Consolidation

History of Sweden between 1060 - 1396

The consolidation of Sweden was a long process during which the loosely organized social system consolidated under the power of the king. Unlike the history of Norway and Denmark, there is no agreement on a reliable date for a "unified Sweden". Historians judge differently the sources for the history of Sweden's consolidation. The earliest history blends with Norse mythology. Early primary sources are foreign; secondary sources were written at a later date.

A common definition of Sweden is that it was formed when the Swedes and Geats were ruled by one king. The names Swedes and Geats are attested in the Old English poems Beowulf (written down in the 11th century) and Widsith (from the 8th century) and building on older legendary and folklore material collected in England. In both poems, an Ongentheow (sw. Angantyr) is named as the King of the Swedes, and the Geats are mentioned as a separate people. These names of peoples having formed in present-day Sweden, the Anglo-Saxon references and now lost tales they were attached to must have travelled across the North Sea. The first king who is considered historical and to have ruled over both peoples, is early 11th century Olof Skötkonung. Broadly speaking, Kings of Sweden, and the nobility of the land, have seen Götaland and Svealand (as well as growing parts of Finland) as equally important parts of the kingdom at least since the mid-13th century and, in some cases, considerably earlier.

Rather than the unification of tribes under one king, others maintain that the process of consolidation was gradual. To solve the problem of defining an early history of Sweden that coincides with reliable sources, a group of modern Swedish historians have contended that a real state could only exist, in the Middle Ages, if had the backing of Christianity and the clergy. The same connection between Christianity and consolidation is used in other countries where written sources are less scarce, such as England or Harald Bluetooth's Denmark. The definition is based on the fact that English and German priests would have brought organizational and administrative skills needed for statehood (including by local rulers). The process of consolidation would have required this important ideological shift. While an Iron Age Germanic king would claim the elective support of his people, and the Norse gods, a crowned Christian king would claim that his rule was divinely inspired. According to this definition the unification should be completed in 1210 when Erik Knutsson was crowned by the church, or perhaps in 1247 when the last separatist rising was defeated at Sparrsätra. A major problem sometimes pointed out with that view is that it entails circular proof: we know next to nothing about how the authority of the ruler was envisaged in heathen times, while we know some more of the Christian ideology of kingship, and obviously the Christian kingdom would underline the break with the pagan past, but this does not really allow the conclusion that there could have been no fixed and religiously connected ideas of the authority of the ruler in pre-Christian times. Moreover, we have no solid testimonies fixing it as a fact that the king residing in Central Sweden (the lake Mälar and Östergötland area) was actually recognized as king in all of the area that was called Sweden by the 13th century, when the mist really clears. There may have existed local kings in Western Sweden, even though their names have not been preserved.

References: Wikipedia

Popular sites founded between 1060 and 1396 in Sweden

Guldrupe Church

The oldest parts of Guldrupe church is the nave, dating from the late 12th century. Oak planks decorated with dragons have however been found on the site, and indicate that there may have existed an earlier, wooden church on the spot. The tower dates from the early 13th century, and from the end of the same century dates the un-proportionally large choir and sacristy. The choir replaced an earlier, smaller choir, but plan ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Guldrupe, Sweden

Uppsala Cathedral

Uppsala Cathedral is the largest and tallest cathedral and one of the most impressive religious buildings in Scandinavia. Originally built in the 13th century under Roman Catholicism and used for coronations of the Swedish monarch, since the Protestant Reformation, it has been controlled by the Lutheran Church of Sweden. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Uppsala, the primate of Sweden. The construction of the cathedral ...
Founded: 1287-1435 | Location: Uppsala, Sweden

Hölö Church

Remains of the 13th century church has been survived in the western wall of Hölö church. The tower dates from the 15th century, but the current appearance originates from the restoration made between 1792-1796. The Gustavian style interior has a Renaissance style epitaph of Karl Sture (died 1598) and his wife.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Hölö, Sweden

