The Swedish Revolution Under Gustavus Vasa
by Paul Barron Watson
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It is particularly to be noted that Lubeck did not raise her voice against the treaty. A probable solution is that she wished beyond all else to secure her money, and felt that Sweden would be more able to meet the debt in case she were allowed to trade with Holland. All through the winter of 1527 Gustavus struggled to raise funds. Some portions of the country seem to have responded freely, but in Dalarne and other northern provinces it appeared likely that the levy would end in actual revolt. In January Gustavus warned the people that all responsibility in the matter lay with them. If Lubeck made war upon the kingdom, it would be because of their unwillingness to pay the debt. As a matter of fact, the Dalesmen had much reason for delay. The monarch, by his ill-judged privileges to Lubeck, had kept the country in a state of famine, from which it now was just beginning to emerge. Many of the people were utterly devoid of means, and the new levy seemed like wringing water from a stone. This in the course of time Gustavus learned, and in March he prudently suggested to his officers that the tax be modified in special cases. The Dalesmen, however, were not so easily to be appeased. Other causes of complaint were rife among them, and they formed a compact to the end that no tax should be paid until these grievances had been redressed. On the 2d of April Gustavus asserted that the Dalesmen had not contributed a cent. Brask, for reasons that will be manifest later on, was in sympathy with the people, and declared: "I fear danger, for the Dalesmen are reported to be incensed, and rightfully incensed, against the king. If it lay with me, I should remit a portion of the tax rather than give occasion for this revolt." Gustavus, however, was still harassed by Lubeck, and dared not take this step. As there were several matters to be straightened out in Dalarne, he summoned a general diet of the realm. The Dalesmen showing opposition, Gustavus urged the people in the south of Sweden to persuade the people of Dalarne to come. "We should be glad," he urged, "if you would write to the people of Dalarne, and ask them to lay their complaints before the diet to be held in Vesteras. We shall there explain our conduct, and if our people are not satisfied, shall gladly resign the throne. The German envoys will be present, and the Dalesmen can then adopt some means to quiet their incessant demands." All efforts to persuade the Dalesmen failed. They despatched a long list of their grievances to Stockholm, but they did not attend the diet. When the other delegates came together, Gustavus laid these grievances before them. The Dalesmen had complained, he said, that they were burdened with heavy taxes. If they had been more obedient, a smaller army would have been sufficient, and the taxes would not have been so heavy. He told them, further, that the whole debt occasioned by the war amounted to about one hundred thousand marks, of which sum a large portion was still unpaid.[130] The outcome of the matter was that the delegates voted to quell the insurrection in Dalarne, and if enough money could not now be raised to pay the debt, to levy further taxes. These stringent measures were not, however, put into effect at once. Gustavus was busy, in the autumn of 1527, with other things; and furthermore a dispute had arisen between himself and Lubeck as to the exact total of the debt. The year closed, therefore, with the debt still hanging over Sweden's head. The Lubeck envoys accepted all the goods and money they could get, the whole amount thus paid in 1527 being in the neighborhood of 22,800 Swedish marks.[131]

All through this period Gustavus was in constant negotiation with Fredrik. Christiern's efforts to recover the crown had been brought to a halt by the sudden collapse of Norby, and Fredrik had assumed in consequence a more aggressive attitude toward Sweden. By the treaty signed at Malmoe each monarch promised to protect the interests which citizens of the other held within his realm. But the ink was scarcely dry when complaints were heard that Fredrik had failed to substantiate this clause. The most flagrant breach occurred in the case of property owned in Denmark by Margaret, sister of the king of Sweden. So great difficulty was experienced by Margaret in protecting this estate, that early in 1526 the monarch counselled her to sell it. He wrote also to certain Danish officers, and begged them to defend her rights. These exhortations proving futile, Margaret sent her agent to the spot to see what he could do. This only irritated the natives, and they fell upon the agent with their fists. It was reported, too, that the deed was ordered by an officer of Fredrik. At all events, the agent was given no redress, and Gustavus, after urging Margaret's husband to appeal to Fredrik, wrote finally to the Danish king himself. He laid the whole affair before him, and declaring that he had ever upheld the rights of Danes in Sweden, urged Fredrik to investigate the matter and punish those by whom the violence had been committed. With this request the Danish monarch promised to comply; and as we find no further mention of the case, it is probable the quarrel was adjusted and the rights of Margaret maintained.[132]

Another dispute originating in the Malmoe treaty concerned the province of Viken, which lay along the Swedish frontier in the southeast part of Norway. This province had joined Gustavus in the war with Christiern, and after the war was over had continued under Swedish rule. In course of time, however, the inhabitants grew eager to return once more to Norway. With a view to satisfy their longing, Gustavus allowed them, early in 1526, to be governed by Norwegian law and custom. Possibly this would have appeased the natives, but Fredrik was desirous for more. He thought that Viken, being originally a province of Norway, should be ruled by him. He therefore wrote Gustavus, and begged a conference to settle their respective claims. Gustavus, defrauded of his rights in Gotland, answered that he would gladly hold a conference to settle all matters of dispute between them. Fredrik waited nearly six months before making his reply. He then informed Gustavus that the Danish envoys had appeared in Lubeck at the day fixed for the conference, but that nothing was accomplished simply because the Swedish envoys did not come. He therefore urged Gustavus to name a time and place at which the question of Viken should be settled. The Swedish monarch had learned by sad experience that a conference with Denmark meant no benefit to him. He answered that his envoys had been sent to Lubeck, as agreed, but had failed through stress of weather to reach the place of meeting on the day arranged. Gustavus appears not to have cared particularly to retain the province, though he was not willing to yield it without obtaining something in return. He saw no reason why Viken should be given up to Fredrik unless Gotland should be given up to him. In answer, therefore, to repeated solicitations, he declared his readiness to meet the Danish king half-way; he would treat with him concerning Viken, but at the same time some definite conclusion must be reached about the isle of Gotland. When negotiations had reached this point, they were interrupted for the moment by a new dispute.[133]

Ever since the fall of Kalmar, Christina's boy had been in Stockholm, under the surveillance of the king. Gustavus for some reason had never liked the boy, and in April, 1527, he sent him to his mother with a reprimand, at the same time urging that he be placed for a period under the quiet influence of some rural town. This incident was the signal for another conspiracy against the crown. This time the aspirant was a gay young hostler, who conceived the desperate project of posing as the regent's son. Relying on his own audacity and on the perennial state of insurrection in the north of Sweden, he went to Dalarne with the story that he had escaped the clutches of Gustavus, whose orders were that he be put to death. He then proceeded from one village to another, extolling the virtues of the young Sten Sture, and urging the people, since they had sworn allegiance to his father, to do the same to him. The support which he received was small. One or two villages were at first deceived, but the majority of them told him flatly that he lied. He therefore followed the course of earlier impostors, and betook himself to Norway. Approaching first the archbishop of Trondhem, he told his story and awoke the archbishop's interest by announcing that Gustavus had fallen from the faith. It being bruited that certain of the church dignitaries were on terms of friendship with this impostor, the archbishop received him kindly, and though he refused to give him shelter, promised he would take no steps to harm him. Gustavus then addressed the archbishop and the Cabinet of Norway, urging that the traitor be returned. He pointed out, moreover, that, Sten Sture having been married only fourteen years before, it was impossible that this traitor was his son. This argument producing no effect, Gustavus prevailed upon Fredrik's emissaries, then in Stockholm, to join him in his appeal. An answer then came back from the archbishop of Trondhem that he had refused to shelter the impostor, though he had promised that he would not harm him. Since then a letter had arrived from Dalarne saying that the Swedish king was dead. The impostor had therefore collected a band of refugees in Norway, and was now once more in Sweden. With this mendacious explanation Gustavus was forced to be content. The fraud had been discovered, and by the close of 1527 the insurrection in Dalarne was practically at an end.[134]


[122] Christ. II.'s arkiv, vol. iv. pp. 1510-1511, 1517-1588 and 1568-1575; Dipl. Dal., vol. ii. pp. 66-67; Handl. roer. Skand. hist., vol. xxiii. pp. 60-65; Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. ii. pp. 169-170, 187-188, 196-197, 204-206, 208-213, 218-219, 240-242, 252-257 and 278-285; and Saml. til det Norske Folks Sprog og Hist., vol. i. pp. 484-485.

[123] Christ. II.'s arkiv, vol. iv. pp. 1576-1584, 1587-1591, 1593-1596 and 1602-1605; and Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. iii. pp. 2-3, 13-15, 30-32, 38-39, 61-62, 78-80, 353-355, 364-365, 369-370 and 375-376.

