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The Council of the Realm, or simply The Council (Swedish : Riksrådet or Swedish : Rådet: sometimes in Latin : Senatus Regni Sueciae), was a cabinet of medieval origin, consisting of magnates (Swedish : stormän) which advised, and at times co-ruled with, the King of Sweden.
Swedish is a North Germanic language spoken natively by 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden, and in parts of Finland, where it has equal legal standing with Finnish. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and to some extent with Danish, although the degree of mutual intelligibility is largely dependent on the dialect and accent of the speaker. Both Norwegian and Danish are generally easier for Swedish speakers to read than to listen to because of difference in accent and tone when speaking. Swedish is a descendant of Old Norse, the common language of the Germanic peoples living in Scandinavia during the Viking Era. It has the most speakers of the North Germanic languages.
A Cabinet is a body of high-ranking state officials, typically consisting of the top leaders of the executive branch. Members of a cabinet are usually called Cabinet ministers or secretaries. The function of a Cabinet varies: in some countries it is a collegiate decision-making body with collective responsibility, while in others it may function either as a purely advisory body or an assisting institution to a decision making head of state or head of government. Cabinets are typically the body responsible for the day-to-day management of the government and response to sudden events, whereas the legislative and judicial branches work in a measured pace, in sessions according to lengthy procedures.
The 1634 Instrument of Government, Sweden's first written constitution in the modern sense, stipulated that the King must have a council, but he was free to choose whomever he might find suitable for the job, as long as they were of Swedish birth. At the introduction of absolutism, Charles XI had the equivalent organ named as Royal Council (Swedish : Kungligt råd). In the Age of Liberty, the medieval name was reused, but after the bloodless revolution of Gustav III, the old organ was practically abolished.
Charles XI, also Carl was King of Sweden from 1660 until his death in a period of Swedish history known as the Swedish Empire (1611–1718).
In Swedish and Finnish history, the Age of Liberty is a half-century-long period of parliamentary governance and increasing civil rights, beginning with Charles XII's death in 1718 and ending with Gustav III's self-coup in 1772. The shift of power from monarch to parliament was a direct effect of the Great Northern War, which was disastrous for Sweden.
Gustav III was King of Sweden from 1771 until his assassination in 1792. He was the eldest son of Adolf Frederick, King of Sweden and Queen Louise Ulrika, and a first cousin of Empress Catherine the Great of Russia by reason of their common descent from Christian August of Holstein-Gottorp, Prince of Eutin, and his wife Albertina Frederica of Baden-Durlach.
The 1809 Instrument of Government, created a Council of State , also known as the King in Council (Swedish : Konungen i Statsrådet) which became the constitutionally mandated cabinet where the King had to make all state decisions in the presence of his cabinet ministers (Swedish : Statsråd). Throughout the 19th century and reaching its culmination with the enactment of the 1974 Instrument of Government, this new Council gradually transformed into an executive cabinet of ministers known as The Government (Swedish : Regeringen), chaired and formed by the Prime Minister who since 1975 is elected by the Riksdag, and which governs the Realm independently of a purely ceremonial monarch.
King in Council, or Royal Majesty, was a term of constitutional importance that was used in Sweden before 1975 when the 1974 Instrument of Government came into force.
The Government of the Kingdom of Sweden is the national cabinet and the supreme executive authority of Sweden. The short-form name Regeringen is used both in the Fundamental Laws of the Realm and in the vernacular, while the long-form is only used in international treaties.
The Prime Minister is the head of government in Sweden. Before the creation of the office of a Prime Minister in 1876, Sweden did not have a head of government separate from its head of state, namely the King, in whom the executive authority was vested. Louis Gerhard De Geer, the architect behind the new bicameral Riksdag of 1866 that replaced the centuries-old Riksdag of the Estates, became the first officeholder in 1876.
