The Swedish Revolution Under Gustavus Vasa
by Paul Barron Watson
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Copyright, 1889, BY PAUL BARRON WATSON.


Transcriber's Note

Minor typographical errors have been corrected without note. Original spellings have been retained.

The carat symbol [^] has been used to note 'superscript', whilst the following less common characters have been transcribed as follows:

[oe] oe ligature ā a with macron ē e with macron n n with macron ō o with macron


No name in history lies deeper in Swedish hearts than the name Gustavus Vasa. Liberator of Sweden from the yoke of Denmark, and founder of one of the foremost dynasties of Europe, his people during more than three centuries have looked back fondly to the figure of their great ruler, and cherished with tender reverence every incident in his romantic history. This enthusiasm for Gustavus Vasa is more than sentiment; it belongs to him as leader in a vast political upheaval. When Gustavus came upon the stage, the Swedish people had long been groaning under a foreign despotism. During more than a century their political existence had been ignored, their rights as freemen trampled in the dust. They had at last been goaded into a spirit of rebellion, and were already struggling to be free. What they most needed was a leader with courage to summon them to arms, and with perseverance to keep them in the field. Possessing these traits beyond all others, Gustavus called his people forth to war, and finally brought them through the war to victory. This revolution extended over a period of seven years,—from the uprising of the Dalesmen in 1521 to the coronation of Gustavus in 1528. It is a period that should be of interest, not only to the student of history, but also to the lover of romance. In order to render the exact nature of the struggle clear, I have begun the narrative at a time considerably before the revolution, though I have not entered deeply into details till the beginning of the war in 1521. By the middle of the year 1523, when Gustavus was elected king, actual warfare had nearly ceased, and the scenes of the drama change from the battle-field to the legislative chamber. In this period occurred the crowning act of the revolution; namely, the banishment of the Romish Church and clergy.

The history of the Swedish Revolution has never before been written in the English language. Even Gustavus Vasa is but little known outside his native land. Doubtless this is due in large measure to the difficulties which beset a study of the period. It is not a period to which the student of literature can turn with joy. One who would know Gustavus well must traverse a vast desert of dreary reading, and pore over many volumes of verbose despatches before he can find a drop of moisture to relieve the arid soil. Sweden in the early part of the sixteenth century was not fertile in literary men. Gustavus himself, judged by any rational standard, was an abominable writer. His despatches are in number almost endless and in length appalling. Page after page he runs on, seemingly with no other object than to use up time. Often a document covers four folios, which might easily have been compressed into a single sentence. Such was the habit of the age. A simple letter from a man to his wife consisted mainly of a mass of stereotyped expressions of respect. Language was used apparently to conceal vacuity of mind. Toward the close of the monarch's reign there was a marked improvement in literary style, and some few works of that period possess real worth. These have recently been printed, and as a rule have been edited with considerable care. The king's despatches are also being systematically printed by the authorities of the Royal Archives at Stockholm, and the cloud of ignorance which has hitherto hung over the head of Sweden's early monarch is lifting fast. The tenth volume of the king's despatches, known as Gustaf I.'s registratur has now been published, carrying this contemporary transcript of the king's letters down to the summer of 1535. The only documents bearing on the Swedish Revolution and not yet published, are the MSS. known as Gustaf I.'s radslagar, Gustaf I.'s acta historica, and Gustaf I.'s bref med bilagor,—all to be found in the Royal Archives at Stockholm,—and the MSS. known as the Palmskioeld samlingar in the Upsala Library. All these I have carefully examined. I have also browsed during several months among the libraries of Sweden, and have spared no pains to get at everything, written or printed, contemporary or subsequent, that might throw light upon the subject. The most important of these materials are mentioned in the bibliography inserted immediately before the Index to this work. In order to add vividness as well as accuracy to the narrative, I have visited personally nearly all the battle-fields and other spots connected with this history. My descriptions of the leading contemporaries of Gustavus are based on a careful study of the portraits in the Gripsholm gallery, most of which were painted from life.

Finally, a word of thanks is due to the libraries and archives from which I have derived most aid. Of these the chief are the British Museum, the University Library at Upsala, and above all, the Royal Library and the Royal Archives at Stockholm. To the last two institutions I owe more than I can express. They are the storehouses of Swedish history, and their doors were thrown open to me with a generosity and freedom beyond all that I could hope. I wish here to thank my many friends, the custodians of these treasures, for the personal encouragement and assistance they have lent me in the prosecution of this work.

August 15, 1889.



CHILDHOOD AND YOUTH OF GUSTAVUS VASA. 1496-1513. PAGE Birth of Gustavus.—His Ancestors.—Anarchy in Sweden.—Its Causes: Former Independence of the People; Growth of Christianity; Growth of the Aristocracy; the Cabinet; Enslavement of Sweden; Revolt of the People against Denmark.—Christiern I.—Sten Sture.—Hans.—Svante Sture.—Sten Sture the Younger.—Childhood of Gustavus.—His Education at Upsala 1



Description of Stockholm.—Christina Gyllenstjerna.—Hemming Gad.—Christiern II.—Gustaf Trolle.—Dissension between Sten Sture and Gustaf Trolle.—Siege of Staeket.—First Expedition of Christiern II. against Sweden.—Trial of the Archbishop.—Arcimboldo.—Second Expedition of Christiern II. against Sweden.—Capture of Gustavus Vasa.—Resignation of the Archbishop.—Hostilities of Christiern II.—Farewell of Arcimboldo. 28



Escape of Gustavus from Denmark.—Lubeck.—Return of Gustavus to Sweden.—Excommunication of Sture.—Invasion of Sweden.—Death of Sture.—Dissolution of the Swedish Army.—Heroism of Christina.—Battle of Upsala.—Gustavus at Kalmar.—Fall of Stockholm.—Coronation of Christiern II.—Slaughter of the Swedes.—Flight of Gustavus to Dalarne.—Efforts to rouse the Dalesmen.—Gustavus chosen Leader. 59



Causes of the War.—Character of the Dalesmen.—Growth of the Patriot Army.—Didrik Slagheck.—Battle of Koeping.—Capture of Vesteras; of Upsala.—Skirmish with Trolle.—Skirmishes near Stockholm.—Siege of Stegeborg.—Norby.—Rensel.—Brask.—Progress of the War.—Coinage of Gustavus.—Christiern's Troubles in Denmark.—Siege of Stockholm.—Fall of Kalmar.—Diet of Strengnaes.—Fall of Stockholm.—Retrospect of the War. 90



Nature of the Reformation in Europe.—Cause of the Reformation in Sweden.—The Debt to Lubeck.—Riches of the Church.—Relations of Gustavus to the Pope.—Johannes Magni.—New Taxation.—Dissension among the People.—Opposition of Gustavus to the Pope.—Trial of Peder Sunnanvaeder.—Expedition against Gotland.—Repudiation of the "Klippings."—Berent von Mehlen.—Negotiations between Fredrik and Norby.—Congress of Malmoe.—Efforts to appease the People.—Lutheranism.—Olaus Petri.—Laurentius Andreae.—Brask's Efforts to repress Heresy.—Religious Tendencies of Gustavus.—Character of Brask. 118



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. 165



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. 190



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. 220



Reasons for Delay of the Coronation.—Preparations for the Ceremony.—Consecration of the Bishops.—Coronation Festival.—Retrospect of the Revolution.—Character of Gustavus. 268




PAGE Seal of Bishop Brask. Bears the inscription: S[IGILLVM] IOH[ANN]IS DEI GRA[CIA] EPI[SCOPI] LINCOPENSIS 103

"Klipping" issued by Gustavus Vasa in 1521 or 1522. On one side, the bust of a man in armor. On the other, crowns and arrows, with the inscription: ERI[KS]SO[N] 107

Medal struck in commemoration of the deliverance of Sweden in 1522. On one side, a half-length figure of Gustavus Vasa, with the date 1522 and the inscription: GVSTAF ERICSEN G[VBERNATOR] R[EGNI] S[VECIAE]. On the other, crowns and arrows, with the inscription: PROTEGE NOS IESV 116

Coin issued in Stockholm in 1522. On one side, the inscription: GOSTA[F] ERI[KS] SO[N] 1522, and in the centre, G[VBERNATOR]. On the other, a crown, with the inscription: MONET[A] STO[C]KHOLM[ENSIS] 122

Coin issued in Stockholm in 1522. On one side, a full-length figure, with the inscription: S[ANCTVS] ERICVS REX SWECIEI. On the other, crowns and arrows, with the inscription: MONE[TA] STO[C]KHOLM[ENSIS] 1522 122

Coin issued in Stockholm in 1522 or 1523. On one side, three crowns, with the inscription: S[ANCTVS] ERICVS REX SVE[CIAE]. On the other, the inscription: MONETA STOC[K]HO[LMENSIS] 122

Coin issued in Upsala in 1523. On one side, a bust with arrows and sheaves of corn, and the inscription: S[ANCTVS] ERICVS REX SWECIE. On the other, three crowns, with the inscription: MONE[TA] NOVA VPSAL[ENSIS] 1523 123

Coin issued in Vesteras in 1523. On one side, a crown, with the inscription: GOST[AF] REX SWECIE. On the other, three crowns, with the inscription: MONE[TA] NOVA WESTAR[OSIENSIS] 123

Coin issued at the coronation of Gustavus Vasa in 1528. On one side, a full-length figure of the king, with crown, sword, and sceptre, and the inscription: GOSTAVS D[EI] G[RACIA] SVECORVM REX. On the other, the inscription: MONET[A] NOVA STO[C]K[H]OL[MENSIS] 1528 272




Birth of Gustavus.—His Ancestors.—Anarchy in Sweden.—Its Causes: Former Independence of the People; Growth of Christianity; Growth of the Aristocracy; the Cabinet; Enslavement of Sweden; Revolt of the People against Denmark.—Christiern I.—Sten Sture.—Hans.—Svante Sture.—Sten Sture the Younger.—Childhood of Gustavus.—His Education at Upsala.

