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

Royal Palace of Aranjuez

Palacio Real de Aranjuez is a former Spanish royal residence. It was established around the time Philip II of Spain moved the capital from Toledo to Madrid. Aranjuez became one of four seasonal seats of government, occupied during the springtime (from about holy week). Thereafter, the court moved successively to Rascafría, El Escorial and wintered in Madrid. Aranjuez Cultural Landscape is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After the Christian conquest, Aranjuez was owned by the Order of Santiago and a palace was built for its Grand Masters where the Royal Palace stands today. When the Catholic Monarchs assumed the office of Grand Master of the Order of Santiago, Aranjuez became part of the Royal estate. This fertile land, located between the Tajo and Jarama Rivers, was converted into the Spanish monarchy's most lavish country retreat: during Spain's Golden Age, Aranjuez became a symbol for the perfection of nature by mortal hands, as El Escorial was for art.

Such excellence was based on strong Renaissance foundations, as Charles V envisaged this inherited estate as a large Italian-inspired villa, a desire continued by Philip II who appointed Juan Bautista de Toledo to design leafy avenues that ran through the gardens and farming land. A series of dams was constructed in the 16th century to control the course of the Tajo River and create a network of irrigation canals.

The splendour of the estate was only enhanced by the Bourbon monarchs, who would spend the whole spring, from Easter to July, at the Palace. Phillip V added new gardens and Ferdinand VI designed a new system of tree-lined streets and created a small village within the estate, which was further developed by Charles III and Charles IV. As Ferdinand VII and Isabella II continued to visit Aranjuez during the spring, the splendour of this site was maintained until 1870.

The Royal Palace, built by Phillip II on the site of the old palace of the Grand Masters of Santiago, was designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo –under whom construction began in 1564– and later Juan Herrera, who only managed to finish half the project. Although glimpses of the original layout still remain, the building itself is more characteristic of the classicism favoured by the Hapsburg monarchs, with alternating white stone and brick. The original design was continued by Phillip V in 1715 but not finished until 1752 under Ferdinand VI. The rectangular layout that Juan Bautista de Toledo had planned, and that took two centuries to complete, was only maintained for 20 years, since in 1775 Charles III added two wings onto the Palace.

Real Casa del Labrador

As the Prince of Asturias, Charles IV was a frequent visitor to the pier pavilions built by Ferdinand VI and grew up playing in the Prince’s Garden. When he became King, he decided to build a new country house at the far end of these gardens, known as the Casa del Labrador (the labourer's house) due to its modest exterior that was designed to heavily contrast the magnificent internal decor. It was built by chief architect Juan de Villanueva and his pupil Isidro González Velázquez, who designed some of the interior spaces. These rooms, developed in various stages until 1808, are the greatest example of the lavish interior decor favoured by this monarch in his palaces and country retreats. Highlights at this Site include the combination of different types of art and the luxurious textiles, in particular the silks from Lyon, as well as wealth of original works on the main floor, where Ferdinand VII added various paintings and landscapes by Brambilla.

King's Garden, the Island Garden, Parterre Garden and the Prince's Garden

Phillip II, a great lover of gardens, paid special attention to this feature of the Aranjuez Palace: during his reign, he maintained both the Island Garden, designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo, and the King's Garden, immediately adjacent to the Palace and whose current layout was designed by Philip IV. The majority of the fountains on this island were commissioned by Phillip IV, while the Bourbons added other features such as the Charles III benches.

Phillip V made two French-style additions to the existing gardens: the Parterre Garden in front of the palace and the extension at the far end of the Island Garden, known as the Little Island, where he installed the Tritons Fountain that was later moved to the Campo del Moro park by Isabella II.

The Prince's Garden owes its name and creation to the son and heir of Charles III who, in the 1770s, began to use Ferdinand VI's old pier for his own enjoyment. He also created a landscaped garden in the Anglo-French style that was in fashion at the time and which was directly influenced by Marie Antoinette's gardens at the Petit Trianon. Both Juan de Villanueva and Pablo Boutelou collaborated in the design of this garden.