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King Kristian II ruled Denmark, Norway, and Iceland 1513-23. He was in love with the Dutch girl Dyveke Sigbritsdatter, but on August 12, 1515 he married 14-year-old Isabella of Austria, the sister of Charles V, and she was crowned Queen Elisabeth. Kristian consulted Dyveke’s mother Sigbrit Willoms as an economic advisor, and in 1516 she began administering the Sound Dues and other toll revenues of his two main kingdoms. On September 21, 1517 Dyveke died suddenly, and the chief steward Torben Oxe of Copenhagen Palace was suspected of poisoning her. Although the State Council acquitted him, Kristian had him tried in a court outside of Copenhagen. Twelve peasants found him guilty, and Torben was beheaded on November 29. Sigbrit became the King’s most influential advisor in 1519 and enacted a law requiring people to clean their houses every week. Kristian was also advised by her brother Herman Willoms, the noble Didrik Slaghaek, and Malmö’s burgomaster Han Mikkelsen, and their democratic party opposed the nobility.
Kristian II claimed to be sovereign over Sweden as well, and he supported Erik Trolle who was of Danish descent in his struggle for power against Sten Sture the Younger. Erik’s son Gustav Trolle was appointed Archbishop of Uppsala, and in 1517 Sten Sture accused him of being allied with Kristian, put him in prison, and demolished his mansion. Kristian sent the Danish army to relieve the Archbishop, but the Swedes led by Gustav Vasa defended him. Swedes persuaded Archbishop Trolle to surrender to Sten Sture who put him in a cloister as angry peasants burned down his castle. In 1518 Sture’s army defeated the Danes in southern Stockholm.
Pope Leo X sent his legate Johan Angellus Archemboldus to Denmark with a license to sell indulgences, and he did business there. His assistant Didrik Slaghaek of Westphalia was sent to Sweden. Then Kristian sent Archemboldus to Sweden to negotiate a truce between Archbishop Trolle and Sten Sture, but his forces took Swedish hostages and returned to Denmark in their ships. Sten Sture offered Archemboldus the archbishopric of Uppsala, and he took Sweden’s side. Kristian ordered Archemboldus seized with his goods. He escaped to Lübeck; but Danes at Elsinore captured his cargo of copper, iron, cheese, and butter, and his money deposited with the Bishop of Bergen was confiscated by the royal treasury.
On January 19, 1520 a large army of Danes with French and Scottish mercenaries invaded and defeated the Swedes led by Sten Sture near Bogesund. They had a papal bull against Sten Sture and tacked it on church doors. A cannon ball mortally wounded Sten, and his men fled. The Swedish Council of State agreed to pay Kristian II, but Sten’s widow Kristina Gyllenstjerna resisted in Stockholm. Denmark’s army withdrew to Uppsala as peasants flocked to defend their capital. The two armies met in April, and the Swedes suffered heavy losses and retreated. The Danish fleet besieged Stockholm until they capitulated in September. Kristian offered Kristina and the Swedes amnesty, and on November 4 he was crowned King of Sweden. During celebrations Kristian, Slaghaek, and Gustav Trolle planned an attack on Sten Sture’s party. They summoned prominent Swedes to the castle, demanded compensation, and accused them of heresy. On November 9 they executed the bishops first and then the state councilors and the knights. On the first day 82 were put to death, and on the third day the bodies were burned as heretics. Even some men from Finland lost their lives in the “Stockholm Bloodbath.”
Also in 1520 the Elector Friedrich of Saxony sent Martin Luther’s friend Martin Reinhard and Karlstadt to Copenhagen, but they could not speak Danish. The monk Paul Ellisen of Helsingor (Elsinore) interpreted for Reinhard but soon reverted to the Catholic faith. Reinhard and Karlstadt had little effect on the Danes and went back to Germany.
Kristian II ignored his Council of State and issued a new code of civil and ecclesiastical laws to regulate morals and keep order. The poor were provided with lawyers to defend them. Kristian tried to end forced labor by allowing mistreated peasants to leave one estate and go to another. He improved the Latin schools and added primary schools and high schools. He prohibited foreign merchants from entering any port but Copenhagen which hurt Lübeck most. He broke all ties with Rome and established a Supreme Tribunal at Roskilde with lay and clergy and no appeals to the Pope. He required study at the University of Copenhagen for those who would be ordained.
Gustav Vasa had been taken hostage, but he escaped after one year to Lübeck and then to Kalmar, the only town besides Stockholm still resisting the Danes. Vasa made his way to Norway where he gathered 200 men which expanded into the thousands. His army of 15,000 men defeated Didrik Slaghaek twice, and the revolt in Sweden spread. On August 23, 1521 a meeting at Vadstena elected Gustav Vasa President of Sweden for life. Danes still held Stockholm when Vasa was elected King of Sweden on June 6, 1523. He announced free trade with Lübeck and other Hanseatic cities, and negotiators from Lübeck persuaded the Danes to give up Stockholm which opened its gates on June 17. Kristian II could not send more forces because he was at war with Lübeck and was facing resistance from Duke Frederik of Gottorp and his own subjects. All of Sweden including Blekinge accepted Gustav Vasa as their King. Kristian was facing a revolt from Jutland to Fünen, and Lübeck was preparing to attack Copenhagen.
On January 20, 1523 people in Jutland revolted against Kristian II and offered the Danish crown to his uncle Frederik. Nobles forced Kristian to abdicate, and he appointed Henrik Göye to govern Copenhagen and fled the country. Mogens Göye was Henrik’s brother and became Steward of the Realm under Frederik who formed an alliance with the burghers of Lübeck in February.
Frederik was the son of King Kristian I and Duke of Schleswig and Holstein since 1482. Frederik spoke German and was the last Catholic king of Denmark. He had an army of 6,000 men and occupied the island of Fünen. After several months Copenhagen and Malmö acknowledged Frederik as king. He recognized Norway as a free and elective kingdom, and the country accepted him as their king. He restored the Catholic faith and prohibited preaching against the Pope or the Roman Church. He welcomed merchants, and they prospered. In early 1524 Frederik freed the Swedish women whom Kristian II had imprisoned, and Sten’s widow Kristina gathered supporters for the Stures.
Kristian II in exile visited Wittenberg in 1524, became a Lutheran, and had the New Testament translated into Danish. The humanist Kristian Pedersen followed Kristian II and published his Danish translation in 1529. Kristian II got no help from England’s Henry VIII, but Brunswick and Brandenburg supplied him with 30,000 men, though he lacked money to pay them. Lübeck mediated in favor of Sweden, but Kristian’s friend Sören Norby refused to give up the island of Götland and rallied men at Scania. They were defeated twice by Frederik’s army led by Johan Rantzau in April and May 1525. His army executed sixty men who had taken sanctuary in a church, and in the civil war about 3,000 rebels were killed. Frederik expelled Norby, and he fled to Moscow where he was held captive.
In 1524 Denmark’s Council of State pledged to oppose Lutheran heresies, but the duchies still criticized the papacy. In 1526 Frederik betrothed his daughter Dorothea to the Lutheran Albrecht of Prussia. Frederik blocked the nomination of Jörgen Skodborg to be archbishop, and the see was vacant for many years. Frederik supported the monk Hans Tausen who had met Martin Luther and studied in Wittenberg for a year and half. He was spreading Lutheranism at Viborg in Jutland. Tausen led people who broke into the Grey Friars church and occupied it as sanctuary. When the bishop prosecuted Tausen, Frederik ordered him released and made him his chaplain in October 1526. Tausen ordained Jorgen Sadolin and married his sister.
