Archbishop of Uppsala

Archbishop of Uppsala
Antje Jackelén
Country Sweden
Archdiocese Uppsala
Cathedral Uppsala Cathedral
Residence Archbishop's Palace, Uppsala
First incumbent Stefan
Formation 1164

The archbishop of Uppsala (spelled Upsala until the early 20th century) has been the primate in Sweden in an unbroken succession since 1164, first during the Catholic era, and from the 1530s and onward under the Lutheran church.

Historical overview

The Archbishop's Palace in Uppsala, designed in the 18th century by the architect Carl Hårleman, but built on older foundations.
For more details on this topic, see Archdiocese of Uppsala.

There have been bishops in Uppsala from the time of Swedish King Ingold the Elder in the 11th century. They were governed by the archbishop of Hamburg-Bremen until Uppsala was made an archbishopric in 1164. The archbishop in Lund (which at that time belonged to Denmark) was declared primate of Sweden, meaning it was his right to select and ordain the Uppsala archbishop by handing him the pallium. To gain independence, Folke Johansson Ängel in 1274 went to Rome and was ordained directly by the pope. This practice was increasing, so that no Uppsala archbishop was in Lund after Olov Björnsson, in 1318. In 1457, the archbishop Jöns Bengtsson (Oxenstierna) was allowed by the pope to declare himself primate of Sweden.

Uppsala (then a village) was originally located a couple of miles to the north of the present city, in what is today known as Gamla Uppsala (Old Uppsala). In 1273, the archbishopric, together with the relics of King Eric the Saint, was moved to the market town of Östra Aros, which from then on is named Uppsala.

Uppsala Cathedral, seat of the Archbishop of Uppsala.

In 1531, Laurentius Petri was chosen by King Gustav I of Sweden (Vasa) to be archbishop, taking that privilege from the pope and in effect making Sweden Protestant. The archbishop was then declared primus inter pares i.e. first among equals. The archbishop is both bishop of his diocese and Primate of Sweden; he has however no more authority than other bishops, although in effect his statements have a more widespread effect. In 2000, the Archbishop of Uppsala was aided in the diocese by a bishop of Uppsala, currently Ragnar Persenius.

Notable archbishops

The labours of the archbishops extended in all directions. Some were zealous pastors of their flocks, such as Jarler and others; some were distinguished canonists, such as Birger Gregerson (1367–83) and Olof Larsson (1435-8); others were statesmen, such as Jöns Bengtsson Oxenstjerna (d. 1467), or capable administrators, such as Jacob Ulfsson Örnfot, who was distinguished as a prince of the Church, royal councillor, patron of art and learning, founder of the University of Upsala and an efficient helper in the introduction of printing into Sweden. There were also scholars, such as Johannes Magnus (died 1544), who wrote the "Historia de omnibus Gothorum sueonumque regibus" and the "Historia metropolitanæ ecclesiæ Upsaliensis", and his brother Olaus Magnus (d. 1588), who wrote the "Historia de gentibus septentrionalibus" and who was the last Catholic Archbishop of Upsala.[1]

The archbishops and secular clergy found active co-workers among the regular clergy (i.e. religious orders). Among the orders represented in Sweden were the Benedictines, Cistercians, Dominicans, Franciscans, Brigittines (with the mother-house at Wadstena) and Carthusians. A Swedish Protestant investigator, Carl Silfverstolpe, wrote: "The monks were almost the sole bond of union in the Middle Ages between the civilization of the north and that of southern Europe, and it can be claimed that the active relations between our monasteries and those in southern lands were the arteries through which the higher civilization reached our country."[1]

