The Swedish Revolution Under Gustavus Vasa
by Paul Barron Watson
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A few days after his earnest appeal to Magni, Brask despatched to the Vadstena Chapter a tract in refutation of the Lutheran doctrines, and along with it a sermon preached by Petri, "in which," so wrote the bishop, "you will observe his blasphemy of the Holy Virgin." Brask, despite his spiritual duties, was no ascetic, and, though suffering at the time from illness, added a postscript begging the Chapter to let him have a box of nuts. Apparently these delicacies came; for the bishop's next letter, written to the pope, was in a happier vein. "I have just had from Johannes Magni a letter on exterminating heresy which fills my soul with joy.... I grieve, however, to tell you that the heresy which had its birth in Germany has spread its branches across this kingdom.... I have sought to the utmost of my power to stay the pestilence, but through lack of authority outside my diocese, could not accomplish what I would.... Give me your orders to act outside my diocese, and I will crush the heresy with my utmost zeal." About this time the bishop received a letter from Johannes Magni that must have soothed his temper. "God knows," the legate wrote, "how eagerly I burn to effect the hoped-for freedom of the Christian Church, had not circumstances been adverse. I have at any rate pleaded with the king, and he has promised to maintain our rights. He says that if any of his soldiers wrong our tenants, they do so at their peril. When I spoke to him of the burdens that had been put upon us, he exclaimed with tears in his eyes that no one felt it more than he, that it had been necessary and contrary to his will, and that it was his full intention so soon as peace was restored to refund the money we had furnished. He promised also to repress the Lutheran heresy, though he urged me to use persuasion rather than force, lest by conflict of opinions the whole Church be overturned." The impression left on Magni by his monarch's tears is probably the impression that the monarch had designed. We have no reason to suppose Gustavus cherished any affection yet for Luther, but neither is there reason to suppose he hated him. What he hoped for above all else was to keep the bishops under his control, and the surest way to do so was to keep the Church at enmity with Luther.[101]

That Gustavus played his cards with skill is manifest from a letter written by Magni to the Linkoeping Chapter. "I understand," he wrote, "that you feel little anxiety at my proposed return to Rome, thinking that I have not shown enough energy in restoring the disabled Church. I may say, however, that I have pleaded and now plead for her before the king, who protests that his whole heart is in her preservation, and that any harm done by his officers to our tenants has been done against his will. He says too, and with tears in his eyes regrets, that the importunity of his soldiers has forced him to lay burdens on the Church. Nor is it his Majesty's intention to compel our weary priests to give up the care of souls. His excuse for exacting tribute from the churches to aid the kingdom is that he undertook the war as much for the freedom of the Church as for the safety of the kingdom. I give you this excuse for whatever it is worth. His Majesty promises that when he has paid the enormous debt contracted to Lubeck, and has wholly freed the kingdom, both clergy and people shall rejoice as never they have rejoiced before. In the extirpation of Lutheranism I am aided as much by the efforts of his Majesty as by the authority of the pope. It seems to me that the strife going on by letters among the clergy should be put to an end, and more toleration shown. I know it will, if continued, spread conflagration in other lands. The clergy of Strengnaes have promised me firmly that they will abstain from all new doctrines, and will send out no more letters unless they are harassed." This warning from the legate proves that the Swedish prelates were already cutting one another's throats. Apparently, too, it worked like magic in quieting their disputes, for six months now elapsed before the charge of heresy was raised again.[102]

On the 21st of February, 1524, Laurentius Andreae returned to the assault with a long epistle to the Vadstena Chapter. This epistle is moderate in tone, and contains this sound advice: "His Majesty desires that when you discover strange doctrines in the books of Luther or of any other, you should not reject them without a fair examination. If then you find anything contrary to the truth, write a refutation of it based on Holy Writ. As soon as scholars have seen your answer and have determined what to accept and what reject, you can preach according to their judgment and not according to your individual caprice. I suspect, however, there will hardly be many among you able to refute these doctrines; for, though but little of the so-called Lutheran teaching has come to my knowledge, I am convinced that Luther is too great a man to be refuted by simple men like us, for the Scriptures get their strength from no man, but from God. Even if we have the truth on our side, 'tis folly for us who have no arms to attack those who are well equipped, since we should thus do nothing but expose our own simplicity.... Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Search the spirit to see whether it be of God. I would urge every one to read the new doctrines. Those who persuade or command you otherwise, appear to me to act contrary to the Scriptures, and I suspect they do not wish the truth to come to light.... If there be any among you whom this letter offends, let him write to me, pointing out where I am wrong, and I will withdraw my statements." Brask, though offended deeply, scorned the challenge. Instead of answering Andreae, he wrote to the bishop of Skara, saying: "Certain persons are beginning to urge that we should not banish Luther's writings, but should study them carefully to the end that we may write against them, as if, forsooth, we were simple enough to trouble ourselves about the effrontery of Luther. He flatters himself that he possesses greater wisdom than all the saints. But we shall bow the knee to God, not man, and shall do our utmost that the kingdom be not corrupted by this new heresy." Brask was now boiling with indignation, and a few days later wrote a friend: "I have no fear of Luther or any other heretic. Were an angel from heaven to predict his victory, I should not waver."[103]

This feigned assurance on the part of Brask was not deep-set. In the secrecy of his own cloisters he contemplated the issue with fear and trembling. This is clear from a letter penned at this period to the monarch. "By the allegiance which I owe you," wrote the bishop, "I deem it my duty to urge you not to allow the sale of Luther's books within the realm, nor give his pupils shelter or encouragement of any kind, till the coming council of the Church shall pass its judgment.... I know not how your Grace can better win the love of God, as well as of all Christian kings and princes, than by restoring the Church of Christ to the state of harmony that it has enjoyed in ages past." The same day that this letter was despatched, Brask wrote to a friend in terms which show that his anxiety was great. After intimating that the king's constant demands on him for money were probably inspired by the friends of Luther, he exclaimed: "This party is growing all too fast among us, and I greatly fear lest some new heresy, which God forbid! may break out soon." As the king appeared not likely to take very stringent measures to repress the heresy, the bishop hastened to exert his own authority, and issued a mandate, to be read from all the pulpits in his diocese, forbidding the sale of Luther's books and teachings. A few days later the monarch's answer came. It was couched in temperate language, but offered little solace to the bishop. "Regarding your request," so wrote Gustavus, "that we forbid the sale of Luther's writings, we know not by what right it could be done, for we are told his teachings have not yet been found by impartial judges to be false. Moreover, since writings opposed to Luther have been circulated through the land, it seems but right that his, too, should be kept public, that you and other scholars may detect their fallacies and show them to the people. Then the books of Luther may be condemned. As to your charge that Luther's pupils are given shelter at our court, we answer that they have not sought it. If indeed they should, you are aware it is our duty to protect them as well as you. If there be any in our protection whom you wish to charge, bring your accusation and give their names." The method of trial suggested in this letter was not in harmony with the bishop's views. What he wanted was an inquisition, and in writing to a fellow-bishop he did not hesitate to say so. "I maintain that every diocese should have an inquisition for this heresy, and I think our Most Holy Father ought to write his Majesty to that effect." The mere prohibition of Luther's writings was of no avail. As Brask declared to Johannes Magni, "The number of foreign abettors of Lutheranism is growing daily, despite our mandate, through the sale of Luther's books. I fear the remedy will be too late unless it is applied at once."[104]

This letter was written on the 20th of June, 1524. About the same time Petri was called to Stockholm to fill the post of city clerk, and Andreae, already secretary to the king, was made archdeacon of Upsala. This double advancement of the Lutheran leaders left no room longer to doubt the king's designs. From this time forth he was felt on every hand to be an enemy to the Romish Church. The striking fact in all this history is the utter absence of conscientious motives in the king. Though the whole of Christendom was ablaze with theological dispute, he went on steadily reducing the bishops' power with never a word of invective against their teaching or their faith. His conduct was guided solely by a desire to aggrandize the crown, and he seized without a scruple the tools best fitted to his hand. Had Brask been more compliant, or the Church less rich, the king would not unlikely have continued in the faith. The moral of all this is to hide your riches from those that may become your foes.

The part that Brask played in this drama calls forth a feeling of respect. Artful and man[oe]uvring though he was, there were certain deep principles within his breast that only great adversity could touch. Of these the most exalted was his affection for the Church. Apart from all her splendor and the temporal advantages to which her service led, Brask loved her for herself. She was the mother at whose breast he had been reared, and the feelings that had warmed his soul in childhood could not easily be extinguished now that he was old. Every dart that struck her pierced deep into his own flesh, and a premonition of the coming ruin overwhelmed him with bitter grief. It was this very grief, however, that raised him to rebel. The old vacillating temper that he had shown in days gone by was his no longer. Drear and dismal though the prospect was, he did not hesitate, but threw himself into the encounter heart and soul. From this time forth, with all his cunning and sagacity, he was the steadfast leader of the papal cause.


[74] July 13, 1523, a payment of about 17,000 marks having been already made, Gustavus wrote to Brask that Lubeck still demanded 200,000 guilders, which was equivalent to about 300,000 Swedish marks. This probably was an exaggeration for the purpose of getting a generous contribution from Brask. Another source states it as more than 120,000 Swedish marks. Svart, Gust. I.'s kroen., p. 72. This clearly was too low an estimate; for we know that Gustavus paid at least 42,945 Lubeck marks (or 83,000 Swedish marks) in the course of 1523, and that in the following spring the amount claimed by Lubeck was about 240,000 Swedish marks. See Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. i. pp. 109-110, and the documents in the Archives at Lubeck cited in Handelmann's Die letzten Zeiten der hanseatischen Uebermacht im Norden, pp. 165-170. The matter is ably discussed by Forssell in his Sver. inre hist., vol. i. pp. 134-138. Much confusion is caused by the fact that the debtor and creditor reckoned the sum each according to his own monetary standard, and there can be no question, too, that between the parties there was some dispute as to the exact sum due.

