History of Sweden

Old map showing Sweden during the period of Great Power 1648-1721. The Homann Map of Scandinavia, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and the Baltics, from 175, by Johann Baptist Homann (16641724)
Part of a series on the
History of Sweden
Sweden portal

During the 11th and 12th centuries, Sweden gradually became a unified Christian kingdom that later included what is today Finland. During the early Middle Ages, the Swedish state also expanded to control Norrland and Finland. Modern Sweden started out of the Kalmar Union formed in 1397 and by the unification of the country by King Gustav Vasa in the 16th century. Vasa fought for an independent Sweden and broke with the papacy, establishing the Lutheran Church in Sweden. In the 17th century Sweden expanded its territories to form the Swedish empire. Most of these conquered territories had to be given up during the 18th century.

During the 17th century, after winning wars against Denmark, Russia, and Poland, Sweden emerged as a great power by taking direct control of the Baltic region. Sweden's role in the Thirty Years' War determined the political as well as the religious balance of power in Europe. The Russians won a war against Sweden in 1709, capturing much of the Swedish army.

Sweden joined in the Enlightenment culture of the day in the arts, architecture, science and learning. Between 1570 and 1800 Sweden experienced two periods of urban expansion. Finland was lost to Russia in a war in 1808-1809.

In the early 19th century Finland and the remaining territories outside the Scandinavian Peninsula were lost. After its last war in 1814, Sweden entered into a personal union with Norway which lasted until 1905. Since 1814, Sweden has been at peace, adopting a non-aligned foreign policy in peacetime and neutrality in wartime. Sweden was neutral in World War I. Post-war prosperity provided the foundations for the social welfare policies characteristic of modern Sweden. Sweden created a successful model of social democracy. Sweden remained neutral during World War II, avoiding the fate of occupied Norway. Sweden was one of the first non-participants of World War II to join the United Nations (in 1946).

Apart from this, the country tried to stay out of alliances and remain officially neutral during the entire Cold War; it never joined NATO. The social democratic party held government for 44 years (1932–1976). The 1976 parliamentary elections brought a liberal/right-wing coalition to power. During the Cold War, Sweden was suspicious of the superpowers, which it saw as making decisions affecting small countries without always consulting those countries. With the end of the Cold War, that suspicion has lessened somewhat, although Sweden still chooses to remain nonaligned.

Prehistoric Sweden before AD 800

Main article: Prehistoric Sweden

Sweden, as well as the adjacent country Norway, has a high concentration of petroglyphs (hällristningar[1] in Swedish) throughout the country, with the highest concentration in the province of Bohuslän and around Gamleby and Västervik in northern county of Kalmar, also called "Tjust" (Peterson 2009). The earliest images can, however, be found in the province of Jämtland, dating from 5000 BC.[2] They depict wild animals such as elk, reindeer, bears and seals. The period 2300500 BC was the most intensive carving period, with carvings of agriculture, warfare, ships, domesticated animals, etc. Also, petroglyphs with themes have been found in Bohuslän; these are dated from 800500 BC.

Viking Period and Middle Ages: 8001500

For centuries, the Swedes were merchant seamen well known for their far-reaching trade. During the 11th and 12th centuries, Sweden gradually became a unified Christian kingdom that later included Finland. Until 1060 the kings of Uppsala ruled most of modern Sweden except the southern and western coastal regions, which remained under Danish rule until the 17th century. After a century of civil wars a new royal family emerged, which strengthened the power of the crown at the expense of the nobility, while giving the nobles privileges such as exemption from taxation in exchange for military service. Finland was taken over. Sweden never had a fully developed feudal system, and its peasants were never reduced to serfdom.

Viking expeditions (blue): depicting the immense breadth of their voyages throughout most of Europe, North Atlantic and Mediterranean

The Vikings from Sweden mainly traveled east into Russia, but also took part in the raids of the west and southern regions of Europe. The large Russian mainland and its many navigable rivers offered good prospects for merchandise and, at times, plundering. During the 9th century, extensive Scandinavian settlements began on the east side of the Baltic Sea.

