Sweden was settled from 8000 BC 6000 BC. The population lived mainly by hunting and fishing, and used simple stone tools. Dwellings and tombs dating mostly from the Stone Age have been found making the Swedish history an interesting one. A feature of the highest level of culture of this time was the large number of artifacts found in the graves in these regions. Signs of the Iron Age date back to 500 BC. During this period the foundation of the economy and society was based mainly on agriculture.
The Swedish History
Vikings and the Early Christians
The Swedish history starts with the Viking era which lasted from 800 to 1050 AD and it is mainly characterized by orientation of the population towards the east. Vikings made expeditions along the Baltic coast up to the interior of Russia today. The Black Sea and Caspian Sea have established trade relations with Byzantium and the Arabian kingdom.
Christianity first arrived in Sweden through the mission led by Ansgar. He visited Sweden in the 9th century but to the Christianity began to be accepted there even in 11th century.
The Establishment of the Kingdom
The Crown gained significant influence in Sweden in the late 13th century when the different provinces were absorbed into one unit. In 1280, the crown was awarded to Magnus III (1275-1290) who established the nobility and organized society under the feudal model.
The Hanseatic Period
In the 14th century, trade increased, especially in the German cities that were under the direction of Lübeck. Swedish trade was dominated in the group known as the Hanseatic League, to the mid-16th century and as a result of that commercial activity, many cities were established. The great economic decline of the population in Sweden occurred in 1350 and was caused by the Black Death.
The Kalmar Union
Sweden, Denmark and Norway were united in 1389, during the rule of the Danish Queen Margareta. The Kalmar union between these three countries under one monarch was established in 1397. The Union lasted until 1523, but was accompanied by many internal conflicts that culminated in 1520 with the “Stockholm bloodbath.” By order of the Danish King of the Union, Christian II, 80 Swedish nobles were executed. It caused an uprising which led the deposition of Christian II. The government took over the Swedish Noble, Gustav Vasa. On the church green in Mora in 1520 he sent a call to residents to help Sweden to get rid of the Danish occupation. In 1523, Gustav Vasa was elected as the King of Sweden.
The Vasa Period
Gustav Vasa ruled from 1523 to 1560. During his reign were the foundations of the Swedish state laid. But because the church was nationalized, its estates were confiscated by the crown, and Protestant Reformation was introduced. In 1544 monarchy came back and power was concentrated in the hands of the king.
The Swedish Empire
The Swedish history would be incomplete without mentioning the Swedish Empire. The Swedish Foreign Minister, after the collapse of the Kalmar Union, concentrated on gaining power over the Baltic Sea. This led in 1560 to the new wars with Denmark. Sweden had its intervention in the 30 years was, in 1630 along with German Protestants, making Gustav II became the most powerful monarch in Europe, Sweden defeated Denmark in the two wars of 1643 to 1645 and 1657 to 1658. After the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 and the Peace of Roskilde with Denmark in 1658, Sweden became the greatest power in northern Europe.
The rise of Sweden was such that, it was even a colony in North America, what is now known as Delaware. However, a lack of resources meant that Sweden was unable to maintain this position of great power in the long term.
After the Great Northern War (1700-1721) when Sweden was defeated by the forces of Denmark, Russia, and Poland combined, Sweden had to let go on almost all of its provinces. Also, Sweden had to surrender Finland to Russia during the Napoleonic Wars. Jean Baptiste Bernadotte was then elected heir to the Swedish throne in 1810 as compensation succeeded in obtaining Norway. He was forced into a union with Sweden in 1814 which was after many internal disputes, peacefully dissolved in 1905.
18/19th Century in Swedish History
After the defeat of Sweden in the Great Northern War and the death of King Charles XII in 1718, the Swedish Parliament (Riksdag) and the Council introduced a new constitution that put the power in the hands of parliament and abolished royal absolutism.
In the 18th century, Sweden had seen a cultural development. This happened because of the close contact with France. But because of the Napoleonic wars, stagnation occurred in foreign trade in Sweden, which caused a general economic crisis in the early 19th century. Until the end of this century, almost the entire population of Sweden had only livelihoods through agriculture.