[75] See a document in the Archives at Lubeck cited in Handelmann's Die letzten Zeiten der hanseatischen Uebermacht im Norden, p. 165.


Svart, Gust. I.'s kroen., pp. 64-65. Svart, whose chronicle was written with a view to flatter Gustavus, informs us of the reduction in the value at which the coin was issued, and appears to attribute this reduction to the generosity of his master. It was "a good fat coin," he adds, which merchants carried out of the country as an excellent piece of merchandise. The zeal with which the chronicler defends the coin is enough to raise suspicion as to its true value. If it was really worth an oere and a half, it is incredible that Gustavus in the strait in which he then was should have ultimately given it for an oere. Forssell, in his Anteckn. om mynt, vigt, matt och varupris i Sverige, pp. 44-51, suggests that probably the coin was first issued for an oere and a half, and then with the same size and weight but containing more alloy, was issued for an oere. I think the true explanation is more simple. Gustavus had been found out. The "klippings" which he had issued a year before were such a palpable fraud that the Danish commandant of Stockholm had actually forbidden their use, lest the Danish "klippings" (which were about as bad as anything could be) might through association with the others fall into ill repute. Christ. II.'s arkiv, vol. i. pp. 214 and 218. So that when he issued a new coin and called it an oere and a half, people were suspicious and refused to take it till he reduced it to something like its value. This view is strengthened by the fact that of the few extant coins of Gustavus, dated 1522, not one contains enough silver to have been worth an oere and a half, and most of them fall considerably below the value of an oere. It is noticeable also that those stamped 1523, which were presumably issued for an oere, contain a trifle more in value than those stamped 1522, and called an oere and a half. As none of them have any value stamped upon their face, it was a simple matter to start the figure high, and then reduce it to what the coin would bring.

[77] As to Church fees and incomes see a letter of Brask, dated Dec. 21, 1514, in Hist. handl., vol. viii. pp. 65-67.

[78] Svart, Gust. I.'s kroen., p. 58.

[79] Von der grauesamen tyrannischen myssehandelung; Svart, Gust. I.'s kroen., pp. 56-58; and Sver. trakt., vol. iv. pp. 35-44.

[80] Johannes Magni, Hist. pont., pp. 74-75; Svart, Gust. I.'s kroen., p. 70; and Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. i. pp. 88-89.

[81] Svart, Gust. I.'s kroen., p. 73; Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. i. pp. 97, 99-101, 108-111, 114-115, 119, and 298-300; and Linkoeping, Bibliotheks handl., vol. ii. pp. 204-205.

[82] Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. i. pp. 107-108 and 121-129; Forssell, Sver. inre hist., vol. ii. p. 72; and Sver. trakt., vol. iv. pp. 44-55, 65-67, and 69-74.

[83] Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. i. pp. 121-129.

[84] Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. i. pp. 129-134 and 139-140; and Theiner, Schwed. u. seine Stell. z. heil. Stuhl, vol. ii. pp. 6-11.

[85] Johannes Magni, Hist. pont., p. 75; Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. i. pp. 143-150; and Nya Kaellor till Finl. Medeltidshist., pp. 737-740.

[86] Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. i. pp. 172-174 and 178-181.

[87] Svart, Gust. I.'s kroen., pp. 74-75.

[88] Ibid., pp. 73-74; and Sver. trakt., vol. iv. pp. 67-69.

[89] No one apparently wished to father the expedition. Svart, who presents the king's side of the case, says, in his Gust. I.'s kroen., pp. 78-81, that Gustavus undertook the campaign at the urgent solicitation of Lubeck, who promised to defer payment of her loan for several years without interest, provided Gustavus would undertake the war. This proposition appears generous, but there is no trace of it in the contemporary letters of the king. Those letters assert that Brask was the prime mover of the scheme; but as Brask repudiated it at once, the responsibility for it cannot be fairly laid on him. See Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. i. pp. 190 and 301.

[90] Rensel, Beraettelse, pp. 34-35; Acta hist. Reg. Christ. II., pp. 4-9; Alla riksdag. och moet. besluth, vol. i. pp. 29-30; Handl. roer. Skand. hist., vol. xvii. p. 172; and Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. i. pp. 182, 184-185, 187-189, and 301-302.

[91] Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. i. pp. 185-186, 189-191, and 300-302; and Linkoeping, Bibliotheks handl., vol. i. pp. 153-155.

[92] Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. i. pp. 191-192 and 193-197.

[93] The documents relating to the repudiation of the "klippings" vary somewhat in phraseology. In the Royal Archives at Stockholm is an official contemporary statement of the business transacted by the general diet in January, 1524, which declares: "The 'klippings' were in so far repudiated as to be valued at only four 'hvitar,' though any person may accept them for what he will." Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. i. p. 182; and Svenska riksdagsakt., vol. i. pp. 17-20. Svart, Gust. I.'s kroen., p. 76, asserts that the diet "repudiated the 'klippings.'" Tegel, Then stoormecht., p. 81, says, "the 'klippings' were utterly repudiated." In a letter issued by Gustavus to the people of Dalarne immediately after the passage of the Act he says the diet advised "that the 'klippings' fall so that they pass for only five 'hvitar,' to which we and our Cabinet consented." Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. i. pp. 182-183. In a letter issued at about the same time to the people of Vadstena, Gustavus made the same statement, except that he used the word "four" instead of "five." Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. i. p. 184. The later letters of Gustavus, in which he declares that he has not repudiated his coinage, are printed in Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. i. pp. 196-197 and 202-207.

[94] Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. i. pp. 198-201, 211-212 and 303-306.

[95] Diar. Minor. Visbyens., p. 39; Rensel, Beraettelse, pp. 36-38; Svart, Gust. I.'s kroen., pp. 81-82; and Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. i. pp. 218-219.

[96] Eliesen, Chron. Skib., p. 577; Rensel, Beraettelse, pp. 38-40; Svart, Gust. I.'s kroen., pp. 82-83 and 93-96; Christ. II.'s arkiv, vol. ii. pp. 688-765; Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. i. pp. 223-224, 229-230, 236-241, 245-250 and 309-327; and Sver. trakt., vol. iv. pp. 94-103.

[97] Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. i. pp. 223-225, 227-236 and 306-309.

[98] Alla riksdag. och moet. besluth, vol. i. pp. 31-35; Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. i. pp. 251-265; and Svenska riksdagsakt., vol. i. pp. 22-29.

[99] Dipl. Dal., vol. ii. pp. 31-39; and Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. i. pp. 271-281 and 327-328.

[100] Johannes Magni, Hist. pont., p. 75; Svart, Gust. I.'s kroen., p. 92; and Handl. roer. Skand. hist., vol. xvii. pp. 117-119 and 135-148.

[101] Handl. roer. Skand. hist., vol. xvii. pp. 151-155 and 157-159. There is preserved among Brask's documents of this period a proclamation, purporting to be issued by Gustavus, forbidding the sale of Lutheran tracts within the realm. Handl. roer. Skand. hist., vol. xvii. pp. 159-160. No reference, however, is made to it in other writings; and as it is clearly contrary to all the monarch's later views, it is certain that it did not emanate from him. Probably it was a mere concept drawn by Brask in the hope that it would meet with royal favor.

[102] Handl. roer. Skand. hist., vol. xvii. pp. 162-164.

[103] Handl. roer. Skand. hist., vol. xvii. pp. 205-216 and 220-223.

[104] Handl. roer. Skand. hist., vol. xiii. pp. 48-50 and 52-54, and vol. xviii. pp. 234-236 and 237-239; and Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. i. pp. 231-233 and 306-309.



Riot of the Anabaptists.—Contest between Olaus Petri and Peder Galle.—Marriage of Petri.—Conspiracy of Norby; of Christina Gyllenstjerna; of Mehlen; of Sunnanvaeder.—Attitude of Fredrik to Gustavus.—Proposition of Gustavus to resign the Crown.—Norby's Incursion into Bleking.—Surrender of Visby.—Flight of Mehlen.—Fall of Kalmar.

By the autumn of 1524 the whole of Sweden was in a ferment of theological dispute. When Gustavus returned from the congress of Malmoe to the capital, he found the people in a wild frenzy of religious zeal. The turmoil was occasioned mainly by the efforts of two Dutchmen, Melchior and Knipperdolling, who had renounced their respective callings as furrier and huckster to spread abroad the teachings of a new religious sect. The history of this strange movement has been so often told that it is hardly necessary to waste much time upon it here. It originated doubtless in the stimulus that Luther's preaching had given to religious thought. As so frequently occurs, the very enthusiasm which the Reformers felt for things divine led them to disregard their reason and give their passions undivided sway. One of the chronicles puts it: "Wherever the Almighty builds a church, the Devil comes and builds a chapel by its side." The thing that most distinguished these weird Dutchmen was their communistic views. They taught that, since we all were equal in the eyes of God, we should all be equal likewise in the eyes of men, that temporal government along with class distinctions of every kind should be abolished, and that Christians should indulge in absolute community of goods. In religious matters, too, they had peculiar views, believing that only adults should receive baptism, and that all adults who had been baptized in infancy should be baptized again. By reason of this tenet they were known as Anabaptists. Their first appearance in the Swedish capital occurred at a moment when the monarch was away. In that, at any rate, they manifested sense. The capital was all agog with Luther's doctrines, and everything that bore the stamp of novelty was listened to with joy. Melchior and Knipperdolling were received with open arms, the pulpits were placed at their disposal, and men and women flocked in swarms to hear them. The town authorities raised no opposition, believing the influence of these teachers would be good. In a short time, however, they were undeceived. The contagion spread like wildfire through the town, and every other citizen began to preach. Churches, monasteries, and chapels were filled from morn till eve, and pulpits resounded with doctrines of the most inflammatory kind. All government was set at naught, and every effort to stay the tempest merely added to its force. Finally these fanatics made war upon the altars, throwing down statues and pictures, and piling the fragments in huge heaps about the town. They dashed about like maniacs, a witness writes, not knowing what they did. How far their madness would have led them, it is idle to conceive. Gustavus returned to Stockholm while the delirium was at fever heat, and his presence in an instant checked its course. He called the leaders of the riot before him, and demanded sharply if this raving lunacy seemed to them religion. They mumbled some incoherent answer, and, the fury having spent its force, most of them were reprimanded and discharged. Melchior with one or two others was kept in jail awhile, and then sent back to Holland, with orders not to return to Sweden on pain of death. Some ten years later Melchior was executed along with Knipperdolling for sharing in the famous riot of the Anabaptist sect in Muenster.[105]

