Christianity and the rise of the kingdom
During the Middle Ages, about 1000–1300, a national unit with a state-bearing royal power was stabilized in Sweden, and the country was Christianized. Mission is known as early as the 8th century, but only after the year 1000 did the new religion get its breakthrough. A church organization was gradually built up, and a diocese is known from the beginning of the 12th century. Sweden became its own archbishopric in 1164 with (Old) Uppsala as its seat.
From ancient times, a number of more or less secure kings are known with a limited dominance. A change occurred around 1000 with the emergence of the Christian kingdom claiming to be recognized in both Götaland and Svealand. However, the royal power was contentious, unstable and often regionally limited. In addition, Sweden was an election monarchy throughout the Middle Ages, which meant that the succession of beliefs was not always obvious. The period from about 1130 to the beginning of the 13th century was characterized by the struggle between the Eriks and Swedes. During this time, the kingdom can mainly be associated with Götaland. It was also where the earliest church organization grew. In particular, Östergötland appears to be the real base of the emerging kingdom. Uppland sometimes stood for a resistance to the central and Christian kingdom.
Alongside the kings, there were earls from the 12th century as important rulers. The last with that title was Birger Earl, active from the latter part of Erik Eriksson’s time. At King Erik’s death in 1250, Birger’s son Valdemar was elected king. Thereby the so-called Folkungaät came to power. However, Valdemar was deposed by his brother Magnus Ladulås through an uprising. During Birger Earl’s and Magnus Ladulå’s time, fundamental political and social changes took place. The royal power was strengthened, and the political power took on a firmer form. At the end of the 13th century we find special political offices: marshals, kings and chancellors. A council alongside the king became permanent during the latter part of the 13th century and served during the rest of the Middle Ages as an important political counterpart to the royal power. In the Council, after 1319 also called the National Council,
During the latter part of the 13th century, the kingdom’s political center was moved north to the Mälardalen valley, and the royal power gained more control over both Svealand and Götaland. At the same time, the Swedish empire was consolidated in Finland. War developments in the east with the Principality of Novgorod temporarily halted through the Nöteborg Treaty in 1323. Gotland was also tied closer to the Swedish empire by a treaty in 1288.
During the Middle Ages, the royal power often interacted with the church. Through Skänninge’s meeting in 1248, a canonical church ordinance was enforced, which led to a more independent position for the church, whose relationship to the royal power was gradually regulated in the 13th century through privileges. In 1281, the church was granted fundamental tax exemption for its land and thereby came to constitute spiritual salvation (compare salvation).
Similarly, the chiefs were given tax exemption for their land. In Alsnö statute from about 1280, a worldly salvation is mentioned at the earliest, which was in principle exempt from taxes against the fulfillment of prepared rust service. This was linked to the fact that the leader, the naval army, was replaced by armored equestrian. In the middle of the 13th century fortified castles began to be erected around the central parts of the empire. The castles, which housed permanent herds, became the focal points for the medieval administration and the county administration. Holding of counties became increasingly important from a power political and economic point of view (compare counties).
Social and economic conditions
Sweden was an agricultural country during the Middle Ages, and most of the population lived within the framework of farm households. The ecclesiastical institutions and worldly salvation financially based their position on land ownership. The goods could exceptionally consist of larger farms in large-scale operation, but most of the salvation land, as well as the land owned by the krone, consisted of smaller farms used by farmers. With the emergence of the savages during the earlier Middle Ages, the proportion of agricultural land increased sharply. However, a large part of the peasants remained self-sufficient and taxable, and more than half of the land was held by self-pending farmers (tax land) during the late Middle Ages. However, there were major regional differences; In Norrland, as in Dalarna, Värmland and Finland, tax land dominated.
During the first Christian centuries, there were still slaves; However, slavery was unprofitable and definitely disappeared in the early 1300s. Life traits were never introduced in Sweden, and on the local things, the Swedish farmers, taxpayers and farmers, had a significant influence.
The period up to the beginning of the 1300s was expansive with extensive new cultivation activities. A Swedish peasant colonization took place in Finland’s coastal areas, as well as in Norrland and the southern Swedish forest areas. The increased importance of trade, as well as the need for administrative centers, contributed to the growth of cities, especially in the latter part of the 13th century. Although most of the cities were small, they played an important economic role as centers for trade and crafts.
Sweden was affected by the deaths of 1350, which during the remainder of the 1300s was followed by recurrent pest outbreaks. This led to population decline, which, probably along with other factors, caused the destruction of farmland. During the latter part of the 13th century and the beginning of the 14th century, landowners were therefore forced to lower the land of the natives. This led to financial problems for especially smaller landowners and a concentration of property holdings to certain wealthy families. In this research, this process has become known as the “late medieval agricultural crisis”.
A general economic recovery took place from the middle of the 14th century, and Swedish exports of butter and meat became significant during the late Middle Ages. One industry of great economic importance throughout the Middle Ages was the rock handling, also the export-oriented. The production of iron and copper created a group of well-to-do miners in the Bergslagen.