[124] Christ. II.'s arkiv, vol. iv. pp. 1585-1587 and 1589-1593; Dipl. Dal., vol. ii. pp. 82-83 and 89; Handl. roer. Sver. inre foerhall., vol. i. pp. 23-25; Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. iii. pp. 50-51, 55, 57-58, 59-60, 71, 367-369, 372, 373-374 and 381-384; and Saml. til det Norske Folks Sprog og Hist., vol. i. pp. 485-486 and 488-495.

[125] Svart, Gust. I.'s kroen., pp. 84-85; Christ. II.'s arkiv, vol. i. pp. 1-144 and vol. iv. pp. 1584, 1606-1612, 1614-1626, 1633-1635, 1639-1643 and 1646-1651; Handl. roer. Skand. hist., vol. xv. pp. 5-7, 19-24, 27-29 and 32-47; Handl. till upplysn. af Finl. haefd., vol. ii. p. 158; Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. iii. pp. 46, 97-98, 110-111, 117, 167-169, 170-172, 188-190, 195-196, 199-200, 203-207, 218-220, 250-251, 256-260, 380-381, 386-393, 394-404, 406-407, 411-414 and 415-416; and Sver. trakt., vol. iv. pp. 104-105.

[126] Svart, Gust. I.'s kroen., pp. 112-114; Christ. II.'s arkiv, vol. iii. pp. 1075-1083, and vol. iv. pp. 1627-1628; Dipl. Dal., vol. ii. p. 92, and vol. iii. pp. 30-32; Handl. roer. Skand. hist., vol. xvi. pp. 18-20; Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. iii. pp. 207-208, 220-224, 326-327, 405-406, 408-410 and 419, and vol. iv. pp. 61-62; Saml. til det Norske Folks Sprog og Hist., vol. i. pp. 496-513; and Skrift. och handl., vol. ii. pp. 267-268 and 270-271.

[127] Alla riksdag. och moet. besluth, vol. i. pp. 42-56; Christ. II.'s arkiv, vol. iv. pp. 1492 and 1613; Dipl. Dal., vol. ii. pp. 79-80 and Handl. roer. Skand. hist., vol. xiv. pp. 89-90, vol. xv. pp. 29-32, and vol. xvi. pp. 15-16; Handl. roer. Sver. inre foerhall., vol. i. pp. 15-18 and 30-31; Handl. till upplysn. af Finl. haefd., vol. ii. pp. 185-187; Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. ii. pp. 190-191, 222-223 and 229-231, and vol. iii. pp. 15-16, 18-21, 32-34, 109-110, 122, 173-176, 179-181, 236-243, 248-249, 294-295, 308-309, 324-326 and 416-417; and Svenska riksdagsakt., vol. i. pp. 39-47.

[128] Christ. II.'s arkiv, vol. iv. pp. 1548-1553; Handl. roer. Skand. hist., vol. xvi. pp. 107-113; Handl. til uplysn. af Svenska hist., vol. i. pp. 121-123; Handl. till upplysn. af Finl. haefd., vol. ii. pp. 151-153, 156-157, 161-183, 193-195, 201-205 and 207-209, and vol. viii. pp. 14-18; Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. ii. pp. 51-52, 225-226 and 242-244, vol. iii. pp. 132-135, 141-155, 287-288 and 429-430, and vol. iv. pp. 127-129, 147-148, 152-153, 196-198 and 411-413; and Sver. trakt., vol. iv. pp. 74-89.

[129] Christ. II.'s arkiv, vol. iv. pp. 1491-1492; Dipl. Dal., vol. ii. pp. 90-91 and 115-116; Handl. roer. Skand. hist., vol. i. pp. 1-35 and vol. xvi. pp. 45-52 and 124-127; Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. ii. pp. 201-204, 206-207, 227-228 and 262-265, vol. iii. pp. 51-52, 111-112, 119-121, 308-309, 335-336 and 421-424, and vol. iv. pp. 101-103, 113-116, 143-145, 413-414, 419-420 and 428-432; Linkoeping, Bibliotheks handl., vol. i. pp. 193-199; and Sver. trakt., vol. iv. pp. 106-124.

[130] This was clearly a misstatement. It has been already shown (p. 121) that in 1523 Gustavus put the debt at over 300,000 marks.

[131] Alla riksdag. och moet. besluth, vol. i. pp. 60-61; Dipl. Dal., vol. ii. pp. 97, 99-101, 105-109 and 115-116; Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. iv. pp. 6-7, 22-23, 64-65, 66-67, 83-85, 95-96, 102-103, 113-117, 131-132, 163-165, 170, 206-207, 257-259, 333-334, 419-420 and 445-446; and the documents cited in Handelmann's Die letzten Zeiten der hanseatischen Uebermacht im Norden, p. 170. The question of the Lubeck debt is ably treated by Forssell in his Sver. inre hist., vol. i. pp. 134-138.

[132] Christ. II.'s arkiv, vol. iv. pp. 1666-1668; and Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. iii. pp. 41, 57-58, 65, 76-78 and 291-292, and vol. iv. pp. 48-49, 68-70 and 426-427.

[133] Christ. II.'s arkiv, vol. iv. 1622-1626, 1662-1664, 1669-1670 and 1671-1676; Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. iii. pp. 47-48 and 203-207, and vol. iv. pp. 45-47, 66-67, 102-103, 113-117, 285-286, 377-382, 398-399, and 439-440; and Saml. til det Norske Folks Sprog og Hist., vol. i. pp. 328-336.

[134] Svart, Gust. I.'s kroen., pp. 104-112; Dipl. Dal., vol. ii. pp. 115-116; Handl. roer. Skand. hist., vol. xvi. pp. 124-127; Kon. Gust. den Foerstes registrat., vol. iv. pp. 120, 348-349, 350-354, 415, 419-420, 438-439, 441-442 and 443-445; and Saml. til det Norske Folks Sprog og Hist., vol. i. pp. 518-528.



Nature of the Period.—Translation of the Bible.—Quarrel between the King and Brask.—Opposition to the Monasteries.—High-handed Measures of the King.—Second Disputation between Petri and Galle.—Opposition to Luther's Teaching.—Banishment of Magni.—Further Opposition to the Monasteries.—Revolt of the Dalesmen.—Diet of Vesteras.—"Vesteras Recess."—"Vesteras Ordinantia."—Fall of Brask; his Flight; his Character.

In most instances the stirring periods of a nation's history are not the periods in which the nation grows. Warfare, even though it end in victory, must be accompanied by loss, and the very achievements that arouse our ardor bring with them evils that long years of prosperity cannot efface. Take, as a single example, the dazzling victories of Charles XII. He was, beyond all doubt, the most successful general that Sweden ever had. One after another the provinces around the Baltic yielded to his sway, and at one time the Swedish frontiers had been extended into regions of which no man before his age had dreamt. Yet with what result? Sweden was impoverished, commerce was at a standstill, education had been neglected, and the dominions for which his people had poured out their blood during many years were lost almost in a single day. His career shows, if it shows anything, that prosperity is incompatible with war. No man can serve two masters. So long as nations are in active and continued warfare, they cannot enjoy the blessings or even the comforts that belong to them in time of peace.

A like argument may be drawn from the reign of Gustavus Vasa. The early years of the Swedish Revolution were marked by bloodshed. The country was in a state of famine, superstition was universal, literature was almost without a champion, and art was practically dead. Not till the warfare ceased did people turn their thoughts to matters of education, of religion, or of other things that lend a charm to life; and even then the country was hampered during a considerable period by poverty,—an outcome of the war. It is in this last period of the Revolution—a period of peace—that the chief work of Gustavus Vasa was accomplished. Then occurred the great changes in Church government and doctrine that made Lutherans out of Roman Catholics, and in place of accountability to the pope made every soul accountable to God. In the first few years of his supremacy the monarch's opposition to popery was based almost entirely on politics, but by the middle of 1525 he began openly to oppose the Romish Church on grounds of faith.

