Aviva Directory » Local & Global » Europe » Sweden

The Kingdom of Sweden, generally called simply Sweden, is a Scandinavian country. Its land boundaries are Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by the Öresund Bridge, which is a combination motor bridge and railway which spans the Öresund Strait. The official language is Swedish, and Stockholm is both the largest Swedish city and its capital.

Until the 9th century, the Scandinavians lived in Germanic kingdoms or chiefdoms called petty kingdoms. Not a lot is known about these "petty kingdoms" other than from legends and a few scattered European sources. While the Danes and the Norwegians raided northern Europe, the Swedes were more interested in trade. The Danish and Norwegian Vikings went west and southwest to plunder, while the Swedish Vikings went east and southeast to places like the Muslim and Byzantine Empires, which were well-protected and ripe for trade. Although Sweden was predominantly agricultural, they did not have any qualms about selling slaves, or "thralls."

The Swedish monarchy began an elective one,though there were only a small number of families which were eligible, and they were considered to be of the royal dynasties of Sweden. It became a hereditary monarchy in the 16th century. The Swedes chose a king from a favored dynasty, and they had the right to depose him as well.

The first undisputed King of Sweden was Eric the Victorious. Under his reign, Christianity was introduced to Sweden. His successor was his son Olof Skötkonung, who was the first Christian king of Sweden, having been converted in 1008 from Norse Paganism. Olof made Christianity the official religion of Sweden, though it took quite some time before Sweden was a Christian country. During the 11th and 12th centuries, Sweden expanded, controlling both Finland and Norrland. There were times during this period that the reign of the nation was divided between more than one king. For example, from 1135 to 1155, King Sverker I of Sweden ruled over Götaland and Svealand.

Birger Magnusson, also called Birger Jarl, was from the House of Bjelbo. He played a large part in the consolidation of Sweden, established Swedish rule in Finland (which remained part of Sweden until 1809), established the capital city of Stockholm, and led the Second Swedish Crusade, which may have actually been the First Swedish Crusade.

In 1319, the first union between Norway and Sweden took place when Magnus, the three-year old son of the Royal Duke Eric of Sweden and the Norwegian Princess Ingeborg, inherited the Norwegian throne from Haakon V, the baby's grandfather. That same year, the baby was elected King of Sweden by the Convention of Oslo. Despite the fact that there was a Norwegian law which dictated that a king would come of age at age 20, Magnus was declared as being of age when he was 15, in 1331.

In 1332, Christopher II, King of Denmark died. He was called "a king without a country" after he and his older brother essentially pawned their country, one piece at a time. King Magnus, knowing an opening when he saw one, redeemed the pawn for the eastern provinces of Denmark, becoming the ruler of Scania, and making a huge amount of silver in the process.

On November 5, 1335, he married Blanche of Namur, whose father was John I, Marquis of Namur and whose mother was Marie of Artois. She got the province of Tunsberg in Norway and Lödöse in Sweden as wedding gifts. They would go on to have two sons, Eric and Haakon and three daughters, all of whom died as infants.

Magnus was crowned King of Norway as well as Sweden in Stockholm in July of 1336, which caused the nobles in Norway who wanted a separate coronation in Norway, to resent King Magnus all the more. Magnus still faced a lot of opposition between him and the Norwegian nobility and in August of 1343, they came to agreement on a couple of things. Magnus's second son Haakon would become the king of Norway and Magnus would be his regent until he reached the age of majority. Later in the year, it was proclaimed that his first son, Eric, would be king of Sweden when Magnus died. Haakon ascended to the throne in 1355, and Norway and Sweden were severed. Magnus was deposed as King of Norway in 1344 and as King of Sweden in 1363.

In the 1940s and 1950s, Sweden became a welfare state, granting people child allowances, health insurance and pensions. In 1986, Prime Minister Olof Palme, a Social Democrat, was assassinated, which shocked the world, as Sweden was not known for political violence. He and his wife were walking home from the theater when he was shot in the back at close range, and his wife was grazed. He was dead on arrival, while his wife survived. Though the police arrested a small time crook and addict for the murder, his conviction was overturned and the crime is still unsolved.



Recommended Resources

Search for Sweden on Google or Bing