray.
During the 1350s the conflict between King Magnus Eriksson and the
strong Swedish State Council aggravates. The noble opposition is led
by the high-born Birgitta Birgersdotter in Vadstena (St. Birgitta) and
seconded by the crown-prince Erik.
The king and his main councillor, his alleged lover Bengt Algotsson,
had debts and after the Plague also diminishing taxes and eastern wars
to tamper with. When Bengt Algotsson 1353 was made duke with Halland
in the west and large parts of Finland in the east as his duchy, and
the Prince Håkon 1355 took over the crown of Norway, then the
Crown-Prince and the State Council lost their temper.
As a result of the following civil war Bengt Algotsson was expelled
and most of the realm came under the rule of the Crown-Prince Erik.
The king was allowed to keep the insignificant provinces of Närke,
Västergötland and adjacent parts of Småland.
After the crown-prince and all of his family suddenly had died 1359
his father Magnus Eriksson regained power, but the realm is weak and
the nobility is split and fighting. Denmark conquers Gotland and
regains Scania, and King Magnus is 1362 forced to abdicate in favor of
his son King Håkon. It is in this sorrow time of the Swedish realm as
representatives for the Finns are invited as equals to the Diet.
Thereby the eastern provinces were given status as totally integrated
parts of the realm.
Soon a nephew of Magnus Eriksson, the German duke Albreckt of
Mecklenburg, is asked to claim the crown by a faction of the State
Council. Albreckt defeats King Håkon and the ex-King Magnus Eriksson
in a battle. Ex-king Magnus is imprisoned in Stockholm. The magnates
of three provinces (Värmland, Dalsland & Västergötland) on the border
to Norway agree however that Håkon is the rightful (or better?) king
why their provinces were to belong to Norway.
From 1371 the Swedish State Council has bound the King Albreckt with
promises to follow its advices.
After 1397 Sweden and Denmark (including Finland, Norway and Iceland)
were united in the Kalmar Union under Queen Margrete (Princess of
Denmark, Queen of Norway). Margrete never held the title Queen of
Sweden, but was instead appointed as "authorized agent" (Fru och
fullmäktige av Sverige). This period is characterized by struggle
between the nobility, the commons and the queen/king.
The nobility seems to have preferred a union-king far away in
Copenhagen for meddlesome kings in Stockholm. The union meant two more
advantages: internal peace between the Nordic countries; and a united
front against the German powers, and later against Moscow. The
nobility came however to fear the loss of the profitable and
politically important positions as bailiffs at the crown's castles.
In Finland the nobility in Finland came to play a strong and rather
independent role in the union, underlined by the Count of
Viipuri/Viborg functioning as Marquis /Markgraf after German model.
The union was a reaction against the strong influence German merchants
had around the Baltics, illustrated by a German being elected king in
Sweden in the late 14th century, but the union gets questioned both by
the nobility, when they are discontent, and by the Commons, when they
experience worsening conditions. Germans continue to play a dominating
role in towns and mining.
1398 Tyska Orden (the German Order) occupies Gotland. Year 1408 they
sell the island to King Erik, who came to regard it as his private
A rebellion led by Engelbrecht is motivated by the king of the Kalmar
union breaking a promise not to change laws or taxes without asking
the people (i.e. the four Estates at a Diet). In January 1435 a Diet
appointed Engelbrecht as captain for the Swedish realm, and as such he
negotiated with the union-king that year - with poor results. In
response to demands from the country the four Estates were summoned to
a new Diet in Arboga 1436; which decided to continue the rebellion.
Engelbrecht was elected king. But then the two higher Estates
(nobility and clergy) chose to appoint another man as captain for the
realm, while the two lower Estates supported Engelbrecht. The result:
Engelbrecht being assassinated, and succeeded by his allied the
high-born Karl Knutsson Bonde, Engelbrecht's "marsk"
(commander-in-chief), who then kills the most famous supporters of
The bishop and magnates in Finland had not so much sympathy for
Engelbrecht's rebellion, but after the Diet in Arboga they joined.
In the following years all four Estates are participating in Diets,
and Swedes flatter themselves with 550 years of continuous peasant
participation in the Diets where taxes and laws were negotiated.
1440 the Swedish regent the Marsk Karl Knutsson and the Duke
Christoffer of Bavaria agree with the most of the nobility in Sweden
and Denmark: Duke Christoffer becomes regent (later king) for all of
the union and Karl Knutsson becomes independent count (jarl) of
Viipuri, keeping the crown's taxes to use for the defense of the
eastern border. And, of course, as marsk he remains in the Swedish
State Council. When Christoffer of Bavaria dies 1448, only 35 years
old, and no follower is agreed upon, the Swedish State Council finds
it a matter of course to appoint Karl Knutsson to king. The Danish
State Council did of course find this initiative highly impudent and
had to appoint someone else.
King Karl (Knutsson Bonde) is crowned to king of Norway in opposition
against the Danish King Christian, who some months earlier had been
elected king of Norway. (King Christian I was the first in the
Oldenburg dynasty, and since the crown of Norway was to be inherited,
the election was regarded as illegal by many magnates on the
Scandinavian peninsula.) Year 1450 King Karl is forced by the Swedish
State Council to give up the Norwegian crown, after pressure from the
union-king in Denmark. The atrocities calm down after Karl Knutsson
has devasted Scania and put the towns Vä, Helsingborg and Lund to
Swedish peasants formed armies at many occasions, fighting the smaller
but professional troops of the union-king. The peasants were
supported, and often encouraged, by the separatists among the
nobility. In 1471 the election of a separatist as regent for Sweden
led to a relative calmness.
After Novgorod's defeat under Moscow 1471 the eastern border becomes a
trouble again, after 150 years of relative peace.
The State Council tried to depose the separatist regent for Sweden who
declared he had been appointed by all of the people in Sweden through
the Estates at the Diet. The king of the union, King Hans of Denmark,
hired an army which vanquished the regent's separatist army, but the
State Council soon accepts the four Estates as their in practice
[ the sections above are available at the www-page
7.3.4 The consolidation of the state
The 16th century is markedby struggle between the kings and the high
noble members of the Council of the Realm. The kings' actions in this
* emmancipation from the Denmark-dominated Kalmar Union (the chief
idea of the Sture dynasty, finally represented by Gustav 1 Vasa);
* emancipation from the supranational Catholic Church (Gustav Vasa
to Gustavus II Adolphus);
* strengthening of the Crown's economical position;
* making the monarchy hereditary;
The peasantry, the low nobility and the common priests were in
majority at the Diets of the four Estates of the Realm, and cooperated
willingly with the kings against the higher noblemens' interests.
1520-1560 Gustaf Vasa
When the Danish King Christian II is coronated in Stockholm, he
executed a hundred men, burghers and noblemen, who belonged to the
separatist Sture-party. This so called Stockholm blood bath causes
again a rebellion in Sweden which is led by Gustaf Vasa. (The name is
often spellt "Gustav".)
With the help of the Hansa-city of Lübeck, Vasa defeats the Danes and
is elected king. Gustav Vasa's election to Swedish king turned out to
mark a definitive end of the Kalmar Union. The Swedish realm was
unified, despite several rebellions, and Denmark was severly struck by
internal conflicts. Denmark's King Christian II was dethroned, and did
then several attempts to regain the throne - and the Union. The most
important try was made in 1533, after the death of his successor
Fredrik I. The plot by the mayors of Malmö, Copenhagen and Lübeck lead
to an intense Civil War, Grevefejden 1533-36. The effect of the Civil
War in Denmark was dramatic:
* Norway lost its status as kingdom,
* the Danish peasantry lost the right to posess land,
* Reformation was introduced also in Denmark (with Norway),
* the Hansa's power-position and Germany's strong influence over the
Scandinavian peninsula was broken, and
* Gustav Vasa could feel more secure about his throne.
The king became very competent in using the rivalry between factions
and individuals to the advantage of the Crown. The radical reformists
are held back by the king avoiding reactions from the more
conservative among the peasants and the nobles. Gustaf Vasa summoned
sometimes noble Diets and sometimes Diets with all four Estates
represented. From 1544 the crown is to be inherited.
Protests against the king's powerful rule leads to rebellions in
Dalarna, Västergötland & Småland 1524-25, 1527, 1529, 1531, 1536, 1539
and 1542-43. After the rebellion in southern Götaland 1542-43
(Dackefejden) King Gustaf did his outmost to get the Commons to also
accept his politics. The means were both skillful propaganda and real
compromises. An important saving was the transition from a mercenary
army to soldiers raised in all of the country. Now the Diets become
important as legitimating the king's actions and supremacy over clergy
and nobility. The words Ständer (Estates - 1544) and Riksdag ("realm's
meeting" - 1561) are introduced instead of the older Herredag
("meeting of the lords").
Reformation is approved by the Diet of Västerås 1527. Sweden becomes
Lutheran, the Church is stripped of its riches and the debts to
Hanseatic towns and merchants could be paid. By the surplus from the
confiscations large lands gave the Crown an outstanding strength
compared to the noble landowners. The bishops' military power cease.
Before this clergy and nobility owned approximately one sixth each of
the tilled land in the realm, concentrated in Svealand & Götaland
where they owned far more than the half. Few years later, 1530, the
king starts ordaining bishops and archbishops.
One of the important consequences of the Reformation is the obligation
for the parishes to engage a parish clerk responsible for educating
the people in reading the Bible and/or the catechism, and for the
clergy to examine the peasants yearly in their homes. Many also
learned to write. The clerical education at convents and cathedral
schools is however devastated.
As the Church lost its capital the Crown took over the responsibility
for diseased and poor people. In reality, however, it became the
villages and parishioners who had to organize and finance it all.
With the Reformation the usage of runic inscriptions cease also in
everyday life (except for in Dalarna where it remained to the 19th
century). Archaeological findings suggest that runic knowledge had
persisted through all of the medieval time, however the Latin alphabet
had higher status and was used by the church, nobility and royal
administration. Until the 18th century a runic calendar was in rural
use, where 19 runes represented the years (in each lunar cycle of 235
Gustaf Vasa's interest in the Reformation seems not to have had with
religion to do. Instead he was appealed by the possibilities to get
rid of competing powers, as the Germans, the Danes and the State
Council with the bishops and the higher nobility. The idea of
strengthening the position of the local languages, Swedish and
Finnish, is however known to have delighted the king who hadn't
learned much Latin. High culture was not at all promoted during his
Gustaf Vasa encouraged the mining leading to increased demand on
workers which was satisfied by internal migration to the mining
districts - not the least from Finland.
1560-1660 The construction of Sweden as a Great Power of Europe
After Gustav Vasa's death three of his sons came to succeed each other
on the throne. The usurpers gained access to the throne through
support from the military - i.e. the nobility.
Printing of books becomes a privilege received from the Crown. The
bishops take over the responsibility for censure except for academic
works. The state starts the publishing of a news paper.
Gustav Vasa's son, the mentally unstable Erik XIV, becomes king 1560,
and in 1561 he starts Sweden's overseas conquests by capturing
northern Estonia from the Teutonic Knights.
1563-70 War with Denmark
In 1563-70 war between Denmark and Sweden led to devastatings on both
sides. Halland, Blekinge, Bohuslän and Oslo with surroundings were
burned by the Swedes, and towns & castles of Västergötland and
Östergötland were put to fire by the Danish king's vasall Count Daniel
The nobility fights for its rights and privileges.
During Erik's regime measures against corrupt sheriffs and despotic
nobility were prioritized, and a peasant army was organized (according
to the historian Knut Carlqvist the first of its kind in Europe - i.e.
organized peasant-infantry on the side of the authorities'). In 1563
the highest nobility, the Danish king and the Duke Johan (of Åland and
parts of Finland) had started a combined war and coup d'etat. In
despise for the peasants (and discontent at the king) the noble
general refuses to use peasant infantry in battle. (Which saved the
Danish army that time.)
King Erik XIV chose a commoner as chancellor, Jöran Persson, and in
1568 Erik married a common soldier's daughter Karin Månsdotter after
unsuccessfully courting e.g Elizabeth I of England and Mary Stuart of
Scotland. The Swedish nobility acts against Erik's plans wishing to
get the king closer to them through marriage with any of their
daughters. In the same year his brother Duke Johan, who had been
pardoned after the coup 1563, turns against Erik and imprisons him.
The Duke becomes King Johan III and Erik, having been sent from one
prison to another for nine years, is finally poisoned in 1577 after
several death sentences by the National Council, however never
executed due to fear of the public reaction.
King Johan doesn't summon the peasantry to the next Diets, declares
commons to be unfit as chancellors (Erik's chancellor Jöran Persson
get severely tortured before beheading) and pay back to the nobility
by reliefs and more privileges.
Skillful smiths were recruited from what today is Belgium; Dutchmen
were recruited to build new towns, particularly Gothenburg; Scottish
men were hired as soldiers. The western parts of the kingdom, great
uninhabited woods around the sea Vänern, were colonized by skillful
farmers from Savolax in Finland encouraged by the king's brother Duke
The Finns from western Finland, who came to work in Svealand's towns,
mines, industries and agriculture were soon integrated.
A popular tradition, represented also in school books, describes the
relations between the Swedes and the migrants from eastern Finland as
violent. Established historical science and official sources give no
such indications. The Savolaxians in the woods were isolated and
remained culturally different for hundreds of years (the migration was
ended at 1680 when maybe 10'000 Finns had moved to the woods of
western Svealand). The annals from the courts give the impression of
the Finns living in peaceful co-existence with the Swedish peasants.
When the situation had settled after the Thirty Years' War Sweden's
territories were bigger than ever later or before. Inside the new
realm people came to move between the different parts. A policy of
swedifying hit the new provinces, maybe most in Scandinavia, including
founding universities and change of priests and some noble men. The
year 1682 the king decided that Finns had to learn Swedish or to
return to Finland. This official policy was however impossible to
enforce in the distant woods, but has remained until recent days.
Sweden fights a smaller war with Russia that ends with the peace of
Teusina and the recognition of Sweden's right to northern Estonia.
Russia had tried to expand toward the Baltic sea all since Novgorod
had fallen for Moscow in year 1471. Poland and Sweden had a common
interest against Russia, and had fought successfully in wars around
After the death of King Johan III 1592 the throne is inherited by his
son, the Catholic King Sigismund of Poland, who is not accepted by all
involved. Duke Karl leads the opposition - for instance at Diets he
has summoned himself. On the king's side stand most of the nobility,
and particularly Claes Fleming, viceroy in Finland, who hindered the
participation from Finland in a Diet 1595.
The nobility and King Sigismund aimed at collecting all of the coasts
of the Baltic Sea under a Polnish-Swedish Union, at the same time
closing Russia's access to the Baltic Sea and improving the position
of the noble estate-owners. Sweden's nobility suffered much from the
kings' and the peasanty's independence, and a union with Poland
promised in the long run to gain the aristocracy of Sweden.
After the war against Russia many troops still remain in Finland, and
the peasants are increasingly discontent with their duty to supply the
troops who ought to be demobilized. Duke Karl supports a rebellion
against Claes Fleming, but Fleming dies a natural death.
This was the last time a peasant rebellion in Sweden was a real threat
for the current government.
1596-99 Civil war between King Sigismund of Poland & Sweden and his
uncle, Duke Karl.
Most nobility supported the king, but Sigismund is kicked out, and the
Duke becomes King Karl IX. (Appointed by the Estates 1600 although the
under-age Crown Prince Johan, son of King Johan III, rightfully stood
closer to the throne. Prince Johan abdicated in 1604.) The brief
personal union with Poland is over. King Karl follows up on Erik's
1611-13 War with Denmark, Russia & Poland
Then King Karl IX dies while the heir is not yet legally mature to
enter the throne. To make a complicated matter worse: Sweden is in war
with Denmark, Poland and Russia. Great parts of the nobility,
knowledgeable in warfare, advocated Sweden's legal king, the Catholic
Sigismund, which would re-set the war-scene to more equal terms:
Denmark/Russia against Sweden/Poland. The common Estates did however
prefer the under-age Crown Prince Gustav Adolf.
The solution was important constitutional concessions making the king
more dependent of the Parliament, and most of all of the higher
nobility - a dependency which came to last until 1680. The role and
priveleges of the nobility were constitutionally fixed; The State
Council (the Council of the Realm) which played a major role 1280-1527
gets anew importance - most all as the Highest Authority while the
king was fighting overseas.
The Swedish-Danish war was this time fought in the less populated
provinces of Småland, Västergötland, Dalsland and Värmland. The
Norwegians proved to be very unwilling to warfare and very willing to
desert. Thus this war was one of the least bloody of its epoque.
The king and the leading noble Civil Officers adjust very well to the
new situation, in a cooperation with radical effects on Swedish policy
and Civil Service.
1630-48 in the Thirty Year
Gustav II Adolf (Gustavus Adolphus) interferes in the Thirty Years'
War (1616-48) and Swedish troops fight in Russia, Poland, Austria and
Germany. The "Lion of the North" achieves legendary status as the
defender of Protestants, he receives crushing victories but his
appetite for conquest grows and eventually the king is killed in the
battle of Lützen, 1632, after which the war fortunes waded back and
forth for the following 16 years. Gustav's daughter Christina becomes
queen; as she is still under age until 1644 the country is led by
Sweden's perhaps most famous statesman Axel Oxenstierna.
The year 1638 Sweden's American colony, "New Sweden" (in present day
Delaware) is founded and settled by Swedish and Finnish pioneers. The
colony remains in Swedish hands only for 17 years, and is lost to the
1643-45 War with Denmark
Another war between Denmark and Sweden is initiated as Sweden attacks
Jutland and Scania. In the peace of Brömsebro Sweden gains Jämtland,
Härjedalen, Ösel, Gotland and (for thirty years) Halland.
1644-54 Queen Christina
The reign of Queen Christina, the daughter of Gustav II Adolf, was at
the same time one of favoring arts, culture, science and philosophy,
and on the other hand a period of continued expensive wars on the
continent, which had ruined Sweden's economy by raising hundreds of
new families into nobility who were exempted from taxation. This was
more or less made undone by her followers, her cousin King Karl X and
his son Karl XI, in the second half of the century.
