The Age of Liberty

History of Sweden between 1722 - 1771

The Age of Liberty (Frihetstiden) is the half century long period of parliamentarianism and increasing civil rights in Sweden, beginning in 1721 after Great Northern War and ending with Gustav III's self-coup in 1772. The shift of power from the Monarch to the Parliament was a direct effect of the disastrous Great Northern War.

The Great Northern War (1700–21) was a conflict in which a coalition led by the Tsardom of Russia successfully contested the supremacy of the Swedish Empire. The war started when an alliance of Denmark–Norway, Saxony and Russia declared war on the Swedish Empire, launching a threefold attack at Swedish Holstein-Gottorp, Swedish Livonia, and Swedish Ingria. Sweden was ruled by the young Charles XII, who was eighteen years old and inexperienced at the time. Sweden was first victorius against Danish and Russian and Poland. Charles XII moved from Saxony into Russia to confront Peter I, but the campaign ended with the destruction of the main Swedish army in Poltava (now Ukraine), and Charles's exile in Ottoman Bender. After Poltava, the initial anti-Swedish coalition was re-established and subsequently joined by Hanover and Prussia. The remaining Swedish forces in the plague stricken areas south and east of the Baltic Sea were evicted, with the last city, Riga, falling in 1710. Sweden proper was invaded by Denmark–Norway from the west and by Russia from the east, occupying all of Finland by 1714. Though the Danish attacks were repulsed, Russia managed to occupy Finland. Charles XII opened up a Norwegian front, but was killed in Fredriksten in 1718. The war ended with a defeat for Sweden, leaving Russia as the new major power in the Baltic Sea and an important new player in European politics. In Sweden, the absolute monarchy had come to an end with Charles XII's death, and the Age of Liberty began.

Early in 1720 Charles XII's sister, Ulrika Eleonora, who had been elected queen of Sweden immediately after his death, was permitted to abdicate in favour of her husband Frederick the prince of Hesse, who was elected king 1720 under the title of Frederick I of Sweden; and Sweden was, at the same time, converted into the most limited of monarchies. All power was vested in the people as represented by the Riksdag, consisting, as before, of four distinct estates, nobles, priests, burgesses and peasants, sitting and deliberating apart. The conflicting interests and mutual jealousies of these four independent assemblies made the work of legislation exceptionally difficult.

Trofeer från slaget vid Svensksund bäres in i Storkyrkan, målning av Pehr Hilleström
Trophies from the Battle of Svensksund
brought into the Storkyrkan in Stockholm.
The policy of the Hats party was a return to the traditional alliance between France and Sweden. The first blunder of the Hats was the hasty and ill-advised war with Russia. The European complications consequent upon the almost simultaneous deaths of Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor and Empress Anne of Russia seemed to favour the Hats' adventurous schemes. The Hat's Russian war was not succesful. After some defeats Swedish forces were so demoralized that the mere rumour of a hostile attack made them retire panic-stricken to Helsinki; and before the end of the year all Finland was in the hands of the Russians. By the Treaty of Åbo 7 May 1743 the terms of the empress were accepted and only that small part of Finland which lay beyond the Kymi River was retained by Russia. In March 1751 the old King Frederick died. His slender prerogatives had gradually dwindled down to vanishing point.

The Pomeranian War 1757-1762 was a theatre of the Seven Years' War. The term is used to describe the fighting between Sweden and Prussia between 1757 and 1762 in Swedish Pomerania. The war was characterized by a back-and-forth movement of the Swedish and Prussian armies, neither of whom would score a decisive victory. Neither this war was succesful to Sweden. The death of Elizabeth of Russia in January 1762 changed the whole political situation in Europe. A Russo-Prussian alliance threatened to make Russia an enemy not an ally of Sweden. The secret committee thus decided on March 13 that year that Sweden would seek a separate peace. Via the queen's mediation, the Swedes signed the peace of Hamburg with Prussia and Mecklenburg on 22 May, accepting their defeat - Prussia and Sweden were restored to the status quo ante bellum.

In Sweden, the unpopularity of this costly and futile war meant that the Hats' control on government began to falter and the confusion the war caused led to a deficit which resulted in their fall in 1765.