At the Diet of Odense on August 20, 1527 King Frederik proclaimed religious tolerance for Lutherans and anyone who preached what could be defended by the Bible. They decided that the Archbishop of Lund would make appointments instead of the Pope and that the revenues previously sent to Rome would go to the King. In Jutland men stopped paying tithes to the Church; but the Diet confirmed the payment of tithes, and the King told the assembly he would protect religious liberty for all “who preached what was godly and Christian.” He also ordered the Franciscan monasteries closed in 28 Danish towns, and sometimes he gave displaced monks a little money. Catholic rites were excluded from services which were conducted in Danish. The first Danish hymnbook was published in 1528 and contained translations of Luther’s hymns. In 1529 Joachim Ronnow paid the King 3,000 guilders and was elected Bishop of Roskilde. He promised that he would not prevent anyone from preaching the gospel. The Diet at Copenhagen in July 1530 summoned 21 evangelical preachers and questioned them on their doctrines. They were advised by the theologian Paulus Helle and others from Germany.
When his enemy Gustav Vasa became a Lutheran in 1530, Kristian II returned to his Catholic faith to become reconciled with Emperor Charles V, recovering his wife’s dowry. In 1531 he equipped a fleet in Holland and sailed to southern Norway with supporters such as Gustav Trolle and bishops. On October 31 they besieged Akershus, and negotiators persuaded Kristian to go to Copenhagen under safe conduct to meet with Frederik. His army disbanded. On July 1, 1532 Frederik reneged on his promise, and Kristian was imprisoned in Sønderborg Castle until 1549 when he was moved to Kalundborg Castle until his death in January 1559.
After the Diet of Augsburg in 1530, Frederik was persuaded to summon another Diet. The bishops presented 27 articles to combat the Protestant doctrines, and their opponents drew up as many articles against the administration by the bishops. The Diet could not agree and did nothing. During Frederik’s last three years the Reformation spread to nearly all of Denmark. In Malmö Mayor Jorgen Kock aided the Lutheran preacher Claus Mortensen, who helped Hans Sandemager translate the Psalms into Danish. Although the new Archbishop Aage Sparre expelled Mortensen, King Frederik gave him permission to return. The prelates could not prevent the priests from marrying as they followed the example of Hans Tausen. King Frederik died on April 10, 1533, and he was succeeded by his 32-year-old son Kristian III.
Denmark’s State Council was still dominated by Catholic bishops and nobles, and they hoped Count Kristofer Oldenburg would make Kristian II king again. However, the duchies had already accepted Frederik’s four sons. Merchants in Lübeck resented the commercial privileges given to the Dutch, and their burgomaster Georg Wullenweber came to the Assembly in Copenhagen and demanded that Denmark break off relations with the Netherlands. Yet Denmark’s Council signed a defensive alliance with the Dutch for thirty years. When Jörgen Koch led the bourgeoisie and peasants in a revolt to make Kristian II king, Denmark allied with Gustav Vasa of Sweden and with the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein. Lübeck attacked Holstein, and Kristofer led their fleet against Denmark. Copenhagen, Malmö, and other towns submitted to them, and Lutheran services were adopted.
In Jutland the nobles and clergy wanted to defend the young Kristian, and on June 4, 1534 they met with clergy from Fünen at Ry and signed an “act of election” they knew would doom Catholicism in Denmark. Young Kristian made peace with Lübeck, and his troops commanded by General Johan Rantzau took over North Jutland and captured Aalborg, killing the men there. The rebelling districts were forced to sign a submission to Kristian III. Rantzau’s army crushed the Danish peasants in December, and in June 1535 won a victory in Fünen at Oksnebjerg. After that most of Norway submitted to Kristian III, and Archbishop Olaf Engelbrektson in the north was forced to flee. Rantzau’s army went to Zeeland and then besieged Copenhagen. Lübeckers went over to Denmark at Hamburg. After a year those defending Copenhagen were starving and accepted a peace treaty in July 1536. Kristian III promised a general amnesty, restored their privileges, and allowed the Protestant religion.
On August 12, 1536 Kristian secretly told the lay members of the Council that bishops would lose their temporal power and their properties to the Crown. They agreed, and the bishops were arrested. Those promising to surrender their castles were released. At a Diet in Copenhagen in October representatives of the towns and farmers were present as they cancelled the privileges of bishops and declared that the Church would be led by “superintendents” who teach people the Gospel. Their estates were taken by the Crown while the nobility retained their rights. Crown property increased from one-sixth of Denmark to more than half. The Diet confirmed its right to elect the heir during the King’s lifetime and abolished the right of the people to rebel; the Council of State could not alter the capitulation during the King’s reign. They cancelled the independence of Norway which was put under subjection to the crown of Denmark. The Norwegian Council was abolished, and it was to be administered by a governor and a chancellor. Norway’s laws continued, but the King and the Danish aristocrats were to rule. Criminal offenses in Denmark were tried by a court in which the King and his Council judged.
Luther’s friend Johan Bugenhagen supervised the new evangelical churches. He crowned King Kristian III on August 12, 1537 and consecrated seven new superintendents. Peder Palladius was appointed in Zealand. He had studied in Wittenberg for six years and earned a doctorate in theology. He visited all 390 churches in his diocese and published his influential Visitation Book. The first Lutheran Church Ordinance was in Latin, but a Danish version was approved in 1539. Churches were pillaged for ornaments and building materials for constructing castles. The Danish New Testament was printed at Roskilde in 1540.
The university was revived after the civil war, and a new law mandated the teaching of all sciences. They created 15 professorships with 8 in philosophy, 3 in theology, 2 in chemistry, and one each in jurisprudence and music. Hans Tausen taught Hebrew for a while, encouraged Bible study, and translated the Torah. He preached in Roskilde Cathedral and published his book of sermons in 1539. Tausen became Bishop of Ribe in 1541 and served there for twenty years. The first Bible in Danish was published in 1550. Kristian endowed the university with Church properties and tithes. Latin was still taught in the schools. Most priests married their housekeepers, and a widow was often married by the next priest. Johan Friis became the King’s Chancellor, and most of the former enemies were restored to the Council or regained their freedom. They increased taxes to prepare for a war against the Emperor which did not occur. Kristian initiated three silver mines with German engineers and workers.
In 1541 Sweden and Denmark agreed to an alliance at Brömsebro and promised not to make peace or war without the consent of the other. In 1544 Holstein was divided between Kristian III’s three younger brothers, and other duchies were rotated year by year. That year Emperor Charles V signed a peace treaty with Kristian III at Speyer; but Kristian declined to take sides when the Schmalkaldic princes went to war against Germany. Kristian III died on January 1, 1559, and his cousin Kristian II died later that month.
Kristian III’s son Frederik II ruled Denmark and Norway 1559-88. Before being crowned he went on an expedition to Ditmarschen to revenge a Danish defeat there in 1500. The 24-year-old King led the army of 20,000 infantry and 3,000 cavalry against 7,000 men from Ditmarschen who were defeated in 1560. Many nobles were killed, and some nobles in Holstein wanted to exterminate the peasants. However, Ditmarschen swore loyalty, reduced their fortresses, and agreed to pay a higher land tax to keep their land. Frederik signed a capitulation and was crowned in Copenhagen. The nobles promised not to purchase the lands of peasants without the King’s consent, but their free trade of cattle was confirmed.
During the Livonian War that began in 1558 Frederik II tried to get Duke Magnus off his land, and Denmark was drawn into the conflict with Sweden, Russia, Poland, and the Order of the Sword. Frederik established Marine Law in 1561. In 1562 Denmark negotiated a treaty with Tsar Ivan IV which would let Magnus have part of Estonia if the Swedes could be ejected. Denmark declared war on Sweden on August 13, 1563 and assembled an army of 24,000 men. They won some naval victories in 1564 and tried to blockade Sweden’s coast, but this was lifted in May 1565. The Danish and Swedish armies met on October 18 at Axtona. The Danish cavalry helped defeat the Swedes as 3,000 men were killed. The next year Daniel Rantzau led 8,000 men to Halmstad in July, but a plague caused all but 2,000 to die in a few weeks. In July 1566 the Swedish navy destroyed most of the Danish fleet off Götland as the Danes lost 7,000 men. King Frederik II became mentally unstable and had to depend on Peder Okse and Johan Friis. Nobles contributed a third of their income to rescue Denmark’s finances. Sweden’s Erik XIV also went mad in the fall of 1567, and Rantzau attacked with 8,500 men and defeated the Swedes at Konungs Norrby. He wanted to march on Stockholm, but without reinforcements he decided to retreat.