The year 1654 the queen converts to Catholicism and gives up the
crown. The conversion of the daughter of the greatest enemy of
Catholicism was a brilliant propaganda victory for the Catholic
counter-reformation. She spends the rest of her life in Rome.
1657-60 War with Denmark
Another of the wars between Denmark and Sweden is this time started by
a Danish re-conquest of Jämtland & Härjedalen. After a Swedish advance
from Germany through "Store Belt" the Danes accepted a peace in
Roskilde ceding the province of Trondheim, Bohuslän, Halland ("for
ever"), Blekinge, Bornholm and Denmark's richest province Scania.
The peace treaty did however not lead to a stop of Sweden's warfare,
laying siege to Denmark's capital Copenhagen. Denmark was really
threatened by eradication, but Holland and England couldn't support
such a development. The peace treaty was renewed. Bornholm and
Trondheim were regained by Denmark's Crown, and an intense Swedifying
process was launched in the provinces won by Sweden: Priests and Civil
Servants were exchanged, noblemen lost their properties unless they
had proved to be loyal to the Swedish Crown, and improving the
Danification policy in Norway from the previous century the use of
Swedish language became necessary for them who didn't want to be
perceived as illoyal to the conquerer.
It is easy to understand the importance for the Swedish realm of the
territorial gains of 1658/60, when considering that Bohuslän, Halland,
Skåne and Blekinge today is inhabited by more than a fourth of
Sweden's total population. Denmark's control over Sweden's access to
the North Sea and the Atlantic was broken.
1662-89 Censure strengthened
The censure of the increased realm is centralized to Stockholm, with
considerable delays for distant universities and bishops as the
result. Nevertheless the number of prints in the periphery increase,
with two prints in Turku /Åbo, one each in Viipuri /Viborg, Tartu
/Dorpat, Uppsala and Lund. 1665 the censors are instructed to remove
all disgraceful attacks hinting that printed matters had been used in
heated disputes. From 1689 any written critic of the government is
prohibited, also in protocols from the State Council and the Diets.
But this era is also that of Sweden's first scientist in a modern
sense Olof Rudbeck the Elder (1630-1702) teacher, university rector,
scientist, archaeologist and more. Arriving at the University of
Uppsala in 1648, he pursued his medical studies so successfully that
in 1652 he unveiled an epoch-making discovery: the human lymphatic
system. In 1654 he laid out Sweden's first botanical garden at
Uppsala. Rudbeck was one of the most versatile men that Sweden has
ever produced. He urged the establishment of secondary schools
focusing on technology and science, built bridges, planned water
systems and taught many subjects including mathematics, astronomy and
1675-79 War with Denmark
Denmark declares war. King Karl XI, who newly has came to age,
discovers the great fleet and the state finances being ruined. Scania
is taken back by the Danes, the Swedish troops retract to Småland and
returns strengthened, conquering Scania once again. Major battles are
fought in Scania, as for instance at Lund December 4th 1676. The
archepelago of Blekinge and the deep woods at the old border between
Småland and Scania/Blekinge were controlled by pirates and guerilla
units more or less cooperating with the regular Danish forces.
The Diet 1680 makes the State Council (representing the highest
nobility), which was governing when the king was under age, personally
responsible for the bad state finances. The Diet also makes the king
independent of the State Council, and the Diet also accepted to hand
over its lawgiving power to the king. The King Karl XI used his
dictatorship also for radical reforms of the state administration, the
Army and the education of the commoners. On later Diets the nobility
was (collectively) forced to give back some of the land which had been
given them as reward for services to the State.
The Swedifying process of the southern provinces is facilitated by the
population's memory of plundrings by the armies and guerilla units,
and also by rumors (or Swedish propaganda) of harsh treatment of
common Scanians who had followed Danish proclamations biding the
Scanians to come over to Zealand.
Successive incorporation of the Scanian provinces in the Swedish
national state. 1680 the province Blekinge is declared incorporated in
Sweden in connection with the construction of a navy base. 1682/83 the
Scanian civil and clerical laws were replaced by Swedish laws. 1693
Halland is incorporated in Sweden.
1700-21 The Great Northern War
Sweden is attacked by an alliance of Denmark, Poland and Russia. The
young King Karl XII invades Denmark forcing it to accept a separate
peace. He then turns toward Russia, lands in Estonia with 10 000 men
and achieves a glorious victory in the battle of Narva against a three
times larger Russian army.
With Russia and Denmark beaten, Karl XII ignores all suggestions of
negotiating peace and attacks Poland. This gives Peter I of Russia
time to raise a new army and to start reconquering the Swedish
territories. Karl XII eventually succeeds in subduing Poland, and
starts a new campaign against Russia heading for Moscow. The troops
that were planned to come to aid the main army, however, never manage
to show up, and Karl is forced to turn south to Ukraine because of
problems with supply. There he suffers a crushing defeat in the battle
of Poltava June 28th 1709 and most of the Swedish army surrenders
while Karl XII manages to escape with a thousand men to Turkey. He
spent several years there trying to form a new alliance against
1709-10 War with Denmark
As Sweden's army is crushed Denmark launch a new mission to
re-conquest Scania. In November Denmark lands 16,000 man in Råå south
of Helsingborg. Like in 1676 the Swedish troops retreats to Småland,
to return strengthened. February 28th, at the Helsingborg's battle,
the Danes are beaten and forced to retire inside their fortress.
With Finland occupied by Russians, most of the Baltic provinces lost
and Sweden itself threatened by a Russian invasion, the Estates decide
in 1714 that a peace is necessary. But since the king was still in
Turkey a messenger was sent there to inform him that Sweden would
accept any peace terms given unless the king soon returns to Sweden.
Karl XII reacts immediately, rides in 15 days through the whole of
Europe ,with only one man accompanying him. After the king had
returned, all talk of peace was banned. In 1716 King Karl XII still
manages to raise an army of 40 000 man, and attacks Norway in 1718.
King Karl XII agrees with Russia at peace negotiations in Lövö village
at Åland to cede Karelia and the remaining Baltic territories. In
exchange Russia accepts to suport a Swedish attack on Norway during
which the king gets killed (in 1718) while laying siege to
Fredrikshald in Norway. To this date, it isn't known whether the
bullet came from the Norwegian or Swedish side. Whether he was
assassinated or not, his death put a welcome end to the Swedish
campaigns and the exhausted nation could eventually achieve peace.
Peace treaties with Hanover, Prussia, and Denmark leave Sweden only
Stralsund, Rügen and parts of Vorpommern of its former "German
territories". The most severe of the peace treaties is, however, the
one with Russia signed in Nystad in 1721. Sweden loses, in accordance
with the accord with Russia, all its Baltic territories, the
southeastern part of Finland, and ultimately its status as a major
[ the sections above are available at the www-page
7.3.5 toward democracy
1718-72 the so called Age of Freedom
Political power shifts from the king to the Estates. (With the new
constitution the incorporation of Scania and other conquered provinces
is completed.) A two-party system develops and Arvid Horn, a Finnish
noble man and one of King Karl XII's best militaries and
administrators, became the most well-known Prime Minister, totally
outshining the King Fredrik I who actually came on the throne as the
consort of the abdicated queen.
During the period 1720-1738 Arvid Horn pilots Sweden between Russian
and French conflicts, but resigns finally accused for weakness and
exaggerated fear for wars. His party gets the nickname the "Nightcaps"
opposed by the pride "Hats."
In the country the parish meetings are now established as deciding
authority, electing priests, organizing common work and poor relief,
and stating moral and juridical sentences (the latter without formal
right). In 1742 the Estates confirm the democratic forms for decisions
at the village meeting. The reason is unclear. The institution had
worked well for many hundreds of years. Maybe the lords in the new
more feudal southern provinces made problems, maybe the increase of
crofters and impecunious caused tension.
1741-43 the War of the Hats
The French-minded "Hat Party" advocating aggressive foreign politics
became a majority in the Riksdag and declares war on Russia. The war
goes miserably and Finland is occupied by Russia.
In connection with the "War of the Hats" Dalecarlian distrust for the
heavily bribed politicians erupted in a minor mutiny of the
Dalecarlian regiment (Lilla Daldansen) and in a more serious uprising
when a large armed deputation marched to Stockholm (Stora Daldansen)
requesting the responsible for the war to be strictly prosecuted, the
king's power to be restored, a Danish prince to be elected king, and
thereby, in effect, the Nordic Union to be restored, which
subsequently would restore the trade over the Dalecarlian border to
Norway. The government fled in fear from Stockholm, some military
troops refused to shoot on the Dalecarlians, but other troops attacked
In the peace treaty of Turku, Russia despite her military success
agrees to gaining only fairly minor territories in eastern Finland
under the condition the Swedish Estates elect the Russian-approved
Prince-bishop Adolf Fredrik of Lübeck to heir to the Swedish throne.
Liberty of Press
Adolf Fredrik, who became king in 1751, was said to be relatively
content with his limited power, but his wife Queen Lovisa Ulrika was
not. In 1756 she initiated a failed coup d'etat. This leads instead to
the king's signature on decrees is declared to be replaceable by a
stamp - in practice it ment the abolishment of the king's right to
veto governmental decisions.
Year 1766 the censure of printed matters is abolished. The campaign is
led by the priest Anders Chydenius from Finland, and had at the diet
1761 gained support in all circles opposing the governing Hat Party,
including the Court Party which wished to make the king's protests in
the State Council publically known.
The censor of the last twenty years of governmental censure, mr
Oelreich, had made himself impopular in all parties, including the
governing Hat Party, known to be intelligent, stubborn and
parsimonious. The salary of the censor was dependent of him approving
works, and so he did, tired of orders and contra orders from the
leading Hat politicians.
After the Caps having gained the majority in the Riksdag, the Liberty
of Press was enacted and declared as constitution. An important part
was making documents of the state administration (with few exceptions)
publicly available, the "offentlighetsprincipen".
The proud principles are however successively violated. After one year
the king's right of expressions over political questions is withdrawn.
At the shift of majority from Caps to Hats again in 1769 it's the Hats
who advocate the Liberty of Expression, but at power also they violate
the letters of the constitution.
Scientific inventions and discoveries
(Most of the text in this section is quoted from the Swedish
Institute's Fact Sheets.) With the Frihetstiden Sweden experienced not
only a surge of political debate and curiosity, but also a surge of
Christopher Polhem (1661-1751) lived in an age when it was still
possible for one individual to learn and to master a large proportion
of human knowledge. Without question, he was among those who strived
to be universalists. He designed lathes, clocks, tools and a wide
variety of machines. During his 90-year life, Polhem turned out
numerous inventions and ingenious designs. Unlike many of his
contemporaries, he built his own machines and carried out many of his
Anders Celsius (1701-44), astronomer and mathematician, is best known
today for the centigrade thermometer that bears his name and is now
used in much of the world. But Celsius initially designated the
boiling point of water as zero degrees and the melting point of ice at
100°. Later, Linnaeus (see below) is said to have turned this scale
upside down. Celsius carried out a number of highly important
astronomical measurements as well.
Carl von Linné (1707-78), born Linnaeus and known in English by the
latter name, is mainly famous for the systematic classification of
plants, animals and minerals presented in the work Systema naturae.
Linnaeus made his first scientific journeys in Sweden, resulting in
lengthy, many-faceted reports: he traveled to the province of Lapland
in 1732, to Dalarna in 1734 and finally to Skåne in 1749.
He also sent his disciples to all corners of the world to collect
specimens and report their observations: Anders Sparrman and Carl
Peter Thunberg traveled to China; Sparrman and David Solander
participated in James Cook's round-the-world expedition; Thunberg
visited Japan; Johan Peter Falck explored the interior of Asia; Pehr
Kalm traveled to North America; Anton Martin to the Arctic Ocean,
Daniel Rolander and Pehr Löfling to South America, Fredrik Hasselqvist
to Palestine and Peter Forsskål to Arabia.
Only in recent years has it been possible fully to appreciate
Linnaeus's greatness as a scientist, especially as a botanist, and as
a physician. His insistence on empirical evidence for all conclusions
furthered the cause of the inductive method in the natural sciences.
Pehr Wilhelm Wargentin (1717-83) combined scientific talent with good
organizational skills in leading the Royal Academy of Sciences to a
position of stability and renown. He laid the groundwork for modern
Swedish population statistics on the basis of a 1686 law requiring the
Church of Sweden to keep records of births, deaths and people who
moved into or out of each parish. In 1749 Tabellverket, a government
agency for statistics headed by Wargentin, was established to compile
this Church-collected material. As a result, Sweden (along with
Finland, then part of the country) has the world's oldest official
population statistics. Wargentin's agency was the forerunner of
Statistics Sweden (Statistiska centralbyrån, SCB).
Carl Wilhelm Scheele (1742-86) began as an apprentice to an
apothecary. Working on his own, he gained a broad knowledge of
chemistry surpassing that of most internationally famous chemists of
his era. Scheele devised many outstanding analytic techniques and was
the first to verify that the same metal may go through different
stages of oxidation. He discovered several chemical elements, among
them chlorine and molybdenum, and isolated many other substances.
The split of the realm in two parts
The events leading forward to the split of Sweden in one Grand Duchy
under the Russian emperor and one rest-kingdom under a French general
is an often returning topic in the newsgroup. A relatively minute
account of the circumstances will therefore be given.
1772-1809 the "Gustavian era"
Gustav III performs a coup 1772 (and restores absolute monarchy in
1789). The coup was planned as joint actions simultaneously in
Stockholm, Finland and Scania. Despite failures of the plan Gustav has
luck in Stockholm with support of the royal guard, and a changed
constitution is approved by the Estates. Gustav's coup was very
popular. People had become tired of the disadvantages of
Gustav's rule is authoritarian and freedom of speech is step by step
limited, but in the spirit of "enlightened autocracy" he pushes
through many important reforms that the Estates had been unable to
decide on during the Age of Freedom. Swedish economy strengthens, laws
are made more humane, new towns and roads are built, the navy is
reformed and arts are favored.
The attitudes at the royal court had been markedly discontent with the
royal powerlessness after 1756, which was balanced by intense
intriguing (and tries to influence the foreign powers which by bribes
to the parliamentarians tried to control the Swedish politics). After
Gustav's coup d'etat much of this intriguing atmosphere remained
reinforced by disappointed nobles and courtiers (and the king's mother
and brother) who had hoped for greater favors and advantages.
The Queen-widow Lovisa Ulrika also accused her son for the cold
relations between King Gustav and Queen Sofia Magdalena from Denmark
(married 1766) and his limited interest in the continuance of the
dynasty. Surprisingly the birth of an heir, Crown-Prince Gustav Adolf,
led to undisguised hostility between the king and his mother who
didn't believe the child to be his. The king's choice of bed-mates
were not much of a problem for his contemporaries. However quite
another importance had endangering the legitimacy of the royal
The conflicts at the court increased after Gustav Mauritz Armfelt from
Turku /Åbo 1781 had been appointed Gentleman to the king. Armfelt had
according to the noble critics far too much influence over the king.
The death of the queen-widow in 1782 did lead to slightly improved
relations between the king and the nobility, but at the diet 1786 the
nobility and the peasantry found each others as allied against the
king's unrealistic plans for war. Concessions for demands from this
opposition became necessary (for instance the State monopoly for
distillation of spirits was revoked), and the king perceived the
unusual cooperation between the lowest and the highest Estates as a
personal betrayal. From 1787 it's again death punishment on critic of
1788-90 Gustav's war against Russia
Sweden attacks Russia hoping to reconquer eastern parts of Finland and
Ingria ("Ingermanland"). The troops are poorly motivated, the war goes
badly, a rebellion known as the Anjala-alliance rises among the
officers in Finland and Gustav has to stop the Russian campaign.
Meanwhile, Denmark attacks Sweden, but finds England and Prussia
opposing all military actions in the Danish straits, and is forced to
accept a truce. In June 1789 the war at the eastern front is
continued, but with no significant advance on land and several defeats
on sea. However, on July 9th 1790 in Svensksund on the Finnish coast,
the Swedish navy achieves a glorious victory in the largest naval
battle ever fought on the Baltic sea. After this Russia accepts a
peace offered by Sweden. At the peace negotiations in Värälä Sweden's
head representative Gustav Mauritz Armfelt manages to establish good
relations with the Russians, on a personal level, and achieved a peace
without ceding of territories.
After the failed Anjala revolt the support for King Gustav had
increased among the commoners. At a diet 1789 this was used to crush
the noble opposition and (partly by illegal means) give the king
absolute power. The conflict with the nobility is thereby reinforced.
(As one of the consequences of this conflict the protocol from the
noble Estate of the diet is printed in Russia's capital St Petersburg
- while Sweden was in war with Russia.) Plans to overthrow the
dictator seems to be approved also by Duke Karl, the king's brother,
who was prepared to take up the crown.
Year 1792 Gustav attends a masquerade ball in Stockholm's opera
despite several warnings about conspirators planning an assassination.
Around midnight, he is mortally wounded by a certain
J. J. Anckarström, and dies a couple of weeks later. During his
illness he plans for the time after his death. Armfelt is entrusted
the guardianship of Prince Gustav Adolf and made head of the council
Since the king doesn't die immediately it's not suitable to appoint
Duke Karl to king. His supporters manage however to replace the dead
king's arrangements. Duke Karl becomes a sole regent while the young
Crown Prince Gustav Adolf is underage and Armfelt is sent far away to
Naples as ambassador, and 1794 in his absence sentenced as traitor to
lose name, citizenship and possessions. Until 1799, when the king had
come to age and Armfelt was pardoned, he lived in Russia.
Russia was the grand and growing power of the 18th century. Adornment
for Russia was common among the societal elites in the Nordic states.
During the Age of Freedom both Russia and France spent huge amounts to
bribe the parliamentarians of the Swedish Riksdag. After the French
revolution only one big power remained for ambitious officers
discontent with the options in the diminishing Swedish realm - Russia.