The manor of Lindholm lies in the centre of a smiling district about twenty miles north of the capital of Sweden. Placed on a height between two fairy lakes, it commands a wide and varied prospect over the surrounding country. The summit of this height was crowned, at the close of the fifteenth century, by a celebrated mansion. Time and the ravages of man have long since thrown this mansion to the ground; but its foundation, overgrown with moss and fast crumbling to decay, still marks the site of the ancient structure, and from the midst of the ruins rises a rough-hewn stone bearing the name Gustavus Vasa. On this spot he was born, May 12, 1496.[1] The estate was then the property of his grandmother, Sigrid Baner, with whom his mother was temporarily residing, and there is no reason to think it continued long the home of the young Gustavus.

The family from which Gustavus sprang had been, during nearly a hundred years, one of the foremost families of Sweden. Its coat-of-arms consisted of a simple vase, or bundle of sticks; and the Vasa estate, at one time the residence of his ancestors, lay only about ten miles to the north of Lindholm.[2] The first Vasa of whom anything is definitely known is Kristiern Nilsson, the great-grandfather of Gustavus. This man became noted in the early part of the fifteenth century as an ardent monarchist, and under Erik held the post of chancellor. After the fall of his master, in 1436, his office was taken from him, but he continued to battle for the cause of royalty until his death. Of the chancellor's three sons, the two eldest followed zealously in the footsteps of their father. The other, Johan Kristersson, though in early life a stanch supporter of King Christiern, and one of the members of his Cabinet, later married a sister of Sten Sture, and eventually embraced the Swedish cause. Birgitta, the wife of Johan Kristersson, is said to have been descended from the ancient Swedish kings.[3] The youngest son of Johan and Birgitta was Erik Johansson, the father of Gustavus. Of Erik's early history we know little more than that he married Cecilia, daughter of Magnus Karlsson and Sigrid Baner, and settled at Rydboholm, an estate which he inherited from his father. To this place, beautifully situated on an arm of the Baltic, about ten miles northeast of the capital, Cecilia returned with her little boy from Lindholm; and here Gustavus spent the first years of his childhood.

Sweden at this period was in a state of anarchy. In order to appreciate the exact condition of affairs, it will be necessary to cast a glance at some political developments that had gone before. Sweden was originally a confederation of provinces united solely for purposes of defence. Each province was divided into several counties, which were constituted in the main alike. Every inhabitant—if we except the class of slaves, which was soon abolished—was either a landowner or a tenant. The tenants were freemen who owned no land of their own, and hence rented the land of others. All landowners possessed the same rights, though among them were certain men of high birth, who through their large inheritances were much more influential than the rest. Matters concerning the inhabitants of one county only were regulated by the county assemblies, to which all landowners in the county, and none others, were admitted. These assemblies were called and presided over by the county magistrate, elected by general vote at some previous assembly. All law cases arising in the county were tried before the assembly, judgment being passed, with consent of the assembly, by the county magistrate, who was expected to know and expound the traditional law of his county. Questions concerning the inhabitants of more than one county were regulated by the provincial assemblies, composed of all landowners in the province, and presided over by the provincial magistrate, elected by all the landowners in his province. The power of the provincial magistrate in the province was similar to that of the county magistrate in the county; and to his judgment, with consent of the assembly, lay an appeal from every decision of the county magistrates. Above all the provinces was a king, elected originally by the provincial assembly of Upland, though in order to gain the allegiance of the other provinces he was bound to appear before their individual assemblies and be confirmed by them. His duty was expressed in the old formula, "landom rada, rike styre, lag styrke, och frid halla," which meant nothing more than that he was to protect the provinces from one another and from foreign powers. In order to defray the expense of strengthening the kingdom, he was entitled to certain definite taxes from every landowner, and half as much from every tenant, in the land. These taxes he collected through his courtiers, who in the early days were men of a very inferior class,—mere servants of the king. They lived on the crown estates, which we find in the very earliest times scattered through the land. Besides his right to collect taxes, the king, as general peacemaker, was chief-justice of the realm, and to him lay an appeal from every decision rendered by a provincial magistrate. Such, in brief, was the constitution of Sweden when first known in history.

Christianity, first preached in Sweden about the year 830, brought with it a diminution of the people's rights. When the episcopal dioceses were first marked out, the people naturally kept in their own hands the right to choose their spiritual rulers, who were designated lydbiskopar, or the people's bishops. But in 1164 the Court of Rome succeeded in establishing, under its own authority, an archbishopric at Upsala; and by a papal bull of 1250 the choice of Swedish bishops was taken from the people and confided to the cathedral chapters under the supervision of the pope. As soon as the whole country became converted, the piety of the people induced them to submit to gross impositions at the hands of those whom they were taught to regard as God's representatives on earth. In 1152 the so-called "Peter's Penning" was established, an annual tax of one penning from every individual to the pope. Besides this, it became the law, soon after, that all persons must pay a tenth of their annual income to the Church, and in addition there were special taxes to the various bishops, deans, and pastors. A still more productive source of revenue to the Church was death-bed piety, through which means a vast amount of land passed from kings or wealthy individuals to the Church. By a law of the year 1200 the clergy were declared no longer subject to be tried for crime in temporal courts; and by the end of the thirteenth century the Church had practically ceased to be liable for crown taxation. It requires but a moment's thought to perceive how heavy a burden all these changes threw on the body of the nation.

Simultaneously with the spread of Christianity still another power began to trample on the liberties of the people. This was the power of the sword. In early times, before civilization had advanced enough to give everybody continuous employment, most people spent their leisure moments in making war. Hence the Swedish kings, whose duty it was to keep the peace, could accomplish that result only by having a large retinue of armed warriors at their command. The expense which this entailed was great. Meantime the crown estates had continually increased in number through merger of private estates of different kings, through crown succession to estates of foreigners dying without descendants in the realm, and through other sources. Some of the kings, therefore, devised the scheme of enlisting the influential aristocracy in their service by granting them fiefs in the crown estates, with right to all the crown incomes from the fief. This plan was eagerly caught at by the aristocrats, and before long nearly all the influential people in the realm were in the service of the king. Thus the position of royal courtier, which had formerly been a mark of servitude, was now counted an honor, the courtiers being now commonly known as magnates. About the year 1200 castles were first erected on some of the crown estates, and the magnates who held these castles as fiefs were not slow to take advantage of their power. Being already the most influential men in their provinces, and generally the county or provincial magistrates, they gradually usurped the right to govern the surrounding territory, not as magistrates of the people, but as grantees of the crown estates. Since these fiefs were not hereditary, the rights usurped by the holders of them passed, on the death of the grantees, to the crown, and in 1276 we find a king granting not only one of his royal castles, but also right of administration over the surrounding land. Thus, by continual enlargement of the royal fiefs, the authority of the provincial assemblies, and even of the county assemblies, was practically destroyed. Still, these assemblies continued to exist, and in them the poor landowners claimed the same rights as the more influential magnates. The magnates, as such, possessed no privileges, and were only powerful because of their wealth, which enabled them to become courtiers or warriors of the king. In 1280, however, a law was passed exempting all mounted courtiers from crown taxation. This law was the foundation of the nobility of Sweden. It divided the old landowners, formerly all equal, into two distinct classes,—the knights, who were the mounted warriors of the king; and the poorer landowners, on whom, together with the class of tenants, was cast the whole burden of taxation. With the progress of time, exemption from crown taxation was extended to the sons of knights unless, on reaching manhood, they failed to serve the king with horse. The knights were thus a privileged and hereditary class. Those of the old magnates who did not become knights were known as armigers, or armor-clad foot-soldiers. The armigers also became an hereditary class, and before long they too were exempted from crown taxation. In many cases the armigers were raised to the rank of knights. Thus the wealthy landowners increased in power, while the poor, who constituted the great body of the nation, grew ever poorer. Many, to escape the taxes shifted to their shoulders from the shoulders of the magnates, sank into the class of tenants, with whom, indeed, they now had much in common. The sword had raised the strong into a privileged aristocracy, and degraded the weak into a down-trodden peasantry.

