BECK index

Netherlands and Scandinavia 1715-88

by Sanderson Beck

Austrian Netherlands 1713-88
Netherlands and Stadholder Willem IV 1715-51
Netherlands and the Patriots 1751-88
Denmark 1715-88
Norway and Iceland under Denmark 1715-88
Sweden 1715-88
Swedenborg and His Mystical Theology

Austrian Netherlands 1713-88

      In 1713 the treaty at Utrecht had given the Spanish Netherlands to the Austrian Emperor Karl (Charles) VI. Negotiations at Antwerp in 1714 culminated with the signing of the Barrier Treaties with Austria on November 15, 1715. The Dutch Republic agreed to garrison Namur, Tournai, Menin, Furnes, Warneton, Ypres, and the fort De Knokke and provide two-fifths of the funds. The Austrian Emperor agreed to support the troops with 1,250,000 guilders from revenues in Brabant and Flanders. The Dutch also made a commercial treaty with Britain which recognized the Habsburgs in the southern “Austrian Netherlands.”
      In 1717 riots broke out in Antwerp, Mechlin, and Brussels, and troops restored order. The Marquis de Prié in Brussels had the guild leader Frans Anneessens condemned for threatening violence, and his execution was protested with public demonstrations. De Prié was to be prosecuted, but he died and was replaced by the Emperor’s sister, Archduchess Maria Elizabeth who governed the Austrian Netherlands 1725-41 and was always accompanied by a Jesuit. In December 1722 Austria had established the East India Ostend Company in the southern Netherlands, but on May 31, 1727 the company was suspended for seven years. The treaty made at Vienna on March 16, 1731 and the Dutch concurrence on February 20, 1732 banned the Austrian Netherlands from trading with the West Indies; its trade with the East Indies had already been prohibited by the treaty of Münster in 1648.
      Prince Charles Alexander of Lorraine governed the Austrian Netherlands 1744-80. The Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie had been built in Brussels by 1700 and was considered the second most important French theatre after Paris. For most of the 18th century education in the southern Low Countries was very conformist with little innovation or freedom of thought. Starting in the 1750s the population increased in Flanders, Brabant, and the Walloon regions with the development of industry, commerce, and agriculture, catching up with the north.
      When a French army invaded the states of Brabant and Flanders in 1747-48, Duke Louis of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel from Austria commanded the allied forces defending them. These events stimulated the Orangist revolution in the north. On October 18, 1748 the peace treaty made at Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle) ended the War of the Austrian Succession. The French withdrew from the Austrian Netherlands, and the 1713 treaty of Utrecht was renewed. Then the Belgian region enjoyed a long era of peace as the Netherlands was neutral during the Seven Years’ War (1756-63). Prince Charles Alexander presided over this reconstruction by supporting commerce and industry. Tariffs were imposed to shut out imported iron in 1750, Delftware and Dutch tiles in 1758, and coal from Britain in 1761. The harbor at Ostend was improved, and new canals such as the Leuven-Mechelen (1753) and Ostend-Ghent helped trade. The Ostend lighthouse was completed in 1772. Charles Alexander promoted salt works at Ostend, chemical plants in Brussels, and coal-mining at Mariemont. Coal and iron came from Charleroi, Namur, and Liège. Mercantilist policies helped establish tobacco workshops at Brussels, Bruges, and Charleroi. By 1761 the Prince of Lorraine had the Nassau palace in Brussels rebuilt to house an excellent library and a natural history collection.
      In 1753 Austria sent the Count Johann Karl Philipp von Cobenzl (1712-70) as minister plenipotentiary in Brussels, and he patronized the arts and founded literary and scientific journals. In 1758 Patrice-François de Nény (1713-84) became president of the Secret Council in Brussels. The literary society begun by Cobenzl in 1769 became an academy in 1771. On September 20, 1773 the Jesuit colleges were closed and were renamed the Theresian Colleges. Science and humanities replaced the study of Latin as French textbooks were used. A dispute over the Austro-Dutch border began in 1775 in the Overmaas and Flanders.
      Under Austrian rule roads were improved, and the major highways increased from 37 miles in 1715 to about 620 miles by 1789. Jean-Philippe de Limbourg was a member of the Royal Society of London, and in his foundry at Liege in 1770 he began making coke out of coal. The production of coal increased from 400 tons in 1762 to 21,000 tons in 1785. A commercial academy was founded at Ghent in 1781.
      From May to July 1781 Austrian Emperor Joseph II visited the Low Countries with only an aide-de-camp and used the alias, Count Falkenstein, and he demanded that the Barrier system be dismantled. He limited the power of the governor, his sister Maria Christina and her husband Albrecht, and put the Southern Netherlands directly under his government in Vienna. After observing many people and situations he returned to Vienna and began to implement major reforms in the Habsburg Empire. His Patent of Toleration enforced rights for Jews and other religious minorities. He wrote to the Estates of Brabant that he was going to save them in spite of themselves. On March 17, 1783 Joseph II decreed that all the religious orders of contemplation were to be abolished. In 1784 he demanded territory from Overmaas and State Flanders, the Dutch evacuation of Maastricht, and reopening of the Scheldt. On September 26 he pronounced marriage to be a civil contract, removing it from Church control, and the next year Joseph II instituted censorship over all sermons. On April 8, 1786 all religious fraternities were cancelled and replaced by a brotherhood called the “Active Love of the Fellow Man.” Pilgrimages were reduced to two per year and were to be held without music or banners. He ordered a census of all Church property to facilitate confiscation. On June 16 he took control over Church appointments, and in October he suppressed the traditional ecclesiastical seminaries.
      On January 1, 1787 Emperor Joseph II foreshadowed the French Revolution by abolishing all privileges, traditions, and constitutions, and in two edicts he demolished the political organization of the Austrian Netherlands and instituted intendants in each of nine districts. Each district was divided into areas administered by commissioners. There were to be 64 courts of justice with two courts of appeal in Brussels and Luxemburg. Above them was the Supreme Court of Appeals, and the Austrian government appointed all the judges. These radical changes dismissed thousands of office-holders.
      Protests began in the Hainaut Council on January 12, 1787, followed by the Estates of Brabant on the 29th with both threatening to stop collecting taxes. The Brussels lawyer Hendrik van der Noot aroused the public, and on May 30 the governors Maria Christina and Albrecht postponed the enforcement of the edicts that had ben set for June 1. Most of the 22,000 Austrian forces were natives of the Low Countries, and they were overwhelmed by the people. Armed volunteers formed municipal guards, wore uniforms, and carried banners. People wore hats with the revolutionary cockade of red, yellow, and black, the colors of Brabant and Hainaut. Van der Noot and the Flemish lawyer François Vonck led the rebellion which was supported by the bishops and the wealth of the Church. Vonckists organized a secret society called “For Altar and Home” that spread and prepared for an armed insurrection. The councils of justice in the Belgian provinces denounced the radical changes as contrary to their fundamental laws. In September a popular uprising in Brussels persuaded the Austrians to withdraw their troops, and on the 21st Austria repealed the hated edicts.

Netherlands and Stadholder Willem IV 1715-51

Netherlands and Johan de Witt 1648-59
Netherlands and Johan de Witt 1660-72
Netherlands and Willem III 1672-1702
Netherlands and War Against France 1702-15