References: Wikipedia

Popular sites founded between 1722 and 1771 in Sweden

Brokind Castle

Brokind is one of the oldest estates in the region. It has been for example a property of powerful Bjälbo family and Bo Jonsson Grip. In 1706 Brokind was acquired by Falkenberg family and they built the current main buildin in 1727-1731. The two wings were added later.
Founded: 1727-1731 | Location: Brokind, Sweden

Klippan

Klippan is located just below Älvsborgs bridge. The area of Klippan was a precursor to the community that would later become the city of Gothenburg. There used to be salting-houses, glassworks and foundries here during the 18th century. The Scottish Carnegie family owned sugar refineries and breweries in the area later on. Today, Klippan is a cultural heritage centre. You will also find a café, hotel and res ...
Founded: 18th century | Location: Gothenburg, Sweden

East India Company House

The old East India Company House (now the City Museum) was once the hub of Sweden's trade with the Far East. Most seafaring nations in the 18th century had an East India company which held a monopoly on trade with the East. Scottish merchants were not part of the lucrative dealings of the English, so Scot Colin Campbell, in association with Niclas Sahlgren in Gothenburg, devised an idea for a Swedish East India Company, w ...
Founded: 1750-1762 | Location: Gothenburg, Sweden

Adolf Fredriks kyrka

Adolf Fredriks kyrka ("The Church of Adolf Frederick") was built in 1768-1774, replacing a wooden chapel from 1674, which was dedicated to Saint Olof. René Descartes was first buried to the cemetery in 1650 (before his remains were moved to France). Inside the church is a memorial to the memory of Descartes installed by Gustav III. Other famous people buried in the church cemetery include Swedish Prime Minister Olo ...
Founded: 1768-1774 | Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Alingsås Museum

The industrial history of Alingsås began in 1724 when Jonas Alström established there a factory. The factory had 1,000 employees already in the mid-18th century. The Alströmerska warehouse at the Lilla Torget is the city’s oldest secular building. It was built in the beginning of the 1730s and is the only property left from the Alströmerska époque. The building was first used by Jonas Als ...
Founded: 1730s | Location: Alingsås, Sweden

Karlstad Cathedral

Karlstad cathedral, which replaced an earlier one in a different location that was destroyed by fire, was built in the 1730 by design of Christian Haller. It is constructed of natural stone and brick which is plastered over. It took around sixty years to complete the interior decorations. The church, which is in a baroque style, has some neo-classical features. It has a light interior.
Founded: 1730 | Location: Karlstad, Sweden

Kristineberg Palace

Kristineberg Palace in Kungsholmen was built around 1750 for the businessman R. Schröder. The palace was surrounded by parks and the property included a great deal of the surrounding land. In 1864 the property was bought by the Swedish Freemasonry and additional construction on the palace was made. Stockholm City bought the land in 1921 and started building the Kristineberg district, and today part of the palace is u ...
Founded: 1750 | Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Gagnef Church

Gagnef Church origins from the 13th century, but it was extended on several occasions during the following centuries. The major reconstruction was made between 1766-1771. The interesting triptych is made in Lübeck around the year 1500. The backside is decorated by Albertus Pictor or his students.
Founded: 1766-1771 | Location: Gagnef, Sweden

Hedvig Eleonora Church

Hedvig Eleonora Church was consecrated in 1737 and is named after the Swedish Queen Hedvig Eleonora (1636-1715), wife of King Charles X of Sweden. Hedvig Eleonora Church is an octagonal church. It is one of Stockholm's most popular for weddings, christenings and funerals.
Founded: 1737 | Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Habo Church

Habo Church (Habo kyrka) is a unique wooden church building which bears resemblance to a cathedral, but is built entirely in wood. It is in the form of abasilica, with a high nave and two lower side aisles. It received its present appearance in 1723. The interior of the church was painted in 1741-1743 by two artists from Jönköping, Johan Kinnerius and Johan Christian Peterson. The paintings illustrate Martin Luther's c ...
Founded: 1723 | Location: Habo, Sweden

Vaxholm Church

The construction of Vaxholm Church was began in 1760, but it was not completed until 1803. It has been designed by Carl Fredrik Adelcrantz and Olof Tempelman. The font, made of sandstone in Gotland, dates from the 14th century. The cruficix date from the 18th century.
Founded: 1760-1803 | Location: Vaxholm, Sweden

Vemdalen Church

The wooden church of Vemdalen was built in 1624 and moved to the current place in 1763. It was then reconstructed to the octagonal Rococo style. The altarpiece dates from 1755.
Founded: 1763 | Location: Vemdalen, Sweden

Upphärad Church

Upphärad Church was completed in 1724 and the bell tower in 1770. The altar was also made in 1724 and pulpit a year later (both by John Mentz Scheffer). There are also some medieval wooden sculptures in the church.
Founded: 1724 | Location: Upphärad, Sweden