The aristocracy and the Church,—these were the thorns that sprang up to check the nation's growth. Each had had the same source,—a power granted by the people. But no sooner were they independent of their benefactors, than they made common cause in oppressing the peasantry who had given them birth. They found their point of union in the Cabinet. This was originally a body of men whom the king summoned whenever he needed counsel or support. Naturally he sought support among the chief men of his realm. As the power of the Church and aristocracy increased, the king was practically forced to summon the chief persons in these classes to his Cabinet, and furthermore, in most cases, to follow their advice; so that by the close of the thirteenth century the Cabinet had become a regular institution, whose members, known as Cabinet lords, governed rather than advised the king. In the early part of the fourteenth century this institution succeeded in passing a law that each new king must summon his Cabinet immediately after his election. The same law provided that no foreigner could be a member of the Cabinet; that the archbishop should be ex officio a member; that twelve laymen should be summoned, but no more; and that, in addition, the king might summon as many of the bishops and clergy as he wished. As a matter of fact this law was never followed. The Cabinet lords practically formed themselves into a close corporation, appointing their own successors or compelling the king to appoint whom they desired. Generally the members were succeeded by their sons, and in very many instances we find fathers and sons sitting in the Cabinet together. A person once a Cabinet lord was such for life. The law providing that the archbishop should have a seat in the Cabinet was strictly followed, and in practice the bishops were also always members. The other clergy seem never to have been summoned except in certain instances to aid their bishops or represent them when they could not come. The provincial magistrates were generally members, though not always. As to the number of temporal lords, it was almost invariably more than twelve, sometimes double as many. From the very first, this self-appointed oligarchy saw that in unity was strength; and while the different members of the royal family were squabbling among themselves, the Cabinet seized the opportunity to increase its power. Though not entitled to a definite salary, it was regularly understood that Cabinet lords were to be paid by grants of the chief fiefs; and when these fiefs were extended so as to embrace the whole, or nearly the whole, of a province, the grant of such a fief ordinarily carried with it the office of provincial magistrate. Thus the Cabinet became the centre of administration for the kingdom. From this it gradually usurped the right to legislate for the whole realm, to lay new taxes on the people, and to negotiate treaties with foreign powers. Lastly, it robbed the people of their ancient right to nominate and confirm their kings. These prerogatives, however, were not exercised without strong opposition. Throughout the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries the peasantry battled with vigor against the arrogant assumptions of the Cabinet, never relinquishing their claim to be governed as of yore. This struggle against the encroachments of the oligarchy at last resulted in the revolution under Gustavus Vasa. Hence we may with profit trace the relation between the Cabinet and the people from the start.

The first case in which the Cabinet distinctly asserted an authority over the whole land occurred in 1319, when the king, after a long and bitter struggle with different members of the royal house, had finally been driven from the throne. The Cabinet then resolved to place the crown on the head of the former monarch's grandson, a child but three years old. With this in view, they called all the magnates in the realm and four peasants from every county to a general diet, where the chancellor of the Cabinet stepped forward with the infant in his arms, and moved that this infant be elected king. "Courtiers, peasantry, and all with one accord responded, 'Amen.'" This was the first general diet held in Sweden, and it showed a marked decline in the people's rights. From beginning to end the proceedings of this diet were regulated by the Cabinet, and the people were practically forced to acquiesce. Even had the people possessed a real voice in the election, their influence would have been far less than formerly, since here they had but four representatives from each county against the entire class of magnates, whereas originally every landowner, whether magnate or peasant, had an equal vote. During the minority of this king the power of the Cabinet made rapid strides. He was forced to borrow from them enormous sums of money, for which he mortgaged nearly all the royal castles; so that when he came of age he was thoroughly under the dominion of the Cabinet. He struggled hard, however, to shake off his shackles, and with some success. Among other things, he passed a law which was intended to restore to the people at large their ancient right to choose their kings. This law provided that whenever a king was to be chosen, each provincial magistrate, with the assent of all landowners in his province, should select twelve men, who on a day appointed were to meet in general diet with all the magistrates, and choose the king. Unhappily this law was never followed, though the king by whom it was enacted struggled hard to maintain the people's rights. In 1359, after a series of internal disorders, his Cabinet compelled him to call a meeting of all the magnates in the realm; but in addition to the magnates he summoned also delegates from the peasantry and burghers, evidently with a view to gain their aid in curbing the insolence of the Cabinet. This was the second general diet. From this time forth the king did all he could to strengthen the people, until at last he banished a number of his chief opponents. They thereupon, in 1363, offered the crown to Albert of Mecklenburg, who by their aid succeeded in overthrowing the king and getting possession of the throne. For a time now the Cabinet had things nearly as they wished. In 1371 they forced the king to grant them all the royal estates as fiefs, and to declare that on the death of any one of them his successor should be chosen by the survivors. This astounding grant the Cabinet owed chiefly to the influence of their chancellor, Bo Jonsson, who had done more than any other to set Albert on the throne; and to him were granted as fiefs all the royal castles. In 1386 he died, leaving all his fiefs, by will, to the chief magnates of the land. Against this Albert ventured to protest. He called in a large number of his German countrymen, and by their aid recovered a large portion of his power. He then began distributing royal favors among them with a lavish hand, to the detriment of the Swedish magnates. These magnates therefore turned, in 1388, to Margaret, regent of Denmark and Norway, and offered her the regency of Sweden, promising to recognize as king whomever she should choose. In 1389 she entered Sweden with her army, overthrew King Albert, and got possession of the throne. In 1396 the Swedish Cabinet, at her desire, elected her nephew, Erik of Pomerania, already king of Denmark and Norway, to be king of Sweden; and on the 17th of June, 1397, he was crowned at Kalmar.[4] Thus began the celebrated Kalmar Union, one of the greatest political blunders that a nation ever made. It was the voluntary enslavement of a whole people to suit the whims of a few disgruntled magnates.