Russia had agreed in the treaty of Tilsit, July 5th 1807, to pressure
Sweden to join the Napoleonic anti-British trade blockade. The new
Russian capital would also need more of security, for instance by
chasing the enemy from all of the coast around the Gulf of
St Petersburg. But Sweden refuses to listen to the Russian ultimatums
and scare-tactics and remains opposed to Napoleon. Eventually, when
all diplomatic means have failed, Russia attacks Finland February 21st
1808. Due to intelligence reports the army in Finland was mobilized
since three weeks, and initially the war goes according to the Swedish
plans. But then the fortress Suomenlinna /Sveaborg surrenders
bafflingly May 3rd 1808, after less than two months of siege.
When Russia on March 28th 1808 proclaimed Finland to have become
"eternally incorporated in Russia" the educated class in Finland (i.e.
clergy, landowners and administrators - all Swedish speaking) seems to
have greeted this with satisfaction. The peasantry, however, dreaded
to become enserfed as their Estonian neighbors had been. (The mother
tongue of the peasantry was dominantly Finnish.) The abyss of distrust
widened between the Swedish speaking upper classes and the peasantry
in Finland (Finnish and Swedish speaking).
The state officials, formally still serving the Swedish Crown, had a
hard time trying to convert the hostile farmers to supply the Russian
military with hay and food after four years of crop failures, often
also to hinder the peasants from attacks on the occupants, and even
more troubles to convince about the advantages in swearing an oat to
the Russian emperor Alexander, which was decreed after the surrender
Instead the peasantry organized guerilla units, sometimes cooperating
with the Swedish fleet and army. Two proclamations by high Russian
officials in April and June, followed by the emperor's declaration
June 17th 1808, promising not to change any laws or privileges, came
not to be believed at once. At the same time the Russian army had been
instructed to carry out public executions in case peasants were found
with weapons. A peculiar method to try to make friends with hunters.
On Åland, for example, a rebellion starts May 6th with a capturing of
the Russians guarding the main island, a few hundreds of men, and
hinders thereby probably a planned invasion north of Stockholm. May
10th another 600 Russians are trapped by 450 peasants and the
rottening ice. On other islands of Åland smaller troops were captured
by the peasantry and delivered to Sweden.
Grand Duchy 1809
But with the winter the guerilla warfare stopped.
By the spring of 1809 the Finnish troops had surrendered, the main
army had retreated half-way through Sweden and in the peace treaty of
Hamina /Fredrikshamn September 1809 the whole of Finland was joined to
Russia. The peace was anticipated by the diet in Porvoo /Borgå end of
March 1809, where the Estates of Finland declared their will to come
under Russian rule. The revolution in Stockholm, a few weeks before,
must have made the decision even easier.
Armfelt is said to have been among the most eager advocates of the
association with Russia - the modern and advantageous empire of this
time. But he still also played a roll in Stockholm. After the creation
of the Grand Duchy his influence grew, and after having been expelled
from Sweden 1811 (i.e. for the second time) he became favorite and
councillor for Alexander I whom he had met in Porvoo 1809 - if not
before. According to Encyclopedia Britannica Armfelt contributed more
than anyone else to the erection of the grand duchy as an autonomous
state and to the improved relations between Russia and Sweden after
the conference 1812 between Alexander and Crown Prince Karl Johan.
For the defense of Sweden's territories an extra conscription for an
extra army had been made among males below the age of 26 years.
Unfortunately their training was far too brief, and then at the fronts
in the south and the west they were left with deficient support, why
many died from hunger and freezing. Because of the disastrous war
Gustav IV Adolf loses power in a coup d'etat March 13th 1809, and a
new constitution is written that puts an end to Gustavian autocracy.
With the loss of Finland it is made evident that the strength of the
Swedish army was far more depending on soldiers from Finland than her
27% share of the population would suggest. After 1809 Sweden has had
no belief in its capacity as a military aggressor.
The constitution was signed June 6th 1809 by Duke Karl, again regent
after the king had been dethroned. Duke Karl is elected king (Armfelt
led the opposition advocating the Crown-Prince as the legal heir), and
the Danish Prince Christian August, who led the Norwegian government
and army, was elected to Crown Prince of Sweden - obviously with a
Nordic union planned, but the Danish King Frederik VI opposed this
idea, unless he himself was elected.
May 1810 the Swedish Crown Prince dies unexpectedly; his big brother
accepts to succeed him, but suddenly a French Marshall Jean Baptiste
Bernadotte announces his candidacy, and in solely ten days the state
council, the king and the Estates change their minds. The election in
August is unanimous.
In 1812 new wordings are settled for the constitutional Liberty of
Expression and Publicity of Official Documents
("offentlighetsprincipen") - in a more liberal version than 1766.
Theological censure is abolished, but newspapers have to be licensed
by the government for another 40 years, and finally a contradiction
gets hidden in a late compromise version: "Printed matters with
expression causing misunderstanding with foreign power can be
confiscated without judicial trial." Until 1939 this was never used,
but then over 300 times to please the Nazi Germany.
Before that Sweden had experienced the last peasant uprising. In 1811
a thousand peasants had arrived at Klågerup's castle in western Scania
to protest against the cruel noble master and against the calling up
of new troops for the attack on Norway (with the failed wars of
1808/1809 in fresh memory, when the hastily summoned and barely
trained soldiers died from hunger and freezing due to bad supply of
food and tents). The threatening mob was driven away from the manor by
military troops, and thereby 29 peasants were killed ( - this is the
official figure, rumors say that most corpses had been taken care of
by friends and relatives before the rest was counted by the military).
1814-1905 - Union with Norway
In return for its anti-Napoleonic stance, Sweden receives Norway in
the treaty of Vienna, and the two countries are united in a personal
union, with Sweden occupying a leading position.
During this period Sweden develops from a poor agrarian country, to a
less poor agrarian country - and then industrialism begins. The old
villages are divided, each farm get its fields collected; the
democratic village meeting loses its function when each farm has its
own fences. New methods and crops (potatoes!) are introduced by
farmers now independent of the conservative neighbors' opinion. The
life expectancy rise - as does the number of crofters and vagrants.
In the beginning of the 19th century the vodka consumption is the
highest ever, estimated to 24 liters 100% pure alcohol per inhabitant.
Paradoxally the slightly improved living conditions, as indicated by
longer life expectancy, led to a new kind of misery with a growing
number of peasants without property. The crofters, farm-hands etc form
a rural proletariat which grows fast while becoming relatively all
more impoverished. As a reaction Social-purity ideas grow, leading
among other things to reforms of the mandatory schools, of the
political representation and of the municipal responsibilities for
poor. In 1860 it becomes again prohibited for ordinary citizens to
make their own vodka.
In 1831 the newspaper Aftonbladet is founded, important because of its
struggle to increase the freedom of the press. The king, King Karl XIV
Johan at the time, had the right to retract permissions to publish
newspapers. When Aftonbladet criticized the king, he retracted the
publish rights - but the paper immediately reappeared as "The Second
Aftonbladet", "The Third Aftonbladet" and all the way to the "28th
Aftonbladet". 1838 the civil service officer responsible for revocal
of the governmental license declares this method unfit and useless,
and 1844 it's also formally abolished.
The revolutions in Europe 1848 were mirrored by disturbances in
Stockholm. The mob engaged in window-smashing and throwing stones at
the military. About 30 craftsmen, journeymen and apprentices were shot
About one million Swedes moved to America during the years 1850-90,
but the emigration slowed after 1900 because of improved conditions of
living and increased industrialization. Norway, industrialized before
Sweden, was an enticement on poor Swedes who couldn't afford the fare
1845-1923 Women get equal rights in society
* From 1845 daughters inherit as much land as their male siblings.
(Until then the sons had got twice as much.)
* In 1858 unmarried women get right to dispose own incomes and
possessions and also to run enterprises, and come of age at 25
years (including right to vote at the parish meeting in case they
* Unmarried women get right to state employment in the 1860s. Higher
education for women is organized in some towns.
* In 1874 married women get right to dispose their income.
* As late as 1921 married women get total right to dispose their own
possessions and act on their own judicial responsibility, and also
rights to vote in parliamentary elections. Finally 1923 also the
right to higher positions in the state administrations.
The Scandinavian democratic traditions develop in the working class
- initially in the free Churches, the temperance movement (IOGT was
established 1879) and the worker's unions which all grow to strong
democratic forces. Education extension was an important part of their
work. Debates and proclamations are made, from the 1870s public
parades are organized to express the will of the people. In the end of
the 1880s the Liberty of Press is modified to complicate revolutionary
propaganda, which contributed to the conflicts between proletarians
and the educated class.
The Social Democratic Party is founded 1889.
The question of free trade vs. protectionism (tullfrågan) was the big
political issue of the 1880s, leading to radically increased
participation in the elections. The issue developed to a Left-Right
dispute where the free trade proponents were associated with demands
for equal suffrage, social reforms and Liberalism in general. The
Protectionists championed the Crown and the Army, being the base for
the surge of Nationalism in the 1890s.
The free trade dispute was also connected with a political "scandal"
given a lot attention: One of the Liberal candidates in the
parliamentary elections 1887 turned out to have a minor tax debt. This
led to lots of votes being declared unguilty, and the protectionists
to gain the majority in the parliament. The Prime-Minister and his
Cabinet resigned and was succeeded by Gillis Bildt, the
grand-grand-grand-grandfather of Carl Bildt, Prime Minister 1991-94.
(Most of the text in this section is quoted from the Swedish
Institute's Fact Sheets.)
During the 19th century quite a few inventions were made and put in
industrial production. Initially it had very little influence on the
ordinary people's miserable conditions, but it is commonly believed
that these inventions were the foundation on which the wealth of the
20th century was built.
In the 1870s, the Swedish engineering industry entered a period of
expansion unparalleled before or since. The next few decades witnessed
the creation of a number of companies that would gain a dominant role
in Swedish industry. For the most part, they manufactured mechanical
products, some so successfully that the engineers that invented them
became the heroes of their era. Many of their names remain familiar in
Sweden and internationally. Below a few of them are listed.
Jöns Jacob Berzelius (1779-1848) was among the first scientists to
embrace Dalton's atomic theory. Using this as well as Gay-Lussac's gas
law and other theories, he pursued the daunting task of working out
the earliest table of atomic weights, which he published in 1818. With
the aid of precise calculations, he determined atomic weights for 45
of 49 then-known chemical elements. He also introduced the simplified
system of denoting the elements by one or two letters from their Latin
names. In 1817 Berzelius discovered the element selenium, in 1823
silicon, and in 1828 thorium.
The pioneering work of Anders Jonas Ångström (1814-74) in spectral
analysis forms the basis for this entire modern discipline. He
analyzed the sun's chemical elements, and in 1868 he published a map
of the spectral lines of nearly 100 elements. Ångström was also the
first to measure wavelengths in absolute terms. For this purpose he
introduced a basic unit, one ten-millionth of a millimeter, later
(1905) named after him.
Alfred Nobel (1833-96) was only 29 years old when he patented a
detonating cap for nitroglycerine and nitric acid, but nitroglycerine
was still likely to explode on the slightest impact. In 1866 Nobel
discovered that nitroglycerine flowing out of a broken bottle was
absorbed by kieselguhr [a porous diatomite] which protected the
container from blows. He noticed that the mixture was very stable and
easy to handle, but retained its explosive characteristics. This
marked the birth of dynamite, patented 1867.
Earlier explosives were dangerous to handle, and many people were
killed or hurt in accidents. The revenues from Nobel dynamite
factories in 20 countries rendered the inventor, who remained a
bachelor, an enormous fortune. Alfred Nobel's will created the Nobel
Prizes in physics, chemistry, medicine/physiology, literature and
peace, to be given to those who had "conferred the greatest benefit on
mankind" the preceding year. The Nobel Prizes were awarded for the
first time in 1901.
After engineering studies in Göteborg and Zurich, Nils Gustav Dalén
(1869-1937) became interested in acetylene for lightning. Appointed
chief engineer of AB Gasaccumulator (AGA) in 1906, he was responsible
for a series of important inventions: agamassa (a substance that
absorbs acetylene, reducing the risk of explosions in the same way as
dynamite works); a switch for maritime beacons; and the sun valve,
which automatically turned on the beacon at nightfall and turned it
off at dawn. The AGA beacon meant major savings in personnel and
materials and made shipping safer along Sweden's long coastlines. In
1912 Dalén was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics.
In 1872, after jobs and studies in Sweden and Germany, Gustaf de Laval
(1845-1913) began to concentrate on what would be one of his most
important inventions, the cream separator. The first model was
patented in 1878. In 1883 a company called AB Separator (later
Alfa-Laval) was established to manufacture and export the separator.
Laval also designed a milking machine, but his other great invention
was a steam turbine with a resilient axle, which he completed in 1892.
John Ericsson (1803-89) showed great engineering talents from an early
age. In 1826 he moved to England, where he designed the locomotive
"Novelty" which competed with George Stephenson's "Rocket." He also
developed caloric (hot air) engines, solar collectors and other
mechanical devices, but his most important invention was the screw
propeller for ships. Ericsson gained widespread fame by designing an
ironclad vessel, the Monitor, which defeated the Confederate armored
steamer Merrimac in 1862, during the American Civil War.
In 1876 Lars Magnus Ericsson (1846-1926) and a partner started the
company that evolved into Telefonaktiebolaget L.M. Ericsson, today
abbreviated Ericsson. It began manufacturing telephones in 1878 but
soon ran into competition from the American-owned Bell company. Lars
Magnus Ericsson was chiefly an outstanding entrepreneur, but he also
made various improvements to early telephone equipment, designed
switchboards and set up telephone networks. As early as the 1890s he
established subsidiaries abroad, and Ericsson's products attracted
Carl Edvard Johansson (1864-1943) worked at the government-owned Small
Arms Factory in Eskilstuna, where he discovered that the gage blocks
being used there did not allow sufficiently precise measurements. So
he designed sets of gage blocks of greater accuracy. His gage blocks
from 1901 had a tolerance of one thousandth of a millimeter, and in
1907 he patented a gage block set with even finer tolerances. C.E.
Johansson's gage blocks eventually played an important role in the
Swedish and international engineering industry, particularly in the
American automotive industry.
Johan Petter Johansson (1853-1943) discovered while working as a
mechanic in an industrial plant that he and his assistants often had
to carry around numerous wrenches for different nuts and bolts. So he
came up with the concept of the universal pipe wrench (1888), and in
1892 he designed and patented the adjustable wrench (monkey wrench or
universal screw spanner). He established a company that later became
Bahco. More than 100 million monkey wrenches have now been
manufactured by the company, now called Sandvik Bahco, and production
continues. Throughout the world, about 40 million monkey wrenches of
J.P. Johansson's model are produced annually. Johansson made a total
of 118 inventions, several of them world-famous and still in
While only 16 years old, Birger Ljungström (1872-1948) invented and
designed a bicycle that had a free wheel and a rear-wheel brake (still
the most common type in Sweden). His first prototype, completed in
1892, was later mass-produced under the name Svea. He and his brother
Fredrik Ljungström (1875-1964) invented high-pressure steam boilers
and a new type of steam turbine, the Ljungström turbine (patented in
1894). Other important inventions were the turbine-powered locomotive
and the air preheater.
Gustaf Erik Pasch (1788-1862), Johan Edvard Lundström (1815-88) and
Alexander Lagerman (1836-1904) laid the groundwork for the Swedish
match industry. In 1844 Pasch received a patent for the safety match.
He replaced the hazardous yellow phosphorus found in the matches of
that period with red phosphorus and put it on the striking surface
instead of the match head. In 1845 Lundström and his brother started a
match factory which adopted and improved Pasch's invention. In 1864
Lagerman designed the first automatic match fabricating machine,
thereby opening the way to mass production of matches. His
"full-service machine" produced both matches and match boxes, turning
out filled match boxes that were ready for sale.
Together with a brother, Frans Wilhelm Lindqvist (1862-1931) developed
the kerosene stove, which was patented in the late 1880s. In
partnership with a factory owner, he began to manufacture the new
stove, dubbed the Primus. About 50 million Primus stoves were made. A
clever marketing specialist named B.A. Hjort was instrumental in the
success of the Primus stove to which he enjoyed worldwide exclusive
[ the sections above are available at the www-page
7.3.6 War all around Sweden
During the 20th century Sweden manages to stay out of both World Wars,
achieves a high standard of living and becomes an urbanized welfare
The parishes are merged to municipalities and then merged again to
even bigger municipalities, and then again.
The share of the population working on farms drops dramatically, from
80%, to 25% in the 1950s, and levels finally out at 2.5%.
The union with Norway is ceased without violence, and almost without
threats. (Germany's Emperor had refused Sweden military support.)
The workers' unions organize several massive strikes, frightening the
upper class. The proposal to equal votes for men was made by a
conservative cabinet which feared a revolution as the alternative.
World War 1914-1918
Sweden declares itself neutral in the world war. Contacts with, and
sympathies for, the German Empire are however common.
In February, half a year before the war, King Gustav V addresses the
participants of a militarist demonstration (borggårdstalet) expressing
support for Germany and the possibility of Sweden joining the war. As
a result the Cabinet resigns, and the king appoints (for the last
time) a Cabinet without support by the parliament.
Sweden does not suffer much for the war - except for shortage of food
at the end of the war.
During the Civil War in Finland a voluntary Corps (Svenska
Frivilligkåren) operated on the White side. It numbered about
8,000 Swedes and circa 700 Norwegians.
Åland crisis 1918-1921
The most "violent" actions were connected to Åland where the
population against the wills of Russia and the liberating Finland
wished to become a part of Sweden, expressed in a petition December
1917 (organized without support from the government of Finland, which
December 6th had proclaimed Finland's independence). The petition was
signed by over 95% of the adult population.
February 1918 the Swedish Cabinet decided to send war ships to rescue
refugees fearing Russian prosecution for their separatistic plans.
As the Civil War in Finland the very same week extended to the Åland
Islands, Swedish naval officers mediated between the combatants who
started to leave the islands. A few days later troops from Finland
again prepared to land on Åland, and the Swedish Cabinet decided to
send a Swedish unit for the protection of the civilians. The departure
of 600 man from Sweden followed on February 23rd.
