A turbulent period in Scanian history


Scania, or Skåne, is the most southern province in Sweden, but haven’t always been that. It has been inhabited since the stone age, and during the Viking era, 870 – 1066 A.D. it was first a small kingdom with local chieftains and later on part of east Denmark, a new national kingdom, but still with local chieftains in Scania as sub-kings. During the Middle Ages we became Catholics and the cathedral in Lund was central for the divine power in the region. In the 16th century we became Lutheran Protestants during the reformation that swept through Europe and led to many wars and hatred between the groups. Malmoe where I live grew and became an important merchant city during that era when the Danish and Swedish kings fought about the power. The strife continued during the 1600’s when Sweden first invaded, then occupied and annected Scania and finally conquered the region from Denmark.

In 1643 the Swedish general Gustaf Horn invaded Scania with an army, burning the ground and killing the local population. The Danish army retaliated and some locals resisted and became rebels and partisans, called Snapphanar. Sweden nevertheless won the war and a peace treaty was signed in 1645 at Brömsebro. The strife continued and war broke out again between Denmark and Sweden in 1657. Denmark declared war in 1657, the Swedish army which was in Germany fighting marched up through Jutland in  Denmark and in January 1658 marched over the ices between the Danish islands and put a siege on Denmark’s capital Copenhagen. During that war the partisans were enrolled by the Danish king and did what they could to fight back. It was a bloody war. Thousands of men, women and children were killed or left homeless and many on the run. The ground was burned, cities and villages laid waste, partisans and innocent people rounded up, pursued and killed in punishment for resisting. The Scanians were in despair. In February 1658 a new peace treaty was signed at Roskilde in Denmark and this time Scania became Swedish. The partisan movement called “snapphanar” continued the fight though, and a group of leaders were taken by the Swedish soldiers and hanged on the big square in Malmö in December 1660. Lund University was founded as part of a Swedization policy in 1666, new taxes were introduced and the Swedish church. A new Scanian war was fought in 1676 – 1679 when Denmark tried to take Scania back, but failed. A last attempt to take the region back was made in November 1709 when the Danish king was invited by the citizens of Helsingborg, then in February 1710 the Danish troups were defeated by the Swedish army in the battle of Helsingborg. So Denmark failed to take the Scanian province back. The citizens of Helsingborg were punished by the Swedish state and neglected for the following 150 years. In 1814 the last short war between Sweden and Denmark occured, which also was the last national war for Sweden before the long peace period was introduced which has lasted for 200 years.

Why do I tell you about these events in history? Please, do consider.. I’m proud of Sweden and what has become of my country, and proud of Scania and Malmoe. Why then this? I want you to see the similarities between the days back then with all the turbulence, killings and suffering we see today in so many places on Earth. Wars are ugly affairs and always lead to devestation, extreme trauma and thousands and millions of lifes in ruin. It doesn’t matter where it happens, who is the victim or who’s carrying the hatchet. We need to consider this, and see how we can stand together and struggle in peace and a more constructive co-operation instead of strangling and mutilating each other. We will never see a world in peace, and wars will always be part of our world’s existence. As humans as all living creatures on this planet we must defend ourselves, our offspring and our habitat, and therefore be prepared and on our guard against hostile attacks. However, our peaceful negotiations and treaties are also of the essence. So beware and suspiciously on your guard, but also work for peace, an ordinary balanced tranquility and an equally well balanced society.

Anders Moberg, November the 28th 2012


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