Did you know that the Swedish Empire, although not one of the largest empires in history, was one of the longest-lasting? The Swedish Empire lasted from around 1560 to 1721, spanning over 200 years.
However, many people are unaware of some of the fantastic stories that took place during this time period in this Northern Europe country in history, and many of these stories have been buried by time.
To shed more light on some of the surprising facts about this empire, here are seven facts about it that you probably did not know.
1) The empire wasn’t founded by Vikings
The empire was founded over a thousand years ago by the Swedes. Sweden, which is located in Northern Europe, has been a part of empires for centuries.
It’s not surprising that it became part of the empire in the 13th century when it was unified under King Magnus Ladulås.
The Baltic provinces were taken from Denmark and added to the empire during this time period as well, thus increasing the Swedish power of Sweden more than other countries in Central Europe.
Russia was also conquered at this time and became another one of Sweden’s enemies. Augustus II from Poland became their rival as well after he took over Lithuania and Livonia from them.
The two countries ruled by Augustus II fought for control over Central Europe until Gustav II Adolf emerged in the 17th century and restored Swedish power.
2) Norrland, Sweden, was once its own kingdom
One of the most famous ships in Sweden’s history was a warship called Vasa. It was built in 1628, but it didn’t last long on its maiden voyage.
After a few hours of sailing, it hit the bottom of the sea and sunk to the bottom of Kattesundet with all its guns and cargo.
Luckily for us, this shipwreck is one of the most well-preserved wrecks in the world.
When divers discovered it 300 years later, they found an amazing treasure trove of 18th Century items that tell us about life on board a 17th-century warship – from weapons to clothes to food supplies.
In fact, we even know what the crew ate: they had biscuits made of rye flour, buns made of wheat flour and smoked ham.
They drank coffee and tea as well! In a way, it’s like discovering time travel: you can see how people lived during this period!
3) Vasa was a very lucky ship
This ship was built in 1626 and was the first 3-masted, square-rigged warship. It had a long and costly construction period, but it seemed that this expense would pay off when it set out on its maiden voyage.
However, after only seven minutes at sea, this ship ran aground on a sandbar just off Stockholm’s coast.
After failed attempts to get it back in the water, the Vasa was deemed a total loss and abandoned where it lay for almost 350 years until the Swedish Navy decided to save it from corrosion.
In 1961 they finally towed Vasa to dry land where they could work on it more easily.
For over two decades, the group of workers worked tirelessly to restore her so she could be displayed as she once looked.
Unfortunately, a major fire broke out in 1999, which ruined much of their progress since then. However, restoration has resumed since then and there is hope that Vasa will one day be restored to its original glory once again!
4) The country never had its own colonies
The country never had its own colonies, and instead relied on the fact that it was strategically positioned in the Baltic Sea.
The King of Sweden also had legislative powers and could even appoint Polish kings to help maintain order. However, these Polish kings worked hand-in-hand with the King of Sweden.
Sweden’s economic crisis in the 19th century, however, continued until the 20th century when it lost most of its political and legislative power.
Long after the 20th century, the 1980s saw Sweden take an active role in international affairs again, with Olof Palme becoming Prime Minister. With Olof Palme becoming the Prime Minister, he was in charge of overseeing the economic and international affairs of Sweden.
Charles XII’s death marked the end of an era for the Swedish empire. However, despite Charles XII’s death, he still remains as one of their most famous leaders. One battle which is widely considered to be his greatest victory was at Poltava in 1709 against Tsar Peter I.
Charles XII refused an offer of peace, despite being greatly outnumbered by the Russian army, leading to what is now known as the Battle of Poltava.
The Swedish king eventually accepted defeat by the Russian army after seeing that all avenues were cut off and surrendered himself to be captured by the Russian army.
Charles XIII succeeded him, reigning until 1818, when he died without heirs due to old age. However, it is worthy of mention here that Charles XIII had no heirs not because of warfare or politics. What this means therefore is that there were no more Swedes available for succession after the death of Charles XIII.
5) Sweden gave us Ikea, Skype, Spotify and Minecraft
Even though the Swedish empire was long gone by the time these innovations came out, it’s interesting to see how this Northern Europe country has influenced our world.
The Swedish Crown is what many people call the currency of Sweden. It is made up of 100 ore, and its value is pegged to that of a euro.
Unlike some other countries in Europe, like Ireland, which use Euros as well but have their own variation of it called an Irish pound, the Swedish Crown can only be used in Sweden.
One-quarter of all land in Finland is owned by Swedes or Finns with Swedish ancestors, which is a good indication for just how much power Sweden had over Finland for centuries when they were an empire.
When you look at statistics about present-day Finland and modern-day Sweden, you might notice that Finland has twice as many babies as women giving birth in Sweden!
Finland wasn’t always part of Russia or under any other empires: they gained independence from both Russia and Sweden on December 6th 1917, with the Declaration Of Independence.
6) Expansion into Scandinavia, Germany, Italy and Turkey
The Nordic countries of Denmark, Sweden and Norway, are all Scandinavian countries.
They share a common history, and the Danish, Norwegian and Swedish languages are very similar to one another.
The only Nordic country not in Scandinavia is Finland which is located east of Sweden.
In addition to these Nordic countries, there was also an empire that spanned over a quarter of Europe in its time. At the end of the war, Sweden lost its European power.
This empire consisted of German territories, a Scandinavian country (Sweden), and a prime minister (Charles XII), had control over Northern Italy and Turkey and was situated on three different continents: Europe, Asia and Africa.
7) The 7th largest country in the world
The Swedish empire was one of the largest empires in Europe, with a history that spans over 700 years.
It began during the late 13th century and lasted until this century. The country has long been a Nordic country and is currently home to over 9 million residents.
The Swedish empire has a prime minister that oversees affairs in day-to-day life as well as national defence issues.
It consists of 14 states (Norrbotten County, Jämtland County, Västernorrland County, Dalarna County, Gävleborg County, Gotland County, Kronoberg County, Kalmar County).
All Swedish territory resides in three separate realms: Kalmar Union (Danish territories), Great Nordic Union (Norwegian territories) or Greater Germanic Union (German territories). New Sweden, as it was called, was the largest Swedish territory outside Europe at that time.
The first Kind of Sweden was King Carl XVI Gustaf to bear the title Sverige Konung (‘King of Sweden’). He inherited this title
from his father, who bore it before him.
The Swedish Empire was called the Svea Rike or Sveriges Rike. It was a country that existed from the 13th to 18th centuries, even down to the early 19th century, and eventually became a part of what is now modern-day Sweden.
The Swedish Empire was founded in the early 17th century when King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden led a military campaign to destroy Denmark and secure Sweden’s control over the Baltic Sea.
The Swedish Empire was a powerful European empire that lasted for more than 600 years. At one point, it was the largest nation in Europe.
The Swedish empire was defeated by Prussia in the Seven Year’s War. This war was fought because of the Prussian king Frederick William’s desire to break up the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and increase his own power.
The most powerful time for Sweden was in the late 17th century and early 19th century, when they ruled over the Baltic provinces and sea, Finland, Poland, and a large chunk of Russia.