The Stockholm Bloodbath (Swedish: Stockholms blodbad, Danish: Det Stockholmske Blodbad) was a trial that led to a series of executions in Stockholm between 7 and 9 November 1520. The events were initiated directly after the coronation of Christian II (who after the bloodbath became known in Sweden as Kristian Tyrann, 'Christian the Tyrant')as the new king of Sweden, after the guests on the crowning party were invited to a meeting at the castle. Archbishop Gustav Trolle demanding economic compensation for things such as the demolition of Almarestäket's fortress led to the question whether the former Swedish regent Sten Sture the Younger and his supporters had been guilty of heresy. Supported by canon law, nearly 100 persons were executed in the days following the meeting. Among the executed, there were many people from the aristocracy that had been supporting the Sture Party in the previous years.
The Stockholm Bloodbath was a consequence of conflict between Swedish pro-unionists (in favour of the Kalmar Union, then dominated by Denmark) and anti-unionists (supporters of Swedish independence), and also between the anti-unionists and the Danish aristocracy, which in other aspects was opposed to King Christian.The anti-unionist party was headed by Sten Sture the Younger, and the pro-unionist party by the archbishop Gustavus Trolle.
King Christian, who had already taken measures to isolate Sweden politically, intervened to help Archbishop Trolle, who was under siege in his fortress at Stäket, but he was defeated by Sture and his peasant soldiers at Vedila, and forced to return to Denmark. A second attempt to bring Sweden back under his control in 1518 was also countered by Sture's victory at Brännkyrka. Eventually, a third attempt made in 1520 with a large army of French, German and Scottish mercenaries proved successful.[ citation needed ]
Sture was mortally wounded at the Battle of Bogesund, on 19 January. The Danish army, unopposed, was approaching Uppsala, where the members of the Swedish Riksdag of the Estates had already assembled. The senators agreed to render homage to Christian, on condition that he give a full amnesty for past actions and a guarantee that Sweden should be ruled according to Swedish laws and customs. A convention to this effect was confirmed by the king and the Danish Privy Council on 31 March. Sture's widow, Lady Kristina, was still resisting in Stockholm with support from the peasants of central Sweden, and defeated the Danes at Balundsås on 19 March. Eventually, her forces were defeated at the Battle of Uppsala (långfredagsslaget vid Uppsala) on Good Friday, 6 April.
In May, the Danish fleet arrived and Stockholm was attacked by land and sea. Lady Kristina resisted for four months longer, and in the beginning of autumn the tide of war started to turn in Kristina's favor. The inhabitants of Stockholm had a large supply of food and fared relatively well. Christian realized that his stockpile was dwindling and that it would doom his army to maintain the siege throughout the winter. Through Bishop Mattias, Hemming Gadh and other Swedes of high stature, Christian sent a proposal for retreat that was very advantageous for the Swedes. During a meeting on what is thought to be Beckholmen outside of Djurgården, Christian swore that all acts against him would be forgotten, and gave pardon to several named persons (including Gustav Vasa, who had escaped to Denmark, where he had been held hostage). Lady Kristina would be given Hörningsholm and all Mörkön as a fief, and also promised Tavastehus in Finland. When this had been written down on paper, the mayor of the city delivered the keys to the city on Södermalm and Christian held his grand entry. Shortly after, he sailed back to Denmark, to return in October for his coronation.
On 4 November, Christian was anointed by Gustavus Trolle in Storkyrkan Cathedral and took the usual oath to rule the kingdom through native-born Swedes only. A banquet was held for the next three days.
On 7 November, the events of the Stockholm bloodbath began to unfold. On the evening of that day, Christian summoned many Swedish leaders to a private conference at the palace. At dusk on 8 November, Danish soldiers, with lanterns and torches, entered a great hall of the royal palace and took away several noble guests. Later in the evening, many more of the king's guests were imprisoned. All these people had previously been marked down on Archbishop Trolle's proscription list.
The following day, 9 November, a council, headed by Archbishop Trolle, sentenced the proscribed to death for being heretics; the main point of accusation was their having united in a pact to depose Trolle a few years earlier. However many of them were also leading men of the Sture party and thus potential opponents of the Danish kings. At noon, the anti-unionist bishops of Skara and Strängnäs were led out into the great square and beheaded. Fourteen noblemen, three burgomasters, fourteen town councillors and about twenty common citizens of Stockholm were then hanged or beheaded.
The executions continued throughout the following day (10 November). According to the chief executioner Jörgen Homuth 82 people were executed.It has been claimed that Christian also took revenge on Sten Sture's body, having it dug up and burnt, as well as the body of his child. Sture's widow Lady Kristina, and many other noblewomen, were taken as prisoners to Denmark.
Christian justified the massacre in a proclamation to the Swedish people as a measure necessary to avoid a papal interdict, but, when apologising to the Pope for the decapitation of the bishops, he blamed his troops for performing unauthorised acts of vengeance.
If the intention behind the executions had been to frighten the anti-unionist party into submission, it proved wholly counterproductive. Gustav Vasa was a son of Erik Johansson, one of the victims of the executions. Vasa, upon hearing of the massacre, travelled north to the province of Dalarna to seek support for a new revolt. The population, informed of what had happened, rallied to his side. They were ultimately able to defeat Christian's forces in the Swedish War of Liberation. The massacre became the catalyst that permanently separated Sweden from Denmark.[ citation needed ]
The Stockholm Bloodbath precipitated a lengthy hostility towards Danes in Sweden, and thenceforth the two nations were almost continuously hostile toward each other. These hostilities, developing into a struggle for hegemony in the Scandinavian and North German area, lasted for nearly three hundred years. Memory of the Bloodbath served to let Swedes depict themselves (and often, actually regard themselves) as the wronged and aggrieved party, even when they were the ones who eventually took the political and military lead, such as the conquest and annexation of Scania until the Treaty of Roskilde in 1658.
