Sweden, the largest of the three Scandinavian countries and the eastern half of the Scandinavian peninsula, lies between 55° and 68° north latitude and 12° and 24° east longitude. It is bounded on the west by Norway, the Skager Rack, and the Cattegat, on the east by Russian Finland and the Baltic. (For map see Denmark.) Including the Islands of Gotland and Oland, Sweden has an area of 172,876 square miles, of which 73,040 are forest land; 15,000, water; over 20,000, farming and grass land, while what is left consists of barren land, moorland, and pasture land. Although the elevation of the land is on the whole considerably higher than that of Denmark, still the country lacks the mountainous districts of Norway; it is only in the northern part that there are found some mountain peaks, as Suliteluma, which rises to a height of 6150 ft. and glaciers such as Sylfjell. The ground consists chiefly of primitive rock, granite, and gneiss, the disintegrated parts of which form the soil. In Gotland and Oland chalk also appears, and in Slane coal is found. No country in Europe, with exception of Russia, has larger lakes than Sweden. The largest is Lake Wenern (2200 square miles), the most beautiful is the Wettern (733 square miles), the one containing the greatest number of islands and most frequented is Lake Malar. Stockholm, the beautiful capital of Sweden, is situated on the outlet that connects Lake Malar with the sea. The country’s many, and generally swift, rivers not only form beautiful waterfalls, as Trollhwttan, Taennforsen etc., but also contain in their great abundance of water about 5,000,000 horse-power. Lakes and rivers are frequently connected with one another and with the sea by canals; one of the most important is the Gota Canal. The climate is relatively mild, especially in the southern provinces and Gotland. The rainfall is fairly regular. In summer the days are not only long and bright, but also very warm. In the northern part of Sweden the sun does not set from the end of May until the middle of July. Naturally the winter is a complete contrast to this: for months the land is covered with heavy snow, and the water has a thick covering of ice.
Sweden is very heavily wooded; in the south the forests consist chiefly of beeches and oaks; in the higher latitudes conifers take the place of these; birches are found below 69° N. lat. The forests and open country give shelter and food to large numbers of wild animals; besides hares and deer there are also reindeer and squirrels. Formerly wolves and bears were numerous, but now they are only found in the most unfrequented parts of the northern provinces and will before long disappear. In Southern and Central Sweden the same varieties of grain and vegetables are cultivated as are grown in Germany, Denmark, and Northern France. In sheltered places grapes are grown as high as 60° N. lat. and at times are sweet in this latitude, but are not suitable for wine. Much attention is given to the breeding of cattle and the making of butter and cheese. The mines, especially at Gellivare, yield a large quantity of fine iron ore. The river and high-sea fishing (salmon, cod, herring) has attained large proportions. The Scandinavian exhibition held in 1897 showed the extraordinary development of manufacture during the last hundred years. The most valuable exports are wood, either in the rough or worked, and iron in the ore or in bars; the annual value of the export of the first is 200,000,000 kronen and of the second 100,000,000 kronen. Butter and cheese to the value of about 40,000,000 kronen are exported annually; live-stock, hides, and fish, 20,000,000 kronen. The value of the most important imports is as follows: coal, 66,000,000 kronen; all kinds of groceries and manufactures, 50,000,000 kronen; grain, 52,000,000 kronen. Traffic and commerce are promoted by the numerous canals and the excellent roads; by a large number of railways, having a length altogether of 8694 miles and owned partly by the State and partly by private citizens; by an excellent postal, telegraph, and telephone system. In 1909 the Swedish merchant marine included 1800 sailing vessels with 200,000 tons, and 1200 steamships with 583,000 tons. In 1908 more than 35,000 ships entered or left Swedish ports. The unit of coinage is the krone, which equals 100 ore or l’12 marks of the German coinage, and equals 27 cents in U.S. money. Weights and measures follow the metric system.
The great majority of the population of 5,500,000 persons consist of Swedes (Svear and Gotar), and of people of Danish descent settled in the southern provinces who are now Swedish in speech and thought. In the north Finns and Lapps are found who, although they understand Swedish, still hold to their own customs and languages. Officially nearly the entire population belongs to the Lutheran State Church. Nevertheless, large numbers are indifferent or have no belief; the sects are steadily multiplying. The few thousand Catholics are scattered through the entire country and regularly organized parishes exist only at Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmo, Norrkoping, and Gefle. The number of marriages (33,000) is increasing, while the annual birth-rate changes but little. Divorce has become quite frequent. Emigration, however, has declined. As regards education and training, there are five schools of high rank, including the two well-endowed universities Upsala and Lund; a large number of technical schools, gymnasia, primary and itinerant schools. The national wealth is estimated at four milliards; the national debt in 1910 amounted to 527,000,000 kronen.
Sweden is a constitutional monarchy; the crown is hereditary in accordance with the law of primogeniture. The Parliament consists of two houses, and the king has the right of veto. Administration and justice in Sweden, like the same departments of government in England, have retained many German peculiarities. For administration the kingdom is divided into twenty-five districts, called lens, each of which is governed by a landshoefding. Justice is administered by district and upper courts. For ecclesiastical purposes Sweden is divided into twelve dioceses, each containing a large number of parishes; at the head of each diocese is a bishop. The primate of Sweden is the Archbishop of Upsala; the king is the summus episcopus. In Sweden liability to military service lasts twenty years; twelve years are spent in the first levy (Bevaering), eight years in the reserve. The time of actual service is short, being barely one year in most instances. Naturally the officers receive a thorough military training. In times of peace the army numbers 66,000 men, of whom 6000 serve in the cavalry, 7000 in the artillery, 2000 in the engineer corps. In war time the army can easily be doubled. The Swedish navy is small but good; it is only used for coast defense. Its equipment consists of 1000 officers and non-commissioned officers and 4000 marines and sailors. The national colors are yellow and blue. The battleflag is blue with a yellow horizontal cross that runs out into a tongue; the two blue sections of the flag likewise end in tongues. The flag of the merchant marine is square, blue in color with a yellow horizontal cross. There are several decorations of honor, the highest being the Order of the Seraphim. The Order of Charles XIII is only intended for Freemasons. The present King of Sweden is Gustavus V, who was born July 16, 1858, and is a member of the Bernadotte family; in 1887 he married Princess Victoria of Baden.
ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY.—Nothing positive is known as to the religious ideas of the prehistoric inhabitants of Sweden during the Stone and Bronze Ages. It is hardly possible, however, to doubt that they believed in a life after death, as they were accustomed to offer sacrifices at the graves of their dead, and to place in these graves the weapons, tools, utensils, and ornaments of those there buried. Their religion was an ancestral worship. Light or its chief representative, the sun, appears to have received as Tydeus, equivalent perhaps to Zeus, the veneration of a divinity. This is shown by two symbols derived from the Stone Age, the wheel and the axe. Subordinate to this may have been a form of worship paid to individual trees, springs, rivers, and lakes, as striking natural phenomena, which is not entirely extinct even yet. For example, sacrifices are offered in “fairy-mills” (alfkvarnar), and despite attempts to dispel superstitions by the schools the belief in house spirits and forest spirits is still to be found here and there. Great fires are still kindled about Easter time, just as was customary thousands of years ago. At a later date than that above-mentioned the sun-god was regarded from varying points of view and received various names. This led gradually to a number of gods: Thor, Odin, and Frey, or Freyr. However, Thor, not Odin, always remained the chief god; he was the god of lightning and of strength. It is indeed asserted that the worship of Odin came from the South; this, however, is contradicted by the fact that his greatest temple stood in Upsala, and that the Scandinavians were the chief worshippers of this god. Among the Germans Wodan, as he was called by them, was treated with but little respect; this is especially true of the tribes of Southern Germany. Moreover, the Scandinavian mythology, as it has come down in the two Eddas, is totally lacking in unity and is in part influenced by Christian ideas. Bloody sacrifices, generally animals, as horses or dogs, were offered to the gods to conciliate them or to gain gifts from them. At times human beings were sacrificed, as bondsmen, freemen, and even kings, who in the literal sense of the word were killed with the sword. Those dedicated to Odin were hung in his groves. Once in nine years the feast of the equinoxes was celebrated with special and horrible pomp. On each of the nine days of sacrifice at least one human being was killed, besides large numbers of animals. Dozens of bodies often hung from the trees. A distinct sacerdotal order seems to have been unknown, and the chiefs of the tribes offered the sacrifices themselves.
The first contact with Christianity arose from the expeditions of the Vikings. In this way the Scandinavians became acquainted with, and learned to appreciate, the higher civilization of the southern races; some of the northern warriors were baptized. Thus gradually the ground was prepared for the seed of the Gospel. The first effort to convert the country to Christianity was made by the Frank, Ansgar. At the request of Swedish nobles he was commissioned by the Emperor Louis the Pious to go to Sweden and reached the commercial town of Birka in Maelarsee in 630, after a hard and dangerous journey. Here with the consent of King Bjorn he preached zealously for more than a year. Twenty-three years later Ansgar, who had in the meantime become Archbishop of Hamburg–Bremen, returned to Sweden, and by his shrewdness and gentleness overcame the hostile efforts of the worshippers of the heathen gods. His successor as archbishop, Rimbert, also sought to carry on the work of converting the Scandinavians. However, internal turmoils and wars soon destroyed what the two pious men had built up. It was not until the beginning of the eleventh century that the Church resumed the work. German and English missionaries competed with one another in preaching the Word, and not without results. In 1008 Olaf Skotkonung was baptized by Siegfried at Husaby in Western Gotland. But the Church made very slow progress. In the reign of King Stenkil a diocese was founded at Skara. In the reign of Ynge the Old, the new faith gained the mastery. The English missionaries David and Eskil, the German missionary Stephen, and the Swede Botvid preached chiefly in Sodermanland, Vestmanland, and Norrland. The first-mentioned died a natural death, the others gained the crown of martyrdom. Still heathenism maintained itself for a long time in isolated spots in the valleys among the mountains.
Naturally the leaven of the Gospel penetrated the hearts of the battle-loving warriors very slowly, and the majority of the baptized were only half Christians. Their knowledge of religion must have remained very limited on account of the lack of printing and of schools. The secular clergy, and later the monks especially, sought with praiseworthy zeal to raise the neophytes to a higher spiritual and moral level. They opposed with growing success drunkenness, violence, polygamy, and the exposure of children. A second diocese was established at Linkoping in the reign of Sverker the Old. Both here and in the monasteries (Alvastra, Nydala, Varnhem, etc.) promising youths were instructed in religion as well as in secular knowledge. The lack of the written word was supplied by zealous preaching of the doctrine of salvation. The poor and sick were tenderly cared for. Christian festivals took the place of the heathen ones, and the organization of the Church made rapid progress. The first national synod was held at Linkoping in 1152 under the presidency of the papal legate, Bishop Nicholas of Albano. Soon after this Upsala was made the see of a diocese; its first bishop was an Englishman named Henrik. Before long he joined a crusade to Finland, remained in that country, and was killed for the Faith. In 1164 Pope Alexander III raised Upsala to an archdiocese and placed the Swedish Church province under it. As early as the national synod just mentioned the collection of Peterspence was sanctioned; the power of the Church was still further increased when in 1200 Sverker the Younger freed the clergy from the secular jurisdiction and made the payment of tithes obligatory. By the decisions of the national synod held at Skenninge in 1248 the influence of the bishops became greater still. At this synod the election of the bishops was transferred to the cathedral chapters, the study of canon law and the rigid observance of the law of celibacy were made obligatory, while the synod also released the entire clerical body from taking the oath of loyalty to the secular authorities. In 1281, during the reign of Magnus Ladulas, the clergy were released from the payment of taxes, and thus was laid the foundation of their too abundant possessions which were only in part applied to good purposes, such as the building and adornment of churches and the founding of schools and homes for the needy. Birgitta or Brigit, the founder of the Brigittine Order, labored during the reign of King Magnus Eriksson; she also exerted influence as a writer on mystical subjects, and died at a great age at Rome during the latter part of the fourteenth century. At a later date she was canonized.
