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A Post- or Super-Nationality in the European Union

Series Preface


The Swedes: The Main Nordic-Europeans


The Swedes did not have a real feudal system, since their lands were not fertile enough for the peasants to spare more than a small portion of their crops in order to maintain the well-being of the nobility. Swedish peasants were mostly free and, in 1434, gained real political status for the first time when they mutinied in the southern provinces, led by a low-ranking nobleman, Engelbrekt Engelbrektsson, and achieved the establishment of the Riksdag (parliament), consisting of deputies from townships together with representatives of the nobility and clergy. After the king had failed to meet his treaty obligations, the mutiny resumed. The Riksdag nominated Engelbrektsson as one of the Swedish army's two commanders. However, he was assasinated a short time later, on 4 May 1436. Be that as it may, the possibility of another peasant revolt became a viable political consideration.

   In 1471, a dispute occurred in Sweden between a group of high nobles and their supporters, who favored a united kingdom of Sweden, Denmark and Norway, in accord the 1436 Kalmar agreement, and peasants and citizens, led by a nobleman from Stockholm named Sten Sture, who desired a separate Swedish state. Sture and his associates won the battle. Sture became a hero in the Swedish collective memory, ruled Sweden, and fought successfully against the Russians. In 1520, King Christian II of Denmark defeated and killed the Swedish King Sten Sture the Younger, and became king of Sweden with the help of the Swedish Archbishop Gustav Trolle. After most of the Swedish nobility was massacred, a Swedish army, led by a nobleman named Gustav Vasa, drove Christian II from Sweden in 1523.


   At the time, the vast majority of Swedish lands were owned by peasants, and the king was traditionally elected. However, Vasa convinced the Riksdag to alter that tradition. Vasa and his descendants, who ruled the country and waged war on the Baltic shores and into European soil, gave the Swedish nobility and wealthy individuals a political status. The Swedish kings enabled the educated and capable among their people to advance politically and in the kingdom's administration. These kings relied on the wars' outcome, to further their national enterprise and develop Swedish national identity among strata of the wider population. That spirit of nationality, together with the Swedish cherished values of freedom and enterprise, enabled a successful campaign by King Gustavus Adolphus and his prime minister, Axel Oxelstierna, who continued the war that Adolphus began, between 1626 and 1648. Yet, after that war, when Sweden was accepted as a major European power, the Swedish understood that their resources would not allow them to play a central role in any future conflict, and began to pursue a course of neutrality that continued throughout the two World Wars.


   During the years of Europe’s consolidation, the historical lessons learned by the Swedes culminated in a realization that they could not maintain an independent role in European “jungle politics” and their attempt at neutrality could even prove dangerous, so, after much hesitation, they jumped into the European “swimming pool” and have remained floating there quite comfortably.


   The Swedes feel comfortable within the EU and would prefer to stay there in the future, adapting to a European nationality.




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