History of Sweden

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Sweden greater arms
This article is part of the
History of Sweden series
Viking Age
Early History
Kalmar Union
Modern Sweden
A New Great Power
The Swedish Empire
The Great War
Absolute Monarchy
Union with Norway
World War II
Realm of Sweden
List of monarchs
List of wars

The history of Sweden dates back to 9000 BCE.


Pre-historic age: 9,000–500 BCE

Main article Pre-history of Sweden

Sweden, as well as the adjacent country Norway, has a high concentration of petroglyphs (ristningar or hällristningar in Swedish) throughout the country, with the highest concentration in the province of Bohuslän. The earliest images can however be found in the northern province of Jämtland, dated from 9000 BCE they depict wild animals such as elks, reindeers, bears and seals. The period 2300-500 BCE was the most intensive carving period, consisting of carvings of an agricultural nature and depicting warfare, ships, domesticated animals, etc. There has also been found petroglyphs with themes of sexual nature in Bohuslän; these are dated from 800-500 BCE.

Viking Age: 800–1066 CE

Main article Viking Age

The Viking Age is the name of the period between 793 and 1066 CE in Scandinavia. This reflects to the latter half of the early Iron Age. During this period the Swedes were merchant seamen well known for their far-reaching trade. In the 9th century, Varangians raided and ravaged the European continent as far as the Black and Caspian Seas.

Early Swedish History

Main article: Early Swedish History

During the 12th century, Sweden gradually became a consolidated Christian kingdom that would also come to include Finland. Queen Margaret I of Denmark united the Nordic countries in the Kalmar Union in 1397. Continual tension within the countries and within the union gradually led to open conflict between the Swedes and the Danes in the 15th century. The union's final disintegration in the early 16th century brought on a long-lived rivalry between Denmark on one side and Sweden on the other.

Modern Sweden: 1523

Main article: Foundation of Modern Sweden

In the 16th century, Gustav Vasa fought for an independent Sweden, crushing an attempt to restore the Kalmar Union and laying the foundation for modern Sweden. At the same time, he broke with the Catholic Church and established the Reformation.

The rise of Sweden as a great power: 1600

Main article: Rise of Sweden as a Great Power

During the 17th century, after winning wars against Denmark-Norway, Russia, and Poland, Sweden, with scarcely more than 1 million inhabitants, emerged as a Great Power. Its contributions during the Thirty Years' War under Gustavus Adolphus determined the political, as well as the religious, balance of power in Europe.

The Swedish Empire: 1648

Main article: Swedish Empire

By the treaties of Brömsebro, 1645, and Roskilde, 1658, Sweden acquired important provinces of Denmark and Norway. Following the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, Sweden ruled Ingria, in which Saint Petersburg later would be founded, Estonia, Livonia, and important coastal towns and other areas of northern Germany.

The Great War: 1700

Main article: Sweden and the Great Northern War

Russia, Saxony-Poland, and Denmark-Norway pooled their power in 1700 and attacked the Swedish empire. Although the young Swedish King Charles XII won spectacular victories in the early years of the Great Northern War, his plan to attack Moscow and force Russia into peace proved too ambitious; he was shot during the siege of Frederiksten fortress in Norway in 1718. In the subsequent peace treaties, the allied powers, joined by Prussia and by England-Hanover, ended Sweden's reign as a great power and introduced a period of limited monarchy under parliamentary rule.

Absolute monarchy: 1772

Main article: Absolute Monarchy in Sweden

Following half a century of parliamentary domination came the reaction. A bloodless coup d'état perpetrated by King Gustav III brought back absolute monarchy, a state of affairs that would last until involvement in the Napoleonic wars would force Sweden to cede Finland to Russia in 1809.

Union with Norway: 1814

Main article: Union between Sweden and Norway

The following year, the Swedish King's adopted heir, French Marshal Bernadotte, was elected Crown Prince Charles by the Riksdag. In 1813, his forces joined the allies against Napoleon. In the treaty of Kiel, the king of Denmark-Norway ceded Norway to the Swedish king. Norway, however, declared its independence, adopted a constitution and chose a new king. Sweden invaded Norway to enforce the terms of the Kiel treaty. After a short war, the peace of Moss established a personal union between the two states. The union lasted until 1905, when it was peacefully dissolved at Norway's request

The Modernization of Sweden: 1866

Main article: Modernization of Sweden

Sweden's predominantly agricultural economy shifted gradually from village to private farm-based agriculture during the Industrial Revolution, but this change failed to bring economic and social improvements commensurate with the rate of population growth. About 1 million Swedes emigrated to the United States between 1850 and 1890. The 19th century was marked by the emergence of a liberal opposition press, the abolition of guild monopolies in trade and manufacturing in favour of free enterprise, the introduction of taxation and voting reforms, the installation of national military service, and the rise in the electorate of three major party groups – Social Democrat, Liberal, and Conservative.

Industrialization of Sweden: 1914

Main article: Industrialization of Sweden

During and after World War I, in which Sweden remained neutral, the country benefitted from the world-wide demand for Swedish steel, ball bearings, wood pulp, and matches. Post-war prosperity provided the foundations for the social welfare policies characteristic of modern Sweden. Foreign policy concerns in the 1930s centered on Soviet and German expansionism, which stimulated abortive efforts at Nordic defence co-operation. Sweden followed a policy of armed neutrality during World War II and currently remains non-aligned. Sweden became a member of the European Union in 1995.

See also


de:Geschichte Schwedens la:Historia Sueciae lt:Švedijos istorija sv:Sveriges historiapt:História da Suécia


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