The civil wars which wasted the country for hundreds of years were alike injurious to faith and morals. In the course of time the possessions of both nobility and clergy became very great; consequently Margaret, queen of the united Scandinavian countries at the end of the fourteenth century, found it necessary to confiscate a part of these lands, which frequently had been gained by doubtful means. On the other hand there were also excellent princes of the Church, as for example, Archbishop James Ulfsson, for whom may be claimed the honor not only of establishing the first printing press in Sweden in 1483, but, what is more, that of founding the University of Upsala. The last Catholic Bishop of Linkoping, Hans Brask, also showed much ability and was as zealous in his episcopal duties as in his promotion of learning. However, the great lack of the true Apostolic spirit among the other Church dignitaries is shown by the fact that Archbishop Bengtsson and Bishop Carlsson led troops against their kings. In addition, Bishop Hemming Gad did everything he could in 1500 and the following years to overthrow the union of the three kingdoms, and then made common cause with the Danes, while Archbishop Gustavus Trolle, who was a strong supporter of the idea of unity, was deposed on this account by the Swedish national council. This last procedure led to the interference of the pope, an act which though just was ill-timed. The victorious King Christian II was guilty of great cruelty to his former foes, largely due to the influence of Archbishop Trolle, and this made the Church very unpopular among a large portion of the population. Consequently Gustavus Eriksson (Vasa), who was elected king in 1523 on account of having incited and led a successful revolution against the domination of Den-mark, found the way only too well prepared for the overthrow of all religious conditions.
The first representative of what is called the “ideas of the Reformation” was Olavus Petri, the son of a smith, who was born in 1497 at Orebro. He was a pupil of Luther at Wittenberg and returned home in 1519. As cathedral canon at Straengnaes he won over to his opinions the archdeacon Laurentius Andreas. Very soon the new ruler saw how advantageous it would be to him if he were able to crush the power of the bishops and to confiscate the lands of the Church. As early as 1524 Gustavus Vasa broke off the official connection of the country with the Roman Curia and permitted Olavus to preach the heretical principles of his former teacher openly in the chief church of Stockholm. Prelates who held strictly to the Faith, as Bishop Peter Jakobsson (Sunnanwader) and the cathedral provost Knut of Vasteras, were accused of treason and executed without any further legal process. At a diet at Vasteras three years later Gustavus Vasa was able, by skillful dissimulation, to obtain the passage of laws which made him the summus episcopas of the Swedish Church and brought the Church into helpless subordination to the State. In order to dupe the people the Mass, veneration of saints, and pilgrimages were not discontinued at first, ecclesiastical vestments and ceremonies were also retained almost without change. But at the same time, the king and the nobility appropriated as much of the Church lands for themselves as was possible, taking twelve thousand large peasant farms. Even the sacred utensils and bells were seized by Vasa. Many monks and nuns were driven out of their monasteries; a number, including all the members of the Franciscan monastery at Raumo, were killed under circumstances of great cruelty. In order to win over the priests they were permitted to marry, and a great effort was made to win over the common people to the new doctrine by translating the Bible into the vernacular. The attempts of the Dalecarlians and Sail-Landers, who held to the Church, to check the rapid advance of Protestantism was defeated with bloodshed. The most prominent leaders of the Catholic party, Bishop Brask of Linkoping, Bishop Haraldsson of Skara, “Lagman” Ture Jonsson, and others, were obliged to flee. Nils Dacke, a peasant of Sml land, who for some time successfully led his countrymen against the king, was finally killed in battle. At a second diet held at Vasterlas in 1544 nearly all the feast days were suppressed and all Catholic customs excepting a few were done away with. The declaration was also made that the country would “never again abandon the word of God and the pure Gospel”.
The two chief reformers of Sweden were Olaf and his brother Lars (Laurentius). Gustavus Vasa had made the latter Archbishop of Upsala after the flight of the last lawful bishop, John Magni. Three years before the second Diet of Vasterlls the two brothers fell into disgrace with the king and were condemned to death; however, upon the payment of a large fine they were pardoned. They were replaced as councillors of the princely tyrant by two Germans, Konrad of Pyhy and Georg Normann, until Konrad was also sent to prison. The skill and success with which Gustavus “purified” the Church is shown by the fact that, although originally almost penniless, at his death he possessed 1,300,000 thalers in coin (about $6,250,000 at the present value of money), and 5000 large farms. This landed property was afterwards called the “Gustavian patrimony”. After his death ecclesiastical matters remained for a time as he had left them. However, his son, John III, who had married a Catholic princess, Katherine Jagellon of Poland, was strongly inclined to the Catholic Church. At the diet held in Stockholm in 1577 he forced the Protestant clergy to consent to a new liturgy (Ruda Boken) and new ecclesiastical regulations. The negotiator for the papacy, Antonio Possevino, S.J., was even able to persuade the monarch to enter the Catholic Church and to begin negotiations with the pope. As, however, the pope could not consent to the Swedish demands, no permanent agreement was made. After John’s death his brother Charles called a church assembly at Upsala in 1593 which was largely composed of preachers (135) from the Diocese of Upsala, while the other dioceses were only scantily represented. The members of the assembly repudiated John’s liturgy and, in order to avoid all dissension, the “unchanged Augsburg Confession” was made the religion of the State. Severe punishment was the penalty of apostasy from it, while the exercise of any other form of worship was strictly forbidden. In the Province of Finland, just as in Sweden, Protestantism was introduced by force; it was not until towards the end of the sixteenth century, however, that there were no longer nuns at Vadstena and Nadendal and that Catholicism came to an end.