The conversion from Norse paganism to Christianity was a complex, gradual, and at times possibly violent (see Temple at Uppsala) process. The main early source of religious influence was England due to interactions between Scandinavians and Saxons in the Danelaw, and Irish missionary monks. German influence was less obvious in the beginning, despite an early missionary attempt by Ansgar, but gradually emerged as the dominant religious force in the area, especially after the Norman conquest of England. Despite the close relations between Swedish and Russian aristocracy (see also Rus'), there is no direct evidence of Orthodox influence, possibly because of the language barrier.

About 1000, the first king known to rule over both Svealand and Götaland was Olof Skötkonung, but the further history is obscure with kings whose periods of regency and actual power is unclear. In the 12th century, Sweden was still consolidating with the dynastic struggles between the Erik and Sverker clans, which finally ended when a third clan married into the Erik clan and founded the Folkunga dynasty on the throne. This dynasty gradually consolidated a pre-Kalmar-Union Sweden to a strong state, and king Magnus IV also ruled over Norway and Scania. Following the Black Death, this union was severely weakened, and Scania was lost to Denmark.

During the early Middle Ages, the Swedish state also expanded to control Norrland and Finland. Exactly how this happened is not entirely clear; some of the crusades to christen the Finns that are mentioned in some sources are considered unhistorical. What is clear is that this expansion sparked tension with the Russian states, tension that was to continue through Swedish history.

After the Black Death and internal power struggles in Sweden, Queen Margaret I of Denmark united the Nordic countries in the Union of Kalmar in 1397, with the approval of the Swedish nobility. Continual tension within the countries and within the union gradually led to open conflict between the Swedes and the Danes in the 15th century, however. The union's final disintegration in the early 16th century brought on a long-lived rivalry between Denmark on one side and Sweden on the other.

Modern Sweden: 1523-1611

Main article: Early Vasa era
Gustav Vasa (Gustav I) in 1542

In the 16th century, Gustav Vasa fought for an independent Sweden, crushing an attempt to restore the Union of Kalmar and laying the foundation for modern Sweden. At the same time, he broke with the papacy and established the Lutheran Church in Sweden.

The Union of Kalmar's final disintegration in the early 16th century brought on a long-lived rivalry between Norway and Denmark on one side and Sweden on the other. The Catholic bishops had supported the Danish King Christian II, but he was overthrown by Gustavus Vasa (1490–1560), and Sweden was now independent again. Gustavus used the Protestant Reformation to curb the power of the church and became King Gustavus I in 1523. In 1527 he persuaded the Riksdag of Västerås (comprising the nobles, clergy, burghers, and freehold peasants) to confiscate church lands, which comprised 21% of the farmland. Gustavus took the Lutheran reformers under his protection and appointed his men as bishops. Gustavus suppressed aristocratic opposition to his ecclesiastical policies and efforts at centralisation.

An image made by Gustavus Vasa during his reign showing him (in dark brown clothing and cap) capturing and subduing Catholicism (the lady in orange).

Tax reforms took place in 1538 and 1558, whereby multiple complex taxes on independent farmers were simplified and standardised throughout the district; tax assessments per farm were adjusted to reflect ability to pay. Crown tax revenues increased, but more importantly the new system was perceived as fairer and more acceptable. A war with Luebeck in 1535 resulted in the expulsion of the Hanseatic traders, who previously had had a monopoly of foreign trade. With its own businessmen in charge Sweden's economic strength grew rapidly, and by 1544 Gustavus controlled 60% of the farmlands in all of Sweden. Sweden now built the first modern army in Europe, supported by a sophisticated tax system and government bureaucracy. Gustavus proclaimed the Swedish crown hereditary in his family, the house of Vasa. It ruled Sweden (1523–1654) and Poland (1587–1668).[3]

Early Modern

During the 17th century, after winning wars against Denmark, Russia, and Poland, Sweden (with scarcely more than 1 million inhabitants) emerged as a great power by taking direct control of the Baltic region, which was Europe's main source of grain, iron, copper, timber, tar, hemp, and furs.

