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Monday, August 31, 2015

Amber's Swedish History - Chapter 14

Amber Hist 14 
(Click on photos to enlarge.)

It’s been a while since my last history post. I’ve taken a lot of time off this summer – a Swedish tradition. So . . . Where was I? Gustav II Adolf 1549 – 1632. Axel Oxenstern was Adolf’s Councillor of the Realm.
Axel Oxenstern

He was very smart and much admired both in and out of Sweden. Gustav was also smart even though he dropped out of school when he was sixteen so he could go fight the Danes. Gustav had a stomach as big as Brazil, but that was a good thing in those days. There were usually thirty dishes at his dinner table, plus barrels of beer from Germany.

Maria Elenora 
Maria Elenora

Maria Elenora thought Gustav was cool. She married him in 1620 even though her brother was against it. He didn’t think Gustav was good enough for Maria, but her mom thought he was a good catch. They had a big wedding and over 50,000 liters of wine were consumed. Maria was very open with her romantic feelings for Gustav which was considered un-cool. People said she was too high strung and quite possible hysterical. She got pregnant four times, but her children had the bad habit of dying young. Only one of them, Kristina, managed to survive.

Axel and Gustav wanted to end the war with Denmark which had involved a lot of burning and bloodshed, the same as wars do today. Gustav ravished Danish Skåne, burned all the churches and killed as many peasants as he could find. The women were raped and their children murdered. The Danes retaliated by destroying the castle at Kronoberg, and killing the entire male population of Nya Lödöse. They were also into town burning and sent an army to attack the castles at Gullberg and Ӓlvsborg. Ӓlvsborg fortress fell after a hard fight and was a serious loss for Sweden as it protected Swedish merchant ships. The Danes now controlled Sweden’s coast all the way up to Russia, cutting off Sweden’s access to the rest of the world.

Alvsborg Fortress  
Ӓlvsborg Fortress

Things were looking bad for Sweden, but then England and the Netherlands got into the act. They were afraid Denmark would screw up trade on the Baltic Sea which would make goods more expensive for Europe. Agreements were made.

Denmark Coat of arms 
Denmark was allowed to keep Sweden’s three crowns on its coat of arms and kept the island of Ӧsek off the coast if Swedish Estonia. A lot or Norway also stayed in Danish control, but the Swedes had access to the sea again, but at great cost. They agreed to pay Denmark one million silver riksdalers for all the towns they burned – about 25,000 kilos of silver.

Riksdaler 2 

They were given six years to pay it and in the mean time the Danes kept control of Nya, Gamla Lödöse, and what was left of Göteborg. It was a hard time for Sweden. The Rikstag imposed a progressive tax on the people. Gustav kicked in 20% of the money the State paid him. Bishops paid fifty riksdalers, craftsmen four, common labor one and maids one half. But there was a problem collecting these taxes as there were not many silver coins. People were used to paying in chickens, and pigs and such, but Sweden got lucky. The copper mine at Falun started to pay off. Three thousand tons a year were sent to Holland where it was used for rooftops. The copper was paid for with Dutch rijkdaalers and the rijkdaalers were then sent to Denmark. Falun became the second biggest town in Sweden for a while. The copper mine is still there, about twenty miles from where I live. 

Copper 1 
Inside Faluln's Copper Mine

It’s cold and damp, but looks like a good place to bury your poop. Nobody works there anymore.
Where was I? Oh yes, Gustav. He was able to rebuild Göteborg, but it was designed and run mostly by Dutch people who built canals all over the place. They were used as sewers and for transportation.

Next Chapter: Working it out with Russia, and the Bible.

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