Early Vasa Era

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.

References: Wikipedia

Popular sites founded between 1523 and 1610 in Sweden

Saint James's Church

The origin of the Saint James's Church dates back to a chapel belonging to the Solna parish and at the time built on the outskirts of the parish. It is first mentioned in 1311. The present church, originally founded in the 16th century, took a long time to complete. As a consequence it includes a wide range of architectonic styles, such as Late Gothic,Renaissance and Baroque, the design of architects: Willem Boy (1580-159 ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Stockholm, Sweden

German Church

The German Church, or the Church of Saint Gertrude, was founded in 1571. it started as a Guild Lounge for german merchantmen in Stockholm who where a large part of the population in the 16th century. Hans Jakob Kristler enlarged the chapel in 1638-1642 to the present two-nave church. During the 17th century, while the choir of the school participated at the royal concerts, the church became an important centre for church ...
Founded: 1571 | Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Uppsala Castle

Uppsala Castle is a 16th century royal castle in the historical city of Uppsala. Throughout much of its early history, the castle played a major role in the history of Sweden. It was built during the time Sweden was on its way to become a great power in Europe. King Gustav Vasa began construction of Uppsala Castle in 1549. Kings Erik XIV, John III and Charles IX all remodeled and expanded the citadel into a representativ ...
Founded: 1549 | Location: Uppsala, Sweden

Malmö Stortorget

At the heart of Malmö lies the Big Square (Stortorget). There is a statue of King Karl X Gustav of Sweden, who took the city from Danish dominion. The ornate Malmö City Hall (built in 1546) is on the east side, and in the northwest corner is Kockska Huset, the house of Jörgen Kock, a German immigrant who became mayor of the city and achieved wealth simply and directly: by taking control of the city mint. In ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Malmö, Sweden

Maria Magdalena Church

The history of Maria Magdalena Church dates back to the 1350s when King Magnus Eriksson with the permission of Pope Clement VI had a funeral chapel built on the location and dedicated it to Mary Magdalene. When Gustav Vasa liberated Stockholm in the early 1520s, his troops led by Peder Fredag encamped in the chapel and suffered severe losses when the troops of Christian II of Denmark attacked from the city. This might hav ...
Founded: 1588-1634 | Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Halmstad Castle

Halmstad Castle (Halmstads slott) is a 17th-century castle dating from the time when Halland was a province of Denmark. In 1595 the farm on the site where the castle now stands was purchased for use as a residence for the Danish Christian IV on his visit to Halmstad. It was under the authority of King Christian that the castle was constructed. Construction on the castle and nine adjoining lots started in 1609. Constructi ...
Founded: 1609-1615 | Location: Halmstad, Sweden

Gävle Castle

Gävle Castle is the northest one of so-called Vasa castles, built by Gustav Vasa of Sweden or his sons. The construction started in 1583 by the religious King John III of Sweden. The design was made by Willem Boy and the center of castle was a chapel. The castle was completed in 1597, five years after John"s death. In 1727 the chapel and the top floor were destroyed by fire. Gävle castle stayed damaged unt ...
Founded: 1583-1597 | Location: Gävle, Sweden

Klara Church

The convent and church of St. Clare was founded on the site in 1280s. It was to be one of the very first convents to be dissolved during the Swedish Reformation. Gustav Vasa had the church and convent torn down in 1527. The new Lutheran church, built under the order of King John III in 1572, is a cruciform shaped. It has the second highest tower in Scandinavia, over one hundred metres high. The interior contains a fine a ...
Founded: 1572 | Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Jukkasjärvi Church

The wooden Jukkasjärvi Church was built in 1607-1608. It is very rare sample of so-called 'buttress' church type; there are 10 existing churches in Finland and this is the only one in Sweden. The church was enlarged in 1726 and the gallery was added in 1785. The external belfry dates from the 1740s.
Founded: 1607-1608 | Location: Jukkasjärvi, Sweden

Vadstena Castle

Vadstena Castle was originally built by King Gustav I in 1545 as a fortress to protect Stockholm from enemies from the south. The fortress consisted of three smaller stone buildings facing the lake, Vättern, three 31 meter wide ramparts, a courtyard, a moat and four circular cannons turrets. The original ramparts were torn down in the 19th century and the present ramparts were inaugurated in 1999. The stone buildings ...
Founded: 1545 | Location: Vadstena, Sweden

Stora Herrestad

The guest house in Stora Herrestad is one of the oldest in Scania, and dates back to the 1600s. The old stable, which now serves as our banquet room, was used by travellers on their long journeys and the old main building, where the restaurant is now located, was the courthouse. In the 1780s the old main building was destroyed by fire, but was then rebuilt as an inn during the 1800s. The courthouse was relocated across t ...
Founded: 17th century | Location: Ystad, Sweden

Vaxholm Castle

Vaxholm Castle was originally constructed by Gustav Vasa in 1544 to defend Stockholm against shipborne attacks from the east, but most of the current structure dates from 1833-1863. The stretch of water below the building was formerly the main sea route to Stockholm. Thus, the fortress was strategically situated to defend the city from naval attacks. The castle was attacked by the Danes in 1612 and the Russian navy in 171 ...
Founded: 1544, 1833-1863 | Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Gripsholm Castle

