|The Scanian war was a disaster for Scania with much destruction and the loss of many lives. The brutality of the war was also caused by the fact that it was also partly a partisan war. Among others by the so-called “Snaphaner”.
The terrible devastation, which affected Scania in connection with the Scanian war, was not lessened by the fact that the war was partly carried out as a partisan war. Local peasant forces, often with the support of the Danes, carried out ambushes, robberies and other attacks against the Swedes. Thus a force of Goenger succeeded in capturing the Swedish war chest at a hold up in Loshult just south of the border of Småland. It cannot be ruled out that peasants in Småland cooperated and the value of the captured amount was 50.000 rix-dollars.
Even the so-called free riflemen corps with an all-military organisation participated in this guerrilla war. Many poor peasants and soldiers too enlisted as Danish free riflemen and entered into the Danish war organisation. Such groups were active all over Scania and there were also poor adventurers and others, among them criminals, who almost led their own war in the forests in northern Scania on the Småland border.
The Word "Snaphane"
All these who were part of peasant forces, free riflemen companies and gangs of robbers were called “Snaphaner”. Perhaps the word comes from the German “schnappen”, which means: to rob. In that case the term implies something negative and every Snaphane was deemed a robber.
The Border Area
The population in the border area was particularly exposed. Traditional cooperation across the border was opposed and the fact that the Swedish state had raised taxes in these areas created dissatisfaction. Peasants on both sides, which had not liked national borders earlier, made a so-called peasants´ peace and thus demonstrated their independence of the national demands of the central power. Such a peace was were made between Osby in Scania and Virestad in Småland in 1676.
Sometimes the Scanian war is referred to as the “Snaphane War”. The adventurousness, which marks a partisan war probably fed the imagination, and the many stories, often with romantic and heroic touches that posterity tells of should probably be taken with a pinch of salt. The Snaphaner and above all their leaders´ great significance is not questioned, which the reactions to them clearly show.
The hard and harsh punishment that the Snaphaner were sentenced, is proof to the fact that the Swedes were disturbed by these attacks, which caused great damage on the Swedish central administration and it delayed the uniformity work. Scanian peasants were in some towns punished collectively, because some of them had become Snaphaner. There are many reports and testimonies to atrocities.
In the spring of 1677 the Swedes demanded loyalty statements of the inhabitants in Scania and in April 1678 the king issued a command to burn all farms and kill all men capable of bearing arms in Ørkned parish in the north-eastern Goenge district.
Farm form the 17th Century
Scanians to Zealand
In the summer of 1679, when the Scanian war ending, the Danish king once again encouraged the Scanians to flee to Zealand and tempted them with promises of a twenty year exemption from taxation. Opinions are divided as to how many who took this offer, but 10.000 is probably right and that was quite many by the standards of the time. Some had already fled during the war and more did so at the conscription of soldiers in Scania 1680.
The experience from the last war showed that the young Scanian men were deported to distant areas in the Baltic States and did not return.
The Scanians and others, who fled ended up in Zealand and Amager, where some were able to take over copyhold farms, while others lived wretchedly and some returned to Scania. The relationship between the refugees and the residents was good and a number of Danish cities, for instance Copenhagen, Dragør and Elsinore had an increase in population.
Many were frightened by the harsh punishments but many farmers were also tired of the endless lootings and ravaging, which took place and a conflict of interests rose between the Snaphaner and many Scanian farmers. This led to the reduction of the snaphaner and by the Danes´ return in connection with the Great Nordic War in 1710; the Snaphane movement did not have any significance anymore.