The heaviest blow to popery was the order issued by the king in 1525 that the Scriptures be translated into Swedish. This all-important measure resulted doubtless from the general dissension that had arisen about the Word of God. If, as Luther urged, the Scriptures were our sole criterion of faith, it was obviously proper that they should be published in a form which every one could understand. Luther had already three years before translated the Bible into German, but in Swedish the only effort at a translation was in a manuscript of several centuries before, which even Brask knew only by report. Gustavus, therefore, toward the middle of 1525, instructed Archbishop Magni to have a new translation made. His purpose, he affirmed, was not merely to instruct the people but to instruct the priests, for many of them were themselves incompetent to read the Latin version. As shepherds their duty was to feed Christ's flock with the Word of God; and if they failed to do so, they were unworthy of their name. This reasoning the archbishop was unable to refute. He was himself disgusted with the ignorance of his clergy, and promised Gustavus that the translation should be made. Not wishing, however, to undertake too much, he devoted his attention wholly to the New Testament, dividing it into several parts and assigning the translation of different parts to different men. Matthew and the Epistle to the Romans he took himself. Mark and the Epistles to the Corinthians were assigned to Brask, while Luke and the Epistle to the Galatians were given to the Chapter of Skara, and John and the Epistle to the Ephesians to the Chapter of Strengnaes. The announcement of this choice was made to Brask on the 11th of June, and he was asked to forward his translation to Upsala by September 10, when a congress of the translators should be held to arrange the various portions into one harmonious whole. This project was not received with favor by the crafty bishop. He felt it to be the knell of popery, and in writing to Peder Galle he inveighed against it. "We marvel much," he wrote, "that the archbishop should enter this labyrinth without consulting the prelates and chapters of the Church. Every one knows that translations into the vernacular have already given rise to frequent heresy.... It is said the Bible is capable of four different interpretations. Therefore it would imperil many souls were a mere literal translation made. Moreover, laymen cannot read the Bible even if it be translated, and the clergy can understand it quite as well in Latin as in Swedish. We fear that if this translation be published while the Lutheran heresy is raging, the heresy will become more pestilent, and, new error springing up, the Church will be accused of fostering it." This letter was dated on the 9th of August. Clearly Brask's share of the translation would not be ready by September 10. The fact was, Brask had no notion of furthering the scheme. At every opportunity he raised his voice against it, and the weight of his influence was such that finally the whole project was given up. The Lutherans, however, were not disheartened. Finding that nothing could be effected through the Church, they proceeded to make a translation of their own. This was published, though without the translators' names, in 1526. It did not, of course, receive the sanction of the archbishop, but it paved the way for new reforms by checking the Roman Catholics in their scholastic doctrine and by educating the common people in the Word of God.[135]

Brask was now openly beneath the monarch's frown. The rupture between them was becoming every day more wide, and both parties gradually grew conscious it could not be healed. Brask had never forgiven the king for sanctioning the marriage of Olaus Petri. Some six months after the event he alluded to it in a letter to Peder Galle. "I am much troubled," he declared, "that marriage is permitted to the clergy, and that no one cries out against it. I have urged the king that Petri be excommunicated for his act, that evil example may not spread, but have had only a half-hearted answer from his Majesty." While this wrong still rankled in the prelate's breast, his ire was further kindled by the monarch's evident intention to rob the Church of several of her chief estates. As an entering wedge Gustavus had pastured his soldiers' horses on the rich but fallow lands belonging to the monasteries, and in some cases the officers had been billeted in the monasteries themselves. Against this practice Brask protested, and received this soothing answer: "When you say that this mode of billeting cripples the service of God, you are right, provided his service consists in feeding a body of hypocrites sunk, many of them, in licentiousness, rather than in providing protection for the common people. As to your assertion that the monasteries were not founded by the crown, and hence are not subject to our dominion, we will look into the matter, though our humble opinion is that the monasteries were originally bound to pay taxes to the crown." The argument which the monarch strove to make was this: Those monasteries which were founded by individuals comprised estates held by the donors in consideration of military service to be rendered to the crown; and so soon as the military service ended, the tenure by which the lands were held no longer existed, and the crown once more became entitled to the lands. It is difficult to feel that the monarch's view was right. In countries where there is no written law, all controversies must be determined by the law of custom, and it is certain that for centuries Swedish subjects had been allowed to dedicate for religious purposes the property which they held by military tenure of the crown. With Gustavus it appears that custom was of little moment. The monasteries were wealthy, and could be encroached upon without directly injuring the people. He resolved, therefore, as soon as possible to confiscate their property, using a plausible argument if one was ready; otherwise, to close their doors by force.[136]

In May, 1525, the king found pretext for interfering with the Dominican monks of Vesteras. That order numbered among its brothers a very large proportion of Norwegians; and one of them had assumed the generalship of the order in Sweden, contrary to the mandates of the king. This seemed an opportunity to play the patriot and at the same time secure a footing in the monastery. So Gustavus wrote to the Swedish vicar-general and declared: "We understand that the conspiracy in Dalarne and other places is largely due to this man and several of the Norwegian brothers. We have therefore appointed our subject Nils Andreae to be prior of Vesteras, trusting that he will prove a friend to Sweden, by expelling the foreigners and preventing all such conspiracies in future. We beg you also ... to punish all offenders among your brotherhood, that we be not forced to punish them ourselves."[137]

Later in the same year Gustavus asserted his claim with even more distinctness to the monastery of Gripsholm. That monastery, it will be remembered, was on the estate at one time belonging to the monarch's father. It therefore was a special object of his greed. At a meeting of the Cabinet he laid his case before them, and offered to abide by their decree. There was, of course, no question what their decree would be. The monastery was adjudged the property of the king, and all the inmates were instructed to withdraw. This judgment naturally caused an outcry in certain quarters. So Gustavus addressed the monks of Gripsholm with unctious promises, and under the mask of friendship obtained from them a written statement that they were satisfied of the justice of his claim. This document, a copy of which was filed among the royal papers, bears singular testimony to the meanness of the king. "Our title to Gripsholm Monastery," the wretched victims wrote, "has been disputed, and, the matter being laid before the Cabinet, they have determined that Gustavus, as heir of the founder, is entitled to the premises. He has offered us another monastery in place of this, but we feared lest that too might some day prove to be the property of other heirs, and have requested permission to disband and retire each of us according to his own caprice. It has now been agreed that Gustavus shall provide us with the money and clothing which we need, and in return that he shall be entitled to the monastery together with all the property that we have acquired." At the close of this affecting document the writers expressed their gratitude to the monarch for his generosity. Armed with this evidence of his good intentions, Gustavus addressed the Dalesmen with a view to calm their wrath. "You are aware," he wrote with confidence, "that the elder Sten Sture, who was a brother of our father's mother, founded Gripsholm Monastery with property that would have descended by law to our father, and that Sten Sture induced our father to append his signature to the deed. The signature was obtained, however, only on condition that if the monastery should be unable to keep up its standing, Gripsholm and all its possessions should revert to the heirs. Hence we have good right to protest and to claim the inheritance of which our father was deprived by threats and fraud. Indeed, the good brothers have considered the matter well, and have agreed to withhold no longer property to which they have no right. We have therefore offered them another monastery.... But they have not ventured to accept it, fearing to offend the brothers already occupying it. So they have asked permission to go back to their friends and to the posts which they held before entering the monastery. This, at the desire of our Cabinet, we have granted, since we are ever ready to listen to their counsel, and we have furnished the good brothers with clothing and money to aid them. We trust they will be grateful; and to prove to you that such is the case, we enclose herewith an extract from the letter which they have written." As the deed conveying Gripsholm to the brotherhood is lost, we cannot discuss with thoroughness the merits of the case. It is enough that the monarch's action accorded with the policy which he adopted later toward all the monasteries in the land. The seizure of Gripsholm was justified, at any rate, by a show of right. Of later cases it is difficult to say even this. The Gripsholm Monastery had not been closed six months when Gustavus claimed another monastery, this time in the diocese of Brask. The abbot it appears had died, and Brask was busy making a list of the monastery's property, that nothing should be lost. Gustavus wrote to Brask with orders to leave the place alone. "Your fathers," he added, "did not found the monastery; and even though your predecessors in the bishopric may have founded it, they did so with money belonging to the people.... We intend, therefore, to take charge of it ourselves." To these imperative orders the wearied bishop answered: "I feel a special obligation to this monastery, since it was founded by the yearly incomes of the bishopric." This assertion, however, proved of no avail. Within a year the monastery was yielded to the crown, and one of the monarch's officers took the entire property in fee.[138]