The hurricane had swept past Stockholm and was gone, but evils of every kind existed to attest its force. Among the greatest sufferers from this fanaticism were the partisans of Luther. Their attitude to the rioters had at first been doubtful, and the condemnation heaped on Melchior and Knipperdolling fell partially on them. People in general could not distinguish between fanatics and Luther. They were all deemed heretics, and Gustavus was roundly cursed for neglecting the religion of his fathers. To soothe the people Gustavus planned a journey through the realm, intending to set forth before the autumn closed. This journey he was forced by stress of circumstances to postpone. He therefore turned to other methods to effect his end. The strongest feature of the Lutheran doctrine was that it purported to be based upon the Word of God. To such a pretension no one but an unbeliever could object. Lutheranism was opposed on the ground of its presumed basis in the idiosyncrasies of men. Gustavus, confident that this idea was false, resolved to put the question to a test. Accordingly, among matters to be discussed at the Cabinet meeting in October, we find a proposition that all priests be ordered to confine their teaching to the Word of God. The fate of this sound measure is not known. It appears nowhere in the list of subjects on which the Cabinet took a vote. A fair conclusion is that the question was too broad to be determined at the time, and therefore was omitted from the calendar by consent of all.[106]

Gustavus was determined, however, that the matter should not drop. Convinced that any discord inside the Church would be a benefit to the crown, he resolved to hold a theological disputation, and selected a champion from the two chief factions, with orders to appear at Christmas in Upsala and defend the doctrines of his party in open court. The Lutheran gladiator of course was Petri, his opponent being one Peder Galle, a learned canon of Upsala. The main points that were discussed are these: man's justification; free will; forgiveness of sins; invocation and worship of saints; purgatory; celebration of vigils and masses for the dead; chanting of the service; good works, and rewards; papal and monastic indulgences; sacraments; predestination; excommunication; pilgrimages. The battle on these questions was fought, December 27, in the Chapter-house at Upsala; and the chronicle tells us, somewhat unnecessarily, that the fight was hot. Each party was struggling for the very kernel of his faith. If the Bible were acknowledged to be our sole authority in religious things, the whole fabric of the papal Church was wrong. On the other hand, if power were granted to the Fathers to establish doctrines and methods supplementary to the Bible, the Lutherans had no right to disobey. As Gustavus was arbiter of the battle, there could be no doubt of the result. Petri is asserted to have come off victor, on the ground that his citations were all from Holy Writ.[107]

Flattered by this great victory, the Lutherans grew bold. Though not so turbulent as before the riot, they showed much indiscretion, and Gustavus often found it necessary to interfere. What annoyed him chiefly was their bravado in alluding to the popes and bishops. The hierarchy of Romanism was fixed so firmly in people's hearts that every effort to dislodge it caused a jar. Especially in the rural districts was it necessary not to give alarm. A single deed or word might work an injury which many months of argument could not efface. It is not strange, therefore, that the king was troubled when Petri, in February, 1525, violated every rule of Church propriety by being married publicly in Stockholm. The marriage fell like a thunderclap upon the Church. Brask apparently could not believe his ears. He dashed off a letter to another prelate to inquire whether the report was true, and finding that it was, wrote to the archbishop as well as to the king, denouncing the whole affair. "Though the ceremony has been performed," he argued, "the marriage is invalid, for such was the decree made by the sixth Council of the Church." In his letter to the king, Brask used these words: "Your Majesty must be aware that much talk has been occasioned by the marriage in your capital of Olaus Petri, a Christian priest. At a future day, should the marriage result in children, there will be much trouble, for the law declares that children of a priest shall stand, in matters of inheritance, on a par with bastards.... Even in the Grecian Church, where persons who are married may be ordained on certain terms, those already priests have never been allowed to marry. Petri's ceremony is not a lawful marriage, and places him under the ban, according to the doctrines of the Church. For God's sake, therefore, act in this matter as a Christian prince should do." On receiving this letter, Gustavus, who had been in Upsala when the act occurred, called for the offending preacher and asked him what excuse he offered for violating the ancient customs of the Church. To this the culprit answered that he was ready to defend his conduct in open court, and prove that the laws of God should not be sacrificed to the laws of men. The king then wrote to Brask and assured him that if Petri should be shown to have done wrong, he should be punished. The king's own prejudices are manifest in the words with which his letter closed. "As to your assertion," he said, "that Petri's act has placed him under the ban, it would seem surprising if that should be the effect of marriage,—a ceremony that God does not forbid,—and yet that for debauchery and other sins which are forbidden, one should not fall beneath the ban.... In making this charge concerning Petri, you appear elated at the opportunity thus given you to censure me." This last insinuation the bishop strenuously denied. "God knows," he wrote the king, "that I have acted for your welfare in this matter, as well as for my own. What joy I or any other could feel in my present age and infirmity, I leave to God. Petri has sent me an apology for his act. It is full of words, but void of sense. I shall see to it, however, that it gets an answer."[108]

These stormy scenes within the Church were but the echo of what was going on outside. As the autumn advanced it became each day more clear that Fredrik had victimized the king at Malmoe. The Swedish army had retired from Gotland, and Norby with his horde of pirates remained in statu quo. Brask, who had the interests of Sweden constantly at heart, was the first person to suspect foul play. So early as December 9 he told a friend his fears had been aroused. Gustavus, if he had suspicions, kept them dark. He opened correspondence with Norby, hoping to inveigle him into a conference in Stockholm. Norby, however, knew the trick himself. The weather was such, he answered, that he could not come. Some few weeks later Gustavus wrote to Mehlen that the promises made to him at Malmoe had not been fulfilled. He also sent his messengers to Denmark denouncing Norby's course. But all this time his communications with Norby were filled with warm assurance of respect.[109]

The truth was, Norby cherished a project far more ambitious than either Fredrik or Gustavus could suppose. In January, 1524, the brave Christina, widow of the young Sten Sture, had returned to Sweden after her long captivity in Denmark. The same ambitious spirit that had filled her breast in earlier days was with her still, and she longed to see upon her son's head the crown that but for his early death would have been worn by her husband. This son, a mere boy of twelve, had recently returned from Dantzic, whither he had been sent as exile four years before by Christiern. He had disembarked at Kalmar, and still remained there under custody of Mehlen. In this state of affairs the piratical Norby conceived the project of marrying Christina, and then of conjuring with the name of Sture to drive Gustavus out of Sweden. To this bold scheme Christina apparently gave her consent. At all events, the news of her projected marriage was spread abroad, and nothing was done on her part to deny it.[110]

Norby's chief anxiety was to get possession of the boy. Mehlen had shown reluctance to give him to Christina, and one might readily conclude his purpose was to hand him over to the king. Such a purpose, however, Mehlen seems never to have entertained. He preferred to watch developments, and at the proper moment resign his charge to the party that should make the highest bid. The truth is, Mehlen had fallen into disrepute. His pusillanimous conduct in the siege of Visby had gradually dawned upon the king, and ere the close of 1524 report was spread that Mehlen had incurred his monarch's wrath. Though summoned to Stockholm in January to the marriage of the monarch's sister, he did not venture to appear, but wrote a letter to Gustavus begging for a continuance of favor at the court. The answer that came back was characteristic of the king. Stripped of all its verbiage, it was an assurance that the general report was wrong. Mehlen might still bask in the smiles of royalty, and must pay no heed to public slander. In confirmation of these sentiments Gustavus induced the Cabinet to enclose a letter. "Dear brother," the Cabinet lovingly began, "we hear a rumor is abroad that you have grown distasteful to the king, and you are said to shun his presence in fear of danger to your life. We declare before Almighty God we never heard the monarch speak one word in your disfavor, though we can well believe there may be slanderers who would rejoice to see such discord spread. We doubt not you will stamp out such discord with your utmost power. Therefore we beg you pay no heed to evil messengers, but come here at the earliest opportunity to the king." This urgent exhortation meeting with no response, some three weeks later the monarch wrote again, still with a show of friendship, but insisting on the immediate presence of the erstwhile favorite in Stockholm. So imperative an order Mehlen dared not disobey. Proceeding at once to Stockholm, he appeared before the king, and soon discovered that his worst suspicions were not far from true. The assurances of his monarch's favor had been a blind to decoy the officer away from Kalmar. On the 12th of March Gustavus removed him from the post, and appointed another officer, Nils Eriksson, in his stead. Anticipating that the change might cause some friction, the monarch sent off a whole batch of letters in explanation of his act. One of these letters, though a trifle lengthy, is perhaps worth quoting. It is addressed to the fief of Kalmar, and runs in this wise: "Dear friends, we thank you warmly for the devotion and allegiance which you, as true and loyal subjects, have exhibited toward us as well as toward the kingdom of your fathers. You will remember that last summer, when we despatched our fleet to Gotland to besiege Norby in the castle and town of Visby, and when he found that he could expect no aid from Christiern, he sent his ambassadors to take oath of allegiance to Fredrik, King of Denmark. His purpose, which we clearly saw, was simply to cause dissension between the kingdoms, thus giving Christiern opportunity to come forward and seize the reins once more. It appearing to us and to our Cabinet unwise to permit a new war at that time to spring up between the kingdoms, we proceeded with delegates from our Cabinet to a congress of the realms at Malmoe. There we made a permanent alliance with each other and the Hanseatic Towns against King Christiern. We agreed, moreover, that our respective claims to Gotland should be left to arbitration. When, now, Norby saw that the dissension which he had longed for was not likely to ensue, he disregarded every oath that he had made to Fredrik, and continued in his old allegiance to King Christiern. He also feigned a willingness to come to terms with us, if we would protect his interests in this kingdom. This he offered, as we have now found out, in hope of causing discord between us and the Hanseatic Towns. He has, too, spread a rumor among the Danes and Germans that we had entered into an alliance with him against them. Of any such alliance we assure you we are ignorant. Now, as to Mehlen, we are told he does not wholly please you. We have therefore recalled him from his post, and made Nils Eriksson commander of Kalmar Castle and governor of the town and fief. We beg you be submissive and pay to him all rents and taxes which fall due until we find an opportunity to visit you in person. He will govern you, by God's help, according to Saint Erik's law and the good old customs of your fathers. If any among you are found encouraging dissension or engaged in plots, we pray you all be zealous in aiding Eriksson to bring them to destruction." Along with this letter Gustavus sent one to the burghers in the town of Kalmar. It appears they had protested against the taxes imposed on them by Mehlen. There can be little doubt these taxes were imposed by order of the king. As matters stood, however, it seemed poor policy to claim them. These are the monarch's words: "Some of your fellow-townsmen have let us understand that taxes have been laid on you for which you are in no wise liable. We have already written you that you are to be free therefrom; but that letter, we now are told, has never reached you. God knows we grieve extremely that any such burden should have been imposed against our wish and orders, and we hereby notify you that we shall not claim these taxes laid on you by Mehlen." Simultaneously with this document others of like tenor were despatched to other persons to allay their wrath.[111]