In this period the intolerance of Protestantism was so great that Sigismund, son of John III, who was also King of Poland and a Catholic, was not allowed to hold Catholic services in private, and the expulsion of all non-Lutherans was decreed. After Sigismund‘s overthrow in 1598 and deposition in 1599 a number of the noblest men of the country were executed on account of their loyalty to their king and their Church. Draconian laws were to put an end forever to “popery”. Conversion to Catholicism was punished with loss of all civil rights and perpetual banishment. Foreign ecclesiastics who remained in the country to carry on a propaganda were to be punished with severe imprisonment and heavy fines, and even to be expelled. Conditions did not become better until two hundred years later when, in 1780, King Gustavus III at the request of the Estates granted the free exercise of their religion to “Christians of other faiths” who desired to settle in Sweden for the sake of carrying on commerce or manufactures. In consequence of this, Rome in 1783 appointed a vicar Apostolic for Sweden, who, however, could effect but little, as up to the year 1860 natives of Sweden were forbidden to enter the Catholic Church under penalty of expulsion from the country. Since the year 1873 members of the national Church who are over eighteen years of age may join other religious societies. All proselytizing by the dissenters is forbidden. Moreover, there still exist a series of juggling enactments, which have lately been multiplied, so that there is very little actual religious freedom. According to the literal interpretation of the Constitution Christians of all faiths may be appointed to all offices, excepting the Council of State, but this is not carried out in practice, and in this regard no change will be made within the near future.
Those desiring the history in detail of the development of the Lutheran State Church of Sweden will find it given very exactly and with copious foot-notes in the excellent work of the Anglican Bishop of Salisbury, Dr. John Wordsworth, quoted in the bibliography. It is only necessary to remark here that gradually new life sprang up from the ruins of the Catholic Church organization. The University of Upsala was revived and another university was founded at Lund; in these schools as well as in a number of sees men excellent in their way carried on fruitful labors; missions to the heathen were begun in Sweden earlier than elsewhere—for example, the missions to the Laplanders and the Indians. However, there was no lack of strife and sectarian movements in the Church (Pietism, Moravianism, Swedenborgianism, etc.); since the middle of the eighteenth century Rationalism and Infidelity have assumed formidable proportions. Freemasonry is strong in Sweden, and among its members are many clergymen, church dignitaries, and even bishops. The majority of teachers in the higher schools and many preachers reject belief in the Trinity and regard Christ simply as a sage and philanthropist. Even the instruction for confirmation is at times made use of to sow the seeds of doubt in youthful hearts; matters have gone so far that a bishop declared, without exciting much opposition, that the Apostles’ Creed was unnecessary. The number of the unbaptized is constantly increasing. Attendance at church and at the Communion service (8 per cent of the normal attendance) is rapidly declining of late years. Among many intense love of pleasure and unbridled sensuality prevail. Notwithstanding the practice of abortion in many places, every third child is illegitimate. These things lead many of the better classes to join the sects, among which the largest memberships belong to the Methodists and Baptists.
The number of clergy grows continually less, and those who still hold to the Confession of the State Church are hampered in their efforts to maintain religion by the fact that their energies are largely absorbed by matters of secular administration. Consequently the men who courageously fight for their convictions deserve all the more credit, even though they are at the present opponents of Rome. It is due to them that of late far more than formerly efforts have been made to renovate all the churches, and to build new ones, and to improve church music and religious art; as regards the liturgy, a desire to revive the old forms has of late become apparent. Much is done for missions both by the State Church and by the followers of Valdenstrom, who, notwithstanding their separatistic inclinations, work in union with the State Church in this matter. The various missionary associations labor among the heathen in South Africa, the Congo State, India, China, and Japan. In Palestine the effort is made, with but slight success, to bring the “pure Gospel” to Roman Catholics and Orthodox Greeks. The same effort in Abyssinia is defeated by the conservatism of the Coptic Christians. Missions are also established for converting Jews and Mohammedans although little has been accomplished. On the other hand, home missions and work among the Swedes, especially in America, have made considerable progress.
POLITICAL HISTORY.—It will probably never be possible to determine when Sweden was first inhabited. However, the large number of objects found by excavating justify the belief that several thousand years before Christ there were people living along the sea-shore (Baltic, Cattegat) and by the lakes to whom the use of metals was unknown. With constantly increasing skill they manufactured weapons and utensils from horn, stone, and clay. Their only food was gained by hunting and fishing. The raising of cattle and agriculture seem to have become customary very slowly. The dead were buried either in a recumbent or sitting position, in curiously formed stone chambers over which at times mounds of earth of considerable size were raised. Scientific men do not agree as to the original home from which the prehistoric inhabitants of Sweden came. It seems hardly probable that they all spread from the south to the north. Still this may be true of the inhabitants of the present Provinces of Slane, Blekinge, and Halland. The Stone Age at last gave way to the Age of Bronze. Some two thousand years before our era men learned how to fuse copper and tin, as is proved by great numbers of utensils, as knives, daggers, swords, and shields that have been preserved, which were sometimes very ingeniously made. Gold also began to be used in this period. Bronze was gradually replaced by iron. Roman traders brought into the country not only articles produced by Roman skill in art but also gold coinage. Up to this time the people had tried to preserve the memory of important events by primitive marks (hallristningar) scratched on rocks; they now learned from the Roman traders the use of letters, but turned these to suit their own taste into the Runic writing that was long in use. The earliest historical knowledge of Scandinavia and its inhabitants is due to Roman authors. Tacitus (Germania, c. xliv) is the first to call the people “Suiones”. How closely this tribe living north of Lakes Wetter and Roxen was related to the Goths living to the south and west, and how it was able to absorb the latter and give its own name to the combined body will always remain obscure.