During the reign of Magnus III between 1275 and 1290 the meetings of the council became a permanent institution having the offices of Steward (Swedish : Riksdrots), Constable (Swedish : Riksmarsk) and Chancellor (Swedish : Rikskansler). Particularly from the reign of King Gustav Vasa, with his efforts of creating a centralised State, the members of the Council (Swedish : Riksråd) gradually became more of courtiers and state officials rather than the semi-autonomous warlords they once were.
Magnus III was King of Sweden from 1275 until his death in 1290.
A courtier is a person who is often in attendance at the court of a monarch or other royal personage. The earliest historical examples of courtiers were part of the retinues of rulers. Historically the court was the centre of government as well as the residence of the monarch, and the social and political life were often completely mixed together.
An official is someone who holds an office in an organization or government and participates in the exercise of authority.
Following the change of policies upon the death of Gustav II Adolf in action at Lützen in 1632, the 1634 Instrument of Government written by Chancellor Axel Oxenstierna laid the foundation for the administration of modern Sweden. For instance, the roots of the present-day administrative subdivision into counties (Swedish : Län) is a legacy from this time.
The Battle of Lützen was one of the most important battles of the Thirty Years' War.
Axel Gustafsson Oxenstierna af Södermöre, Count of Södermöre, was a Swedish statesman. He became a member of the Swedish Privy Council in 1609 and served as Lord High Chancellor of Sweden from 1612 until his death. He was a confidant of first Gustavus Adolphus and then Queen Christina.
The counties of Sweden are the top-level geographic subdivisions of Sweden. Sweden is today divided into 21 counties; however, the numbers of counties has varied over time, due to territorial gains/losses and to divisions and/or mergers of existing counties. This level of administrative unit was first established in the 1634 Instrument of Government on Lord Chancellor Count Axel Oxenstierna's initiative, and superseded the historical provinces of Sweden in order to introduce a more efficient administration of the realm. At that time, they were what the translation of län into English literally means: fiefdoms. The county borders often follow the provincial borders, but the Crown often chose to make slight relocations to suit its purposes.
From 1634, the council was headed by the five Great Officers of the Realm, each leading a branch of the state administration:
The Great Officers of the Realm were the five leading members of the Swedish Privy Council from the later parts of the 16th century to around 1680. With the constitution of 1634, the five officers became heads of five different branches of government. The same constitution also declared that the great officers were to act as regents during the minorities of kings or regnal queens. All great officers of the realm were abolished by king Carl XI of Sweden. The Lord High Steward and the Lord High Chancellor offices were revived in the late 18th century, but were soon removed again.
The councillors had the highest position in the kingdom after the royal family and were styled "the King's cousins". From around 1672, the year of the coming of age of Charles XI, the council was assembled less and less frequently and eventually the king ruled autocratically, using an ad hoc group of trusted relations and advisors to discuss a particular matter or group of matters. The Scanian War (1674–1679) gave the king the opportunity to establish - with the approval of the Estates - an absolute Monarchy along the lines of Renaissance Absolutism. Council, Parliament, local government, legal system, Church of Sweden, all were brought within the power of the King and his secretaries.
This was the culmination of a long power-struggle between the kings and the aristocracy. The first of the Riksdag Acts ratifying the change of system was a declaration that the king was not bound by the 1634 constitution, which no king or queen had ever consented to freely. The councillors were now titles Royal Councillors, being appointed and dismissed at the king's pleasure.
In 1713, the son and successor of Charles XI, Charles XII, issued a new working order for the Chancellery to enable him to conduct government from the battle-field, but his sudden death at the siege of Fredricshald in Norway in 1718 provided the opportunity for the parliament (Riksdag of the Estates) to write a new constitution in 1719 and 1721, that gave Sweden half a century of first renewed conciliatory, and then parliamentary government.
The first Estate, the nobility, dominated both the parliament and the council. The council now had 16 members and was chaired by the King. Each councillor had one vote, while the king, as chairman, had two. The council was the government of the country, but also the supreme judicial authority.
From 1738 the Estates could remove councillors to create a majority corresponding to that of the Estates, the Estates also appointing the President of the Chancellery (the prime minister), along party lines. The Freedom of the Press Act (1766) was also passed during this period.