These summary proceedings of Gustavus made Mehlen more ready to accept proposals from the other side; and he was further impelled in that direction by recent plots among the Dalesmen. The insurrection under Sunnanvaeder, which the monarch had fancied he could extinguish by a generous supply of salt, had not yet yielded to the treatment. Indeed, according to the best reports, the malady had spread. How serious the insurrection was, appears from the frequency of the monarch's exhortations. All through the winter he was writing to the people, condoling with them for the exorbitant price of food, and attributing all their evils to the continuance of wars in Europe. The Cabinet also addressed the Dalesmen, urging them not to ally themselves with Sunnanvaeder, who was disgruntled, so they heard, because he had not been given the bishopric of Vesteras. In one of his appeals Gustavus warned the rebels to be still, lest Christiern might be encouraged to return. The spectre of their gory tyrant seems not, however, to have haunted them, and in February we find that Knut, the deposed dean of Vesteras, had joined their ranks. To him Gustavus wrote a note, assuring him that the archbishopric would have been conferred upon him had he but done his duty. Knut, apparently, did no great benefit to his brother's cause. Only a few days after he arrived, his leader wrote archly to a person who had loaned him funds, that he could stay no longer in the land, for certain peasants were already on his track, intending to capture him and take him to the king. If these suspicions were correct, it was probably as well for him that he escaped. Some two weeks later these two scoundrels were both in Norway, waiting for a more auspicious moment to return.[112]

Whether their movements were in any way inspired by Norby, is not clear. One thing, however, is very sure. Whomever Norby thought could be of service, he did not hesitate to use. In the previous summer, even while truckling with Fredrik, he had been in steady communication with Christiern, who was Fredrik's bitter foe. And now, though every one believed him to have broken with Fredrik, there was a story afloat that Fredrik's hand was really behind the pirate's opposition to Gustavus. No one could place the slightest confidence in what he said. In January he started a rumor that he was ready to give up Gotland, provided the king would grant him a like domain in Finland; but soon it turned out that the whole project was a ruse. In February he had so far befogged the intellect of Fredrik as to induce that monarch to request of Gustavus a full pardon for all of Norby's doings. It need scarce be added, this ridiculous proposal met with no success; and Fredrik, almost as soon as it was sent, had cause to rue it, for Norby toward the close of winter sent an army into Bleking,—a province ceded to Fredrik by the Congress of Malmoe,—and there spread ruin far and wide.[113]

The relations of Fredrik to Sweden at this juncture are very strange. Though nominally at peace, the two nations were utterly distrustful of each other, and at frequent intervals tried in secret to cut each other's throats. Their only bond of union was their common abhorrence of the tyrant Christiern; and whenever Fredrik fancied that danger averted, he spared no effort to humiliate his rival beyond the strait. One instance of his treachery was noticed in the comfort given to Knut and Sunnanvaeder when they fled to Norway. The treaty of Malmoe had stated with sufficient clearness that all fugitives from one country to the other should be returned; and Fredrik, as king of Norway, was bound to see to it that the treaty was observed. It cannot be stated positively that he encouraged the fugitives himself, but it is very certain that his officers in Norway did, and that he made no effort to restrain them.[114]

The share Christina had in this conspiracy is likewise doubtful. So early as February Gustavus suspected her, and ordered one of his officers to keep spies upon her track. As a result one of her servants was detected in treacherous proceedings and arrested. It appears, however, that she did not merit all the king's severity; for Brask in April wrote a friend, that the monarch was treating her with undue harshness. She was widely popular, and Gustavus would have been more wise had his hostility to her been less open. "Nescit regnare qui nescit dissimulare," wrote the wily bishop. Christina was not, at any rate, on the best of terms with Mehlen, for her boy was kept in Kalmar till the castle passed from Mehlen's hands.[115]

This last result was not effected till a long time after Mehlen had been deposed. Before leaving Kalmar he had intrusted matters to his brother, with orders not to yield the castle to any but himself. As soon, therefore, as the new officer approached to take his fief, the reply was given him that the castle would not be yielded till Mehlen should return. After some three weeks spent in futile negotiation, Gustavus wrung from Mehlen a letter directed to his brother, instructing him to yield. This the monarch sent to Kalmar, April 8, along with a letter of his own. Convinced that the whole delay on the part of Mehlen was to use up time, he instructed his messenger to warn the occupants that if the castle were not surrendered by the 1st of May, he would make them smart for it. In his letter, however, Gustavus used more gentle language. "We have kept your brother here," he wrote, "in order to protect him from the populace, whose mouths are full of scandal about our relations to him. From your letter it appears you thought we held him in confinement.... We are minded to treat him well and kindly, unless we shall be forced by you to treat him otherwise. We warn you, however, we shall deal with Kalmar in the way that we deem best, for the town and castle belong to God, to us, and to the Swedish crown.... Our counsel is that you obey our mandate, and the earlier you do so the better it will be for you." Accompanying this letter was a passport, similar to one drawn up for Mehlen, to take his brother from the realm. He was not, however, to be allured by passports or even terrified by threats. The castle continued firm, and Gustavus began to levy forces to besiege it.[116]

While these forces were being gathered, Gustavus renewed his efforts to gain favor through the land. This he soon discovered to be no easy task. Surrounded by conspirators on every hand, he could not turn without confronting some new rumor. Stories of the most contradictory nature were set afloat each day. At one time the report was spread through Dalarne that he had cast Christina into jail. After that it was rumored that he was sending despatches frequently to Gotland, from which some persons caught the notion he was in secret league with Norby. This notion was so baleful that Gustavus felt it best to answer it. "No one need think," he said, "we attach the slightest importance to anything that Norby says. As he asked us for a hearing, we have promised to let him have it. He used smooth words to us, and we have given him smooth answers in return.... As to these slanderous stories," continued Gustavus, in writing to an officer, "you are aware we cannot close men's mouths. We believe our actions toward our people will bear examination before both God and man." Such an examination he proposed to make, and on the 25th of March he sent out notice of a general diet to be held in the early part of May. This notice contained among other things these startling words: "If it shall happen that the Cabinet and people then assembled believe the present evils are in any respect the outcome of our methods of government, we shall lay it before them to determine whether they wish us to continue in the government or not. It was at their request and exhortation that we assumed the reins at Strengnaes, and whatever their judgment now may be, it shall be followed." In addition to this notice, sent to all portions of the land, Gustavus wrote to the people of Mora that he had heard of a complaint from them that the kingdom was going to pieces and that he was causing it. He assured them that the rumor was untrue, and that he was doing all he could to hold the realm together. When these assurances reached Dalarne, the poor peasants of that district were already starving. Half mad with hunger, they called a mass meeting of their little parishes, and drew up a heart-rending though unfair statement of their wrongs. A copy of these grievances they despatched at once to Stockholm. It charged the king with appointing German and Danish officers to the highest positions in the state, and with quartering foreign soldiers in the towns and villages till the inhabitants were constrained to flee. He had further, they asserted, laid taxes on the monasteries and churches, and on the priests and monks; he had seized jewels consecrated to God's service; he had robbed the churches of all their Swedish money, and substituted "klippings," which he then had repudiated; and he had seized the tithes. Finally they charged him with imprisoning Christina and her boy. The letter ended with a warning that unless he at once drove out all foreigners, released Christina with the others whom he had in prison, and took some measures to better trade, they would renounce allegiance to him. Gustavus received this document while the diet was in session. His answer to the people of Dalarne contained these words: "We cannot believe this letter was issued by your consent. Rather, we think, it was inspired by certain wiseacres among you hoodwinked by Sunnanvaeder and the like. That the purpose of these men is to bring back Christiern we have definite proofs, not only within the kingdom but without. Ever since Sunnanvaeder went among you, letters and messengers have been passing between Dalarne and Norby, the meaning of all which is that Norby is to attack the government on one side and Dalarne on the other, and that we are to be dragged down from the throne, which is then to be handed over to Norby for the benefit of Christiern." This letter reflected in some degree the spirit of the diet. The main object for which it had been called was to spread an impression that the king was acting as representative of his people. It was not asked to legislate, and it did not do so. Gustavus, however, went through the farce which he had promised, and asked the delegates if they wished him to resign the crown. Of course the answer was a shower of plaudits upon the king. As Gustavus modestly puts it, "The Cabinet and people over all the land besought us not to resign, but govern them hereafter as heretofore; and they promised obedience as in the past, swearing by hand and mouth to risk in our service their lives and everything they had." With this seductive ceremony the diet was dismissed.[117]