See Birger Gregersson (1366–83; hymnist and author), Nils Ragvaldsson (1438–48; early adherent of Old Norse mythology), Jöns Bengtsson (Oxenstierna) (1448–67; King of Sweden), Jakob Ulfsson (1470–1514; founder of Uppsala University), Gustav Trolle (1515–21; supporter of the Danish King), Johannes Magnus (1523-26: wrote an imaginative Scandianian Chronicle), Laurentius Petri (1531–73; main character behind the Swedish Lutheran reformation), Abraham Angermannus (1593–99; controversial critic of the King), Olaus Martini (1601–09), Petrus Kenicius (1609–36), Laurentius Paulinus Gothus (1637–46; astronomer and philosopher of Ramus school), Johannes Canuti Lenaeus (1647–69; aristotelean and logician), Erik Benzelius the Elder (1700–09; highly knowledgeable), Haquin Spegel (1711–14; public educator), Mattias Steuchius (1714–30), Uno von Troil (1786–1803; politician), Jakob Axelsson Lindblom (1805–19), Johan Olof Wallin (1837–39; beloved poet and hymnist), Karl Fredrik af Wingård (1839–51; politician), Henrik Reuterdahl (1856–70) Anton Niklas Sundberg (1870–1900; outspoken and controversial) and Nathan Söderblom (1914–1931; Nobel Prize winner).[2]

Earliest bishops

The first written mention of a bishop at Uppsala is from Adam of Bremen's Gesta Hammaburgensis ecclesiae pontificum that records in passing Adalvard the Younger appointed as the bishop for Sictunam et Ubsalam in the 1060s.[3] Swedish sources never mention him either in Sigtuna or Uppsala.

The medieval Annales Suecici Medii Aevi[4] and the 13th century legend of Saint Botvid[5] mention some Henry as the Bishop of Uppsala (Henricus scilicet Upsalensis) in 1129, participating in the consecration of the saint's newly built church.[6] He is apparently the same Bishop Henry who died at the Battle of Fotevik in 1134, fighting along with the Danes after being banished from Sweden. Known from the Chronicon Roskildense written soon after his death and from Saxo Grammaticus' Gesta Danorum from the early 13th century, he had fled to Denmark from Sigtuna. Also he is omitted from, or at least redated in, the first list of bishops made in the 15th century.[7] In this list, the first bishop at Uppsala was Sverinius (Siwardus?), succeeded by Nicolaus, Sveno, Henricus and Kopmannus. With the exception of Henricus, the list only mentions their names.[8][9]

Archbishops before the Reformation

Insignia of Stefan

12th century

Johannes was ordained by the Archbishop of Lund, Absalon by November 1185. In 1187, a ship from the pagan Estonia entered Mälaren, a lake close to Uppsala, on a plundering expedition. It sailed to Sigtuna, a prosperous city at that time, and plundered it. On its way back, barricades were set up at the only exit point at Almarestäket to prevent the ship from escaping. Johannes was there also. As the ship struggled to pass through, Johannes were among those killed.

He was ordained by Absalon. Sweden got a new king, Sverker II of Sweden in 1196, who was related to the Danish Royal Court, whereby Absalon extended his authority over Sweden. When Petrus in 1196 elected three bishops, Absalon requested that the pope decide since the bishops were the sons of other priests, and this was not allowed by papal decree. He also mentioned that several Swedish bishops refused to travel to his synods. Absalon was an authoritative person whom the pope trusted and gave him rights, but by the time the message reached Uppsala Petrus had already died.

13th century

In 1200, Pope Innocent III demanded that Church estate be free from the king's taxes and that clerics be judged only by bishops and prelates, and not civil courts and judges. This was a step in the separation between worldy and spiritual matters, which the Swedish Church had not yet taken. Innocent also demanded that Olov dismiss the two bishops ordained by Petrus.

When Uppsala burnt in 1204, Olov's pallium was burnt and he sent a request to Innocent III for a new one to be made.

Valerius was most likely the son of a church man and the Archbishop of Lund appealed the election to Rome. The pope allowed a dispensation for Valerius on the grounds that there was no other suitable candidate and because Valierus was known as a learned man with good customs and virtues.

Valerius joined sides with the King Sverker II of Sweden who belonged to the House of Sverker. The House of Sverker was one of the antagonists in a civil war that had been going on and off since 1130. In 1208 the opposing side, the House of Eric, besieged the capital Stockholm; Sverker and Valierus fled to Denmark.