All things apparently conspired to bring the aged bishop to the dust. The seizure of his monastery occurred at a moment when he was in deep distress about the newly levied tax. Early in 1525 Gustavus had written him to surrender all the tithes accruing in his diocese for the year last past; and following close upon this order, the royal stewards had deprived him of a right of fishery which he possessed. The hapless bishop murmured, but did not rebel. In writing to a fellow bishop, he declared: "The king has recently demanded of us all our tithes, and the chief prelates of Upland have yielded their consent. This policy appears to me unwise. I dread an outburst from the people, and scarce have courage to make the announcement to them." A few days later he said: "I have written Gustavus about the tithes, but do not dare to discuss the matter seriously with the people.... Only a year ago the officers seized our tithes without consulting us. You can imagine, therefore, what the people will say to this new levy. However, if his Majesty will not countermand the order, we shall do our duty by writing and speaking to the people. The feeding of the army, which he wishes by consent of his advisers to impose upon the monasteries, we asserted at Vadstena was a foreign practice that ought never to be introduced." Despite these protests, Brask appears to have obeyed the monarch's orders. He wrote to the clergy of his diocese urging them to send their quota, and to send it quickly. "Bis dat qui cito dat," translated for the ignorant among his clergy, "He gives nothing who delays." The result was precisely what the bishop feared. The people fought against the imposition, and Brask, as a reward for his efforts, was accused by Gustavus of being a party to the revolt. The charge was utterly groundless and unfair. From beginning to end the bishop's object had been to avoid friction, and finally he had sacrificed his own interests in order to prevent friction with the king. When in January, 1526, it was once more voted that the tithes be given to the crown, he wrote to all his clergy urging them immediately to obey. Gustavus, however, would not be appeased; and a parishioner claiming that the bishop had withheld some jewels that belonged to her, Gustavus, without examining the matter, wrote to Brask: "The law, as we interpret it, gives you no power to take high-handed measures of this sort." A few days later Brask asserted: "The royal officers are beginning to enter upon the possessions of the Church, much to the displeasure of the people." What he alluded to particularly was the acts of Arvid Vestgoete, who had seized Church tithes and committed every sort of violence to the priests in Oeland. Against this Brask protested, and before the year was over Vestgoete was removed. By this time the spirit of the aged bishop was well-nigh broken. In answer to a summons from Gustavus in 1526, he wrote the king: "Though shattered by illness and the infirmities of age, I will obey your orders with all the haste I can, provided the weather or my death does not prevent me."[139]

Early in 1526, at one of the public fairs, an enthusiast came forward and announced in public that a leading Lutheran in Stockholm was preaching heresy, and that the king himself had violated old Church customs in his food and drink. This silly assertion burst like a bomb upon the town, and for a short period there was danger that the fanaticism of the year before would be renewed. However, the excitement soon died away; and Gustavus, when he heard of it, declared the story to be a fabrication. "Would to God," he wrote, "that people would examine into their own lives and not borrow trouble about the lives of others! Let them first pluck the beam out of their own eye, and then they can see clearly to pluck the mote out of their brother's eye." Lutheranism had by this time attained so general acceptance that the monarch deemed it unnecessary to offer arguments in its support. In August, 1526, Laurentius Andreae forwarded to the archbishop of Trondhem the New Testament in Swedish, and added that some two or three hundred copies of the edition were still unsold, and could be had if he desired them. This wide-spread distribution of the Scriptures produced its natural effect. The flame of theological discord that had been slumbering for a year broke out afresh. Brask, as an offset to the new translation, interpreted into Swedish some tracts composed in Germany against the Lutherans; and the monarch, hearing of this move, sent off a letter commanding the aged bishop to desist. "Report has reached us, venerable father," he began, "that you have translated into Swedish certain proclamations of the emperor against the doctrines now current, ... and that you have circulated them among the common people. We are well aware that these proclamations are used to cast aspersions on us, since we are not so zealous as he is in opposition to these doctrines. It is, therefore, our desire and our command that you be patient, and send hither certain scholars from your cathedral to prove that anything is taught here other than the holy gospel. They shall be given a fair hearing, and may postulate their views without prejudice in any way. And if they can prove that any one preaches unchristian doctrine, he shall be punished. Furthermore, we object to having a printing-press established in Soederkoeping, lest it may do injury to the one established here." Gustavus was determined that the enemies of Luther should defend their faith. The disputation between Galle and Olaus Petri two years before had been unsystematic, and had produced no permanent effect. So the king resolved to force the parties to debate again. This time he put down in writing certain questions, and sent them to the leading prelates of the land, with orders to forward him their answers. The questions were similar to those already raised; among them being these: Whether we may reject all teaching of the Fathers and all Church customs that are unsupported by the Word of God; whether the dominion of the pope and his satellites is for or against Christ; whether any authority can be found in the Bible for monastic life; whether any revelation is to be relied on other than that recorded in the Bible; whether the saints are to be considered patrons, or in any way are mediators between ourselves and God. Gustavus intended that when the answers were all received, a public hearing should be had, and every prelate given an opportunity to refute the doctrines of his opponents. Some of the Roman Catholics, however, refused to enter the arena. Brask, in writing to the monarch, declared his clergy to be satisfied with their present doctrines, and unwilling to discuss them publicly. The bishop also wrote to Galle, hoping to dissuade him from the contest. But Galle, it appears, was eager for the fray. He put his answers down in writing, and sent them to the king. Other prelates, it is reported, did the same. The contest, however, presumably from lack of combatants, did not succeed. Petri therefore took the written answers filed by Galle, and printed them in book form, along with comments by himself. This book does little credit either to Petri or to the general intelligence of his time. Should any one ask proof that we are more rational creatures than our fathers, he can do no better than study in Petri's book the controversy that raged between the intellectual giants of Sweden at the close of 1526. Of the positions taken by the two contestants, Petri's was certainly less consistent than that of his opponent. Galle declared explicitly: "Not everything done by the Apostles or their successors is written in the Scriptures;"[140] and on matters concerning which the Bible does not speak we must obey the practices handed down by the Apostles through the Church. Petri, while granting that many Fathers were inspired, declared we must not follow their instructions, "lest we be led away by the devil;"[141] and yet the Bible, compiled from various sources by the Fathers, he held should be implicitly obeyed. In the light of recent scholarship, both combatants were wrong. The Bible is no more intelligible without a knowledge of its history than is the teaching of the Fathers without a knowledge of the Bible.[142]

The contest has its chief value in the opportunity that it gives us to study the methods of the king. From first to last it was a blow at popery and the temporal supremacy of Rome. Each question was worded with the very purpose of offering insult to the Church. Take for example the second question: whether the dominion of the pope and his satellites is for or against Christ. The monarch could not have thrown the question into a more irritating form. Certainly Galle showed forbearance in arguing the point at all. His answer was an appeal to history. From the days of Gregory popes had enjoyed vast riches along with temporal power; this showed that they were justified in possessing wealth.[143] Galle's logic on the subject is not altogether clear. Petri's was somewhat better. Christ had distinctly told the Apostles that his kingdom was not of this world,[144] and Paul had declared that the Apostles were not to be masters but servants.[145] Petri then broke out into a tirade against his opponent's view. What right, he asked, had Galle to set up Gregory against Christ and Paul? "What authority has he to expound the Word of God according to the deeds of petty men? Rather, I conceive, are the deeds of men to be judged according to the Word of God."[146] To an assertion by Galle that the Church had held temporal power for the last twelve centuries, Petri answered: "For that matter, the Word of God has lasted still longer than twelve centuries.... However, the question is not how old the thing is, but how right it is. The devil is old, and none the better for it. That bishops are temporal lords is contrary to the Word of God; and the longer they have been so, the worse for them. Princes and emperors have granted the pope vast privileges, by which in course of time he has become their master, till now all men bow down and kiss his feet. Where he was given an inch, he has taken an ell.... Christ told Saint Peter to feed his lambs. But the popes with their satellites have long since ceased to feed Christ's lambs, and for centuries have done naught but fleece and slaughter them, not acting like faithful shepherds, but like ravening wolves."[147] This vehement language must have pleased the king. If bishops were not entitled to worldly goods, it was an easy task to confiscate their property to the crown. A like incentive called forth the question: whether any authority can be found in the Bible for monastic life. The question, in that form, permitted no reference to the Fathers. So Galle cited the command of Jesus: "Go, sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor;" and he further commended monastic life as a step on the way to heaven.[148] Petri replied that monks did not sell all they had and give to the poor, but clung fast to their possessions, bringing vast treasures into the monasteries with them.[149]