In November 1568 envoys from Denmark, Lübeck, and Sweden signed a draft treaty to end the war; but Sweden’s King Johan III rejected the terms that obligated him to pay Denmark’s war costs and would have ceded the Swedish portion of Estonia. After Denmark captured Varberg in late 1569, Rantzau was killed by a cannon-ball. A peace conference met at Stettin, and the Northern Seven Years War ended with a treaty signed on December 13, 1570. Sweden paid 150,000 riksdaler for Alvsborg Castle and relinquished their claims in Livonia to Denmark which got them under the feudal lordship of the mediating Emperor Maximilian II. Denmark renounced its claim to Sweden, and Sweden gave up Götland, the Scanian provinces, and Norway to Denmark. Lübeck was given a war indemnity and free trade with Sweden.
Frederik II tried to woo England’s Queen Elizabeth but only was made a Knight of the Garter. He spent his time hunting and enjoying feasts with much wine. After Peder Okse died, Kristofer Valkendorf took care of the administration. Denmark’s fleet controlled the Baltic Sea and levied duties on all ships sailing through the Sound and the Great Belt. In 1586 Frederik sent envoys to England, France, Spain, and the Netherlands to try to negotiate peace with German princes at Lüneberg, but they failed. Danish commerce expanded as the Hanseatic towns declined; only Hamburg retained its prominence. Danes increased their annual exports from Jutland to 50,000 cows and 150,000 pigs. The Danish ships even stopped the English from fishing in Icelandic waters. Frederik founded a college in Copenhagen that provided free board and education for 100 students.
Tyco Brahe began studying at the University of Copenhagen in 1559 when he was 12 years old. He learned law but soon became devoted to astronomy. After living in Germany he came back to Copenhagen in 1574 and was patronized by the King. They built a great castle at Uranienborg, and Tyco founded a school where he taught astronomy for 21 years. Without the aid of a telescope he was able to establish the most reliable catalog of stars so far.
Frederik II blocked the entry of foreigners unless they conformed to his 25 articles of religion. Violations could mean loss of life or property. He dismissed the theologian Niels Hemmingsen because of his Calvinist views. Frederik endeavored to protect the peasants from the nobles. Excessive drinking probably hastened his death at the age of 53 on April 4, 1588.
Frederik II’s oldest son Kristian was born on April 12, 1577, and he was tutored by the outstanding teacher, Hans Mikkelsen, learning Latin, French, and Italian. He excelled at drawing, architecture, and science. During his youth Denmark was governed by the Queen Mother Sofie, Chancellor Niels Kaas, Admiral Peder Munk, and Councilors Kristofer Valkendorf and Jörgen Rosenkranz.
Since 1501 Sweden had no king, but in 1512 Sten Sture the Younger took the regency away from Erik Trolle who was of Danish descent. In 1513 Sten made a truce with Russia in order to be able to fight Denmark. In 1514 Erik’s son Gustav Trolle was appointed Archbishop of Uppsala, and two years later Sten besieged him in his castle. In January 1517 Sten Sture gained the support of the Riksdag at Arboga, declared he would never recognize Kristian II of Denmark, and continued the siege at Stäket. He accused Trolle of supporting Kristian II. Swedes persuaded the Archbishop to surrender to Sten Sture who sent him to a cloister while peasants demolished his Almarestäket castle. Sten summoned the estates to meet at Stockholm in November.
Kristian II used money taken from Archemboldus’s sale of indulgences in Sweden and invaded with the Danish army to relieve the Archbishop and fight against the Swedes who were led by Gustav Vasa. Kristian’s army landed at Stockholm on January 29, 1518 and besieged the city. In the battle at Brannkyrka on July 27 Sture’s army defeated the Danes in southern Stockholm. Sture and Kristian agreed to meet at Österhaninge to negotiate. To insure the safety of King Kristian the Swedes sent six men as hostages including Gustav Vasa, but Kristian took the hostages to Denmark in October. Pope Leo X put Sweden under ban. In the battle at Bogesund on January 19, 1520 Denmark and Sweden each had about 10,000 men. Sten Sture was mortally wounded, and the Swedes fled. On March 6 the Council met at Uppsala and made a treaty with Kristian’s commander. Sten’s widow Kristina Gyllenstierna held Stockholm but was persuaded to surrender in September.
On November 4, 1520 Archbishop Gustav Trolle anointed Kristian II in Stockholm as King of Sweden. After a three-day banquet Kristian summoned Swedish leaders to a private meeting. On November 8 Danish soldiers began removing the Swedish leaders. The next day Trolle and a council sentenced the anti-unionist bishops Mattias of Strengnaes and Vincentius of Skara to death for heresy, and they were beheaded along with a total of 82 Swedish leaders. Kristina and other noble Swedish women were taken to Denmark as prisoners. Gustav Vasa had his father and three other male relatives killed and his mother and four other female relatives taken to a dungeon in Copenhagen. He went to Dularna where the Stures had organized national resistance. Kristian during this visit to Sweden had an estimated six hundred people put to death. Several people were executed in Jönköping, and the abbot and some monks were drowned at the Nydala monastery.
Gustav Vasa was born on May 12, 1496 in Upland. At age 13 he went to the University of Uppsala. At 18 he became a squire in the court of Sten Sture the Younger. He carried the state banner during the battle at Brannkyrka. When he was a hostage, he stayed in Jutland at the castle of his relative Erik Baner who was threatened with a fine if he escaped. Disguised as a peasant, Gustav Vasa got away in September 1519, and he spent eight months in Lübeck. He went back to Sweden on a German ship and traveled and worked as a peasant while a large reward was offered for his capture. Gustav had a tremendous memory and years later could remember people he had met briefly. Hanseatic merchants helped him land in Kalmar on May 31, 1520.
Gustav began his work of liberation in Mora where in January 1521 he was made captain of the liberation army. On February 5 his band of 400 men attacked Falun and acquired supplies and money. He used the Dalarna seal to make official proclamations, and many men volunteered. Vasa trained them with strict discipline. In early April they inflicted heavy casualties on the Danes at Brunnbäck Ferry. Then on April 29 with about 15,000 men Vasa fought the royal Danish army at Vasteras. The Danes burned the city on May 20 and left a small force in the castle which eventually surrendered on January 30, 1522. Meanwhile Swedish rebels conquered Uppsala on May 19, 1521, though the Archbishop led an attack three weeks later that forced Gustav to flee. The Swedes besieged Kalmar on May 27, and it capitulated eight days later. Local revolts broke out in central and southern Sweden. Vasa learned that Kristian had killed his captured mother and sister in Copenhagen. On August 23 a national meeting in Vadsena named Gustav Vasa regent of Sweden. Archbishop Trolle had fled into exile in 1521, but he still plotted against the new government.
Because Kristian II had begun trading with the Dutch in the fall of 1520, Lübeck merchants allied with Gustav Vasa and the Swedes in June 1522. Lübeck’s Berend von Melen married Vasa’s cousin and was made a general, and he helped lead the attack on Skane in the winter. Lübeck sent ten warships with 750 soldiers and supplies as loans to Vasa. In April 1523 Kristian II and his family fled to the Netherlands, but he was succeeded by his uncle Frederik I. He granted Lübeck trading privileges in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. On June 6 a council of five clerics and 25 others elected Gustav Vasa King of Sweden. Stockholm had long been besieged, and its defenders surrendered on June 24, enabling Gustav to enter the capital in triumph.
Laurentius Petri had studied in Germany, and he became King Gustav’s secretary-chancellor. His older brother Olaus Petri had earned his master’s at Wittenberg in 1518 and taught him Lutheran ideas. Olaus became secretary to the city council of Stockholm in 1524. He gave sermons in the Stockholm cathedral criticizing the papacy, and some angry monks threw things at him. He married in February 1525 and was reprimanded by Bishop Hans Brask of Linköping. In 1526 Olaus published Useful Instruction on evangelical devotion, and in 1528 he translated Luther’s Book of Sermons. Laurentius was influential until his dismissal in 1531 when the clergy elected him archbishop.