Swedish troops were gradually retracted after also German troops had
arrived on March 5th.
In December 1918 an agreement was made between Sweden, Finland and
Germany that the old Russian forts where to be destroyed, which was
done in 1919.
In 1920 the issue was still hot and the unofficial Åland county
council sent representatives to Stockholm, to remind the Swedish
government about the wish to re-unite with Sweden. Two leading
officials from Åland were subsequently imprisoned in Finland, accused
of high treason, and the Swedish government continued its careful
neutrality policy from the previous century, trying to achieve the
best possible relations with its neighbors instead of prioritizing the
Åland people's wish and the strategic interest in the islands for the
defense of Stockholm.
The League of Nations settled the question in 1921 by demanding
Finland and Sweden agree on a treaty guaranteeing Finland's
sovereignty but the Åland people far-reaching autonomy. The treaty is
Industry workers get 48 hours working week in year 1919. The Social
Democrats dominate the political life in most towns and in the
Sweden's political development to a parliamentarian democracy, with
equal rights for all citizens to participate in elections on municipal
and state level, was somewhat delayed compared to the other Nordic
It was first towards the end of World War I as the king accepted the
principle of parliamentarism, i. e. that the king's councillors, the
Cabinet members, had to resign if they lost the confidence of the
majority in the parliament.
In 1917 King Gustav V unwillingly had to appoint a Cabinet with
Liberals and Social Democrats, but thereby the revolutionary impulses
from Germany, Russia and Finland were smothered, and the final steps
toward equal suffrage for men and women were taken peacefully. Equal
suffrage was decided upon in 1918 and in use from the parliamentary
Until 1917 the governments were mostly Conservative, 1917-1926 Social
Democrats formed most Cabinets, sometimes in coalition with Liberals.
In 1932 the Social Democrats returned to the Cabinet, and except for a
few months the summer 1936 they remained at power until 1976.
I. e. from 1917 until today Social Democrats have been in the Cabinet
all the time except:
* summer 1936
¹/(turbulent period, some Cabinets with Social Democrats)
After the first World War a strong popular opinion for disarmament
became a major political topic, in line with other West European
Sweden was without doubt Germany-oriented and Germany-friendly, and to
a considerable degree the ideological climate in Germany influented
the Swedish society. Social Democrats had their most international
contacts with Germany and Austria, and like-wisely the educated class
had close connections to Germany.
German universities were close - and the best in the world. In Sweden
higher education was performed with German textbooks and
Germany-educated professors. The Swedish establishement felt akin to
the Germans. Germany's period of weaknes after the unjust Versaille
peace, with the Weimar Republic and political instability, was grieved
in Sweden as in Germany. And thus the "National awakening" after
Hitler gaining power was generally understood as good for Germany, or
at least as much better than the alternative.
What was right for Germany was however not neccessarily right for
Sweden. The Swedish Nazi parties got their best results in the
parliament elections 1932, with 10,000 votes. They never got
represented in the parliament.
In 1931 a protest marsh in Ådalen against strike-breachers resulted in
assault and battery of the latter. The protest-marsh was repeated the
following day, when military troops were ordered to protect the
strike-breachers. The military performed their task: five strikers
were killed and five wounded. In the following parliament debate
support for the violent strikers was to find among Communists, but not
so much among Social Democrats who wanted to avoid the situation in
Germany (and earlier in Finland) where militias and armed political
corpses had made the cities to regular battlefields.
Wearing of political uniforms in public was banned in 1933, and also
membership in organizations aiming at armed support /protection of
political groupings was forbid. This was directed against both
Right-wing and Left-wing militias, however the initial event
triggering the law had been a private "anti aircraft corps" in
Stockholm with Fascist connections.
In 1938 far reaching agreements between workers' and employers' unions
(Saltsjöbadsavtalet) marked the radical change in the relations
between employers and workers' unions. Instead of the frequent and big
strikes of the time around the W.W.I the situation for the following
decades got characterized by nationwide agreements and few and short
Like in other European countries Social Problems became an issue
during the 19th century. With the increasing political rights for
common men, questions such as hospitals and caring for the elderly and
the poor had become a hot topic in the responsible democratically
Caring for the poor had in theory been a responsibility of the State
since the Reformation 1527, which the State solved by requiring the
poor to beg only within the borders of the parish they belonged to. At
the end of the Frihetstiden, year 1764, towns and parishes also
formally got the responsibility for the caring for the elderly which
they in practice had always had. From 1847 towns and municipalities
were required to support also other poor, and begging was prohibited.
Since the Reformation the need for hospitals had been neglected until
the early 18th century, when hospitals were organized in Uppsala
(1708), Stockholm (1752) and Lund (1768). These were financed by
grants collected at baptisms, weddings and funerals. Now hospitals
were made a responsibility for the Landsting (independent provincial
governments introduced 1864) while psychiatric asylums were funded and
run by the State from the end of the 19th century on.
By the turn of the century, towns and municipalities began to
construct old people's homes with the goal to differentiate between
the elderly and other poor, as for instance children, alcoholics and
National basic old age pension was decided upon in 1913, and a few
years later mandatory insurance for occupational injuries in the
The inclusion of women in the politics (from the early 1920s on) gave
new impetus for Social Issues, and was immediately followed by a
referendum over prohibition of distilled liquors 1922. In opposite to
Iceland, Norway, Finland and the US (where prohibition had been
introduced 1912, 1916, 1919 and 1922 respectively) Sweden's
prohibition referendum turned out a very narrow race, with 49.3%
voting for prohibition and 50.7% voting against. The result was thus
no prohibition but a continuation of the rationing system (called the
Bratt System after Dr Ivar Bratt) introduced in Stockholm February
26th 1914 and in force in all of the country since 1919.
The Bratt System was based on a strict licensing procedure for
restaurants with extensive veto rights for local authorities, and
individual rations for adult citizens to secure that each individual
wasn't allowed to buy more than one could consume without harm for
oneself or one's family. In practice this meant that the wealthy were
allowed to buy more than the poor, and men allowed to buy more than
women. Except for at restaurants, the purchases were noted in
individual books (motbok) which like bankbooks were to be presented at
the liquor store. Wine, beer and distilled liquors were sold by the
glass only in connection with meals and only at licensed restaurants
and cafés - and sold in bottles only by the Systembolaget's monopoly
liquor stores. The Bratt rationing system was abolished in 1954, but
the monopoly for sale of liquors, wine and beers (with more than 2.8%
alcohol) still remains.
After the world wide financial turbulence around 1930, the State came
to play a much more active role - for instance through state subsidies
for sickness insurance (1932), increased support for unemployed with
subsidies for relief work and unemployment insurance (1934), and
improved old age pensions (1935). The Swedish policy during the
depressions 1921-22 and 1931-34 had been aiming at organizing relief
works for unemployed (with wages below the level for unskilled
laborers) and additionally, to financially support those who couldn't
get access to the relief works (on a level about two thirds of the
minimum wage for unskilled laborers). From 1933 the main aim was
changed to a general stimulus of the economy.
Sweden declares itself neutral at the eve of the war but has to
compromise on several occasions to avoid direct conflict with Germany:
Sweden continues to deliver iron ore and other strategic goods to Nazi
Germany and allows the transfer of German soldiers through its
territory. At the same time, however, Sweden acts as a haven for
refugees coming from the neighboring countries, provides aid to
Finland in its fight with the USSR and trains Danish and Norwegian
police troops that were used to restore order after the German
When Russia attacks Finland 1939, many (maybe as many as 80'000)
children from Finland were received in families all over Sweden. From
the start of the war to the end of the century Sweden receives far
more than a million refugees and economic immigrants, of which the
majority choose to remain in Sweden. This includes some of the
war-children who never returned to Finland, or who came back to Sweden
in later years.
Nov 1939 --> March 1940
The Soviet bomb attack on Helsinki, and advance on the Carelian
isthmus toward Viipuri, on November 30th 1939 led to a broadening of
the Swedish Cabinet with participants from all political parties
except the Communists.
The Swedish opinion was strongly engaged for the sake of Finland's,
although split. Around Stockholm the Finland-support was general,
whereas in the rest of the country the support is said to have been
concentrated to the upper class.
The higher state officials were also split, but predominantly negative
toward Swedish contributions for the state of Finland, fearing a
weakened and endangered defense of southern Sweden. A certain aversion
against a humiliating submission under the Finns can maybe also be
traced in the indifference: The harsh negotiation and diplomatic
correspondence twenty years ago were not forgotten, and now since the
end of the 1930s the Finns requested Swedish troops for the support of
the demilitarized and neutral Åland islands. After the outbreak of the
war also proposals of Swedish troops for the defense of Carelia could
It's also possible that many believed the ruin of Finland to be sure,
and thereby all military help to Finland to be wasted.
The iron ore mines in the sparsely populated northernmost province
Norrbotten were Sweden's best card in the war game. Germany was
dependent on the iron for its munition industries, and would hopefully
hesitate to attack Sweden for discovering the mines to be blasted and
But this strategy was dependent on Sweden's capacity to protect the
mines for attacks from Russia or England. The Russian air-forces in
Murmansk were a dangerous threat, but even more a Russian occupation
of Åland and/or the coast of Finland.
Also the opinions among the leaders of the government and the defense
were split regarding Åland, but decidedly negative regarding Swedish
troops in Finland. The popular support for missions on the Carelian
isthmus was deemed to be insufficient, and Sweden's military strength
was also feared to be insufficient to fight both Russia in the East
and Germany in the South. This alternative was although seriously
The Social Democratic foreign minister Rickard Sandler advocated,
supported by the trade unions and Högern, the most Right-wing party of
the parliament, military units on Åland. Liberals and Agrarians were
outspoken opponents of Swedish missions abroad. The conflict regarding
military support of Åland and Finland complicated the formation of a
new cabinet in December 1939, and was solved when Rickard Sandler
resigned after the prime minister Per Albin Hansson had chosen to
support a careful compromise:
* not to declare neutrality in the war between Finland and Soviet
* leave for officers who wanted to volunteer in Finland if, but only
if, they could be replaced without danger for the defense of
* humanitarian support to Finland, including preparations for
rationing of provisions as cereals in Sweden
* a limited support with munitions
But the Swedish opinion, unaware of the miserable preparations for
war, was influenced by strong pro-Finland feelings, why the government
chose an increasingly permitting attitude over for the Swedes who
enlisted for Finland. The volontary Corps in Finland came to comprise
2,000 Swedes and 700 Norwegians.
When Soviet after two months of war with Finland declared a peace with
the lawful government in Helsinki to be possible, instead of
Kuusinen's Communist government, the Swedish fear for a Russian
occupation of the whole of Finland disappeared.
Instead England threatened to occupy the iron mines, why Sweden
brusquely opposed demands from Finland to facilitate the transport of
British troops via Sweden. Simultaneously the cabinet rejects a direct
question from the government of Finland February 13th 1940 regarding
Swedish units of 20'000 men to be engaged on the Carelian isthmus.
The decision led to agitated disappointment among the Swedish public,
and the 82 year old King Gustav V made an unconstitutional public
statement supporting the decision of the government, explaining it
with the danger of invasion from the South, which no Swedish official
had dared to mention in public.
After Finland's harsh peace treaty England continued its attempts to
close the export of iron ore from Northern Sweden to Germany. April
5th England declares to the government of Sweden that unless Sweden
shuts the flow of necessities to Germany, the allies would be forced
to do this by their own.
(It is worth to note that the Swedish iron was of considerable
importance for Germany's ability to perform the war. In 1939 Sweden
contributed with 40% of Germany's need. But we also ought to remember
that the history is written by the victorer. Sweden's export of iron
to Germany is much more criticized than Sweden's export of ball
bearings to the UK.)
Swedish military was prepared for an allied attack against Northern
Scandinavia with 100'000 men at the Northern borders, although only a
thousand as guards at the very mines, but in the South the situation
was quite the opposite. A demand from the commander-in-chief for
partial mobilization in Southern Sweden was motivated by intelligence
reports from Germany's Baltic harbors, but the government didn't deem
this to be justified. The hope was that the strong protection of the
mines would be enough. (Post-war research has shown that the initiated
de-mobilization after the peace between Finland and the Soviet Union
had made the protection of northernmost Sweden almost illusory, but
that wasn't known by the Cabinet.)
As Denmark and Norway were occupied April 9th 1940 it became clear
that the troops in Germany's Baltic harbors weren't intended for
Sweden - this time.
Foreign troops in Sweden
Sweden having become enclosed by Germany and the increasingly
Germany-oriented Finland did however result in intensified German
demands (and threats), which is why the Cabinet chose to allow
continuous transports via Swedish railways of (unarmed) troops between
Germany and Norway. The extent of these transports was kept secret
however the Prime Minister admitted their existence when rumors had
begun to spread. Officially the trains transported wounded soldiers
and soldiers on leave (permittent-tåg), which however didn't make it
less of a violation of neutrality.
Since this is an often returning topic in the news group, a more
throughout relation might be motivated:
April 9th, 1940
Sweden accepts German demands for import and export of products
to/from Norway as before - i. e no war material.
April 16th, 1940
Food and oil supplies permitted transport to northern Norway to
"save the population from starvation" after the war had emptied the
Troops, including 40 "red-cross soldiers" denied transit
April 18th, 1940
The 40 "red-cross soldiers" were accepted for transit together with
a train loaded with sanitary material, which however turned out to
contain 90% food according to the Swedish customs. Further requests
for transit of "sanitary material" were rejected.
April to June, 1940
Norway protests over Sweden taking the neutrality too seriously,
expecting more of support for Norway.
German civil sailors were given individual transit visa.
Wounded soldiers were transported through Sweden, and 20 further
"red-cross soldiers" and a physician were allowed to pass together
with five wagons with food stuff.
June 18th, 1940
As the war in Norway was finished, German demands for transit were
reinforced. The Swedish parliament did formally modify the
neutrality policy according to Germany's demands. (England and
France were informed before the parliament debate.)
July 7th, 1940
The Prime Minister admits the transit in a public speech in
July 8th, 1940
Agreement with Germany:
1 daily train (500 man) back and forth Trelleborg-Kornsjö
1 weekly train (500 man) back and forth Trelleborg-Narvik
The agreement with Germany was later increased.
July 15th, July 20th, 1940
Protests from Norway's exile Cabinet, and from Britain's
In connection with Germany's attack on Russia on Midsummer's Day 1941
(which Finland was to join a few days later) Sweden had its most
serious Cabinet crisis: Germany demanded to transit the fully armed
division Engelbrecht from Norway to Finland. The transit permission
As the German plans for an attack on Russia was taken seriously by
the Swedish government it was discussed between the Cabinet and the
Commander-in-chief how Sweden could react in case of a war between
Germany, Finland and Russia.
The Commander-in-chief warned for the danger in provoking German
anger and occupation by a continued neutrality policy. Plans for
cooperation with Germany and Finland were made.
Single Cabinet members considered cooperation with the Soviet
Union, which however was fiercely rejected.
June 23rd, 1941
The Cabinet discuss the requested transit of one armed division
(Division Engelbrecht) from northern Norway to northern Finland.
Agrarians, Liberals and the Right supported the combined
Finnish-German request. Social Democrats rejected.
The king declared he would abdicate if the government couldn't
agree with him in a positive answer on Finland's and Germany's
June 24rd, 1941
The Social Democratic parliament group decides, with the votes
72-59, to try to convince the other parties for a rejection, but to
agree in case they insisted.
The other parties seemed prepared to split the Cabinet.
June 25th, 1941
The Swedish government accept the transit of Division Engelbrecht.
July 11, 1941
Finland's official ambitions on a Big-Finland get known.
New demands on transit of an armed division from Trelleborg to
The attitude to Finland's and Germany's demands less and less
The troop transit is proposed to be realized on Swedish water along
the Swedish coast with Swedish escort.
Several requests for neutrality-violating exports and transits
rejected during the following autumn.
In 1943, as Germany's war luck had begun to wane, and the opposition
among the Swedish opinion against the favors for Germany and Finland
increased, as well as the pressure from England and USA, the Swedish
Cabinet declared June 29th, 1943 the transit to have to stop before
October 1943. August 5th it was officially announced that the
transitations were agreed to stop.
Sweden also started train small Danish and Norwegian military units,
planned to take part in the re-conquest of Denmark and Norway, and in
particular to ensure the immediate establishment of government, law
and order after a re-conquest. Officially it was labeled as training
of police forces, which was almost true.
At the very end of the war, Sweden made preparations to enter Norway.
German troops had devastated many of the northern fjord valleys the
previous winter, and as they now continued their doomed struggle also
after the capitulation of the German troops in Denmark and The
Netherlands (on May 4th) it was discussed if Sweden could contribute
to a soon end of the atrocities in Norway. But before any decisions
were made Germany's total capitulation on May 7th made it unnecessary.
Christian Günther, who had served as unpolitical Minister for Foreign
affairs during the war, was made scapegoat for Sweden's embarrassing
indulgence toweard Germany, and was after the war not accepted by the
Danish government as ambassador in Copenhagen. The under-secretary for
foreign affairs, Boheman, on the other hand was appointed ambassador
in Washington after the war, then elected Member of the Parliament for
the Liberal party, and finally Speaker of the parliament 1965-1970.
Freedom of Press limited
During the Second World War the Swedish press was put under a
considerable pressure, requested to avoid tempting fate by making the
German powers less friendly toward Sweden. Beside self-censure and
regular cooperation between the government and editors five means were
prepared to restrain the press' outspokenness:
1. Prosecution according to the Freedom of the Press Act against
"expressions aiming at dis-concord with foreign powers" - except
powers which the realm are in war with.