Norrtälje Church

In 1719, during the Great Northern War, large parts of the central town were burnt down by a Russian army. The new stone church wasn"t finished until 1726. The tower was erected in 1752.
Founded: 1726 | Location: Norrtälje, Sweden

Hålanda Church

The original church of Hålanda dated from the 1100s or 1200s. It was completely rebuilt to the present appearance in 1756. The stone font dates from the 1200s. The late Baroque altarpiece and pulpit were made in 1600s and organs in 1887.
Founded: 1756 | Location: Hålanda, Sweden

Naval Museum

Marinmuseum (Naval Museum) is Sweden"s national naval museum, dedicated to the Swedish naval defense and preservation of the country"s naval history. Marinmuseum is one of Sweden"s oldest museums, established in 1752 when King Adolf Frederick began the collection and documentation of naval objects in what was called the Model Room (Modellkammaren). He also ordered the preservation of ship models and ship bu ...
Founded: 1752 | Location: Karlskrona, Sweden

Sundborn Church

Sundborn Church rises beautifully beside the shore of lake Toftan. There has been a church in Sundborn since the 17th century, but the present wooden church was built in 1755 and the pulpit is from the late 19th century. Carl Larsson redecorated the whole church in 1905. Prominent places are occupied by his Altar Angels, John the baptist, wall decorations in the shape of pine twigs and an abundance of flower garlands and ...
Founded: 1755 | Location: Sundborn, Sweden

Hospital Museum

Vadstena Hospital Museum covers the town's hospital tradition. The museum building is an old mental hospital built in 1757. The 16th century Mårten Skinnares House is situated next to the museum and open during guided tours of the museum.
Founded: 1757 | Location: Vadstena, Sweden

Linnaeus Hammarby

Linnaeus Hammarby is one of three botanical gardens belonging to Uppsala University in Sweden. It was the former summer home of Carolus Linnaeus and his family. Today, few Swedish manor-houses preserve such an authentic milieu. It reflects the private life of Linnaeus as well as his scientific work. In 1758 Linnaeus bought two small estates: Sävja and Hammarby. During their first summers at Hammarby the Linnaeuses l ...
Founded: 1758 | Location: Uppsala, Sweden

Tistad Castle

Tistad Castle was built in 1766-1771 by baron Fredrik Bengt Rosenhane. The history of Tistad estate dates from the 16th century and it has been owned by several famous noble families like Trolle, Oxenstierna and Sparre. The beautiful three-storey castle is built in Italian style and it is surrounded by a French-style garden. Guided tours are available for groups. There is also a café.
Founded: 1766-1771 | Location: Nyköping, Sweden

Arboga Town Hall

The town hall was originally built as a church in the 15th Century. During the reformation in the 16th Century Gustav Vasa gave the church to the people of Arboga and its new purpose was to be the town hall. However the king used the house as his own private residence instead. His daughter, Cecilia, Countess of Arboga, also lived here in 1570. From 1640 to the present day Arboga’s town council has had offices here. The ...
Founded: 1752-59 | Location: Arboga, Sweden

Ängsö Castle

Ängsö Castle was first mentioned in a royal charter at the end of the 12th century. It has been a residence of Sparre and Piper families, who have extended and rebuilt the original stone building. It gained its current appearance in the 1740s by architect Carl Hårleman. The castle was owned by Piper family until 1971. Today it is open to the public.
Founded: 1740s | Location: Västerås, Sweden

Jokkmokk Old Church

The old church was originally constructed in 1753, but burned down totally in 1972 and was reinaugurated in 1976. The exterior was remade exactly as it had been earlier. The colors within the church – blue and red – relate to the colors on the Sámi traditional costume from the Jokkmokk area.The church is open for visitors during summer and the winter market.
Founded: 1753 | Location: Jokkmokk, Sweden

Övedskloster Castle

In the Middle Ages Övedskloster was a Premonstratensian monastery. In the 16th century Reformation it was moved to Danish Crown. The original castle was destroyed by fire in the beginning of the 17thc century.The current Övedskloster Castle was built in 1765-1776 by Hans Ramel. It was designed by Swedish architect Carl Hårleman. The main building represents the French Rococo style and is built of red sands ...
Founded: 1765-1776 | Location: Sjöbo, Sweden

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Castle de Haar

Castle de Haar is the largest and most fairytale-like castle in the Netherlands. The current buildings, all built upon the original castle, date from 1892 and are the work of Dutch architect P.J.H. Cuypers, in a Neo-Gothic restoration project funded by the Rothschild family.