In 1524 Gustav I replaced the banished Archbishop Trolle with Johannes Magnus; but Pope Clement VII had consecrated Mansson of Vasteras in Rome, and he demanded that Trolle be reinstated. Yet Magnus and Bishop Brask often opposed Gustav who needed money from the Church. The King argued that it was for the good of the nation and urged monks to go teach on the northern frontier. At this time the Church owned about one-fifth of Sweden’s land as did the nobility. Tax-paying farmers held half the land, and the King had one-sixteenth. In Finland 96% of the land was taxable. Gustav urged the use of Swedish in church services instead of Latin, and he was accused of being a Lutheran.
In May 1524 King Gustav sent a force led by Berend von Melen to Götland where they besieged Norby and his soldiers in Visby and Visborg, but Norby negotiated with Frederik and gave Götland to Denmark. Vasa’s troops left Götland in October. Norby demanded money from Frederik to pay his troops and turned to Kristian II, invading Blekinge in his name. Norby asked for naval support, but his fleet was defeated by Lübeck in April 1525. Norby in October gave Visborg to Frederik and received Blekinge as a life-fief. Norby remained loyal to Kristian and gathered another fleet, but in August a Swedish-Danish navy sank most of Norby’s ships.
At the Riksdag of Vasteras in 1526 the representatives decided that the bishops’ castles and forts and other property should go to the King. Mendicant orders were supervised by laymen, and nobles could reclaim properties they had lost to the Church. Gustav believed that the true work of the Church was to teach morality and good citizenship, and he had little interest in doctrinal issues. The Götland expedition had cost much, and Gustav confiscated silver intended for the shrine at Vadstena by demanding that bishops raise money in their dioceses. Two-thirds of the tithes for the clergy in 1526 were diverted to pay back the loan from Lübeck. Bishop Brask persuaded him to accept 15,000 marks. Gustav limited how many armed men bishops could have in their retinues.
Olaus Petri got a printing press in 1526 and published many pamphlets to spread Lutheran teachings. He helped Laurentius translate the New Testament into Swedish, and it was published in August. A Riksdag was summoned in 1527 because of rebellion in Dalkarlia, and they gave King Gustav authority to take possession of the bishops’ castles and forts, to spend the extra income of the clergy, and to give nobles titles to all property taken by the Church since 1454. New ordinances allowed the King to fill vacancies in parish churches, fix the revenues of the clergy, and use the remainder himself. Priests were made responsible to secular courts, and the Gospels were to be read in the schools. Olaus preached a sermon when Gustav was crowned on January 12, 1528, and he urged the King to promote the welfare of the common man. Then Gustav led an army of 14,000 men to suppress the rebellion in Dalkarlia, and the Daljunker pretender was executed. Olaus wrote in his Little Book on the Sacraments that only the two sacraments of baptism and the eucharist were needed, and his book On Marriage condemned celibacy. Swedish and Danish councils met at Lödöse in August and made a defensive alliance against Kristian II, and in 1530 the treaty of Varberg gave Viken to Sweden for six years.
In 1529 the politician Ture Jönsson (Tre Rosor) led a peasant rebellion in Smaland and Vastergötland with help from Bishop Magnus of Skara. Gustav used rhetoric and force to suppress them. Leaders were executed as others fled. In 1530 King Gustav at a meeting in Uppsala decreed that every urban church must contribute one bell for the royal exchequer so that the debt to Lübeck could be paid. This was resented and provoked more violence in Dalkarlia. After receiving 30,000 marks, in 1531 he extended the bell tax to rural churches. That year Gustav declared that Sweden is Lutheran. Olaus published the Swedish mass and became chancellor, but he clashed with the political expediency of Gustav and was replaced two years later. Priests were permitted to marry, and use of the Swedish mass spread.
On September 24 the 35-year-old Gustav married young Katarina, daughter of the Protestant Duke Magnus of Saxe-Lauenburg and sister-in-law of Denmark’s Kristian III. Archbishop Magnus had gone into exile, and his replacement Laurentius Andreae presided at the wedding. Katarina bore Erik in 1533 but died in 1535. That year Gustav married Margaret Leijonhufvud, and she bore ten children including the future kings Johan III and Karl (Charles) IX. Laurentius Petri became Sweden’s first Protestant archbishop. In 1536 the reformers held a successful church assembly at Uppsala, and Gustav approved a Swedish mass and other reforms. Finland was a province of Sweden, and in 1539 Mikael Agricola returned to Wittenberg and wrote Lutheran manuals in Finnish. He wrote A Biblical Prayer Book in 1544, and his New Testament translation was published in Turku in 1548.
Exiled Kristian II gathered an army in the Netherlands and landed in Norway in November 1531. Gaining Norwegians they marched south into Bohuslan toward Skane. King Gustav avoided conflict; but his commander managed to cut off their supply lines, and the former King of Denmark had to return to Norway. Kristian II tried to negotiate with Denmark’s King Frederik but was imprisoned for the rest of his life. In 1532 the Dutch began challenging Lübeck for trade. Gustav resented that Lübeck undervalued the goods Sweden sent to pay their debt, and he claimed the debt was paid. He denounced the privileges their merchants had in Sweden and began taxing them. Councilors wanted the debt paid, and Gustav’s brother-in-law Johan av Hoya was Viceroy in Finland. He had pledged the debt would be paid and was so upset that he went back to Germany and joined the Swedish exiles there.
Jürgen Wullenwever in Lübeck led a group of Protestants who overthrew the council and offered to ally with Sweden in a war against the Netherlands. He allied with England’s Henry VIII and gained support from northern Germany, attacking Duke Kristian of Holstein in 1534. Wullenwever was overthrown in August 1535.
After King Frederik’s death Gustav loaned money to Kristian III and supported him and the nobles in the civil war named after Count Kristofer of Oldenburg and the counts of Holstein and Hoya. Gustav made a pact of mutual defense with the Danish Council in February 1534. The Danes pushed the Lübeckers out of Holstein while the Swedes captured Halmstad in October and moved into Skane. Their fleets defeated the Hanseatic navy and then the Hansa army at Fyn in June 1535. After the victory Gustav granted some trading privileges to defeated Lübeck, and he imposed taxes on them and other foreign merchants coming into Sweden which became stronger as the Hanseatic monopoly was destroyed. In February 1536 Kristian III made a separate peace with Lübeck at Hamburg, violating his treaty with Gustav. The King started the Swedish Trading Company, and in 1539 he prohibited Swedes from exporting cattle and other commodities through the Danish ports in Skane.
The Swedish monarchy was made hereditary in 1540. That year Gustav tried the Bible translators Olaus Petri and Laurentius Andreae for treason. They were sentenced to death but were reprieved. Andreae was no longer chancellor. The state took control of the Church, and Georg Norman was appointed superintendent. Gustav reconciled with the Sture family and sent Svante Sture on a special mission. On September 15, 1541 Gustav and Kristian III signed a treaty of alliance at Brömsebro. Denmark paid off the loan, but Gustav declined to accept Protestantism formally. The official church Handbook and the first Bible in Swedish were published in 1541, and copies were sent to all the churches. In this era he was advised by several Germans, notably the diplomat Konrad von Pyhy who was Chancellor 1538-43. Olaus became inspector of Stockholm’s schools in 1542. He compiled a Swedish-Latin dictionary and also wrote Judge’s Rules on Swedish laws and the Swedish Chronicle.
