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

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.