2. Immediate confiscation without following prosecution of "printed
matters with expression causing misunderstanding with foreign
3. Preliminary declaration of confiscation ("kvarstad") until
decision could be made about prosecution or immediate
4. Prohibition to distribute newspapers and magazines during a
limited period of some months (decided by the government, not a
judicial court) after conviction according to the Freedom of the
Press Act. (From March 1st 1940)
5. Press Censure could according to a constitutional change 1941 be
decided by a 3/4-majority of the Parliament, and when the
Parliament wasn't meeting the cabinet meeting could proclaim
censure for at the most 30 days. (This was never used, and again
Most of these restrictions came to strike Communist and Syndicalist
papers, but also for instance a major paper in Gothenburg (Göteborgs
Handels- och Sjöfartstidning) was confiscated many times. Confiscation
according to point 2 above was made about 300 times during the war.
Approximately 10% of the actions were directed against Swedish Nazi
Extraditions of refugees - Baltutlämningen
At the close of the war Sweden returns 167 male Baltic refugees who
had fled in connection with the Soviet Union's second occupation of
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Despite a strong public opinion they
were extradited to Stalin's Soviet Union (the so called
"Baltutlämningen"), as they had been fighting against the Soviet
troops. (Some 2,700 German soldiers were also extradited to the Soviet
Union, which however caused no attention.) Also Ingrian refugees where
hunted on behalf of the Finnish government, who after the unsuccessful
second war against Russia had accepted to deport them to Russia.
The Bernadotte Dynasty
Since the break-through of parliamentarism in 1917 the royal family
had gained very much in goodwill. In the critical times of the Second
World War also the aged, and previously controversial, King Gustav V
could act as a unifying symbol and leader for all of the nation.
Prince Bertil, son of the British-oriented Crown-Prince Gustav Adolf,
worked during the war as a naval attaché in London, where he could
contribute to improved relations between UK/USA and Sweden. Also
export of arms from the US was promoted. Among the Swedish public he
gained great popularity as athlete and racing driver.
Count Folke Bernadotte af Wisborg, newphew of King Gustav V, worked
for the Red Cross and, after the war, for the United Nations. Just
before the end of the war he gained much good-will as leader for a
rescue-operation transporting interned Norwegians, Danes and other
inmates from German Concentration Camps to Swedish hospitals (in the
so-called "White Buses" 27,000 persons where liberated, a considerable
share of them Jews). September 17th, 1948, he was ambushed during a
mission as UN-mediator in Jerusalem. The assassination was one of many
by Lohamei Herut Yisrael, also known as the Stern gang, a Jewish
terror organization, whose leaders included Yitzak Shamir who later
would become Prime Minister for Israel.
[ the sections above are available at the www-page
7.3.7 social security
During the 1940s the agrarian proletarians are transformed to tenant
farmers, and house maids which now had gotten regulated working hours
became a very rare sight. The Social Democrats continued to dominate
the society - in the parliament, when neccessary, in cooperation with
The industry expands. People leave the countryside for the towns. The
urbanization leads to a new kind of social misery with shortage of
housing and "wild" adolescent gangs in the towns. In the spirit of
McCartyism communists, homosexual men and wild youths came to be seen
as the prime threats against the good society. Communists were fought
and hunted in the workers' unions, homosexuals were connected with a
couple of justice scandals and the youth danced to "negro jazz" and
Immigrants were welcomed by the industries: Germans, Italians,
Hungarians, Finland-Swedes and Finns. From the start of world-war II
to the end of the century Sweden receives far more than a million
refugees and economic immigrants, of which the majority choose to
remain in Sweden.
Yearly vacations are expanded. Mandatory health insurance is decided
1955, child allowance (introduced 1948) becomes an important
contribution to the economy of families, the national pensions became
increased in 1948 and then equalized ATP decided after a referendum in
After the war the Swedish national pride is inflated by the good deeds
of Count Folke Bernadotte (the Red Cross) and the United Nation
Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld (former minister in the Social
Women participate in the caring for children and elderly as employees
by the municipalities. Taxes rise. A surge of immigrants are engaged
in the industries. Vacations get limited to not less than 5 weeks
yearly. 40 hours working week is enforced. Strong laws against
arbitrary sacking of workers are decided and the unions get the right
to participate in board meetings for companies.
The educational system is made uniform with 10 years of mandatory
theoretical school, with minimized freedom to choose subjects,
followed by 3 years of specializing ("Gymnasium"). Matriculation
examination is abolished, as are apprentices. All secondary schools
give access to higher studies, the mark system is debated and changed.
The king loses the last executive power. Princesses get equal rights
with princes to inherit the throne.
Swedish politicians tend to start their careers in younger years,
before having accomplished in any profession (Olof Palme is one of the
first examples), and the reduced number of municipal politicians
contribute to a growing alienation between politicians and the
The Swedish Social Democratic governments are eager to act in
international politics. Preferably on the "anti-imperialist" side
against the United States - and sometimes against the Soviet Union.
Olof Palme belonged to the Swedes who were strongly engaged against
the Vietnam war, which led to the US ambassador leaving Sweden for
In Sweden communists were hunted in the unions and among the employees
in governmental institutions (as hospitals!). In the 1970:ies Jan
Guillou, an investigating journalist at a left-wing periodical, was
imprisoned for revealing the close cooperation between the Social
Democratic party and a secret organization registering people with
leftist opinions. Jan Guillou became some 15 years later Sweden's most
famous novel writer with his series about the super-hero baron Carl G
Hamilton in the Swedish secret service.
In elections to the parliament 1973 the left block and the
anti-Socialist block got 175 seats each. Olof Palme remained as prime
minister. Many laws were decided after drawing of lots. The number of
seats is made unequal.
The political majority in the parliament changes almost every 6:th
year, and the Swedes get used to new non-Socialist Prime-Ministers
every second year instead of a new Social-Democratic Prime-Minister
every 20th year.
Waves of refugees arrive but fail to find employment.
Plans to force companies to give shares to the workers' unions every
year are discussed, decided and abandoned.
The defense forces are successively reduced.
In 1976 the leader for the Center party, Thorbjörn Fälldin, becomes
the first non-Social Democratic prime minister since 1936 after an
intense campaign in favor of environment protection and against
In a referendum 1979 between three proposals to close the thirteen
nuclear power plants the Social Democratic version wins a relative
majority and is interpreted as use of all nuclear power is to be
liquidated in thirty years. (It will last until February 1997 until
the first power plant-closing is politically agreed.)
In the autumn 1981 a Russian submarine runs a-ground in what the
military calls inner security zone of the navy base area in the
Blekinge archipelago. After half a day an inhabitant on the island
informs the military about the unexpected guest. A Russian navy
gathers at the territorial border, but leaves after the Swedish prime
minister Thorbjörn Fälldin publicly declared he had ordered the
Swedish defense forces to use all means against further intruders on
the sea or in the air. The Russians denied accusations of having
brought atomic weapons to Sweden, as the US navy always had done when
they had come on (announced) visits.
After this perturbing episode the Swedish navy hunted Russian mini-
and macro-submarines intensely for the following ten years. Then it
turned out that some, most or all of the hunted objects had been
Big curency devaluations solve some problems and cause other. In the
1980s a lot of Swedish industrial profits are gambled away on
continental real estates.
February 28th 1986, the Social Democratic prime minister Olof Palme,
who had dominated Swedish politics in the 70s and 80s, is assassinated
while returning from movies. A political heir of Tage Erlander
(another influential Swedish prime minister, in power 1946-69), he had
an international reputation as an architect of the Swedish welfare
model and an outspoken advocate of disarmament. He was the first
Swedish leader to be killed since king Gustav III. Despite feverish
and almost tragicomic investigations, the motive and the killer still
At the beginning of the 1990:ies the employment drops drastically, as
does the value of the currency, and the state budget deficit explodes.
Subsidies are diminished for sick insurance, maternal and paternal
leave, unemployment insurance... The bad times result in some changes
on higher positions in the banks and industries, and it turns out that
their boards (also state owned banks and companies) have granted the
management fabulous pensions. The Social Democrats have propagandized
much against the Bildt Cabinet policy, populistically claiming it to
strike hard against the weakest among the people. The people got
surprised when the Social Democrats, after the election of 1994 back
at power, in the parliament do much harder cuts in the social security
The ferry Estonia en route between Tallin and Stockholm with over a
thousand people on-board sank into the icy Baltic September 28th 1994;
only circa 130 were saved. Of the drowned, the vast majority were
Swedes, and the disaster shook the whole nation.
In 1996 The Social Democratic party elected a new chairman, Göran
Persson, namesake to the chancellor of Erik XIV, who becomes prime
minister and the sixth leader of the party in 107 years. Persson's
supporters have acted against Mona Sahlin, proposed by the retiring
Ingvar Carlsson, spreading (true) rumors about her bad capability to
take care of her own economy, and her purchase of diapers and
chocolate with a government credit card. Mona Sahlin is made
impossible and leaves the political life. Göran Persson is caught
shop-lifting chocolate, and the former minister of Justice (in mr
Bildt's Cabinet) is forgiven purchase of shoes and dresses with her
government credit card. The strongest criticism comes from Per Uncle,
another former minister of mr Bildt's, who turns out to be the one the
prosecutor finds his greatest interest in.
Several municipal politicians and managers leave their positions after
having been too self-indulgent with municipal credit cards on night
clubs, brothels and holiday trips. The unveiling of this habit was
introduced by a Scanian radio journalist, Janne Svensson, who soon got
employed as secretary for the Social Democratic mayor of Malmö.
The former leader for the (Social) Liberal party leads an
"independent" commission investigating espionage on a private TV
station where a reporter had unveiled embarrassing facts about HSB, a
national organization for housing societies, not without ties to the
Social Democratic party. The espionage is ordered by the manager for a
public relation firm with close ties to the Social Democratic party,
but the commission declares that HSB could not be shown to have aimed
at espionage - only at a vicious slander campaign. The HSB manager,
who over a bottle of whiskey had commissioned the PR-firm manager,
should not have acted on behalf of HSB.
- The commission worked on the behalf of HSB.
The European Union, which Sweden entered 1995, is among many perceived
as the greatest threat against the Swedish democracy (except for
The alienation between the electorate and the elected becomes worse.
[ the sections above are available at the www-page
7.3.8 History of the Sweden-Finns
[ By: Jari Partanen ]
A movement of people across the sea from Finland to Sweden (as well as
from Sweden to Finland) has been a most natural phenomenon for the
last one thousand years. There was a close connection between "Sweden"
and "Finland" already in the pre-Christian era.
Right from the beginning an essential part of the population of
Stockholm has been Finns - both Finnish speaking and Swedish speaking.
(I.e. Finns in the meaning as originating from Finland of today.
Crossing the language border was very natural for the Finns in the old
days, as a means or result of climbing upwards in the society. This
did not make these people non-Finns, as little as English language
makes an Irishman non-Irish.) Due to the higher mortality rates a
constant flow of migrants was a must for a medieval town, and the
migrants from Finland constituted in the Middle Ages 10-20% of the
population - in the later centuries in the order of 5%.
The Finns also formed a significant part of the countryside
population. The main direction of the Finnish movement was in the 14th
century to Uppland - and later to Södermanland, Närke, Västmanland and
Bergslagen. In these provinces also several towns got a Finnish
The 16th and the 17th centuries witnessed a large-scale movement of
Savolaxians to Dalarna, Värmland, Gästrikland, Hälsingland, Medelpad
and Ångermanland. At this time Savolax was experiencing a rapid growth
of population because of the efficient forest farming technique, which
gave nourishment for big families, and enabled an expansion of
agriculture to new and new areas. The expansion in the Scandinavian
woods did not stop with the border between Norway and Sweden, why
Finnskogar ("Finn woods") exist also in Norway.
Most Finns who moved to Sweden belonged to the working class - or were
farmers. However, also merchants and priests were represented.
Especially during the times of Russian occupations also many upper
class people moved from Finland to Sweden. The impact of the
Sweden-Finns was probably at its strongest in the 15th and 16th
centuries. At that time the Swedish language used by common people was
full of Finnish loan words, which shows how the Finns brought with
them their customs and techniques, thus making their contribution to
the development of Sweden. (Many Finnish words were in common use in
old Swedish: känga, pajta, pjäxa, kont, ria, pörtom, pärta, kappe,
katsa, kalja, and so on...)
The expansion of the realm in the 17th century led to a weakened
position for the Finnish language. And in connection with the
swedifying (or de-danefying) of the 1645 and 1658 gained Scandinavian
provinces also the forests-Finns in central Scandinavia were required
(from 1646) to learn the Swedish language. After that Finnish was used
more or less secretly. However, still in the beginning of the 19th
century the estimated number of forest-Finns was 50.000; half of them
understood Finnish. The last speaker of Finnish language was Niittahon
Jussi, who died in 1965.
The Sweden-Finns did not disappear anywhere, even though the countries
were separated in 1809. An estimate from 1836 states that the number
of Finns in the reach of the Finnish parish of Stockholm was 16.000 to
20.000. However, from now on new arrivals from Finland were naturally
regarded as immigrants.
Nowadays the number of Sweden-Finns is 200.000 to 500.000, depending
on criteria. Most of them are rather recent immigrants, or their
descendents, who moved to Sweden in the 60'ies and the 70'ies when
many Swedish industries were actively searching for labour force from
The Finnish language has a special position in Sweden. Some people
believe that the availability of services in Finnish is inadequate.
There are however for example 10 private schools giving education in
Finnish and also many Finnish classes in other schools.
The Sweden-Finns have not been very active in forming institutions of
their own. The biggest reason for this is that the assimilation to the
main stream culture has been so easy - the differences in the way of
life are small. The Finnish parish in Stockholm has been continuously
functioning from the year 1533. (It was the first place in the world
were Christian church ceremonies were held in Finnish.) The Finns have
generally been accepted well in the Swedish society; also the Crown
encouraged migration. Generally, the Sweden-Finns do not isolate
themselves: they mingle with the Swedes and marry a Swede. The major
exception was the Finnish speaking forest farmers.
The Sweden-Finns have taken part in all stages of the history of
Sweden. Also today's Sweden-Finns are giving their contribution to the
Swedish way of life; scratching the surface of surprisingly many
Swedish cultural celebrities would reveal a Finnish origin. The
existence of people with roots in Finland, as well as Finnish language
and culture, have always been a characteristic features of Sweden.
7.3.9 Native minorities in Sweden
[ By: Johan Olofsson ]
Four groups in Sweden have, or have had, any kind of official
recognition as minorities with certain (however rather limited)
minority rights. Additionally the population in the last incorporated
provinces (Jämtland, Härjedalen, Bohuslän, Gotland, Halland, Skåne and
Blekinge) and the people of Dalarna are to varying degree perceiving
themselves as less Swedish than other citizens.
[ Sámi | Tornedalians | Gypsies | Jews ]
[ see also section 2.3! ]
During the last thousands of years the Germanic people have inhabited
more and more of the Scandinavian peninsula. The people living here
before the Germanians has retreated without a struggle. For at least
from the late medieval era taxation and exploiting trade have been the
major kinds of contact.
The Scandinavian kings declared themselves to be kings also over the
"Fenni" or the "Lapps" - but these subjects were without most
citizens' rights. It is questionable if the taxation gave any value in
return to the Sámis other than the relief from extermination.
There has been much scientific debate regarding these people's early
history in disciplines such as linguistics, archaeology, genetics and
physical antropology. The impression of these discussions is the major
uncertainty and dependency on contemporary societal debate. We can
conclude that we don't know when the people of Sámi became "one"
people, but in the year 98 A.D. the "Fenni" are reported by the
historian Tacitus as being distinct from the Germanians.
We don't know who lived in Scandinavia in the earliest times; and
claim of links in archaeological findings with either Germanians or
"Fenni" seem to be pure speculations. It is not until the Viking era
we can make plausible guesses. However, there are serious scholars
that think that continous cultural presence can be shown in coastal
areas of North Scandinavia from late mesolithic periods onwards. And
that these people are the forefathers of the Sámi. Allthough this
theory is not finally proved it is well founded and deserves to be
taken seriously. We also don't know if a non-Sámi population have
lived in Southern Scandinavia before the Norse-men, and maybe been
assimilated in the Norse culture, but archaeological findings make
Linguistic evidences indicate contacts between the Finns and the Sámi
people for at least 2'000 years, and contacts with the Norse language
at least since the start of Viking time 1'300 years ago.
Trade (coercive trade) is likely to have evolved not later than in
early medieval time. As the Swedish king opted for the province of
Ostrobothnia /Österbotten, his position was strengthened as he offered
the magnates to get royal privileges for trading with the "wild
With the Reformation and the constitution of national states the
position of the indigenous Sámi culture worsened. From time to time
the governmental policy moved between seeing the "Lapps" as eternally
inferior without normal human rights and on the other hand poor souls
who should be made happier by becoming Swedes and abandoning the Sámi
customs, languages and beliefs.
The Church's relations with the Sámi people were maybe not worse than
elsewhere in the world where Christianity met shamans and animistic
religions, but in our part of the world it is the last and worst
example of atrocities along the line of witch-burnings, terror against
orthodox Christian Karelians and forced conversions in connection with
"crusades" to Finland. Christian missionaries were impressed by the
supernatural power of shamans they met, and made what they could in
the "war against Satan" - not only the shamans' drums were burned.
Over 50% of Sweden's area is by law (or in the Torne river valley
through tenant contracts) designated for reindeer herding. Natural
limitations such as lakes and sterile mountains make however only
135'000 km² (that is 30% of Sweden's area) to be usable pastures.
Silver, iron, timber, agriculture, roads and electrical power stations
at the rivers have been reasons for the Swedes to colonize part after
part of the Sámi land. In this process the Sámis have in practice had
few, if any, rights. In this respect the position of the Sámis has not
In the 20th century the policy has become more humane. As the
Norwegian government argued the ancient Sámi right to be invalid in
the independent Norway, the Swedish government forced dozens of Sámi
families to relocate to the South. This caused, of course, a lot
tension between the newcomers and the Sámis already living in those
southern areas. They also didn't understand each others languages. But
at least no-one starved to death.
After 1945 the Swedish government has tried to rise the Sámis' health
status and standard of living by demanding the herding and stock
raising to be rationalized. Fewer and fewer have been allowed to live
as reindeer herds, as the in Stockholm centrally decided number of
reindeers per herd has increased.