Smaland had been fined for a revolt in 1537, and in the spring of 1542 they rebelled against taxes and for what their churches had lost. In 1536 Nils Dacke and Jon Andersson had killed a resented bailiff, and they led the uprising in 1542. They sent a letter to Svante Sture, hoping to put him on the throne, but Svante turned the letter over to King Gustav. Dacke was reconciled with the King’s representatives in November, but he accused Gustav of abolishing traditions. Gustav made a speech charging that Smaland wanted to go back to the old ways before Sweden became more secure. He made two trade treaties in 1542. Nils Dacke led troops against the royal forces in Ostergötland in January 1543, and Gustav sent an army to crush the rebellion. Dacke’s army was defeated on March 20 near Högsby, and he was killed on the Blekinge border. Hundreds of rebels were executed or fined or shipped off to Finland. Gustav lightened the burden of their taxes and curtailed the adventurous foreign policy of Pyhy that had caused them.
The Riksdag met in 1544 at Vasteras to plan peace, and the clergy were recognized as an estate separate from the nobles. This assembly declared Sweden an evangelical kingdom. Fiefs previously given to nobles were now kept by the King. By 1545 Germans were 64% of the guards in Stockholm, but by 1553 they were only 10%. The assets of the Church had been devastated as the Crown multiplied its share of the economy by five. By the end of his reign Gustav would own nearly 19,000 homesteads which accounted for more than a quarter of the farms in Sweden. Half the lands were owned by independent farmers, and the nobility and the clergy combined owned one fifth. In 1544 Gustav had declined to accept the treaty of Speyer in which Emperor Charles V renounced his claims in exchange for bridal payments to his two daughters; but by 1551 he had agreed to the treaty, though he never made the bridal payment. After his second wife died, Gustav married Katarina Stenbock in 1552, and she was crowned Queen on August 23. She nursed him during his long illnesses and was later known for her charitable work.
Sweden had made a 60-year truce with Russia at Novgorod in 1537; but the Russians attacked Finland in 1555, and an expanding Swedish-Finnish settlement in Karelia was causing clashes and murders. Gustav went to Finland, and his army stopped the Russian advance at Viborg and Nyslott. They agreed to a peace treaty signed in Moscow in 1557. Gustav tried to stay out of the southern Baltic lands; but his sons Erik and Johan became active there, and the Russians attacked them in 1558. Gustav made commercial treaties with the Dutch and the French, and he made Helsingfors (Helsinki) in Finland the center of trade with Russia. He founded Alvsborg on the west coast and ordered inhabitants of Lödöse to move there. At the Riksdag in 1560 Gustav announced that Erik was to be his successor; Johan was to be Duke of Finland; other sons got provinces; and each daughter got a dowry of 100,000 daler. Johan had been governing Finland since 1557. Erik had assisted his father in state affairs and governed 1555-57 when Gustav went to fight the Russians. Gustav died on September 29, 1560, and Erik XIV became King of Sweden. More than two-thirds of Sweden was controlled by the royal treasury which was now full.
Erik XIV had a renaissance education, learning Latin, German, French, Spanish, Italian, and Finnish. He studied geography, history, animals, and plants, and he patronized the arts. He understood rhetoric and tried to apply astrology. He was the first king of Sweden to inherit the throne and to insist on being called “Majesty.” Based on history that included the Goths, he took the name Erik XIV. In January 1561 he promised the burghers of Reval that he would protect their privileges, and in June they swore fealty to him. He confirmed their privileges on August 2 and tried to stop trade with their competitor Narva. In June 1562 his fleet captured 32 merchant ships that had been to Narva.
In September 1561 a Swedish force led by Klas Kristersson Horn took Padis away from Magnus of Denmark. Erik’s Livonian campaigns cost 3.5 million marks in three years, and his extravagant coronation was also expensive. He created three counts and nine barons to give his nobles titles. Erik sent an embassy to Moscow in 1561, and at Dorpat in May 1564 Tsar Ivan IV eventually recognized Erik’s rights to Revel, Pernau, Karkus, and Weissentein. Early in 1561 Erik also sent Nils Gyllenstierna to England to try to negotiate Erik’s betrothal to Queen Elizabeth, but she put him off for several years.
King Erik summoned a Riksdag in April 1561, and they approved the Articles of Arboga that established royal control over the duchies and prohibited the dukes from engaging in foreign affairs except for marriage. He appointed a supreme court of judges to serve his interests. Erik persuaded Reval and parts of Estonia to acknowledge his rule in 1562. That year at the Uppsala Riksdag he required nobles to provide horsemen for the war in Livonia.
Duke Johan persuaded his brother Erik to let him marry Katarina Jagellonica, daughter and sister of kings of Poland, in October. Johan also tried to expand holdings in Livonia, and he organized opposition to Erik who used torture to get witnesses to implicate Johan in a conspiracy against him. Johan was convicted by the Riksdag on June 7, 1563, and he was sentenced to forfeit his life, property, and rights. Erik negotiated with his brother who resisted and was besieged in Abo castle before surrendering on August 12. Johan and his wife were held in Gripsholm castle. The King sent his brother a German translation of Boccaccio’s Decameron, and Johan translated it into Swedish. Between 1562 and 1567 Erik had more than 300 men condemned to death, and before their executions Jöran Persson tortured them to get information.
In May 1563 a Swedish fleet commanded by Jakob Bagge went to get Princess Kristine of Hesse who was betrothed to Erik. Danish ships attacked them and lost their flagship. Her father would not let her go because of the danger. Erik celebrated the naval victory, but a Danish herald arrived in Stockholm on August 13 with a message that Denmark’s Frederik II had declared war against Sweden. Lübeck sent a similar message. Erik then declared war against the alliance of Denmark, Poland, and Lübeck. In September the Danes conquered Alvsborg. Early in 1564 the Swedish army invaded central Norway and took over Trondheim, but the Danes regained it later that year. Swedes raided Norway, Skane, Halland, and Blekinge, burning Ronneby and other towns. King Erik led the invasion of Halland, but hearing news of Frederik’s Danish army approaching he lifted the siege of Halmstad. Erik had forty church parishes ravaged in Norway.
King Erik XIV raised a national army and did not depend on foreign mercenaries. Erik armored his warships at the water-line, and Sweden’s navy soon had the best warships in Europe. Klas Horn replaced Bagge, and in 1564 the Swedes won a naval battle at Oland that lasted two days; the combined fleets of Denmark and Lübeck lost 16 ships with 7,000 men in a storm. In 1565 Horn’s ships defeated the fleets of Denmark and Lübeck, and in 1566 the Swedish navy captured the entire Dutch fleet of 52 salt ships. The first noble cavalry had begun in 1565, and Duke Karl at age 15 commanded the artillery in another invasion of Halland. The town of Varberg was defended by the Danes. Karl led the attack and urged the Swedes to persevere. After they took the walls, they plundered and burned the town; all the men of arms were killed except 150 mercenaries who joined the Swedish army. One of these was the French captain Pontus de la Gardie. Denmark’s army was led by Daniel Rantzau, and they defeated the Swedes at Axtorna on October 20. In the next two years Rantzau’s forces ravaged Smaland and Götaland.
Archbishop Laurentius Petri had decreed new church ordinances in 1562, and he published Psalms and a catechism in 1567. His Ordinance of 1571 established the Lutheran faith in Sweden and organized the Protestant laws.
In 1566 Erik held a meeting of the Riksdag without summoning the nobility. On January 24, 1567 they extorted confessions from Svante Sture and Sten Eriksson that people were conspiring against the Vasa dynasty, and in May 1567 the Riksdag at Uppsala condemned four members of the Sture clan with others. On May 24 the irate Erik stabbed Nils Svantesson Sture with a dagger in the prison and ordered his guards to kill Count Sture, his son Erik, and two others. The King ran into the woods and was incapable of ruling for the rest of the year. The Council governed and released Johan and Katarina while Jöran Persson was detained for having urged the King to abuse the nobility while he was head of espionage and chief prosecutor.