Formation of the Swedish Empire, 1560-1660

Sweden had first gained a foothold on a territory outside her traditional provinces in 1561, when Estonia opted for vassalage to Sweden during the Livonian War. While in 1590 Sweden had to cede Ingria and Kexholm to Russia, and Sigismund tried to incorporate Swedish Estonia into the Duchy of Livonia, Sweden gradually expanded at the eastern Baltic during the following years. In a series of Polish–Swedish War (1600–1629) and the Russo-Swedish Ingrian War, Gustavus Adolphus retook Ingria and Kexholm (formally ceded in the Treaty of Stolbovo, 1617) as well as the bulk of Livonia (formally ceded in the Treaty of Altmark, 1629).

Christina, Queen of Sweden, David Beck, ca 1650

Sweden's role in the Thirty Years' War determined the political as well as the religious balance of power in Europe. From bridgeheads in Stralsund (1628) and Pomerania (1630), the Swedish army advanced to the south of the Holy Roman Empire, and in a side theater of the war deprived Denmark–Norway of Danish Estonia, Jämtland, Gotland, Halland, Härjedalen, Idre and Särna, became exempted from the Sound Dues, and established claims to Bremen-Verden, all of which was formalized in the Treaty of Brömsebro (1645). In 1648, Sweden became a guarantee power for the Peace of Westphalia, which ended the Thirty Years' War and left her with the additional dominions of Bremen-Verden, Wismar and Swedish Pomerania. Since 1638, Sweden also maintained the colony of New Sweden along the Delaware River in North America.

Sweden as a Great Power 1648–1721

Main article: Swedish Empire

In 1655, in the Second Northern War, Charles X Gustav of Sweden invaded and occupied western Poland–Lithuania, the eastern half of which was already occupied by Russia. The rapid Swedish advance became known in Poland as the Swedish Deluge. The Grand Duchy of Lithuania became a Swedish fief, the Polish–Lithuanian regular armies surrendered and the Polish king John II Casimir Vasa fled to the Habsburgs. The Deluge lasted for 5 years and took a great toll on Poland and Lithuania, with some historians crediting this invasion as the start of the downfall of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The country was devastated, treasures stolen and taken back to Sweden and insurmountable loss of lives occurred.

Sweden was able to establish control of the eastern bank of the Sound, formalized in the Treaty of Roskilde (1658), and gain recognition of her southeastern dominions by the European great powers in the Treaty of Oliva (1660); yet, Sweden was barred from further expansion at the southern coast of the Baltic. That Sweden came out of the Scanian War with only minor losses was largely due to France forcing Sweden's adversaries into the treaties of Fontainebleau (1679) (confirmed at Lund) and Saint-Germain (1679).

The following period of peace allowed Charles XI of Sweden to reform and stabilize the realm. He consolidated the finances of the Crown by the great reduction of 1680; further changes were made in finance, commerce, national maritime and land armaments, judicial procedure, church government and education.

The Great Northern War: 1700

Russia, Saxony–Poland, and Denmark–Norway pooled their power in 1700 and attacked the Swedish empire. Although the young Swedish King Charles XII (1682–1718; reigned 1697–1718) won spectacular victories in the early years of the Great Northern War, most notably in the stunning success against the Russians at the Battle of Narva (1700), his plan to attack Moscow and force Russia into peace proved too ambitious.

This family crypt and the chapel above it in highly ornate coffins house the remains of all four of the Wittelsbach Dynasty monarchs of Sweden whose high-powered period (1654-1720) has been called the Caroline Era for Kings Carl X Gustav, Carl XI and Carl XII.