Ere the diet had come together, Norby had made a second irruption into Fredrik's territory in the south of Sweden. Toward the end of March he had sailed from Gotland with twelve men-of-war, had captured a couple of the strongest fortresses in Bleking, and had enlisted many inhabitants of that province in the cause of Christiern. Fredrik was by this time fully alive to the error he had made in relying for a moment on the promises of Norby. His anxiety was increased still further when the news was brought him that Christiern's brother-in-law, the emperor, had defeated the king of France, and was coming with all his forces to the relief of Christiern. One drop of comfort was granted him when he heard that a fleet from Lubeck had sailed to Gotland in Norby's absence, and on May 13 had seized the town of Visby. In spite of this disaster, Norby's hopes ran high. He sent letters every day to Christiern, telling him that Denmark as well as Sweden was overrun with rebels, and that he now had a chance of restoration such as he had never had before. But Norby's hopes were at the very highest when the bubble burst. The emperor proved too busy with his own affairs to send his army to the North, and Christiern could not raise the armament requisite for a foreign war. Gustavus, moreover, sent his troops to drive back the invader, and the Danish nobility enlisted in behalf of Fredrik. The result was that ere the close of May the pirate was routed in two important battles. Gustavus literally hugged himself for joy, and sent off a letter of congratulation to the army that had won the day. "My good men," he began, "you may rest assured that if Norby shall escape you and come this way, he will meet with a reception that will cause him little joy. From his assertion that he expected aid from us, you will perceive he sought to foster discord between your realm and us.... We had already ordered our men in Vestergoetland to go to your relief as soon as you should need them, which now, thank God, we trust will never be." The monarch's congratulation was a little premature. Norby's force was scattered, but it was not lost. Retiring with his stragglers to one of the Danish strongholds, he ensconced himself within, and there remained,—a constant menace to the neighborhood. Late in June the pirate, reduced to the utmost extremity, opened negotiations with Fredrik. That monarch, still in dread of Christiern, readily complied. Norby proceeded to Copenhagen, where it was finally arranged that he should yield the castle of Visby, which the Lubeck army had been besieging ever since the town of Visby fell; and that in return the pirate should be granted the whole province of Bleking with all its strongholds, to hold as a fief of Denmark. Norby was then conveyed to Denmark, and before the first of August these terms were carried out. Visby passed into the hands of Lubeck, and the pirate returned to Bleking to guard his fief.[118]

Gustavus, it need scarce be said, was vexed. The congress which was to have been held in Lubeck to discuss his claim to Gotland had been indefinitely postponed. In place thereof, the island had been seized by Lubeck, and Bleking—another of the disputed territories—had been conferred upon a bitter foe. What most irritated him was the close proximity of Norby's fief to Sweden. He was at a loss, moreover, to understand the king of Denmark's motives. "It may be," he suggested in a letter of July 9, "that Fredrik's purpose was to secure Gotland, and then deal with Norby as he pleased. However this may be, we must keep watch on every side." The same day he wrote to another person, "We are in no wise pleased to have Norby for a neighbor, since we have noticed that he always seeks to do us harm." Still, Gustavus believed in making a virtue of necessity, and a few days later wrote: "We are glad that hostilities between Fredrik and Norby are at an end, and that the kingdom is once more on the road to peace and quiet."[119]

This letter was written by Gustavus in his camp at Kalmar. The castle there was still in the hands of Mehlen's brother, though it had been under siege about two months. Early in June Gustavus, unwilling to shed more blood, had ordered Mehlen to proceed to Kalmar and bid the castle yield. The confidence with which the monarch even yet regarded Mehlen is astounding, and the issue proved at once the monarch's folly. On reaching Kalmar, Mehlen, after a conference with Eriksson, was allowed to enter the castle to persuade his men to yield. The following day, the portcullis was lowered and Mehlen came out upon the bridge. But while he pretended to be crossing, a portion of the garrison dashed out of the castle and massacred a number of the people, all unsuspecting, in the town. The alarm was then given to the royal guard, and Mehlen's soldiers, finding themselves outnumbered, retired across the bridge. Five days later, Mehlen, with his wife and brother, scaled the castle wall and sailed for Germany, leaving his wretched soldiers to withstand the siege. If ever there was a cowardly, bustling, impotent, insignificant adventurer, Berent von Mehlen was that man. During his two years' stay in Sweden he had dabbled in every project that arose, and he had accomplished absolutely nothing. He had been the hero of a six months' bloodless siege, that left matters precisely as they had begun; and he had set on foot a conspiracy that had no object and that ended in the air. It is a pleasure to dismiss him from our thoughts. His subsequent career in Germany was of a piece with his career in Sweden. He scurried about from one court to another, endeavoring to raise an army with which to conquer Sweden. But nothing came of any of his projects, and after a short period oblivion settled on his name.[120]

Gustavus now learned definitely that Norby, ever since his fleet left Gotland, had been in secret conspiracy with Mehlen. He determined, therefore, that, since the pirate had gained a foothold on the mainland, Kalmar must be secured at any risk. So he collected men from every quarter and sent them down to Kalmar to reinforce the town. Some few weeks later, as the castle had not yielded, he proceeded to the town himself. The burghers, hoping the conflict would now be ended, welcomed him with joy. But the garrison still believed in Mehlen, and confidently awaited his return with aid. Gustavus sent an envoy to the castle, to persuade the garrison to yield. The answer was, the garrison would not be yielded till every one of them was dead. But one course, therefore, was open to the monarch,—the castle must be stormed. This, with the guns which he possessed, demanded almost more than human strength. The castle was surrounded on all sides by a moat, beyond which rose a perpendicular wall of masonry twenty feet in height. This rampart was washed on three sides by the sea, and on the other was protected by a broad deep dike and then an outer wall. From within, the rampart was guarded by eight huge towers that stood out from the castle-walls, and the four corners of the ramparts were further strengthened by four more towers with apertures for crossbows, cannon, and muskets. Such was the fortress that Gustavus, late in July, resolved to storm. He began by throwing up a line of earthworks, behind which he placed his heavy guns, hoping to batter down the towers and ramparts, while his pikemen and halberdiers were scaling the unprotected parts. But his men at first were lukewarm. The task seemed herculean, and every effort to ascend the ramparts met with certain death. Those in the castle fought like maniacs, the men with guns and crossbows, and the women firing stones. Gustavus, it is reported, stormed and swore, and finally put on his armor, declaring that he would either have the castle or die within its walls. His enthusiasm spread among his men, and they shouted they would do their best, though every man of them should fall. The effect was visible at once. Each charge left the ramparts weaker than before; and when night closed in, there was not a tower or rampart whole. The next morning, when Gustavus turned his culverins again upon the wall, the flag of truce was raised. The garrison hoped that if they sued before the ramparts actually fell, they might be granted favorable terms. But the monarch, who had now lost nearly half his men, demanded an unconditional surrender. As Norby had been conquered, and no signs of Mehlen's succor had appeared, the garrison, after much palaver, threw themselves upon the mercy of the king. The castle, on the 20th of July, passed into the monarch's hands once more, and a large portion of the rebel garrison was put to death. With this scene the conspiracy of Norby, Mehlen, and their adherents was at an end.[121]


[105] Svart, Gust. I.'s kroen., pp. 96-98.

[106] Svart, Gust. I.'s kroen., pp. 98-99; and Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. i. p. 254.

[107] Svart, Gust. I.'s kroen., pp. 99-100.

[108] Svart, Gust. I.'s kroen., p. 99; Handl. roer. Skand. hist., vol. xiv. pp. 33-41 and vol. xviii. pp. 265-266 and 273-276; and Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. ii. pp. 83-86 and 272-276.

[109] Handl. roer. Skand. hist., vol. xiii. pp. 107-110; and Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. i. pp. 281-284 and vol. ii. pp. 12 and 19.

[110] Christ. II.'s arkiv, vol. ii. p. 781 and vol. iv. p. 1530; Handl. roer. Skand. hist., vol. xiv. pp. 30-33, 41-44 and 61-65, and vol. xvii. pp. 182 and 188-189; and Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. ii. pp. 24-26. Some modern writers, unwilling to believe Christina base enough to marry Norby, regard the whole story of her consent as false. It seems impossible, however, that a false rumor should have been so generally believed by those who knew her. The more natural assumption is that her ambition caused her to accept the advances of her suitor even if she did not positively yield to his request.

[111] Rensel, Beraettelse, pp. 42-43; Christ. II.'s arkiv, vol. iv. pp. 1520-1521 and 1527-1533; Handl. roer. Skand. hist., vol. xiv. pp. 61-65; and Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. i. pp. 283-284 and vol. ii. pp. 7-9, 23-24 and 36-42.

[112] Svart, Gust. I.'s kroen., p. 86; Dipl. Dal., vol. ii. pp. 39-47; Handl. roer. Skand. hist., vol. xxiii. pp. 28-34; and Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. ii. pp. 3-5, 10-12, 13-14 and 20-21.

[113] Christ. II.'s arkiv, vol. iv. pp. 1531-1532; Handl. roer. Skand. hist., vol. xiii. pp. 124-127; and Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. ii. pp. 28-29.

[114] Christ. II.'s arkiv, vol. iv. pp. 1485-1486; Handl. roer. Skand. hist., vol. xxiii. pp. 65-67; Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. ii. pp. 33-34, 46 and 49-50; and Saml. til det Norske Folks Sprog og Hist., vol. i. pp. 482-484.

[115] Christ. II.'s arkiv, vol. iv. p. 1530; Handl. roer. Skand. hist., vol. xiv. p. 64 and vol. xviii. pp. 269-270 and 276-277; and Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. ii. pp. 24-25.