About the fifth century of the Christian era the civilization of the country had greatly advanced; this is proved by numerous remains of gold utensils, ornaments, runic stones with inscriptions, burial urns, and other articles. Just as in the later Bronze Age, the bodies of the dead were sometimes burned, sometimes buried; however, the latter custom had the greater prevalence. The Swedes had only a small share in the viking expeditions which, from the eighth century onward, were the terror of the peoples of Europe. Besides, in their expeditions they gained a firm foothold in Finland and also came into closer connection with their neighbors the Russians. The first efforts of missionaries to convert the Swedes to Christianity occurred in the ninth century. It was not until about the year 1000, when Olaf Skotkonung was baptized by the Anglo-Saxon missionary Siegfried, that Christianity was fairly established. Olaf’s family, of whose deeds little is known, died out with Emund the Old (1060). At that time the Kingdom of Sweden included only the present northern provinces, while Slone, Blekinge, and Halland belonged to Denmark and remained united with this country for centuries. The vast forests were largely the cause of the individual development of the tribes, who were separated from one another by them, rendering a common administration for all much more difficult. As roads were lacking, the rivers and lakes were used to connect the different parts of the country. In regard to the government the election of the king customary in earlier times gave way to a settled succession to the throne. Naturally the machinery of government in the modern sense did not exist. Everything depended upon the initiative and force of the ruler, whose commands might, indeed, not be carried out at all or only in part by the great officials or jarls. The various provinces had each its own laws (lag), and the lagmen, or expounders of the law, exerted much influence. They were often able to make their office hereditary. The provinces were divided into hundreds (harrads) at the head of each of which was a hofding, whose chief duty was to maintain peace and order. For a long time the father of the family still remained the master within his house. The people were divided into the higher and lower freemen (odalbonder and bonder) and the serfs (tralar), and generally lived together on farms or in villages. The houses were built of wood or clay and were covered with shingles or straw. Even at this time, however, there were larger places with occasional stone buildings, as Skara, Linkoping, Orebro, Straengnaes, Vesteras, Upsala, Sigtuna, and, at a little later era, Stockholm, which rose rapidly into prominence. The national character showed sharp contrasts: harshness and gentleness, loyalty and deceit, magnanimity and revengefulness. No observer doubts that the gradual improvement in public morals was due to the influence of the Church.
After the old ruling family was extinct a chief named Stenkil was chosen king. He was connected with the former rulers by his wife who was the daughter of Emund the Old, and was an ardent supporter of Christianity. During his reign the first diocese, Skara, was established in eastern Gotland. However, as the actual Sweden (Uppsvear), still held to heathenism, rival rulers appeared, and for more than twenty years internal strife prevailed. Finally Inge, the second son of Stenkil, was able to defeat his opponents and bring about a complete victory for Christianity. With the death of a nephew, Inge the Younger, in 1125, the family of Stenkil came to an end. The East Goth Sverker, who married Inge’s widow, was able for a time to reestablish the unity that had been disturbed, but his son Charles could not maintain himself. On the other hand Erik, a Swede from the northern provinces, won universal recognition. Erik undertook a crusade in Finland and after his return was killed in a battle (1160) with a Danish pretender Magnus Henriksson. In the following year Magnus was killed by the people. Sverker’s son Charles obtained the ascendency, but he had to give way in 1167 to Knut Eriksson. During Knut’s administration the first Swedish money was coined and Stockholm was founded. After Knut’s death Sverker Karlsson, the son-in-law of Birger Brosa, Knut’s chief councillor, obtained the throne (1195), although Knut had left children. Birger owed this success to the clergy, whom he favored on all occasions. A war broke out between Knut’s sons and Sverker after Birger’s death; Sverker was obliged to flee, and when he sought with Danish aid to regain the throne he suffered a decisive defeat in 1208 near Falkoping. Two years later he also lost a battle near Gestitren, when he was killed. His successful rival Erik Knutsson, the first King of Sweden to be crowned, died in 1216. He was followed by John Sverkersson, at whose death in 1222 the family of Sverker became extinct. Erik, the posthumous son of Erik Knutsson, now came to the throne, but he proved an incompetent ruler and was for a time deposed. By the marriage of his sister Ingeborg with the vigorous Jarl Birger of the Folkunger family he sought to gain Birger for his cause. In 1249 Birger won Finland, which never before had been conquered, for Erik. While Birger was in Finland Erik died, and the nobles of the kingdom elected Birger’s son Waldemar. During Waldemar’s minority his father carried on the administration with success and skill, maintained good relations with the adjoining countries, and sought to preserve peace at home by wise laws. His son Waldemar, who ruled from 1266, was very unlike his father and had, therefore, to yield the administration to his more strenuous brother Magnus, later called Ladulhs.
Magnus was the first to call himself “King of the Swedes and Goths”. He continued the work of his father, was able to protect the common freemen (allmogen) against the encroachments of the higher nobility, and in 1285 was able to gain the valuable island of Gotland without a blow. When Magnus died in 1290 his heir Birger was a minor; the lord chamberlain, Torgil Knutsson, carried on the government excellently and without self-advantage. After Birger himself came to power Torgil continued to be his most trusted adviser. Finally the king’s brothers were able to so arouse Birger’s suspicions of Torgil that he seized and beheaded him without trial in 1306. Punishment for such a shameless act did not fail to follow. Left without his one true friend, Birger was made a prisoner by his intriguing brothers and lost his throne. The unfortunate quarrel between the brothers ended apparently four years later with a settlement whereby Birger received a part of the country. However, he misused the power he had regained to obtain revenge, and allowed his two brothers to die of starvation in prison. At this the indignant people drove him from the throne and elected Magnus (1319), the three-year-old son of the late Duke Erik. Shortly before this Magnus had become heir to the throne of Norway by the death of his childless relative King Hakon. When in 1332 Magnus came to power he had the opportunity for the first time to unite temporarily the Danish Provinces of Skane and Blekinge with his kingdom. His reign was marked by many misfortunes; in particular, the pneumonic plague carried off two-thirds of his subjects. Although the king did much for Sweden by introducing common law and suppressing serfdom, yet he was hardly able to maintain himself in his own country, still less in Norway, especially as he came into disagreement with the pope. He found himself obliged to recognize his son Hakon as King of Norway (1343) and to accept his son Erik as co-regent of Sweden (1356). After Erik’s death he reigned jointly with Hakon over both countries. By Hakon’s marriage with Margaret, the youthful daughter of King Waldemar of Denmark, the way was prepared for the future union of the three countries.
