Swedish Empire

History of Sweden between 1611 - 1721

The Swedish Empire refers to the Kingdom of Sweden's territorial control of much of the Baltic region during the 17th and early 18th centuries, a time when Sweden was one of the great European powers. The beginning of the Empire is usually taken as the reign of Gustavus Adolphus, who ascended the throne in 1611, and the end as the loss of territories in 1721 following the Great Northern War. In Swedish, the period is called Stormaktstiden, literally meaning "the Great Power Era".

After the death of Gustavus Adolphus in 1632, the empire was, over lengthy periods, controlled by part of the high nobility, most prominently the Oxenstierna family, acting as tutors for minor regents. The interests of the high nobility contrasted with the uniformity policy, i.e., the upholding of the traditional equality in status of the Swedish estates favoured by the kings and peasantry. In territories acquired during the periods of de facto noble rule, serfdom was not abolished, and there was also a trend to set up respective estates in Sweden proper. The Great Reduction of 1680 put an end to these efforts of the nobility and required them to return estates once gained from the crown to the king. Serfdom, however, remained in force in the dominions acquired in the Holy Roman Empire and in Swedish Estonia, where a consequent application of the uniformity policy was hindered by the treaties by which they were gained.

After the victories in the Thirty Years' War, the climax of stormaktstiden was reached in the Second Northern War, when the primary adversary Denmark was neutralized by the Treaty of Roskilde in 1658. However, in the further course of this war as well as in the subsequent Scanian War, Sweden was able to maintain her empire only by support of her closest ally, France. Charles XI of Sweden consolidated the empire and ensured a period of peace, before Russia, Saxony and Denmark started a concerted attack on his successor, Charles XII. After initial Swedish victories, Charles secured the empire for a last time in the Peace of Travendal (1700) and the Treaty of Altranstädt (1706), before the Battle of Poltava (1709) brought the stormaktstiden of Sweden to a sudden end.

References: Wikipedia

Popular sites founded between 1611 and 1721 in Sweden

House of Nobility

The House of Nobility (Riddarhuset, “the House of Knights”) was built in 1641-1672 as a chamber of Estates of the Realm, and as such, a Swedish equivalent to the British House of Lords. After 1866, when the Riksdag of the Estates was replaced by the new parliament, the Swedish House of Nobility served as a quasi-official representation of the Swedish nobility, regulated by the Swedish government. Since 2003, i ...
Founded: 1641-1672 | Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Finnish Church

Finland was a part of Sweden until 1809, and the national parish of the Finnish Church was established in Stockholm in 1533, at the time accommodated in the old abbey of the Blackfriars. A building constructed on the present site 1648-1653, originally intended for ball games, and thus called Lilla bollhuset ('Small Ball House'), but mostly used as a theatre, was taken over by the Finnish parish in 1725 from when ...
Founded: 1648-1653 | Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Royal Palace

The Stockholm Palace (Kungliga Slottet) is the official residence and major royal palace of the Swedish monarch. The offices of the monarch and the other members of the Swedish Royal Family as well as the offices of the Royal Court of Sweden are located there. The palace is used for representative purposes by the King whilst performing his duties as the head of state. The first building on this site was a fortress with a ...
Founded: 17th - 18th century | Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Eda Skans

Eda Skans is a redoubt built by Gustaf Oxenstierna in 1657 against the threat of Denmark-Norway. It was rebuilt in 1676 and again in 1808. It was demolished when the union between Sweden and Norway was agreed. The restoration began in 1939 and today there isa museum where you can find an extensive collection of weapons, uniforms, paintings, documents and images. There are also findings from the lake Hugn here.
Founded: 1657 | Location: Eda, Sweden

Kalmar Cathedral

The new city of Kalmar built on Kvarnholmen around the mid-1700s. The transfer from the old town was largely completed in 1658. The new, fortified town was planned after the current renaissance ideals. According to this pattern were placed Kalmar Cathedral and town hall across from each other at a major square Stortorget Kalmar. The cathedral was built, designed by Nicodemus Tessin the Elder and is one of the foremost exa ...
Founded: 1660-1703 | Location: Kalmar, Sweden

Hede Church

Hede Church was built in 1613 after the previous church was burned down in 1611 by Swedish army. it was completely rebuilt between 1770-1775. The interior dates mainly from the 18th century.
Founded: 1613 | Location: Hede, Sweden