Gripsholm Castle is regarded as one of Sweden's finest historical monuments. A fortress was built at the location around 1380 by Bo Jonsson Grip, and belonged to his family until the confiscation of mansions and castles by King Gustav I in 1526. The King tore it down, and built a fortified castle with circular corner towers and a wall, for defensive purposes. Of the original medieval fortress, only the façade of a ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Mariefred, Sweden

North Gate

North Gate (Norre Port) is the only existing part of the Halmstad city wall. It was completed in 1601 by King Kristian IV of Denmark. The gate was restored in 2005 and is one of the rare survived city gates in Sweden.
Founded: 1601 | Location: Halmstad, Sweden

Gräfsnäs Castle Ruins

Gräfsnäs Castle today consists of a heavily restored main building with barred windows and surrounding dry moat. The ruins are remnants of the original palatial fortress built in Swedish-French Renaissance style. The castle, which met with such a tragic fate, was constructed in c. 1571 and belonged to many different owners (like Leijonhufvud, Sparre and Holstein-Augustenburg families) before it was finally aband ...
Founded: c. 1571 | Location: Sollebrunn, Sweden

Landskrona Citadel

Landskrona Citadel was initially built 1549–1559 as a purely defensive fortification with two complete moats, the inner with a width of 70 metres. The outer (complete) moat is between 40 and 70 metres wide, and has cross fire bastions for artillery and guns. Outside the outer moat, a third narrower moat covers the northwest and northeast. There also exist remains of a fourth moat (between the two outer moats). The forti ...
Founded: 1549-1559 | Location: Landskrona, Sweden

Mariestad Cathedral

Mariestad Cathedral was built in Gothic style between 1593-1615 and is very unusual in being one of the few churches built in Sweden in the late 16th century. It is one of only two churches in Sweden to bear the title cathedral while not being the seat of a bishop. In this case it is because a bishop was once resident here and the seat has since been moved.
Founded: 1593-1615 | Location: Mariestad, Sweden

Dylta Bruk

The first sulfur factory in Dylta was mentioned in 1558. It was first owned by the Crown. In 1649 Queen Christina gave mill to Henrik Barckhusen. The Privy Council baron Samuel Åkerhielm became in 1739 the owner of Dylta Mill, which belonged to the family Åkerhielm in 265 years. The main building, which is built in wood, dates back to the 1740s. In the 1850s, the well-known architect J.F. Åbom designed ...
Founded: 1558 | Location: Örebro, Sweden

Svaneholm Castle

Svaneholm Castle (Svaneholms slott) was initially erected in the 1530s by the Danish knight and royal advisor Mourids Jepsen Sparre. Original murder-holes in the oldest castle walls are still preserved. During the Middle Ages the residence was called Skurdorp (Skudrup), which was fortified and situated next to the parish church, where remains still can be seen. During the mid-15th century it was owned by guardsman Hennin ...
Founded: 1530's | Location: Skurup, Sweden

Kungshuset

Kungshuset, the "King's House", was built by the Danish king Frederick II between 1578–1584 and originally intended as the residence for the bishop of Lund. After the secession of the Scanian lands to Sweden at the Treaty of Roskilde 1658, and the foundation of Lund University in 1666 to enhance the Swedification of the Danish provinces, the house was incorporated to serve as the university's main building and libra ...
Founded: 1578-1584 | Location: Lund, Sweden

Sorunda Church

Sorunda church is an unusually large, medieval church. Its history goes back to the 12th century with major additions made in the 15th and 16th centuries (the current exterior dates mainly from 1540). The church contains burial chapels for local aristocratic families and several interior details dating from the Middle Ages, notably an unusually fine wooden sculpture by Herman Rode. The altar screen dates from the late 140 ...
Founded: 1540 | Location: Sorunda, Sweden

Bygdeå Church

Bygdeå Church was built probably to the site of older wooden church with star vaults in 1539. The belfry was erected in 1818.
Founded: 1539 | Location: Bygdeå, Sweden

Vittskövle Castle

Vittskövle Castle (also spelt Widtsköfle) is one of the best-preserved Renaissance castles in the Nordic countries. It has had medieval precursors, but the present castle was built by Jens Brahe in 1553. It is the largest castle in Skåne with approx. 100 rooms. Location and shape were decided out of consideration for defence and the tiled four-winged castle was built on piles in the marsh and supplied with ...
Founded: 1553 | Location: Vittskövle, Sweden

Kulla Gunnarstorp Castle

In the late 1400s Kulla Gunnarstorp was known as Gundestrup and it belonged to the Pardsberg family. In the mid-1500s it was acquired by Jörgen Brahe, who built the older castle which still exists. After him it has been owned by famous Sparre, De la Gardie and de Geer families. The newer castle was built by Baltzar von Platen in 1865-1868. This was designed by Danish architect Christian Zwingmann. Today the estate is ...
Founded: 1550s | Location: Helsingborg, 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.