      The War of the Spanish Succession ended in 1713 with the treaty at Utrecht which left the United Netherlands with a debt of 128 million guilders. The public treasury was closed from March to December 1715. Holland reduced the interest on their bonds from 4% to 2.5%, and the States General lowered theirs by one percent in 1716. Simon van Slingelandt had been secretary of the Council of State since 1690 and was a leader of the Dordrecht regent family. At this time he wrote his Political Discourses which was eventually published in 1784. He argued that the cooperation of the provinces was insufficient, and he advised that a stronger Council of State was needed. Slingelandt urged the Assembly to give more authority to the Generality and to reform their finances in order to restore the Republic as a military power while reducing the public debt.
      In the summer of 1716 the province of Overijssel proposed the Second Great Assembly of the States General. (The first was in 1651.) The Assembly met from November 28 to September 14, 1717 but accomplished little except agreeing to reduce the Dutch army from 40,000 to 34,000, and most of those dismissed were Swiss. A flood of the sea provinces at Christmas killed 2,000 people and destroyed 15,000 houses, 14,000 cattle and horses, and 22,000 hogs and sheep. In 1718 the British persuaded the Dutch to join them in a Quadrupal Alliance with France and Austria against Bourbon Spain. The other three nations began the war in December, but the Dutch did not begin fighting until August 1719. This war ended on February 17, 1720 with the signing of the treaty at The Hague. That year many of the Dutch were caught up in speculation under Law’s system in France and the English South Sea Company. Shares in the East and West India Company quickly increased but dropped even more suddenly as fortunes were gained and lost. That summer South Sea shares fell 130%. Pieter Langendijk wrote two plays about these dealings.
      Holland’s Pensionary Anthonie Heinsius died in August 1720, and he was succeeded by Rotterdam’s Pensionary Isaac van Hoornbeck who was backed by the French. Willem Charles Henry Friso, Prince of Orange-Nassau, (1711-51) was named the future stadholder of Friesland in 1717, by Groningen in 1718, and by the states of Drenthe in 1722. The states of Holland, Zeeland, and Overijssel opposed his becoming stadholder of Gelderland, and that state gave him less authority than Willem III had. In March 1723 Holland passed a resolution to maintain a regime without a stadholder, and this was supported by Zeeland, Utrecht, and Overijssel.
      Dutch trade and the urban economy was deteriorating, and they were concerned about the East India Ostend Company which Austria had established in the southern Netherlands in 1722. In 1725 the Dutch Republic opposed the alliance of Spain and Austria. The Dutch were also concerned that the British and French might side with Prussia in its claims to Jülich-Berg and Ravenstein. The Dutch territories of Maastricht, Venlo, and Roermond were already surrounded by Prussia which had acquired most of Upper Gelderland; only Venlo remained in the Republic with the others divided by Prussia and Austria. On August 9, 1726 the States General allied with Hanover, and in October Prussia’s Friedrich Wilhelm switched allies by siding with the Austrian Emperor Charles VI. By 1727 the Dutch army was increased to 27,000 men. That year Holland’s pensionary Van Hoornbeck died, and Van Slingelandt was elected to replace him in July. Also in 1727 the Emperor suspended the Ostend Company for seven years.
      In 1729 Prince Willem IV came of age and was proclaimed stadholder of Friesland, Groningen, Drenthe, and Gelderland. In November the Dutch joined another Quadrupal Alliance with France, Britain, and Spain. On February 20, 1732 the Dutch signed the Vienna treaty made by Austria and Britain in March 1731. In the Berlin agreement of 1732 Willem recognized Prussia’s claim to Lingen and Moers and gave up rights of Willem III’s legacy in Germany while Prussia recognized the Orange-Nassau legacy in the United Provinces and the Austrian Netherlands. Zeeland did not want Willem to claim the marquisates of Flushing and Veere and offered to buy the rights for 250,000 guilders. When he refused to sell, they deposited the money in his account in the Middelburg Bank to compel the purchase. Pensionary Van Slingelandt reformed Holland’s direct tax on houses and land. In January 1733 Holland reduced their army by 10,000 men, but this was cancelled because of the War of the Polish Succession.
      In March 1734 Willem IV married George II’s daughter Anne of Hanover in London. They had a cool reception at The Hague and Amsterdam and resided in his palace at Leeuwarden in Friesland. Van Slingelandt helped France and Austria make peace in 1736 before his death on December 1. In February 1737 his successor Anthonie van Heim had to agree in writing that he would uphold the regime without a stadholder, and after his death in 1746 his successor would do the same. The Dutch economy was continuing to decline relative to other growing European economies.
      In 1737 a book by the anti-Orangist regent from Zeeland, Levinus Ferdinand de Beaufort (1675-1730), was published posthumously at Leiden arguing that the States party upholds civil freedom and human dignity. Orangist writers attacked this book’s ideas which in turn stimulated more republican books that criticized Willem III for having taken too much power. The satirist Jacob Campo Weyerman was arrested by the Hof of Holland in 1738 and was in prison until his death in 1747. Rousset de Missy criticized the corruption of the regents, and he made popular the radical ideas of John Locke. In 1755 he published his French translation of Locke’s two political treatises which were widely used.
      In the War of the Austrian Succession that began in 1740 the Dutch attempted to remain neutral. The difficult winters of 1740 and 1741 led to food riots in Holland. The States General increased the Dutch army by 20,000 men in March 1742, and that year Holland imposed an income tax on those earning more than 600 guilders a year. By 1743 the army had 84,000. The Republic was still paying military subsidies to Austria, and the Dutch had more troops in the southern Netherlands than Austria or Britain. By 1744 Austria and Britain were fighting against Prussia and France, and Prussia’s Friedrich II took over East Friesland. The French invaded and captured the Dutch garrisons at Menen and Ieper. Epidemics occasionally wiped out large numbers of livestock, and the worst was in 1744 when almost 200,000 cattle died.
      On January 8, 1745 at Warsaw the Dutch Republic allied with the British, Austria, and Saxony. In April the French besieged 7,000 Dutch troops at Tournai, which was relieved by an allied army of English, Dutch, and Austrians; but in the battle at Fontenoy on May 11 they were defeated, suffering 2,500 killed and 5,000 wounded while 3,500 men and 40 cannons were captured. The French then took Tournai, Ghent, and Ostend. During the Jacobite rebellion in Scotland, the Dutch sent 6,000 soldiers to support the British. In January 1746 French forces besieged Brussels which surrendered on February 22. The Austrian governor Kaunitz fled to Antwerp and was recalled to Vienna in June. On October 11 in the battle at Rocoux 120,000 French defeated about 90,000 allies, capturing 3,000 men and 30 cannons. In April 1747 an army of 20,000 French invaded Flanders, taking Hulst, Axel, and Sas van Gent. In May the French army held most of the Austrian Netherlands except Luxemburg. The States General increased the Dutch army to 95,000.
      With English ships offshore Veere the French invasion was resisted by the Dutch on the night of April 24, and on the 28th the States of Zeeland declared Prince Willem IV of Orange stadholder and captain-general. On April 26 Rotterdam had erupted with people wearing orange cockades and ribbons, followed by The Hague the next day. On April 29 the crowds intimidated regents who asked the Prince’s representatives, Willem Bentinck von Rhoon and Willem van Haren from Frisia, to calm down the people. Large demonstrations at Dordrecht the next day persuaded magistrates to proclaim from the town hall that they would support restoring the Stadholder. On May 1 these demands were shared by Haarlem, Leiden, Alkmaar, Hoorn, Enkhuizen, and Gorcum, and the next day the town hall in Amsterdam displayed an Orange banner. People celebrated, and a few republicans and Catholics who declined to support Orange were thrown into canals. Willem IV came to The Hague, and on May 4 Holland proclaimed him Stadholder. Jews wore Orange badges, prayed, and recited Psalms 117, 75, 144, and 67. The States of Utrecht and Overijssel joined the revolution, and by the middle of the month Willem IV became the first Stadholder of all the Dutch provinces.
      The French besieged Bergen-op-Zoom from July 14, 1747 and sacked the town on September 18. Violence broke out against Catholics in Utrecht, Deventer, Groningen, and in some towns in Holland and Zeeland. On the 22nd the States of Holland condemned Catholic disturbances and Protestant retaliation against them. Laurens van der Meer in Rotterdam and Rousset de Missy and Daniel Raap in Amsterdam led delegations that complained about the regents still holding positions as before, and they urged reforms of the civic governments. Bentinck van Rhoon agreed with them, but Willem IV still refused to dismiss Holland’s Pensionary Jacob Gilles. In October they demanded a hereditary stadholerate that would select militia officers from citizens instead of from regents’ families. Town council seats could be rotated, and funds could be raised for the civic government by auctioning them. They wanted the previous privileges of the guilds to be revived. Raap’s Doelist followers promoted a gathering by the town hall on November 9, but the militia dispersed them after a minor disturbance.
      In January 1748 riots broke out in Arnhem, and the States of Gelderland voted for reforms. The States of Groningen and Friesland refused to make the stadholderate hereditary. In March riots occurred in Groningen and Ommelands, and a few houses of Junkers were ravaged. Then the Groningen States agreed to the hereditary Stadholder, and the Council made concessions in May. That month in Friesland mobs began plundering the homes of tax-farmers (pachters). Although there were major uprisings at Harlingen in June, Stadholder Willem IV refused to send troops. Rioters attacked the tax-farmers in Haarlem on June 13, in Leiden on the 17th, and in Amsterdam a week later. Burghers of Harlingen sent a delegation demanding that tax farms for excises be abolished. Burghers from many towns sent representatives to States and the Stadholder with a list of 72 demands for judicial and financial reforms.
      On June 25 Willem IV told the States of Holland that he would agree to abolish tax farming, and he proposed replacing it with a capitation tax which upset property owners. His speech was printed and disseminated widely. The tax farms were suspended. Pamphlets at Amsterdam criticized selfish and corrupt regents for controlling offices and getting rich. Moderates followed the Stadholder and Bentinck, but the Doelisten led by the Haarlem textile laborer Hendrik van Gimnig, demanded more radical reforms. On August 31 the States of Holland asked Prince Willem to restore order in Amsterdam. He came and appointed 17 new members to the city council, but he declined to allow an independent militia council. On September 9 and 10 large demonstrations demanded a free militia council to no avail. Holland asked for voluntary loans from those with property worth more than 1,000 guilders. On November 10 a crowd in Leiden presented demands to the burgomasters, and Stadholder Willem sent a thousand troops that restored order on the 16th.
      Finally in December 1748 Stadholder Willem IV agreed to new rules to stop abuse that were approved by States, and the States General made the captaincy and admiralty-general of the Stadholder hereditary in the female line as well as for the male line. Anne of Hanover had given birth to the next Willem on March 9, 1748. People felt hope and disappointment as the revolution failed to become consolidated. Prince Willem IV refused to dismiss all the office-holders as Bentinck advised, even John Geertsema who had been charged with crimes.
      In January 1749 protests occurred in Groningen because three plenipotentiaries appointed by Willem IV did not immediately implement reforms, and rioters forced magistrates to resign; but Willem did not appoint replacements. On November 28 Groningen gave commoners the right to participate in municipal government. On March 25 Bentinck had submitted his plan for reforms. Stadholder Willem IV became Chief Director of the United East India Company (VOC), and in the first half of 1750 the VOC shares fell sharply at Amsterdam. In January 1750 the burgomasters lost control of Haarlem. The Hague government sent soldiers to occupy the city, and the Stadholder arrested the representatives of the Haarlem militia companies who came to The Hague to negotiate. Prince Willem accepted Bentinck’s suggestion that he appoint Duke Louis of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel the general of the States army. Willem was suffering from poor health and sent Bentinck to Vienna for him, and Brunswick arrived in December 1750 to become field marshal. The government of Holland had a deficit of 28 million guilders, and their debt had climbed to 70 million. Suddenly on October 22, 1751 Willem IV died.