The century following this catastrophe was marked by violence and bloodshed. In all the setting up and pulling down of kings which ended in the Kalmar Union, the Swedish peasantry, now the body of the nation, had had no part. They had long watched in silence the overpowering growth of the magnates and of the Church; they had seen their own rights gradually, but surely, undermined; and they now beheld the whole nation given into the hand of a foreign king. All this tyranny was beginning to produce its natural effect. A spirit of rebellion was spreading fast. However, open insurrection was for the moment averted by the prudence of the regent; so long as she lived the people were tolerably content. She ruled the Cabinet with an iron hand, and refused to appoint a chancellor, the officer who had hitherto done much to bind the Cabinet together. After her death Erik attempted to carry out a similar policy, and introduced a number of foreigners into the Swedish Cabinet. But his continual absence from the realm weakened his administration, and gave great license to his officers, who by their cruelty won the hatred of the people. At last, in 1433, the peasantry of Dalarne rebelled against the tyranny of the steward whom their Danish ruler had put over them, and in 1435, under the leadership of a courageous warrior, Engelbrekt Engelbrektsson, compelled the king to call a general diet, the first since 1359, consisting of all the people in the realm who cared to take part. This diet, under the enthusiasm of the moment, elected Engelbrekt commander of the kingdom. But the hopes of the peasantry were soon blasted. In the next year Engelbrekt was murdered by a Swedish magnate, and by a general diet Karl Knutsson, another magnate, was chosen to fill his place. King Erik was now tottering to his fall. He was no longer king in anything but name. His fall, however, benefited only the magnates of the realm. By a general diet of 1438, to which all people in the realm were called, Knutsson was elected regent. But his reign came in the next year to an untimely end. His fellow-magnates, jealous of his power, forced him to lay it down; and in 1440 the Cabinet called Erik's nephew, Christopher of Bavaria, already king of Denmark, to the Swedish throne. Thus ended the first effort of the Swedish peasantry to throw off the Danish yoke. It had begun with high promises for the people, but had ended in the restoration of the Cabinet to all its former power. From this time forth the Cabinet was again practically the governing body in the realm. But it was no longer at unity with itself. One party, led by the great house of Oxenstjerna, was for preserving the Union. The other consisted of the adherents of Karl Knutsson, who hoped to put the crown on his own head. In 1448 King Christopher died, and, in the difference of feeling which reigned, the Cabinet called a general diet of all the magnates with representatives from the peasantry and burghers, that the people at large might choose of the two evils that which pleased them best. The result was that Karl Knutsson was elected king. From this time till his death, in 1470, he was in perpetual warfare with the king of Denmark, with the Swedish priesthood, who had now grown fat under Danish rule and wished to continue so, and with the hostile party among the magnates. Twice he was forced to lay down the crown only to take it up again. Throughout his reign, though in some regards a despot, he was, at all events, the champion of the Swedish magnates as opposed to those who favored the continuance of foreign rule. In 1470 he died, after having intrusted Stockholm Castle to his nephew, Sten Sture. The dissension that now reigned throughout the land was great. On one side were the powerful Vasa and Oxenstjerna families, striving to put Christiern I. of Denmark on the throne. On the other side was Sten Sture, the Tott, Gyllenstjerna, Bonde, Bjelke, and Natt och Dag families, supported by the burgher element in Stockholm and the peasantry of Dalarne. With such odds on their side the issue could not long be doubtful. At a general diet held in 1471, Sten Sture was chosen regent of the kingdom. It is impossible to overrate the significance of this event. This was the first time that the burgher element played an important part in the election of Sweden's ruler. The peasantry had once before been prominent, but so long as the oligarchy held firmly together, their actual influence had been slight. Now the ranks of the oligarchy were broken. One party looked for supporters in Denmark and in the Church; the other, now gaining the upper hand, was distinctly the party of the people. The very name of regent, which was granted to Sten Sture, bears witness to the popular character of the movement. And this was destined to be the tendency of the current during the next half-century. There were many difficulties, however, with which the patriot party had to contend. In the first place, the Swedish party was in lack of funds. An enormous proportion of the kingdom was exempt from taxes, being held by magnates, who by this time claimed the right to inherit their fathers' fiefs with all the ancient privileges, but without the ancient duty to render military service. In this juncture war broke out with Russia, at the same time that the kingdom was continually harassed by Christiern, king of Denmark. It was clear that some new mode must be discovered for raising money. The peasantry were already groaning under a heavier load than they could bear. Sten therefore turned to some of the magnates, and demanded of them that they should give up a portion of their fiefs. They of course resisted, and his whole reign was occupied with a struggle to make them yield. In 1481 Christiern, king of Denmark, died, and was succeeded by his son Hans. The efforts of Sten Sture to curb the magnates had rendered him so unpopular among them, that the Swedish Cabinet now opened negotiations with the new king of Denmark. These negotiations resulted in a meeting of the Cabinets of the three Northern kingdoms, held at Kalmar in 1483. This body promulgated a decree, known in history as the Kalmar Recess, accepting Hans as king of Sweden. To this decree Sten Sture reluctantly affixed his seal. The main clauses of the decree were these: No one in Sweden was to be held accountable for past opposition to King Hans; the king was to live one year alternately in each kingdom; the high posts as well as the fiefs of Sweden should be granted to none but Swedes; and the magnates should be free to fortify their estates and refuse the king admittance. This decree, if strictly followed, would have practically freed Sweden from the yoke of Denmark. But as a matter of fact it was several years before it was destined to go into operation at all. The Swedish Cabinet were determined that no step should be taken to put the decree into effect until certain preliminary duties were discharged; among them, the cession of the island of Gotland to Sweden. These preliminaries Hans was in no hurry to perform. Meantime Sten Sture continued to act as regent. His path remained as rugged as before. Beset on all sides by enemies, each struggling for his own aggrandizement, Sten had all he could do to keep the kingdom from going to pieces. In every measure to increase the income of the crown he was hampered by the overweening power of the Cabinet, who were reluctant to give up a jot or tittle of their ill-acquired wealth. Chief among his opponents was the archbishop, Jacob Ulfsson,—a man of rare ability, but of high birth and far too fond of self-advancement. Another enemy, who ought to have been a friend, was Svante Sture, a young magnate of great talent, who first became imbittered against his illustrious namesake because the latter, on the death of Svante's father, in 1494, claimed that the fiefs which he had held should be surrendered to the crown. Of Erik Trolle, another opponent of Sten Sture, we shall see more hereafter. His strongest supporter was one Hemming Gad, a learned, eloquent, and dauntless gentleman, who also was to play a leading role before many years were past. In 1493 war broke out again with Russia, and Hans resolved to seize this opportunity to make good his claims in Sweden. He opened negotiations once more with the disaffected members of the Cabinet, still hoping to make compromise with Sture; they hesitated, they promised, and then made new demands; and it was in the midst of this elaborate trifling, while the regent was in Finland conducting the Russian war, that Gustavus Vasa was born at Lindholm.

Affairs in Sweden were now fast coming to a crisis. The fitful struggle of a century had at last assumed a definite and unmistakable direction. All Sweden was now divided into two distinct and hostile camps, and to the dullest intellect it was clear as day that Sweden was soon to be the scene of open war. In the autumn of 1496 the Cabinet, seeing that Sture was thoroughly determined to check their power, resolved to hesitate no longer. They therefore despatched a messenger to Hans, inviting him to a congress of the three realms to be held at midsummer of the following year, when, as they gave him reason to expect, the Kalmar Recess should be put into effect. This news being brought to Sture in Finland, he set forth post-haste for Sweden, and called a meeting of the Cabinet. The members failed to appear on the day appointed, and when at last they came, they were accompanied by a large body of armed retainers. At a session held in Stockholm on the 7th of March, the Cabinet declared Sture deposed, assigning as reasons, first, that he had mismanaged the war with Russia, and, secondly, that he had maltreated certain of the Swedish magnates. The regent waited two days before making a reply, and then informed the Cabinet that, as he had been appointed to the regency by joint action of the Cabinet and people, he felt bound to hold it till requested by the same powers to lay it down. The Cabinet had nothing for it but to acquiesce, and letters were issued summoning a general diet. That diet, however, was never held. On the very day when the Cabinet made its armistice with Sture, Hans put forth a declaration of war, and at once proceeded with his fleet to Kalmar. The enemies of Sture now openly embraced the Danish cause; and the regent was forced to go to Dalarne, to get together a force with which to defend the kingdom. Here he was received with enthusiasm by the people, who saw in him the defender of their rights. At the head of a detachment of Dalesmen, reinforced by his army now recalled from Finland, he marched to Upsala, and laid siege to the archbishop's palace. By the middle of July it fell; and Sture advanced to Staeket, a strongly fortified castle of the archbishop, about thirty miles south of Upsala. While beleaguering this place, he learned that a portion of the Danish forces were advancing on the capital. He therefore relinquished the siege of Staeket, and proceeded to Stockholm, where he held himself in readiness to repel the enemy. On the 29th of September, being led by a ruse outside the city, he was surrounded by the Danes, and was able to recover the castle only after heavy loss. This battle sealed his fate. Finding himself far outnumbered, he deemed it wise to yield; and on the 6th of October, 1497, Hans was recognized by him as king.

The reign of Hans lasted about four years. At first he appeared desirous to promote the welfare of Sweden and to conform to the terms of the Kalmar Recess. But before long even the Cabinet began to grow weary of their king. The benefits conferred upon them were not so great as they had hoped. As for Sture, at his renunciation of the regency he had been granted extensive fiefs both in Sweden and in Finland; but in 1499 the king forced him to resign a large portion of these fiefs. The other members of the Cabinet, now having less cause of jealousy, became more friendly to Sten Sture. His old enemy, Svante Sture, was at length reconciled to him through the mediation of their common admirer, Dr. Hemming Gad. Even with the clergy Sten Sture was now on better terms; and at his solicitation, in January, 1501, the Chapter of Linkoeping elected Gad to fill their vacant see. The main ground of complaint against Hans was that he disregarded the clause of the Recess which forbade the granting of Swedish fiefs to Danes. Matters reached a crisis in 1501, when Sten and Svante Sture, Gad, and three others met in council and took oath to resist the oppression of their foreign ruler. This step was the signal for a general explosion. On every side the people rose in arms. Hans was in despair. He first took counsel with his warm supporter, the archbishop, and then, on the 11th of August, 1501, set off with his whole fleet for Denmark.

In the royal castle at Stockholm he left his wife Christina, who, with Erik Trolle and a force of one thousand men, was determined to resist. Gad, whose election to the bishopric of Linkoeping the pope refused to ratify, undertook to besiege the castle. Meantime Svante Sture laid siege to Oerebro, and Sten proceeded to Dalarne and other parts to gather forces. On the 12th of November the Cabinet again called Sten Sture to the regency. In February the Castle of Oerebro fell. And still Christina with her brave followers held out. Not till the 9th of May, after a bloody assault, could the patriots force a passage. Then they found that, of the one thousand who had formed the original garrison, but seventy were alive. Christina was conveyed to Vadstena, where she remained several months pending negotiations. At the close of the year 1503 she was accompanied to the frontier by the regent, who however was taken ill on his return journey, and died at Joenkoeping on the 13th of December, 1503. Sten Sture had done much for Sweden. Though himself a magnate, and ambitious to increase his power, he was zealous for the welfare of his country, and did more than any other of his time to awake Sweden to a sense of her existence as a nation. It was on the foundation laid by him that a still greater leader was soon to build a mighty edifice.