Christina Church

The Christina church (or German Church) was consecrated in 1648 and named after Queen Christina. The octagonal chapel for Rutger von Aschenberg was built in 1681, possibly by Erik Dahlberg. The tower, designed by Carl Fredrik Adelcrantz 1780, rises powerfully over the lower urban buildings around it. It became an important symbol of the great German Assembly which included the Dutch who over a period in the 1600s represen ...
Founded: 1648 | Location: Gothenburg, Sweden

Kungsholm Church

The Baroque style Kungsholm Church was built in 1672-1688 and it was designed by Matthias Spihler. Anyway the tower, designed also by Spihler, was not erected until in 1810. The finest inventory in Kungsholm church is a font dating from 1707. It was donated by Elsa Guthermuth.
Founded: 1672-1688 | Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Katarina Church

Katarina kyrka (Church of Catherine) was originally constructed in 1656–1695. It has been rebuilt twice after being destroyed by fires, the second time during the 1990s. The Katarina-Sofia borough is named after theparish and the neighbouring parish of Sofia. Construction of the church started during the reign of Charles X of Sweden, and the church is named after Princess Catherine, mother of the king, wife of John ...
Founded: 1656-1695 | Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Tessin Palace

Tessin Palace is a baroque town house located in Gamla Stan, the old town in central Stockholm. The mansion was constructed between 1694 and 1700 by architect Nicodemus Tessin the Younger. The building was inherited by Tessin"s son Carl Gustaf Tessin who had to sell it in 1750 for financial reasons. The palace later became property of the crown and has been used as residence for the Over Governor and later Governor o ...
Founded: 1694-1700 | Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Alingsås Church

The Christina’s church in Alingsås was built between 1642 and 1651. It is named after Christina, the Queen of Sweden, who donated 100 silver coins to construction. The interior dates mainly from the 17th and 18th centuries. Jonas Alströmer, the founder of Alströmerska factory in Alingsås, is buried to the cemetery.
Founded: 1642-1651 | Location: Alingsås, Sweden

Piteå Church

Piteå City Church (stadskyrka) was built c. 1686. The paintings in walls and pulpit date from the 1702. The altarpiece has probably looted from Poland in the wars of 17th century. It was acquired from the Mary Magdalene Church in Stockholm in 1700.
Founded: 1686 | Location: Piteå, Sweden

Uppsala University Botanical Garden

The Uppsala University Botanical Garden is the oldest botanical garden in Sweden. It was founded in 1655 by Olof Rudbeck the elder, professor of medicine. The garden was used for teaching students botany and pharmacy. By the end of the century, more than 1 800 species were grown in the garden, many of them for the first time in Sweden. Olof Rudbecks´ botanical garden was largely destroyed by a fire in 1702. The univ ...
Founded: 1655 | Location: Uppsala, Sweden

Gustavianum

Gustavianum is the former main building of Uppsala University, built 1622–1625 and named after King Gustavus Adolphus. Under the cupola is the theatrum anatomicum, the second oldest in the world added to the building in the mid 17th century by Olaus Rudbeck, professor of medicine and amateur architect, among other things. Although still used for lectures and conferences, most of Gustavianum functions as a museum, i ...
Founded: 1622-1625 | Location: Uppsala, Sweden

Lidingö Church

The present Lidingö Church was completed in 1623 to the site of earlier wooden chapel. It was built due the initiative of Baner Svante Gustafsson (1584-1628) and his wife Ebba Griffin (1583-1666). The church was originally smaller and enlarged in 1756. The new sacristy was added in 1867. The font and the Gustavian style pulpit date from the 1770s. The Rococo style altarpiece was donated to the church in 1756.
Founded: 1623 | Location: Lidingö, Sweden

Skansen Kronan

Skansen Kronan is a redoubt built in the later half of the 17th century according to the plans of Erik Dahlberg. Skansen Kronan was introduced in 1698 and was fitted with 23 guns. The roof was not completed until 1700. Skansen has 4-5 metre thick walls made of granite, gneiss and diabase. Skansen Kronan was never attacked and the cannons on the inside have never been used. The fortress and the twin counterpart, Skansen L ...
Founded: 1698 | Location: Gothenburg, Sweden