Netherlands and the Patriots 1751-88

      As Prince Willem V was only three years old in 1751, his mother, Anne of Hanover, became regent as the governing Princess. Twice a week she conferred with Willem Bentinck van Rhoon, Pieter Steyn (Pensionary of Holland 1749-72), and the Field Marshall Duke Louis of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel from Austria. The States General did not officially recognize these counselors, and Anne often followed the advice of her favorites at court who were allied with the British. The court at The Hague exercised the most influence over appointments but could not take the lead in setting policies. In March 1752 the States party regained the support of people in Amsterdam and regained its control in the city council, selecting the burgomasters without consulting the Princess. By 1753 Bentinck had become disillusioned. In 1754 the Dutch Republic’s negotiations over the Barrier issues with Britain and Austria collapsed. In February the government realized that they were spending 100,000 guilders to collect less than 30,000 for a tax on playing-cards, and they revoked the tax.
      In August 1755 twenty members in the Haarlem council took power away from the court and ten Orangists. Amsterdam and most States were more concerned with trade, shipping, and the colonies than with going to war against France. In the north Field Marshall Brunswick dominated politics, and Princess Anne appointed him the guardian of her children. Brunswick wrote to Empress Maria Theresa that Anne had declared that she would not abandon her allies but that she would have no war. In September the British withdrew from alliances that obligated them to protect the Low Countries; but Joseph Yorke, the English envoy at The Hague, reminded the Dutch that according to their defensive treaty the Dutch would be required to provide 6,000 soldiers if the French attacked the British. Even Bentinck advised neutrality, and the Dutch would not send those men to aid the British war against France. In February 1756 they informed the French ambassador d’Affry that the Dutch Republic would be neutral unless the war extended into England. In early summer the Dutch figured out the French code and deciphered the letters from the beginning of d’Affry’s mission. Also in 1756 the jonker Douwe Sirtema van Grovestins received 70,000 guilders from a friend who was appointed governor of Ceylon.
      In June 1758 the British began attacking or capturing Dutch merchant ships trading with the French West Indies, and the Dutch complained. Vattel had defended neutral rights in his Law of Nations (Droit des gens) published in 1758, and in 1759 three English books by James Marriott, Charles Jenkinson, and Richard Lee discussed the case of the Dutch ships. During the war the Dutch bankers invested millions in English public debt stock and also in Prussian and French bonds. Princess Anne’s health declined in 1758, but she managed to arrange the marriage of her daughter Caroline to Prince Charles Ernest of Nassau-Weilburg by January 11, 1759, the day before she died.
      In 1763 the Dutch economy suffered a financial crash from speculation, and it happened again ten years later. On his 18th birthday, March 8, 1766, Willem V came of age, and that year Bentinck learned that the Prince had made Brunswick his chief advisor. Writers from different factions argued over policies with the Leiden publisher Elie Luzac, who favored the Orangists, and the Amsterdam historian Jan Wagenaar, who represented the State party. By 1759 Wagenaar had completed 21 volumes of his History of the Netherlands, and others would extend this work to 52 volumes by 1810. Luzac criticized Jan de Witt and Wagenaar for weakening the sovereignty of the state that comes from the people. Wagenaar agreed that sovereignty comes from the people, but he wanted it exercised by the provincial States as Grotius had argued. He had more faith in the magistrates, merchants, and professionals than in the “ignorant masses.”
      In Berlin on October 4, 1767 Willem V married Princess Frederika Sophia Wilhelmina of Prussia, niece of Friedrich II and Brunswick. The Dutch army had 41,000 men in 1772. That year Willem appointed Delft’s Pensionary Peter van Bleiswijk to succeed the late Pensionary Steyn of Holland. Bentinck was no longer Willem’s friend when he died in October 1774. In 1772 Pieter Paulus had published On the Utility of the Stadholderian Government, but three years later he had changed sides and published Elucidation of the Union of Utrecht.
      During the American Revolution the Dutch sent weapons from the West Indies, especially from St. Eustatius, to the Americans fighting for independence. At Leiden in 1776 Joan Derk van der Capellen tot den Pol (1741-84) published his translation of Richard Price’s book on the American Revolution. In February 1777 the British ambassador Joseph Yorke at The Hague demanded that the States General stop the weapons shipments. In 1778 Stadholder Willem V requested that the army be enlarged, but Amsterdam refused. By September the Dutch had lost 35 ships. In 1779 the Dutch gave refuge to the American privateer John Paul Jones, and the States General ordered the Dutch fleet expanded.
      On December 31 the British Navy fired on a Dutch convoy in the Channel and forced them to go to Plymouth. On December 10, 1780 the Dutch joined the First League of Armed Neutrality. Ten days later Britain declared war on the Dutch beginning the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War. In January 1781 the British Navy and privateers captured more than 200 Dutch ships, and in February the British Admiral Rodney took over St. Eustatius and seized many vessels and their merchandise. The British also captured the forts of the Dutch West India Company (WIC) in West Africa except at Elmina. Later the French recaptured the west Guyana colonies for the Dutch. The French also aided the Dutch colonies in the East Indies, but bases in southern India and Ceylon were lost along with VOC ships of the United East India Company worth 10 million guilders. On May 18 the States of Holland called for the removal of the Duke of Brunswick, but Willem V did not send him away until April 1782, the month that the States General recognized the United States of America.
      On September 26, 1781 copies of an anonymous pamphlet entitled “To the People of the Netherlands” were posted and distributed throughout the Dutch Republic. Many decades later scholars would learn that this revolutionary work was written by Van der Capellen. He urged the Dutch to demand democracy in every town and local area by forming citizens’ militias to take power away from the Orange Stadholder. This document became a manifesto for other revolutionary writings by Patriots. In 1782 the Patriot movement led by journalists, lawyers, and other professionals spread in Holland, Utrecht, Gelderland, and Overijssel. The Patriots believed they were completing the Dutch Revolt against Spain. They appealed to all the Dutch people including Lutherans, Catholics, and Mennonites in addition to the majority Reformed Calvinists. The new militias they called the “Free Corps” were different in that they were not controlled by the regents but by burgher defense councils, and they drilled more intensively with modern weapons so that they could fight Dutch or foreign troops.
      In January 1783 Dordrecht was the first town to form a Free Corps, and it soon had more than a thousand men. In the spring a Free Corps was organized in Deventer. Utrecht had a major Patriot newspaper and established a large Free Corps, and delegates of the Free Corps began meeting there in December 1784. The Patriot press urged citizens to submit their ideas for a new constitutional system, and they opposed rule by the Stadholder. The Patriot leader, Pieter Philip Ondaatje, advised the Utrecht council that they would not be like those in 1748. Van der Capellen and other Patriots compiled the Grondwettige Herstelling (Constitutional Restoration) in two volumes in December 1784. They appealed to the middle class to make democratic changes to end the corrupt power of the stadholderate and the regents by electing worthy people to form a republican government. They were influenced by the writings of Price, Joseph Priestley, and Rousseau. Rutger Jan Schimmelpenninck published his Treatise Concerning a Well Constituted People’s Regime in Latin and then in Dutch in 1785. He was inspired by Rousseau and by Cicero’s ideas on good government.
      On April 3, 1784 a Free Corps fired on an Orange crowd in Rotterdam, killing four people. In June the States of Holland published placards against Orangists and prohibited their demonstrations, and the Free Corps in many towns suppressed the Orangists. In June 1785 thousands of Free Corps militiamen met at Utrecht and adopted an Act of Association to begin a campaign for a republican constitution to restore citizen rights. A few weeks later Holland Free Corps delegates met and formed the Leiden Project, declaring popular sovereignty and demanding a free press. Mass petitions were presented to many city councils asking that the rule by patrician oligarchs be replaced by citizen elections of civic officials. Thousands of people gathered wearing black cockades and ribbons with the letter “V” standing for Vrijheid (Freedom) to challenge the Orangists. Clashes broke out in the streets of The Hague, Rotterdam, Haarlem, and Leiden. On September 4 the States of Holland took over the army garrison at The Hague, and on the 16th the Stadholder with his Prussian consort fled to a loyal district in Gelderland.
      In 1786 the States of Utrecht withdrew from the city and moved to the army garrison at Amersfoort. Patriots on Utrecht’s city council formed a new burgher college, the first democratically elected town council in the Dutch Republic. In August a mass gathering of the Free Corps in Utrecht included 13,517 militiamen. That summer the Patriots were strong in Utrecht, Holland, and Overijssel with support in Gelderland, north Brabant, and Groningen, but the Orangists still controlled Zeeland, Friesland, and some of Gelderland. In September the Stadholder sent troops to Arnhem in Gelderland, and they were opposed by Patriots there and in Zutphen.
      In May 1787 Dutch troops clashed with Patriot militia near Amersfoort, and eighty troops were killed. Patriots imposed democratic systems on the town councils of Dordrecht, Haarlem, and Leiden, but the Orangists retained power in The Hague, Rotterdam, and Delft. Amsterdam was divided, and on April 21 a large demonstration in front of the Town Hall demanded a reformed city council. Many merchants and financiers fled the city. In late May the Free Corps attacked the houses of regents, and wrecking bridges prevented intervention. Pieter Paulus led Patriots taking over the town hall at Rotterdam in August. In Delft a Patriot burgher council replaced the town council. Patriots also took over Leiden, Dordrecht, Alkmaar, and Hoorn. The law professor, Johan Valckenaer, led the Frisian Patriots and was supported by his students at Franeker and by the guilds. A Patriot militia seized Harlingen.
      In June 1787 Orangist militias suppressed the Free Corps in Arnhem and Zutphen, and by the end of the month the Stadholder Willem V controlled Gelderland. That summer the Dutch Republic was divided, and on September 13 a Prussian army of 26,000 men invaded the Netherlands and marched without much resistance to Utrecht which capitulated on the 15th. Amsterdam held out until October 10. Supported by this Prussian force and £90,000 from the British, Willem V returned to The Hague. He restricted the press, and political meetings were banned. The old militias controlled the towns and purged the Patriots whose homes were pillaged by Orangist mobs. In December the Stadholder appointed Zeeland’s Pensionary Laurens Pieter van de Spiegel to replace Holland’s Pensionary Van Bleiswijk who had resigned in November. On January 25, 1788 the States of Holland established an oath for regents, ministers, officials, civic guards, guilds. On June 27 the States General adopted the Act of Guarantee to always favor the Stadholder. In September the court of Holland began investigating “illegal meetings,” and many Patriots fled. Willem V presented a plan for amnesty on November 21 with so many exceptions that more people left Holland. Prussia and Britain accepted a co-protectorate over the United Provinces of the Netherlands, and this was formalized by a treaty in December.

