The Swedish terror

Swedish attacks on Jamtland during 1563 - 1677
© Bo Oscarsson 2001

The first Swedish attack on Jamtland came in the year 1563 and was followed by a short, Swedish occupation. However the Swedes were driven out of Jamtland by Danish/Norwegian forces during the same year.
The next Swedish attack came soon, at the beginning of the year 1564 and was followed by a 7 years occupation. The Swedish king Erik the XIV had told his Swedish forces to "burn, plunder and kill as much as possible, as it is better that Jamtland is a desert land than a hostile country." In line with this order, the Danish/Norwegian royal palace, Kungsgården, at Frösön was burned down by the Swedes. In the false, Swedish written history it is the Norwegians who burned down their own (!) royal palace.

With the peace in Stettin the Swedes were forced in 1571 to leave Jamtland to Denmark/Norway. As a consequence of the Swedish occupation, a conscious Danish policy started towards Jamtland, with the result that for example, we had to accept Danish priests, who spoke an unintelligible language in our churches. Our independence was reduced and we lost our very old seal from 13th century but we later recieved a new one in 1575.
JAMTAMOT, as our popular assembly was called, was abolished, but our independence was kept by the "Landzens 24" (2 Jamtlanders from every 12 law district). The market connected to Jamtamot was however allowed to continue.

The third Swedish attack came in the year 1611 with a new wave of plundering, violence and murder by the Swedish general Baltzar Bäck. (Baltzarfejden). "Not even the child in the cradle should be saved", he said. The occupation lasted three years and ceased with the peace in Knäred in 1613 and Jamtland again became Danish/Norwegian. The Danish king punished the Jamtlanders and held false trials and made almost every farm the property of the Danish king. The previously free Jamtlanders now became tenants, but most of them managed to redeem their farms. The Danish king again took our seal from us, the one from the year 1575, but gave us a new one in 1635, our third and current seal.

The fourth Swedish attack came in 1644, but the occupation was of short duration, because the Jamtlanders for the first time now choosed side and took part in the struggle against the Swedish invaders. The leader was Christen Rasmusson, and together with the Danish/Norwegian forces the Jamtlanders chased the Swedes out of Jamtland, after just a few months of Swedish occupation!

The Jamtlanders victory over the Swedes was met by an irony of fate in the peace negotiations in the following year, 1645, in Brömsebro. In the peace treaty it was determined that Jamtland should belonge to Sweden! The Swedes returned in triumph at the end of the year. The Jamtlanders were punished with double taxes. The Swedes now started to make Jamtland Swedish. The language jamska was not allowed and the Swedish language became compulsory. The law thing (the court) at Sproteidet was abolished. The Swedish oppression precipitated the Jamtlandic riot of 1655. But the Swedes subdued it and held trials. (The rebellion is not yet investigated!)
Jamtland was liberated by the Danish/Norwegian troups in 1657, but the following year, 1658, the incrediable happened in that the Danish sea frose over the sounds between Germany and Denmark ¹Bälten¹, the Swedish army came from Germany, so the Swedes could defeat the Danish king right in the heart of Denmark. Now Sweden again got Jamtland in the peace in Roskilde 1658.
But it did not stop with that. Jamtland was once again liberated from the Swedish occupation in 1677. The Jamtlanders greeted the Danish/Norwegian as liberators and a song of freedom was written by a young farmer, called Fastesson from Lockne. "Thy be praised o God our friend, who gave us our Danish king back, with joy". Danish defeats in other fronts of the war caused the Danish king to abandon Jamtland and the Swedes got Jamtland back in the end of the same year, 1677.

In little more than 100 years Jamtland and the Jamtlanders were exposed to not less than 13 changes in sovereignity with all difficulties that brought. Most difficult were the demands from either the Swedish or the Danish/Norwegian kings to swear loyalty. Each time the Jamtlanders had to swear to the present king, and every second time they were accused to have betrayed the previous oath, which was a high crime of treason that could lead to loss of life and property. Many Jamtlanders escaped to Norway during the Swedish attacks and found their new homes there. The population of Jamtland was diminshed severely during this time.

Jamtland was after 1645 a Swedish province and the Swedes started to make Jamtland Swedish. Only Swedish priests were allowed to work in Jamtland. A Swedish school was founded at Frösön. Young Jamtlanders were forced to serve in the Swedish wars outside Jamtland, such as in the battle of Lund 4th december 1676, where a brigade of Jamtlanders was placed in the frontline to be killed. Not until the 18th century did the Swedes dare to let the Jamtlandic soldiers to stay in Jamtland. A Swedish town was founded on the desert land at the easter sound (öster-sund) in 1796. The Jamtlanders old center, Frösön [lit. 'the god Freys island'], lost step by step its status: the postoffice, the market, the school, the library and finally, the regiment was moved in to the new, Swedish city of Östersund.

Read about 'Hjerpe skans', the strongest Swedish fortress in Jamtland. English summary.

© Bo Oscarsson

Many thanks to Jay Liedman, a Jamtlandic descendant in Minnesota, USA, who has been so very kind helping me with the English!

Jämtland/Härjedalens historia, del I-III
Jemtland og Norge, by prof Edv. Bull, 1927, nytr. Östersund 1970
Grunddragen av Jämtlands and Härjedalens historia, Carl Sehlin, Östersund 1929 s.151ff