Sverker gathered a small army in Denmark and tried to conquer Sweden but was killed. Valerius then decided to accept King Eric X's authority, and as a result was allowed to return to Uppsala, where he crowned Eric X in 1210. Pope Innocent III sent a letter to Valerius where he proclaimed the procedure to be unauthorised and unlawful, but it seems to have had little impact.

He was one of the first known Swedish students at the University of Paris. As archbishop, he established several clerical regulations.

Lars was recruited from the recently established Franciscan monastery in Enköping and was most likely a foreigner. The Pope expressed trust in the recently crowned Swedish monarch Birger Jarl who, unlike his predecessors, had promised to support the Church by granting it freedom from taxes and establish missionaries to yet un-Christianised parts or parts who had returned to paganim specifically Finland and the Baltic states.

But this promise was not realised because of the shaky political situation in Sweden. There was an ongoing struggle for power, which eventually forced the antagonists to tax Church property in order to support the war.

Lars tried to impose clerical celibacy, which still had not been enforced in Sweden because the low population figures in Sweden required priests to marry and have children. In 1258 Lars sent Pope Alexander IV a request that married clergy not be excommunicated, a request which indicates married clery were not uncommon.

Also in 1258 the move of the archdiocese to its present location was decided, but it would not take effect for another decade.

Folke belonged to the influential family Ängel, which used the Archangel Gabriel as a heraldic charge.

He was, for unclear reasons, not ordained until 1274. Civil disturbances may have been a cause, but also the reluctance of the cathedral chapter to be under the authority of Lund. In 1274, Folke ignored the Primate of Lund by travelling to Rome and getting ordained by Pope Gregory X himself

Folke's most important contribution was to commission the moving of the episcopal see from its old location to its present location. At his death he was one of the first to be buried in Uppsala Cathedral.[10]

Was from the same family as his predecessor. Little else is known about him.

Not ordained. Little is known about him.

Little is known about him.

Had served as prior at the Sigtuna monastery and Bishop of Åbo. Died in Avignon while travelling to Rome to receive the pallium.

14th century

He studied at the University of Paris in 1278. After returning to Sweden, he became deacon in Uppsala in 1286 and was elected Archbishop in 1292. As Nils Allesson was the son of a priest, the cathedral chapter in Lund, Denmark - the primate over Uppsala - appealed the election to the pope. Nils travelled to Rome in 1295 to meet the Pope Boniface VIII and defend his case, which was eventually accepted.

Nils was known as a vigorous archbishop. He founded and supervised institutions for safety and order around the archdiocese, such as accommodations for travellers.[11]

Little is known about him.

Under his time the chapter in Uppsala stopped accepting Archbishop of Lund as primate, and Olov was to be the last Uppsala archbishop to be ordained there.[12]

He came from a smaller town in Uppland, the son of the knight Filip Finnvedson, one of the most important men in Uppland (the land of Uppsala). Petrus held various clerical offices until he was elected archbishop. Following the election he travelled to Avignon, the residence of Pope John XXII, to be ordained as bishop.

He had a strained relationship with the Franciscan order. At the request of Pope Benedict XII, Paul, Archbishop of Nidaros (now Trondheim) in Norway, was to make a judgement on the matter, and this led to a settlement between the two parties in 1339.

In 1341 Petrus died and was buried in Sigtuna's Dominican order church which today is called Mariakyrkan.[13]

At the death of Petrus, Pope Benedict XII wished to occupy the archbishop's seat through commission, but following Hemming's election by the cathedral chapter, Hemming travelled to Avignon and persuaded Benedict to ordain him bishop.

During his time, he helped in the political world, made a visitation through Norway and established Uppsala ecclesiastical records. His last will shows that he was also quite wealthy.

The first mention of him is from 1320, when he was vicar in Färentuna. He was chancellor of the King Magnus II of Sweden in 1340 and continued to support him during through the 1360s when Sweden was in a civil war.