Discontent with the growing power of the king led the Swedish nobles to revolt against Magnus and offer the crown to Duke Albert of Mecklenburg, who was able, with the aid of German ruling princes, to overthrow Magnus and Hakon (1364). However, as Duke Albert was obliged by agreements made before election to leave unpunished the greatest excesses of the nobles, while the brutality of his vassals and mercenaries aroused universal indignation, it was resolved to elect Margaret Regent of Sweden. In 1375 Margaret had followed her father in the government of the Kingdom of Denmark, and in 1387, after the death of her son Olaf, had been recognized in Norway as the fully authorized and rightful ruler. Albert was defeated by Margaret’s army (1389) and was taken prisoner. For a time his adherents continued the struggle for supremacy as pirates (the Vitalians), but finally, in 1395, Queen Margaret came into possession of Stockholm. Before this event the nobles of all three kingdoms at an assembly held at Calmar, July 20, 1397, had crowned as king of the united kingdoms a boy of seven years, Duke Erik of Pomerania, son of Margaret’s niece. At the same time it was settled how the “Union” was in future to be carried on. On account of the great difference in interests and character of the three peoples it is evident that the Union could never attain real strength. As long as Margaret ruled, which was only for fifteen years, everything went smoothly. A woman of great talents and masculine energy, she personally superintended the entire government, saw to the prompt administration of justice, and sought to increase the power of the Crown at the expense of the nobility; her one mistake was that she granted the Danish element too much influence and thus estranged the Swedes. During Margaret’s last years Erik began to share in the government, and it was owing to him that a long war broke out with the Counts of Holstein. His attempt to wring a tax from all vessels passing the Oresund made the Hanseatic League his enemy. Only the ability of his wife, Philippa, the daughter of an English nobleman, prevented Copenhagen from falling into the hands of the enemy. Under Erik’s autocratic rule the internal government grew worse from year to year, and the growing discontent of the people found vent in bloody revolts. Under the leadership of Engelbrechtsson the Dalecarlians drove away all the Danish supervisors and chose a head of their own (until 1435). The nobles alone for the time being held to the king, but they sought to weaken his power by means of agreements, and as Erik did not keep these promises, allegiance to him was declared to be no longer necessary at the Diet of Arboga (1436) and Charles Knutsson was elected as administrator or stadtholder of the kingdom. Although the democratic Engelbrecht was murdered soon after this, yet the efforts to reconcile king and people had no lasting success, and Erik was deposed in 1439. He also lost the crowns of Norway and Denmark. Denmark elected Duke Christopher of Bavaria king; he was recognized by Sweden in 1440, and later by Norway. The chief event of his short reign (1440-48) was a famine. The condition of the peasants also grew worse. His efforts, however, to establish a settled code of law are very creditable to him.
After Christopher’s death the Union fell rapidly to pieces, as the Swedes elected Charles Knutsson, who has already been mentioned, as king, and the Danes and Norwegians Christian of Oldenburg (1448). In 1457 the latter was able to obtain his election in Sweden also, but he could not make any headway against King Charles or Sten Sture the Old, the successor of Charles in the administration of the country. Christian I was followed in Denmark by his son Hans (1481), who gradually gained recognition in Norway (1483) and Sweden (1497). When, however, he was defeated in a battle with the Dithmarschen, Sweden again abandoned its allegiance to him (1501) and on the death of Sten Sture the Old in 1503 the Swedes made Svante Sture the administrator of the country (1503); after this latter’s sudden death in 1512 the government passed to Sten Sture the Younger. The son of the late King Hans, Christian II, now sought by arms to force Sweden to reenter the Union. In this policy he was supported particularly by Archbishop Gustavus Trolle of Upsala, against whom the hatred of all the friends of Sture was naturally directed. The Danish troops which landed at Stockholm in 1517 were soon defeated and driven back, and the next year Christian‘s troops suffered a still severer defeat at Brannkyrka. The national Swedish party deposed and imprisoned the dignitaries of the Church without any regard to canon law, consequently the pope excommunicated its leaders, placed Sweden under an interdict, and commissioned King Christian to carry out the punishment. Early in 1520 King Christian sent a large army into Western Gotland, and after successful skirmishes the Swedes were overwhelmingly defeated at Upsala. Stockholm alone held out for a time, but when Christian, approached the city with a strong fleet, it was obliged to surrender. The conqueror had been recognized by a part of the council as king before this; he entered the city in state, was able to obtain homage as hereditary ruler, and was then crowned. Unfortunately the adherents of the Union were not content with what had been attained; Archbishop Trolle demanded the punishment of his enemies, and Christian made short work of these. Bishops Matthias of Straengnaes and Vincent of Skara, and a large number of nobles, councillors, and citizens were executed as proclaimed rebels and heretics, and their property was confiscated. While on his return to Denmark the king had various persons executed, hoping in this way to suppress the spirit of insurrection forever. In this he was mistaken.
In January of the next year a peasant insurrection broke out in Dalarne, which spread rapidly. Gustavus Eriksson (Vasa) became the leader of the insurgents, who soon numbered 15,000 men. Vasa had lost his father and brother-in-law in the slaughter at Stockholm, and had been taken prisoner at Braennkyrka as the chief standard-bearer, but had made his escape. His strength grew as leader of the rebellion through several fortunate skirmishes, and as he succeeded in winning over the influential Bishop Hans Brask to his cause, a popular assembly at Vadstena appointed him stadtholder of the kingdom (1521); two years later he was unanimously elected king at Straengnses. He gained Stockholm and Calmar during the summer months of 1523, and Oland and Finland also acknowledged his sovereignty. At the same time his position was by no means a favorable one, for he lacked the money to meet the most necessary expenses, while the constant civil wars had largely destroyed the sense of order and respect for law. The bishops were powerful and wealthy lords and only partially satisfied with the new conditions; neither could much dependence be placed upon the nobility. Gustavus, however, was never at a loss for expedients. By means of clever dissimulation and deceitful promises he was able to make the citizens and peasants his adherents. The introduction of Luther’s doctrines not only freed him from the tutelage of the bishops, but in particular offered him the possibility of gaining control of the Church lands and treasures. As the nobility also gained large sums by this confiscation, community of interest bound them to their princely ruler. Resistance, wherever shown, was crushed mercilessly, generally by foreign mercenaries. Gustavus repaid the loyalty of the Dalecarlians, to whom above all he owed his success, by the execution of their best men. He was an unusually powerful man of coarse instincts; in old age he married for his third wife a very young woman, and had little interest in higher moral aims when they were of no benefit to his practical schemes. For schools he did not care at all, and he allowed the one university, Upsala, to sink into decay. The preachers frequently received mere pittances, and in many cases stood on a low moral and intellectual level. On the other hand much was done to improve agriculture, mining, and commerce, as well as to strengthen the defenses of the country. However, the monarch gave much more thought to his own advantage than to the well-being of the nation. When he died in (1560) he was the richest prince in Europe.