It is in this period that the great migration occurred to North America, where about 1.5 million Swedes migrated.
The rapid development of the industry between 1900 and 1930, transformed Sweden after World War II as one of the leading industrial countries in Europe.
Famous Swedish Monarchs
Gustav II Adolf (1611-1632)
He is the most famous king of Sweden. By intervening in the Thirty Years War he acquired great political significance internationally. During his rule, Sweden became a leading military powerful country. Gustav II was killed in the Battle of Lützen in 1632.
Christina is the only female monarch. Just before her sixth birthday, she succeeded Gustav II in 1632 and ruled for 22 years. Abdicated in 1654, she converted to Catholicism and settled in Rome. Her successor was Karl Gustav, her cousin. When he died in 1660, Christina returned to Sweden hoping to return to the throne. Her request was rejected by parliament after which she again returned to Rome.
Gustav III (1771-1792)
King Gustav III founded the first opera in Stockholm in 1782; he is the founder of the Swedish Royal Academy of Music and was a strong patron of the arts. His rule was not accepted by the higher nobility and in a conspiracy in 1792; he was killed during a masked ball held at the opera.
The 20th Century – A Century of Reforms
In the late 19th century Sweden was marked by the emergence of many movements, including the labor movement. In 1917 the first Social Democrats entered government. Universal voting right for men was introduced in 1909 and for women in 1923. Plans for a welfare state are made as the Social Democrats came to power in the 1930s.
The Postwar Era
Another important moment in Swedish history is the post-war era. The government of Sweden was formed during World War II by a coalition of the four “democratic” parties. After the war ended, the government was purely Social Democratic were headed by Per Albin Hansson. A series of reforms have been implemented between 1940 and 1950. At the same time, there were calls for a modernization of the 1809 constitution and a new Instrument of Government was adopted in 1974. Power to the people to elect the members of parliament in free elections is given. The monarch remains head of state but only declarative. In beginning of 1979, the order of succession changed by giving females equal claims to the throne. Consequently, instead of her younger brother Carl Philip, Princess Victoria comes to the throne.
After the war in Norway in 1814, Sweden was not involved in any wars and was focused on national security and defense. In 1920 Sweden joined the League of Nations, and in 1946 joined the United Nations. Since 1994, Sweden has cooperated with NATO within the Partnership for Peace. Through these organizations Sweden is actively involved in a number of international peacekeeping missions.
Although a fairly small country, its Swedish history dates long back in time and even though Sweden is an EU member, it will keep its individuality and language long time into the future, making it a country worth expanding into.
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Sweden has a colorful history. It was attacked and ruled by various groups of people including the Vikings. Vikings were the rulers that influenced Sweden’s culture greatly. Their culture and language made a permanent place in the history of Sweden. Swedish, the language of Sweden, like other languages of the region originated from Old Norse. Around the 13th century, Old Swedish became a distinct language. During the medieval period, Swedish was influenced by Middle Low German.
Authors of the 19th century reshaped the Swedish language and changed it into its modern form. The advent of the printing press played a significant role in Swedish history and deserves credit for the birth of modern Swedish. The 20th century gave a standardized form of the national language to all Swedes which is the current form of Swedish. The changes that occur in Swedish during the 19th and 20th century include that of the sounds of some consonant. Several consonants were softened before front vowels.
Fine Arts, Factories, Vodka and Emigration
Swedish History shows us that in the last half of the 18th century, a pastry destroyed one king, another king was slaughtered, a third was dismissed and begun a playboy life traveling around Europe, spreading his roots. The 19th century started with a battle that pointed to the end of Finland and stayed with another battle in which Norway was defeated. A new ruling government sprouted to the Swedish royalty, but superior power was coming to an end, and hunger and drinking were hurting the country.
At the start of the 20th century, Sweden counted among the weakest countries in Europe. Just 70 years later, Sweden changed as one of the richest. Part of the description is the point that Sweden stayed out of the great battles, but that’s not all. In spite of high payments, good welfare, and high costs, Swedish companies have achieved to be competitive, and Swedes have experienced a livingstandard among the world’s highest.