The Russians won decisively at the Battle of Poltava in June 1709, capturing much of the exhausted Swedish army. Charles XII and the remnants of his army were cut off from Sweden and fled south into Ottoman territory, where he remained three years. He outstayed his welcome, refusing to leave until the Ottoman Empire joined him in a new war against Tsar Peter I of Russia. In order to force the recalcitrant Ottoman government to follow his policies, he established, from his camp, a powerful political network in Constantinople, which was joined even by the mother of the sultan. Charles's persistence worked, as Peter's army was checked by Ottoman troops. However, Turkish failure to pursue the victory enraged Charles and from that moment his relations with the Ottoman administration soured. During the same period the behavior of his troops worsened and turned disastrous. Lack of discipline and contempt for the locals soon created an unbearable situation in Moldavia. The Swedish soldiers behaved badly, destroying, stealing, raping, and killing. Meanwhile, back in the north Sweden was invaded by its enemies; Charles returned home in 1714, too late to restore his lost empire and impoverished homeland; he died in 1718.[4] In the subsequent peace treaties, the allied powers, joined by Prussia and Great Britain-Hanover, ended Sweden's reign as a great power. Russia now dominated the north. The war-weary Riksdag asserted new powers and reduced the crown to a constitutional monarch, with power held by a civilian government controlled by the Riksdag. A new "Age of Freedom" opened, and the economy was rebuilt, supported by large exports of iron and lumber to Britain.[5] The Rikstag developed into an active parliament. This tradition continued into the nineteenth century, laying the basis for the transition towards a modern democracy.[6]

The reign of Charles XII (1697–1718) has stirred great controversy; historians have been puzzled ever since why this military genius overreached and greatly weakened Sweden. Although most early-19th-century historians tended to follow Voltaire's lead in bestowing extravagant praise on the warrior-king, others have criticized him as a fanatic, a bully, and a bloodthirsty warmonger. A more balanced view suggests a highly capable military ruler whose oft-reviled peculiarities seemed to have served him well, but who neglected his base in Sweden in pursuit of foreign adventure.[7] Slow to learn the limits of Sweden's diminished strength, a party of nobles, who called themselves the "Hats", dreamed of revenge on Russia and ruled the country from 1739 to 1765; they engaged in wars in 1741, 1757, 1788, and 1809, with more or less disastrous results as Russian influence grew after every Swedish defeat.


Gustav III, 1780s

Sweden joined in the Enlightenment culture of the day in the arts, architecture, science and learning. A new law in 1766 established for the first time the principle of freedom of the press—a notable step towards liberty of political opinion. The Academy of Science was founded in 1739 and the Academy of Letters, History, and Antiquities in 1753. The outstanding cultural leader was Carl Linnaeus (1707–78), whose work in biology and ethnography had a major impact on European science.

Following half a century of parliamentary domination came the reaction. King Gustav III (1746–1792) came to the throne in 1771, and in 1772 led a coup d'état, with French support, that established him as an "enlightened despot," who ruled at will. The Age of Freedom and bitter party politics was over. Precocious and well educated, he became a patron of the arts and music. His edicts reformed the bureaucracy, repaired the currency, expanded trade, and improved defense. The population had reached 2.0 million and the country was prosperous, although rampant alcoholism was a growing social problem. Gustav III weakened the nobility and promoted numerous major social reforms. He felt the Swedish monarchy could survive and flourish by achieving a coalition with the newly emerged middle classes against the nobility. He personally disliked the French Revolution, but he decided to promote additional antifeudal reforms to strengthen his hand among the middle classes.[8]

When Gustav made war on Russia and did poorly he was assassinated by a conspiracy of nobles angry that he tried to restrict their privileges for the benefit of the peasants. Under King Charles XIII, Sweden joined various coalitions against Napoleon, but was badly defeated and lost much of its territory, especially Finland and Pomerania. The king was overthrown by the army, which in 1810 decided to bring in one of Napoleon's marshals, Bernadotte, as the heir apparent. He had a Jacobin background and was well-grounded in revolutionary principles, but put Sweden in the coalition that opposed Napoleon. He served as a quite conservative king Charles XIV John of Sweden (1818–44).[9]

Colonies and slavery

Sweden experimented briefly with overseas colonies, including "New Sweden" in Colonial America in the 1640s. Sweden purchased the small Caribbean island of Saint Barthélemy from France in 1784, then sold it back in 1878; the population had included slaves until they were freed by the Swedish government in 1847.[10]

Early urbanization

Between 1570 and 1800 Sweden experienced two periods of urban expansion, c. 1580-1690 and in the mid-18th century, separated by relative stagnation from the 1690s to about 1720. The initial phase was the more active, including an increase in the percentage of urban dwellers in Stockholm a pattern comparable to increasing urban populations in other European capital and port cities as well as the foundation of a number of small new towns. Increasing populations in the small towns of the north and west characterized the second period of urban growth, which began around 1750 in response to shifts in Swedish trade patterns from the Baltic to the North Atlantic.[11]

19th century

Loss of Finland: 1809

Main article: Finnish War

Finland was lost to Russia in a war that lasted from February 1808 to September 1809.

