Sweden, 1448-1523

Swedish War of Liberation, 1521-1523

A.) Prehistory of the War

Technically, the Kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, since 1397, were united in Dynastic Union in the UNION OF KALMAR. The Union Kings resided in Copenhagen. Since the 1430es, the Swedes, lead by the Swedish nobility, were rather resentful of the Union Kings, and over extended periods of time, ignored them. In 1448 they elected one of their own, Karl Knutsson, King of Sweden (-1457, again 1564-1467, 1470-1471). Afterwards, they appointed "Riksföreständer" (principals of the realm), Sten Sture the Elder (1470-1495, 1501-1503), Svante Nilsson Sture (1504-1512), Sten Sture the Younger (1512-1520). Intermittently, (Danish) Union Kings imposed Union rule by a display of military force (Christian I. 1457-1464, 1467-1470; Hans 1497-1501). In 1520 Union King Christian II., after such a display of force, gained the submission of Sweden's grandees, granted them amnesty in return and was crowned During the ceremony, Sweden's grandees were arrested and then, in public, executed - the notorious Stockholm Bloodbath. King Christian II. then returned to Copenhagen.

B.) The War

King Christian II. was everything but popular; in 1521 a rebellion broke out, lead by Gustavus Vasa, a nobleman who had not attended the coronation. In April 1521 the forces loyal to Christian II. were defeated in the Battle of Västeras, in June 1521 Gustavus was elected King of Sweden in the city of Strängnäs.
The rebels had two problems - laying siege to fortress cities was costly, and the coastal fortresses had to be besieged from land and sea. The rebels had no fleet; the Danes controlled the sea. So Gustavus I. Vasa concluded an alliance with the Hanseatic city of Lübeck (1522), which had the strongest fleet in the Baltic Sea, and took a hefty loan. Kalmar fell in May 1523, Stockholm in June, (Swedish) Finland in September. Sweden had gained her independence.

C.) The Legacy

The loss of Sweden cost King Christian II. also Denmark - he was ousted. While Sweden continued to suspect the holder of the Danish crown of the intention to reestablish the Union of Kalmar, Denmark, for more than a decade, did not pose a problem because of lack of internal stability.
The real problem was Lübeck, a vital ally during the war. However, the city's merchants had been granted the monopoly for Sweden's entire export and import, a severe burden to Sweden's economy.

War of Liberation, from Many Swedish Wars by Hans Högman
The War of Liberation and the Dacke Rebellion, from Battles from Swedish History
Befrielsekriget 1521-1523 (War of Liberation), from Svea Rike, in Swedish
Stockholm Bloodbath, from Wikipedia

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on May 31st 2003, last revised on November 17th 2004

Click here to go Home
Click here to go to Information about KMLA, WHKMLA, the author and webmaster
Click here to go to Statistics

Impressum · Datenschutz