The disputation, while strengthening the hands of Petri, caused a momentary shout of opposition to the king. The cry arose that he was introducing strange and novel faiths. His faiths perhaps were novel, but they were not strange. The strangest feature in the matter was the position taken by the king. By this time, there can be no question, he was at heart with Luther; yet, judging from his own assertions, he was a firm defender of the Church. The king's duplicity, of course, is easily explained. He wished to rob the Roman Catholics of their power without incurring their ill-will. He intended to reform their doctrines, and at the same time spread abroad the notion that these doctrines had reformed themselves. Some time before the disputation, he had written to the north of Sweden to explain his views. "Dear friends," he courteously began, "we hear that numerous reports have spread among you to the effect that we have countenanced certain novel doctrines taught by Luther. No one can prove, however, that we have countenanced aught except the teaching of God and his Apostles. For the faith given us by our fathers we shall battle so long as life remains, and die, as our fathers died before us, in the faith. The seditious libels spread by Sunnanvaeder and his followers have occasioned all the injury that has fallen in days gone by upon this kingdom, as every reasonable man must know. Doubtless there are among the clergy as well as among the people many who are conscious of what they ought to do. But certain monks and priests have raised this cry against us, chiefly for the reason that we have denounced their ambitious projects and their unrighteous dealings toward the people. If any person owes them anything, they withhold from him the sacrament, and thus wring his money from him against the law of God.... Again, if a man kills a bird or catches a fish on the Sabbath day, they fine him in behalf of their bishop. This they have no right to do unless the act is committed during church service, when the culprit should have been listening to the Word of God. Again, whenever a priest has wronged a layman, the layman is practically without a remedy. He ought, however, to have the same remedy as the priest. Again, if a layman kills a priest, he is at once put under the ban, whereas if a priest kills a layman, he is not put under the ban. Yet God has forbidden priests to kill laymen as well as laymen to kill priests, making no difference in fact between them, but commanding all men to be affectionate and peaceable toward one another. Finally, if a priest dies intestate, his heirs lose their inheritance and his property is taken by the bishop. Even the crown estates, which they know we are bounden by our oath of office to protect, they have confiscated, and now they proclaim that we have introduced new faiths and doctrines taught by Luther. All we have done, as you already know, is to command them not to carry on their ambitious practices to the ruin of our realm." This explanation did not wholly calm the peasants; and when they found Gustavus holding another contest over their religious tenets, their suspicions were aroused again. Gustavus determined, therefore, that he must take some drastic measure to prevent revolt. What he needed was a vote of all the people to support his views. So he issued a proclamation in January, 1527, informing the whole country that, since he was reported to be introducing new beliefs, he should soon summon a general diet to discuss the more important matters of belief, particularly the overweening power of the pope.[150]

To this serious step Gustavus was impelled by several things. In the first place he desired to fortify himself against the pope. During the last three years the pope had practically been without authority in Sweden. Gustavus had selected as his bishops men whose actions he was able to control, and the pope had deprived himself of even the semblance of authority by refusing to confirm them. However, the nominal supremacy of Rome was not yet shaken off; and until it was so, there was constant danger that her actual supremacy would revive. The monarch's chief anxiety concerned Archbishop Magni. That prelate owed his appointment mainly to the pliability of his temper, and to the assumption on the monarch's part that he would prove a ready tool. In this assumption Gustavus had soon discovered he was wrong. Magni, though of pliant temper, was a thorough Papist, and, as time went on, displayed a growing tendency to oppose the king. In consequence he gradually fell from favor, till he became an object of open distrust. The earliest evidence of this feeling appeared in 1525, when Magni, as one of the envoys sent to Lubeck, was warned to take no action without the acquiescence of the other envoys. This mandate was issued from a fear lest Magni should encourage Lubeck to raise her voice against the spread of Lutheranism in the Swedish kingdom. How far this fear was justified, it is difficult to say. As Lubeck had not yet embraced the Reformation, she doubtless sympathized in some degree with Magni, but there is not the slightest evidence that Magni was unfaithful to the king. In February, of the following year, when Magni was starting for the Norwegian frontier to administer the rite of confirmation, he wrote the archbishop of Trondhem that he would like to meet him and discuss the dangerous condition of the Church. Gustavus, hearing of the contents of this letter, was aroused again. The archbishop of Trondhem had given offence by harboring Swedish refugees, and Magni's simple letter caused the monarch to believe that the two archbishops were, as he expressed it, "in secret negotiation." Some two months later, Gustavus being in the archbishop's palace, a stately feast was given in his honor. This only added to the feud. The monarch was incensed to find that Magni was capable of such display. Hot words ensued between them, and finally the archbishop was arrested and conveyed to Stockholm. There he was charged with conspiracy against the king. Certain letters that had passed between him and the Roman Catholics of Germany were produced; and though they showed no evidence of fraud, the archbishop was remanded to his prison to await the further disposition of his case. Never was greater injustice done a worthy man. There was not a scintilla of evidence against him. He was a generous, kindly, single-minded prelate, and the only reason for this cruelty was that he had no sympathy with the methods of the king. After some months in prison he was released upon the pretext of an embassy to Poland. Nobody could be ignorant what this pretext meant. He was to be an exile from his native land. He sailed from Sweden in the autumn of 1526, never to return. By such ignoble practices the monarch cleared his path.[151]

After the banishment of Archbishop Magni, Gustavus gave free rein to his ambition. The principal object of his greed was still the monasteries and convents. The practice of quartering his soldiers in them was by this time accepted as a necessary evil. But in August, 1526, he raised a new pretension. The provost of the Abo Chapter having died, its members had chosen another in his stead, and had begun to distribute his property in accordance with a will that he had left, when a letter came from Sweden ordering them to stop. After expressing surprise that they should have chosen a provost without consulting him, Gustavus added: "We learn that your last provost left a large amount of property by his testament to those persons to whom he wished to have it go. It is clear, however, that it would do more good if given to the public, since the kingdom is in a state of distress brought on by the long-protracted war against King Christiern. We therefore command you, after distributing the legacies given to his family and friends as well as the poor, to hand the balance over to us to pay the nation's debt." Against this high-handed measure there was no redress. It was but part of a policy by this time well established in the monarch's mind. Some six months later, the burgomaster and Council of Arboga wrote Gustavus that affairs in their monastery were managed in a very slipshod way; that when a brother died, the prior took possession of his estate, and the monastery itself got nothing for it. To prevent this state of things, Gustavus sent an officer to take up quarters in the monastery and send him a list of all the property he could find. "You will discover also," he declared, "some chests belonging to foreign monks. Take a look at them, and see what they contain." This letter, it should be remembered, was not intended for the public eye. Gustavus was careful to keep his actions dark, and, the monks of Arboga being accused of secreting certain treasures, the royal officer was instructed to make a diligent investigation, but to lay his hands on nothing until he received more positive commands. He was careful, also, that his practice of confiscating Church property should not be taken as an excuse for private individuals to do the same. In one case, where such a thing was done, he denounced the perpetrator in the strongest terms. Moreover, when the monasteries began to murmur against the soldiers quartered with them, he sent out an open letter to them, declaring that he had instructed his officers to be as courteous to them as they could. It may be noted, however, that he showed no signs of mitigating their distress.[152]

Early in 1527 Gustavus determined that the crucial moment for the Reformation had arrived. Dalarne, as usual, was in a state of insurrection, and every effort which he made to check the Church called forth a storm of imprecations from the northern provinces. The tax imposed upon the Dalesmen being still withheld, it was particularly necessary that the insurrection should be stayed. In February, therefore, Gustavus wrote a letter to appease the people. "Dear friends," began the monarch, "we understand a report is spread among the people that some new creed is preached here to the dishonor of God, the Virgin, and the saints. Before God we declare this rumor to be false. Nothing is here preached or taught except the pure word of God, as given by Christ to his Apostles.... It is indeed true, that denunciations have been heard in public against the vice and avarice of the clergy, and against the flagrant abuse of their privileges. They have oppressed the ignorant with excommunication, withholding of the sacrament, and all sorts of impositions. Wholly without authority from Holy Writ, they have imposed their Romish indulgences upon you, carrying vast treasures of gold and silver out of the kingdom, thus weakening our realm and impoverishing our people, while the high prelates have grown rich and haughty toward the lords and princes from whom these very privileges were derived.... We therefore urge you all by your sworn allegiance, not to be deceived by false rumors about us, doubting nothing that we shall move heaven and earth to promote your interests. And we beg you earnestly to believe that we are as good a Christian as any living man, and shall do our utmost to promote the Christian faith." Every one could see that this assertion was intended to persuade the Dalesmen to pay the newly levied tax. As the effort proved without avail, the monarch called a general diet to be held on the 9th of June, the object being, as he declared, to put an end to the dissension that had arisen in divine affairs. Later, the diet was postponed to June 15, and, to appease the Dalesmen, was ordered to be held in Vesteras, a city that was near their province.[153]