Denmark 1715-88

Denmark of Frederik III 1648-70
Denmark of Kristian V & Frederik IV 1670-1715

      During the Third Northern War (1700-21) after a siege of more than four years Denmark’s army and the Prussians captured Stralsund on December 24, 1715 to take control of Swedish Pomerania. On June 28, 1716 (OS) the Danish-Norwegian army defeated the Swedes at the Dynekilen fjord, and the next day King Karl XII and his Swedish army left Norway. That month an army of 30,000 Russians led by Tsar Petr and 23,000 Danes gathered at Copenhagen; but John George of Holstein warned Denmark’s King Frederik IV (r. 1699-1730) of Petr’s intentions, and no attempt was made to cross the Sound. In 1716 Denmark withdrew 5,000 soldiers from Norway. In September 1718 Karl XII invaded Norway again, but he was shot dead at Frederiksen on November 30 (OS), and ten days later the Swedes withdrew from Norway. The Swedes sent to besiege Trondheim lost 3,500 men in a snowstorm during their retreat. Frederik IV made the Norwegian Peter Tordenskjold a rear-admiral in December 1718, and in July 1719 he led the capture of the Karlsten fortress at Marstrand. A few months later they burned Swedish ships in the Elfsborg harbor.
      The British and French persuaded them to declare an armistice for six months, and in the treaty made at Frederiksborg on July 3, 1720 (OS) Sweden agreed to pay 600,000 rigsdaler to Denmark which retained Wismar in Pomerania but ended its alliance with Holstein and gave up its free passage of the Sound (Øresund). The Danes returned to Sweden territory in Pomerania, and its claim to Schleswig was guaranteed by France and Britain. Sweden also promised to stop supporting Karl Friedrich, the Duke of Holstein-Gottorp. This treaty brought together Sweden and Denmark-Norway against the Russian threat in the Baltic Sea. Frederik IV declined to let the Russian ships have free passage through the Sound. Instead of giving his son Kristian to wed Petr’s daughter Anna, she then was betrothed to Karl Friedrich of Gottorp.
      After the war the price of wheat fell in Denmark, and the Netherlands put high duties on imported cattle. Peasants suffered, and in 1724 the young men were required to enroll in the reserve and could not leave the estate where they lived until they had served for six years or became 35. Danish commerce and industry declined, and the Greenland Company and the East India Company went out of business. About 90% of Denmark’s land was owned by some 300 landlords in about 850 estates. In the 1720s the landlords imposed severe restrictions on the peasants. Every tenant had to work on the landlord’s estate for three days a week.
      In April 1727 Britain and France formed alliances with Denmark. France agreed to contribute an annual subsidy of 350,000 rigsdaler to Denmark, and Sweden also joined the alliance. After the death of Russia’s Tsarina Ekaterina (Catherine) in May, Denmark restored friendly relations with Russia, and Karl Friedrich of Gottorp was compelled to retire to Kiel. In 1728 a fire devastated Copenhagen. That year Frederik IV annexed the part of Schleswig that the Duke of Gottorp had ruled. The King’s second wife was Anne Sophie Reventlow. Her sister, Countess Christine Sophie Holstein, hosted an influential salon, and her husband, Ulrich Adolf von Holstein, was appointed High Chancellor. King Frederik IV promoted public education and revived the University of Copenhagen. Before his death in 1730 he converted to Pietism and issued a strict decree against violating the Sabbath. Religious freedom was restricted as fines were imposed for not attending church, and those unable to pay were pilloried.
      Frederik IV sent missionaries to Lapland, Greenland, and the East Indies. Hans Egede (1686-1758) went to Greenland in 1721 and was helped by his wife, Gertrude Rask. They found no trace of Norse descendants and taught the Eskimos there for fourteen years. In 1733 a smallpox epidemic killed about two thousand inhabitants. After his wife died in 1735, Egede returned to Denmark, became a bishop, and wrote books about Greenland. Primary education was begun in Denmark, and 240 schools were established on Crown lands with paid teachers. Frederik IV died on October 12, 1730 and left behind a national debt of 3,000,000 rigsdaler.
      Kristian VI ruled Denmark and Norway 1730-46. The widowed Queen Anna Sophie repented for having estranged her husband from Kristian who let her live at Klausholm but confiscated property left to her in his father’s will. High Chancellor Holstein Holsteinborg was allowed to retire with a pension, but Kristian VI replaced all others in the Privy Council except for Kristian Ludwig Plessen, who was in charge of finances. King Kristian was pious and authoritarian. His wife, Queen Sophie Magdalene of Brandenburg-Cülmbach, was a poor German princess, and her relations were invited to the court.
      Kristian VI began his reign by abolishing the militia and by pardoning men who had evaded conscription, but then he prohibited peasants from leaving their estates or the kingdom without his permission. The East India Company became the Asiatic Company in 1732. The West Indian Company began trading with China, and in 1733 they purchased the island of St. Croix to engage in the sugar trade. That year Kristian VI revived the militia and the landlords’ right to put their men into military service. Those who had been in the militia could farm only in the domain where they had been enrolled. Kristian also supported education, but he made sure that Latin was taught more than other subjects, though students also learned to write in their native language. Confirmation became a law in 1736, and Bishop Erik Pontoppidan published a book explaining Luther’s Catechism. Nobles complained about spending so much on teaching Christian doctrine as well as reading, writing, and arithmetic. Kristian VI and his Queen Sophia Magdalena were Pietists who believed that much amusement was sinful. Their laws condemned dancing, smoking, comedies, and operas. Comedies were banned on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. In 1738 the King banned comedians, jugglers, and games of chance. He increased the burdens on peasants from labor and military service, and they could be whipped or beaten. In 1739 a system of elementary schools was established paid for by a general tax.
      Ludwig Holberg (1684-1754) was born in Bergen and was educated at the University of Copenhagen and for two years at Oxford before he traveled in Europe. He was influenced by Grotius, Pufendorf, and Thomasius and published his Introduction to European History in 1711 and National and Popular Rights in 1716. In 1720 his epic “Peder Pars” satirized Danish pretensions. The first Danish theater opened in 1722, and Holberg wrote 26 plays by 1728. That year Pietism closed the theaters until 1747, and then Holberg wrote five more comedies. He also wrote a church history and a Jewish history.
      When Britain and France came into conflict, Denmark turned to Prussia and the Austrian Empire as allies to support its interest in Schleswig. In 1734 Denmark-Norway allied with Sweden, and on September 30 Kristian VI agreed to a three-year alliance with Britain. After Denmark’s treaty with Britain expired in 1742, he allied with France and began receiving an annual subsidy of 400,000 rigsdaler.
      In 1743 Swedish peasants who favored the election of Prince Frederik moved into Stockholm; but Tsarina Elizabeth persuaded the Swedish Riksdag to elect her relative Adolf Friedrich of Gottorp, and they expelled the Swedish peasants. Kristian VI reacted by arming, but Karl Holstein went to the Russian court and negotiated an alliance for Denmark in 1746. Another Danish diplomat, Johann Hartwig Ernst von Bernstorff gained France as an ally before Kristian VI died on August 6, 1746, the first King of Denmark to have a reign without a war.
      Frederik V ruled Denmark, Norway, and Schleswig-Holstein from 1746 to 1766. He had married Louise, daughter of Britain’s George II in December 1743. He removed religious restraints and liked balls, concerts, and theater. His wife Louise was popular, and their son Kristian was born in 1749; but she died in 1751. Frederik married Juliana Maria of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel in July 1752, and their only son Frederik was born in October 1753. Frederik V relied on his favorite, Adam Gottlob Moltke, whom he made Chief Marshal of his household and his intermediary with the Privy Council. In August 1749 Denmark settled the Gottorpian issue with Sweden and a week later renewed its alliance with France. On April 25, 1750 Adolf Friedrich gave up his claim to ducal Schleswig and the island of Femern. After the Foreign Minister J. S. Schulin died, Frederik appointed Johann Bernstorff, who was from Mecklenburg and had been serving in Paris. He worked for peace and said, “War if begun without valid reason, yea without necessity, is one of the most deplorable steps which a human being can take.”1
      When the Seven Years’ War broke out in 1756, the Scandinavian nations formed a neutral alliance to protect their commerce. Bernstorff helped mediate the treaty signed at Klosterzeven on September 10 by the French and British, but neither side ratified the agreement. In 1757 Frederik V appointed an agriculture commission to study and improve husbandry. His mother, Sophia Magdalena, abolished villeinage on her estate at Hirscholm, and Bernstorff did the same. In 1761 Denmark hired the French general, St. Germain, and he trained their army of 30,000 men who defended Mecklenburg from the Russians. After Ekaterina (Catherine) II became Tsarina, Russia formed an alliance with Denmark on March 11, 1765 with both agreeing to uphold Sweden’s constitution. Bernstorff helped Denmark obtain trade treaties with Genoa, Naples, Tunis, Tripoli, and Turkey, though they increased conflict with Spain and Portugal.
      The German writer Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock came to Denmark and was given a pension. The German botanist Georg Kristian Oeder visited the mountains of Norway and designed the gardens at Copenhagen. The peasants continued to suffer under Frederik V, but freedom of the press informed people of their plight. He had broken his leg while drunk in 1760. Before he died in January 1766, he expressed his consolation that he had not shed any blood during his 20-year reign. He left behind a public debt of 20 million rigsdaler.
      Kristian VII was 17 years old when he became King of Denmark and Norway in January 1766. He was the grandson of George II by his mother Louise, and on November 8 he married George II’s 15-year-old granddaughter, Caroline Matilda. After their child Frederik was born on January 29, 1768, the King treated her with disrespect. Kristian suffered from dementia praecox, and intrigues and violent disputes plagued the court. From May 1768 to January 1769 he traveled and spent much money in London and Paris, but his mental condition did not improve. Nonetheless he tried to help the peasants. That spring Matilda became very ill, and the King advised her to consult his German physician, Johann Friedrich Struensee. He was a free-thinker who wanted to reform Denmark. They became close friends, and he helped her reconcile with her husband, but the King’s mental state deteriorated. Count Enevold Brandt had studied law at the University of Copenhagen, became a judge on the Supreme Court in 1764 and royal chamberlain in 1769. He was a favorite of Kristian VII and assisted Struensee, who gradually became more intimate with the Queen and by 1770 had become her lover. On May 5 Struensee was appointed a royal advisor. Johann Bernstorff had served for twenty years; but the King suddenly dismissed him on September 15, and he retired in Hamburg where he died in February 1772. Brandt replaced the King’s favorite, Count Conrad Holck. On December 18, 1770 Struensee made himself a privy counselor. In the next thirteen months he would issue 1,069 cabinet orders. He hated the Danish language and always used German.
      On February 12, 1771 the British envoy Robert Gunning reported to the government that the people were becoming aware of the King’s mental decline. Queen Matilda and Struensee were trying to conceal this, and Struensee’s medical assistant Berger gave Kristian VII drugs that left him barely conscious. On March 20 Struensee took control of the government. He replaced the Privy Council with a Royal Cabinet that he directed. They established a College of Finances, and municipal authorities in Copenhagen were dismissed. Dues from the Sound went into the Treasury instead of the King’s coffers. The courts of justice were reorganized as most of the tribunals in Copenhagen were abolished. On July 7 Matilda gave birth to Louise Auguste, who in 1786 would marry Frederik Kristian II, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg. On July 14 Struensee was given the authority to issue orders without the King’s signature. One night at dinner Kristian VII told Brandt that he was going to thrash him. Later Brandt went to the King’s apartments, dismissed his attendants, and challenged him to a duel. Kristian rejected weapons, and they fought with their fists until the King begged for mercy.
      In October 1771 complete freedom of the press was promulgated. Gossip and malignant lies spread so much that after a while the press was restricted again. Copenhagen’s gates were no longer closed at night, and the gardens of Rosenberg were opened to public concerts on Sundays. Police were ordered not to enter houses of ill repute. Grain prices were very high, but the Royal stores provided them at lower prices. Factory workers and craftsmen were upset by the reforms which brought lower wages or unemployment. For the first time theaters were opened on the Sabbath. When some sailors came to Hirscholm Castle, the royal family fled to Kronborg. The Guards’ regiment refused to be incorporated with other regiments and mutinied.
      Count Schack Carl Rantzau owned large estates and with his wealth became the main patron of Struensee. Rantzau had abolished serfdom and villein service on his estate at Ascheberg in 1739, and in 1766 he reported how much the peasants had improved their lives. He and Struensee made a pact to help each at court. In the fall of 1771 Rantzau began conspiring with Queen-mother Juliana against King Kristian VII, but she told him to tell Struensee who had the capital guarded with the approval of Queen Matilda. Kristian discovered this in December and sent for Struensee who said his subjects had become rebellious. Queen-mother Juliana was spreading rumors against Struensee.
      After a masked ball at the Royal Theatre on January 16, 1772, early in the morning King Kristian VII was awakened and signed arrest warrants for Struensee, Brandt, Queen Matilda, and a few others. In celebrations over the downfall of Struensee’s government people burned down sixty buildings including many brothels as escaping prostitutes were stripped and flogged. The rioting lasted a week. On January 29, Kristian VII’s birthday, the French plays, L’Ambitieux and L’Indiscret, were performed reflecting on the affair of Struensee with Queen Matilda. Cheap seats were oversold, and a riot erupted, causing the King to flee. After learning that the Queen was confined, Struensee confessed. Matilda was tried in March. She confessed that their affair had begun in the spring of 1770. Her marriage to Kristian was annulled, and she was held in Kronborg castle. On February 13, 1772 Danish was made the official language of the kingdom. Struensee and Brandt were condemned and were executed on April 28. The hated 1762 tax was repealed to gain good will. Denmark-Norway allied with Russia against Sweden in 1773. That year George III arranged for his daughter Caroline Matilda to be taken to Celle in Hanover where she died in May 1775.
      In 1772 the Queen-Dowager Juliane Marie, her 18-year-old son Frederik, and professor Ove Høegh-Guldberg took control of Denmark and governed until 1784. They cancelled the reforms that had helped the peasants; strict press censorship of the press was reimposed; and corruption returned to the court. Andreas Peter Bernstorff was the nephew of the diplomat Johann Bernstorff. He became Foreign Minister and arranged for the ratification of the treaty his uncle had signed with Russia in 1767. In January 1776 an ordinance required that only Danes, Norwegians, and Holsteiners could be employed by the government. Danish became the language of the schools, stage, and military. By 1779 Schleswig had been reunited under Denmark. In August 1780 A. P. Bernstorff brought Denmark into the first League of Armed Neutrality treaty started by Ekaterina II of Russia. Five days later Denmark allied with Britain; but this offended Ekaterina so much that Guldberg dismissed Bernstorff in November. Sweden and the Netherlands also joined the neutrality treaty. In 1781 John Howard visited Denmark and suggested reforms in the penal system.
      In April 1784 Crown Prince Frederik VI became old enough to be in the governing Council. He proposed abolishing the Council and replacing it with his advisors Bernstorff, Erik Rosencrants, Huth, and Henrik Stampe, and the unstable King Kristian VI signed the document. Thus Frederik became regent, and his reforms were aided by Bernstorff, E. Schimmelmann, C. D. Reventlow, and Kristian Colbjørnsen. Bernstorff ended the mercantile policy and abolished monopolies and special privileges. The press was freed again, and peasants were emancipated. Colbjørnsen especially championed liberty. By the end of the year 1,300 families of farmers and 2,500 of small tenants had their compulsory labor abolished, and hereditary farming was allowed. In 1786 an agricultural committee’s recommendations abolished all compulsory labor and protected peasants from being expelled. Peasants gained the right to leave their homes. On June 20, 1788 an ordinance limited the service required by peasants.

