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History of Sweden

This is the history of Sweden.

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Early Kingdoms - 700 Main article: Early Swedish Kingdoms

During the 7th and 8th centuries, the Swedes were merchant seamen well known for their far-reaching trade. In the 9th century, Nordic Vikings raided and ravaged the European Continent as far as the Blackand Caspian Seas.

Unification - 1100 Main article: Unification of Sweden

During the 11th and 12th centuries, 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.

Modern Sweden - 1523 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, 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, aswell as the religious, balance of power in Europe.

The Swedish Empire - 1648 Main article: Swedish Empire

By 1658, and following the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, Sweden ruled several provinces of Denmark as well as what is now Finland, Ingria, in which St. Petersburg is located, 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 (with 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 fell in battle in 1718. In the subsequent peace treaties, the allied powers, joined by Prussia and by England-Hannover, ended Sweden's reign as a great power and introduced a period of limited monarchy under parliamentary rule.

Absolute Monarchy - 1772 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. The Congress of Vienna compensated Sweden for its lost German territory through a merger of the Swedish and Norwegian crowns in a dual monarchy, which 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 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.

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