The oldest historical record of a building at the location of the current castle dates to 1391. In that year, the family De Haar received the castle and the surrounding lands as fiefdom from Hendrik van Woerden. The castle remained in the ownership of the De Haar family until 1440, when the last male heir died childless. The castle then passed to the Van Zuylen family. In 1482, the castle was burned down and the walls were torn down, except for the parts that did not have a military function. These parts probably were incorporated into the castle when it was rebuilt during the early 16th century. The castle is mentioned in an inventory of the possessions of Steven van Zuylen from 1506, and again in a list of fiefdoms in the province Utrecht from 1536. The oldest image of the castle dates to 1554 and shows that the castle had been largely rebuilt by then. After 1641, when Johan van Zuylen van der Haar died childless, the castle seems to have gradually fallen into ruins. The castle escaped from total destruction by the French during the Rampjaar 1672.

In 1801 the last catholic van Zuylen in the Netherlands, the bachelor Anton-Martinus van Zuylen van Nijevelt (1708-1801) bequeathed the property to his cousin Jean-Jacques van Zuylen van Nyevelt (1752-1846) of the catholic branch in the Southern Netherlands. In 1890, De Haar was inherited by Jean-Jacques' grandson Etienne Gustave Frédéric Baron van Zuylen van Nyevelt van de Haar (1860-1934), who married Baroness Hélène de Rothschild. They contracted architect Pierre Cuypers in 1892 to rebuild the ruinous castle, which took 15 years.

In 1887, the inheritor of the castle-ruins, Etienne van Zuylen van Nijevelt, married Hélène de Rothschild, of theRothschild family. Fully financed by Hélène's family, the Rothschilds, the couple set about rebuilding the castle from its ruins. For the restoration of the castle, the famous architect Pierre Cuypers was hired. He would be working on this project for 20 years (from 1892 to 1912). The castle has 200 rooms and 30 bathrooms, of which only a small number on the ground floor have been opened to be viewed by the public. In the hall, Cuypers has placed a statue with his own image in a corner of the gallery on the first floor.

The castle was equipped by Cuypers with the most modern gadgets, such as electrical lighting with its own generator, and central heating by way of steam. This installation is internationally recognized as an industrial monument. The kitchen was for that period also very modern and still has a large collection of copper pots and pans and an enormous furnace of approximately 6 metres long, which is heated with peat or coals. The tiles in the kitchen are decorated with the coats of arms of the families De Haar and Van Zuylen, which were for this purpose especially baked in Franeker. Cuypers marked out the difference between the old walls and the new bricks, by using a different kind of brick for the new walls. For the interior Cuypers made a lot of use of cast iron.

In the castle one can see many details which reminds one of the family De Rothschild, such as the David stars on the balconies of the knight's hall, the motto of the family on the hearth in the knight's hall (A majoribus et virtute) and the coat of arms of the family right underneath on the hearth in the library.

The interior of the castle is decorated with richly ornamented woodcarving, which reminds one of the interior of a Roman Catholic church. This carving was made in the workshop of Cuypers in Roermond. The place where later also the interiors of many Roman Catholic churches were made, designed by Cuypers. Cuypers even designed the tableware. The interior is also furnished with many works of the Rothschild collections, including beautiful old porcelain from Japan and China, and several old Flemish tapestries and paintings with religious illustrations. A showpiece is a carrier coach of the woman of a Shogun from Japan. There is only one more left in the world, which stands in a museum in Tokyo. Many Japanese tourists come to De Haar to admire exactly this coach, which was donated from the Rothschilds collections.

Surrounding the castle there is a park, designed by Hendrik Copijn, for which Van Zuylen ordered 7000 fully grown trees. Because these could not be transported through the city of Utrecht, Van Zuylen bought a house and tore it down. The park contains many waterworks and a formal garden which reminds one of the French gardens of Versailles. During the Second World War many of the gardens were lost, because the wood was used to light fires, and the soil was used to grow vegetables upon. At this time, the gardens are restored in their old splendor.

For the decoration of the park, the village Haarzuilens, except for the town church, was broken down. The inhabitants were moved to a place a kilometer further up, where a new Haarzuilens arose, where they lived as tenants of the lord of the castle. This new village was also built in a pseudo-medieval style, including a rural village green. The buildings were for the most part designed by Cuypers and his son Joseph Cuypers.