On the 21st of January, 1504, at a general diet of the magnates, with delegates from the burghers and peasantry of Sweden, Svante Sture was elected regent. His reign was even more warlike than that of his predecessor. The Cabinet, it is true, had come to see the benefits resulting from Sten Sture's rule, and the majority of them were lukewarm adherents of the Swedish party. But Hans was more determined than ever to seize the crown, and not only harassed Svante throughout his reign by a long series of invasions, but did all he could to compromise him with other foreign powers. Svante, however, succeeded in winning many friends. In 1504 he concluded a truce of twenty years with Russia, which was extended, by treaty of 1510, to 1564. In 1510 an alliance was also formed between Sweden and the Vend cities. In 1506 the Dalesmen, at one of their assemblies, issued a letter to the people of their provinces, urging them to support Svante with life and limb. But this burst of enthusiasm was short-lived. The war with Hans hung on. New taxes had to be imposed, and several fiefs to which different magnates laid claim were appropriated to the crown. Discontent spread once more, and at a Cabinet meeting held in September, 1511, Svante was declared deposed. He refused to yield till heard by a general diet of the kingdom, and while negotiations were pending, on the 2d of January, 1512, he died.

Nothing could have given certain members of the Cabinet greater pleasure. The clerical members especially, being warmly attached to the Danish cause, thought they now saw an opportunity to set Hans on the throne. About the middle of January the Cabinet came together and, at the solicitation of Archbishop Ulfsson, resolved to intrust the government for the time being to Erik Trolle. This gentleman, of whom we have already seen something, was of high birth as well as talent, thoroughly versed in affairs, and allied to the Danish party not only by family connection, but also by reason of large estates in Denmark. He was, moreover, a warm friend of the archbishop.

However, the hopes of Trolle were not destined to be realized. At the death of Svante, the Castle of Oerebro was in command of a daring and ambitious youth of nineteen, known to history as Sten Sture the Younger. He was Svante's son, and in the preceding year had married Christina Gyllenstjerna, a great-granddaughter of King Karl Knutsson. Immediately on hearing of his father's death, he hastened to Vesteras, took possession of the castle, and despatched a messenger to convey the news to Stockholm. On the 8th of January the steward of Stockholm Castle declared his readiness to yield the command to Sture, and within a day or two the castles of Stegeborg and Kalmar were also given up. The energy with which this chivalrous youth seized the helm is all the more astounding when we reflect that he stood almost alone against the Cabinet. He could not even ask the advice of Gad, his father's trusty friend, for that doughty patriot was at the moment outside the realm. But his zeal won him numerous friends among the younger magnates, and the peasantry throughout the country were on his side. All winter long the battle raged between the two factions, but meantime Sture continually grew in favor. No general diet of the kingdom was summoned, but it was understood on every hand that the matter would be submitted to the people when they came together on St. Erik's day at Upsala. On that day, May 18, the archbishop and his followers addressed the people in the Grand Square at Upsala, and announced that the Cabinet had resolved to raise Erik Trolle to the regency. But they were met by shouts from the crowd, who declared that they would have no Danes. Meantime Sture had been holding a mass-meeting on the so-called Royal Meadow outside the town, and had been enthusiastically applauded by the people. Even yet, however, the conflict did not cease. The Cabinet still clamored for Erik Trolle, and it was not till the 23d of July, when every hope was gone, that they finally gave way and recognized Sture as regent. Sture now set forth on a journey through Sweden and Finland, receiving everywhere the allegiance of the people. All at last seemed in his favor, when suddenly, on the 20th of February, 1513, the face of things was changed by the unexpected death of Hans.

Before considering the effect of this catastrophe, let us return to the little boy whom we last saw on his father's estate at Rydboholm. Even he was not wholly outside the conflict. His father, Erik, whom we find in 1488 subscribing his name as a knight,[5] took an active part in the commotions of his times, and early won ill-favor with King Hans. The young Gustavus in his fifth year, so runs the story, happened to be playing in the hall of Stockholm Castle, when King Hans espied him, and, attracted by his winning manners, patted him on the head and said, "You'll be a great man in your day, if you live." But when he found out who the child was, he wanted to carry him off to Denmark with him. To this the boy's great-uncle, Sture, raised serious objections, and lest the king should use some treachery, hurried Gustavus out of the way at once.[6] In the very next year, 1501, occurred the rebellion against Hans, which resulted in the election of Sture to the regency. Erik was one of the supporters of his uncle throughout this strife, and in 1502 we find him signing a document as member of the Cabinet.[7] About the same time he was made commandant of Kastelholm Castle.[8] This post, however, he held but a short time, and then retired to his old estate at Rydboholm.[9] Among his children, besides Gustavus, were one younger boy, Magnus, and several girls. Gustavus, we are told, was a handsome, attractive little fellow, and it is added that in his sports he was always recognized as leader by his playmates.[10] In 1509, when in his thirteenth year, he was sent by his parents to Upsala, and placed in a preparatory school.[11] Soon after, probably in the next year, Gustavus was admitted to the University. This institution, which had been founded in 1477, through the persistent efforts of Archbishop Ulfsson, and of which the archbishop was chancellor, was at this time in a semi-dormant state. Scarce anything is known either about its professors or about the number of its students. It is probable, however, that Peder Galle, who was cantor of the Upsala Chapter so early as 1504,[12] and whose powers as a theological gladiator will become known to us further on, was one of the professors. Another was Henrik Sledorn,[13] whom Gustavus later made his chancellor. Of the progress made by Gustavus in his studies we know nothing. It may well be surmised, however, that the politics of his day engrossed a large share of his attention. Upsala was not then the peaceful town that it now is, and the chancellor of the University was in the very vortex of the struggle. If Gustavus was still connected with the University in 1512, we may suppose with reason that he took his part in the great demonstration which resulted in the election of the chivalric young Sture.


[1] With regard to the date of his birth our authorities are hopelessly confused. Karl IX., whom we should expect to know something about it, says, in his Rim-chroen., p. 2, that his father was seventy-three at his death, whence we should conclude that he was born in 1487. But Svart, who was nearer the king's age, and was also the king's confessor and preacher to the court, says, in his Gust. I.'s kroen., p. 1, that Gustavus was born in 1495, on Ascension day; which in that year, he adds, fell on the 12th of May. Tegel, Then stoormecht., p. 1, agrees that he was born on Ascension day, and also that he was born on the 12th of May, but gives, as the year, 1490. Ludvigsson, Collect., p. 83, agrees with Tegel about the year, but says nothing about the day. Now, it is noteworthy that while the authorities name three different years, all of them who mention the day agree that it was Ascension day, which in the year of his birth fell on May 12. Here, then, we have a clew. In 1487 Ascension day fell on May 24, in 1490 on May 21, and in 1495 on May 29; but, singularly enough, in 1485, in 1491, and in 1496 it fell on May 12. The years 1485 and 1491 must be discarded as too early; for the mother of Gustavus was then not old enough to have a child, her parents not having married till 1475. This is proved by the grant of dowry from her father to her mother, which, according to the old law of Sweden, was made on the day following the marriage. This grant, dated Jan. 16, 1475, with the seals of Magnus Karlsson and witnesses attached, is still preserved among the parchment MSS. in the Royal Archives at Stockholm. It reads thus: "Jack Magens Karlsson i Ekae aff wapn goer vitherligat och oppenbare thet jack meth mynae frenders och neste wenners godwilge oc samtyckae vpa rette hindersdagh haffwer wntt och giffwet ... min elskelikae hustro Siggrid Eskelsdatter efter skrefne gotz till heder och morgengaffwer.... Som giffwit ok giortt er pa Ekae gard mandagen nest fore sancti Henrici Episcopi dagh anno domini MCDLXXV." Hence the only possible date of the boy's birth is May 12, 1496; and this, as we shall see further on, harmonizes better than any other date with his later history.

[2] Originally the Vasa arms were black, the bundle of sticks representing one of the old fascines used in warfare to fill up ditches. Gustavus changed the color of his arms to gold, and altered the old fascine into a sheaf of grain.

[3] Svart, Aehrapred., pp. 46-47; and Tegel, Then stoormecht., pp. 1-2. On this point our authorities agree. Tegel gives a table showing Birgitta to have been a great-granddaughter of Karl Ulfsson, who, according to the same table, was a great-grandson of King Erik X. As the descent is traced through a line of females about whom history is silent, we lack the means with which to disprove the assertion of our chroniclers.