As a result of the peace agreement, Finland became a Grand Duchy and thus was officially ruled by the Czar of Russia though was not strictly part of Russia.

Union with Norway: 1814

The Swedish Crown Prince Charles John (Bernadotte), who staunchly opposed Norwegian independence, only to offer generous terms of union.

In 1810 French Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, one of Napoleon's top generals, was elected Crown Prince Charles by the Riksdag. In 1813, his forces joined the allies against Napoleon and defeated the Danes at Bornhöved. In the Treaty of Kiel, Denmark ceded mainland Norway to the Swedish king. Norway, however, declared its independence, adopted a constitution and chose a new king. Sweden invaded Norway to enforce the terms of the Kiel treaty—it was the last war Sweden ever fought. After brief fighting, the peace established a personal union between the two states. Even though they shared the same king, Norway was largely independent of Sweden, except Sweden controlled foreign affairs. The king's rule was not well received and when Sweden refused to allow Norway to have its own diplomats, Norway rejected the King of Sweden in 1905 and selected its own king.

During Charles XIV reign (1818–1844), the first stage of the Industrial Revolution reached Sweden. This first take-off was founded on rural forges, textile proto-industries and sawmills.

The 19th century was marked by the emergence of a liberal opposition press, the abolition of guild monopolies in trade and manufacturing in favor of free enterprise, the introduction of taxation and voting reforms, the installation of a national military service, and the rise in the electorate of three major party groups—Social Democratic Party, Liberal Party, and Conservative Party.

Modernization of Sweden: 1860–1910

Two golden 20 kr coins from the Scandinavian Monetary Union, which was based on a gold standard. The coin to the left is Swedish and the right one is Danish.

Sweden—much like Japan at the same time—transformed from a stagnant rural society to a vibrant industrial society between the 1860s and 1910. The agricultural economy shifted gradually from communal village to a more efficient private farm-based agriculture. There was less need for manual labor on the farm so many went to the cities; and about 1 million Swedes emigrated to the United States between 1850 and 1890. Many returned and brought word of the higher productivity of American industry, thus stimulating faster modernization.

In 1873, Sweden and Denmark formed the Scandinavian Monetary Union.

The late 19th century saw the emergence of an opposition press, the abolition of guild monopolies on craftsmen, and the reform of taxation. Two years of military service was made compulsory for young men, though there was no warfare.


The steady decline of death rates in Sweden began about 1810. For men and women of working age the death rate trend diverged, however, leading to increased excess male mortality during the first half of the century. There were very high rates of infant and child mortality before 1800. Among infants and children between the ages of one and four smallpox peaked as a cause of death in the 1770s-1780s and declined afterward. Mortality also peaked during this period due to other air-, food-, and waterborne diseases, but these declined as well during the early 19th century. The decline of several diseases during this time created a more favorable environment that increased children's resistance to disease and dramatically lowered child mortality.[12]

The introduction of compulsory gymnastics in Swedish schools in 1880 rested partly on a long tradition, from Renaissance humanism to the Enlightenment, of the importance of physical as well as intellectual training. More immediately, the promotion of gymnastics as a scientifically sound form of physical discipline coincided with the introduction of conscription, which gave the state a strong interest in educating children physically as well as mentally for the role of citizen soldiers.[13] Skiing is a major recreation in Sweden and its ideological, functional, ecological, and social impact has been great on Swedish nationalism and consciousness. Swedes perceived skiing as virtuous, masculine, heroic, in harmony with nature, and part of the country's culture. A growing awareness of strong national sentiments and an appreciation of natural resources led to the creation of the Swedish Ski Association in 1892 in order to combine nature, leisure, and nationalism. The organization focused its efforts on patriotic, militaristic, heroic, and environmental Swedish traditions as they relate to ski sports and outdoor life.[14]

20th century

With a broader voting franchise, the nation saw the emergence of three major party groups Social Democrat, Liberal, and Conservative. The parties debated further expansion of the voting franchise. The Liberal Party, based on the middle class, in 1907 put forth a program for local voting rights later accepted in the Riksdag; the majority of Liberals wanted to require some property ownership before a man could vote. The Social Democrats called for total male suffrage without property limitations. The strong farmer representation in the Second Chamber of the Riksdag maintained a conservative view, but their decline after 1900 gradually ended opposition to full suffrage.