In 1342 he was appointed Bishop of Linköping, where he assisted the building of the Linköping Cathedral. He was assessor during King Magnus monetary transactions, among them the repayment of a loan Magnus hade made from the Church. After the new King Albert of Sweden took power, Petrus supported him as well.

Was known as a vigorous archbishop. He was also a supporter of the Swedish, highly revered, Saint Birgitta (13031373), and wrote a biography of her. He also wrote in honour of her and of Saint Botvid, another Swedish saint. As a writer, he has a prominent place in early Swedish literature.[14]

Was also friends with Saint Birgitta, in Rome and took part in the important political decisions during his years as archbishop, such as the Kalmar Union in 1397.

Had a good economical skill, was a wealthy man, and acquired many farms for the Church. At his death, he left them to the cathedral chapter, but Queen Margaret is said to have taken them in possession instead, which marked the beginning of disputes between the chapter and the states in the union (which lasted until 1520).[15]

15th century

Jöns originated the influential Danish family Lodehat. His uncle was bishop of Roskilde and a former chancellor of the Queen. Jöns himself became, thanks to his family's Royal connection, chancellor to the King of Scandinavia, Eric of Pomerania.

At the death of the Archbishop Henrik, King Eric appointed Jöns, who had no connection to Uppsala, as new archbishop without regards to the candidates of the chapter.

During his time, Jöns paid little respect to the duties of archbishop. He embessled Church property and mistreated Church officials. Eventually, the chapter complained to the Pope, who conducted an investigation and dismissed Jöns Gereksson in 1421.

Was originally a monk at Vadstena monastery. As archbishop, he freed clericals of taxation, and built a permanent house for the archbishop.

When Olaus Laurentii was elected by the Chapter to become Archbishop of Uppsala and Sweden, the Swedish King Eric of Pomerania was displeased because he was not consulted and therefore decided that Arnold of Bergen should become archbishop in 1433 while Olaus Laurentii was in Rome to be ordained. Arnold moved into the archbishopseat in Uppsala despite protests from the chapter.

The quarrels were resolved when Arnold died in 1434; then the king decided to accept Olaus Laurentii who had just returned from Rome.

Gustav Eriksson Trolle (1488–1533) was a controversial person. He was in disputed with the king, since he was a supporter of the Danish King Christian II. In 1515 he was removed from office, but barricaded himself in the archbishop's mansion/fortress at Almarestäket, until an assembly of chancellors ordered its destruction in 1517. In 1520, Danish King Christian conquered Swedish territory, and Gustav was reinstated. However, King Christian's reign in Sweden lasted but one year, and in 1521 Gustav was forced to flee to Denmark to seek refuge.

When the Pope months later received news of the deposition of Trolle, he ordered the reigning Swedish King Gustav Vasa to reinstate Trolle, not realizing the severity of the matter. Not being allowed to have his selected archbishop consecrated, King Gustav Vasa in effect broke away from the Catholic tradition, making Sweden a Lutheran nation starting 1531.

Archbishops during the Reformation

Seal of Johannes Magnus

Magnus was the last Catholic archbishop. He was selected to be archbishop in 1523, but the Pope deemed the disposal of Gustav Trolle unlawful, and demanded he should be reinstated. Gustav Vasa then broke with the Church, and ordained Johannes Magnus in his own ceremony. But before long, Magnus expressed his disapproval of Lutheran teachings, and Gustav Vasa sent him to Russia as a diplomat in 1526.

Gustav Vasa appointed a new archbishop, Laurentius Petri, in 1531, and Johannes realized that his time as archbishop was over. He travelled to Rome where he settled for the remainder of his life.[16]

Brother of the previous, with whom he was in exile in Rome. After the death of his brother, Olaus was consecrated by the Pope in 1544, but he never returned home. He was the last Swedish archbishop to get papal consecration.

Staying in Rome, Olaus wrote several highly regarded works about Scandinavia that still interest readers today. He also had published works by his brother Johannes.

Archbishops after the Reformation

16th century

He and his brother Olaus Petri were the main Protestant reformers in Sweden; while his brother was more energetic, Laurentius laid the theoretical foundation for the Swedish Church Ordinance 1571.

