Thus began, at the midsummer of 1521, the siege of Stockholm, which was to last full two years.
Continuing Sweden Liberated,
our selection from History of the Swedes down to Charles X by Eric Gustave Geijer published in 1845. The selection is presented in five easy 5 minute installments.
Previously in Sweden Liberated.
In Dalsland, fifteen hundred men took up arms; several thousand peasants from Nerike marched across the Tiwed with the same object. Gustavus had been obliged to grant a furlough to his Dalesmen about seed-time; and to supply their place he caused the people of several districts of Upland to be summoned to assemble in the forest of Rymningen, at Oeresundsbro; from which point his two captains essayed an attack upon the Archbishop of Upsala. It was St. Eric’s Day (May 18th), and a great confluence of people was present at the fair. An assault was expected; for a deputation of four priests and two burgesses, sent from Upsala to the forest, had received from the leaders the answer that it must be Swedes, not outlandish men, who should bear the shrine of holy Eric, and that they would come to take their part in the festival. Bennet Bjugg (Barley), the Archbishop’s bailiff, to show his contempt of such foes, caused a banquet to be set out in the open space between the larger and smaller episcopal manor houses of that day, where, before the eyes of the people, he made himself and his fellows merry till late in the night with drinking, dancing, and singing. Roused from a late sleep by an assault on the gates of the fortified house, and finding it beset by the enemy, they attempted to escape by a concealed passage, which then connected the Bishop’s house with the cathedral. But the peasants set fire to this passage, which was of wood, and shot fire arrows at the roof of the episcopal residence, in which the flames soon burst forth. The building was laid in ashes, and next day the females of the household, with some burghers of Upsala, crept out of its cellars, in which they had taken refuge. Great part of the garrison perished. The bailiff escaped with a wound from an arrow, of which he died after rejoining his master at Stockholm.
This prelate, Archbishop Gustavus Trolle, had lately returned from a journey to Helsingland, undertaken in order to retain this part of his diocese in its allegiance to the King. Shortly afterward he received, by a messenger from Gustavus, who had himself come to Upsala at Whitsuntide, a letter exhorting him to embrace the cause of his country, to which his chapter had been persuaded to annex a memorial to the same effect. The Archbishop detained the messenger, saying that he would carry the answer himself. He broke up immediately with five hundred German horse and three thousand foot of the garrison of Stockholm, and had come within half a mile of Upsala before Gustavus received intelligence of his approach. This the latter did not at first credit, but remained, expecting an answer to his overture of negotiation, until, about six in the morning, being on horseback upon the sand-hill near Upsala, the spot where he afterward built a royal castle, he saw the Archbishop marching across the King’s Mead (Kungsang) toward the town. Gustavus had but two hundred of his so-called foot-goers and a small number of horse with him, for the peasants had returned to their homes. He made a hasty retreat, but was overtaken by Trolle’s horsemen at the Ford of Laby. Here a young Finnish noble, who was next to him, in the confusion rode down his horse in the midst of the stream; and he would have been lost had not the rest of his followers turned upon the enemy with such effect as to make them desist from the pursuit.
Gustavus now betook himself to the forest of Rymningen, raised the peasantry of the adjoining districts, and sent out young men under his best captains to surprise the Archbishop on his return. The remains of cattle slaughtered on the road betrayed the ambush to the prelate, who drew off in another direction. He was nevertheless overtaken and attacked, escaping the spear of Lawrence Olaveson only by bending downward on his horse, so that the weapon pierced his neighbor; and he brought back to Stockholm hardly a sixth part of his army. Gustavus followed close after with his collected force, and encamped under the Brunkeberg. Four gibbets on this eminence, stocked with corpses of Swedish inhabitants, attested the character of the government in the capital.
Thus began, at the midsummer of 1521, the siege of Stockholm, which was to last full two years, amid difficulties little thought of nowadays, after the lapse of ages; and the admiration which men so willingly render to the exertions in the cause of freedom have deprived events of their original colors. The path of Gustavus was not in general one of glittering feats, although his life is in itself one grand achievement. What he accomplished was the effect of strong endurance and great sagacity; and though he wanted not for intrepidity, it was of a kind before which the mere warrior must vail his crest. All the remaining movements of the war of liberation consist in sieges of the various castles and fortresses of the country, undertaken as opportunity offered, with levies of the peasantry, whose detachments relieved each other, though sometimes neglecting this duty when pressed by the cares or necessities of their own families. Hence the object of these investments, which was to deprive the besieged of provisions, could only be imperfectly attained, and there were many fortified mansions of which the proprietors adhered to the Danish party, as that of Wik in Upland, which remained blockaded throughout the whole year. These difficulties were the most formidable where, as at Stockholm, access was open by the sea, of which Severin Norby, with the Danish squadron, was master. The scantiness of the means of attack may be discovered from the circumstance that sixty German spearmen, whom Clement Rensel, a burgher of Stockholm, himself a narrator of these events, brought from Dantzic in July for the service of Gustavus, were regarded as a reënforcement of the highest importance. “At this time,” says the chronicle, “Lord Gustave enjoyed not much repose or many pleasant days, when he kept his people in so many campaigns and investments, since he bore for them all great anxiety, fear, and peril, how he might lend them help in their need, so that they might not be surprised through heedlessness and laches. So likewise his pain was not small when he had but little in his money chest, and it was grievous to give this answer when the folk cried for stipend. Therefore he stayed not many days in the same place, but traveled day and night between the camps.”
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