Erik recovered enough to resume ruling in January 1568. He reinstated Secretary Persson in February and led the army to victory against the Danes. He offended many by secretly marrying his mistress Karin Månsdotter who was from a peasant family and had given birth to Gustav on January 28, 1568. She was given the seal of a queen in February, and they were officially wed on July 4. Johan and his brothers rebelled, and Erik surrendered on September 28 and was imprisoned at Abo in Finland. Two years later he was moved to the archipelago of Aland to keep the Russians from freeing him. Then Johan had him put in the Gripsholm castle where Erik grew up and where he had placed Johan.
Johan III began ruling Sweden on September 30, 1568. In January 1569 the Riksdag recognized Johan as King, and he was crowned on July 10. That month a Danish-Lübeck fleet attacked Reval, and in November the fortress of Varberg, which had been taken from the Danes in 1565, capitulated. Duke Karl was confirmed without the Arboga restrictions, and Johan revived the hereditary privileges of the nobility to counter Karl. On November 30, 1570 Sweden made peace at Stettin with Denmark, but that year Johan began a long war against Russia. He feared that Erik might escape and ordered guards to kill him if any attempt was made. Erik died on February 26, 1577 of arsenic poisoning. Johan spent money building churches and castles, and he had the castles at Kalmar, Gripsholm, and Abo remodeled in the Renaissance style. Rising food prices enriched large landowners.
Johan III tried to impose his views on religion in 1576 when he issued a new liturgy in his Red Book. Several clergy complained and were banished, and Duke Karl rejected it in his duchy. Johan was influenced by the Flemish theologian George Cassander and tried to find a middle way between the Catholic and Protestant liturgies. Queen Katarina and the Jesuit Laurentius Nicolai Norvegus tried to convert Johan to Catholicism. The Jesuit Antonio Possevino came from Rome as an imperial emissary and persuaded the King to accept the Roman Catholic faith in May 1578. However, Pope Gregory XIII refused to accommodate Johan’s request for concessions, and so he reverted to the Lutheran religion in July 1579.
The French soldier Pontus de la Gardie was captured from the Danes and became an effective general for Sweden. A Swedish siege of Narva had failed in 1579; but in 1581 Pontus led an army that included mercenaries from Germany, England, and Scotland, and they captured Narva. Because of previous Russian massacres, he had a reported 7,000 Russians put to death. The Swedish army also took over Ivangorod, Jama, and Koporye. After his wife Katarina died on September 16, 1583, Johan married the Protestant Gunilla Bielke on February 21, 1584 and gave up the Catholic faith. He had learned that it is better to let people have free choice in religion. He spent money extravagantly on his court, and commerce and industry suffered during his reign, resulting in poverty, hunger, and disease. Towns went bankrupt; farms were abandoned, and the population of Sweden decreased. Escalating the war with Russia made things worse.
After his representatives promised that Sweden’s possessions in Estonia would become part of Polish Livonia, Johan’s son Sigismund Vasa was elected King of Poland-Lithuania on August 19, 1587. He went to Poland in October and was crowned on December 27.
In 1517 Norway was being ruled by King Kristian II of Denmark, and they were not much affected by his conflicts in Denmark. The influence of Luther’s ideas was quickly felt, and the monasteries of Dragsmark and Gimso were secularized. When the unpopular Kristian II tried to find refuge in Norway in 1520, the Dalkarleans learned of his cruelty and sent messages to Gustav Vasa urging him to return to Sweden. When Frederik became King of Denmark in 1523, Gustav Vasa was in the Norwegian province of Viken. Archbishop Valkendorf was in Rome to be consecrated by Pope Adrian VI.
When they learned that Kristian II had been deposed, Nils Henriksson Gyldenslove of Ostraat and Olav Galle of Thom conferred with others. Henriksson was to take Bergen and govern the north while Olav Galle was to administer the south. However, Henriksson could not take Bergen because Hans Knutsson held it for the Danes. Galle failed also as Frederik I won the allegiance of southern Norway by the end of 1523. Danish forces held the strategic castles at Akershus, Bergenhus, and Bohus. Frederik sent Henrik Krummedike to govern southern Norway. The Danish noble Vincens Lunge was sent to govern the north, and at Bergen he met the richest magnate Nils Henriksson and his family. Lunge married his daughter Margaret. Henriksson died in 1523, and Lunge tried to take the castle from Kristian’s followers. Hans Knutsson surrendered, and the Norwegian Council gave the castle to Lunge.
Olav Engelbrektsson became Archbishop of Nidaros in 1523 which gave him a seat on the Council. He became president and summoned them in August 1524; but Lunge had the most authority, and Olav Galle governed the south. The Council renounced Kristian II and elected Frederik king of Norway. A charter required him to protect the Catholic Church and its privileges, and he had to renounce the title of being heir to the throne. They complained about Henrik Krummedike and informed him that he had been banished. Lunge took these documents to King Frederik who signed the charter but declared Krummedike innocent. In 1529 he was given his possessions in Norway. As Frederik was in Denmark, the Norwegian Council governed the country.
Jöns Hansson claimed to be the son of Sten Sture, and he was called the “Dalejunker.” He fled from Dalarne to Ostraat in Norway and won over Lunge and Lady Inger, becoming engaged to her daughter. The pretender went back to Dalarne in the fall of 1527; but Gustav Vasa had warned people, and he went back to Lunge. Sture’s widow said he was an imposter, and Lunge banished him from Norway. The pretender planned to go to Holland, but he was arrested in Rostock and executed. In 1528 Frederik formed an alliance with Gustav against Kristian II. Gustav persuaded the Danish King to remove Lunge as commandant of Bergen, but he gave him a monastery. Danish Eske Bilde had married Krummedike’s daughter Sophia and became commandant at Bergen. Bohus and Akershus were also given to Danes.
In 1529 King Frederik sent his son and heir Kristian to be Duke of Norway, but Lunge and Archbishop Olav Engelbrektsson persuaded the Council to resist this. The Archbishop represented the Norwegian Catholic Church, but Lunge was a humanist and a Lutheran reformer. Frederik also promoted the Reformation and secularized the monasteries by appointing lay managers who paid an annual fee for the job. Lunge wanted more monasteries, and with the Dominican Friars at Bergen they plundered that monastery’s valuables and then burned the buildings. Thus Lunge and the Archbishop became enemies, and Lunge seized Olav’s properties in northern Norway. Engelbrektsson put off Frederik’s coronation in Oslo. Lunge seized more church property to please his mother-in-law, Lady Inger.
The monk Antonius had come to Norway to preach the Lutheran faith in 1526, and two more Lutherans arrived three years later. Bergen became the center of the Reformation in Norway, but Bishop Hoskold of Stavanger opposed them. The scholar Gable Pedersson converted to the Lutheran faith in 1536 and founded a Latin school at Bergen.
By 1531 Kristian II had gathered ships and war materials in the Netherlands, and he invaded Norway and captured Akershus in November. On the 29th Kristian was proclaimed the King of Norway at Oslo. He sent forces to Bohus and Bergen, but they failed. A Danish fleet arrived and captured Akershus. They had an army of 6,000 men, and Kristian’s fleet was destroyed. He agreed to meet with Frederik in Denmark, but he was imprisoned as a rebel. Lunge and Nils Lykke went to Trondheim to quell the uprising and compelled Archbishop Engelbrektsson to submit. He paid a fine and was allowed to keep his office. The city council renounced their allegiance to Kristian II. They affirmed the union of Norway and Denmark with the understanding that Norway retained its liberty and rights. Yet Norway remained a conquered a country.
In 1533 the Norwegian Council at Oslo elected Kristian III king of Norway. He claimed he was King of Norway in 1534 and considered any opposition to him rebellion. In 1535 the north could not agree on accepting Kristian III. In the tumult Lunge was killed, and the bishops of Oslo and Hamar were confined to the Tautra monastery. Archbishop Olav Engelbrektsson supported the election of Count Frederik as king, but the forces he sent to Akershus and Bergen failed. Olav freed his prisoners and promised to accept Kristian III as king if they were pardoned for the rebellion.