This Age of Liberty lasted until the bloodless coup d'état of king Gustav III in 1772, which restored royal sovereignty under the guise of the 1634 Instrument of Government.
In 1789, by the Act of Union and Security (Swedish : Förenings- och Säkerhets Acten), an amendment charter to the constitution, the exclusive right of the nobility to high offices was abolished and the Estates of the Burghers and the Peasants also received these privileges - a step towards modern democracy. Aristocratic control of state organs ceased, as among other things the Privy Council was able to be abolished altogether by the Act, although the then councillors retained their titles for life. The council's judicial function devolved on the King's Supreme Court (Swedish : Konungens Högsta Domstol) composed of an equal number of noble and non-noble members. In the 1789 constitutional amendment Gustav III, having desired to abolish the constitutional power of the Council (a pesky limitation to royal rule of the executive branch, in his view), had instead received the right to determine the number of councillors. He decided to have zero of them, instead he created the office of Rikets allmänna ärendens beredning, which was a predecessor to the Council of State.
The loss of the Finnish War in 1809 prompted a military coup which removed Gustav IV Adolf, replacing the Gustavian era with a new dynasty and a new constitution restoring initiative to the Estates.
On 6 June 1809, a new constitution was adopted, and while the King still appointed the members of the Council, once again called the Council of State, the legislative powers were once again shared with the Riksdag of the Estates.
The new Council had nine members; the leading members being the Minister of State for Justice (Swedish : Justitiestatsminister) and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Swedish : Utrikesstatsminister. The departmental reform of 1840 created seven ministries headed by a minister, and in 1866 the four Estates were abolished and the new bicameral Riksdag was constituted.
In 1917, as the outcome of the 1914 Courtyard Crisis (Swedish : Borggårdskrisen), the parliamentary system was firmly established in Sweden, and the King could no longer independently appoint cabinet members without taking the will of the Riksdag into account.
Gustav IV Adolf or Gustav IV Adolph was King of Sweden from 1792 until his abdication in 1809. He was also the last Swedish ruler of Finland.
The Basic Laws of Sweden are the four fundamental laws of the Kingdom of Sweden that regulate the Swedish political system, acting in a similar manner to the constitutions of most countries. These are the Instrument of Government, the Freedom of the Press Act, the Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression and the Act of Succession. Together, they constitute a basic framework that stands above other laws and regulation, and also define which agreements are themselves above normal Swedish law, but subordinate to the fundamental laws, namely the European Convention on Human Rights and several UN and EU treaties and conventions.
The Monarchy of Sweden concerns the monarchical head of state of Sweden, which is a constitutional and hereditary monarchy with a parliamentary system. The Kingdom of Sweden has been a monarchy since time immemorial. Originally an elective monarchy, it became an hereditary monarchy in the 16th century during the reign of Gustav Vasa, though virtually all monarchs before that belonged to a limited and small number of families which are considered to be the royal dynasties of Sweden.
Riksdag of the Estates was the name used for the Estates of Sweden when they were assembled. Until its dissolution in 1866, the institution was the highest authority in Sweden next to the King. It was a Diet made up of the Four Estates, which historically were the lines of division in Swedish society:
Count Fredrik Axel von Fersen was a Swedish statesman and soldier. He served as Lord Marshal of the Riksdag of the Estates, and although he worked closely with King Gustav III before and through the Revolution of 1772, he later opposed the king.
Baron Gabriel Gustafsson Oxenstierna was a Swedish statesman.
The Instrument of Government adopted on 6 June 1809 by the Riksdag of the Estates and King Charles XIII was one of the fundamental laws that made up the constitution of Sweden from 1809 to the end of 1974.
This is a History of Sweden from 1772 through 1809, more known as the Gustavian era of Kings Gustav III and Gustav IV, as well as the reign of King Charles XIII of Sweden.