[4] Until recently, historians have asserted that Margaret, at the coronation of her nephew, signed a document providing, among other things, that the three kingdoms were thereafter to be governed by a single sovereign, to be elected alternately, if his predecessor died childless, by each kingdom; that, in case of war in one kingdom, both the others were to come to the rescue; and that each kingdom was to be governed strictly according to its own laws. As a matter of fact, Margaret signed nothing of the kind. The document which gave rise to this error is still to be seen in the Private Archives at Copenhagen. It is dated at Kalmar, July 20, 1397, purports to be the work of sixteen of the chief Swedish magnates, and declares that unless the terms which it contains are drawn up in six copies, signed by the king, the regent, the Cabinet, and others, there shall be no lawful union. These six copies, so far as we know, were never drawn up or signed. But unhappily the union had been already formed at the coronation a month before, and, seven days before, these very magnates with fifty-one other persons had attached their seals to an affidavit of allegiance to their new king. This affidavit, dated at Kalmar, July 13, 1397, is also still preserved in the Private Archives at Copenhagen. Both documents are printed in full in O. S. Rydberg's Sverges traktater med fraemmande magter, Stockh., 1877-1883, 2 vols. 8vo, vol. ii. pp. 560-585.

[5] Handl. till upplysn. af Finl. haefd., vol. i. p. 187.

[6] Svart, Gust. I.'s kroen., p. 2, and Tegel, Then stoormecht., p. 3. Tegel makes this incident occur in the child's seventh year, in 1497. Here we have another proof that Tegel places the birth of Gustavus too early. If the child had been born in 1490, this incident could not have taken place till still later than his seventh year, for Hans did not become king till 1497.

[7] Kongl. och furstl. foerlijkn., pp. 383-384.

[8] Tegel, Then stoormecht., p. 3.

[9] In Reuterdahl, Swensk. Kyrk. hist., vol. iii. pt. ii. pp. 558-559, are two letters, dated at Rydboholm, from Erik and his wife to the regent, Svante Sture.

[10] Svart, Gust. I.'s kroen., p. 2.

[11] Svart, Gust. I.'s kroen., p. 2, and Aehrapred., pp. 50-51. Tegel, Then stoormecht., p. 3, agrees that it was in 1509 that Gustavus was sent to Upsala, but seems to assert that he was admitted at once to the University.

[12] C. A. Oernhjelm's Diplomatarium, a manuscript preserved in the Vitterh., Hist., och Antiq. Akad. at Stockholm.

[13] Svart, Gust. I.'s kroen., p. 2, and Aehrapred., pp. 50-51.



Description of Stockholm.—Christina Gyllenstjerna.—Hemming Gad.—Christiern II.—Gustaf Trolle.—Dissension between Sten Sture and Gustaf Trolle.—Siege of Staeket.—First Expedition of Christiern II. against Sweden.—Trial of the Archbishop.—Arcimboldo.—Second Expedition of Christiern II. against Sweden.—Capture of Gustavus Vasa.—Resignation of the Archbishop.—Hostilities of Christiern II.—Farewell of Arcimboldo.

The old town of Stockholm was beyond all doubt the most picturesque capital in Europe. Perched on an isle of rock at the eastern extremity of Lake Maelar, it stood forth like a sentinel guarding the entrance to the heart of Sweden. Around its base on north and south dashed the foaming waters of the Maelar, seeking their outlet through a narrow winding channel to the Baltic. Across this channel on the south, and connected with the city by a bridge, the towering cliffs of Soedermalm gazed calmly down upon the busy traffic of the city's streets; and far away beyond the channel on the north stretched an undulating plain, dotted with little patches of green shrubbery and forest. On the west the city commanded a wide view over an enchanting lake studded with darkly wooded isles, above whose trees peeped here and there some grim turret or lofty spire. Finally, in the east, the burgher standing on the city's walls could trace for several miles the current of a silver stream, glittering in the sunlight, and twisting in and out among the islands along the coast until at last it lost itself in the mighty waters of the Baltic.

The town itself was small. The main isle, on which "the city," so called, was built, stretched scarce a quarter of a mile from east to west and but little more from north to south. Nestling under the shadow of the main isle were two smaller isles, Riddarholm on the west and Helgeandsholm on the north, both severed from the city by a channel about fifty feet in width. Through the centre of the main isle ran a huge backbone of rock, beginning at the south and rising steadily till within a few feet of the northern shore. The summit of this ridge was crowned by the royal citadel, a massive edifice of stone, the northern wall of which ran close along the shore, so that the soldier on patrol could hear the ripple of the water on the rocks below. From either side of the citadel the town walls ran south at a distance of perhaps a hundred feet from the shore, meeting at a point about the same distance from the southern channel. Within the triangle thus formed, not over twenty-five acres all told, lived and moved five thousand human beings. The streets, it need scarce be said, were narrow, dark, and damp. The houses were lofty, generally with high pitch-roofs to prevent the snow from gathering on them. The doors and windows were high, but narrow to keep out the cold, and were built in the sides of the house, not in front, owing to the darkness and narrowness of the streets. To economize space, most of the houses were built in blocks of five or six, wholly separated from their neighbors and forming a sort of castle by themselves. The only church inside the walls was the so-called Great Church on the summit of the hill. Adjoining this church on the south was the old town-hall. As to public squares, there were but two,—the Grand Square, on the summit of the hill immediately south of the town-hall; and the so-called Iron Market, a smaller square just inside the southern gate. These squares, the largest not more than eighty yards in length, served at once as the market, the promenade, and the place of execution for the town. The town-walls were fortified at several points by towers, and were entered by gateways at the northwest corner and at the southern point, as well as by several small gateways along the sides. The city was connected with the mainland north and south by turreted bridges, the north bridge passing across the island of Helgeandsholm. All around the main island, some fifty feet from the shore, ran a long bridge on piles, built as a safeguard against hostile ships. Protected thus by nature and by art from foreign intrusion, the burghers of Stockholm learned to rely on their own industry and skill for every need. They formed themselves into various trades or guilds, each under the surveillance of a master. To be admitted to a guild it was necessary to pass a severe examination in the particular trade. These guilds were marked by an intense esprit de corps, each striving to excel the others in display of wealth. Some guilds were composed wholly of tradespeople, others wholly of artisans; and there were still others formed for social or religious purposes, comprising members of various trades. Of these latter guilds the most aristocratic and influential was the Guild of the Sacred Body. Inside a guild the members were bound together by the warmest bonds of friendship. They ordinarily lived in the same quarter of the town; they cared for their brothers in sickness or poverty, and said Mass in common for the souls of their deceased. Each guild held meetings at stated intervals to vote on various matters concerning its affairs. In case of war the different guilds enlisted in separate companies. Over and above all the guilds were a burgomaster and council elected by their fellow-townsmen, their duties being to regulate the relations of the various guilds to one another, and provide for the general welfare of the city. Thus the inhabitants of Stockholm formed a miniature republic by themselves. They governed themselves in nearly all local matters. They bought, sold, and exchanged according to their own laws and regulations. They married and gave in marriage after their own caprice. Industrious, skilful, with little ambition, they bustled about their narrow streets, jostling those at their elbow and uttering slander against those out of hearing. In short, they led the humdrum life incident to all small towns in time of peace, and were ever eager to vary this monotony at the first sound of war.[14]

Into this community Gustavus was ushered in the year 1514. He was then but eighteen, and was summoned by the regent to the royal court to complete his education.[15] He found himself at once in clover. Three years before, his mother's half-sister, Christina Gyllenstjerna, had married the young regent; and the youth on coming to Stockholm was received as one of the family in the royal palace.

Among all the personages then at court, the most interesting, by all odds, was the regent's wife, Christina. This woman is one of the most puzzling characters in Swedish history. On her father's side of royal lineage, and on her mother's descended from one of the oldest families in Sweden, she inherited at the same time a burning desire for personal advancement and an enthusiasm for the glory of her native land. Wedded to a handsome, daring, impetuous youth of twenty-one, the nation's favorite, she entered with her whole heart into all his projects, and was among his most valuable counsellors whether in peace or war. In force of character and in personal bravery she was scarce inferior to her heroic husband, and yet she lacked not discretion or even shrewdness. She was the idol of the Swedish people, and before many years were passed was to have an opportunity to test their love.

Another personage at court, with whom we have already become acquainted, was Hemming Gad. Although of humble birth, this man had received a careful education, and during twenty years of his early life had held the post of Swedish ambassador at the court of Rome. On his return to Sweden he had been elected bishop of the diocese of Linkoeping, but had never entered on his duties owing to the opposition of the pope. He was not indeed a priest. Diplomacy was above all else the field in which he shone. A warm supporter of the Stures, he had more than once averted trouble by his powers of conciliation, and was regarded as an indispensable servant of the people's cause. Fearless, eloquent, untiring, conciliatory, persuasive, perhaps not too conscientious, he was the most influential person in the Cabinet and one of the very foremost statesmen of his time. It was to this man, then seventy-four years of age, that the care of the young Gustavus was intrusted when he came to court.