Lau Church

The first Christian church was probably a wooden church. Of this church there is no trace, but the baptismal font in the Church today has probably belonged to this church. In the 1220s a new stone church of considerable size was built in round-headed Romanesque style and consisted of a nave with four pillars, chancel with two cross-arms and apse, an extension in the rear of the chancel where the altar was placed. A large ...
Founded: 1220s | Location: Lau, Sweden

Näs Church

Näs church was built in the middle of the 13th century, and remains today largely unchanged. The interior was changed during a renovation made in 1910, and according to tradition the tower was originally higher. However, few of the original furnishings have survived. The altarpiece dates from 1692, and made in Burgsvik, while the pulpit is from the middle of the 18th century. The triumphal cross is a copy of a medieval ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Näs, Sweden

Lund Cathedral

Lund Cathedral was consecrated in 1145, and contains many well-known artefacts and features of considerable historical interest. Since then service has been held here every day for almost 900 years. Today over 700 000 persons visit the church each year with some 85 000 who attends a service. The first cathedral was built in Lund before 1085, but it is difficult to know if the present building was built in the same place. ...
Founded: 1080-1145 | Location: Lund, Sweden

Stångby Church

Stångby Church dates from the 12th century and consists of a half-round apsis, nave, choirs and tower. It was rebuilt in the 19th century by C. G. Brunius and the porch was demolished. The tower was erected in 1869-1870 and the middle nave was then enlarged.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Stångby, Sweden

Lovö Church

The oldest part of Lovö Church has been dated back to the later part of the 12th century. According Berit Wallenberg it was built as early as the 11th century. It is also believed that an even older wooden church existed on this site. Church sermons are held in the church, normally once a month, and for certain Christian holidays. The church is unusually small and narrow. It was extended to the east, first in the 13th a ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Drottningholm, Sweden

Kalmar Castle

The first defensive construction, a round tower, was built on Kalmarsund in the 12th century concurrently with the harbour. At the end of the 13th century King Magnus Ladulås had a new fortress built with a curtain wall, round corner towers and two square gatehouses surrounding the original tower. Located near the site of Kalmar's medieval harbor, it has played a crucial part in Swedish history since its initial con ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Kalmar, Sweden

Örebro Castle

For over 700 years Örebro Castle has kept a watchful eye on everyone crossing the bridge on the River Svartån. The oldest part of the castle, a defence tower, was erected in the latter half of the 13th century. This tower was added to in the 14th century to make a larger stronghold. The castle was expanded during the reign of the royal family Vasa between 1573-1627 to the impressive Renaissance castle. After Vasa famil ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Örebro, Sweden

St. Hans' & St. Peter's Church Ruins

St. Hans and St. Peter churches were built side by side during the 1200s. St. Peter was consecrated to the apostle Peter. St. Hans, which was the larger church, was dedicated to St. John the Evangelist. It was where the Lutheran doctrine for the first time preached on the island. In 1527, however, Bishop Brask turned Lutherans out from the church. But as soon as the bishop sailed to Denmark, Lutherans worships were starte ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Visby, Sweden

Täby Church

Täby Church was built during the latter half of the 13th century. It was first constructed as a square hall. In mid 14th century a vestry was added and about 100 years later the church porch was built. During the second half of the 15th century, the flat wooden ceiling was replaced by a vaulted ceiling. The altarpiece dates from the 1470s. The church is best known as one of the churches with mural paintings by Alb ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Täby, Sweden

Endre Church

The present Endre church was preceded by an older, Romanesque church. Of this church, only the tower, built in the 12th century, remains. A few stone sculptures have also been re-used in the later church, e.g. one sculpture depicting a dragon and another a lion. These are now immured in the southern façade of the church. The rest of the church dates from the 13th century (the choir and sacristy) and the early 14th (the n ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Endre, Sweden