Before the day appointed for the diet, a long list of their grievances was drawn up by the Dalesmen and sent to Stockholm to the king. To these complaints Gustavus issued a reply, in which he strove to pacify the malcontents and thus obtain their presence at the diet. The complaints themselves are somewhat trivial, but the monarch's answer is important as an instance of his peculiar power in avoiding discord without directly compromising his affairs. To their murmur at the abolition of the mint in Vesteras, and the scarcity of coins of small denominations, he answered that the mint was closed because the mines adjacent were no longer worked; so soon as the mines in question should be opened he would reinstate the mint, and moreover he would please them by issuing small coins. As to the complaint of heavy taxes, the Cabinet were responsible for that. He would say, however, that he did not contemplate any further tax. The practice of billeting in the towns and monasteries was made necessary by the paucity of land about the royal castles, but this necessity he hoped would not exist much longer. The charge of reducing the number of monasteries and churches he denied. He had not closed a single monastery except Gripsholm, which was the property of his father and had been made a monastery against his father's will. To the ludicrous charge that he was planning to restore Archbishop Trolle, he made a flat denial. One thing, he said, was certain,—those who favored Trolle favored Christiern; he could scarce be charged with that. Finally, the Dalesmen complained of Luther's teachings, particularly the doctrines that were taught in Stockholm and the practice of allowing Swedish chants and hymns. To this he could say only that he had ordered nothing to be preached except the Word of God; and as to Swedish chants, he could see no reason for punishing in Stockholm what was permitted in all other portions of the kingdom; it was certainly better to praise God in a language that everybody understood than in Latin, which no one understood. "I wonder much," he said in closing, "that the Dalesmen trouble themselves concerning matters of which they have no knowledge. It would be wiser to leave the discussion of these things to priests and scholars.... I do not believe, however, that these complaints are made of your own free will, but rather at the instigation of certain priests and monks, whose desire is to keep the truth unknown." This sentence with which he closed contains the pith of the entire letter. The monarch felt that in the coming contest the opposing parties were to be the Church and State. He endeavored, therefore, by every means to win the Dalesmen to his side. Letters were despatched to Dalarne from various portions of the realm, to instruct the peasants that if they persisted in their opposition to Gustavus, they would have to fight alone. The Dalesmen, however, were no more influenced by threats than by persuasion. They stood firm in their determination; and when the diet assembled on the 24th of June, no delegates from Dalarne appeared.[154]

The Diet of Vesteras is the bulwark of the Swedish Reformation. It is the first embodiment in the Swedish law of the reforms of Martin Luther. Gustavus had been making ready for this diet ever since the day of his election, and at last the opportunity was ripe. One by one the prelates that were hostile to his views had been removed; and Brask, the only man of strength that still held out against him, was tottering to the grave. His enemies abroad had been by this time silenced, and except in the little province of Dalarne, Sweden was at peace. It was this revolt among the Dalesmen that served as a pretext for the diet. Gustavus was too shrewd a politician to make an open avowal of his aim. He announced that the purpose of the diet was to quell the constant riots in the realm, and hinted with mock innocence that he wished also to end the dissension that had arisen in matters of the Church. Among the persons who answered to the summons we find the names of four bishops, including Brask, together with representatives from Upsala and all the other Chapters excepting Abo. Beside these, there were present one hundred and forty-four of the nobility (of whom sixteen were Cabinet members), thirty-two burghers, one hundred and five peasants, and fourteen delegates from the mining districts. The king's design had been made manifest before the diet met; for on the previous Sunday, at a banquet given by him to the delegates already arrived in Vesteras, he had taken especial pains to show the bishops that their temporal supremacy was at an end. Despising every venerated custom, he had ranged about himself the higher members of the nobility, and had consigned the bishops to an inferior position. The affront thus put upon them galled them to the quick, and on the following day they held a secret meeting to discuss their wrongs. All of the bishops present excepting Brask discerned the hopelessness of their cause, and advocated a humble submission to the monarch's will. But Brask was boiling over with indignation. He sprang to his feet and shouted that they must be mad. If the king wanted to deprive them of their rights by force, he might do so. But they ought never to consent to such a course, lest they might thereby offend the Holy See. In times gone by, princes had frequently attempted the same thing that Gustavus was attempting now, but the thunders of the Vatican had always overwhelmed them. If the bishops now should fall away from their allegiance to the pope, their only refuge would be gone. They would become mere puppets of the king, afraid to speak a word in favor of their old prerogatives. These sentiments of Brask's were listened to with favor. The warmth with which he spoke produced its natural effect, and before the prelates parted they drew up a set of "protests," as they called them, agreeing never to abandon the pope or accept a single article of Luther's teaching. To these "protests" the prelates all attached their seals; and fifteen years afterward the document was discovered under the floor of Vesteras Cathedral, with all the seals attached.[155]

Directly following this secret session of the prelates, the general diet assembled in the grand hall of the monastery. The proceedings opened with a laborious address from Gustavus,—his secretary, Laurentius Andreae, acting as spokesman for the king. This address reviewed the entire history of the monarch's reign. He began by thanking his subjects for their presence at the diet, and went on to remind them that he had already more than once expressed his willingness to resign the crown. Nothing had induced him to retain it except their earnest prayer. He had therefore striven, night and day, to promote the welfare of his people, and in return for all his labors insurrection had sprung up on every hand, till now, the Dalesmen having once again rebelled, he was determined that he would no longer be their king. They charged him now with imposing heavy taxes, with keeping up the price of food, with billeting his soldiers in the towns and monasteries, with robbing churches and confiscating religious property, with favoring new creeds and sanctioning new customs. All these charges were untrue. He had commanded that nothing should be preached except the Word of God; but his orders had not been obeyed, for the people preferred to cling to their ancient customs, whether right or wrong. As it was impossible, under the present system, to avoid continual rebellion, he wished to retire from the government. If they desired him to remain, some method must be found to increase the royal income. He was at present wholly unable to pay the expenses of his army, for war had grown to be a much more costly matter than it was in former days. Other expenses, too, were very heavy. The cost of embassies to foreign powers was a serious drain upon his revenue. Moreover, the royal castles had all sunk into decay and must be rebuilt; and if he married the daughter of some foreign prince, a vast outlay would be required. The nobility also were impoverished through constant warfare, and were calling on the crown for aid. His present income was twenty-four thousand marks per annum, while his expenses in round numbers amounted to sixty thousand marks.[156]

At the close of this address Gustavus called upon the knights and bishops to reply. Although the monarch's speech had not in terms denounced the bishops, it was clear to all men that his purpose was to humble them. The duty of making answer, therefore, naturally fell to Brask. That venerable prelate rose, and with his usual complaisance declared that, having sworn allegiance to his gracious lord the king, he felt in duty bound to honor his commands. He had, however, by his oath of office promised to do nothing contrary to the will of Rome; and since the pope had ordered him and the other prelates to defend all property, whether real or personal, of the holy Church, they must not consent to sacrifice their rights. But he would promise that any deacons, priests, or monks who might devise tricks or superstitious practices not prescribed by their superiors, should be ordered to desist and should be punished.[157]

At this, Gustavus demanded of the Cabinet and nobility whether they were satisfied with the answer. As none seemed eager to defend the monarch's cause, Gustavus took the floor himself and said: "I have no further desire, then, to be your king. Verily I had not counted on such treatment at your hands. I now no longer wonder at the perversity of the people, since they have such men as you for their advisers. Have they no rain? They lay the blame on me. Have they no sun? Again they lay the blame on me. When hard times come, hunger, disease, or whatever it may be, they charge me with it, as if I were not man, but God. This is your gratitude to me for bringing corn and rye and malt at great expense and trouble from foreign lands, that the poor of Sweden might not starve. Yea, though I labor for you with my utmost power both in spiritual and in temporal affairs, you would gladly see the axe upon my neck; nay, you would be glad to strike the blow yourselves. I have borne more labor and trouble both at home and abroad than any of you can know or understand,—and all because I am your king. You would now set monks and priests and all the creatures of the pope above my head, though we have little need of these mighty bishops and their retinue. In a word, you all would lord it over me; and yet you elected me your king. Who under such circumstances would desire to govern you? Not the worst wretch in hell would wish the post, far less any man. Therefore I, too, refuse to be your king. I cast the honor from me, and leave you free to choose him whom you will. If you can find one who will continue ever to please you, I shall be glad. Be so considerate, however, as to let me leave the land. Pay me for my property in the kingdom, and return to me what I have expended in your service. Then I declare to you I will withdraw never to return to my degenerate, wretched, and thankless native land."[158]

After this burst of passion, the monarch strode in anger from the hall. He had studied his position well, and knew that his opponents in the end must yield. No sooner had he left the meeting than his secretary rose and sought to bring the members to the monarch's views. "My good men," he began, "let us arrive at some conclusion in this matter, seeking aid from God. It is a weighty question that we are to answer, and one upon which hangs the welfare of our people. You heard the king say truly there were but two courses open. One was to follow his request, imploring him to be our leader hereafter as heretofore; the other was to choose the king's successor." But the delegates continued silent, and adjourned toward evening without putting the question to a vote.[159]

