History of Sweden
History of Sweden series
|A New Great Power|
|The Swedish Empire|
|The Great War|
|Union with Norway|
|Realm of Sweden|
|List of monarchs|
|List of wars|
Pre-historic age 9,000–500 B.C.
Sweden, together with Norway, has a high concentration of Petroglyphs, ristningar or hällristningar in Swedish. Dated from 9000 BC the earliest images, called viltristningar, shows wild animals like elks, reindeers, bears, seals can be found in Jämtland. Later, between 2300-500 BC the most intensive carving period took form (jordbruksristningar), these contains images of warfare, ships, domesticated animals, etc. The most recent ones, found in Bohuslän, are dated from 800-500 BC, also contain images with themes of a sexual nature.
Iron Age and Viking Age 500 BC–AD 1066
For the early Iron Age (c. 400 BC–c. AD 1) the finds are relatively scanty. The material from AD 1–AD 400 shows that Sweden had developed a culture of its own, although naturally reflecting external influences. 98 A.D., Tacitus gives the first description of the Suiones, stated to be powerful in men, weapons, and fleets. Some historical events are reflected darkly in the Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf, and in the sagas, such as Heimskringla of Snorri Sturluson.
The Viking Age is the name of the period between 793 A.D and 1066 A.D in Scandinavia. This reflects to the latter half of the early Iron Age. During this period the Swedes were merchant seamen well known for their far-reaching trade. In the 9th century, Varangians raided and ravaged the European continent as far as the Black and Caspian Seas.
Main article: Early Swedish Kingdoms
Main article: Unification of Sweden
During the 12th century, Sweden gradually became a unified Christian kingdom that would also come to include Finland . Queen Margaret I of Denmark united the Nordic countries in the Kalmar Union in 1397. Continual tension within the countries and within the union gradually led to open conflict between the Swedes and the Danes in the 15th century. The union's final disintegration in the early 16th century brought on a long-lived rivalry between Denmark on one side and Sweden on the other.
Main article: Foundation of Modern Sweden
In the 16th century, Gustav Vasa fought for an independent Sweden, crushing an attempt to restore the Kalmar Union and laying the foundation for modern Sweden. At the same time, he broke with the Catholic Church and established the Reformation.
The Rise of Sweden as a Great Power—1600
Main article: Rise of Sweden as a Great Power
During the 17th century, after winning wars against Denmark-Norway, Russia, and Poland, Sweden, with scarcely more than 1 million inhabitants, emerged as a Great Power. Its contributions during the Thirty Years' War under Gustavus Adolphus determined the political, as well as the religious, balance of power in Europe.
The Swedish Empire—1648
Main article: Swedish Empire
By the treaties of Brömsebro, 1645, and Roskilde, 1658, Sweden acquired important provinces of Denmark and Norway. Following the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, Sweden ruled Ingria, in which Saint Petersburg later would be founded, Estonia, Livonia, and important coastal towns and other areas of northern Germany.
The Great War—1700
Main article: Sweden and the Great Northern War
Russia, Saxony-Poland, and Denmark-Norway pooled their power in 1700 and attacked the Swedish empire. Although the young Swedish King Charles XII won spectacular victories in the early years of the Great Northern War, his plan to attack Moscow and force Russia into peace proved too ambitious; he was shot during the siege of Frederiksten fortress in Norway in 1718. In the subsequent peace treaties, the allied powers, joined by Prussia and by England-Hanover, ended Sweden's reign as a great power and introduced a period of limited monarchy under parliamentary rule.
Main article: Absolute Monarchy in Sweden
Following half a century of parliamentary domination came the reaction. A bloodless coup d'état perpetrated by King Gustav III brought back absolute monarchy, a state of affairs that would last until involvement in the Napoleonic wars would force Sweden to cede Finland to Russia in 1809.
Union with Norway—1809
Main article: Union between Sweden and Norway
The following year, the Swedish King's adopted heir, French Marshal Bernadotte, was elected Crown Prince Charles by the Riksdag. In 1813, his forces joined the allies against Napoleon. In the treaty of Kiel, the king of Denmark-Norway ceded Norway to the Swedish king. Norway, however, declared its independence, adopted a constitution and chose a new king. Sweden invaded Norway to enforce the terms of the Kiel treaty. After a short war, the peace of Moss established a personal union between the two states. The union lasted until 1905, when it was peacefully dissolved at Norway's request.
The Modernization of Sweden—1866
Main article: Modernization of Sweden
Sweden's predominantly agricultural economy shifted gradually from village to private farm-based agriculture during the Industrial Revolution, but this change failed to bring economic and social improvements commensurate with the rate of population growth. About 1 million Swedes emigrated to the United States between 1850 and 1890. The 19th century was marked by the emergence of a liberal opposition press, the abolition of guild monopolies in trade and manufacturing in favour of free enterprise, the introduction of taxation and voting reforms, the installation of national military service, and the rise in the electorate of three major party groups – Social Democrat, Liberal, and Conservative.
Industrialization of Sweden—1914
Main article: Industrialization of Sweden
During and after World War I, in which Sweden remained neutral, the country benefitted from the world-wide demand for Swedish steel, ball-bearings, wood pulp, and matches. Post-war prosperity provided the foundations for the social welfare policies characteristic of modern Sweden. Foreign policy concerns in the 1930s centered on Soviet and German expansionism, which stimulated abortive efforts at Nordic defence co-operation. Sweden followed a policy of armed neutrality during World War II and currently remains non-aligned. Sweden became a member of the European Union in 1995.
- Lands of Sweden
- Provinces of Sweden
- Dominions of Sweden
- Unions of Sweden
- List of Swedes
- History of Scandinavia
- History of Finland
- History of Europe
- History of the European Union
- History of present-day nations and states