Norway and Iceland under Denmark 1715-88

Norway and Iceland 1648-1715

      On March 9, 1716 Sweden’s King Karl XII with his army invaded Norway and occupied Kristianstad on the 21st. Denmark-Norway had an empty treasury and an army of only 24,000 with 4,000 of them in Germany. On April 29 the Swedes withdrew from Kristianstad. After a failed attack against the Fredriksten fortress on July 3 in which the Swedes lost 500 men, they began a siege. On February 24, 1716 Denmark’s King Frederik IV had ennobled the young Norwegian captain Peder Wessel as Tordenskjold, and on July 8 he led the Danish-Norwegian fleet that defeated the Swedes in the Dynekilen harbor. Two days later Karl XII led the Swedish army out of Norway. Peder Tordenskjold’s forces were repulsed on the 14th at Gottenborg and then at Strömstad on July 19.
      In 1718 Karl XII invaded Norway again with an army of 48,000 Swedes and besieged Fredriksten again in early December. On the 11th (NS) Karl XII was shot dead. A Swedish army of about 10,000 men led by Karl Gustaf Armfeldt besieged Trondheim. Sickness took thousands of lives on both sides, and thousands more died while the Swedes retreated during a snowstorm. In July 1719 the heroic Tordenskjold led the capture of Marstrand. Peace negotiations were mediated by the English, and a treaty at Frederiksborg was signed on July 3, 1720 (OS), ending the longest and deadliest Northern War. Sweden agreed to pay an indemnity of 600,000 rigsdaler to Denmark-Norway which evacuated their conquests of Rügen, Pomerania, Wismar, and Marstrand, but Frederik retained the Duke of Gottorp’s territory in Schleswig. Four months later Tordenskjold was killed in a duel. Fredriksten had been burned, and Trondelagen was devastated. Also in 1720 the Greenland Company was formed with 47 stockholders, and the government exempted them from duties. The next year a little settlement was started on the west coast.
      After the war Frederik IV appointed Ditlev Vibe to replace Baron Krag as statholder. The King increased salaries and restricted the sale of offices, and he took in more income from church lands as 620 churches were sold to congregations and private persons. Pietism increased religiosity. Thomas von Westen was sent as a missionary to the Finns (Lapps) in northern Norway in 1716 and founded a school at Trondheim in 1717, but it closed after his death in 1727. In 1729 a monopoly on Norway’s trade was sold to the highest bidder, and a group of merchants from Copenhagen led by Jacob Severin purchased the monopoly, moving the center of Finmark commerce from Bergen.
      King Kristian VI (r. 1730-46) wanted to abandon the Greenland project, and in 1731 all the colonists left except Egede, his family, and ten sailors. Kristian VI visited Norway in 1733, and the wealthy magnates were given a monopoly over the lumber industry. He reduced taxes but spent so much money that he had to increase them. Pietism was imposed by introducing confirmation in the Lutheran churches with an ordinance in January 1736 and a Church Inspection College in 1737. In January 1739 a law reformed the public Latin schools in Norway for children aged 7 to 12 by raising teacher salaries and improving textbooks. Because of famine and hardship from 1720 to 1741 the deaths in Norway outnumbered the births by 31,346 persons.
      In 1741 Kristian VI sent General Levenhaupt to Finland with an army to fight the Russians. Mercantilist policy prohibited the importation of grain into Norway except from Denmark which charged high prices with poor quality. British navigation laws decreased the Norwegian carrying trade, and prices on their lumber and fish fell. In 1739 the Norwegian Company was chartered. Crop failures from 1739 to 1742 caused a famine and an epidemic that killed 16,000 people. Gardens were recommended, and potatoes were introduced. Labor conditions in the mines were so bad that they provoked riots. Two women who went to Kristianstad to protest were arrested, and 27 people were convicted of a revolt; but after they were fined, the King pardoned them. A school for mines was founded at Kongberg in 1757. The statholders and most of the bishops and governors were Danish. Capitalists invested in toll bridges.
      During the Seven Years’ War the Norwegian army of 13,520 men was stationed in Holland to defend the duchies of Schleswig-Holstein, and in the neutrality alliance with Sweden they maintained a joint fleet in the North Sea to protect their trade, but in 1757 Sweden went to war against Prussia. In 1760 the Scientific Society of Trondheim was formed and was led by historians Peter Friedrich Suhm (1728-98) and Gerhard Schøning (1722-80) and by Bishop and botanist Johan Ernst Gunnerus (1718-73), who complained that Norway had no university and no public library. In 1762 a new tax levied caused riots as about 4,000 armed peasants plundered Bergen. Newspapers were founded in Norway in 1763 and 1765. That year peasants demonstrated in Bergen starting on March 1. On April 18 a crowd of thousands gathered in the streets, and some broke into the governor’s residence. Because of this Stril War the frightened governor promised to refund the tax. Norwegians resented that their popular statholder, Jakob Benzon, had been dismissed, and they tended to ignore Struensee’s reforms. They wanted a university in Norway with a Commercial College and a Norwegian bank with 500,000 rigsdaler in capital.
      In 1771 Suhm published an anonymous pamphlet criticizing the Danish government for not providing any higher education in Norway. They still insisted that the 1762 tax be repealed, but the law banning the importation of grain was suspended for a while. The extra tax was finally removed in 1772, the year Norwegians formed a literary club in Copenhagen. The first census in Norway estimated there were about 728,000 people there in 1769.
      Norway expanded its shipping trade during the American Revolution, increasing their exports from 1,370,492 rigsdaler in 1773 to 2,084,913 rigsdaler in 1782. The Norwegian Kristian Jensen Lofthus led the effort to petition King Kristian VII in 1786 and 1787, and after escapes he was eventually arrested and spent the last ten years of his life in prison. Prince Frederik visited Norway and on January 6, 1788 removed the restrictions on the importation of grain.