The event earned Christian II the nickname of Kristian Tyrann (Christian Tyrant) in Sweden which he retains until the present day.It is a common misconception in Sweden that King Christian II, contrarily, is bynamed Christian den Gode (Christian the Good) in Denmark, but this is apocryphal.
According to Danish historians, no bynames have been given to Christian II in Danish historical tradition. In an interview with Richardson in 1979, Danish historian Mikael Venge, author of the article about Christian II in Dansk Biografisk Leksikon said: "I think you ought to protest the next time the Swedish radio claims anything so utterly unfounded that could be understood as if the Danes approved of the Stockholm bloodbath." Despite this, even today, tourist guides in Stockholm spice up their guiding of the Old Town (Gamla Stan) with the news about Christian II's "rehabilitation" back in Denmark.
The event is depicted in the 1901 novel, Kongens Fald (The Fall of the King), by Nobel Laureate Johannes V. Jensen. [ citation needed ]The bloodbath forms a large part of the 1948 historical novel The Adventurer (original title Mikael Karvajalka) by the Finnish writer Mika Waltari. The events are depicted as seen by Mikael Karvajalka, a young Finn in Stockholm at the time. A number of references to the Stockholm Bloodbath appear in Freddy's Book (1980) by American novelist John Gardner. A 2005 book Bruden fra Gent (translated in Nl. De Gentse Bruid, or The Bride From Ghent) by the Danish writer Dorrit Willumsen, referenced these events. It illuminates the life of Christian II as seen from his relationship with his mistress, the Dutch Dyveke, and his wife Isabella of Austria, sister of Charles the Fifth.
Gustav I, born Gustav Eriksson of the Vasa noble family and later known as Gustav Vasa, was King of Sweden from 1523 until his death in 1560, previously self-recognised Protector of the Realm (Riksföreståndare) from 1521, during the ongoing Swedish War of Liberation against King Christian II of Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Gustav rose to lead the rebel movement following the Stockholm Bloodbath, where his father was executed. Gustav's election as king on 6 June 1523 and his triumphant entry into Stockholm eleven days later marked Sweden's final secession from the Kalmar Union.
Christian II was a Scandinavian monarch under the Kalmar Union. He reigned as King of Denmark and Norway from 1513 until 1523 and of Sweden from 1520 until 1521. From 1513 to 1523, he was concurrently Duke of Schleswig and Holstein in joint rule with his uncle Frederick.
Sten Sture the Younger (1493 – 3 February 1520), was a Swedish nobleman who served as the regent of Sweden, during the era of the Kalmar Union.
Sten Sture the Elder was a Swedish statesman and regent of Sweden 1470–1497 and 1501–1503. As the leader of the victorious Swedish separatist forces against the royal unionist forces during the Battle of Brunkeberg in 1471, he weakened the Kalmar Union considerably and became the effective ruler of Sweden as Lord Regent for most of his remaining life.
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Christina Nilsdotter Gyllenstierna of Fogelvik was a Swedish noblewoman. She was married to the Swedish regent Sten Sture the Younger, and led the Swedish resistance against Christian II of Denmark after the death of her spouse. In her own lifetime she was simply referred to as Fru Kristina, but she has become known in history as "Kristina Gyllenstierna" because of the house of nobility to which she belonged.
The Swedish War of Liberation, also known as Gustav Vasa's Rebellion and the Swedish War of Secession, was a rebellion and a civil war in which the nobleman Gustav Vasa successfully deposed King Christian II from the throne of Sweden, ending the Kalmar Union between Sweden, Norway, and Denmark.
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Gustav Eriksson Trolle (1488–1535) was Archbishop of Uppsala, Sweden, in two sessions, during the turbulent Reformation events. He was the son of Eric Arvidsson Trolle, a former regent of Sweden during the era of the Kalmar Union. After returning from studies abroad, in Cologne and Rome, he was in 1513 elected vicar in Linköping. One year later he became Archbishop of Uppsala. In 1515 he got into an argument with the Swedish regent Sten Sture the Younger, who spread the rumour that he was allied with the King Christian II of Denmark. True or not, it resulted in Trolle being removed from his office and put under siege in the archbishops mansion Almarestäket at lake Mälaren. In the winter of 1517, Almarestäket was demolished by orders from the Swedish government. The Danish threat grew stronger, and Trolle was among those who spoke in favour of the Danish King. In 1520, Christian II of Denmark entered Sweden, and Trolle was rewarded by being reappointed Archbishop of Uppsala. He crowned Christian King of Sweden on November 4, 1520. This, and subsequent events, supports the notion of the two having made a deal previous to Christian's conquest of Sweden.
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Events from the year 1520 in Sweden
Ture Turesson (Bielke) (1425–1489/1490) was a Swedish statesman and military commander and a prominent leader of the unionist party during the Kalmar Union period. He was a Privy Councillor and Castellan of Axvall Castle during the reign of separatist King Charles Canutesson, before defecting to the unionist side in 1452, spending several years in exile in Denmark. He was appointed Lord High Constable of Sweden, Castellan of Stockholm and Kalmar and Captain-General during the reign of King Christian I, and commanded the unionist forces during several major battles during the turbulent 1460s, before surrendering to Sten Sture the Elder's separatists in 1472. During his later years he was Lawspeaker of the province of Öland.
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