History of Sweden between 1523 - 1610
The Early Vasa era is a period that in Swedish history lasted between 1523–1611. It began with the reconquest of Stockholm by Gustav Vasa and his men from the Danes in 1523, and Sweden's consequent abandonment of the Kalmar Union, and continued with the reign of Gustav's sons Eric XIV, John III, John's son Sigismund, and finally Gustav's youngest son Charles IX.
In 1520, Stockholm was taken by Christian II of Denmark and became the scene of the Stockholm Bloodbath. By 1521, Gustav Eriksson, a nobleman and relative of Sten Sture the Elder, managed to gather troops from Dalarna in north-west Sweden and help from Lübeck, with the purpose of defeating the Danes. In August 1521, his men elected him their monarch. The Swedish War of Liberation started, and would last until the capture of Stockholm, in June 1523. Gustav Vasa then consolidated his rule against claims from Denmark.
Tax reforms took place in 1538 and 1558, whereby multiple complex taxes on independent farmers were simplified and standardized throughout the district; tax assessments per farm were adjusted to reflect ability to pay. A war with Luebeck in 1535 resulted in the expulsion of the Hanseatic traders, who previously had had a monopoly of foreign trade. With its own businessmen in charge Sweden's economic strength grew rapidly. Sweden now built the first modern army in Europe, supported by a sophisticated tax system and government bureaucracy. Gustavus proclaimed the Swedish crown hereditary in his family, the house of Vasa. It ruled Sweden (1523–1654) and Poland (1587–1668).
After Gustav's death, his oldest son Eric XIV ascended the throne. His regency was marked by Sweden's entrance into the Livonian War and the Northern Seven Years' War, and the mutual relation between his developing mental disorder and the opposition with the aristocracy, leading to the Sture Murders (1567) and the imprisonment of his brother John (III), who was married to Catherine Jagiellonica, the sister of Sigismund II of Poland. A magnates' uprising led by John led to Erik's deposition and the kingship of John, followed by the regency of John's son Sigismund. Sigismund however was not able to defend the throne against Gustav's youngest son Charles (IX).
Gustav's reign was marked by internal political and religious reforms, including the Protestant reformation and a unification of the provinces. At the death of Gustav of 1560, he was succeeded by his oldest son Eric. Eric was intelligent and skilled, but was in a constant strain with his brother and other noblemen. He engaged in warfare against Denmark, Russia and Poland, but suffered periods of insanity in 1567. In 1568 he was dethroned and succeeded by his brother John. John stabilized the international situation and made peace. He also wanted to partially restore Roman Catholicism but the idea did not come through in the end.
At the death of John in 1592, his son Sigismund succeeded him. Sigismund was at that time already king of the Polish throne, through his mother, and he would rule Poland from 1587 to 1632. He set up regency and continued to reside in Poland. On learning about the Uppsala Synod, that finally declared Sweden's Lutheran doctrines, he returned home to protest. He found that the Riksdag of the Estates had already dethroned him and replaced him by Gustav Vasa's youngest son, his uncle, Charles IX. A brief civil war ensued that Sigismund lost in 1598, where after he fled the country never to return.
Hochosterwitz Castle is considered to be one of Austria's most impressive medieval castles. The rock castle is one of the state's landmarks and a major tourist attraction.
The site was first mentioned in an 860 deed issued by King Louis the German of East Francia, donating several of his properties in the former Principality of Carantania to the Archdiocese of Salzburg. In the 11th century Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg ceded the castle to the Dukes of Carinthia from the noble House of Sponheim in return for their support during the Investiture Controversy. The Sponheim dukes bestowed the fiefdom upon the family of Osterwitz, who held the hereditary office of the cup-bearer in 1209.
In the 15th century, the last Carinthian cup-bearer, Georg of Osterwitz was captured in a Turkish invasion and died in 1476 in prison without leaving descendants. So after four centuries, on 30 May 1478, the possession of the castle reverted to Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg.
Over the next 30 years, the castle was badly damaged by numerous Turkish campaigns. On 5 October 1509, Emperor Maximilian I handed the castle as a pledge to Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg, then Bishop of Gurk. Bishop Lang undertook a substantial renovation project for the damaged castle.
About 1541, German king Ferdinand I of Habsburg bestowed Hochosterwitz upon the Carinthian governor Christof Khevenhüller. In 1571, Baron George Khevenhüller acquired the citadel by purchase. He fortified to deal with the threat of Turkish invasions of the region, building an armory and 14 gates between 1570 and 1586. Such massive fortification is considered unique in citadel construction.
Since the 16th century, no major changes have been made to Hochosterwitz. It has also remained in the possession of the Khevenhüller family as requested by the original builder, George Khevenhüller. A marble plaque dating from 1576 in the castle yard documents this request.
A specific feature is the access way to the castle passing through a total of 14 gates, which are particularly prominent owing to the castle's situation in the landscape. Tourists are allowed to walk the 620-metre long pathway through the gates up to the castle; each gate has a diagram of the defense mechanism used to seal that particular gate. The castle rooms hold a collection of prehistoric artifacts, paintings, weapons, and armor, including one set of armor 2.4 metres tall, once worn by Burghauptmann Schenk.