In the capital, when he made his public entry, one-half of the houses were empty, and of population scarcely a fourth part remained.
Today’s installment concludes Sweden Liberated,
our selection from History of the Swedes down to Charles X by Eric Gustave Geijer published in 1845.
If you have journeyed through all of the installments of this series, just one more to go and you will have completed a selection from the great works of «DaysAlpha» thousand words. Congratulations!
Previously in Sweden Liberated.
But by the end of one month Gustavus, who in this letter is styled “a forest thief and robber,” had again filled three camps around Stockholm with Dalesmen and Norrlanders; and when, pursuant to a convention with Lubeck, he received thence in the month of June an auxiliary force of ten ships, a number that was afterward augmented, he was enabled to dispense with the greatest portion of his peasants, and retained about him only those who were young and unmarried. The assistance of the Lubeckers, it was true, was given only by halves, and from selfish motives; they did not forget their profit on the arms, purchased Swedish iron and copper for klippings, with which worthless coins they came well provided, and exacted a dear price for their men, ships, and military stores, refusing even, it is said, to supply Gustavus with two pieces of cannon at a decisive moment, although upon the proffered security of two of the royal castles.
This occurred on occasion of a second, and this time unsuccessful, attempt made by Norby to relieve Stockholm; in which he was only saved from ruin by the refusal of the admiral of Lubeck to attack. Meanwhile Gustavus, despite the losses which he sustained by sallies, pushed his three camps by degrees close to the town, then covering little more than the island still contains, the town properly so called. At length, after Kingsholm, Langholm, Sodermalm, Waldemar’s Island, now the Zoölogical Gardens, had been connected by block-houses and chains, the place was invested on all sides. Yet it held out through the winter, until the news of Christian’s fate, joined to the pangs of hunger, deprived the garrison of all spirit for further resistance.
He did not dare to trust either his subjects or his soldiers, collected twenty ships, in which he embarked the public records, with the treasure and crown jewels, his consort and child, and his adviser Sigbert, who was concealed in his chest. Deserting his kingdom, he sailed away in the face of the whole population of Copenhagen, April 20, 1523.
Thus ended the reign of Christian II, a king in whom one knows not which rivets the attention, the multiplied undertakings he commenced and abandoned in a career so often stained with blood, his audacity, his feebleness, or that misery of many years by which he was to expiate a short and ill-used tenure of power. There are men who, like the storm birds before the tempest, appear in history as foretokens of the approaching outburst of great convulsions. Of such a nature was Christian, who, tossed hither and thither between all the various currents of his time without central consistence, awakened alternately the fear or pity of the beholders.
Frederick I, who was chosen to succeed him in Denmark, wrote to the estates of Sweden, demanding that in accordance with the stipulations of the Union of Kalmar he might also be acknowledged king in Sweden. They replied “that they had elected Gustavus Ericson to be Sweden’s king.” That event came to pass at the Diet of Strengess, June 7, 1523. Thus was the union dissolved, after enduring one hundred twenty-six years. Norway wavered at this critical moment. The inhabitants of the southern portion declared, when the Swedes under Thure Jenson (Roos) and Lawrence Siggeson (Sparre) had penetrated into their country as far as Opslo, that they would unite with Sweden if they might rely upon its support. Bohusland was subdued, Bleking likewise on another side, and Gustavus sought, both by negotiation and arms, to enforce the old claims of Sweden to Scania and Halland. The town of Kalmar was taken on May 27th, and the castle on July 7th. Stockholm having surrendered on June 20th, on condition of the free departure of the garrison with their property and arms, and of every other person who adhered to the cause of Christian, Gustavus made his public entry on Midsummer’s Eve; before the end of the year Finland also was reduced to obedience. The kingdom was freed from foreign enemies, but internal foes still remained; and Lubeck was an ally whose demands made it more troublesome than it would have been as an enemy.
A town wasted in the civil war had been the scene of the election of Gustavus Vasa to the throne. In the capital, when he made his public entry, one-half of the houses were empty, and of population scarcely a fourth part remained. To fill up the gap, he issued an invitation to the burghers in other towns to settle there, a summons which he was obliged twelve years afterward to renew, “seeing that Stockholm had not yet revived from the days of King Christian.” The spectacle which here met his eyes was a type of the condition of the whole kingdom, and never was it said of any sovereign with more justice that the throne to which he had been elevated was more difficult to preserve than to win.
This ends our series of passages on Sweden Liberated by Eric Gustave Geijer from his book History of the Swedes down to Charles X published in 1845. This blog features short and lengthy pieces on all aspects of our shared past. Here are selections from the great historians who may be forgotten (and whose work have fallen into public domain) as well as links to the most up-to-date developments in the field of history and of course, original material from yours truly, Jack Le Moine. – A little bit of everything historical is here.
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