      In 1706 trade with Iceland was given to a company of merchants in Copenhagen for an annual payment of 20,190 rigsdaler until 1733 when it was extended for ten years. In 1742 that company was dissolved, and commerce was granted to the Horkraemmer Company of Copenhagen for 16,100 rigsdaler per year. Conditions deteriorated in Iceland because the merchants did not care about the people. They shipped alcohol, tobacco, and other luxury items, rotten timber, and grain with worms. They demanded to be paid with fish, meat, butter and necessary provisions even when people were starving. Volcanoes and other disasters made things worse, and many people died during famines.
      Skúli Magnusson (1711-94) succeeded Dresse as landfogeti and was not afraid to challenge the merchants. In 1749 he urged the Icelanders to improve their farming and husbandry. The foreigners were controlling the fishing because the natives had few boats. He persuaded people to form a stock company to improve their wool industry. They built a mill at Reykjavik, and weavers came from Germany. In 1751 Skúli went to Copenhagen, and King Frederik V granted a subsidy for some estates in Iceland for enterprising. They built a fulling mill, a ropery, and a tannery in Reykjavik. Farmers came from Denmark and Norway to teach them agriculture, and larger boats were constructed for fishermen. They learned how to salt fish and meat. The Horkraemmer Company opposed many of their efforts and boycotted their enterprises. Skúli obtained more governmental aid, and he set prices for Icelandic industries. Conditions were examined in 1752. He sued the company which finally was dissolved in 1757. The royal treasury bill authorized government trade, but in 1763 that was granted to the General Commercial Company with control over the new industries. Skúli fought them legally also, but Icelandic industry was neglected.
      In 1768 an inspection showed that the flour was so bad that it was declared unfit for humans; but the company shipped the flour anyway. When it arrived, it could not even be fed to the cattle. The merchants demanded full price, and the starving people had no choice. Skúli persuaded them to seize the flour, and they threw a thousand barrels into the sea. Skúli sued, and the company had to pay a 4,400 rigsdaler fine. In 1770 a new commission arrived and created new offices. Mills were built so that people could grind their own flour. In 1772 the Norwegian Society was founded in Copenhagen, and J. H. Wessel’s comedy, Love Without Stockings, was popular with Norwegian students. In 1774 the company had to surrender its charter, and the government was put in charge of trade. In 1776 a law was passed to improve the roads and carry the mail. Salt works were constructed. The Althing had twenty members, but in 1777 it was reduced to only five members. In 1786 commerce with Iceland was opened to all Danish-Norwegian citizens, and this aided the harbor towns of Reykjavik, Isafjord, Eyjafjord, and Reydarfjord. After the Skaptar Jokull volcano eruption in 1783 only 40,000 Icelanders remained. Two ships were sent with needed supplies, and in 1788 the government paid the merchants 57,462 rigsdaler for the provisions, and that year 33,500 barrels of grain were shipped to Iceland. In 1785 the bishop’s seat and the Latin school were transferred to Reykjavik.

Sweden 1715-88

Sweden of Kristina and Karl X 1648-60
Sweden of Karl XI 1660-97
Sweden of Karl XII and War 1697-1715