During three whole days the deadlock lasted. From the inactivity of the king's adherents, it would seem that they were acting according to advice. Gustavus wished to force his enemies' hand. It was clear to everybody that the blessings conferred by him on Sweden were beyond all praise, and he was confident that no one would be rash enough to talk seriously about selecting another for the throne. His object was to wait until the patience of his enemies was exhausted, in the hope that ultimately the offer of a compromise should come from them. If such methods of procedure are to be allowed, it must be granted that the monarch's policy was shrewd. During the three days following his stormy action in the diet, he kept himself in the castle, entertaining his trusty courtiers and feigning utter indifference to what was going on outside. On the very day after his withdrawal, this independent policy began to tell. The bishop of Strengnaes was apparently the first to waver. He appreciated the folly of longer holding out against the king, and rose to say that he regarded such a step as fraught with danger. Something must be done, he said, without delay. To put aside Gustavus and elect another king was simply childish, and to buy up all his property would be impossible. While he wished the clergy's rights to be protected, he asked for nothing that would be a detriment to the realm. Matters in general were now improving, and the future apparently was bright. If Gustavus should be permitted to withdraw, nations that had ever coveted the kingdom would no longer leave it unmolested. The effect of these words was in a measure lost through a wrangle that ensued between Laurentius Petri and the Papist champion, Peder Galle. What they were fighting over, no one knew, for Petri made his argument in Swedish for the benefit of the people, and Galle would not answer in anything but Latin. Nothing had been accomplished, therefore, when the disputation ceased. And the morning and the evening were the second day.[160]

When the diet once more came together, the battle opened with replenished strength. By this time the peasantry and burghers had pretty generally sided with the king, and threats were heard that, if the knights persisted in their stubborn purpose, they would be made to suffer for it. This language proved more efficacious than persuasion. The knights and bishops could agree upon no policy, nor upon a leader. They were terrified, moreover, by the preponderance in number of their foes. As a consequence, they gradually weakened, till at last the delegates all voted to obey the monarch's will. Andreae and Petri were therefore chosen to approach Gustavus and inform him that the delegates would now consent to his requests. Gustavus then indulged once more his love of masquerade. He feigned reluctance to accept the proffered honor, and scorned the delegates who came to him upon their knees. One after another the recalcitrant members grovelled in the dust before him, and begged that he would show them mercy. This was the sort of ceremony that the monarch loved. He kept his enemies in their humble posture till his vanity was glutted, and then declared that he would go before the diet on the following day.[161]

Gustavus was at last in a position to dictate to the diet. The opportunity for which he had been longing since his first acceptance of the crown was now at hand. He had won an unconditional victory over every one of his opponents, and he was minded to use this victory for all that it was worth. It is matter of regret that practically no account is given us of the steps by which the measures that he sought to have enacted were attained. This very meagreness, however, is strong evidence that the measures were enacted without much friction. Apparently, the only object of the delegates now was to suit their action to the monarch's will. They therefore adopted as their guiding star the propositions with which the diet had been opened by the king, and formulated a set of answers in conformity therewith. These answers were drawn respectively by the Cabinet and nobility, by the burghers and mountaineers, and by the common people. It is worthy of more than passing notice that no answer was presented by the clergy. Indeed, the clergy appear to have been regarded in the light of victims. The whole object of the diet was to crush the Church, and the clergy were not permitted even to have a hand in the proceedings. The monarch's notion was to give the clergy no voice whatever in the diet, but after the lay delegates had formulated their resolves, to force the bishops to issue a proclamation certifying their assent.

It seems desirable to describe in brief the answers which the different classes of delegates presented. The Cabinet and nobility began by promising that, if the rebellion in Dalarne were not already quelled, they would use every measure in their power to attain that end. They were satisfied with the monarch's seizure of Gripsholm. They deemed it proper, since the royal rents were small, that Gustavus be at liberty to grant the monasteries of the land as fiefs, but not, however, to expel the monks. In order to increase the wealth of the nobility, they advocated that all property granted by former noblemen to churches or monasteries since 1454 revert to the donors' heirs, though not until such heirs should prove their title. To augment the crown's resources, they believed the bishops, chapters, and cathedrals should surrender to the king all that portion of their income which they did not absolutely need. No one should be permitted to preach falsehood or anything beyond the simple Word of God, and old Church customs ought to be maintained.[162]

The burghers and mountaineers gave their answer in a similar vein. They begged Gustavus to remain their king, and promised to defend him with their blood. They would express no opinion concerning Dalarne till the Dalesmen who were going thither should bring back their report. Since the monks were clearly at the bottom of the trouble, no monk should be permitted to leave his monastery more than twice a year. Gustavus should be given the right of billeting whenever it were necessary. Before deciding about the new beliefs they wished to hear a disputation on the subject. As the rents of the nobility and crown had been diminished by the Church, the Church ought certainly to restore them; and the mode of restoration should be determined by Gustavus and his Cabinet. The royal castles having been demolished, the prelates should surrender theirs until the castles belonging to the crown could be rebuilt. Finally, from that day forth no bishop ought to send to Rome for confirmation.[163]

The answer of the common people began with a promise that they would go to Dalarne and inflict punishment upon the traitors; and since many monks were in the habit of inciting the people to rebel, it seemed desirable that they be permitted to leave their monasteries only twice each year. Gustavus might quarter his soldiers in the monasteries whenever it was necessary. The churches and monasteries near Stockholm, having in times past given shelter to the enemy, should be torn down and their materials used to repair the city walls. All matters of creed they were willing to leave to the bishops and prelates, but asked that a disputation on these subjects might be had in presence of representatives of the people. The king should have authority to increase his revenue in the way that seemed to him most fitting. The king might take the bishops' castles till his own could be rebuilt. The proper disposition of the Church incomes they were content to leave to the king and his Cabinet.[164]

One cannot but be startled by the revolutionary tendency of these replies. Never before had such a thing been dreamt of as the surrender of all the bishops' castles to the crown. Gustavus must have been bewildered by his own audacity. Within four days the diet that had come together puffed up by a consciousness of its own magnificence, had sunk into a position of absolute servility. Things had been granted by the delegates which, when the diet opened, Gustavus had not even dared to ask. The very mode in which the votes were taken and the acts were passed, shows how completely everybody answered to the monarch's nod. Instead of the answers being submitted to a general vote, they were laid before the Cabinet to be passed upon by them. In defiance of every precedent, the Cabinet usurped the right to clothe the diet's sentiment in language of their own. The result was a decree promulgated in the diet's name and celebrated in Swedish history as the Vesteras Recess. By this decree the delegates asserted, every one of them, that they would do their utmost to punish all conspiracies against the king. They declared, moreover, that as the royal incomes were but meagre, the monasteries and churches must come to the relief, and, to prevent all danger, no bishop should keep up a larger retinue than the king allowed. All bishops and cathedrals, with their chapters, must hand over to the king all income not absolutely necessary for their support. Since many monasteries were dilapidated and their lands were lying waste, an officer must be appointed by the crown to keep them up and hand over all their rents not needed for that purpose to the crown. The nobility were declared entitled to all property that had passed from their ancestors to the Church since 1454. Finally, Gustavus was ordered to summon the two factions in the Church to hold a disputation in presence of the diet, and the members promised to quell the outcry that had arisen against Gustavus and to punish the offenders.[165]

