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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Uraniborg Observatory Ruins

Uranienborg (Uraniborg) was a Danish astronomical observatory operated by Tycho Brahe. It was built circa 1576-1580. Shortly after its construction the observatory was expanded with an underground facility, Stjerneborg, on an adjacent site. The building was dedicated to Urania, the Muse of Astronomy and named Uranienborg, "The Castle of Urania." It was the first custom-built observatory, and the last to be built without a ...
Founded: 1576 | Location: Sankt Ibb, 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

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

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

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

Torup Castle

Torup Castle, completed around 1540, is one of the best preserved medieval castles in Sweden. It was built by Görvel Fadersdotter (Sparre). Torup Castle was restored between 1602-1630 to the the appearance it has today. Later Torup was owned by Stjernblad and Coyet families and since 1970 the Malmö municipality. On May 21, 1775 a tragic accident occured at Torup Castle. Cornet Fredrich Trolle along with his aun ...
Founded: 1540 | Location: Svedala, Sweden

Bäckaskog Castle

Bäckaskog Castle was originally a monastery built in the 13th century. It was transformed into a castle in the 16th century. The castle is located on the isthmus between Ivö Lake (Scania's largest lake) and Oppmanna Lake. The monastery was closed down by the Danish Crown in 1537 during the Reformation. In 1584-1653, the noblemen Henrik Ramel and his son Henrik Ramel Junior gave the castle its present appearance. Today i ...
Founded: 1584-1653 | Location: Fjälkinge, Sweden

Stjerneborg Observatory

Stjerneborg (Star Castle) was Tycho Brahe's underground observatory next to his palace-observatory Uraniborg, located on the island of Hven in Oresund. Tycho Brahe built it circa 1581. He writes: "My purpose was partly to have placed some of the most important instruments securely and firmly in order that they should not be exposed to the disturbing influence of the wind, and should be easier to use, partly to separate my ...
Founded: ca. 1581 | Location: Sankt Ibb, Sweden

Visingsborg Castle Ruins

The foundations of Visingsborg Castle date from 1560s. It was square formed with a moat four towers. The Brahe Family lived in Visingsborg Castle during the 16th and 17th centuries. During their time was one of the most impressive buildings in Sweden. Sculptures and paintings embellished the walls and a large number of books filled the library. The castle also had an armoury that equipped up to 800 soldiers. Outside the w ...
Founded: 1560s | Location: Visingsö, Sweden

Krapperup Castle

The Krapperup estate dates from medieval times, but the existing manor, except the wings, is from the 16th century. When the Podebusk family built the castle, Skåne was still part of Denmark. The seven-pointed star, which is Gyldenstierne’s coat-of-arms, was added to the facades at the beginning of the 1600s. Denmark lost Skåne to Sweden in 1658, with Krapperup’s first Swedish owner being Maria Sop ...
Founded: 1570s | Location: Höganäs, Sweden

Wånas Castle

Wanås Manor, first owned by Squire Eskild Aagesen (around 1440), has one of the most fascinating histories of all of Skåne’s stately homes. Its geographical location left Wanås vulnerable during the Swedish-Danish wars, and the original castle was burned to the ground in the Northern Seven Years’ War. A new building erected in 1566 incorporated what remained of the old one. Drawings from 1680 ...
Founded: c. 1566 | Location: Knislinge, 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

All Saints Church

All Saints (Alla Helgona) Church was built in the late 1200s, but during the Duke Karl"s time (1590-1618) it went through a radical transformation. At the restoration in 1909 the church received its small ridge turrets, which is a replica of the tower on Erik Dahlberg´s engravings of Nyköping. In 1665 the church was ravaged by fire. At the recent restoration in 1959-1960 were the pillars restored in to ori ...
Founded: 1590-1618 | Location: Nyköping, Sweden

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Trinity Sergius Lavra

The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is a world famous spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church and a popular site of pilgrimage and tourism. It is the most important working Russian monastery and a residence of the Patriarch. This religious and military complex represents an epitome of the growth of Russian architecture and contains some of that architecture’s finest expressions. It exerted a profound influence on architecture in Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe.

The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, was founded in 1337 by the monk Sergius of Radonezh. Sergius achieved great prestige as the spiritual adviser of Dmitri Donskoi, Great Prince of Moscow, who received his blessing to the battle of Kulikov of 1380. The monastery started as a little wooden church on Makovets Hill, and then developed and grew stronger through the ages.

Over the centuries a unique ensemble of more than 50 buildings and constructions of different dates were established. The whole complex was erected according to the architectural concept of the main church, the Trinity Cathedral (1422), where the relics of St. Sergius may be seen.

In 1476 Pskovian masters built a brick belfry east of the cathedral dedicated to the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. The church combines unique features of early Muscovite and Pskovian architecture. A remarkable feature of this church is a bell tower under its dome without internal interconnection between the belfry and the cathedral itself.

The Cathedral of the Assumption, echoing the Cathedral of the Assumption in the Moscow Kremlin, was erected between 1559 and 1585. The frescoes of the Assumption Cathedral were painted in 1684. At the north-western corner of the Cathedral, on the site of the western porch, in 1780 a vault containing burials of Tsar Boris Godunov and his family was built.

In the 16th century the monastery was surrounded by 6 meters high and 3,5 meters thick defensive walls, which proved their worth during the 16-month siege by  Polish-Lithuanian invaders during the Time of Trouble. They were later strengthened and expanded.

After the Upheaval of the 17th century a large-scale building programme was launched. At this time new buildings were erected in the north-western part of the monastery, including infirmaries topped with a tented church dedicated to Saints Zosima and Sawatiy of Solovki (1635-1637). Few such churches are still preserved, so this tented church with a unique tiled roof is an important contribution to the Lavra.

In the late 17th century a number of new buildings in Naryshkin (Moscow) Baroque style were added to the monastery.

Following a devastating fire in 1746, when most of the wooden buildings and structures were destroyed, a major reconstruction campaign was launched, during which the appearance of many of the buildings was changed to a more monumental style. At this time one of the tallest Russian belfries (88 meters high) was built.

In the late 18th century, when many church lands were secularized, the chaotic planning of the settlements and suburbs around the monastery was replaced by a regular layout of the streets and quarters. The town of Sergiev Posad was surrounded by traditional ramparts and walls. In the vicinity of the monastery a number of buildings belonging to it were erected: a stable yard, hotels, a hospice, a poorhouse, as well as guest and merchant houses. Major highways leading to the monastery were straightened and marked by establishing entry squares, the overall urban development being oriented towards the centrepiece - the Ensemble of the Trinity Sergius Lavra.

In 1993, the Trinity Lavra was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.