The first historical notes on Sweden came to us from Roman writers who called it a “frozen land, inhabited by reindeer and bear hunters”. Only from the ninth century after Christ did the men of that country begin to know each other since with their very fast ships they sailed all the seas of Europe in search of wealth. And while they plundered everything they found in the other territories, they were always at war with each other in their land. In doing so they weakened to the point that in a short time they fell under foreign domination, which was the Danish one.
In the 14th century Sweden, without an army and in full disorganization, gradually began to react to the cruel government of Denmark and in the 16th century popular revolts broke out, led by the patriot Sten Sture. The latter first organized an army, then decided to face the Danish troops. But they were hopelessly defeated and had to undergo a real carnage, imposed by the King of Denmark Christian II. He, in 1520, on the main square of the capital Stockholm, surrounded by his soldiers, after defeating the approximate Swedish army, ordered his soldiers to behead all the people present, and when the Swedish citizens tried to rise up with his sword completed the feat.
Of course, this episode was the spark that made the Swedes understand that they had to unite in a compact way to fight the invader with a positive result and regain their freedom.
Another patriot resumed the work of recreating an army, Gustavo Vasa, who in 1523 faced the Danish army again and this time defeated him. Gustavo Vasa was therefore appointed king of Sweden. See Countryaah for population and country facts about Sweden.
He reigned for 37 years highlighting uncommon political and administrator skills. His successors were not as great as he was; to find another that could stand up to it, it was necessary to arrive at the seventeenth century, when Gustavo Adolfo ascended the throne and remained there from 1611 to 1632.
It was precisely this king who brought Sweden to its heyday and to a great power, and with a powerful and well organized army.
Threatened by so much power and splendor, three other great European powers, Russia, Denmark and Poland, thinking of embarking on a small enterprise, declared war on Sweden in unison, but had to deal with King Charles XII. He had risen to the throne still very young and therefore devoted himself for the first years to the amusements of hunting and the leisures of court. He did not rely much on his ministers, so that when the three powers sent their ambassadors for the declaration of war, they were very surprised to find that under the apparent frivolity, the king possessed an iron character, but above all they learned to know him as a lover of justice like few of his time.
The first army to invade Sweden was the Danish army which pushed to invade the lands of the Duchy of Holstein. Charles XII, at the head of a fleet of 43 vessels, left Stockholm on May 8, 1700 and went to besiege Copenhagen and with his troops landed in Danish territory thus displacing his enemies. When the king of Denmark knew the requests of the king of Sweden, that is, the return of the Duchy of Holstein only, he was happy to get by with so little and in fact, after the evacuation of the Swedish land took place, he had no more fear.
Then Charles XII headed for Poland and here too in a short time he defeated the enemy and reduced him to silence. But with Russia things went differently. He went into Russian territory a lot and underwent a particular tactic from that army; he was never attacked while his march inside was continuous, and then came the harsh Russian winter which decimated the army even before the weapons; cold and hunger were the main winners over an army which, however, so well organized and well commanded by the king, fought with such ardor. In Poltava, in the middle of winter, there was an unfortunate battle and the king was forced to flee in order not to fall prisoner. He took refuge in Moldova, in Ottoman territory, while Tsar Peter the Great went to conquer a coastal strip on the Gulf of Finland.
Back home, Charles XII found himself engaged in a war against Norway: he thought he could close the company in a short time but just at the beginning of the company, one evening while he was visiting his soldiers in a trench he was hit by a enemy cannonball, right in the head, and died, only 36 years old.
Since then Sweden was no longer the object of wars with external enemies, but had many internal struggles that the people supported because they wished to transform the absolute monarchy into a constitutional monarchy: and this happened in the second half of the XVIII century.
In 1818 Charles XIII of Sweden died without leaving heirs. The Swedes wanted to nominate Giovanni Battista Bernadotte, one of the most skilled officers of the Napoleonic army, as their king. He ruled wisely, was concerned primarily with the country’s economic well-being, and all his successors did the same. Sweden managed to remain neutral in both the first and second world wars and this contributed greatly to making Sweden one of the richest and most advanced states in the world.
To flank the constitutional monarchy there was a very active bicameral Parliament. In the 1930s the government, made up of social democrats, experienced a crisis while discussing old-age pensions. There was an opportunity to increase them in those places where the cost of living was higher. But as both the first and second chambers issued a negative opinion, the Hansson Ministry resigned on June 14, 1936. Five days later A. Pehrsson replaced him, but in September there were elections and with the net victory of the Social Democrats PA Hansson returned in power.
In foreign policy, Sweden always maintained very close relations with the northern states. While neutral, he adhered to the organization and continuous strengthening of the elements necessary for his national defense. And to be consistent, when Germany proposed a non-aggression pact in 1939, Sweden refused to sign it. But then came a diplomatic diatribe with the Soviet Union when it asked Finland for the solution of some existing problems. The then Swedish Foreign Minister, Sandler, contacted the Soviet representative in Stockholm, Mrs Kollontay, to report to her government that Finland could not undergo political and territorial changes due to the balance of the whole area of Northern Europe.
On 30 November 1939 the war between the Soviet Union and Finland broke out and this could count on the help of Sweden, through a coalition ministry set up by Premier Hansson. This provoked a diplomatic note from the Soviet side because Sweden, being neutral, did not have to intervene with concessions of any kind. The Swedish reply, through the new foreign minister, Gunther, came with the claim that private aid was granted to Finland, and not to the state, and as such not subject to the ban. And when it came to passing an Anglo-French expeditionary force to Swedish aid to Finland, Sweden denied permission. But he could not even make a defensive alliance with Norway and Denmark, again for the Soviet opposition.
However, then, Germany obtained permission to transit the war material, since Sweden, given the German fortunes in the war, did not want to be subjected by force, as had already happened in other parts of Europe. This favorable attitude changed when the Soviet Union took to the field against Germany, as Hitler’s real decline began.
At the end of the war, Premier Hansson presented the king with the resignation of the coalition government and then formed a Social Democratic cabinet.
In October 1946 Hansson died and the government passed into the hands of Tage Erlander. In the following November Sweden joined the United Nations. In July 1947 he joined the Marshall Plan but with the understanding that the country did not have to feel tied to the Western bloc, even for politics.
On 19 September 1948 the new political elections, while registering a sharp increase in liberals, continued to give the majority of government to the Social Democrats, who had already been in office for 16 years. And between the end of 1948 and the beginning of 1949 several meetings were held to definitively establish a Scandinavian defense pact between Sweden, Denmark and Norway.
In strict observance of its neutrality, Sweden did not join the Atlantic Pact and also in 1951, at a meeting at the United Nations, which included a motion condemning China that had attacked Korea, the Swedish representative abstained from voting.