It is reported that something in the nature of a disputation was now held. But its significance, at any rate, was small. The bishops and their clergy were to all intents and purposes without a voice; and ere the diet closed, a set of resolutions had been passed which did away with all necessity for further disputation. These so-called "Vesteras Ordinantia" were even more far-reaching than the "Vesteras Recess." Since they are the touchstone of the modern Swedish faith, the reader will pardon prolixity if I give them all. They are as follows: (1) Vacancies in the parish-churches are to be filled by the bishop of the diocese. If, however, he appoints murderers, drunkards, or persons who cannot or will not preach the Word of God, the king may expel them and appoint other priests who are more fit. (2) Where a parish is poor, two of them may be joined together, though not if such a step would be an injury to the Word of God. (3) All bishops shall furnish the king with a schedule of their rents and incomes of every kind. From these schedules he shall determine the relative proportions for them to keep and to hand over to the crown. (4) A similar course shall be pursued with regard to the cathedrals and chapters. (5) Auricular confession must be given up as already commanded, and an account must be rendered to the king of all fines imposed. (6) An account must also be rendered to the king of all fees received for remitting the ban, and bishops with their officers must not inflict the ban for petty offences, as has been often done hitherto. (7) Bishops shall have authority to determine as to the legality of marriages, and may grant divorces, but an account shall be rendered to the king of all fees received therefor. (8) Fees for weddings, funerals, and churchings, may be taken as provided in the Church ordinances, but no more. (9) Since it has been decreed that the king and not the bishop is to receive all fines imposed in cases within ecclesiastical jurisdiction, the provosts may hereafter hold court just as the bishops have done hitherto, and shall render an account of their doings to the king. (10) For desecration of holy days no penalty is to be imposed on those who have been tilling the ground, or fishing, or catching birds, but persons discovered hunting or quarrelling shall be fined. (11) Priests shall be subject to temporal laws and temporal courts, in all disputes, of their own or of their churches, concerning property, torts, or contracts, and shall pay to the king the same penalties as laymen. But all complaints against the clergy for non-fulfilment of their priestly duties shall be laid before the bishop. (12) If a priest and layman come to blows, one shall not be placed under the ban any more than the other, for God has forbidden priests to quarrel as well as laymen. Both shall suffer for their acts according to the laws of the land. (13) Since it has been found that mendicant monks spread lies and deceit about the country, the royal stewards are to see that they do not remain away from their monasteries more than five weeks every summer and five weeks every winter. Every monk must get a license from the steward or burgomaster before he goes out, and return it when he comes back. (14) Monks who receive rents shall not go out to beg at all. (15) When a priest dies, the bishop is not to defraud the priest's heirs of their inheritance. Priests shall be bound, in regard to their wills, by the same law as other people. (16) If a man has sexual intercourse with a woman to whom he is engaged, he shall not be punished, since they are already married in the eye of God. (17) No person who is infirm shall be compelled by priests to make a will. (18) The sacrament shall not be withheld from any one for debt or other reason. The church or priest has a remedy in court. (19) Fines for adultery and fornication belong to the king, not to the bishop. (20) The Gospel shall hereafter be taught in every school. (21) Bishops shall consecrate no priest who is incompetent to preach the Word of God. (22) No one shall be made a prelate, canon, or prebend unless he has been recommended by the king, or his name submitted to the king.[166]

These ordinances were practically a signal for the death of popery. They not only transferred to the king the rich emoluments on which for centuries the bishops had grown fat; they transferred also to him a right to superintend the actions of ecclesiastical authorities in matters appertaining to the Church. It is hardly credible that so vast an object should have been attained without more friction, and that it was attained is a lasting testimony to the shrewdness of the king. We may sneer at the childish indignation with which Gustavus strode forth from the diet, but the fact remains that this pretended indignation gained its end. Above all else, Gustavus knew the character of his people. They were particularly prone to sentiment. A few sham tears or an exuberant display of wrath had more effect upon them than the most sagacious argument that the monarch could employ. His policy, therefore, was to stir their feelings, and then withdraw to watch their feelings effervesce. It is not too much to say that no monarch has ever in so short a time effected greater change in sentiment than Gustavus effected among the members of this diet.

Before the delegates departed, a letter was issued by all the bishops present, and by representatives of the absent bishops, declaring to the people that Gustavus had portrayed in graphic terms the evil inflicted on the crown in former times by bishops; and that the lay members had voted, to prevent such danger in the future, that the bishops' retinues should be limited thereafter by the king, and that all their superfluous rents and castles, as well as the superfluous rents of the cathedrals and chapters, should be surrendered to the crown. "To this," the humbled prelates added, "we could not, even if we would, object, for we wish to dispel the notion that our power and castles are a menace to the realm. We shall be satisfied whether we are rich or poor." To one who reads between these lines, it is easy to discern the language of the king. He also wrote, above his own name, to the people, informing them that the diet had been held; and for details of the proceedings he referred them to a letter which the Cabinet had penned.[167]

There was one man on whom the diet of Vesteras had fallen like a clap of thunder from on high. His cherished dream of finally restoring Romanism to her old position in the eyes of men was now no more. The knell of popery had been sounded, and nothing remained for the aged bishop but despair. True to the spirit of the ancient Church, he had looked askance on every effort to discuss her faith. The doctrines handed down through centuries appeared to him so sacred that in his eyes it was sacrilege to open them again. In answer to the monarch's oft-repeated counsel that the Church reform her doctrines, he had steadily asserted his unwillingness to take that step, "for these new doctrines," he declared, "have been investigated frequently in other countries and have been condemned. No man of wisdom, I believe, will champion a doctrine that is contrary to the mandates of the Christian Church." This constant opposition on the part of Brask had brought him more and more beneath the monarch's frown. Gustavus let no opportunity escape to add humiliation to the venerable bishop. On one occasion Brask unwittingly had consecrated as a nun a woman who formerly had been betrothed; and when the woman later left the convent to become her lover's wife, the bishop placed them both beneath the ban. This act called forth a condemnation from the king. "The bearer tells us," were his words to Brask, "that he has married a woman to whom he was engaged, and who against her will was made a nun. We see no wrong in such a practice, and wonder much that you did not inform yourself before the girl received her consecration. The husband informs us, further, that you have placed them both beneath the ban. This course appears to us unjust, and we command you to remit the punishment.... We think it better to allow this marriage than to drive the woman to an impure life." A little later, when revolt arose in Dalarne, Gustavus fancied that he saw the bishop's hand. "The priests," he said to one of his officers, "are at the bottom of all rebellion, and the diocese of Linkoeping is the heart of this conspiracy." Gustavus had no ground for this suspicion, and the charge was utterly untrue. Brask thought the tax imposed upon the Dalesmen altogether too severe, and did not hesitate to say so; but he was very far from sympathizing with the rebels, and when it was ordered that the diet should be held in Vesteras to please the Dalesmen, he was the first person to suggest a danger in holding it so near the seat of the revolt.[168]

Brask's influential position in the diet only added to the monarch's wrath, and it was against him chiefly that the diet's acts were framed. He was the wealthiest of the Swedish bishops. Hence the reduction in their incomes, as commanded by the diet, fell heaviest on him. But even here the monarch's greed was not assuaged. After the "Ordinantia" had been passed, Gustavus rose and called upon the several bishops to resign their castles. This step, though advocated by the burghers and mountaineers as well as common people, had not been ordered by the diet. Gustavus seems, therefore, to have made the demand upon his own authority alone, and the issue proved that his authority was great. The bishops of Strengnaes and Skara, on whom the demand was made first, acquiesced as gracefully as was possible to so provoking a demand. But when the monarch came to Brask, that prelate did not readily comply. One of the nobility addressed the king, and begged him to allow the aged bishop to retain his castle during the few short years that yet remained to him of life. This reasonable request, however, the monarch would not grant; and Brask persisting in his right to hold the castle, Gustavus deprived him of his retinue and held him prisoner till he furnished bail conditioned for his good behavior as well as for the surrender of his castle. The diet then adjourned, Gustavus sending forth a body of men who entered the bishop's castle by main force, and placed it under the supremacy of the king.[169]

The ground of this barbaric treatment appears in a negotiation between the king and Brask some five weeks later. By the Vesteras Recess Gustavus was given a claim to all the income not needed by the bishops, cathedrals, and chapters for their support. But since the sum required for the prelates was not named, the field thus left for argument was wide. The prelates took a much higher view of their necessities than was taken by the king. Brask especially found it hard to do without his ancient pomp and circumstance. Gustavus therefore put the screws upon him to bring the lordly bishop to the ground. How well this plan succeeded is shown in a document of the 2d of August—about five weeks after the seizure of Brask's castle—in which the bishop is declared to have come to an understanding, and to have promised the king fifteen hundred marks a year beside some other tribute. In reward for this concession, Gustavus declared himself contented, and received the bishop once more into royal favor.[170]

There is now but little more to chronicle about the aged bishop. Beaten at every point, and practically a prisoner at the monarch's mercy, he had at last capitulated and granted to Gustavus all that he had asked. The surrender, furthermore, was but the prelude to the bishop's flight. Conscious that every hope was crushed forever, he craved permission to visit Gotland and perform the sacred duties of his office. This request was granted, and the venerable prelate set forth never to return. On pretext of consulting eminent physicians, he sailed across the Baltic, and watched the monarch's movements from afar. Gustavus, when he learned of this escape, confiscated all the property of Brask that he could find, and, worse than all, he issued a letter, filled with venom, denouncing the perfidy of the aged bishop and telling the people of his diocese that Brask had fled because of suits that certain persons were about to bring against him for his wrongs.[171]

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