Among the later rulers of Sweden only one was a Catholic, Sigismund; two princesses of the royal family, Cecilia Vasa, daughter of Gustavus I, and Christina, daughter of Gustavus II Adolphus, became converts in their later years. The nation was permanently separated from Rome, consequently it is only necessary here to treat the later history of the country very briefly, especially as during the period of the “great powers” it is closely connected with that of Europe. The sons of Gustavus Vasa ruled Sweden from 1560 to 1611. Erik, the first to come to power, was half-crazy, was soon deposed by his brother John, and died in prison. On account of mental deficiencies Magnus never came to the throne. On the other hand Vasa’s youngest son, Duke Charles, who had inherited both the good and bad qualities of his father, was able to drive his Catholic nephew Sigismund from the throne and to leave it to his son Gustavus II Adolphus, whose share in the Thirty Years War was of such far-reaching importance. The conversion to Catholicism of his daughter Christina was of as little political importance as the earlier conversion of the most beautiful of Gustavus Vasa’s daughters, Cecilia. Cecilia was the ancestress of the Catholic heroes, Margrave Leopold William and Louis William of Baden; she outlived all her brothers and sisters and died at Brussels in 1627.
The guilty family of Vasa was succeeded by relatives who were descendants of the Wittelsbach Palatinate family (1654-1718). The successful warrior Charles X Gustavus reigned only six years. During the reign of Charles XI a large part of the earlier territorial possessions was lost; the imprudence and recklessness of his son Charles XII almost ruined Sweden, although at first he gained some temporary and brilliant successes. These two kings ruled as absolute monarchs and cut down greatly both the rights and possessions of the nobility. The succeeding kings, however, Frederick of Hesse and Adolphus Frederick of Holstein Gottorp, were limited in their sovereignty by political parties (Hats and Caps). Gustavus III (1771-92), son of the last-named sovereign, restored the former splendor of the monarchy, but was assassinated when barely forty-six years old. During his reign the first breach was made in the rigid system of the state Church. His son and successor Gustavus IV Adolphus (1792-1809), of honorable but obstinate character, was naturally not the one to direct state affairs skillfully in an era of universal upheaval. He was deposed by a military conspiracy (March 23, 1809). His uncle and successor, Duke Charles (King Charles XIII), sought to secure peace for the country by the surrender of territory which he could not hold. As he was childless, he first adopted Prince Christian Augustus of Augustenburg and, after the sudden death of this heir, the French marshal, Jean Bernadotte, who accepted the election as crown prince and became a Protestant to secure the succession to the throne for himself and his descendants. Even during the lifetime of his adopted father he was the real ruler. As the representative of the interests of his country he came into collision with his former protector Napoleon, joined the allied powers in 1812, and sent 30,000 men to the Army of the North. After the battle of Leipzig he led his troops (of whom he had taken great care) against the Danes. Denmark was made to sign the Treaty of Kiel (1814) in which it yielded Norway to Sweden. The unwilling Norwegians only consented under pressure of circumstances, and their differences with Sweden were never fully settled. Finally, in 1905, the Norwegian Storthing proclaimed the independence of Norway, and Sweden had to consent to the separation. Conditions in Sweden have greatly improved under the new ruling family, although friction, especially at first, arose between ruler and people. Jean Bernadotte reigned as King Charles XIV John (1818-44). Especially prosperous was the reign of Oscar I (1844-59); his wife Josephine, a Catholic princess of Bavaria, was universally beloved on account of her charitableness. During the reigns of their sons Charles XV (1859-72) and Oscar II (1872-1907) the country developed greatly in all directions, especially as regards political and religious freedom. Oscar II was also a distinguished author. The present king is Gustavus V Adolphus.
ART.—Even as early as the end of the ancient Stone Age, probably a thousand years before Christ, the people of Sweden showed a desire to improve the shapes of utensils in common use, as is evidenced by the discovery of numerous utensils belonging to this long past era. There was a steady improvement in the forms of tools, especially of the axes. Vessels of clay were not only adorned with graceful designs, but at times they were also ornamented with more or less skillful drawings of animals. In the Bronze Age the sense of beauty rapidly increased; weapons and ornaments (rings and diadems) reached a high degree of correctness and beauty, although in part this was plainly due to the influence of foreign skill in art. On the other hand the representations of the human form showed decided clumsiness for a long time. In this period use was also made of the higher metals, gold and silver, especially in ornamenting the weapons for defense and attack. The weapons were first made of bronze and afterwards of iron. Apparently articles made of glass were brought from other lands. The Runic alphabet was first employed in the early Iron Age; the runes were cut on memorial stones that had been formerly without inscriptions. During the era of the Migrations and of the Viking expeditions the aesthetic sense of the Swedish people developed as they became acquainted with artistic models; this is shown especially in the ornamental work. The final victory of the Romano-Christian civilization exerted a profound influence upon technical artistic skill and the tendencies of art. Although goldsmiths and armorers were still held in high repute, and the memory of unusually skillful masters was preserved in song, nevertheless from now on art was above all employed in the service of religious ideas. The royal palaces and princely dwellings, which were chiefly built of wood, have disappeared.
In Norway a number of the old wooden churches are still in existence, but in Sweden only the unassuming little chapel of Hedared, situated between Boras and Alingsas, has withstood the storms of time. On the other hand there are a number of tasteful stone churches in various architectural styles and sometimes very interesting details such as doorways, arcades, tabernacles etc. Some, as the Romanesque cathedrals of Lund and Linkoping (Transition Period) and the Gothic cathedral of Upsala, fall but little below the celebrated architectural works of more southern countries in size and splendor. Among the churches worthy of notice are those at Skara, Vasteras, and Strangnas; the monastic churches at Varnhem and Sko (Cistercian), Sigtuna (Dominican), and Vadstena (Brigittine), also several churches, which are in good condition, as the Tyska Kyrkan or the Church of the Virgin at Visby, and some preserved as ruins, especially on the Island of Gotland. The majority of the country churches were built in the Romanesque period; many of them were altered later during the Gothic era. At times the churches are round in shape with remarkably heavy walls; apparently they were used when occasion required for purposes of defense: A number of churches, as those at Rada, Risinge, Arboga etc., were adorned with frescoes, which were afterwards covered with whitewash. Of later years the whitewash has at times been removed and the pictures thus exposed have been skillfully renovated. The churches were also adorned with stone and wood carvings, such as images of Christ, of the Madonna, and the saints, carved altars, baptismal fonts of stone or metal, reliquaries, hanging chandeliers and standing candelabra, chalices and patens, costly ciboriums, monstrances, and ostensories, processional crosses, censers, organs, bells, superb vestments, etc.