Linköping Castle

Linköping Castle is Sweden"s oldest profane building. The oldest part, west wing, dates from the 12th century. Currently the residence of the County Governor of Östergötland, the castle has been home to governors and bishops since the 13th century. The most famous bishop to live in castle was probably Hans Brask, Sweden"s last Catholic bishop. The Linköping Bloodbath, the public execution by ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Linköping, Sweden

Lye Church

The main nave of Lye Church originate from the 12th century. The tower has dated to the year 1240 and the chancel was built in the early 1300s. The interesting detail is a stone-made relic chect made in the 1100s. There are also several mural paintings and artefacts made during the Middle Ages. The pulpit was added in 1705.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Lye, Sweden

Söne Church

Söne church was built c. 1190 in Scanian architectural style and first time mentioned in 1291. The interior is decorated with frescoes from the 1200s and late 1400s. The font has been survived from the 1100s and the pulpit dates from 1692.
Founded: c. 1190 | Location: Söne, Sweden

St. Peter's Church

St. Peter’s Church is the oldest building in Malmö. The construction was started in the early 1300s. It has influenced by the St. Mary’s Church in Lübeck. The tower and several chapels were added during the 15th century. The pulpit is made of stone in the 16th century, the font date back to 1601. Although most of the mural paintings has been destroyed during the centuries, there is one very richly d ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Malmö, Sweden

Tuve Church

Tuve Church is a Romanesque stone church, consisting of a rectangular nave and a narrow choir. This simple shape was typical of churches in Västergötland. The oldest parts of the building were probably erected in the 12th century. The two buttresses were added in the 18th century, and the porch in 1745. The sacristy, built in 1953, is the most recent addition. The bell tower was erected south-west of the church ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Göteborg, Sweden

Västerås Castle

Västerås Castle was built in the 13th century. The castle taken over by Gustav Vasa was in poor condition after battles and sieges so during the middle of the 16th century he altered and extended it. In 1544 the government gave the Crown Prince, Prince Erik, his own quarters in the castle, “The Young Man’s Apartment”. Later the castle was to be his prison. From 14 June 1573 to 16 October 1574 Erik XIV was impriso ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Västerås, Sweden

Stones of Mora

Stones of Mora was the place where the Swedish kings were elected. The origin of the tradition is unknown, but it has been known since the 13th century and mentioned by Snorri Sturlason (died 1241). The first known document tells that Magnus Ladulås was elected at the Stones of Mora in 1275. Magnus IV was elected at the stones on July 8, 1319 and Kristian I in 1457. He was the last to be elected at the stones. The ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Uppsala, Sweden

Vellinge Church

Vellinge Church was probably built in the late 1100s in Romanesque style. In the 16th century the choir was enlarged and the tower was erected in 1790-1791. There are some preserved medieval frescoes in walls. The pulpit was carved in 1606 and altar dates from 1608.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Vellinge, Sweden

Hamra Church

Hamra Church was built from the mid-13th century to early 14th century. The retable of sandstone dates from 1792. The triumph crucifix and font dates from the Middle Ages.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Hamra, Sweden

Botkyrka Church

According the legend the first wooden church of Botkyrka was completed in 1129 and it was built by Björn to his brother St. Bodvid. It was replaced by a Romanescue-style stone church in 1176. The present main nave originates from this church. The tower was added some decades later and the church was enlarged in the 14th and 15th centuries. The altar was made in Antwerpen in 1525. The sandstone epitaph date from the ...
Founded: 1176 | Location: Botkyrka, Sweden

Linköping Cathedral

The Linköping Cathedral is the seat for the bishop in the Church of Sweden Diocese of Linköping. The present church is about 800 years old. However, its history starts in the 11th century, with a wooden church being built. Later, around 1120, a stone church was being constructed; a basilica of about half the size of the present building. Around 1230 it became necessary to construct a larger church, as the basil ...
Founded: c. 1120 | Location: Linköping, 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.