The Nordic Seven-Year War 1563-70
|Around 1560 two young, aggressive kings, Frederik II and Erik XIV had come to power. This led to direct confrontations and the Nordic Seven-Year Was of 1563-70 was the result. The concrete reasons for the outbreak were many and somewhat banal, but basically Sweden felt fenced in by the Danish-Norwegian kingdom.
The End of the Union
The Nordic unification efforts, which took place under Queen Margrete´s Kalmar Union from 1397 finally ebbed out in the beginning of the 16th century, when a wave of national awakening washed over Denmark and Sweden. The first decade of the 16th century was one long confrontation between the two parties and with Christian II and The Bloodbath in Stockholm in 1520; an end was finally put to the unification efforts.
After this Sweden established herself seriously as a national state, aggravating conflicts of interests arose, but the Brömsebro Pact from 1541 prevented direct confrontation for some time to come.
Around 1560 two young, aggressive kings, Frederik II and Erik XIV had come to power. This led to direct confrontations and the Nordic Seven-Year Was of 1563-70 was the result. The concrete reasons for the outbreak were many and somewhat banal, but basically Sweden felt fenced in by the Danish-Norwegian kingdom.
For some time it had been a nuisance that export south from Småland had to go through Danish territory, and westwards Sweden only had one exposed strongpoint, Älvsborg, at the mouth of the Göta River.
Sweden Felt Fenced-in
The Siege of Elfsborg 1563
Terror against the Civilians
Älvsborg was captured by the Danes in September 1563 and had to be bought back by the Swedes in the final end. Fighting was fierce by land as well as by sea and by the end of the war both countries were almost ruined, among other things because of the cost of mercenaries, who considered looting and ravaging as part of their payment. The strategy was to avoid direct confrontations and military losses and instead let the civilian population be at the receiving end.
The civilian population in the Scanian countries and south Sweden was affected the most. Both parties in the war used terror against the civilian population to an unprecedented extent. Rönneby in Blekinge was attacked September 4th 1564 be the Swedes and king Erik said later:
“The water was coloured red as blood by the dead bodies. The enemies were so frightened, that they didn´t put up much resistance, so we killed them like pigs, and the town lost more than two thousand men, besides the women and children the Fins killed”.
In 1565 Denmark used a blockade of the Sound as a weapon in the war and thus created dangerous enemies. Sweden was self-sufficient with foods, but especially Holland was deeply dependant of corn supplies from the Baltic countries and was severely struck. Famine broke out in the country and Holland and Spain contemplate a war declaration on Denmark. In addition the Sound Duty was increased significantly in 1567. The income from this increased in one year from 45.000 rix-dollar in 1566 to 132.000 the following year, but Frederik II´s 3000 mercenaries cost 150.000 rix-dollar – a month!
September 13th 1570 a peace treaty was signed in Stettin, which tried to take mediation in future conflicts into account.
The Battle of the Sound
Swedish ships in the Sound