By fall Kristian III was generally accepted in Norway, and Archbishop Olav Engelbrektsson became the leader in Norway. In a letter on March 5, 1536 Kristian III warned the Norwegians not to rebel against Denmark, or they would be punished by his army. Gypsies were disliked and given three months to leave the country; but most had nowhere better to go and were persecuted. Archbishop Engelbrektsson gathered up church treasures and left on ships on April 1, 1537 and went to the Netherlands where he died the next year. Kristian III sent Truid Ulfstand to Trondheim, and he seized Bishop Mogens in Hamar and took him back as a prisoner to Denmark where he died in 1542.
Denmark’s Church ordinance signed by the King on September 2, 1537 was written by Luther’s friend Johannes Bugenhagen, and it became the founding constitution for the Lutheran Church in Norway. Priests were allowed to continue, but bishops were removed and replaced by Lutheran superintendents. In 1536 Geble Pedersson was appointed superintendent of Bergen, and the Church ordinance was accepted in Oslo and Hamar in June 1539. Estates that had belonged to Catholic bishops were confiscated, and half the income from tithes went to Kristian III who continued to secularize the monasteries until this was completed in 1555. Their property was also seized by the King, and the treasures were shipped to Denmark. A few Lutheran priests and Bibles in Danish were sent to Norway, but little instruction was given to people. The chapters could not keep students in universities, and soon they lacked Norwegian priests. Ministers from Denmark were resented, and some were even killed. Morals generally deteriorated while superstitions continued. Bishop Hans Reff became a Lutheran and superintendent for Oslo and Hamar. Geble sent students to Copenhagen, Rostock, and Wittenberg, and Absalon Pedersson became a teacher at the Latin school in Bergen until his death in 1575. The Interpretation of the Catechism for Norwegian Priests by Palladius was first published in 1541 and had several editions.
During the reign of Kristian III the Norwegian Council and the Catholic Church in Norway were replaced by the Danish Council and Lutherans. Norwegian laws were translated into Danish, and Church laws were cancelled. In addition to spreading the Lutheran religion the King’s main goals were to keep the peace and improve the economy. The demise of the Hanseatic merchants enabled Norway’s lumber business to thrive, and they exported especially to Iceland and England which lacked trees. Water-powered sawmills had been developed in every district by 1530. The treaty of Speyer in 1544 opened up trade in Holland at Amsterdam. Norwegians provided able sea captains, and Kristian forgave their past deeds. The King promoted mining and industry in Norway, and he imported miners from Germany. Kristian III never visited Norway during his reign, and he spoke German and never even learned Danish. Cities in Norway, Denmark, and Sweden suffered an epidemic from 1550 to 1554 that closed schools and caused the court to flee. German merchants intimidated others, and in 1555 Kristian appointed Danish Kristofer Valkendorf commandant at Bergen, and he ordered the Germans to swear allegiance to Kristian III or depart. Under threat of force they complied, and many left in 1559.
Kristian III died on January 1, 1559 and was succeeded by his 24-year-old son Frederik II. Norway suffered during the Seven Years War in the North between Denmark and Sweden. The Swedish army invaded Norway and occupied Jaemtland in the fall of 1563, but the commandant of Steinviksholm, Evert Bild, led the army that pushed the Swedes out. The plague returned and spread until 1566. In 1564 a Swedish army of 3,000 men led by the Frenchman Claude Collart returned and held Jaemtland and Herjedalen for the rest of the war. Evert surrendered the fortress at Steinviksholm. As the Danes were driven away, the Norwegians welcomed the Swedes as friends. Trondelagen, More, and Romsdal accepted Sweden’s Erik XIV as their king. Collart imposed heavy taxes, and soldiers desecrated the Trondheim cathedral. Bergen’s commandant Erik Rosenkrans sent troops led by Erik Munk to help the local forces. Collart withdrew his forces from Trondelagen and retreated to Steinviksholm where 400 Swedes had to surrender. In late July 1566 most of the Danish-Norwegian fleet was destroyed by the Swedish fleet and a storm as more than 6,000 men perished. The Swedish fleet was also damaged.
In 1567 Sweden’s Erik XIV ordered an attack on Akershus in Norway, hoping the Norwegians would rise up against the Danes. Johan Siggesson led the Swedish invasion into Osterdalen which was plundered along with Hedemarken. As they advanced on Oslo, the people burned their city to keep it from the invaders. Southeastern Norway submitted to King Erik. Akershus was besieged, and Rosenkrans led a force to relieve the fortress. When Erik Munk brought more reinforcements, the Swedes withdrew. As they marched toward Oslo, they killed people and burned things. While retreating they destroyed Hamarhus castle and burned Hamar cathedral. In the peace treaty of 1570 each side retained what they had before the war caused so much destruction.
Councils of magnates had developed by 1568, and they sent committees to Copenhagen to appeal to the King. Rolv Halvardsson led one in 1573; but after they returned to Norway, they were unjustly condemned and executed. The first book of hymns in Danish and Latin was published in 1569. After 36 years without a central government in Norway, King Frederik II appointed Povel Huitfeldt statholder (viceroy) of Norway in 1572. On July 5, 1588 he was given supreme command over Norway’s military forces. He traveled around Norway and conducted a census. Taxes had been half one’s income to pay for the war, but in 1576 they were cut in half.
On June 5, 1578 Chancellor Nils Kaas and Treasurer Kristofer Valkendorf led the effort to limit the work of peasants for their landlord to only one or two days a week except in the fall when they could be made to work for only three days per week. Because Denmark’s nobles dominated Norway, the Norwegian nobles declined. Commerce and business increased the power of the burghers, and the Protestants revived the clergy. The farmers still made up the largest of the four estates. By the end of the century the King and the Church owned 45% of Norway, and the nobles had only 15%. Most of the other 40% was held by farmers with a little by the burghers.
Humanism, which gave birth to the Renaissance, reached Norway in the late 16th century. Geble Pedersson who became the first Lutheran bishop led a circle of literary men eager to learn from old books. His protégé Absalon Pedersson Beyer studied at the Latin school in Bergen and wrote a diary about life in Bergen 1552-72 that was published as Liber Capituli Bergensis. He hoped that Norway would awaken from its sleep and become independent. He also wrote a book on the kingdom of Norway in 1567. Peder Claussen Friis wrote about the natural history of Norway in his Norigis Beskriffuelse, and he translated the old sagas of Norway’s kings about 1555. Bishop Jens Nilsson of Oslo convened another circle of humanists that studied Latin, Greek, Old Norse, and Norwegian history. He wrote Latin songs about Norway and its people.
The plague kept reappearing and devastated all of Scandinavia again 1580-81. Frederik II died 1588.
Iceland was also ruled by the King of Denmark, and Kristian II (1513-23) opposed the Hanseatic merchants. He prohibited their trade with Iceland and developed a Scandinavian trading association. However, under Frederik I (1523-33) English and German merchants persuaded the Althing to revise the law and let foreign traders stay in Iceland during the winter. In a half century there were eight clashes between the English and German traders in Iceland. In 1532 the English ship Peter Gibson stayed in Grindavik harbor for twenty days carrying fish and selling goods. Their captain John Breye refused to pay the toll to the royal hirostjori (courtier). One night 280 Germans from eight ships attacked the English and killed fifteen men. They also robbed the ships and took £1,500 in goods. King Henry VIII demanded an indemnity, but Frederik supported Hamburg and refused. This was the era of much Hamburg trading with Iceland. In 1538 Lübeck resumed their trade, and the Hamburgers opposed them. In 1540 King Kristian III tried to stop the foreign traders and keep their fishing boats away. In 1547 he granted Iceland to Copenhagen’s mayor for an annual tax, and he stopped Iceland’s export of sulfur. When ships from Hamburg violated the ban, they were fined 10,000 thaler. The King then banned the sale of other commodities.