Count Gustav Horn af Björneborg was a Swedish nobleman, military officer and Governor-general. He was appointed member of the Royal Council in 1625, Field Marshal in 1628, Governor General of Livonia in 1652 and Lord High Constable since 1653. In the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648), he was instrumental as a commander in securing victory at the Battle of Breitenfeld, in 1631. He was High Councillor of the realm in 1625, elevated to the rank of field marshal in 1628, and sometimes commander-in-chief of Swedish forces in Germany during Thirty Years' War. After the war, he served as Governor-General of Livonia 1652, President of War department and Lord High Constable in 1653. In 1651, Queen Christina created him Count of Björneborg.
The Swedish nobility has historically been a legally and/or socially privileged class in Sweden, and part of the so-called frälse. The archaic term for nobility, frälse, also included the clergy, a classification defined by tax exemptions and representation in the diet. Today the nobility does not maintain its former privileges although family names, titles and coats of arms are still protected. The Swedish nobility consists of both "introduced" and "unintroduced" nobility, where the latter has not been formally "introduced" at the House of Nobility (Riddarhuset). The House of Nobility still maintains a fee for male members over the age of 18 for upkeep on pertinent buildings in Stockholm.
Lantmarskalk, was the title of one of the speakers of the Swedish Riksdag of the Estates, from 1627 to 1866 and of the Diet of Grand Duchy of Finland from 1809 to 1906. The Lantmarskalk was appointed by the Estate of the Nobles and also served as its speaker (talman). The Lantmarskalk should not be confused with the Riksmarsk or the Riksmarskalk, which were Great Officers of the Realm and royal appointees.
Sweden's Constitution of 1772 took effect through a bloodless coup d'état, the Revolution of 1772, carried out by King Gustav III, who had become king in 1771. It established once again a division of power between the parliament and the king. The period came to be known as the Gustavian era. This was a response to a perceived harm wrought upon Sweden by a half-century of parliamentarism during the country's Age of Liberty practiced according to the Instrument of Government (1719), as many members of the Swedish parliament then used to be bribed by foreign powers.
The Lord High Chancellor, literally Chancellor of the Realm, was a prominent and influential office in Sweden, from 1538 until 1799, excluding periods when the office was out of use. The office holder was a member of the Privy Council. From 1634, the Lord High Chancellor was one of five Great Officers of the Realm, who were the most prominent members of the Privy Council and headed a governmental branch each—the Lord High Chancellor headed the Privy Council. In 1792, more than a century after the office's abolishment in 1680, it was revived but was then finally abolished seven years later in 1799.
Count Johan Gabriel Oxenstierna is considered one of the foremost Swedish poets of the Gustavian period. A prominent courtier during the reign of King Gustav III of Sweden, he was also a politician, diplomat and member of the Swedish Academy, holding seat number 8. On several occasions he was a member of the Swedish Government and Parliament. Amongst other things, Oxenstierna is also known for his translation into Swedish of John Milton's epic blank verse poem Paradise Lost.
The Lord High Treasurer was a highly prominent member of the Swedish Privy Council between 1602 and 1684, excluding periods when the office was out of use. The Lord High Treasurer was head of the Kammarkollegium and, from 1634, one of five Great Officers of the Realm.
The Instrument of Government of 1719 adopted on 21 February 1719 by the Riksdag of the Estates was one of the fundamental laws that made up the constitution of Sweden from 1719 to 1772. It came about after the succession crisis which occurred after the death of Charles XII of Sweden, when the monarch died childless during the Great Northern War, leaving two potential heirs: his sister Ulrica Eleonora of Sweden, and his nephew Charles Frederick, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp. The constitution was a result of the agreement made between Ulrica Eleonora and the Riksdag of the Estates, were the latter acknowledged her as queen regnant in exchange for signing a new constitution of reduced royal power and introduction of a parliamentarian system. The Instrument of Government of 1719 was only revised to a very small extent in the following Instrument of Government (1720), and it can therefore said to be in effect during the entire Age of Liberty, and represent the political system in Sweden until the Swedish Constitution of 1772.
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