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lauantai 13. helmikuuta 2016

Sweden, Cool Facts #99

<= 98. Denmark                                                                                                            100. Finland =>

The yellow-blue combination was first used in the coat-of-arms of Österland, which is now Southwest Finland. Gustav Vasa started using the yellow-blue flag as Sweden's flag and adopted the design from Denmark's flag after Sweden had left the Kalmar Union in 1523. 

John III, the son of Gustav Vasa ruled Finland, then a Swedish region used the yellow-blue cross flag in their coat-of-arms, which is still in use in Southwest Finland's coat-of-arms. When John III became the king of Sweden in 1568 he made the yellow-blue cross flag as the official flag of Sweden. 

Swedish flag

The coat-of-arms of Southwest Finland (Varsinais-Suomi)

2. Swedish Vikings 

The Swedish Vikings started sailing across the Baltic Sea to the east in the 800s as the Danish and Norwegian Vikings sailed across the Atlantic to the west and south. The Swedish Vikings eventually reached Dniepr river along which they sailed to the Black Sea and even Volga. There are speculations that the Swedish Vikings reached Constantinople and even Baghdad.

The Byzantine Emperor Theophilus noticed the great battle skills of the Swedish Vikings and invited them to serve as his personal bodyguards, known as the Varangian guards. The Swedish Vikings were also believed to be the founding fathers of the Kievan Rus'. The most powerful state of Europe in the 900s and 1000s, which developed later into the modern Ukraine.

Viking voyages and territories
Varangian Guards

3. Kalmar Union 

The Kalmar Union was created as a counterforce for the German Hanseatic League, which dominated the trade in the Baltic Sea countries. With the lead of Queen Margaret I of Denmark, the three Scandinavian countries Sweden, Norway and Denmark united as the Kalmar Union. 

It was a personal union, meaning that all the countries were independent but they had a common monarch. Denmark was a dominant country in the union and the Swedish nobility wasn't satisfied with Sweden's position. 

In 1520 king Christian II of Denmark ordered the massacre of 80-90 clergy and nobility supporting the anti-unionist. Shortly after the Stockholm Bloodbath Sweden left the union when Gustav Vasa became the king of Sweden in 1523. 

4. Superpowers of the Baltic Sea

The beginning of Sweden's "Great Power era" started in 1611 and ended in 1721 after the Great Northern War. In 1611 Gustavus Adolphus, who ruled Sweden until his death in 1632 transformed Sweden into one of the greatest European powers. 

Sweden became the biggest European country after Russia and Spain during his reign. At the time Sweden was fighting against the supremacy of the Baltic Sea throughout the 1600s against Denmark and Russia. 

After the end of the Thirty Years' War in 1638 Sweden got areas from northern Germany and in 1658 Sweden had reached its largest territorial extent. Sweden had even colonies in the Caribbean and North America. The colony of New Sweden was along the Delaware River. 

In 1700 Denmark, Poland and Russia allied against Sweden starting the Great Northern War. This was the end of the Swedish Empire. Sweden lost the war in 1721 losing most of its territories except Finland, which Russia took in 1809 from Sweden.

The Swedish defeat allowed Russia to start transforming into the superpower that it was to become in the coming centuries.

Swedish Empire 1658

The House of Bernadotte has ruled Sweden since 1818 and between 1818-1905 they ruled also Norway before it gained independence. 

In the beginning of the 1800s the previous Swedish royal family had problems of providing a new heir to the throne while the contemporary king Charles XIII was very old and Sweden had to decide his successor. 

Sweden chose Danish prince to become their king, but he died the same year as he was chosen as the heir to the throne. 

Napoleon I of France controlled much of continental Europe at the time so Sweden decided to choose a king that Napoleon would approve. 

On 1810 the Riksdag elected the French Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte as their king. When the king Charles XIII of Sweden finally died in 1818 Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte became the king with the name of Karl Johan or Charles XIV. 

Since 1973 the king of Sweden has had only ceremonial duties without any real power. 

Marshal Jean-Baptise Bernadotte

Bernadotte Royal family currently 


98 Sweden is mentioned for the first time in a written source "Germania" by Tacitus
700-1000 The Swedish Viking Age lasted roughly between this time
829 St. Ansgar introduced Christianity which fully replaced paganism in the 12th century
1050 From this date on Sweden was counted as a Christian nation
1249 Birger Jarl annexed the current Finland to Sweden
1319 Sweden and Norway were united under King Magnus Eriksson
1335 Slavery and serfdom was abolished by King Magnus IV
1364 The Swedish nobility chose the German Albrekt av Mecklenburg as the king
1397 Queen Margaret I of Denmark united Denmark, Sweden and Norway as the Kalmar Union as a counterforce against the German Hanseatic League
1520 Danish King Christian II ordered the massacre of Swedish nobles in Stockholm
1523 Gustav Vasa becomes the King of Sweden and Sweden leaves the Kalmar Union
1630 Sweden's most powerful leader in history, Gustav Adolphus engaged Sweden into the Thirty Years' War, which had started in 1618. He died in 1632 himself at the battle of Lützen
1648 The Thirty Years' War ends and Sweden gets large areas in Northern Germany and Sweden also conquered colonies like New Sweden (Delaware) and Gold Coast (Ghana), which were lost quickly
1696 A famine killed one third of the population in current Finnish areas
1700 The Great Northern War starts with Swedish and Russian troops fighting against each other and later Swedish and Poland-Lithuania's troops, Sweden was victorious against both of them
1709 Sweden loses a battle against Russia, which meant the beginning of the end for the Swedish Empire
1721 Treaty of Nystad, Sweden lost large areas of land and its place as an empire and the dominant state in the Baltic Sea. As a result Russia started emerging as an empire becoming one of Europe's most dominant nations
1809 Sweden loses its eastern part to Russia which became the Grand Duchy of Finland
1814 Sweden's last time at war as it takes Norway by force from Denmark after the Napoleonic Wars
1905 Norway becomes independent from Sweden after a referendum
1850-1910 An estimated amount of million Swedes emigrated to USA from the poverty and famine in Sweden
1917 Communist revolution was avoided in Sweden which was becoming a modern parliamentary democracy
1943 Sweden helped to rescue the Danish Jews from deportation to Nazi concentration camps
1986 Prime Minister Olof Palme is murdered
1994 Sweden joined the European Union 

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