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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Amber's Swedish History - Chapter 6


1400 A.D.

King Eric and Marageta were still running the show. After she died Erik continued his war with the Germans and created a toll for Germans passing through the sound. They responded by blockading all of Sweden. War taxes were created. By 1430 Swedes were pretty much fed up with the king and royalty in general.

Engelbrekt Engelbrektsson was a short guy with a long name. His grandfather was German. Engelbrekt wanted to limit the power of the king and remove the blockade. He was appointed as spokesman for dissatisfied miners and peasants who stormed a castle in what is now the town of Börlange. A few months later they were closing in on Stockholm, so the king gave Engelbrekt a castle and a lot of land. Things were peaceful for a couple years, but then a new rebellion started. The peasants were successful again, but Engelbrekt got murdered while on his way to Stockholm.

In the nineteenth century politically minded scholars started calling Engelbrekt the first Swedish hero to fight for freedom, but they were tripping. Nationalism had not been invented yet, and there was no country in Europe where people all spoke the same language.

King Erik was finally deposed and went to Gotland where he became a pirate, but he wasn’t very good at it. He ran out of money and tried to sell Gotland to Sweden, but they weren’t buying. He finally moved to Pomerania, (on the Baltic coast of what is now Germany and Poland) and managed to live a long time without getting murdered.
The new Swedish King was Kristopher of Bavaria, a twenty-four-year old whose mother was King Erik’s sister. Kristoffer was already a king in Denmark, and the Swedish Councilors of the Realm liked him because he dressed like a fop. They thought he would be easy to manipulate.

Krisoffer of Bavaria 

Kristoffer had a predilection for pointed shoes and wore lampshades on his head. He didn’t get much done as king, probably because he died eight years later. I think it might have been the shoes that did him in.

After Kristopher died things went up for grabs again. There were a lot of people grabbing: Lords, bishops, knights – pretty much anybody who had horse.
Karl Knutsson Bonde

Karl Knutsson Bonde was the most merciless of these, and managed to be crowned king three different times. The last was in 1467 when he managed to stay on the throne until he died, three years later.

The University of Uppsala was opened a decade after that, and is still in business. Sweden’s first book press was created a few years later, but the most Swedes think the most important creation of that time was made by Kurt Flaskedragare (affectionately known in the day as, Kurt the Bottlepuller). Kurt invented Aquavit which was previously used as a medicine, and for making gunpowder. Book reading and drinking aquavit are still popular Swedish pastimes.
Aquavit is distilled from grain, or potatoes, and spiced with caraway and other flavors like dill, anise, fennel, coriander and cardamom. The drink is served chilled in small, stemmed glasses. You’re supposed to drink it in one gulp. Swedes burst into song before downing a shot, and often keep on singing, before, during and after each round with increasing enthusiasm. I usually leave the room at this time. More than 9,000 drinking songs are recorded at Sweden’s Historical Museum of Wines. Two thousand of them have to do with aquavit.

Coming Next: The Stockholm Bloodbath

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