[116] Handl. roer. Skand. hist., vol. xiv. p. 45; and Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. ii. pp. 72-80, 91-93, 106-107 and 113.

[117] Alla riksdag. och moet. besluth, vol. i. pp. 36-37; Christ. II.'s arkiv, vol. iv. pp. 1482-1487 and 1496-1497; Dipl. Dal., vol. ii. pp. 50-51 and 63-64; Handl. roer. Skand. hist., vol. xiv. pp. 41-44 and 60-61 and vol. xxiii. pp. 77-81; Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. ii. pp. 42-48, 52-57, and 110-118; and Svenska riksdagsakt., vol. i. pp. 32-39.

[118] Diar. Minor. Visbyens., p. 39; Rensel, Beraettelse, p. 44; Svart, Gust. I.'s kroen., pp. 83-84; Christ. II.'s arkiv, vol. i. pp. 7-36; Handl. roer. Skand. hist., vol. xiv. pp. 55-57 and 72-73; and Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. ii. pp. 59-60, 89-93, 97-102, 119-120, 146-147, 167-168 and 170.

[119] Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. ii. pp. 170-176.

[120] Rensel, Beraettelse, pp. 43-45; Svart, Gust. I.'s kroen., pp. 86-89; Handl. roer. Skand. hist., vol. xiv. pp. 61-65; and Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. ii. pp. 143-144 and 160-161.

[121] Rensel, Beraettelse, pp. 45-47; Svart, Gust. I.'s kroen., pp. 89-92; Handl. roer. Skand. hist., vol. xiv. pp. 72-73; and Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. ii. pp. 143-146, 155-158, 160-165, 168-169, 181-183 and 188.



Negotiations between Fredrik and Gustavus.—Treachery of Norby.—Sunnanvaeder and the Cabinet of Norway.—Overthrow and Death of Norby.—Trial and Execution of Knut and Sunnanvaeder.—Debt to Lubeck.—Treaty with Russia; with the Netherlands.—Dalarne and the Lubeck Envoys.—Swedish Property in Denmark.—Province of Viken.—Refugees in Norway.

The Swedish Revolution was the work of three nations, all foes at heart, endeavoring to effect a common object on utterly divergent grounds. Gustavus wished to free his country from a tyrant's rule, while Fredrik's purpose was to gain the throne of Denmark, and Lubeck's was to crush her rival in the Baltic trade. Without the alliance of these three parties, it is not likely that any one of them could have gained his end. So long, therefore, as the common object was in view, each felt an assurance that the others would not fail. It was only when Christiern's power was altogether gone that this triple alliance was dissolved.

The varying hopes of Christiern may be gauged with singular accuracy by Fredrik's show of friendship to Gustavus. One cannot read the despatches sent from Denmark without observing a constant change of attitude; the monarch's feelings cooling somewhat as the chance that Christiern would recover Denmark grew more remote. At the moment when Norby returned to Bleking, the movements of Christiern caused the monarch much alarm, and his letters to Gustavus were filled with every assurance of good-will. This assurance, however, Gustavus took at little more than it was worth. So long as Knut and Sunnanvaeder were protected by Fredrik's officers in Norway, the Danish monarch's assurances of friendship carried little weight. Gustavus seems not to have appealed to Fredrik in this matter till every effort to persuade the Danish officers in Norway had been tried. He wrote even to the Norwegian Cabinet, and begged them to keep the promises made to him in Malmoe. While in the midst of these entreaties, a letter came from Fredrik asking for the release of certain prisoners, among them Norby's daughter, whom Gustavus had captured in the war with Norby. This was the very opportunity which Gustavus craved. He wrote back that in the same war in which these prisoners had been taken, some guns belonging to him had been lost, and he offered to exchange the prisoners for the guns. He requested, further, that Fredrik command his officers in Norway to yield the refugees. While this answer was on the road, Fredrik received a note from Norby, to whom Gustavus had written to say that Fredrik had promised that the guns should be returned. Fredrik, therefore, wrote Gustavus that these guns were not in his possession, but if the Danish prisoners were surrendered, he would try to get them. When this letter came, the monarch was indignant. Fredrik, it was clear, was playing with him, and hoped to get the prisoners and give nothing in return. The answer which the monarch made was this: "We have just received your letter with excuses for the detention of our guns and ammunition, along with a request for the surrender of Soren Brun, whom you assert we captured in a time of truce. Of such a truce we wish to inform you we are ignorant. He was lawfully taken, inasmuch as he was one of Norby's men.... As to our ammunition you say that it was captured from you and carried off to Gotland. If so, it was no fault of ours. We have written frequently about it, but have met with nothing but delays. If Norby, who you say has sworn allegiance to you, holds this ammunition in Visby Castle, it is unquestionably in your power to order that it be returned. So soon as this is done, the prisoners shall be released." Before this determined letter arrived in Denmark, Fredrik had modified his plans, for news had come that Christiern's fleet was on the way to Norway, intending to winter there and make an incursion into Denmark in the spring. Fredrik, therefore, despatched a note to Norby telling him to yield the ammunition, and wrote Gustavus that the guns were ready, and if he would send his officers to Denmark for them they should be delivered. A few days later an officer of Fredrik wrote Gustavus that property of Danish subjects had been seized in Sweden, and begged that the persons wronged be recompensed. To this Gustavus answered that Swedish subjects had been treated in the same way in Denmark, and promised to observe the treaty if the Danes would do so in return. He likewise wrote to Fredrik thanking him for his action relating to the guns, declaring that he would send for them as requested, and as soon as they were yielded would set the prisoners free.[122]

This amicable adjustment of their difficulty was on paper, but much more shuffling was required before it was reduced to fact. Gustavus feared that Fredrik was in league with Norby, and rumor had it that Norby was preparing for another war. Late in 1525, the pirate wrote the Swedish officer in Kalmar that he had come to terms with Fredrik, and that all the injury which he had done to Sweden had been forgiven. To this the officer replied: "I fail to see how Fredrik can have promised that you may keep our ammunition." Norby at all events did keep it, and early in 1526 Gustavus wrote: "We hear that Norby has let fall calumnies against us. We place no confidence whatever in him, especially as he is growing stronger every day.... From his own letters we discover he has no thought of giving up our ammunition." To Fredrik himself the monarch wrote: "From Norby's letters we learn he has no intention of obeying your commands." In the same strain Gustavus addressed the Danish Cabinet, and expressed the hope that Norby was not acting under their behest. If the Cabinet's assertion can be trusted, he was not; for several of the Cabinet wrote Gustavus to keep an eye on Norby, as he was raising a large force in Bleking despite their orders to him to desist. There being little hope that Fredrik would force the pirate to obey, Gustavus ventured to arrange the matter for himself. It so happened at this moment that one of Norby's vessels, laden with arms and ammunition, stranded on the coast not far from Kalmar. The monarch's officers hurried to the spot, and seized what ammunition they could find. This stroke, however, was in some degree offset by a reprisal which Norby managed to secure upon the coast of Bleking. Matters now appeared so serious that the king addressed himself to Norby. "We find," he said, "that a part of the ammunition taken from the wreck off Kalmar is our own. All the rest of it you may have, provided we are given the guns and ammunition promised us by Fredrik.... As soon as these are handed over, your daughter and the other prisoners shall be freed." This proposition would have satisfied any man but Norby. To him it seemed unfair. The fleet of Christiern was looked for early in the spring, and Norby thought by waiting to obtain more favorable terms. He wrote back, therefore, that, though Fredrik may have told Gustavus he should have his guns, he could not have them, for in the treaty recently drawn up between himself and Fredrik, it had been stipulated that all injury done by him to Sweden should be forgotten, and a part of this injury consisted in the seizure of these guns. Norby closed his letter with an offer to hold a personal conference with the king. The reply which Norby had to this proposal was sharp and warm. "We shall permit no nonsense," wrote the king. If Norby wanted his daughter, let him return the guns. "As to a personal meeting with you, we cannot spare the time." Norby's pride apparently was not touched by this rebuke. He wrote again, simply repeating what he had said before, and in reply obtained another letter from the king. "We have already told you," wrote Gustavus, "that you may have your daughter when we get our guns. We were promised them by the treaty of Malmoe, which we desire in every particular to observe. And we will hand over the property belonging to you in the wreck off Kalmar, if you will forward to that town our ammunition together with a promise in writing never from this day forth to wrong us or our men." This letter, dated on the 4th of March, was the last communication that passed between the pirate and the king. Norby had at length discovered that he could not dupe the king, and Gustavus deemed it folly to continue parley with one whose only object was to use up time.[123]

Unable to accomplish anything with Norby, it was more than ever important that Gustavus should be on terms of amity with Fredrik. For the moment it appeared that Fredrik would be fair. At all events, he had made Gustavus a generous promise about the guns, and his Cabinet kept Gustavus constantly informed about the acts of Norby. In February, when the lakes were frozen, the monarch sent, as Fredrik had suggested, for his ammunition, and intrusted to the same emissary a letter for the Danish king. This letter was in reply to one from Fredrik, asking for the surrender of a Danish refugee. Gustavus could not comply with his request, for the refugee was gone; but he seized again the opportunity to mention Sunnanvaeder. "We earnestly entreat you," were his words, "to write your Cabinet in Norway no longer to protect this man or any of his party." It was certainly time that something should be done by Fredrik, for at the very moment while Gustavus was writing this appeal, the Norwegian Cabinet were issuing a passport for the traitors through their realm; and to a request from Gustavus for their surrender, the Cabinet offered the absurd excuse that the fugitives themselves protested they were innocent. "However," it was added, "the fugitives will return if they are given your assurance that they may be tried, as priests, before a spiritual tribunal." In this reply the reason for the detention of the fugitives leaked out. They were high in office in the Church, and the archbishop of Trondhem, with whom they had taken refuge, feared the Lutheran tendencies of the king. Fredrik did not wholly share this fear, and on the 4th of March for the first time addressed the archbishop, commanding him to revoke the passport of the renegades. This letter producing no immediate effect, Gustavus waited about six weeks, and then despatched to the Cabinet of Norway a safe-conduct for the renegades to be tried before "a proper tribunal," and, if adjudged not guilty, to return to Norway. The passport was directed to the Cabinet of southern Norway, to whom the monarch used these words: "We marvel much at the language of your northern brothers, and particularly that they are deceived by the treachery of these rascals, which is well known hundreds of miles from here, and might be known in Norway if the people were not blind. I might tell you how they lay a long while in Dalarne, and in the name of the people sent deceitful letters through the land, to stir up hostility against us. But as soon as the people began to leave them, and the Dalesmen announced that these letters were not issued with their consent, they betook themselves to Norway.... If, now, the fugitives will come before a proper tribunal, we cannot and we would not refuse to let them do so. We therefore send a safe-conduct to guard them against all wrong, according to their request. If they do not come, it will be manifest whether they are innocent." The safe-conduct, it may be well to say, ran only to the 10th of August following, and no notice apparently was taken of it till near the expiration of that time.[124]