Religion maintained a major role but public school religious education changed from drill in the Lutheran catechism to biblical-ethical studies.

Main Line railways built 1860-1930.

Sweden in World War I

Main article: Sweden in World War I

Sweden was neutral in World War I, although the Swedish government was sympathetic to both sides at different times during the conflict, even briefly occupying the Åland islands jointly with the Germans. At first the Swedish government flirted with the possibility of changing their neutral stance to side with the Central Powers, and made concessions to them including mining the Öresund straights to close them to Allied warships wishing to enter the Baltic. Later the Swedish signed agreements allowing trade with the Allied powers and limiting trade with Central Powers, though this brought about the fall of the government of Hjalmar Hammarskjöld.

Industrialization: 1910–1939

During the First World War and the 1920s its industries expanded to meet the European demand for Swedish steel, ball bearings, wood pulp, and matches. Post-war prosperity provided the foundations for the social welfare policies characteristic of modern Sweden.

Foreign policy concerns in the 1930s centered on Soviet and German expansionism, which stimulated abortive efforts at Nordic defence co-operation. Sweden followed a policy of armed neutrality during World War II and currently remains non-aligned.

Welfare state

Sweden created a successful model of social democracy because of the unique way in which Sweden's labor leaders, politicians, and classes cooperated during the early development period of Swedish democracy. Because Sweden's socialist leaders chose a moderate, reformist political course with broad-based public support in the early stages of Swedish industrialization and prior to the full-blown development of Swedish interclass politics, Sweden escaped the severe extremist challenges and political and class divisions that plagued many European countries that attempted to develop social democratic systems after 1911. By dealing early, cooperatively, and effectively with the challenges of industrialization and its impact on Swedish social, political, and economic structures, Swedish social democrats were able to create one of the most successful social democratic systems in the world, including both a welfare state and extensive protections of civil liberties.[15]

When the Social Democratic Party came into power in 1932, its leaders introduced a new political decision-making process, which later became known as "the Swedish model." The party took a central role, but tried as far as possible to base its policy on mutual understanding and compromise. Different interest groups were always involved in official committees that preceded government decisions.

Foreign policy 1920–1939

Foreign policy concerns in the 1930s centered on Soviet and German expansionism, which stimulated failed efforts at Nordic defense cooperation. Sweden followed a policy of armed neutrality during World War II (although thousands of Swedish volunteers fought in the Winter War against the Soviets); however, it did permit German troops to pass through its territory to and from occupation duties in its neighbour, Norway, and it supplied the Nazi regime with steel and much needed ball-bearings.

Sweden during World War II

Sweden remained neutral during World War II, avoiding the fate of occupied Norway. A key event came with the German invasion of Russia in June 1941 and demanded that Sweden make available transit through Swedish-held territories as well as the use of Swedish railroads. Sweden agreed.[16]

The dominant historiography for decades after the war ignored the Holocaust and used what it called the "small state realist" argument. It held that that neutrality and cooperation with Germany were necessary for survival, for Germany was vastly more powerful, concessions were limited and were only made where the threat was too great; neutrality was bent but not broken; national unity was paramount; and in any case Sweden had the neutral right to trade with Germany. Germany needed Swedish iron and had nothing to gain—and much iron to lose—by an invasion.[17] The nation was run by a national unity government that included all major parties in the Riksdag. Its key leaders included Prime Minister Per Albin Hansson, King Gustav V, and Foreign Minister Christian Günther.

Humanitarian aid to Jews facing the Holocaust was the mission of Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg. As the secretary of the 1944 Swedish delegation to Hungary, to coordinate humanitarian relief for the Jews of Europe during the Jewish Holocaust. He helped rescue tens of thousands of Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary in late 1944. He disappeared in January 1945, and probably died in a Soviet prison in 1947.[18]

Post-war Sweden: 1945

Sweden was one of the first non-participants of World War II to join the United Nations (in 1946). Apart from this, the country tried to stay out of alliances and remained officially neutral during the entire Cold War; it never joined NATO.