Leksand Church

Leksand church with 2300 seats is one of the largest rural churches in Sweden. The church origins from the 13th century, but the current apperance was built in 1709-1715. It has a rare onion dome, influenced by Russian architecture. The oldest item inside the church is a triumph crucifix from c. 1400.
Founded: 1709-1715 | Location: Leksand, Sweden

Carlsten

Carlsten is a stone fortress built on the orders of King Carl X of Sweden following the Treaty of Roskilde, 1658 to protect the newly acquired province of Bohuslän from hostile attacks. The site of Marstrand was chosen because of its location and its access to an ice free port. Initially a square stone tower was constructed, but by 1680 it was reconstructed and replaced by a round shaped tower. Successive additions to th ...
Founded: 1658 | Location: Marstrand, Sweden

Naval Port of Karlskrona

Karlskrona is an outstanding example of a late-17th-century European planned naval city. The original plan and many of the buildings have survived intact, along with installations that illustrate its subsequent development up to the present day. The naval installations there has been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Karlskrona was founded in 1680 was a major power in Northern Europe. Charles XI, the King of Swed ...
Founded: 1680 | Location: Karlskrona, Sweden

Köping Church

Köping Church dates from the 1440s, but it got the current appearance in the late 1600s. The reconstruction was made according the design of Nicodemus Tessin the Younger and inaugurated in 1706. The altarpiece is made in Germany around 1520. The font is made of sandstone in Svealand about the same time.
Founded: 1687-1706 | Location: Köping, Sweden

Kristine Church

The Kristine Church was built in 1642 by Hans Förster. It is built of stone and decorated inside in Baroque and Renaissance styles. Today the church is renowned as one of the finest Swedish churches of the period. The pulpit (1654) and altarpiece (1669) were made by Dutch Ewerdt Friis.
Founded: 1642 | Location: Falun, Sweden

Borgholm Castle

Borgholm Castle is today only a ruin of the fortress that was first built in the second half of the 12th century and many times rebuilt in later centuries. The construction of the original fortress was probably ordered by king Canute I (1167-1195), who ordered fortresses to be built on the Swedish east coast as defence against enemies from the other side of the Baltic Sea. During the 13th to 15th centuries, additions and ...
Founded: 1654, originally in 1100s | Location: Borgholm, Öland, Sweden

Skokloster Castle

Skokloster Castle was built in the Baroque style between 1654 and 1676 by the wealthy military commander and count Carl Gustaf Wrangel. The castle was designed by architect Nicodemus Tessin the Elder. When Wrangel died, the castle passed into the hands of the Brahe family, and then, after 1930, became the property of the von Essens. In 1967 the castle and its contents were sold by the family to the Swedish government; sin ...
Founded: 1654-1676 | Location: Skokloster, Sweden

Skottorp Castle

Skottorp Castle was completed around the 1670 by Frans Joel Örnestedt according the design of Nicodemus Tessin the Elder. King Charles XI of Sweden married Ulrika Eleonora there in 1680. The current appearance dates from thre restoration made in 1816-1828. Today Skottorp is a hotel and popular venue for weddings and conferences.
Founded: 1670 | Location: Laholm, Sweden

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

São Jorge Castle

São Jorge Castle is a Moorish castle occupying a commanding hilltop overlooking the historic centre of the Portuguese city of Lisbon and Tagus River. The strongly fortified citadel dates from medieval period of Portuguese history, and is one of the main tourist sites of Lisbon.

Although the first fortifications on this hilltop date from the 2nd century BC, archaeological excavations have identified a human presence in the Tagus valley as far back as the 6th century BC. The first fortification was, presumably, erected in 48 BC, when Lisbon was classified as a Roman municipality.

The hill was first used by indigenous Celtic tribes, then by Phoenicians, Greeks, and Carthaginians as a defensible outpost that was later expropriated by Roman, Suebic, Visigothic, and Moorish peoples. During the 10th century, the fortifications were rebuilt by Muslim Berber forces, these included the walls or Cerca Moura ("Moorish Encirclement").

Kingdom

In the context of the Christian Reconquista, the castle and the city of Lisbon were freed from Moorish rule in 1147 by Afonso Henriques and northern European knights in the Siege of Lisbon during the Second Crusade; this victory was the only notable success of that failed crusade. According to an oft-repeated legend, the knight Martim Moniz, noticing that one of the doors to the castle was open, prevented the Moors from closing it by throwing his own body into the breach, thus allowing Christian soldiers to enter at the cost of his own life. With the taking of the castle Christian forces were able to maintain the defense of Lisbon until the end of the 12th century.