Affairs at this time were in a state of great confusion. King Hans of Denmark had died a year before, and after several months of hostile demonstration had been succeeded by his son. This person, known as Christiern II., was as vile a monster as ever occupied a throne. Gifted by nature with a powerful frame, tall, burly, with large head and short thick neck, broad forehead and high cheek-bones, prominent nose, firmly compressed lips, a plentiful supply of shaggy hair on his head and face, heavy overhanging eyebrows, his eyes small, deep-set, and fierce,—his appearance furnished an excellent index to his character. Firm, courageous, by no means wanting in intellect or executive ability, he was sensual, gross, and cruel. Though often full of hilarity and hearty animal spirits, there was ever hanging over him a cloud of melancholy, which occasionally settled on him with such weight as to rob him wholly of his reason. At such times he seemed transformed into some fierce monster with an insatiable thirst for blood. When a mere boy in the royal palace at Copenhagen, he is said to have amused himself by midnight orgies about the city's streets.[16] He was well educated, however, and early became a useful adjunct to his father. At twenty-one he displayed much bravery in an assault which Hans then made on Stockholm; and a few years later he became his father's deputy in the government of Norway. While there, his secretary one day came to him and portrayed in glowing terms the beauty of a maiden who had dazzled him in Bergen. The sensitive heart of Christiern at once was fired. He left his castle at Opslo without a moment's waiting, and, crossing hill and vale without a murmur, hastened to feast his eyes on the fair Dyveke. Being of a romantic turn of mind, he resolved to see her first amidst all the fashion of the town. A splendid ball was therefore held, to which the aristocracy were bidden with their daughters. Among the guests was the renowned Dyveke, who outshone all in beauty. No sooner did Christiern see her, than his whole soul burned within him. He seized her hand, and led off the dance in company with his fair enchanter. Rapture filled his soul; and when the ball was over, Dyveke was secretly detained and brought to Christiern's bed. This incident had a far-reaching influence on Christiern's later life. Though already betrothed to the sister of Charles V., his passion for Dyveke did not pass away. He erected a palace at Opslo, and lived there with his mistress until recalled to Copenhagen, when he took her with him. The most singular feature in this whole intrigue is that the royal voluptuary was from the outset under the absolute sway, not of the fair Dyveke, but of her mother, Sigbrit, a low, cunning, intriguing woman of Dutch origin, who followed the couple to the royal palace at Opslo, and afterwards accompanied them to Stockholm, the complete ruler of her daughter's royal slave. On the accession of Christiern to the throne, he resolved, at the instance of this woman, to add the Swedish kingdom to his dominions. In order to comprehend the measures which he adopted, it will be necessary to trace events in Sweden since the death of Hans.

The Danish party, in no way daunted by their futile effort to secure the regency of Sweden, had kept up continuous negotiations with their friends in Denmark, with the object ultimately to place the king of Denmark on the throne. Owing, however, to the manifest and growing popularity of the young Sture, they deemed it wise to wait for a more auspicious moment before making open demonstration, and for the time being yielded to the regent with the best grace they could command. The thing which they most needed, in order to counteract the influence of the chivalric young Sture, was the infusion of new life among their ranks. The archbishop and Erik Trolle both were old, and, though in the full vigor of their intellectual ability, lacked the energy and endurance required to carry on a policy of active war. It was resolved, therefore, to throw the burden of leadership on younger shoulders. There was at this time in Rome a man who seemed to possess more qualifications than any other for the post. This was Gustaf Trolle. He was young, highly educated, energetic, and above all a son of Erik Trolle, the powerful leader of the Danish faction. He had seen much of the world, and had lived on terms of familiarity with some of the greatest men in Europe. But his whole power of usefulness was lost through his inordinate personal and family pride. Weighted down by the sense of his own importance, with haughty overbearing manners, and a dogged obstinacy in dealing with his inferiors, he was the last man in the world to be successful as a party leader. Yet it was on this man that the Danish party fixed its hopes. The matter first took shape on the 31st of August, 1514, when the archbishop in conversation with Sture suggested that old age was now coming on so fast that he desired to resign his office, and asked whom Sture deemed most fit to serve as his successor. To this the courteous regent answered that he knew no one better fitted for the post than the archbishop himself. With this the conversation ended. On the 12th of October following, the crafty archbishop, not averse to feathering his own nest, formed a compact with Erik Trolle by which Ulfsson was to commend the latter's son for the archbishopric, and in return Erik promised to support Ulfsson to the utmost of his power and to see that Gustaf Trolle did not deprive Ulfsson of the archiepiscopal rents during the latter's life.[17] This done, Erik Trolle went to the regent and asked him to recommend Gustaf Trolle for the post of archdeacon of Upsala. This request was complied with. But when, soon after, Erik appeared again before the regent with a letter from the archbishop informing him that the Chapter of Upsala had decided on Gustaf Trolle as the new archbishop, Sture was so startled that he wrote to Upsala to say that he had never consented to such a proposition, but nevertheless if God wished it he would raise no opposition. The pope having already declared that no one should be appointed without the regent's consent, no effort was spared to dispose Sture well towards the new candidate, and with so good result that when the archbishop's messengers went to Rome to secure the confirmation, they carried with them a letter from Sture to his legate in Rome, instructing him to do all he could before the pope in favor of Gustaf Trolle.[18]

In May, 1515, the young man was consecrated archbishop of Upsala by the pope,[19] and started in the following summer for the North. Passing through Lubeck, where he is rumored to have had an audience of Christiern,[20] he pursued his journey by water, and at last cast anchor off the Swedish coast about twelve miles from Stockholm. Here he was met by certain of the Danish party, who urged him to give the cold shoulder to the regent. Instead, therefore, of proceeding to the capital, he drove direct to Upsala, and was installed in his new office: all this in spite of the fact that the old archbishop had assured the regent, before he wrote to Rome, that he would not hand over Upsala nor Staeket to Trolle till the latter had sworn allegiance to Sture.[21] The immediate effect of his investiture was to augment the haughtiness of the young archbishop. Scarcely had he become domiciled in Upsala, when he wrote a letter to the regent warning him that he, the archbishop, was about to visit with punishment all who had wronged his father or grandfather, or his predecessor in the archiepiscopal chair. To this the regent, wishing if possible to avert trouble, answered that if any persons had done the wrong complained of, he would see to it that they should be punished. But the archbishop was in no mood for compromise. The breach now opened, he resolved to make it wider; and he had no difficulty in finding pretext. The fief of Staeket had long been a bone of contention between the Church and State. Though for many years in the hands of the archbishops, it had never been clearly settled whether they held it as a right or merely by courtesy of the crown; and at the resignation of Archbishop Ulfsson the fief was claimed by his successor, Trolle, as well as by the regent. In order to put an end to this vexed question, the regent wrote to Ulfsson asking him to produce the title-deeds on which his claim was based. After considerable correspondence, in which, however, the deeds were not produced, Sture, deeming it unwise to leave the fief any longer without a steward, entered into possession, and applied the incomes to the royal treasury, at the same time assuring Ulfsson that if he or the Chapter at Upsala could prove a title to the fief, they should enjoy it. This only added fuel to the flame. Trolle, unable as it seems to prove his title, assumed the posture of one who had been wronged, and scorned the urgent invitation of the regent to come to Stockholm and discuss the matter. Indeed, there were rumors in the air to the effect that Trolle was engaged in a conspiracy against the throne.[22]

In this way matters continued till February of the following year, 1516, when Sture resolved to attend the annual Upsala fair and have a conference with Trolle. The conference took place in presence of some of the leading men of Sweden, in the sacristy of the cathedral. But it led to no result. Trolle charged the regent with unfair dealing, which the latter denied, at the same time demanding proof. None was furnished; and the regent withdrew, feeling more than ever convinced that the conduct of the archbishop boded ill. In this juncture he summoned a Cabinet meeting, to be held at Telge in July following, to arrange the differences between himself and Trolle, and to resolve on the stand to be taken by Sweden in the congress of the three realms to be held at Halmstad in the February following. The archbishop, by virtue of his office, was a member of the Cabinet; but when that body met, it was discovered that Trolle was not present. He was in Upsala, nursing his wrath to keep it warm. The regent therefore wrote and begged him to appear. "Whatever," he wrote, "the Cabinet here assembled shall decide as right between us, I will do." But the proud archbishop would not listen. He and his father kept away, together with one or two of their adherents; and the Cabinet parted, having accomplished little.[23]