The social democratic party held government for 44 years (1932–1976), they spent much of the 1950s and 1960s building Folkhemmet (The People's Home), the Swedish welfare state. Sweden's industry had not been damaged by the war and it was in a position to help re-build Northern Europe in the decades following 1945. This led to an economic upswing in the post-war era that made the welfare system feasible.[19]

By the 1970s the economies of the rest of Western Europe, particularly that of West Germany were prosperous and growing rapidly, while the Swedish economy stagnated. Many economists blamed its large tax funded public sector.[20]

In 1976, the social democrats lost their majority. The 1976 parliamentary elections brought a liberal/right-wing coalition to power. Over the next six years, four governments ruled and fell, composed by all or some of the parties that had won in 1976. The fourth liberal government in these years came under fire by Social Democrats and trade unions and the Moderate Party, culminating in the Social Democrats regaining power in 1982.

During the Cold War Sweden maintained a dual approach, publicly the strict neutrality policy was forcefully maintained, but unofficially strong ties were kept with the U.S., Norway, Denmark, West Germany and other NATO countries. Swedes hoped that the U.S. would use conventional and nuclear weapons in case of a Soviet attack on Sweden. A strong ability to defend against an amphibious invasion was maintained, complete with Swedish-built warplanes, but there was no long-range bombing capability.[21]

In the early 1960s U.S. nuclear submarines armed with mid-range nuclear missiles of type Polaris A-1 were deployed not far from the Swedish west coast. Range and safety considerations made this a good area from which to launch a retaliatory nuclear strike on Moscow. The U.S. secretly provided Sweden with a military security guarantee, promising to provide military force in aid of Sweden in case of Soviet aggression. As part of the military cooperation the U.S. provided much help in the development of the Saab 37 Viggen, as a strong Swedish air force was seen as necessary to keep Soviet anti-submarine aircraft from operating in the missile launch area. In return Swedish scientists at the Royal Institute of Technology made considerable contributions to enhancing the targeting performance of the Polaris missiles.[22]

On February 28, 1986, the Social Democratic leader and Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme was murdered; shocked Swedes worried whether the nation had "lost its innocence".

In the early 1990s there occurred once again an economic crisis with high unemployment and many banks and companies going bankrupt. A few years after the end of the Cold War Sweden became a member of the European Union in 1995, and the old term "policy of neutrality" fell out of use.[23][24]

In a referendum held in 2003, voters decided not to adopt the Euro as the country's official currency.


According to Lönnroth (1998)[25] in the 19th century and early 20th century, Swedish historians saw their writing in terms of literature and story telling, rather than analysis and interpretation. Harald Hjärne (1848–1922) pioneered modern historical scholarship. In 1876 he attacked the traditional myths of the social and legal conditions of ancient Greece and Rome inherited from the classical authors. He was inspired by German scholar Barthold Georg Niebuhr (1776–1831), a founder of modern German historiography. As professor of history at Uppsala University, Hjärne became a spokesman for the Conservative Party and the Swedish monarchy by 1900. Hjärne had enormous influence on his students and, indeed, on an entire generation of historians, who mostly became political conservatives and nationalists. Another movement emerged at Lund University around 1910, where critical scholars began using the source critics' methods to the early history of Scandinavia. The brothers Lauritz Weibull and Curt Weibull were the leaders, and they had followers at Lund and Göteborg universities. The result was a half-century of often embittered controversy between traditionalists and revisionists that lasted until 1960. There was a blurring of the ideological fronts resulting from experiences during and after World War II. In the meantime, in the general expansion of university education in the postwar period, history was generally neglected. Only through the activities of the National Research Council of the Humanities and the dedicated efforts of certain ambitious university professors created some expansion of historical scholarship. After 1990 there were signs of revival in historiography, with a strong new emphasis on 20th-century topics, as well as the application of social history and computerized statistical techniques to the demographic history of ordinary villagers before 1900.[26]

