Denmark 1525-1660 Sweden, 1560-1611

Swedish-Danish War, 1563-1570

A.) Prehistory of the War

Swedish claims on the island of Gotland (held by Denmark) and, most importantly, the continued use of the Trekronor coat of arms by Denmark (the three crowns representing the three Kalmar Union kingdoms - Denmark, Norway and Sweden) provide the cause of the war, after negotiations failed.

B.) The War

Gustavus I. Vasa had died in 1560; his son Erik XIV., in 1568 deposed because of insanity, declared war. Already in September 1563, a Danish force took Älvsborg, Sweden's only stronghold on the North Sea. In May 1564 a Danish fleet defeated a Swedish fleet between Øland and Gotland. In 1565 a Swedish army suffers defeat by a numerically inferior Danish force. No major actions followed; in 1571 a peace treaty was concluded; Denmark returned Älvsborg and was compensated by a Swedish payment of 150,000 Dalers.
Denmark was allied with Lübeck and with Poland. Since 1561 Sweden owned territory in Estonia, and from 1563 to 1570 the Swedes were at war with Poland in Livonia; Sweden concluded an alliance with Russia. There were no significant military actions undertaken. When King Erik XIV. in 1568 was deposed and replaced by his brother Johan (married to Polish princess), the war with Poland technically was over.

C.) The Legacy

King Erik XIV. was deposed during the war, replaced by his brother Johan. The war temporarily interrupted the grain trade from the Baltic port of Danzig to the Netherlands, causing a famine in the Netherlands, which contributed to the tensity of the situation there.
Denmark continued to control the Sound; Sweden lacked a significant outlet to the North Sea; the Danes controlled the Russia trade - conditions which made Sweden regard Denmark as a potential opponent.

The Nordic Seven Years' War, from Many Swedish Wars, by Hans Högman
Syvårskrigen, from Dansk Militær Historie, in Danish, scroll down; has military details
DOCUMENTS J. Lauridsen Wolf (1654): Om svenskernes belejring af Varbjerg under syvårskrigen (1563-1570) (On the Swedish Siege of Varberg during the 7 Years' War), from Skræp, in Danish

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

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