Before becoming archbishop, Gothus appears to have been inclined towards King Johan III of Sweden's more Catholic viewpoint. He was for this reason ordained by the King in a Catholic ritual with all its apparatus, and wrote the introduction to the King's "red book". As the Jesuitic tendencies grew stronger in Sweden in the 1570s, he became more wary; he refused to support the views of the King any longer, and published Contra novas papistarum machinationes which, although it gives proper respect to the Church fathers, polemizes against the foundation of Catholicism and the Jesuits.

He was vicar in Gävle 1570 and is reported as one of the first priests to have used the King's "red book" in his sermons, which sparked the King's interest, and he subsequently appointed him archbishop after a four-year vacancy.

Björnram upset Church officials by declaring that the liturgy of the King was in accordance with the Apostles' Creed and that he supported it. Surprisingly, he nonetheless advocated the reading of Luther's works.

Angermannus first became known as a critic of the liturgy of King John, and the king had him put him in jail in Åbo, Finland. But he managed to escape back to Stockholm, under the protection of influential friends. However, eventually he had to flee to Germany, where he lived for 11 years. He visited the renowned universities there and wrote several book of Lutheran contents, directed to Swedish readers.

In 1593 the cathedral chapter in Uppsala elected him archbishop, and he moved back to Sweden and took the seat. He was a harsh critic of Catholicism remnants of which were still in practice around Sweden. In 1599 the King had had enough of him, and prosecuted him. Angermannus was put in prison in Gripsholm, where he was forced to remain until his death in 1607.[17]

Like his predecessor Angermannus, Bothniensis was imprisoned for 1,5 years due to his resistance to John III's non-Lutheran liturgy.

He in 1593 became the first professor of theology at the Uppsala University. He died before being consecrated.

17th century

Born 1557 in Uppsala. Educated first in Uppsala, then abroad.He was against the liturgy of King John III of Sweden. He was made archbishop owing to the support of Duke Charles (Charles IX of Sweden), although they later clashed because of their fundamentally different beliefs.

Born 1555. Was against the King's liturgy, and was imprisoned for a short time of 1589. Participated in the Uppsala Synod 1593. Was archbishop for a long time, into his old age.

Born 1565. Was knowledgeable in several subjects, and was professor of astronomy and logistics at Uppsala University. Wrote several works on astronomy, astrology and theology.

Professor of Logic, Hebrew and Greek. Wrote an influential book about the philosophy of Aristotle that revived interest in Aristotelianism and was used as a textbook for several years.

Professor of Logic at Uppsala where he supported Aristotelian philosophy against the adherents of Ramism. Was considered a highly learned man and was involved in various political and clerical tasks. As an archbishop he did not make any great contribution owing to his advanced age.

Commissioned the new Bible translation and revising the Swedish book of hymns. Published many works, most notably A simple explanation of Martin Luther's little catechism.

18th century

Haquin Spegel, posthumous engraving

Benzelius took an important part in the various ecclesiastical committees active during the reigns of Charles XI and Charles XII, such as that concerning the new Church Law of 1686, the new hymn book of 1695 and the new Bible translation.

He was a typical representative of 17th-century Swedish Lutheran orthodoxy, careful not to deviate from established theological principles, and lacked originality in his writing. Nevertheless, he was a productive author of works in theology, and his work on church history was used as a textbook for the following century.

He was an important religious author and hymn writer. He held several bishop's seats before becoming archbishop.

19th century

(Uppsala 13 May 1736 2 December 1836) was a member of the Swedish Academy. He belonged to the influential noble families von Rosén and Rosenstein.

He was knowledgeable in the classic languages, had an unusual knowledge of agriculture and was a member of all the Swedish Royal Academies at the time, except for the Academy of Arts. The academies he joined were: the Academy of Science and Literature (joined in 1807), Academy of Science (1808), the Academy of Literature History (1810), the Academy of Agriculture and Forestry (1818), the Swedish Academy (1819), the Scientific society in Uppsala (1820) and the Academy of Music (1822). He was regarded as a generous and social person, friendly, handsome and cheerful. [18]

After acquiring his Master of Arts in philosophy and theology and becoming assistant professor in Latin at Uppsala University, he moved to Strängnäs where he was eventually appointed bishop in 1839. He was also an influential politician in the Swedish Riksdag from 1828 to his death.