Today 900 Sámis are allowed to work as reindeer herdsmen in Sweden.
They are organized in 50 communities (Samebyar orSiida) with
collective responsibility for a geographic area.
With the increased immigration to Sweden the attitude started to
change in the 1960s, and with reforms aimed at immigrants also the
linguistic position of the Sámis has improved. From 1968 the minority
of the Sámi pupils who have a Sámi language as their mother-tongue has
been granted the right to education in reading and writing their
Since the 1980s the Sámi languages have been given a somewhat stronger
position in the schools, changing the former policy which has led to
80% of the Sámis being unable to write in any Sámi language. (The same
estimation says 20% of the 15'000 self-identifying Sámis of Sweden
don't understand spoken Sámi.) The Sámi languages and heritage have
for long time been connected with feelings of shame and inferiority.
The next century will show if Sweden has the moral strength to stop
the exploition of the Sámi people and their land. The question is of
course also if a change will come into effect before it's too late and
the culture is doomed to extinction.
[ Sámi | Tornedalians | Gypsies | Jews ]
Around year 1'000 the rich soil along the last 50 kilometers of the
Torne river was colonized by Finns from Tavastia. They were followed
by colonialists from Karelia (13th century) and Savolax (16th
century). The Sámis who had used to hunt in the river valley
Swedes who at the same time colonized coastal plains along the Gulf of
Bothnia came later to make contact with the Finnish settlements, and
clear cut language borders evolved at the coast: some 20 kilometers
west of the Torne estuary and at the eastern side some 200 kilometers
to the south. In the inland the Finnish settlements spread to the
south of Gällivare and in the north to "Finnmark" in Norway. There the
Sámis dominated over Finns and scattered Swedes.
The people along the rivers and the Gulf shore lived from fishing,
farming and hunting. At the Torne estuary a trade station sprang up,
where merchants from southern Scandinavia, Narvik, the Kola peninsula,
Finland and Russia made business.
As the Swedish realm was extended the peasants north of the Bothnic
Gulf were no different than from other Finnish subjects of the Crown.
The parishes in the North belonged to the see in Luleå, which was
natural and much closer than the see in Turku. The priests had to
speak Swedish with the bishop but Finnish with the parishioners, but
knowledge in Swedish was expected from the clergy in all of the realm
In the 17th century Germans, Walloons and Swedes immigrated to
establish mines and iron works. Many families have names indicating
continental heritage, but they have spoken Finnish for centuries.
After the peace treaty of Hamina /Fredrikshamn 1809 when Sweden had to
cede the eastern counties (i.e. Åland and Finland of the 18th century)
and most of the northernmost county Norrbotten to Russia. The new
border was defined by the Torne, Muonio and Könkämä rivers ignoring
the fact that a river sooner unites than divides the people on its
By and large the 1809 peace resulted in linguistically homogeneous
countries, with a 15% Swedish minority in the Grand Duchy and a small
2½% Finnish minority in "rest-Sweden" [the remains of the realm]
compared to 25%-75% in the realm before 1808, and 33%-66% before 1645.
In both halves of the realm the minorities lived in areas where their
language dominated the local societies. In post-1809 Sweden this was
mainly in Norrbotten and in the woods of Värmland & Dalarna (north of
lake Vänern), although the latter, the Finns in central Sweden, got
rapidly assimilated during the 19th century.
The people along the Swedish-Finnish border rivers continued their
contacts over the new border almost as if it didn't exist. But a new
town had to be founded on the Swedish side: Haparanda. Except for the
town, where some pure-Swedes came to reside, Finnish here remained the
dominant language during all of the 19th century, and the area
colonized by Finnish speakers came to grow - on both sides of the new
border. The strong Læstadian revivalist movement contributed also to
the survival of the Finnish speaking culture, as preaching mostly was
In recent years the distinction between standard-Finnish and
Tornedalen-Finnish, and also cultural differences, have led the people
of the Torne river area to emphasize their distinct identity as a
group different from Finns, Sámis and Swedes with an own history and
an own language. Hence Tornedalians (Fi: Tornionlaaksolainen;
Sw: Tornedalingar) is used for this people.
The Finns of Scandinavia's more southern woods were swedified as
mandatory education was introduced around 1850. The Finns around
Gällivare were more or less assimilated as mining led to massive
migration to the area. But the Tornedalians of the Torne river area
preserved their Finnish culture and language.
At the end of the 19th century (and the growing tension between Norway
and Sweden) Russia was again perceived as a serious threat to Sweden.
And the Finnish nationalism had led the Swedish government to fear the
Tornedalians to be more sympathetic to Russia than to Sweden.
Contemporary race-biological arguments, security interests and a wish
to support the very poor municipalities led to a policy of extra state
subsidies from 1888 for school buildings and teachers in the Finnish
areas of Norrbotten if, but only if, the educational language was
Swedish. Year 1920 no schools taught in Finnish any more. But the area
where Finnish was the dominating language was considerably bigger than
100 years before. (On the other hand: The Finnish areas in the south,
on the border between Dalarna, Värmland and Norway, had practically
The situation in Sweden was hence very different from Finland, where
the minority was much bigger and where the state administration
initially used only the minority language. Ragnar Lassinantti (1915-85
and born at Pello on the border to Finland) was the first person of
the Finnish native minority to become prominent in the Swedish
society. As a county governor of Norrbotten 1966-81 he was an eager
advocate of improvements for the Finnish language in Sweden, and for
Nordic cooperation - particularly at the Nordkalotten.
In sports, however, the small population from the Tornedalen area has
again and again produced Swedish champions and World champions, such
as the wrestler Thomas Johansson and the ice hockey playing brothers
Stig and Börje Salming.
Today a cultural area can be defined as all land along and north of
the Torne river. The mining town Kiruna lies at the very border.
People born and raised in this area north and east of Kiruna usually
identify themselves as "Tornionlaaksolainen" (or in Swedish:
Tornedaling) regardless of if they speak Finnish or not. Most do
however, and only exceptionally pupils chose not to study Finnish now
when it has been allowed. The national parliament decided that Finnish
from 1962 should be a study option from grade 7, like French and
German, but the local authorities were not too keen. In 1958 the
national Swedish school board had declared that the locally decided
ban on Finnish conversations on the school yard was annulled. Ten
years later the board reminded the local authorities...
How many are the Tornionlaaksolainen?
Year 1930 the number of people preferring Finnish over for Sámi or
Swedish was inquired in a regular census, and reported at 30'000 in
the county of Norrbotten. Most of them lived at or north of the Torne
river. Since then there has been much migration. Both immigration from
Finland and "emigration" from the Torne river area to southern Sweden.
People who have moved to the south have assimilated. The size of the
population which today know Finnish ought to be approximately in the
same size as the figure for 1930. However people's knowledge of
Swedish today is greater, and many in the area speak as good Swedish
[ Sámi | Tornedalians | Gypsies | Jews ]
From the 16th century Gypsies are known as immigrants to Sweden.
Year 1637 all Gypsies were declared outlaws in a law unique in the
Swedish history. In 1642 it was modified to an instruction to deport
all Gypsies from county to county in the direction of the borders of
the realm. Male Gypsies could be sentenced to beheading for any crime.
As a result many of the Gypsies concentrated in the eastern part of
the realm, in what today is Russian Karelia and Finland. They belong
to the Sinte-Manuch group of Gypsies and are called Kalé-Gypsies.
At the end of the 19th century a group of Romany-Gypsies immigrated.
Today over 1'500 descendants live in Sweden.
When the Nordic citizens became free to move and work in all of the
Nordic countries a considerable part of the Kalé-Gypsies came from
Finland to Sweden. This group is today larger than the former group.
Their mother-tongues are different, but many of the Kalé-Gypsies have
Finnish as their first language.
A third group of approximately the same size are refugees who arrived
from central Europe in the last 50 years.
The Swedish policy has aimed at assimilation. The assimilation policy
has had some success when it comes to the Gypsies with long tradition
in Sweden, but fared very poorly with the newer arrivals. It has
turned out that few Gypsies get employed, and relatively more Gypsies
has become dependent on cash support from the municipalities than is
the case for any other ethnic group in Sweden.
Gypsies cultivating their particular traits in clothes and morals are
perceived as provoking by many (or most?) Swedes. The minority group
doesn't appear to be loyal towards the Swedish society, and has
continued to be the most stigmatized ethnic minority.
[ Sámi | Tornedalians | Gypsies | Jews ]
35'000 Jews live in the Nordic countries. (Well, the figure varies
depending on whom you ask.) Two thirds in Sweden and one fourth in
In Sweden the status of the Jewish religion became equal to the state
church in some respects 1838, but Jewish immigration became anew
prohibited. 1850-1870 Jews got right to live in all of the realm, to
possess land and houses everywhere, to marry Christians, to become
naturalized and to be elected to the parliament and to municipal
1880-1930 the number of Jews was doubled by refugees from Russia and
Poland, leading to religious conflicts with the assimilated and
influential (more or less secularized) Jews who often where prominent
scholars (Eli F Heckscher), artists (Oscar Lewertin, Ernst Josephson,
Isaac Grünewald) and industrialists (Bonnier, Philipson).
Before the second World War students, workers unions and scientists
agitated against Jewish immigration with race-biological arguments.
From 1938 Swedish custom officers were instructed to hinder all Jews
to enter. The Jewish leadership in Sweden was keen on keeping good
relations with the government and consented.
At least from 1942 the Swedish government had detailed informations
about the German extermination of Jews and others in the concentration
camps. With few exceptions Swedish officials agreed with the allied
powers to keep this knowledge secret. During the war 7'000 refugees
came from Denmark and Norway, and after the war 10'000 victims from
Das Dritte Reich were hospitalized in Sweden, of which the majority
soon moved on to other countries. (Other sources say it was as many as
9'000 Jews only from Denmark who escaped during the war.)
Around 1970 aproximately 3'000 refugees came from Poland and
The Jews arriving in waves came to settle in different towns at
different times, but after 1950 all Jewish communities have been
characterized by rapid assimilation and secularization. The most
orthodox Jews left Sweden. The founding of a Jewish school in
Stockholm in the beginning of the 1950s is sometimes argued to have
contributed to the successful assimilation, which however wasn't the
Despite the fact that the most of the Swedish Jews of today are 1'st
or 2'nd generation immigrants the Jewish organizations have neither
been acknowledged as immigrant organization, nor have the Jews been
acknowledged as a native minority.
CREDIT: Source: Svanberg, Ingvar & Runblom, Harald (editors): Det
mångkulturella Sverige - En handbok om etniska grupper och
minoriteter, Centrum för multietnisk forskning vid Uppsala
universitet, Gidlunds Bokförlag, 2nd edition, Stockholm 1990, printed
in Värnamo 1990, ISBN: 91-7843-037-2
[ the sections above are available at the www-page
Subject: 7.4 Main tourist attractions
7.4.1 Stockholm area
Stockholm was originally established (c. 1250) by Birger Jarl as a
defense outpost against the Baltic pirates on one of the channel
islands that now make up Old Town. The city gained importance during
the late Middle Ages as an exporter of metals, timber, and furs from
its hinterland, but was still second after Uppsala in importance.
Following the Stockholm Bloodbath and the subsequent overthrow of
Danish rule in 1523, Stockholm became the center of the new Swedish
kingdom. Under Gustav II Adolf (ruled 1611-32) Sweden became a major
European power. His daughter and successor Christina (ruled 1632-54)
established Stockholm as an intellectual and cultural center.
Stockholm is sometimes known as the Venice of the North. It is the
cultural, educational, and industrial center of Sweden. The heart of
the city is built on 13 small islands at the junction where Lake
Mälaren joins the Baltic Sea. Remnants of medieval Stockholm survive
on three small islands known as Gamla Stan (the Old Town). They are
Stadsholmen (The City Island) , Riddarholmen (Knight Island), and
Helgeandsholmen (The Island of the Holy Spirit). The islands are
closely connected and form the "Staden mellan broarna", or "city
between the bridges".
Stadsholmen has old gabled houses and narrow streets not found in
other sections. Facing the water is the Royal Palace, which was
completed in 1760, and is open to tourists. Nearby is the Storkyrkan
(cathedral), the oldest building of the city (although the exterior is
baroque), which houses e.g the famous medieval sculpture of St. Georg
and the Dragon by the German sculptor Berndt Notke.
Cobblestone streets wind up from the palace to the old Stortorget, or
Great Market, the site of the Bloodbath of 1520. Eighty-two Swedish
noblemen were executed in the market by Danish King Christian II.
Close to Stadsholmen is Riddarholmen, where many of the Swedish rulers
have been buried in Riddarholmskyrkan. On the tiny Helgeandsholmen, or
Island of the Holy Spirit, where the House of Parliament stands.
North of the Old Town are Norrmalm, the modern business and theater
district, and Östermalm, a resedential section. Södermalm, a
manufacturing center, is in the city's southern section, across the
bridge leading from Old Town. The Town Hall, which is Stockholm's
symbol, and most of the city government offices are on Kungsholmen, a
large island west of Norrmalm. Stockholm is famous for its cleanliness
and for its large number of parks and open spaces. On Djurgarden (a
peninsula reserved for parkland and a cultural center) is Skansen, an
The University of Stockholm, founded in 1877 as a private institution,
was taken over by the state in 1960 and is now the country's largest
university. The Nobel Prizes are awarded annually in Stockholm, with
the exception of the Nobel Peace Prize, which is presented in Oslo,
Major museums include the National Museum (of art), the Moderna Museet
(Museum of modern art), the Vasa Museum (where a magnificient, 17th
Century royal warship Vasa is on display; it sunk in the harbour on
it's first journey in 1628 and was well preserved in the water for
over 300 years until it was lifted in 1961. It's a must for every
Stockholm visitor), the Historical Museum, the Nordic Museum, the
Museum of Natural History (with Cosmonova omni theatre), the Museum of
Naval History, the Skansen outdoor museum, the medieval museum, and
the Royal Armoury (Livrustkammaren) where all sorts of fascinating
artifacts from the history of the kingdom are on display, including
In August each year we have the Stockholm Water Festival, an annual
cultural and entertainment event sponsored by the city council and
local business life. The one and a half week festival offers special
exhibitions, concerts, shows, fireworks, an impromptu shopping mall in
the Old Town with street restaurants, outdoor movie shows, activities
for children, etc. The offcial guide of the festival each year lists
more than 1 000 festival events.
The Stockholm archipelago with tens and tens of thousands of islands
is very popular in the summer. You can take the white Waxholm boats to
the archipelago. A popular area for summer houses.
Have a tour around Stockholm by sightseeing boat. Or see the city on a
regular boat trip. In that case, note Skeppsholmen and Kastellholmen,
formerly navy base. Then get the most condensed view of the old town.
Further out, note Waldermarsudde, home of artist late Prince Eugen,
now museum. Young artists will give concerts here summertime. Then a
white building with towers, home of late Marcus Wallenberg. Finally
two beautiful houses from baroque era on point Blockhusudden.
Drottningholm. Accessed by land or by boat. Home of the royal family.
Theatre with advanced scene mechanism from 18th century, in use today.
Park in the style of Versailles, with "Kina slott", romantic building
in Chinese style.
Open-air museum Skansen in Djurgården should preferably be seen when
all workshops are open which will not be until the end of August. At
least some of them should however be open every Sunday. Skansen also
has a Zoo. You can get there with the museum tram line leaving from
Suggested walks or bike rides around Stockholm
* Along shore Norr Mälarstrand. Outdoor cafe. Then one will come to
the City Hall. Enter the tower.
* From Djurgården eastwards along the shore to Blockhusudden. Bring
a picnic basket early in the morning.
* On the hills of Södermalm, with red cottages dispersed among the
stone houses. Fine views over the water.
* Along the shores of Reimersholme. Then, on the way to bridge
Västerbron, pass by "Lasse i parken" (cafe in a red cottage). Go
over Västerbron and again come to Norr Mälarstrand.
* On Skeppsholmen and Kastellholmen. Museum of Eastern antiques.
Youth hostel and outdoor cafe.
There is no particular restaurant area in Stockholm. Stureplan and
around however is somewhat of a meeting place. It is also close to
water. In later years the south side (Södermalm), especially around
Medborgarplatsen, has emerged as an important area of restaurants and
pubs. There are over a hundred of them within 5 minutes walking
distance from Medborgarplatsen.
Plenty of choir concerts are given in the churches and the choirs are
generally very good.
There are some places close to Stockholm which should be seen, if
* Gripsholm castle, accessed e.g. with s/s Mariefred on a one-day
trip; oldest part was built in the 1380s. Interesting because it's
different styles inside reflect different epochs.
* Home and orangery of the famous botanist Carl von Linne in
* Hammarby, east of Uppsala. Summer resort of Linne, used by him for
* Österbybruk, north of Uppsala. The pre-industrial factories called
"bruk" ("works" should be the appropriate term in English) are
peculiar for Sweden. A bruk was a complete community. They are
dispersed throughout middle Sweden. Österbybruk is very well
* Skokloster castle at lake Mälaren, from about the same time as
man-of-war Vasa. Armoury collection. (Rent a car in order to visit
the previous four items.)
* The remains of Birka in lake Mälaren. Birka could be considered
capital of Sweden during the Viking age. Best accessed by boat.
Suggested one-day archipelago trips from Stockholm
* Sandhamn on island Sandön. Have beefsteak lunch onboard on the
steamer. From the harbour, walk southwards to village Sandhamn.
Then follow the southern shore of the island to point Trouville.
Find a suitable way back to the village. Be careful to enter the
right boat back. Avoid Saturdays and Sundays.
* Kymmendö. Strindberg's Hemsö. Restricted area. Ask for permission
at the police office.
* Rödlöga. Small formerly fishing village. Forest meadows and
hardwood forest, very impressing that far out in the sea. It will
however be at its best in early summer. The main island of this
detached archipelago is rather small and will be walked around in
one hour. Choose between Saturdays or Sundays.
If you have the time, stay over night somewhere. There are
accommodations at several places. Buy a smoked fish if there are not
any restaurants. Check restricted (military) areas on the map. Ticks
is not a big problem, but ask for advice if you are uncertain.