Danish merchants began to trade with Iceland about 1560, and in 1572 King Frederik II closed Iceland’s harbors to Hamburg’s ships. In 1574 exporting ships had to be sent to England instead of Hamburg. These measures ruined Iceland’s German trade, but in 1579 trade relations were restored. In the 1590s about fifteen German ships came to Iceland each year. King Kristian IV aimed to end the German trade with Iceland and notified Hamburg in his letter of July 24, 1601. He sent another letter to the Council of Bremen. In 1602 Kristian gave a monopoly on Iceland trade to Copenhagen, Malmo, and Helsingor. The Germans, Dutch, and English turned to smuggling.
Olaf Hjaltason studied at the Latin school in Bergen for six years until 1521. Others studied in Germany or England. After the Reformation came to Denmark, they studied at the University of Copenhagen. In 1542 a royal decree established Latin schools in Videy and Helgafell, but the first school did not open at the bishop’s seat until ten years later. Iceland had about 150 churches dedicated to the Virgin Mary, 60 to Peter, 50 to St. Olaf, the Norwegian king who died in 1030, 20 to the apostle John, 20 to John the Baptist, 13 to Andrew, and 3 to Paul.
The chieftain Jon Arason was consecrated a Catholic bishop of Holar in 1524. Like most priests in Iceland he had a concubine who was a wife in all but name. The other Catholic bishop was Ogmundur Palsson of Skalholt. When they first met at an Althing in 1526, Ogmundur brought 1,300 men and Jon 900. Parish priests managed to prevent an armed clash by organizing a duel by two champions. Dueling was against Iceland law, and they met on an island in the Oxara. Ogmundur’s champion won; but Jon’s party was angry, and the cathedral at Skalholt was burned down. Ogmundur had the church rebuilt.
Jon Einarsson, a priest at Skalholt, was influenced by Luther’s writings and preached a sermon against the veneration of saints. Bishop Ogmundur reprimanded him, but Gizur Einarsson also rejected the Catholic faith, having heard Luther and Melanchthon preach in Wittenberg. Odd Gottskalkisson was the son of a bishop of Holar and became Ogmundur’s private secretary. He secretly worked on translating the Bible into Icelandic. On January 30, 1533 the Althing of Iceland enacted a decree requiring the best men to pledge their allegiance to the King of Norway and the Catholic Church. Ogmundur went to Norway to meet with Archbishop Olav, and he sent Gizur Einarsson as his representative. Bishop Jon Arason imported a printing press to publish Catholic literature.
In 1537 Kristian III sanctioned the new code of Lutheran church laws, and he sent the code to Iceland the next year. In 1539 Kristian III appointed Klaus von Mervitz to govern Iceland. He sent the sheriff Didrik von Minden with soldiers to the monastery at Videy to drive out the monks and confiscate their possessions. Bishop Ogmundur excommunicated them. That summer the sheriff and his men insulted Ogmundur, and on August 10, 1539 his followers killed Didrik and all his men. A jury considered this an attack on criminals and acquitted the farmers. Gizur Einarsson was elected bishop, and Kristian III confirmed him on March 15, 1540. The next year Kristian appointed Kristofer Huitfeldt to govern Iceland and sent him there with two warships. He was to institute the new laws, persuade people to swear allegiance to Kristian III, and enact a new tax for him. The Althing of 1541 gathered among soldiers with swords. The land tax was granted, and the diocese of Skalholt adopted the church code. Governor Einarsson invited the blind 80-year-old Bishop Ogmundur to Bessastadir where he was arrested. He was put on a Danish ship and soon died.
On June 15, 1541 Bishop Jon Arason of Holar summoned a church council in his diocese. When they learned what was done at Skalholt, they sent a letter accusing King Kristian III of having broken his agreements by disregarding their liberty and privileges. They would support the royal governor if he would do what the King promised. Jon’s son Ari Jonsson was a law officer in the north, but he resigned. Huitfeldt brought royal letters inviting the bishops Arason and Gizur Einarsson to confer with the King in Denmark. Both declined at first, and only Skalholt paid the royal tax. In 1542 Gizur and three representatives of the aged Arason went to Denmark. Gizur claimed the estate of Bjarnanes in Skalholt as did Arason. Six judges were divided and could not decide. Before Kristian III granted it to Gizur, Arason seized Bjarnanes. In February 1548 Gizur promoted the Reformation and removed the cross at Kaldadarnes which had been a revered site for pilgrimages, and he died of illness the next month. Arason went to Borgarfjord and announced he was taking over Skalholt. At the Althing the priests of Skalholt elected the Lutheran Martin Einarsson bishop over Abbot Sigurd of Thykkvabaer. Arason could not take over Skalholt and went back to Holar. That summer Kristian summoned Arason and promised him safe conduct.
Bishop Arason sent a letter to the King on August 27 pledging his loyalty to the Roman Church, and with a hundred men he marched south to Skalholt; but they found it defended by hundreds of men. Their assault failed, and Arason went home. Pope Paul III wrote back that Arason should give his revenues to the poor. Arason in September attacked three estates of the chieftain Dadi Gudmundsson of Snoksdal and proclaimed him an outlaw, but the law officer Orm Sturlason rejected the claim. Sigurd went to Copenhagen and could not persuade Kristian III to confirm him, and he so he joined the Lutheran church and stayed in Denmark. Bishop Martein was confirmed and then went back to Iceland in 1549. At the Althing he announced that the King had proclaimed Arason an outlaw. Arason had learned that the King had summoned him again and did not attend that Althing. Instead he sent his sons Ari and Bjorn to arrest Bishop Martein who was traveling in the west. He and the priest Arni Arnorsson were taken by armed men to Holar as Dadi fled.
The priest Olaf Hjaltason had preached against Catholic doctrines, and Arason dismissed him from his church. Olaf went and reported these things to Kristian III in the summer of 1550, but the King had already ordered Dadi and Pétur Einarsson to arrest Arason who went to the Althing with his sons and 400 men. The officer Orm Sturlason was forced to resign, and Arason’s son Ari was appointed. They marched to Skalholt with the captive Bishop Martein and left him there under guard. Then they went to two monasteries before returning to Holar. In the fall they went to Saudafell with 120 men, but they were attacked and defeated by Dadi’s forces. Martein was released and convened a court at Snoksdal that condemned Arason and his two sons, and on November 7 they were beheaded at Skalholt.
On April 27, 1551 the priests of Holar elected Arason’s son Sigurd bishop. Kristian III sent four warships to Iceland, and the royal Governor Otte Stigsson with 200 soldiers assembled the Althing. People were ordered to swear allegiance to Kristian III, and they complied. In the north they also took the oath, and Olaf Hjaltason was appointed bishop of Holar. Arason and his sons Ari and Björn were declared traitors, and their property was confiscated. Bishop Jon Arason was venerated by many Catholics in Iceland as a saint. Bishop Martein complained about the royal government and resigned in 1558. Many people resented the way the Protestant faith was being force upon them. Kristian secularized the monasteries and completed the task by 1555, and the next year he began taking one-fourth of tithes for the church as royal revenue along with fines.
In 1559 Kristian III was succeeded by his son Frederik II, and he decreed that those guilty of heresy were to be executed and have their property taken by the crown. In 1564 Iceland’s royal Governor Paul Stigsson forced the Althing to enact the death penalty for religious offenses such as adultery. Men were hanged, and women were drowned. Half their property went to the King and the other half was distributed to their relatives. In 1566 he ordered everyone to attend church on Sundays and holidays. Gudbrand Thorlaksson became Bishop of Holar in 1569. After the printing press was moved to Holar by 1573 he had the Bible, hymns, and Christian literature translated and printed for the people. He printed the first Icelandic Bible in 1584 and a better hymnal in 1589. Some students went to universities in Copenhagen, Bremen, and Rostock.
In 1579 English pirates raided Iceland’s Vestfjord shore, robbing, raping, and killing, but they were eventually captured in Holland and executed. In 1581 the people of Iceland were urged to arm themselves with a musket, halberd, or spear. In 1587 a law cancelled the privilege of taking sanctuary in churches and holy places. At the Althing in 1588 they declared that they would live and be judged by the “old Icelandic laws” as well as the royal ordinances they had accepted.