Gustavus now devoted himself to the task of fighting Norby. The pirate had given the king of Denmark a written promise that he would do no injury to Sweden, but it was very soon apparent that this promise was not likely to be kept. By the end of January Norby's acts so far aroused suspicion that Gustavus ordered spies to enter Bleking and discover Norby's plans. No very definite information, however, was obtained, probably for the reason that Norby did not know his plans himself. He was waiting for intelligence from Christiern. Late in March Gustavus fancied the pirate was preparing to depart for Norway. A few days afterwards, Brask wrote the monarch: "A report is spread that Norby has seized some seven or eight small craft and two large ships. I do not comprehend his purpose. Merchants just arrived from Denmark add that the Germans have handed Gotland over to the Danes, though on the other hand it is declared that Lubeck has sent a strong force of men and ammunition to the isle." The day following the writing of this letter, Gustavus despatched a note to Finland, with a warning to beware of Norby, for the news had reached him secretly that the pirate was about to make an incursion into Finland. This was followed, after a week's interval, by another letter announcing that Norby's fleet was lying at anchor, all ready to set sail. The monarch's apprehensions proved to be unfounded. Norby had important business nearer home. Christiern had not wintered in Norway, as some persons had supposed he would, but had continued his efforts to raise a force in Holland. His efforts had been attended with some measure of success, and early in May the Swedish Cabinet had word that Christiern had despatched a force of seven or eight thousand men under Gustaf Trolle to make an attack on Denmark. While this fleet was believed to be under sail, the tortuous Norby wrote to Denmark that he was ready to sacrifice his life for Fredrik, and took the opportunity to charge Gustavus with every sort of crime. The expedition of Christiern appears to have miscarried, but it so startled Fredrik that he hastened to rid himself of his doubtful ally, Norby. On pretence of wanting an escort for his daughter, about to sail for Prussia, he asked the pirate to come to Copenhagen. Norby, willing though he was to sacrifice his life for Fredrik, thought he scented bait. He could not go, he said, unless he did so in his own vessel attended by seven hundred of his men, and as an additional guaranty demanded at the outset that his men be paid. This was a little more than Fredrik could digest. His answer was a letter to Gustavus, declaring that the pirate was in constant communication with Christiern, and meantime spared no efforts to stir up discord between Gustavus and himself. He was now preparing with a fleet and body of seven hundred men to make an incursion into Sweden. Should this occur, Gustavus might rely upon the aid of Fredrik. For this generous assurance Gustavus in his answer thanked the king, and promised, in return, that if the pirate should make war on Denmark, Fredrik might count on him. Despite these mutual promises of fidelity, neither party relied much on the other. Gustavus, in a letter to his Cabinet in Finland, openly declared his discontent with Fredrik. However, a common danger kept the allies together, and early in August Gustavus sent a fleet to Kalmar Sound with orders to make an incursion into Bleking on the north, at the same moment that Fredrik's fleet was attacking Norby from the south. For some reason Fredrik did not hear of the Swedish movement till the day was won. On August 24 the Danish and Lubeck fleets were lying off the coast of Bleking, and, thinking that an attack would soon be made by land, bore down upon the fleet of Norby. It was an unequal contest, and the allied fleets were victorious. Seven of Norby's vessels were captured, with four hundred of his men. The conquerors then entered Bleking, and placed the district once more under Danish rule. Norby himself escaped across the Baltic Sea to Russia. There he expected to enlist the grand duke in a war against Gustavus. He found, however, that he had mistaken the opinions of his host. The grand duke threw him into prison, where he remained two years. At the end of that time he was set at liberty by request of Charles V., under whose banner he then enlisted. After serving about a year, he was killed outside the walls of Florence, whither he had been sent with the emperor's forces to storm the town. "Such was the end," so runs the chronicle, "of one who in his palmy days had called himself a friend of God and an enemy to every man."[125]

Meantime matters had progressed to some extent with Norway. On the 22d of July, the passport issued for the refugees having nearly expired without intimation that it would be used, Gustavus wrote to Fredrik: "Sunnanvaeder and the other fugitives are still maintained with honor in Norway, and are continually plotting new revolt. They receive especial favor from the archbishop of Trondhem, who is said to have appointed one of them his deacon. We have written frequently about them to the Cabinet of Norway, but the more we write the more honor they receive." This charge was proved by subsequent events to be a trifle hasty. Scarce had the letter been despatched when Knut, who was probably the least guilty of the two conspirators, arrived. He came by order of the archbishop of Trondhem, and along with him came a letter from the archbishop, declaring that, as the king had promised the fugitives they should be tried by prelates of the Church, one of them was surrendered. Sunnanvaeder would likewise have been handed over but that he was ill. The archbishop closed by urging Gustavus to show mercy. It is to be noted that the king had never promised that the tribunal should consist of prelates. What he had said was that they should be tried before a "proper tribunal." Doubtless it was customary that priests should not be tried by laymen, but the practice was not invariably followed, and the language of the passport was enough to throw the conspirators on their guard. In a case of conspiracy against the crown, the Swedish Cabinet would seem to be a proper tribunal, and as a matter of fact it was before the Cabinet that this case was tried. The Cabinet consisted of the archbishop of Upsala, three bishops, and eight laymen. Their decree was, in the first place, that the passport did not protect Knut from trial, and secondly, that he was guilty of conspiracy against the crown. The decree was dated August 9. On that very day the king of Denmark wrote Gustavus that he had ordered the archbishop of Trondhem to give no shelter to the traitors, and added: "We are told that you are ready to promise them a trial before yourself and the Swedish Cabinet, after which they shall be permitted to go free." Gustavus had never promised that they should go free, and it was preposterous for anybody to expect it. The only object of the trial was to give the traitors an opportunity to prove their innocence, and if they failed to do so, it was only fair that they should suffer. As soon as the decree was signed, Gustavus wrote the archbishop of Trondhem that Knut had been found guilty, but that his life should be spared to satisfy the archbishop, at any rate until Gustavus could learn what the archbishop proposed to do with the other refugees. A similar letter was sent also by the Cabinet, declaring that "many serious charges were made against Knut, which he was in no way able to disprove." One of the Cabinet members, who had been asked by the archbishop to intercede for Knut, wrote back: "His crime is so enormous and so clearly proved by his own handwriting, that there is no hope for him unless by the grace of God or through your intercession." Even Brask wrote: "He has won the king's ill-favor in many ways, for which he can offer no defence." Against such a pressure of public opinion the archbishop of Trondhem dared no longer stand, and on the 22d of September despatched Sunnanvaeder to the king, adding, with the mendacity of a child, that he had detained him in Norway only in order that he might not flee. Gustavus, with grim humor, thanked him for his solicitude, and begged him now to return all other refugees. Sunnanvaeder was kept in jail till the 18th of February, 1527. He was then brought before a tribunal consisting of the entire Chapter of Upsala, two bishops, and a number of laymen. The king produced some sixty letters written by the traitor, establishing his conspiracy beyond the shadow of a doubt. He was condemned at once, and executed the same day outside the Upsala walls. Three days later, his accomplice, Knut, was similarly put to death in Stockholm. Thus ended a conspiracy which had cost the monarch infinite annoyance, and which during a period of three years had been a constant menace to the realm.[126]