Fortunately, notwithstanding the thorough “purification of the Church” undertaken by Gustavus Vasa, enough remains to show that in Sweden also during the Middle Ages there was a sense of pious sacrifice and of purified art. As everywhere else the effect of what is called the “Reformation” was at first destructive, and for centuries nothing new of importance was produced in the domain of ecclesiastical art. It is only of late years that a more and more marked change for the better has appeared. Here and there altars of Catholic origin have been brought from old lumber-rooms and garrets and restored to their former places. Mosaic work is also used. A continually increasing number of orthodox pastors make use of embroidered vestments in the services of the Church and there are signs of a ritualistic movement, which, however, is energetically attacked by the Liberal and unorthodox clergy.
The development of secular art since the twelfth century does not lie within the province of the present article. Instead of building churches Protestant Sweden has very largely erected castles and citadels; these have been filled with weapons, gorgeous furniture and table equipments, ancestral portraits and pictures on panels; on sepulchres, high-sounding epitaphs were common. In isolated instances artists have ventured to represent Biblical subjects. There is no Catholic art; the poverty and small memberships of the Catholic communities forbid the encouragement of such an art. Still the Church of St. Erik in Stockholm is a well-decorated building. The other Catholic churches, as St. Eugenia at Stockholm, those at Goteborg, Malmo, etc., have been able, in the course of time, to obtain better vestments and utensils.
LITERATURE.—In pre-Christian times there was no real literature in Sweden as neither written language nor runes came into use until quite a late period. The oldest known writing of a historical character, the so-called “Roksten” from East Gotland, appeared probably about the year 900. It recounts in alliterative verse the heroic deeds of a king; later inscriptions have also the same theme. It may be assumed with certainty that there were songs of gods and heroes that were orally preserved, but of which next to no traces now remain. The first to arouse the intellectual life of the nation were Catholic priests, especially monks; in doing this they both practiced and taught the art of writing with intense energy. They wrote chiefly in the language of the Church; in all countries these Latin and exclusively religious works are very similar and therefore will not be considered here. Gradually, however, the language of the people came more and more into use for literary purposes. It became a serviceable instrument for the expression of higher ideals and noble sentiments. Thus the way was prepared for a literature in the Swedish language. The early writings in Swedish were very largely practical. Thus the current conceptions of law were brought together into codes of law in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, as the “Vastgotalagen” and “Ostgotalagen”, the “Upplandslagen” and “Gutalagen”. A treatise of the thirteenth century called “Om styrilsi Konunga och hoftinga” gives rules for right living. The “Revelations” (Uppenbarelser) of St. Birgitta (d. 1373), which are at times very extravagant in style, have been translated into many languages. Of the writings of Magister Mathias, cathedral canon of Linkoping and father-confessor of St. Birgitta, there is still in existence a translation of the Bible, besides several sermons and edifying treatises.
The first connected accounts of historical events were two chronicles in rhyme, the chronicle of Erik and that of Karl. The first relates in doggerel the quarrels of the Folkunger family up to the year 1319 and gives, in particular, a vivid description of the actions of King Magnus Ladulas. The other chronicle covers the era, 1389-1452. Poems of imaginary adventures and French metrical romances, as “Ivan and the Lion”, “Fleur and Blanchefleur”, were imitated in Sweden, and history in a romantic garb, as the legend of Alexander or that of Duke Frederick of Normandy etc., was also recast by Swedish writers. As one of the most important of these early poets should be mentioned Bishop Thomas Simonsson of Strangnas (d. 1443). He wrote an account in fairly good verse of the national hero Engelbrecht, and in his songs praised the virtue of loyalty and the blessings of freedom. Jons Budde, a Brigittine monk, who was by birth a German, prepared while living first at Vadstenn and then at Nadendal, Finland, various versions of ascetic works, lives of saints and similar treatises, and also translated several books of the Bible, as Judith, Esther, Ruth, and Machabees. Peder Mansson wrote text-books on mining. Bishop Brask of Linkoping wrote two works now lost; one a chronicle of his diocese, issued in 1523, the other a genealogy of the Swedish nobility (1530). Lastly many reminiscences of the heroic and Catholic eras are still found in the Folkvisorna (folksongs). Accounts of the five periods of Protestant Swedish literature may be found in works on the subject. Mention should be made here of John Messenius, author of “Scandia illustrata”, the chronicle of a bishop, and various dramas. He was imprisoned for twenty years on account of Catholic tendencies and on his deathbed openly joined the Catholic Church. He left a work in manuscript called “Hertig Carts Slagtarbank” (Duke Charles’s Shambles), now in the royal library at Stockholm, which, although perhaps somewhat too severe and at times exaggerated in tone, describes the bloody persecution that Catholics who were faithful to king and Church suffered from the cruel father of Gustavus Adolphus. It should also be said that Erik John Stagnelius (d. 1823) belongs with Wallin and, in part, Tegner, to the foremost Protestant poets of Sweden; in his drama “The Martyrs” Stagnelius produced a work which is of value particularly to Catholics. Naturally there is nothing to be said of a Catholic Swedish literature of the modern era. The missionaries, however, have not been idle. Besides prayer-books, contemplative works, and catechisms, they have issued several apologetic works, as Gibbons in his “Vara faders tro” (Faith of our Fathers); also Hammerstein, who has written “Edgar”, and devotional treatises (philothea) and has been a successful translator of Latin and German hymns into Swedish.