      After many adventures in the Great Northern War Sweden’s King Karl XII finally returned to southern Sweden on December 13, 1715. The German diplomat, George Heinrich von Görtz, helped his finances with forced loans, by exploiting credit with the Dutch, and by manipulating foreign exchanges. The Swedish currency was debased with copper coins of high nominal value. The army used conscription to compel enrollment. The export of metal was controlled. In 1717 the British reacted to Karl XII’s blockade of Baltic provinces by banning trade with Sweden. Karl Gyllenborg intrigued with Scottish Jacobites who opposed Hanover, and the English had him imprisoned in London. The Dutch had captured Görtz in Holland but released him after six months. King Karl XII had not returned to Stockholm, and he raised an army of 65,000 men. In the fall of 1718 with a Swedish army of 22,000 men he invaded southwestern Norway; but they failed to take the Akershus fortress near Kristianstad (Oslo). Görtz negotiated with the Russians, and they agreed to a preliminary treaty in November. While inspecting the perimeter Karl XII was shot in the back of the head on November 30 (OS); but it was not determined whether he had been killed by enemy fire or by a disgruntled Swedish soldier.
      His sister, Ulrika Eleonora (1688-1741) became regent after she accepted the end of royal absolute rule, beginning the “Age of Freedom” in Sweden that would last until 1772. The Riksdag was summoned in January 1719. Many Swedes resented the long war, and Görtz was tried and executed on February 19, 1719. In November at Stockholm the Swedes made peace by selling Bremen and Verden to Britain’s George I of Hanover for six million riksdaler. That year the nobles admitted the lower aristocrats into the First Estate, and by 1792 some 624 families would be ennobled in Sweden compared to 144 in England from 1702 to 1783. The Russian fleet raided the coasts of Sweden while the Danes attacked from the west. In January 1720 Sweden ceded Stettin and other territory in Pomerania to Prussia. This enabled Sweden to form a defensive alliance with Britain against Russia.
      In February 1720 Ulrika Eleonora abdicated in favor of her husband, Count Fredrik of Hesse (1676-1751), and he reigned as King Fredrik I from March until his death in April 1751 even though he was not born in Sweden. Administration was centralized, and members of the Council were changed. Arvid Horn (1664-1742) was President of the Chancellery since 1710 but resigned in 1719 in protest of Ulrika Eleonora’s autocratic power. He was a moderate mercantilist, and the Caps party elected him to the Riksdag in 1720. Then King Fredrik returned Horn to the Council and to the position of Chancellery President which he held until 1738.
      The Four Estates of nobles, clergy, burghers, and farmers met in the Riksdag which chose the Council in which the King had two votes but could not make decisions. The minority of the nobles (5%) and priests (9%) were more powerful than the burghers and peasants, but burghers could rise through the military or government service to the nobility. The Riksdag made decisions in the Secret Committee which excluded the Fourth Estate of the peasants. The nobles usually had about 300 seats in the Riksdag but at times could bring a thousand members. The clergy had about fifty members that included all the bishops and others who were elected. The burghers usually elected about ninety. The peasants indirectly elected about 150 members.
      Sweden gave up its exemption from tolls levied in the Sound in order to make peace with Denmark in June. In the treaty at Frederiksborg signed on July 3, 1720 (OS) the Danes returned Rügen, Wismar, and a portion of Pomerania to Sweden which paid them 600,000 riksdaler. In the treaty negotiated at Nystad from May to August 1721 Sweden ceded Ingria, Estonia, Livonia, the Finnish part of Kexholm, and Viborg Castle to Russia which paid an indemnity of two million riksdaler while Sweden regained Finland north of Käkisalmi (Priozersk) and west of Viborg. Sweden had lost 30,000 dead and captured in the war, but Russia returned 7,000 prisoners in 1722-23.
      In 1723 Sweden’s Riksdag passed an ordinance that increased their power of lawmaking and taxation, and the Riksdag was to meet every three years. They ordered a translation of Locke’s Treatise on Government. The Caps party was in power and would hold it until 1738. The national debt had reached 60 million silver riksdaler, and they reduced the coinage to a third of its value and using compensation withdrew it from circulation. In 1726 the Conventicle Act enforced Lutheran orthodoxy and punished other religious sects with fines, prison, and exile for holding private meetings.
      In 1731 the Swedish East India Company was founded, and a ship returned to Göteborg from China with silk, tea, porcelain, coffee, and spices such as ginger, cinnamon, and arak, which was used in a popular Swedish drink. Yet the trade imbalance drained money out of the country to China. Gustav Cronhielm led the effort that passed a new law code in 1734 for the judicial system and revised ecclesiastical laws. Jakob Serenius had been in London. He returned to Sweden in 1735 and introduced the English confirmation service. Arvid Horn worked to avoid wars. Merchants, military officers, and many bureaucrats favored more extreme mercantilism to support domestic industries, and they became known as the Hats. Those following Horn in opposition to them were called Caps. The Hats gained the majority at the Riksdag in the 1738-39 session by allying with the French and getting subsidies from them while appeasing Russia. In the spring of 1739 Sweden sent troops to Finland. Horn had to retire and was replaced as the Chancellery President by the writer, Count Karl Gyllenborg (1679-1746), who had been a diplomat in London for Karl XII and was elected to the Royal Society there in 1711. At the Riksdag session in 1740 the Hats weakened their political adversaries by charging the Caps with treason. In 1737 the Swedish Playhouse opened, and Karl Gyllenborg’s The Swedish Coxcomb, the first Swedish comedy, was presented in 1740.
      The Hats went to war against Russia in June 1741, and the Russians took over Villmanstrand in August. In June 1742 about 35,000 Russians attacked Fredrikshamn. Sweden’s General Charles Emil Lewenhaupt ordered the town burned and retreated. The Russian army also drove the Swedes out of Borgå in July. Lewenhaupt and General Henrik Magnus von Buddenbrock were recalled to Stockholm and after a brief trial were executed in the summer of 1743. The Swedish army surrendered and went home as the Finns were released from the army. Russian forces then occupied Finland.
      In March 1743 delegates of peasants from Dalecarlia presented their demands to the Riksdag which rejected them. That month the Swedish army regained Åland, but the Russian navy gained control over southwest Finland. In June about 4,500 rebelling Dalecarlians marched to Stockholm, and in a battle on June 22 about 3,000 people were captured as 150 were killed; six leaders were executed.
      A deal was made to return Finland to Sweden which recognized Adolf Fredrik of Holstein-Gottorp as heir to Sweden’s throne. Some 4,500 farmers and soldiers organized a student protest and came to Stockholm in June. Gyllenborg retired. Russia gained most of southern Finland including South Karelia in the treaty made at Åbo (Turku) in August 1743. The Russian forces left Sweden in July 1744, and in 1745 Sweden and Russia made a defensive treaty. In May 1747 Sweden allied with France and Prussia.
      Anders Celsius (1701-44) explained the northern lights (aurora borealis). In 1741 he founded the Uppsala Astronomical Observatory, and in 1742 he invented the centigrade thermometer. In 1747 an Iron Office was established, and soon iron was 85% of Sweden’s exports with half of it going to England. When Fredrik I died in April 1751, Adolf Fredrik became King of Sweden.
      By 1750 Sweden had about 1.8 million people with 85,000 in Stockholm and 400,000 more in Finland. The cities were less healthy with a higher mortality rate because of diseases. The introduction of the potato in 1723 would eventually help the poor. Smallpox killed many until inoculation began alleviating it in 1756. Sweden had serious epidemics in 1754, 1763, and 1771. As leprosy declined, the leprosariums were transformed into asylums for the mentally ill. Orphanages and 1,400 poor houses accommodated hundreds of people who were mostly women.
      Karl Linnaeus (1707-78) advanced the science of botany and zoology by traveling 4,600 miles in the north and classifying species. He published his Systema Naturae in 1735. He visited London and Oxford in 1736-37, and in June 1739 he founded Sweden’s Academy of Science. Linnaeus published Philosophia botanica in 1751 and Species plantarum in 1753. The Royal Academy of History and Antiquities was founded in 1753. Sweden adopted the Gregorian calendar by skipping February 18-28 in 1753. At the Riksdag in 1755 Axel von Fersen the Elder was elected Lantmarshalk (Lord Marshal), and he favored the French. Queen Louisa Ulrika wanted to abolish the Riksdag and become an absolute monarch, but the insurrection instigated by Col. Johan Ludvig Hard and Captain Johan Puke in Stockholm failed in June 1756. Eight men were beheaded including Puke who was tortured first, but Louisa Ulrika was not punished.
      The astronomer Pehr Wilhelm Wargentin (1717-83) also studied statistics, and the Tabulation Commission was begun in 1756. The Scottish architect William Chambers went to China and published Designs of Chinese Buildings in 1757, and this influenced Swedish architects. Johan Gottschalk Wallerius (1709-85) applied chemistry to agriculture and published Agriculturae fundamenta chemica in 1761. Land economist Jakob Faggot (1699-1777) contributed to the enclosure movement to increase productivity that led to the Enclosure Act of 1757. In 1700 only 31.5% of Swedish peasants owned land, but by 1772 about 47% did. Influenced by Addison, Steele, Defoe, and Swift, Olof von Dalin wrote satires for the periodical, The Swedish Argus, 1732-34. From 1747 to 1762 he published his History of Sweden in three volumes. In 1762 the physician Nils Rosén von Rosenstein published The Diseases of Children and Their Remedies, founding the science of pediatrics, and his book was translated into Dutch and Danish in 1769, into English in 1776, French in 1778, Italian in 1780, and German in 1785.
      Hedvig Charlotta Nordenflycht (1718-63) was a pietist and was influenced by Rousseau. In the 1750s she formed a literary society called the Order of the Thought Builders. By the 1760s elementary schools were established in Sweden taught mostly by Lutheran clergy. Chaplain Anders Chydenius published The Nation’s Profit in 1765 explaining liberal economics. In 1771 the Royal Swedish Academy of Music was founded. In Finland the burgomaster Alexander Kepplerus of Lovosia advocated for the rights of the lower Estates, especially the farm workers.
      To protect Helsinki the Swedes began building the fortress of Sveaborg in 1747, and its Galar Dock was completed by 6,750 workers in the 1760s. They also developed ports and harbors on the Gulf of Bothnia.
      Sweden allied with France in the Seven Years’ War, and in 1757 a costly war broke out against Prussians in Pomerania that lasted until a peace agreement at Hamburg in 1762 returned the area to the previous situation. The Hats remained in power, and diplomatic relations were resumed with the British in 1764. Between 1755 and 1764 prices in Sweden doubled. The Council summoned the Estates in 1765, and the Caps took control of the Riksdag supported by the royal court. Hats were removed from the Council and were subjected to a judicial investigation, and some were tried. The Caps’ foreign policy moved away from the French and toward Russians and the British. They reduced bureaucratic expenses and opposed mercantilism. Restrictions were put on luxuries such as coffee, chocolate, wine, and expensive fabrics, but their deflationary policy alienated many. Sweden’s first dry dock at Karlskrona helped strengthen the navy. Sweden signed a treaty with the British in February 1766. That year Sweden abolished political censorship, and after that royal proclamations were read from the pulpit. The economy was stagnant, and King Fredrik threatened to abdicate if the Riksdag was not revoked. He was supported by the Hats who returned to power in 1768 and restored royal prerogatives. The Hats favored the nobles and the bureaucrats while the Caps represented the lower Estates. In 1770 the Council nominated three nobles to be vice presidents of the Åbo court of appeal, but they had passed over two lawyers from the lower Estates, provoking protests and pamphlets. Adolf Fredrik died in February 1771.
      His 25-year-old son Gustav III had been visiting his uncle, Prussia’s Friedrich II, and he returned to Stockholm in May. The Estates wanted Prince Gustav to marry the Danish princess Sophia Magdalena, and they were betrothed in 1750 and married in October 1766. The Riksdag met on June 21, 1771, and the Caps regained power. The French withdrew their support from the Hats and urged Gustav to take power with the support of the nobles. He was assisted by Baron J. M. Sprengtporten who had devised a campaign that was approved by the French ambassador. The Caps had dismissed the crown forester J. C. Toll, and he instigated an uprising in Kristianstad on August 12, 1772. Two days later the Council learned of the revolt, and that day Sprengtporten led an attack in Finland. Troops sailed from there but were delayed by wind. The Council tried to organize troops in Stockholm. The Caps with subsidies from Russia were trying to control the Riksdag, but on August 19 King Gustav III claimed absolute royal power without any violence. He tied a white ribbon on his arm, and many citizens did the same.
      Two days later he spoke to the Estates in the Riksdag and promised that he would not restrict the people’s liberty, but he would abolish party despotism and arbitrary rule by the government. Thus the constitution of the “Age of Freedom” was replaced by his royal absolutism. The new constitution allowed the King to wage a defensive war but required the consent of the Estates for an offensive war. The King was the supreme commander in war and could take necessary measures during war. King Gustav III promised that the Riksdag could meet again in six years, and they adjourned. Peasants were allowed to join the Secret Committee when national defense was discussed.
      The French provided Sweden with subsidies and diplomatic support, and their language became more influential. Gustav III formed an all-party Council with the chairmen of the Four Estates to advise him but not to govern. The King governed with the help of cabinet councils who met with him and at least one Council member. Another bad harvest in 1771 had increased the number of starving beggars, and Sweden’s population had reached two million. The potato was not yet a regular crop. Gustav increased the imports of grain, and removed restrictions on its trade. In 1773 he founded the Royal Academy of Art, and he approved of Swedish opera.
      Ulrik Scheffer became President of the Chancery, and he successfully conducted diplomacy with France and Russia. Defenses and the navy were strengthened. The King made appointments based on ability and experience rather than birth or favor. Alcoholism had increased in the 18th century, and in 1775 he centralized the manufacture of liquor in crown distilleries; limiting production saved grain. His advisor Johan Liljencrantz helped implement a program of currency stabilization in 1776-77 by recalling depreciated money and redeeming it at a reduced rate. Negligent officials were put on trial, and work schedules were improved. Gustav added two provinces to Finland and improved its administration. A new Court of Appeal was set up at Vasa in the north. In 1777 new silver coins were issued, and the grain trade was freed. Gustav visited Ekaterina in St. Petersburg, but he could not persuade her to recognize his new constitution.
      Gustav III summoned the Riksdag in September 1778 as they still had to approve laws and taxes. His son Gustav Adolf was born on November 1, and this was celebrated. Dramas produced depicted the lives of Gustav Vasa and Gustavus Adolphus. Gustav III abolished the use of torture, and in 1779 he had witchcraft laws repealed. In 1781 Sweden recognized freedom of religion, and Jews were allowed to settle in large cities. In 1782 the Opera House opened in Stockholm. In 1783 Sweden made a friendship treaty with the United States of America. Gustav wanted to attack Denmark-Norway, but the Russian Empress Ekaterina II persuaded him not to do so. Instead he went on a grand tour of Italy calling himself the Count of Haga to avoid protocol. He celebrated Christmas in 1783 and Easter in 1784 with Pope Pius VI.
      Then in Paris he negotiated a secret treaty with France, and on March 7, 1785 he was given sovereignty over the West Indies islands of St. Barthélemy and St. Martin. The Swedish West India Company was established. Gustav had taken over his foreign policy in 1785. He founded the Swedish Academy to promote science and the Swedish language in 1786. Finances were in disarray when the Riksdag met in April after a series of bad harvests. In the 1780s Sweden had made trade agreements with Russia, Denmark, and Prussia, but now Denmark had become hostile to Sweden over Holstein. Sweden had not been well prepared for war with Russia, but they built up a large navy. After the Turks invaded Russia in 1787, Sweden went to war against Russia to try to recover Finnish provinces; but a naval battle in July 1788 was indecisive. In August a conspiracy of 113 officers was squelched, and the leader, Col. J. H. Hästesko, was executed.

