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Sweden National Day: a Celebration of Historically Revolutionary Day

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Words: 1899 |

Pages: 4|

10 min read

Published: Jun 12, 2023

Words: 1899|Pages: 4|10 min read

Published: Jun 12, 2023

Table of contents

  1. Historical Background of Sweden National Day
  2. Conclusion
  3. Works Cited

People waving flags paint the sky blue and yellow. In Stockholm, the king and queen can be found at Skansen, an open-air museum, participating in a ceremony. Children dressed in traditional peasant costume present the royal couple with bouquets of summer flowers. An outsider might be confused at all the commotion, it is a seemingly regular day, but for the people of Sweden, the day is a reminder of the rich history of their country. Today is June 6th and in Sweden, the people celebrate National day. On this day they remember two important dates in the history of their country, the rise of Swedish independence and the Riksdag enacting a new constitution.

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Historical Background of Sweden National Day

The people of Sweden originate from mostly Germanic settlers who arrived through rivers and lake systems, and in about 2500 B.C., agriculture was established around Lake Malar in central Sweden. Christianity came to Sweden in about 1000 A.D. and the foundations of Swedish history were laid in the eighth century A.D. The climate became stabilized, the people and the cultures represented blending, and the social order, as well as customs and beliefs, became well established and extensive communication networks linked Sweden to western Europe, the Arabic Isles, Russia, Greece, and distant India. Many young Swedish men around this time became Vikings, fierce sea-faring warriors, and Viking society was governed by things, local representative bodies in which every free man had a voice. Although the vast majority of the population was not represented, the thing would serve as a model for later representative democracies. When the first strong monarchial dynasty, the Folkungs, came to power in 1250, this representative government would fall out of favor. The Folkungs ended the thrall system; thralls were captives who were kept as slaves by the Vikings, although some did earn their freedom, and created the Riksdag. The Riksdag was a legislative body that consisted of four social classes, peasants, nobles, the clergy, and finally, merchants and landowners made up the fourth or burgher class.

In 1347 due to growing German influence, Sweden entered the Kalmar Union. The Kalmar Union united medieval Norway, Denmark, and Sweden- which at the time included Finland- while still preserving the laws, customs, and administration of the separate countries. Between the years 1397and 1523, Norway, Denmark, and Sweden came under the rule of Queen Margaret. The three countries were supposed to be equal in the union, but rulers tended to favor Denmark as it was the strongest of the three. The Danish also had a tradition of strong kings which came into conflict with Sweden’s traditionally strong nobility and starting in 1434 the Swedes often rebelled or set up separate rulers. 1434 would be the start of Sweden vs. Kalmar Union, a fight that would last for years to come. Things would come to a head with the arrival of King Christian II of Denmark, who would be the last king of the Kalmar Union. Christian II’s rise to power in Sweden was clouded by violence. After losing to the Swedes in war, he took six noblemen to Denmark as hostages, one of whom being Gustav Vasa, and he only became king in Sweden when Sten Sture the Younger, the elected regent of Sweden was mortally wounded by the Danes during a battle won by Denmark and Christian was acknowledged as king in return for promising mercy and a constitutional monarchy. However, the peasants, led by Kristina Gyllenstierna, Sten Sture the Younger’s widow, would not abandon the war and it was several months before Stockholm surrendered.

The coronation of Christian II would lead to the Stockholm Bloodbath, which would be the final straw leading to revolution against Denmark. The incoming king was coronated king on November 4th and had granted amnesty to all who had fought against him in the previous war. The party that was thrown in his favor was a merry festival and they had been celebrating for three days, but on the fourth day, the archbishop Gustav Trolle presented an accusation that several of the pardoned noblemen were kttare or heretics. Gustav Trolle had been the head of the council of state and was pro-Kalmar Union and therefore Christian II during the war leading up to his coronation and despite assistance from Christian, Trolle had been imprisoned by the Swedes after a civil war broke out in 1517 and he was removed from his position. Gustav Trolle crowned Christian as a hereditary monarch, breaking the promise he made at the end of the war. Trolle’s accusations were centered around the destruction of his home, Almare-Stket in 1518 and as he was archbishop at the time, it was considered a crime against the Church. The crime of kttare superseded the pardons that Christian II had granted, and this was important because the people that Trolle accused were noblemen and clergy that had sided with the Stures during the war. The law stated that the crime of ktarre was one of the most heinous crimes and punishable by death. From November 7th to November 10th, roughly one hundred people were murdered in the Stockholm town square by Christian II, although the number varies by account. The king’s guests were locked into the castle as Church representatives, which included Trolle and Danish bishop Jens Anderson Beldenek put them on trial. The accused were found to be “obviously guilty” and were all sentenced to death. The list of supposed heretics was long and supposedly even included Sten Sture the Younger, and his body was removed from his grave to be burned with the other heretics. The bodies were left in the town square until November 10th, when they were removed to be burned nearby as people convicted as ktarre could not be buried in church cemeteries which were considered holy ground. The mass killing of his political opponents would be the beginning of the end for Christian II.

After hearing about this, Gustav I Vasa, who was connected by marriage to the Sture family, would rebel against the Danish crown at the beginning of the Swedish War of Liberation, which is also known as the Swedish War of Succession. He had escaped from his Danish captivity and returned to Sweden in 1520 and went to Dalarna when he heard about the Stockholm Bloodbath because Dalarna was where the Stures had the staunchest support and soon there was a rebellion underway. In the spring of 1521, Vasa’s army from Dalarna won their victory against Denmark. He needed outside help to evict the Danes and he received this help from the rich city of Lubeck, whose merchants felt threatened by Christian’s economic policies. Soon rich noblemen were allying themselves with Vasa and with their help as well as the assistance from Lubeck, Gustav Vasa was elected king of Sweden on June 6th, 1523.