On a half-day trip from Stockholm one can go to Vaxholm. See the
citadel (open until 16.00) with gunnery museum and minute exhibition
about the Ytterby mine, known for ytterbium, yttrium, terbium,
holmium, scandium, gadolinium and lanthanum. The mine itself may be
visited but is hardly worth seeing and minerals may not be collected.
Open air cafe in the citadel.
The city of Uppsala, a major Swedish cultural center, lies about 70 km
north of Stockholm and can easily be accessed by train. Uppsala has a
history going well into the prehistoric era, it became the seat of the
Swedish archbishop in 1164 and a royal residence in the next century,
although it later lost much of its status and the king moved to
Stockholm. The most important sight is Uppsala cathedral (domkyrkan),
Sweden's largest medieval church, and a national sanctuary where e.g
the king Gustav Vasa, philosopher Emmanuel Swedenborg and the botanist
Carl von Linné (Linnaeus) are buried. The University of Uppsala (1477)
is Sweden's oldest institution of higher learning, and it's main
building Gustavianum (1623) houses a couple of museums. Uppsala castle
overlooks the city from a high hill, and beside it is the symbol of
the city, Gunillaklockan (Gunilla's clock), which is played daily 6
a.m and 9 p.m. Uppland's museum is located in an old mill by the river
Fyrisån. Linné's home museum (Linnés Hammarby) with a garden dedicated
to him are also in the city.
Gamla Uppsala (Old Uppsala), now a suburb five kilometers to the north
of the modern city, was the religious and political capital of the
Sveas in the Viking age. The three high burial mounds (kungshögarna)
from the 6th century belong, according to tradition, to the kings Aun,
Adils and Egil; finds from their excavations are displayed in
Stockholm in the Historical Museum (Historiska Museet). In a 1164 a
church was built on the site of the famous old pagan temple of which
nothing remains, as a symbol of the victory of Christianity in Sweden
-- it was the seat of the archbishop until 13th century when a new
cathedral was finished. The restaurant Odinsborg, built in "viking
style", serves mead (mjöd).
[ the sections above are available at the www-page
Located in Skåne, the southern tip of Sweden, 26 km across the sea
(Öresund) from Copenhagen, Malmö is Sweden's third largest city. It
was chartered as a city during the 13th century, at which time the
region belonged to Denmark. In 1658 it passed to Sweden. Originally,
Malmö's harbor was poor, and the city served mainly as a herring
market until 1775, when the port facilities were improved. After 1800,
Malmö began to develop as an industrial city.
The center of Malmö is Stortorget square, by which are located the
governor's house (Residenset, 1720), the City Hall (Rådhuset, 1546)
and the statue of Karl X Gustav, conqueror of Skåne. St Peter's Church
(S:t Petri, 1319), with a nicely sculptured interior and a 88m high
green spire is also in the center. The castle Malmöhus was first built
1434, and rebuilt 1537-42; now it houses a museum of archaology,
history, natural history and art. The Small Square (Lilla Torg) is one
of the most beautiful in the country, with it's houses from the 17th
and 18th centuries. Other sights include the Technical Museum,
Charlotte Weibull's House, the City Theatre, the Arts Hall, and the
old Market Hall. In the summer, you may want to visit the beach
Göteborg (Gothenburg), founded in 1621 by Gustav II Afolf on the site
of an earlier settlement, is Sweden's second largest city and chief
seaport. It prospered during especially during the Napoleonic Wars,
when Göteborg remained open while many other European ports were under
the anti-British trade blockade. Located where the Göta river empties
into the Danish straits, it was designed on Netherlandic fashion, with
canals and bridges. The Göta Gota Canal built in the 19th century runs
between Stockholm and Stockholm, and is a very scenic route indeed.
In the center of the city are Gustav Adolf's square, by which the old
Stock Exchange is located. The City Hall was designed by Nicholas
Tessin the younger in 1672. The Östra Hamngatan and Kungsportavenyn
streets lead to Götaplatsen (Göta Square), in the center of which is
the statue of Poseidon by Carl Milles; the city theatre, concert hall
and art musem (Nordic, French and Dutch art from 19th and 20th
centuries) are located by the square. Ostindiska Huset (the house of
the East-Indian Company), built 1750, houses historical,
archaeological and ethnological collections. The city museum is housed
in the oldest house of the city, Kronhuset, from the year 1653. Kronan
is a fortress with a war museum. Off the city lies Älvsborgs Festning
(Ävsborg Fortress), 1670, which can be accessed by boat. The old parts
of the city contain the also the cathedral (1633), Kristine Church
(1648), the law courts (1672), and the opera house (1859). There's a
university (1891) and Chalmers Technical University. The sports
stadium Ullevi, with seats for 52,000 people, is Sweden's biggest; the
indoors stadium Scandinavium houses 14,000. Two bridges go over the
wide Göta River, Götaälvbron and the newer Älvborgsbron.
Gotland is the the largest island (3,023 km²) in the Baltic Sea and
has a population of 56,383 (1989), with the town of Visby as the
administrative center. It lies 80 km off the Swedish coast and can be
accessed by daily boats from the mainland. Close to it are a couple of
smalle islands, Fårön, Gotska Sandön and Karlsö. Gotland is a low
limestone plateau with a temperate, sunny climate. It developed rather
early in prehistory etensive trade contacts with the people of
northern Europe, and had a very distinctive culture, represented by
e.g the numerous, beautiful picture stones erected all over the
island. By the 12th century Visby was an important, independent town
and a member of the Hanseatic League. The Danish king Valdemar
Atterdag brutally conquered it in 1361, and after that, control of
Gotland was disputed by several nations. Trade routes shifted,
however, and by the time Sweden gained lasting control in 1645, it had
lost much of its former importance and was impoverished.
Nowadays the island is a very popular summer destination, rich in
sights (including lots of medieval churches) and very good for a
cycling holiday. It has a beautiful, characteristic nature, and the
old ring wall around the medieval city of Visby, no doubt one of the
most beautiful towns in Scandinavia, is almost totally intact. An
important event is the Medieval Week (medeltidsveckan) arranged in
Visby in August every year, with knights, Medieval markets, etc. The
Forntidssalen museum in Visby displays the fascinating prehistory of
Gotland, including picture stones and some of the rich Viking age
treasures that are constantly found in the island (metal detectors are
banned in Gotland!) Other absolute "musts" in and around Gotland
include the caves at Lummelunda, the rauk fields (peculiar limestone
formations on the coasts) and Stora Karlsö (an island off the
south-west of Gotland).
7.4.6 The rest of Sweden
In the north, people appreciate the beauty of the mountain range
("fjällvärlden"), where you can hike, fish, pick berries, ski (in the
winter) or see the midnight sun (in the summer and far north). There
are several big national parks here.
The province of Dalarna is the "home" of the traditional Midsummer
celebrations, where people dance around the Midsummer poles in
traditional folk dresses.
Jämtland is one of the latest provinces to have been incorporated in
the Swedish realm, and remains almost half-Norwegian both in customs
and language - and a great resort for hiking and skiing.
A popular route is Göta Kanal, on which you can go on boat from
Norrköping to Gothenburg and at the same time see a cross section of
the mid-Sweden country side.
Skåne (Scania) is the Swedish province that gives an almost Central
European impression. The landscape is very flat and much of it is
farmed. You'll find beautiful beech woods here and everywhere you see
the traditional black and white houses ('korsvirkeshus'). Many like to
rent or own summer houses on the Scanian country side. For more info
on Scania, see section 7.6.
[ the sections above are available at the www-page
Subject: 7.5 Swedish literature
Swedish writing dates back to 11th-century runic inscriptions, but
actual literature originated in the Catholic Middle Ages. Saint
Birgitta (1303-1373) wrote her Revelations, which became
internationally known, in Latin. Another important work from the 14th
century is the Erikskrönikan, which recounts historical events in
poetic form. Most medieval Swedish writings served nonliterary
purposes, with the exception of the folk ballads.
Gustav Vasa's reformation of the church contributed to a cultural
decline in the 16th century. However, of vital importance to the
development of the Swedish language were Olaus Petri's Bible
translations of 1526 and 1541. Another important 16th century work,
although in Latin, was Olaus Magnus' Historia De Gentibus
Septentrionalibus (History of the Nordic Peoples, 1523). During this
period there also appeared Sweden's first lyric poet, Lars Wivallius.
Another significant early poet is Georg Stiernhelm in the 1600's.
The Age of Freedom
The 18th century, a period of enlightenment, was dominated by prose.
Only toward the close of the century, during the reign of Gustaf III,
did other genres emerge in the wake of French cultural influence.
Noteworthy is Carl Michael Bellman's rococo ballads. Emmanuel
Swedenborg's mystical visions influenced many authors and thinkers
around Europe and prompted the Swedenborgian religion that still
7.5.3 Romanticism and Modernism
Erik Johan Stagnelius's Neoplatonism, Esaias Tegner's and Erik Gustaf
Geijer's glorification of the nation's past, and Abraham Viktor
Rydberg's idealistic liberalism all reflect the philosophical
orientation of Swedish 19th-century romanticism. Carl Jonas Love
Almqvist, initially a mystic and romantic, came later to herald new
trends of realism in prose works characterized by social awareness.
The poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg, with his heroic and romantic poetry,
had enormous influence in the Swedish speaking literary circles.
Runeberg, as well as many other of the important writers of the 18th
and 19th century lived in Finland, as for instance Frese and Topelius,
and are better covered in section 4.7 of this FAQ.
But the most important figure of the century was, however, August
Strindberg (1849-1912), Sweden's greatest writer and the father of
modern Swedish drama and fiction. Moving in his later plays from
naturalism to dreamlike symbolism, Strindberg fore-shadowed
expressionism. A novelist and playwright, he defied social convention
by writing dramas of sexual conflict and psychological torment, drawn
largely from his personal life. His plays are now esteemed as classics
of the modern stage. Important works include e.g the Red Room (Röda
Rummet), Olaus Petri and Inferno. With Strindberg a new era was
established, the era of the industrialization and urbanization.
Strindberg and later authors are still very popular, while earlier
(National-Romantic) Swedish authors seems antiquated or alien
Strindberg represents the modern society which we still live in.
The socially opinionated prose writers of the 1880s were succeeded by
a new wave of romantics, who preferred verse and emphasized the past
(Selma Lagerlöf) and the countryside (Erik Axel Karlfeldt). About
1900, Hjalmar Söderberg published exquisite short stories set in the
streets of Stockholm; but the novelists of the next decade favored
small-town Sweden. Modernism was introduced in the 1920s by the
Finland-Swedish poets Edith Södergran (1892-1923), Gunnar Björling,
and Elmer Diktonius, and it was affirmed in Pär Lagerqvist's
innovative dramas and Gunnar Ekelöf's surrealistic poetry. A new
social class of self-educated country writers entered Sweden's
literary world in the 1930s, among them the 1974 Nobel laureates Harry
Martinson and Eyvind Johnson.
Sweden managed to avoid the world wars, but its literature from the
1940s (Erik Lindegren, Karl Vennberg) reflects the general postwar
depression. The feeling of pessimism and guilt worsened during the
following decades because of the Vietnam War and Third World problems.
An intense questioning of literature's social function and a mistrust
of language found many literary expressions -- from "new simplicity"
and "concreteness" in poetry, to documentaries in prose, but the
stories of Astrid Lindgren stand out with their delighting humor and
humanity. Swedish literature of the end of the 1970s was characterized
by a new trust in the word and a new delight in traditional fiction
After the second world war popular authors as Vilhelm Moberg
(1898-1973), Astrid Lindgren and Jan Guillou has taken part also in
the political debate. Still in the mid-1990:ies Astrid Lindgren in her
high age appears in radio as an defender of vulnerable children and
animals, as for instance for a 11 years old girl threatened by
deportation after eight years in Sweden.
For electronic versions of some of the works of Nordic literature, see
the collection of Project Runeberg:
* Icelandic Literature
* Literature from the Viking Age
* Medieval Nordic Literature
* Danish Literature
* Norwegian Literature
* Literature of Finland
* Literature from the Age of Liberty [ in Sweden and Finland
[ the sections above are available at the www-page
Subject: 7.6 Scania
<This section by Malte Lewan>
Malte Lewan also maintains a list over
links to Scanian pages (most in Swedish).
7.6.1 Skåne and Skåneland
"Skåne" is old Danish/Scanian and means "the dangerous beach". It is
possibly the same word as the contemporary "skada" / "skade" in
Swedish and Danish respectively which mean "damage".
Skåne is the most southern of the provinces in Sweden. Together with
Blekinge, Halland and Danish Bornholm, it has a unique history while
it was an integral part of Denmark all the years before 1658 except
1332-1360 when Denmark had no king and was in chaos and Scania had
status as country under the Swedish king.
"Skåneland" in Swedish or "Skånelandene" in Danish is a name used for
the four provinces together. In Latin and English it is "Scania". In
1658, they all became Swedish, but Bornholm was returned to Denmark in
1660 while the other provinces remained Swedish.
"Scania" is used for representing "Skåneland" in the text below but
not in a strict sense. Sometimes, the meaning might be closer to the
province of Skåne. And Bornholm will in this use often not be
included. When emphasizing that it is only the southern province that
is referred to, "Skåne" is used, but when emphasizing that all
provinces are referred to, "Skåneland" will be used.
7.6.2 Miscellaneous facts
<This section by Malte Lewan>
The populations of the four provinces are today:
The big cities in Skåne are:
Some rural parts of Scania are well known as separate parts also by
many non-Scanians: Kullabygden, Göinge, Mellanskåne, Söderslätt and
Österlen. The borders of these local provinces are very much disputed
though. As a rule, the historic areas were smaller than how the terms
are used today. Particularly Österlen covers so many positive
connotations as a nice vacation resort that the traditional borders
often get transgressed when trying to sell real estates for example!
The traditional definition of Söderslätt is "south of the highway"
(today highway 101) between Malmö and Ystad.
The biggest newspaper is "Sydsvenska Dagbladet" that has its base in
Malmö but covers southwestern Skåne equally well. It is independently
liberal. In the same area, there are Social Democratic "Arbetet" and
Centre Party "Skånska Dagbladet". Several other local papers exist
like for example Helsingborgs Dagblad and Nordvästra Skånes Tidningar.
The only university in Scania is Lund University. Other schools for
higher education in the same official university area of southern
Sweden are situated in Växjö, Kalmar, Karlskrona/Ronneby, Kristianstad
and Halmstad. There are also quite big university independent schools
in Malmö, and Lund University offers some courses in Helsingborg and
Jönköping (the later outside Scania) as well.
There are ferries between Copenhagen and Malmö, Helsingborg-Helsingør,
Landskrona-Tuborg (close to Copenhagen) and of course to the islands
Ven and Bornholm. There are also ferries to Germany (Travemünde and
Saßnitz) and Poland and sometimes to Lithuania. A few other ones exist
There are no original ethnic minorities living in Scania but there are
a few dozens of thousand of Danes that have moved in after World War
II. Some live in Landskrona and others have houses in Northern Skåne.
Of foreign citizens, there are 9,800 Danes, 8,700 ex-Yugoslavs and
3,150 Finlanders in Skåne. (These are the three biggest groups.)
[ the sections above are available at the www-page
7.6.3 Some marks in history
See also the history sections for Denmark and Sweden. Until 1360
Scania was, without doubts, a Danish land, in the sense that Scanians
were Danes, however not always under a united King of the Danes. After
1360 Denmark's kings had a firm grip of Scania until the province was
ceeded to Sweden in 1658.
King Olav Tryggvesson lands in Scania and wins a battle.
(circa) In the naval battle at Svolder (probably the island
Hven or Saltholm) King Svend Tveskæg is allied with King Olof
Skötkonung. They defeat Olav Tryggvesson's ships.
The border between Scania and Sweden is marked by six raised
stones between Halland & Västergötland; Scania proper &
Småland; and between Blekinge & Småland.
During early 11th century the town of Lund is made to a center
of the eastern half of King Canut the Great's realm.
(circa) Canute the Great defeats the attacking allies King
Amund Jakob from Sweden and King Olav ("the Saint") from Norway
at a big naval battle at the Helge Å estuary.
As the Danes lose the realm in England Denmark is split under
different kings until 1047 when Svend Estridsen from Scania
ascends to the throne.
King Svend Estridsen lets build a church in Dalby (the oldest
remaining stone church on the Scandinavian peninsula), and
Scania is divided in two bishoprics: Lund and Dalby. However,
in 1067 the bishoprics are united under bishop Egino in Dalby,
who after some years move the see to Lund.
The Bishop in Bremen and the Bishop in Canterbury have fought
for the dominance over Denmark, and as a move in this
complicated fight rich funds are donated by the king for a
cathedral in Lund. The cathedral school is opened in 1086. The
school has been in function ever since.
With the first arch-bishop of Lund, Scandinavia was made a
separate church province, no longer belonging to Hamburg.
King Sigurd Jorsalafarare ("Jerusalem traveler") of Norway
pesters eastern Scania and put the town Tumathorp to fire.
A Danish Civil War culminates in the battle at Fotevik, close
to Skanör. Lund is made residence of the victor King Erik
Emune. After he has been assassinated Scania is again for some
years separated from Denmark, until 1142 when King Erik Lam of
Zealand and Jutland defeats King Oluf Haraldsen of Scania.
A peasant rebellion ends in defeat in the battle at Dösjöbro.
Two years later the Scanians are again defeated in the battle
at Höje Å, as the newly elected king of Jutland and Zealand
(Knud VI "King of the Wends") defeats the Scanian King Harald
Estonians (pirates or vikings) pesters Blekinge.
The Scanian Law is written down. 50 years later it's also
transcribed to runes.
A peasant rebellion against the "plough-tax" is successful. The
Scanians are exempted from the tax.
The Swedish King Magnus Ladulås pesters Halland and northern
Scania proper. In the following four hundred years Scania will
endure at least two dozens war.