See also


  1. Nordström, Patrik. "Arkeologiska undersökningar invid hällristningar. Analys av 16 utgrävningar invid hällristningar i Sverige och Norge." (1995) STARC
  2. (Swedish) Hällristningarna i Gärde
  3. Michael Roberts, The Early Vasas: A History of Sweden 1523-1611 (1968); Jan Glete, War and the State in Early Modern Europe: Spain, the Dutch Republic, and Sweden as Fiscal-Military States, 1500-1660 (2002) online edition
  4. He was shot through the head during a siege in his second failed attack on Norway, but whether by assassination at close range or by stray enemy fire at long range is mysteriously unclear. Andersson, A History of Sweden p 247
  5. Absolute monarchy returned briefly at the end of the 18th century.
  6. Baten, Jörg (2016). A History of the Global Economy. From 1500 to the Present. Cambridge University Press. p. 23. ISBN 9781107507180.
  7. R. M. Hatton, Charles XII of Sweden (1968)
  8. Neander N. Cronholm, A History of Sweden from the Earliest Times to the Present Day (1902) ch 35
  9. Alan Palmer, Bernadotte: Napoleon's Marshal, Sweden's King (1991)
  10. Francine M. Mayer, and Carolyn E. Fick, "Before and After Emancipation: Slaves and Free Coloreds of Saint-Barthelemy (French West Indies) in The 19th Century." Scandinavian Journal of History 1993 18 (4): 251-273.
  11. Sven Lilja, "Swedish Urbanization c. 1570-1800: Chronology, Structure and Causes," Scandinavian Journal of History 1994 19 (4): 277-308.
  12. Jan Sundin, "Child Mortality and Causes of Death in a Swedish City, 1750-1860." Historical Methods 1996 29(3): 93-106.
  13. Jens Ljunggren, "Nation-Building, Primitivism and Manliness: The Issue of Gymnastics in Sweden around 1880". Scandinavian Journal of History 1996 21 (2): 101-120.
  14. Sverker Sörlin, "Nature, Skiing and Swedish Nationalism." International Journal of the History of Sport 1995 12(2): 147-163.
  15. Jae-Hung Ahn, "Ideology and Interest: The Case of Swedish Social Democracy, 1886-1911." Politics & Society 1996 24(2): 153-187.
  16. N. Vukolov, "In Sweden at the Time of World War II," International Affairs: A Russian Journal of World Politics, Diplomacy & International Relations (2010) 56#4 pp 247-261.
  17. John Gilmour, Sweden, the Swastika, and Stalin: The Swedish Experience in the Second World War (2011) pp 270-81 online
  18. Johan Matz, "Sweden, the United States, and Raoul Wallenberg's Mission to Hungary in 1944," Journal of Cold War Studies (2012) 14#3 pp 97-148 in Project MUSE
  19. Albert Harold Rosenthal, The social programs of Sweden: a search for security in a free society (1967) ch. 7-8
  20. See Dezsö J Horvath; Donald J DalySmall countries in the world economy: the case of Sweden (1989) pp 30-35 online
  21. Askelin, Jan-Ivar, "Lifeless lifeline to the west", Framsyn Magazine, Swedish Defence Research Agency, 2004, Issue 1, Retrieved February 24, 2010
  22. Bruzelius, Nils, "Secret nuclear submarines guaranteed Swedish security", Framsyn Magazine, Swedish Defence Research Agency, 2005, Issue 1, Retrieved February 24, 2010
  23. Erich Reiter and Heinz Gärtner, eds. Small States and Alliances (2001) online p. 103
  24. Christine Agius, The Social Construction of Swedish Neutrality: Challenges to Swedish Identity and Sovereignty (2006) p. 207
  25. Erik Lönnroth, "Svensk Historieskrivning Under 1900-Talet," ["Swedish historiography in the 20th century"] Historisk Tidskrift, 1998, Issue 3, pp 304-313
  26. See Martin Dribe, and Patrick Svensson, "Social Mobility in Nineteenth Century Rural Sweden - A Micro Level Analysis," Scandinavian Economic History Review, July 2008, Vol. 56#2 pp 122-141



Pre 1700

Since 1700

External links

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 12/1/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.