What most annoyed the king at this time was the importunate demands of Lubeck. Ever since Gotland, in the summer of 1525, had fallen into the hands of Lubeck, Gustavus had appreciated the necessity of keeping the Hanseatic town in check. So early as August of that year the monarch wrote Laurentius Andreae: "You have advised us to cling to Lubeck and place no confidence in the Danes, since they have always played us false. We are not sure, however, that even Lubeck can be trusted, for we have no certainty what she has in mind, especially as she is sheltering in Gotland that outspoken traitor, Mehlen." The Swedish envoys, who had arrived in Lubeck too late to meet the Danes, as had been agreed in Malmoe, seem to have reached no terms with Lubeck, and, when they returned to Sweden in September, Gotland was in Lubeck's hands, and Lubeck had announced her purpose of defending Mehlen. Her strongest hold on Sweden lay in the fact that Sweden was still her debtor in a very large amount. Early in 1526 this burden had become so great that the Cabinet passed an act decreeing that two thirds of all the tithes accrued for the year just ended should be surrendered by the Church to meet the nation's debt. The announcement of this levy made Lubeck for the moment more importunate than before. Believing that the money would soon be pouring in, she kept her envoys constantly dogging the monarch's steps, and in the month of April Gustavus wrote: "Our creditors will scarce permit us to leave the castle-gate." They were, therefore, as greatly disappointed as Gustavus when the money did not come. In June Gustavus wrote that he had got together ten thousand marks,—a mere nothing,—and that Lubeck had written to demand immediate payment of the whole. "Her envoys have now closed our doors so tight that it is hardly possible for us to go out." It was clear that some new scheme must be devised, and on the 23d of June the king applied to certain members of his Cabinet. "We have now," he wrote, "as frequently before, had letters from Lubeck demanding in curt language the payment of her debt. You are aware that we have often, especially in Cabinet meetings, asked you to suggest some mode of meeting this requirement, and have never yet been able to elicit any tangible response. Indeed, you have not had the matter much at heart, but have rather left it to be arranged by us. You have, it is true, suggested that the tithes be used, but we find that, though we much relied upon them, they are but a tittle. Our entire taxes for last year, including iron, skins, butter, salmon, amounted to somewhat over ten thousand marks. This sum, which would naturally be used to pay the expenses of our court, has been handed over to pay the debt. The tithes received, which we were assured would be a considerable sum, are shown by our books not to have exceeded two thousand marks in all. The treasury balance has now run so low that we have but a trifle left, and our soldiers, who are now much needed to keep off Christiern and Norby, must be paid. We therefore beg you take this matter seriously to heart, and devise some means by which the debt may soon be paid.... It is utterly impossible from the taxes alone to keep an army and pay this heavy debt, for the taxes are no greater than they were some years ago, though the expenses are very much increased; and, moreover, we have no mines to turn to, as our fathers had." This urgent appeal inspired the Cabinet to act, and at a meeting held in August they provided that a new tax be laid on every subject in the realm. In the table that accompanied this Act, the amounts to be contributed by the different provinces were accurately fixed, as well as the amounts to be collected in the towns. The bishops, too, were called upon to furnish each his quota, based upon an estimate of his means: the archbishop of Upsala paying four thousand marks, the bishop of Abo three thousand marks, Linkoeping two thousand five hundred marks, Skara and Strengnaes each two thousand marks, Vesteras one thousand marks, and Vexioe five hundred marks. The amount imposed on Abo seems unreasonably large, which is probably to be accounted for by the fact that Abo was not present at the meeting. Brask, in writing to Abo, told the bishop that his quota was three thousand marks, but did not name to him the individual amounts to be contributed by the other bishops. Gustavus, in a letter to the members of his Cabinet in Finland, was even more unfair. He told them that Abo was to pay three thousand marks, and added that Linkoeping and Skara were to pay the same. Brask's letter is particularly important in that it puts the balance of the debt to Lubeck at forty-five thousand Lubeck marks, equivalent to ninety thousand Swedish marks, of which amount the archbishop and bishops were expected to raise fifteen thousand marks. Brask, with his usual shrewdness, urged the king to pay the debt that autumn, and thus get rid of Lubeck before the winter came. Gustavus doubtless shared with him this view, but there were several grave difficulties in the way. Early in October the monarch held a conference with the Lubeck envoys, and found the balance, as they figured it, to be larger than he had supposed. Moreover, the peasants in the north of Sweden declared they could not spare the funds, and urged Gustavus to postpone the levy till a more convenient time. So that at the close of 1526 the Lubeck envoys were still clamoring for their pay.[127]

The cramped position in which Gustavus was held by Lubeck made it of great importance that he should be on amicable terms with other powers. So early as 1523, he had sent ambassadors to Russia to ratify the treaty made by Sture. They had returned, however, with announcement that the grand duke's envoys would come to Stockholm and arrange the terms. This promise had never been fulfilled. As soon, therefore, as opportunity was found, the monarch prepared to send ambassadors again. The person to whom the matter was intrusted was the monarch's brother-in-law, Johan von Hoya. In November, 1525, this officer, who had just returned from an expedition to Lubeck, set sail for Finland, where he already had been granted fiefs, with orders to determine whether or not it was desirable that the embassy should go. Considerable delay ensued because Gustavus was in want of funds. He thought that since the expedition would be mainly for the benefit of Finland, the cost of sending it should be borne by her. It was, therefore, not till May of 1526, when Russian depredations became unbearable in Finland, that an arrangement could be made. Envoys then were sent to Moscow, and presented to the grand duke a letter from Gustavus under date of 20th of May. In this document the monarch stated that his envoys had once before been sent to Moscow to ratify the treaty made with Sture, but for some reason had never reached the capital. Since then great injury had been done in Finland by Russian subjects. Gustavus desired, therefore, to renew the treaty, and begged the grand duke to recompense his subjects, and also to make known to him in what towns in Russia his subjects would be allowed to trade. This letter appears to have been some months upon the road, for the grand duke's answer was not given till the 2d of September. In this answer he declared that the previous embassy of Gustavus had held a conference with Russian envoys, and by them the treaty made with Sture had been ratified. Swedish merchants were allowed to trade in all the towns of Russia, and all wrongs done to Swedish subjects should be punished and the persons injured recompensed. On the other hand, he should expect Gustavus to punish his own subjects for wrongs which they had done in Russia, and all buildings by them erected on Russian soil must be torn down. While the Swedish envoys were returning with this letter, Norby reached the grand duke and complained that Swedes had injured Russian subjects in Lapland. The grand duke therefore ordered that Gustavus be notified of the complaint, and asked to punish the offenders if the charge were true. When the embassy returned to Sweden, and the monarch found they had not yet obtained the grand duke's seal, he resolved to go to Finland in the spring of 1527 and meet the Russian emissaries there. This plan, however, was given up for lack of funds, and the Russian emissaries were asked to meet the king in Stockholm. The offer was accepted, the emissaries came, and after an elaborate exchange of costly presents, both parties signed a ratification of the treaty made for seventy years with Sture. The ratification was dated on the 26th of May.[128]

The main reason why Gustavus dreaded a rupture between himself and Lubeck was that it would cause great injury to his commerce. Immediately after his election in 1523, the monarch in a moment of enthusiasm had conferred on Lubeck, Dantzic, and their allies a perpetual monopoly of Swedish trade. In an earlier century, when these so-called Vend Cities controlled the Baltic trade, Lubeck would have claimed the monopoly even without a grant. But another branch of the Hanse Towns had ere this grown up in Holland, with a power so formidable that the Vend Cities dared not assert their claim. So long, however, as the privileges granted Lubeck were unrepealed, the Dutch Towns were reluctant to incur her enmity by sending ships to Sweden. The result was that practically all imports came from Lubeck, and when relations between that city and Gustavus became a trifle strained, great difficulty was experienced in obtaining food. To remedy this evil, the envoys sent to Lubeck in 1525, finding themselves too late for the congress with the Danes, entered into negotiations with the Dutch envoys that happened to be there. They found at once that Holland wished to trade in Sweden, and was ready to do so if the terms could be arranged. As a provisional measure, the ambassadors on both sides promised, August 17, that the two nations should remain at peace during the next three years, and before the end of that time another congress should be held to make a more systematic treaty. It was agreed further that in the coming autumn a consignment of salt and other wares should be forwarded by the Dutch to Sweden. Apparently this consignment did not come till the spring of 1526, but both parties were eager to arrange a treaty, and it was agreed that a congress for this purpose should be held in Bremen, May 20, 1526. This congress was afterwards postponed, though the Swedish envoy brought a ratification of the former treaty signed by Gustavus under date of May 12, 1526, and promised further that salt should be admitted into Sweden free. A similar ratification was signed by Charles V., Sept. 19, 1526. This accomplished, Holland opened negotiations with Sweden to the end that all articles of commerce be placed upon the free-list along with salt; and she requested further that all the Swedish harbors be open to her ships. So ambitious a proposal terrified Gustavus. He would have been rejoiced to grant it, but he feared by doing so to irritate Lubeck. It is somewhat amusing to trace the steps by which he convinced himself that such a course was right. Brask, as usual, was the first to question whether Lubeck would consent. On the 9th of December, 1526, he wrote: "I advocate the treaty, but I doubt much whether Lubeck will not raise objections, for she has wished to have the Baltic to herself." A few days later Gustavus put out a feeler to his Cabinet in the south of Sweden. "So far as we know," he wrote with caution, "our relations with Lubeck and the Vend Cities do not forbid this treaty." By the spring of 1527 he had grown more confident of his position, and wrote as follows: "The provisional arrangement made with Holland has proved greatly to our advantage. We now desire to make a perpetual treaty with her before Whitsunday next, and for this purpose recommend that Olaus Magni be sent at once to Amsterdam." Two weeks after this he added: "The privileges which the German cities wrung from us in Strengnaes are so grinding that we can no longer adhere to them in all their points." On the 22d of April the monarch had so far removed his doubts as to commission Magni to negotiate the treaty, and he intrusted him with a written promise over the royal signature and seal, conferring on Holland, Brabant, Zealand, and East and West Friesland the right to enter all the Swedish rivers and harbors, on payment of the customary duties. It is noticeable that in this document Gustavus did not remit the duties, as had been desired, nor even promise that salt should be admitted free; and in the letter to his envoy the diplomatic monarch used these words: "Do not be too liberal, especially in the matter of duties. If they really insist upon free-trade, you must discreetly avoid promising it, and suggest that probably the privilege will be granted them as a favor." Brask, who feared lest these negotiations might cause trouble, hastened to throw a favorable light upon his own position. "You will remember," he wrote his fellow-counsellors, "that I opposed the grant of these great privileges to Lubeck, believing them injurious to the welfare of our people." Magni, in conformity with the king's injunctions, proceeded to the town of Ghent, where he was given an audience of Margaret, regent of the Netherlands. As soon as the letters of May 12, 1526, and April 18, 1527, were translated for her, she raised a number of objections, chief of which were that the latter letter did not provide that salt should be admitted free, and did not seem to open to her vessels all the Swedish ports. To these objections Magni answered that certain harbors were made ports of entry out of convenience to Gustavus, and as to duties, Magni seems to have assured her that they would probably be taken off. After more palaver, Margaret signed a document accepting the offer assumed to have been made by Sweden; namely, that vessels of the emperor might enter all the rivers and harbors of Sweden, paying only the same duties that were paid by Swedish subjects, salt, however, to be admitted free. She expressed a hope, moreover, that other articles might be exempt from duty too. To this document she attached her seal, July 29, 1527.[129]

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