The Scanian nobility (alternatively the Thing in Lund) had in
the beginning of the 1330s chosen the young Magnus Eriksson to
be king also for the Scanian provinces, as also Gotland had
done, after his regents had promised to pay Count Johan of
Holstein to whom Scania was pawned. At that time Magnus
Eriksson was the under-age king of both Norway and Sweden.
During conflicts between King Magnus and his son Prince Erik
Scania is again pestered by war and plundering which ends as
King Valdemar Atterdag of Denmark re-conquests Scania in 1360.
The Swedish King Albrecht of Mecklenburg will however launch
several attacks on Scania in the hope to regain the land.
After this the Thing in Lund didn't cause more disturbance in
the kingdom of Denmark.
Sort of a proto-University, a Studium Generale, is founded at a
Franciscan Convent in Lund. It disappears, however, at the
King Karl Knutsson (Bonde) of Sweden pesters Scania with the
largest army Sweden yet had raised.
Grevefejden: Civil War between pro-Lutherans and
anti-Lutherans. The mayors of Malmö and Copenhagen come out on
the losing end together with the Hanseatic town of Lübeck.
Reformation follows in 1536.
When Erik XIV ascends on the Swedish throne the attacks on
Scania with massacres and burned towns are intensified.
Tycho Brahe publishes the book "De nova stella" and becomes
famous. In 1576 he is entfeofed with the island Hven where he
erects the observatory Uranienborg.
As Sweden has gained much prestige during the 30-years' War
- and Denmark has lost some. Sweden attacks in 1644, and
Halland is lost to the Swedes (on thirty years). As Denmark try
to take revenge the result is disastrous. The Swedes reach
Zealand via Jutland and the islands, and Denmark is threatened
by eradication. In the peace Scania is ceded to Sweden (despite
Scania being the only part of Denmark proper free from Swedish
The university in Lund is founded.
The Scanians (not the least the Snapphanar - i.e. guerilla
units) and the Danish Army make several attempts to re-unite
Scania with Denmark. The mission in 1676-1680 was military well
prepared, however without support from the Great Powers of
Europe (France in particular) why Denmark was forced to peace
without territorial gains - despite a good position on the
The Swedish policy is a strict Swedification, in conflict with
the peace treaties which guarantee Scania to keep her laws and
nationality. Part by part is Scania incorporated in the Swedish
realm. De jure this was accomplished in 1721, however certain
legal and cultural differences between Scania and the rest of
Sweden would remain for centuries.
1811, June 15th
After a year of unrest among the Scanian peasants a thousand
peasants had arrived at Klågerup's castle in western Scania to
protest against the cruel noble master and against the calling
up of new troops for the attack on Norway (with the failed wars
of 1808/1809 in fresh memory, when the hastily summoned and
barely trained soldiers died from hunger and freezing due to
bad supply of food and tents). The threatening mob was driven
away from the manor by military troops, and thereby 29 peasants
were killed ( - this is the official figure, rumors say that
most corpses had been taken care of by friends and relatives
before the rest was counted by the military).
The prohibition of books in Danish (or Scanian) is abolished.
The flag used by the Arch-bishop during medieval times is
re-invented and introduced as the National Flag of Scania.
7.6.4 The flag
<This section by Malte Lewan>
The Scanian flag is red with yellow ribbons and is more square than
both the Danish and Swedish ones. The measurements are based on the
old (1748-1926) Danish measures for its flag. They are 3-1-4.5 in
length and 3-1-3 in height.
The flag is most likely (though not proved) from the archbishop in
Lund Andreas Sunesen (1201-1228) who then was archbishop for all of
Norden. (But the country diocese ("landestiftet") where the Scanian
law was in force was Skåneland). He got the flag pattern from (and
used it on) a crusade in Latvia and a stay in Riga. The fact that the
flag is like a Danish-Swedish combination with what could have been
borrowed colors from these flags is a coincidence. The Swedish flag is
The Scanian flag itself was probably pretty much forgotten (though
other yellow-red symbols existed) until Mathias and Martin Weibull
"reinvented" it around the end of the last century. First, it was used
very sparingly but the use has grown and does so even today. But only
outside one of the Scanian town halls, in Ystad, is the Scanian flag
flying so far. It is more frequently used by the common people,
depending on area in Scania. The Swedish flag is still more common in
As late as in March 1992, the flag was registered in the Scandinavian
Roll of Armor. At the same time, the Scanian coat of arms was
registered: a golden panther on red background with hind legs like a
lion and front legs like an eagle. The day of the Scanian flag is the
third Sunday in July.
Sources: "Skånelands flagga", Sven-Olle R Olsson, 1993
Newspaper articles from "Sydsvenska Dagbladet", 1992-95
[ the sections above are available at the www-page
<This section by Malte Lewan>
Scania is associated (mostly nationally) with certain hallmarks like
some types of food: the goose, the smoked eel ("røgad åol") and
"spettkaka" (Swedish spelling) that is a type of cake. Other
associations many people get (and also used in the tourist business)
are the clogs a lot of people wear even today and the folk costumes
containing a certain distinctive pale yellow color, with the men
wearing pants reaching just below the knee followed by white socks.
The women have kerchiefs instead of hats when they are married. The
colors of the dresses are dark. The would-be "jacket" of the dress is
one part with the skirt and not separate. The clothings mark richness
with silver and many visible skirts. The folk costumes are based on
the farmers' rather than for example the fishers' Sunday dresses. They
differ of course from hundred ("härad") to hundred but keep certain
characteristics in common.
Lately, the Danish red sausage, the "pølse", has made it into the
outdoor food commerce. It was for a long time not allowed in Sweden
due to the added ingredients making the sausage red. When it finally
became allowed, this was looked upon like a great success of the local
politicians. Maybe because of the Scanian habit of eating this sausage
when visiting København, it has now become very popular in Scania too.
In Lund, there is another sausage called "lundaknake" that has reached
fame, at least locally.
The willows that edges many Scanian roads give the landscape a
characteristic outlook. Scania is like Denmark very flat and without
much of forests except in the north (in fact, this was the natural
divider before 1658 between Denmark and Sweden). The willows are
supposed to shelter against the wind in an environment where no other
natural shelters exist. Also, the Scanian mills ("möllor") are typical
for the province. Often situated on hills, they too characterize the
horizon in the Scanian scenery.
Being a region containing one eighth of the population in Sweden,
there exist of course a great number of nationally famous Scanians,
some of these comedians and singers. There will not be a list here,
but the maybe most famous Scanian, the most Scanian Scanian will be
mentioned. His name was Edward Persson and was the main character and
very much dominating personality in a number of film comedies taken
place on some farm in south western Skåne, in Söderslätt. He more or
less established the image of the Scanian person: fat (!), slow,
content with life, feeling secure and of course having the accent
considered strong in those days of television. He's dead since some
Scanians have often got a bad reputation in Sjælland for going there
to get drunk. The background is different state policies when it comes
to the selling of alcohol. While this is harshly regulated in Sweden
and only sold in certain stores with high prices, it's cheaper and
much more easily accessible in Denmark. The result is irritation
between the former fellow countrymen.
<This section by Malte Lewan>
The old language of the province has many resemblences to Danish but
has also many unique features that would make it problematic to simply
call it a Danish dialect. In the very south west, the language could
be said to be Danish but the heart land is filled with unparalleled
features and related words so different from both Danish and Swedish
that they ordinarily aren't recognizable to either group of speakers.
Until the 19th century, the language was unaltered by significant
influence of both Danish (until 1658) and Swedish (from that year and
onwards). But in the middle and end of that century, the Swedish
language started to persuade vital parts of the population. In the
beginning of the 20th century most people still spoke the old
language, but that majority diminished faster and faster. Today, the
percentage is probably in the one digits and this group of inhabitants
consists mainly of older people though there are some young bilingual
people as well. The language these persons speak is even usually
softly Swedified (where for example the most Swedish of two
alternatives in the old language regularly gets chosen) and examples
of folks today speaking an untouched old Scanian is probably very
What is spoken by most today is a dialect of Swedish, but many
speakers show differences that are more or less noticable depending on
the person. For example:
* Pronunciation of the "r" is made by the root of the tongue in the
"French way". Like the Danes do it.
* When Swedes use t, k and p, Scanians often use d, g, and b. Like
* Like in Danish, t and k are pronounced very hard in beginning of
words whereas in Swedish, they are softer.
* None of the vowels are pronounced exactly in the same place of the
mouth they are in Swedish, and you could say that standard Swedish
"o" and "u" simply do not exist.
* Every long vowel in Swedish is a diphthong in Scanian. The Swedish
language lacks diphthongs entirely.
The type of widely spread strongly dialectal Scanian that there exists
today can be quite difficult even for Swedish speakers to understand.
It's probably as commonly used among young people as among older ones.
It's alive to another extent than the old language and is a Swedish
influenced version of it, with the many parts sensitive to external
domination left out. Even in this dialect, there are several examples
of grammatical differences and there are a few hundreds of local words
still in use all over the province by many people. Just ten examples:
Scanian English Swedish
hutta = throw (Sw: kasta)
klyddig = complicated (Sw: besvärlig)
lässa = load, put up (Sw: lasta, lägga upp)
mölla = mill (Sw: kvarn)
nimm = neat (Sw: praktisk, lätt)
påg = boy (Sw: pojke)
rälig = ugly, mean (Sw: ful, stygg, otäck)
sammedant = likewise (Sw: likadant)
titt = often (Sw: ofta)
töj = clothes (Sw: kläder)
Sources: Newspaper articles from "Sydsvenska Dagbladet", 1992-95
[ the sections above are available at the www-page
There are probably three things that are a salient for the Scanian
development today: membership in the European Union, the bridge over
Öresund (the sea between Sjælland and Skåne) to Denmark/regional
cooperation with Sjælland and Skåne becoming one region politically.
These things are in contrast to much of that of history and culture
openly discussed and many times pushed forward by local Scanian
7.6.8 Membership in the European Union
<This section by Malte Lewan>
In October 1995, Sweden voted a slight yes to become a member of the
European Union. In Skåne, the decision was very clear though. It was
the region the most favorable to membership in all of Sweden.
There is hope that Scania being a member of the EU can have positive
implications for reasons of regional strength. There is talk about a
Europe of the regions where the regions are getting more
responsibility of conducting their own affairs and acting
independently. The EU will probably to a certain degree result in the
removal of administrative and political borders to neighbouring
regions in other countries surrounding Scania. That is at least the
explicit goal of the EU. In the long term, an abolition of customs
controls and a common currency are discussed. This will especially
benefit border regions.
The EU membership resulted in that Sweden needed to be divided into so
called NUTS regions. These are regions that the EU use for socio-
economic calculations, for example when determining distribution of
subsidies from the EU structural funds. Of three levels 1-3, NUTS 2 is
the most important, often called the "basic region". It's necessary
that it has some sort of political controlling unit, a council or
parliament. As a result of these demands for NUTS regions, Sweden and
the EU agreed in 1995 on a division of NUTS 2 in Sweden into 8
regions. Skåne and Blekinge became one. Halland was decided to belong
to another region. This EU NUTS 2 division has been made a business
separate from the _internal_ regional one described late in 7.6.9
where Skåne _alone_ will constitute one region). Some people are not
so happy with this that the boundaries had to be different, thereby
splitting the regional focus.
The EU subsidizes the Interreg II program that supports border
regional cooperation within the EU. For the Öresund region - that is:
Greater København and all of Skåne - it will cover the years
1995-1999. The sum will be 13 million ECU for the whole project and
0.2 of these are used for a specific cooperation between south eastern
Skåne and Bornholm. The same amount that the EU gives must be invested
from the two states, thereby doubling the amount of money available.
Scania is also represented in the EU Committee of Regions in which the
member states' regions have representatives. 2 of the 12 Swedish
representatives are Scanians but that is not the result of any fixed
quota granted to Skåne. The Committee of Regions has no decisional,
but only advisory, powers in the EU. Still, in some EU countries,
regional top politicians are members and have high hopes for the
future of the institution before the EU intergovernmental congress in
that started in Mars 1996.
7.6.9 Cooperation with Sjælland and the bridge over Öresund
<This section by Malte Lewan>
There is since a few years a lot of talk in all kinds of sectors in
Skåne public life about the prospect of a cooperative region involving
Sjælland and Copenhagen. That's a goal every local politician seems to
acknowledge nowadays. There are for example ideas about common
transportation cards, a common TV channel, all kinds of cooperation
projects in science, sports etc, a common labor market, and there has
even been spoken of common Olympic Games in the year of 2008. Skåne
was supposed to be a part of Copenhagen's arrangements as cultural
capital of Europe in 1996, but in the end, the Scanian politicians
decided to avoid some of its costs.
But maybe the most discussed project for better communications between
Scania and Sjælland is the bridge over Öresund:
A bridge is being built between a point just south of Malmö and the
airport of Copenhagen "Kastrup" which is the biggest airport in
northern Europe. The bridge will be 16.5 km long and will carry cars
as well as trains but not bikes. The current regional trains in Skåne
and in Sjælland (the island on which Copenhagen lies) will be
connected. It will take 28 min to go from Copenhagen to Malmö and 41
min to go to Lund. The university town of Roskilde will be on the same
connection (26 min west of Copenhagen).
The bridge was planned to be finished 1999, but is not on schedule so
current predictions are mentioning the year after. It will be financed
by the car (and of course truck) traffic whose drivers will pay a few
hundred SEK for a single trip, just below the prices of today's
ferries. Train passengers will only pay the normal price of 50 SEK in
today's money. The Swedish and Danish states will act as guarantors
for the project.
The bridge was debated a lot because people were worried about hurting
environmental effects. The flow of water between the Baltic Sea and
the North Sea was one of the problems since it could be altered with
damaging effects. The current solution is supposed to make sure there
is no change at all in the water transportation. Other questions
raised involved the increased car traffic and its environmental
7.6.10 A politically united region
<This section by Malte Lewan>
In Skåne, there is a certain amount of dissatisfaction with the
centralization of a lot of cultural and administrative activities
around the capital Stockholm. For example,there has been a famous
research that showed that Stockholm gets six times higher cultural
subsidies than Malmö per inhabitant. The editorial offices of national
radio and TV stations are usually located in Stockholm which many, not
only Scanians, are worried give a particular Stockholm perspective in
But Sweden is slowly in a process of getting a new division into
regions. For the moment there are 24 smaller administrative provinces,
"län", whose borders date back to the 1630's. In the future, there
might be less than ten regions. What was long discussed (not a very
loud debate though) was which areas would belong together and many
different alternatives came up. Finally it was determined that Skåne
and Western Sweden (including the second Swedish city Göteborg) would
start out reuniting their respective län into two big regions (while
the other Swedish län not involved would be left intact for the
moment). The Scanian politicians were probably the most eager for this
project and pushed rather strongly for it. (Already in 1992, did the
main political organisations in Skåne submit a request to the
government for a Skåne political region.) In this building of regions,
the other parts of Skåneland - Blekinge and Halland - were omitted
from being part of the new region. For now, they will continue being
So, a state official report in 1995 proposed that Skåne politically
should become one region and that a directly elected regional council
should be formed. The date was in a government proposition in 1996
specified to Jan 1, 1997. When this proposal will be carried through,
today's two län councils will disappear and be substituted by the
regional council. Some of the state administrative powers (concerning
regional development) will be transferred to the region. The Swedish
parliament will make a decision concerning this in 1996.
This report also suggested that the site of state administration would
be Kristianstad in northern Skåne and this soon became a heated issue
where the "capital of Skåne" would be. Malmö politicians were upset
about making Kristianstad the administrative site and the positions
seemed to be locked. Finally, this position was given to Malmö, a fact
which of course angered the Kristianstad politicians much and who
threatened to leave the project entirely.
Parallel to having this new common political institution, there is
also already a will from the regional politicians to coordinate and
integrate regional decision making. Many different political domains
(eg communications, economic life, education, tourism) are examined
one by one by selected teams on how to improve the way those decisions
that concerns all of Skåne are made. This will be made with or without
the help of a regional parliament. It seems, the theme is always one
Skåne institution or organisation for different activities. This is
not least visible in the names being used.
7.6.11 International status
<This section by Malte Lewan>
Scania is a member of the national minority organization FUEV
(Föderalistische Union Europäischer Volksgruppen [German]) which is
located in Flensburg, Germany. Only regions with their own language,
clearly defined border and a history to go back to, are accepted in
It is also a recent member of UNPO (Unrepresented Nations and Peoples
Organization). UNPO is an alternative to the UN for minorities of the
world, which are not represented in there. UNPO is located in Haag,
Netherlands where the Scanian flag now is flying.
Sources: Newspaper articles from "Sydsvenska Dagbladet", 1992-95
Brochures by SVEDAB (Svensk-Danska Broförbindelsen AB), 1993-94
Ett enat Skåne: www.skane.se, Öresundskomiteens: www.orestad.com
[ the sections above are available at the www-page
Subject: 7.7 Books for learning Swedish
* Teach Yourself Swedish, a complete course for beginners
(Hodder & Stoughton 1996)
by: Vera Croghan
* Svenska Utifrån, Lärobok i svenska,
(Svenska Institutet, 1997)
by: Nyborg, Roger & Pettersson, Nils-Owe
* In French:
Le suedois sans peine - svenska på lätt sätt
* Swedish : a comprehensive grammar
(London & New York : Routledge, 1994)
by: Philip Holmes and Ian Hinchliffe
* Swedish, A Concise Grammar
(London & New York: Routledge 1997)
by: Philip Holmes and Ian Hinchliffe
* Basic Swedish Grammar (1963),
by: Beite, Ann-Mari, Englund, Gertrud, Higelin, Siv & Hildeman,
* Easily found in any bookshop. These two books are a sort of small
FAQ about Sweden:
*skål*, herrings and bier,
Americans with Swedish backgrounds, etc.
Two sets of cassettes can be bought with the books.
* Practice Swedish, Exercises in the Swedish Language (1957)
* Learn Swedish, Swedish Reader for Beginners (1959)
by: Hildeman, et al
[ the sections above are available at the www-page
-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- END OF PART 7 -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
© Copyright 1994-98 by Antti Lahelma and Johan Olofsson.
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