Meantime the archbishop was not idle. Shortly before the Cabinet met, he with some of his adherents had held a conference at Staeket, where he had persuaded them to renounce the regent and form an alliance with the king of Denmark. While the Cabinet was in session, he despatched a messenger to King Christiern, urging him to break the truce with Sweden, and informing him that the Castle of Nykoeping, now in the hands of one of the archbishop's satellites, should be thrown open to him if he would draw thither with his army. At the same time the archbishop began to fortify himself in Staeket. Learning this, the regent saw that the hour for compromise was past. He dissolved the Cabinet, and, advancing with all speed to Nykoeping, stormed the castle. So rapid had been his action, that he took the archbishop's officers all unprepared, and at the first assault the garrison surrendered. This was on the 15th of August. After taking the officer in command of the garrison to Stockholm, where he was consigned to prison, the energetic young regent proceeded to Vesteras, where, on the 8th of September, in an address to the populace, he rendered an account of his actions, and informed the people that the archbishop and others were engaged in a plot to yield the kingdom into the hands of Christiern. Thence he proceeded to an island some six miles from Staeket, and remained there through the autumn, keeping an eye on the archbishop's castle and preparing, if necessary, to besiege it. The Danish party by this time saw that they were dealing with a man of mettle, and began to change their tactics. Hoping to gain time, they gave out that they would be glad to have the burgomaster and Council of Stockholm act as mediators in the dispute; and on the 20th of October Ulfsson wrote to Sture to appoint a time for conference. The regent, however, was not so easily deceived. Trolle was still adding to his strength in Staeket, and looking forward to aid from Denmark. The regent therefore replied to Ulfsson that Trolle had brought on the dispute, and he must answer for it. "As to a conference with you," adds the regent, "my time is now so fully occupied that I can appoint no day before the Cabinet meeting to be held shortly at Arboga." About the same time he wrote to the Chapter at Upsala, insisting on an answer to a former letter, in which he had called on them to declare whether they proposed to side with him or the archbishop. In this letter he informs them: "As to your question whether I intend to obey the ordinances of the Church, I answer that I shall defend the Holy Church and respect the persons of the clergy as becomes a Christian nobleman, provided you will allow me so to do; and I have never purposed otherwise." Still, however, the Chapter prevaricated, and gave no answer; till finally the regent sent them his ultimatum, closed, like all his letters, with the modest signature, "Sten Sture, soldier."[24]

On New Year's day, 1517, the Cabinet met at Arboga, where a general diet of the kingdom was gathering to discuss the state of affairs concerning Denmark. At this meeting, as at the one preceding, none of the archbishop's followers were present. So soon as the Cabinet had separated, the regent, in compliance with their suggestion, sent envoys once more to Trolle, urging him to renounce his allegiance to the Danish king and to surrender Staeket. To this the stubborn archbishop answered that he would not yield Staeket so long as his heart beat within him. He then turned his guns upon the regent's envoys, and fired on them as they withdrew. A few days later the regent learned from one of Trolle's officers whom he had taken prisoner that the archbishop had received a letter from King Christiern promising all who gave their aid in establishing him on the throne a double recompense for any loss incurred in the attempt. No time was, therefore, to be lost. Collecting a force with all haste from different parts of Sweden, the regent advanced on Staeket to besiege the castle. Immediately on their arrival, Trolle sent out word that he desired a parley. This was granted, and the archbishop came outside the walls to a spot before the Swedish camp. In the course of the discussion, Trolle, perhaps with a view to intimidate the regent, declared that he had within the castle a letter from King Christiern announcing that he would come to the relief before the 1st of May. But the young regent was not so easily to be intimidated. His terms were that Trolle and his men might withdraw unharmed from Staeket, and that the archbishop might continue in possession of the Cathedral of Upsala and all the privileges of his office; but that the Castle of Staeket, long a prolific source of discord, should remain in the hands of Sture till a tribunal composed of clergy as well as laity could determine whether it should belong to Church or State, or be demolished as a source of discord. These terms were not accepted, and the siege continued. All through the winter and spring the Swedish army bivouacked outside the walls; and Trolle, ever looking for aid from Denmark, refused to yield. At last, at midsummer, having received tidings that rescue was near at hand, his heart grew bold within him, and he resolved to make a dupe of Sture. The latter not being at the time at Staeket, the archbishop sent a messenger to say that he was ready for a parley. The regent, daily fearing the approach of Christiern, received the messenger with joy. He called together the burgomaster and Council of Stockholm, and instructed them to select delegates to act in behalf of Stockholm. With these delegates and a few advisers on his own account he proceeded to Staeket, and after consultation as to the terms which they should offer, signalled the guard on the castle walls that he was ready to treat with Trolle. After standing some time in the midst of a pouring rain, and without any prospect of an answer, the regent grew impatient, and sent word to Trolle that he could offer no other terms than those already offered. The charlatan then threw off the mask. He replied that he placed implicit confidence in Christiern, and was in no hurry for a parley. Any time within six weeks would do. At this announcement the regent had nothing for it but to withdraw. Drenched to the skin, and burning at the insult offered him, he returned to Stockholm.[25]

He did so none too soon. The Danish forces, four thousand strong, were already off the Swedish coast. This was by no means the first proof of actual hostilities on the part of Christiern. Six months before, while the truce between the kingdoms was still in force, Christiern had seized a Swedish vessel while lying in the roads outside Lubeck, and at the general diet held at New Year's in Arboga, it had been voted to resist the tyrant till the dying breath. As a result, the congress of the three realms which was to have been held in February had never met. A broadside was issued by the regent to all the men of Sweden, calling on them to prepare for war. Throughout the spring and summer the advent of the tyrant was expected, and the announcement that his army had at length arrived was a surprise to none.[26]

It was early in the month of August, 1517, when the Danish fleet was sighted off the coast twelve miles from Stockholm. Sture proceeded at once to the point at which it was expected they would land, and thus prevented them. The fleet hovered about the coast for several days, sending out pillaging parties in small boats to the shore. One of these parties was intercepted; and from a prisoner who was taken, Sture learned definitely that the object of the expedition was to go to the relief of Staeket. On this news Sture sent some members of the Cabinet to Staeket to inform the archbishop that the Danish force was now off Stockholm, and to urge him in behalf of the town of Stockholm to send word to the Danish force that it could count on no aid from him, as he was resolved to remain true to his native land. But this final appeal to the archbishop's honor met with no response. The fleet meantime had approached the capital, and was riding at anchor about two miles down the stream. There the whole force landed, intending to march direct to Staeket. But the young regent was again ahead of them. Scarce had they set foot on shore when he fell upon them with his army. The conflict was sharp and bitter, but at last the regent came off victorious. The Danes were driven headlong to their ships, leaving many of their number dead upon the shore, while others fell captives into the hand of Sture. This was a red-letter day in the calendar of the regent, and is specially memorable as being the first occasion on which the young Gustavus drew sword in behalf of his native land.[27]

Elated by his victory, the regent now opened communications once more with Trolle. With a view to frighten him into submission, he sent some of the Danish captives to Staeket, that the archbishop might hear from his own allies the story of their disaster. Even at this the proud spirit of the archbishop was not humbled. He still persisted in his determination not to yield, and it was only when his own officers began to leave him that he signified his willingness to withdraw from Staeket and retire to the duties of his cathedral. But now it was Sture's turn to dictate. He answered curtly that a murderer could no longer be archbishop, and proceeded at once to summon a general diet of the kingdom. This diet met at Stockholm in the last days of November. It was a notable gathering. Among those present were four of the six bishops,—all except the bishops of Vexioe and Skara,—of laymen, Hemming Gad and the father of young Gustavus, besides some ten other knights and armigers, the burgomaster and Council of Stockholm, and a large number of delegates from the peasantry. Before this assembly the archbishop appeared, under safe-conduct from the regent, to plead his cause. Among the witnesses produced in favor of the crown was a Danish officer captured in the battle outside Stockholm. This man testified, among other things, that before the Danish fleet set forth, a messenger from Trolle had appeared before King Christiern to solicit aid for Staeket. Indeed, the charge of conspiracy was proved beyond the shadow of a doubt. The whole house rose with one accord in denunciation of the traitor. Without a dissenting voice it was decreed that Staeket, "the rebel stronghold," should be levelled to the ground; that Trolle should nevermore be recognized as archbishop; that, though by the terms of his safe-conduct he might return to Staeket, he should not come forth therefrom till he had given pledge to do no further injury to the kingdom; and, finally, that if Trolle or any other in his behalf should solicit excommunication on any of those present for this resolve or for besieging or destroying Staeket, or should otherwise molest them, they all should stand firm by one another. This resolve, before the diet parted, was put into writing, and to it every member attached his seal.[28]

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