The largest of the three Scandinavian countries and the eastern half of the Scandinavian peninsula, lies between 55ºand 68º north latitude and 12º and 24º 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 Öland, 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 the Öland chalk also appears, and in Skåne 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 Mälar. Stockholm, the beautiful capital of Sweden, is situated on the outlet that connects Lake Mälar with the sea. The country's many, and generally swift, rivers not only form beautiful waterfalls, as Trollhaettan, Taennforsen etc., but also contain in their great abundance of water about 5,000,000 horsepower. Lakes and rivers are frequently connected with one another and with the sea by canals; one of the most important is the Göta 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 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 69º 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 60º 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 entered or left Swedish ports. The unit of coinage is the krone, which equals 100 öre or 1.12 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 Götar ), 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, Malmö, Norrköping, 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 laens, 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 wartime the army can easily be doubled. The Swedish navy is small but good; it is only used for coast defence. Its equipment consists of 1000 officers and non-commissioned officers and 4000 marines and sailors. The national colours 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 colour with a yellow horizontal cross. There are several decorations of honour, 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 16 July, 1858, and is a member of the Bernadotte family ; in 1887 he married Princess Victoria of Baden.
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 Ty-deus, 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" ( älfkvarnar ), and despite attempts to dispel superstitions by the schools the belief in house spirits and forest sprites 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 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 Björn 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 Skötkonung 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 Sweden Botvid preached chiefly in Södernmanland, 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 Linköping, in the reign of Sverker the Old. Both here and in the monasteries (Alvastra, Nydla, 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 Linköping 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 Skennninge 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 Ladulås, the clergy was 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, laboured 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 honour 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 Linköping, 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), was elected king in 1523 on account of having incited and led a successful revolution against the domination of Denmark, 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 in Örebro. 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 connexion 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 Västerås, were accused of treason and executed without any further legal process. At a diet at Västerås three years later Gustavus Vasa was able, by skilful dissimulation, to obtain the passage of laws which made him the summus episcopus 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 of 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 Smålanders, who held to the Church, to check the rapid advance of Protestantism was defeated prominent leaders of the Catholic party, bishop Brask of Linköping, Bishop Haraldsson of Skara, "Lagman" Ture Jonsson, and others, were obliged to flee. Nils Dacke, a peasant of Småland, who for some time successfully led his countrymen against the king, was finally killed in battle. At a second diet held at Västerås 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 Västerås 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 ( Röda 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 Nådendal 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 labours; 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 membership 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 Valdenström, who, notwithstanding their separatistic inclinations, work in union with the State Church in this matter. The various missionary associations labour 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.
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 seashore (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 stoned 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 Skåne, 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 procued 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 ( hällristningar ) 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 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 connexion with their neighbours 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 Skötkonung 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 Skåne, 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, had much influence. They were often able to make their office hereditary. The provinces were divided into hundreds ( härrads ) at the head of each of which was a höfding , 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 ( odalbönder and bönder ) and the serfs ( trälar ), 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, Linköping, Orebro, Straengnaes, Vesterås, 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 re-establish the unity that had been disturbed, but his son Charles could not maintain himself. On the other hand Erik, a Sweden 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 favoured 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 Falköping. 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 ins 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 Ladulås.
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 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 Skåne 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, 20 July, 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 differences 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 to 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 re-enter 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 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 Straengnaes. He gained Stockholm and Calmar during the summer months of 1523, and Öland and Finland also acknowledged his sovereignty. At the same time his position was by no means a favourable one, for he lacked the money to meet the most necessary expenses, while the consistent 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 of expedients. By means of clever dissimulation and deceitful promises he was able to make the citizens and peasants his ad
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