For most of the 17th century the Sound region was marked by the fight between the two regional big powers, Sweden and Denmark, over the control of the Sound and the Baltic. Gradually it became clear that the Baltic area also concerned the European big powers and these would not leave the entrance to the Baltic to regional interests.
|After Sweden´s conquests in the 17th century, it became the dominating power in the North and the Baltic. Sweden was surrounded by countries, which wanted their lost areas back. Among these Denmark, Russia and Saxony (including Poland) formed and alliance against Sweden.
Around 1600 the Dutch were responsible for 80% of the yearly ship tonnage, which went through the Sound and the repeated increase of the Sound Duty in crisis situations, where ships were arrested, was a thorn in the side of the Dutch and other shipping nations.
Denmark-Norway tried traditionally to maintain the control over the North Sea and the Baltic Sea.
In the North Sea Denmark was hard pressed by England, and in the Baltic Sea especially Sweden provided an increasing competition, which developed rapidly with export of raw materials, such as iron, copper, wood for shipbuilding and agricultural goods.
Sweden felt fenced in by Denmark-Norway.
The Sound and the collection of the Sound Duty became the centre of the confrontations. The Nordic Seven-Year War 1563-70 struck the note and with the Kalmar War 1611-13 came a confrontation, which Denmark won. However, in the 1640´s the Swedes, who had allied themselves with Holland, defeated Denmark and the Danes had to give up Gotland, Øsel and Halland for a period of 30 years.
In 1657-58 disaster struck. Great parts of Danish territory were stormed and at the Roskilde Peace in 1658, Denmark had to give up the Scanian countries to Sweden.
Six months later the Swedish king Karl X returned and once again occupied the country, except the capital, Copenhagen, which was relieved by the Dutch, who had allied themselves with the Danes. Once again peace was made in Copenhagen in 1660.
Sweden won the war of revenge, the Scanian War in the period 1676-79, but both countries felt run over by the European big powers, Holland and France, who dictated the peace. It was now evident that the power relations around the Sound were part of the European big power interests.
Another Danish revenge attempt took place in the beginning of the 18th century during the Great Nordic War, which ended the big power era of Sweden.
Scania was traditionally Danish core country, but it is not certain that the Scanians and others felt that the transition to Sweden was an abrupt change. The Snaphane resistance was strong in some areas, quite a few Scanians chose to emigrate, but concrete changes in the everyday life were few.
After the Scanian War a “swedification” process was started, but it was also a part of general uniform process, where the authority of the state was increased, which was seen in Sweden as well Denmark in connection with the introduction of absolute monarchy. In Scania they concentrated on centralization around Landskrona, but the ambitious plans did not come off. In Zealand Kronborg´s fortification was reinforced and the Sound as a boundary mark was evident.
One thing is sure: The inhabitants on both sides of the Sound paid the price for the many acts of war. Population decrease, abandoned farms and epidemics were the results.