Gustav Vasa’s crown was precarious due to his dependence on his former backers and continued to be precarious for some years after that. There was some degree of harmony between Sweden and Denmark due to the current king of Denmark, Frederick I, who had driven out his nephew Christian II, and Gustav Vasa being mutually scared of Christian’s return. Vasa had many internal struggles to contend with from the aggrieved members of the old Sture clan who thought he showed too much favor to their former enemies and the men of Dalarna who disagreed with him on matters of economics and religion to great nobles who found him to be a much more arduous ruler than they had expected. Gustav Vasa was an unforgiving and demanding ruler known to be suspicious, deceitful, vindictive, and manipulative, and to most of his enemies, he seemed to have the traits of a tyrant. Due to debt to Lubeck and the need to strengthen royal authority, he was forced to impose harsh taxes. Vasa had little theological interest but his desire to exploit the Catholic Church’s wealth for his own means as well as his resentment of any authority that was not his would lead to the Reformation coming to Sweden. His want for a Lutheran Sweden was a purely political one and it would take until 1544 for Sweden to become a conclusively Lutheran country.

By far Vasa’s greatest achievement was the creation of a strong monarchy, but in the 1800s an incompetent king would threaten this monarchy. The Instrument of Government, the other momentous event celebrated on this day would come about as a result of the Napoleonic wars. At the outbreak of the Napoleonic wars, Sweden was only a middling European power, but it would fight in no less than four wars, including a phony war with the UAE. The forces involved and the casualties suffered would pale in comparison to those on the continent, but the considerable money and manpower required from Sweden would bring the country to the brink of destruction. It was only due to the idiocy and ineptitude of King Gustav IV Adolf that the first two wars were fought; a farcical war against France in Swedish-Pomerania, which lasted from 1805 to 1807, and an epic struggle against the efforts of a combined Russia and Denmark-Norway. The king had kept Sweden out of the wars until the arrest and execution of the Duc d’Enghien in 1804 which caused him to view Napoleon as evil incarnate and he would stop at nothing until he was destroyed. The king managed to fail in every diplomatic and military effort he attempted and when Napoleon convinced Russia and Denmark to join forces against Sweden, he would lose Finland, which at the time made up one-third of the Swedish area and one-fourth of the population.

Due to the massive failures at the end of Gustav IV Adolf, soldiers were returning to Sweden with disease and frozen feet and the people were not pleased. Georg Adlersparre, an officer stationed at the Norwegian front, arranged a standoff with Norway’s stadtholder and commander, Prince Christian August, and marched with 2,900 men towards Stockholm. Adlersparre entered Stockholm on March 22 and Gustav IV abdicated on the 29th, although he refused to include his son. The Riksdag was called for on May 1, 1809, and on May 12th a constitutional committee was assembled. The new constitution would be known as The Instrument of Government and it was accepted by the Riksdag and the new king, Charles XIII on June 6th, 1809.

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Conclusion

The people of Sweden celebrate their rich history and the advancement of their government every June 6th and this historically revolutionary day should serve to remind the world that a government that is flawed and does not support the needs of the people cannot survive.

Works Cited

  • Encyclopedia Britannica. www.britannica.combiographyGustav-I-Vasa. Accessed 9 May 2022.
  • This was written by the editors of Britannica, a well-respected source that has existed since the 18th century.
  • Encyclopedia Britannica. www.britannica.complaceSwedenPolitical-conflict#ref403738. Accessed 9 May 2022.
  • This was written by the editors of Britannica, a well-respected source that has existed since the 18th century.
  • Olofsson, Magnus. 'The Swedish Army in the Napoleonic Wars.' Napoleon-series.org, Effra Digital, www.napoleon-series.orgmilitary-infoorganizationSwedenOrganizationc_swedisharmy.html. Accessed 9 May 2022.
  • Magnus Olofsson is a history researcher at Lund University
  • Scott, Franklin D. Sweden, the Nation's History. Chicago, Distributed by the Swedish American Historical Society, 1983.
  • The author of this book is a professor of history at Northwestern University, the curator of Nordic Collections at Pomona College, and a specialist in the history of Sweden.
  • 'THE STOCKHOLM BLOODBATH of NOVEMBER 1520.' States News Service, 10 Nov. 2021, p. NA. Gale General OneFile, link.gale.comappsdocA682016009GPS?u=pl2553
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Sweden National Day: a Celebration of Historically Revolutionary Day. (2023, Jun 12). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 13, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/sweden-national-day-a-celebration-of-historically-revolutionary-day/
“Sweden National Day: a Celebration of Historically Revolutionary Day.” GradesFixer, 12 Jun. 2023, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/sweden-national-day-a-celebration-of-historically-revolutionary-day/
Sweden National Day: a Celebration of Historically Revolutionary Day. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/sweden-national-day-a-celebration-of-historically-revolutionary-day/> [Accessed 13 Apr. 2024].
Sweden National Day: a Celebration of Historically Revolutionary Day [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2023 Jun 12 [cited 2024 Apr 13]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/sweden-national-day-a-celebration-of-historically-revolutionary-day/
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