When Lisbon became the capital of the kingdom in 1255, the castle served as the alcáçova, a fortified residence for Afonso III, in his role as governor. It was extensively renovated around 1300 by King Denis I, transforming the Moorish alcáçova into the Royal Palace of the Alcáçova. Between 1373 and 1375, King Ferdinand I ordered the building of the Cerca Nova or Cerca Fernandina, the walled compound that enclosed the entirety of the castle. The master builders João Fernandes and Vasco Brás were responsible for its construction. This wall, which partially replaced the old Moorish walls, was designed to encircle previously unprotected parts of the city. Completed in two years, it had 77 towers and a perimeter of 5,400 metres.

The castle and the city resisted the forces of Castile several times during the 14th century (notably in 1373 and in 1383–1384). It was during this period (the late 14th century) that the castle was dedicated to Saint George by King John I, who had married the English princess Philippa of Lancaster. Saint George, the warrior-saint, was normally represented slaying a dragon, and very was popular in both countries.

From this point onward many of the kingdom's records were housed in the Torre de Ulisses, also known as the Torre Albarrã, until the reign of Manuel I. The Portuguese National Archive is still referred to as the Torre do Tombo. Between 1448 and 1451, the master builder was paid several stipends for his work on the palace. These public works continued until 1452, with additional payments being made for labor and materials to convert the building from a fortified castle to a royal residence.

Around the early 16th century, following the construction of the Ribeira Palace beside the Tagus river, the Palace of Alcáçova began to lose its importance. An earthquake occurring in 1531 further damaged the old castle, contributing further to its decay and neglect. In 1569, King Sebastian ordered the rebuilding of the royal apartments in the castle, intending to use it as his official residence. As part of the rebuilding, in 1577 Filippo Terzi demolished one of the towers near the principal facade of the Church of Loreto. However, many of the works were never completed after the young king's apparent death during the Battle of Alcácer Quibir. The following Portuguese dynastic crisis opened the way for sixty years of Spanish rule and the castle was converted into military barracks and a prison. On 30 December 1642, Teodósio de Frias the Younger was appointed master builder to continue the works begun by his father, Luís de Frias, and his grandfather, Teodósio de Frias. This was part of a greater plan by the Spanish forces to recommission the fortification.

However, after Portugal regained its independence following the Portuguese Restoration War, the works were taken over by the Portuguese government. On 6 November 1648, Nicolau de Langres was called upon to take over the design, execution and construction of a new fortification that would surround the Castle of São Jorge and the city walls of Lisbon. In 1650 the military architect Mateus do Couto was named master builder of the project and reconstruction took on a new formality: although the military engineer João Gillot built new walls in 1652, construction again followed Couto's plans between 1657 and 1733. In 1673, the Soldiers' Hospital, dedicated to São João de Deus, was installed on the grounds beside the Rua do Recolhimento. At the end of the 17th century the Recolhimento do Castelo was constructed along the southeast angle of the courtyard, and in 1733, new projects were initiated by master Custódio Vieira.

The 1755 Lisbon earthquake severely damaged the castle and contributed to its continuing decay: apart from the walls of the old castle, the soldier's hospital and the Recolhimento were left in ruins. The necessity of maintaining a supporting military force within the capital city required expansion of the site's role of garrison and presidio. From 1780 to 1807, the charitable institution Casa Pia, dedicated to the education of poor children, was established in the citadel, while soldiers continued to be garrisoned on site. Inspired by the events of the earthquake and the following tsunami, the first geodetic observatory in Portugal was constructed in 1788 at the top of one of the towers of the castle, later referred to as the Torre do Observatório.

Republic

As part of the commemorative celebrations marking the foundation of nationhood and restoration of independence, the government of António de Oliveira Salazar initiated extensive renovations at the site. Most of the incongruous structures added to the castle compound in previous centuries were demolished and there was a partial restoration of the Recolhimento. In addition, on 25 October 1947, a monument dedicated to Afonso Henriques, presented by the city of Porto, of a replica created by Soares dos Reis (in 1887) was installed on the grounds.