Lord High Chancellor of Sweden

Lord High Chancellor of Sweden

Fredrik Sparre
Style The High Well Born
Residence Oxenstierna Palace
Appointer Monarch of Sweden
Formation 1 August 1538
First holder Conrad von Pyhy
Final holder Fredrik Sparre
Abolished 14 December 1797

The Lord High Chancellor (Swedish: Rikskansler), literally Chancellor of the Realm, was a prominent and influential office in Sweden, from 1538 until 1797, excluding periods when the office was out of use. The office holder was a member of the Privy Council. From 1634, the Lord High Chancellor was one of five Great Officers of the Realm, who were the most prominent members of the Privy Council and headed a governmental branch each—the Lord High Chancellor headed the Privy Council. In 1792, more than a century after the office's abolishment in 1680, it was revived but was then finally abolished twelve years later in 1797.


During the Middle Ages, from the 13th century, the "chancellor of the king" was a close confidant of the king. The chancellor was in general a man of the church, and one part of his duty was to aid the king during negotiations with foreign powers. In 1560, during Eric XIV's reign, Nils Gyllenstierna became the first to receive the title Rikskansler.[1]


The Lord High Chancellor was appointed by the King and was assigned to ensure that the orders of the King and the Riksdag of the Estates were followed. Along the way, the assignments of the chancellor increased to the amount that a chancellery, the Privy Council, had to be established. In 1634, the five Great Officers of the Realm was introduced as the most powerful among the Privy Council members. The Chancellor was fourth in rank among these. Albeit fourth in rank, the Lord High Chancellor became the most important figure in the Privy Council. The Chancellor was responsible for maintaining relations with foreign powers and especially Axel Oxenstierna possessed massive influence during his tenure as Chancellor (1612–1654), when he more or less had the role of a head of government.[1][2]

Abolition and revival of the office

In 1680, Charles XI abolished the office and inaugurated a new position instead – "President of the Chancellery" (Swedish: Kanslipresident). In 1792, during the minority reign of Gustav IV Adolph the office of Rikskansler was revived, but it was removed once again in 1797.[1]

Lord High Chancellors of Sweden

First creation

Portrait Name Lifespan Term began Term ended Monarch(s)
Conrad von Pyhy
? – 15531 August 15381543Gustav I
Nils Gyllenstierna
1526 – 1601
(aged 74–75)
15601590Eric XIV
John III
Erik Sparre
13 July 1550 – 20 March 1600
(aged 49)
159320 March 1600Sigismund Vasa
Charles IX
Svante Bielke
1567 – 2 July 1609
(aged 41–42)
16022 July 1609Charles IX
Axel Oxenstierna
16 June 1583
28 August 1654(1654-08-28) (aged 71)
6 January 161228 August 1654Gustav II Adolph
Erik Oxenstierna
13 February 1624
23 October 1656(1656-10-23) (aged 32)
28 August 165423 October 1656Charles X Gustav
Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie
15 October 1622
26 April 1686(1686-04-26) (aged 63)
13 February 166010 June 1680Charles XI

Second creation

Portrait Name Lifespan Term began Term ended Monarch(s)
Fredrik Sparre
2 February 1731
30 January 1803(1803-01-30) (aged 71)
16 July 179214 December 1797Gustav IV Adolph

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 "Nordisk Familjebok - "Rikskansler"". runeberg.org (in Swedish). Retrieved 2014-03-26.
  2. "Rikskansler". ne.se (in Swedish). Nationalencyklopedien. Retrieved 2014-03-26.
  3. With the title Överstekansler ("Supreme Chancellor").
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