Swedenborg and His Mystical Theology

      Emanuel Swedberg was born on January 29, 1688. His father Jesper Swedberg was court chaplain, a professor of theology at the University of Uppsala, then dean of the cathedral before becoming the Bishop of Skara in 1702. Jesper was accused of being a pietist heretic, and he also believed in angels and spirits. Emanuel later recalled how during childhood he constantly thought about God, salvation, spiritual diseases, and that the life of faith is love. Emanuel studied the Bible and learned much about theology from his father. He entered the University of Uppsala in June 1699. Classes were in Latin, and he also studied Greek and Hebrew. In addition to Swedish he learned English, Dutch, French, Italian, and German that he would use on his travels. He graduated in 1709 and went to London in May 1710, and at Oxford he conferred with the astronomer Edmund Halley. Emanuel spent his younger years devoted to the study of science and philosophy.
      Emanuel knew King Karl XII and in January 1716 began publishing in Swedish Sweden’s first scientific journal that he called Daedalus Hyperboreus. His ideas included a flying carriage, a submarine ship, a universal musical instrument that uses notes on paper, and a method of understanding desires and affections by using mental analysis. That year Karl XII appointed him the Extraordinary Assessor of the Royal Mines, and in the next five years he published reports and scientific treatises. In December 1718 the death of Karl XII brought to an end Daedalus and his projects for a canal and salt works. In The Height of the Waters Swedenborg wrote about the ancient deluge and dedicated it to Queen Ulrika Eleonora on the day she was crowned in Uppsala. His family was ennobled in 1719 and changed their name to Swedenborg. That year he wrote Anatomy of Our Most Subtle Nature, Showing That Our Moving and Life Force Consist of Vibrations.
      In 1721 Swedenborg went abroad again and published two volumes on natural philosophy and chemistry. The next year he wrote On Finding the Longitude on Land and Sea by means of the Moon. That summer he published his Modest Thoughts on the Fall and Rise of Swedish Money, warning that devalued coins would ruined the iron industry and the public treasury. In February 1723 he presented to the Riksdag Committee on Commerce his memorial, “The Balance of Trade,” advising that importing more goods than were paid for by exports would cause poverty. He worked for the Board of Mines until 1747. He admitted that he was very attracted to the opposite sex, and he often had sexual dreams; but he never married.
      Emanuel Swedenborg traveled again in 1733, and in 1734 he published his Philosophical and Mineralogical Works in three volumes in Latin at Leipzig. He observed that humans seek wisdom by using experience, geometric measuring, and the faculty of reason. Education is what distinguishes humanity from brutes. He considered scientific knowledge the first step toward wisdom which is the ability to connect knowledge in chains of inferences. The finite comes from the infinite and could not exist without it. Everything has a cause except the infinite. He was the first to explain the difference between actual and potential motion. He experimented with magnets, phosphorescence, and crystals, and he believed that even metal, stone, and a grain of sand have free will. He suggested that the planets originated from the sun, that stars are arranged along the axis of the Milky Way, and that sidereal systems are organized into galaxies. Also in 1734 to prove the immortality of the soul he published in Latin his shorter “Outlines of a philosophical argument on the Infinite, and the final cause of Creation and on the mechanism of the operation of Soul and Body.”
      As a noble Swedenborg often sat in the Secret Committee of the Riksdag, and in 1734 he presented the memorial, “Against War with Russia.” He sent his Philosophical and Mineralogical Works to the Imperial Russian Academy of Sciences, and on November 11 they appointed a committee to study them. His father died in 1735, and Swedenborg got a leave of absence and traveled to France, Italy, and Holland. There he reflected on why this nation had great commercial success, and he concluded that Holland pleased the Lord because it is a republic where the high and low are respected as much as a king. He published The Economy of the Animal Kingdom in two large volumes at Amsterdam in 1740-41. These works studied anatomy and physiology in relation to the soul (anima) which he considered the link between God and humans, the infinite and the finite.
      Swedenborg wrote in his Spiritual Diary that at the funeral of his friend Christopher Polhem (1661-1751) his spirit asked him why they were burying him when he was still alive and had already been resurrected despite the pastor saying he would wake on the Day of Judgment. In his Arcana Coelestia Swedenborg wrote about how he communicated with others whose bodies had been buried after they had thrown them away now that they were in a body more useful in the world where they now lived. Swedenborg described how in the stages after death souls judge themselves and choose a community where they feel a kinship. They are instructed to prepare for the upward path that leads toward heaven, and they are guided by guardian angels.
      Swedenborg published almost all his works anonymously in Latin outside of Sweden. In London between 1749 and 1756 he published the eight volumes of his Arcana Coelestia, or the Heavenly Secrets which are in the Sacred Scripture or the Word of the Lord, disclosed: here those which are in Genesis: together with the wonderful things which have been seen in the World of Spirits and in the Heaven of Angels. In that book he wrote,

Angelic life consists in use, and in the goods of charity.
The angels know no greater happiness than in teaching
and instructing the spirits that arrive from the world,
in being of service to men controlling the evil spirits about them
lest they pass the proper bounds
and inspiring the men with good,
and in raising up the dead to the life of eternity.2

      In 1758 at London he published Earths in the Universe, his most famous Heaven and Hell, also The Last Judgment, The New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrines, and The White Horse of the Apocalypse. In his Earths in the Universe he suggested that the immensity of the heavens make it reasonable that many planets could be inhabited. In Heaven and Hell he wrote,

Every single person, even while he is living in the body,
is in a community with spirits
as far as his own spirit is concerned,
even though he is unaware of the fact.
A good person is by means of these spirits
in an angelic community;
an evil person is in a hellish community;
and each person enters that same community after his death.
People who join the spirits after death
are often told this and shown this.3

Swedenborg explained that loving and intending are the same because a person loves what one intends and intends what one loves. After death one becomes what one has loved or intended. The Lord does not cast anyone into hell, but the person does it oneself. The Lord is always leading the individual away from evil and toward what is good, but a person is free to commit evil which is the hell within one. The Lord can free people from hell to the extent that they do not love to be involved in their own evil. He wrote,

Self-love is willing well to oneself alone and
not willing well to anyone else except for one’s own sake….
Heavenly love is loving for their own sakes the useful
and good functions which a person performs
for his church, for his country, for the human community,
and for his fellow citizen.
This is actually loving God and loving the neighbor,
since all useful and good functions come from the Lord.4

Swedenborg completed Heaven and Hell by writing,

The soul is nothing more than the person’s life,
and the spirit is the actual person.
The earthly body he carries around in the world is simply
a servant through which the spirit—the real person—
acts suitably in a natural world….
Anything that is loved brings light with it
into the mind’s concepts—
especially when what is true is loved,
for everything true is in the light.5

      On July 19, 1759 Swedenborg was in Gothenburg about 300 miles from Stockholm when he perceived the great fire that devastated that city and described it in writing the next day before the news arrived. In the fall of 1761 he was invited to visit Queen Louisa Ulrika at court. She asked him to contact her late brother, Augustus Wilhelm. Swedenborg brought her some of his books and told her a secret that only that brother knew.
      In 1763 at Amsterdam he published his Four Doctrines (Of the Lord, Of the Sacred Scriptures, Of Life, Of Faith), as well as his Continuation of the Last Judgment, and his Angelic Wisdom respecting the Divine Love and the Divine Wisdom. In this book he wrote that the divine essence is love and wisdom. When wisdom purifies love in the understanding, it becomes spiritual and celestial; but when love is defiled by the understanding, it becomes sensual and corporeal. Rationality is the capacity to understand, and freedom is the ability to act. Spiritual love is for the neighbor and the Lord, but sensual love is for the world and self. Conjugal Love was published in 1768 also at Amsterdam, and he expressed his view that marriages of true love take place in heaven. Swedenborg published Intercourse of the Soul and the Body at London in 1769.
      In 1770 someone published anonymously in Sweden Thoughts and Entertaining Stories about Herr Swedenborg’s Conversations and Communications with Spirits that described his clairvoyant abilities in incidents when he described the Stockholm fire from another town, discovered a lost receipt, or perceived the Queen’s secret. Similar books were also published in Germany and Denmark. Theologians argued that his ideas were heretical, and on April 26, 1770 the Royal Council condemned and forbade the theological doctrines in Swedenborg’s writings, and his books were to be confiscated in Sweden.
      In describing his visions Swedenborg only mentioned the names of the famous such as Spinoza, Descartes, Newton, Leibniz, and Wolff. He once mentioned that “Luther has risen and has renounced his erroneous ideas of justification by faith in three Divine persons.”6 His last work, The True Christian Religion was printed on his eleventh and last journey at Amsterdam in 1771. In that work he wrote, “God is life itself. This life is the only real life, from which all angels and men live.”7 He described God as infinite, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. He wrote that no faith is real unless it is combined with charity which is not only doing well but also wishing the neighbor well. Faith without charity is nothing because charity is the life of faith. He asked, “Could anything more cruel be believed of God than that some of the human race are damned by predestination?”8 He mentioned that the apostles visited him. In 1771 the spirit of John Wesley told him that he wanted to speak with him about theology. Swedenborg sent him a letter inviting him to visit him in London. Wesley replied that he could come in six months. Swedenborg answered that that would be too late because he would be leaving to go to the world of the spirits on March 29, 1772. When Swedenborg died in London on that day, he left by his bed a paper on which was written,

An Invitation to the New Church
addressed to the whole Christian world,
and an exhortation that men should go and meet the Lord….
Hereafter they are not to be called the Evangelical,
the Reformed, and still less Lutherans and Calvinists,
but Christians.9

      Soon after Swedenborg’s death Robert Hindmarsh started a circle to discuss Swedenborg’s theology. James Glen became a member of that group, and in 1784 he took copies of Swedenborg’s books to Philadelphia where Swedenborgian circles were organized.


1. Quoted in History of the Norwegian People by Knut Gjerset, Volume 2, p, 344.
2. Arcana Coelestia by Emanuel Swedenborg, paragraph 452.
3. Heaven and Hell by Emanuel Swedenborg, paragraph 438.
4. Ibid., paragraph 556-557.
5. Ibid., paragraph 602-603.
6. Quoted in The Swedenborg Epic: The Life and Works of Emanuel Swedenborg by Cyriel Odhner Sigstedt, p. 422.
7. True Christian Religion §364 tr. John C. Ager quoted in Emanuel Swedenborg: Visionary Savant in the Age of Reason by Ernst Benz tr. Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, p. 365.
8. Quoted in The Swedenborg Epic, p. 424.
9. Ibid., p. 433.

Copyright © 2017 by Sanderson Beck

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Britain of Georges I-III 1714-88
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