He was known as a soft and gently person, and very firm in his beliefs.[19]

Stemming from Malmö, he was orphaned early on and had to rely on others for his education and support. Despite this he managed to get a higher education at the Lund University in theology, philology and Church history, influenced by local academic dignitaries such as Erik Gustaf Geijer and the German Schleiermacher whose works were popular in Lund at the time.

He later published a comprehensive history of the Church in Sweden, and was a member of the Swedish Academy from 1852.[20]

Anton Niklas Sundberg

He acquired a philosophy doctor's degree in Uppsala, became dean and was ordained priest, and then undertook travel through Europe in 1849-50.

He was known as a controversial person; very outspoken, no stranger to using strong language, despising hypocrisy, but he displayed a notable sense of wit and authority.[21]

20th century

Was PhD in Uppsala and subsequently a dean and professor of philosophy and bishop of Växjö.

He wrote many international historical and theological books. For his contribution to the history of the Anglican Church, in 1942 he was awarded the Lambeth Cross, the highest award in the Anglican Church.

He used his deep historical knowledge when he was archbishop to take measures concerning the organisation, liturgy and methods of preaching; he furthermore had an international interest and was chairman of the Faith and Order commission.[22]

(Born 19 February 1902 in Eskilstuna; died 13 February 1991 in Uppsala.)

(Born 25 August 1907 in Svenljunga, Älvsborgs län; died 19 March 1972 in Uppsala.)

He officiated at the marriage of present King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia on 19 June 1976, in Storkyrkan in Stockholm.

21st century

On 15 June 2014 Antje Jackelén became Archbishop of Uppsala diocese and therefore the top leader of the Church of Sweden. She is the first woman to hold that position.[23]


  1. 1 2 Catholic Encyclopedia: Upsala
  2. The list is inspired by a similar list in Nordisk familjebok, Uppsala stift. Has external link below.
  3. See Adam of Bremen, Gesta Hammaburgensis ecclesiae pontificum, online text in Latin; scholia 94.
  4. Paulsson 1974. The Annales were written in the Sigtuna Abbey. See an article by the Foteviken Museum.
  5. Saint Botvid in the New Catholic Dictionary. Botvid had been converted to Christianity in England. He was martyred around 1100 in Sweden. Interestingly, some sources claim that he was murdered by a Finnish slave. See also .
  6. See . In Swedish.
  7. Heikkilä, Tuomas (2005), Pyhän Henrikin Legenda, SKS, ISBN 951-746-738-9. Page 60.
  8. Article Gamla Uppsala, Nordisk Familjebok, 1908
  9. See . Hosted by the University of Columbia. In Latin.
  10. "Ängel", in NF (1894)
  11. Article Nils Alleson in Nordisk Familjebok, 1887
  12. Article Olov Björnsson in Nordisk Familjebok, 1888
  13. Article Petrus in Nordisk Familjebok, 1915
  14. Article Birger Gregersson, in Nordisk Familjebok, 1906
  15. Article Henrik Karlsson in Nordisk Familjebok, 1909
  16. Article Johannes Magnus, in Nordisk Familjebok, 1910
  17. Article Abrahamus Andreæ Angermannus, in Nordisk Familjebok, 1904
  18. Article Rosén von Rosenstein, Karl in Nordisk Familjebok, 1916
  19. Article Holström, Hans in Nordisk Familjebok, 1909
  20. Article Reuterdahl, Henrik in Nordisk Familjebok, 1916
  21. Article Sundberg, Anton Niklas in Svenskt biografiskt handlexikon, 1906
  22. Article Yngve Brillioth on Swedish Wikipedia, and Martling, Kyrkohistoriskt Personlexikon


See also

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