A Scanian Swedization process in the 17th century



In the middle of Scania you find places like Höör and Hörby, and a few kilometres south of Hörby the small village of Östra Sallerup/Eastern Sallerup. The landscape is beautiful. There are green pastures, fields of yellow rape, trees, groves, ponds, a park, houses here and there and the local church from the 12th century. When I came there yesterday The Association Jöns Henriksson’s Memory had just put up a sign on the church wall. This is what it says: “Jöns Henriksson 1622 – 1689. Vicar in Eastern Sallerup 1648 – 1689 in a troubled time when Scania became Swedish. Here he was buried, here stood his sarcophagus, remnants of that are now placed at the northern wall of the church. Jöns Henriksson founded the Vicarage Park with Charles XI’s stones… The Association Jöns Henriksson’s Memory 2013”. Yesterday that association had arranged a 17th century day in reminescence of that vicar. They did it in co-operation with Frosta Härads Hembygdsförening/The Local Association for Frosta Jurisdictional District, Hotspot Kölleröd, Skånes Caroliner/The Scanian Caroline Soldiers and from Denmark Christian 5s’ Drabant Garde/Christian V’s Henchman Guards. You find information about them here: www.karlxistenar.se,http://www.hotspotkollerod.se, skanescaroliner@bredband.net and http://www.facebook.com/Skanes Caroliner. For the Danish contribution it’s http://www.chr5drabantgarde.dk.

I had trouble getting to the place in time and missed the first part: the 17th century sermon led by vicar Jan-Olof Jansson, the performance of the Danish guard and the introduction of the sign. When I came to Eastern Sallerup I talked to the different people involved though. One important person who had taken the initiative for this day was Harriet Olsson-Strange who participates in this project and who moved to Östra Sallerup in 1988 from Eskilstuna in central Sweden. Another dedicated person was the project leader Eva Grip who was our guide later in the Vicarage Park. I will describe the park below. Skånes Caroliner led by Captain Alf Prytz showed us some marching outside the church and in the park later. Inside the Culture House there were objects presented with local importance from various epoques.

So what is the background story? What did we commemorate yesterday? The church was founded in the 1180’s by the Danish Arch Bishop Absalon in Lund in South-Western Scania. Absalon had lands here at Saxulftorp in Ruma as it was called back then. Over the years the church has been added to and rebuilt to harbour the growing parsonage. During the first half of the 17th century Skåne/Scania was still East Denmark and the priest prior to Jöns Henriksson was called Baltsar Hansen, vicar here 1620 – 1648. One of his sons remained on the spot as church bell-ringer.

These were the days of the 30-year-war in Europe. Denmark was involved and had armies in Germany fighting. Sweden also got involved a few years after Denmark and Sweden was growing into a regional super-power during this era. King Gustav II Adolf of Sweden was called the Lion from Scandinavia, but he was killed at the battle of Lützen in 1632. The Danish king Christian IV was just as active and there was a strong rivalry and enmity between Denmark and Sweden in those days. The power-struggle was immense while the local people everywhere had to suffer the consequences of that fight.

In a cottage near Frederiksberg Castle on Zeeland, Denmark the boy Jens Henriksen was born in 1622. He grew up probably as son of the royal gardener and these skills would later become useful. At the age of twenty Jens Henriksen began his priest studies in Copenhagen under his Latinized priest name Janus Enrici. Six years later on May 14th 1648 he had travelled over the water Öresund to East Denmark, Skåne and become the new vicar at Östra Sallerup and Långaröd. The war in Europe and famine made the local life as priest tough. But Jens Henriksen was resourceful. In 1651 he and some other priests wrote to the Bishop and asked for respite for payment with the taxes. In a few years the national history would make the life even more tricky for Jens Henriksen and his vicarage.

In 1654 Carl X Gustav became Sweden’s new king after the abdicated Queen Kristina who had turned Catholic and moved down to Rome. The Swedish king had his eyes on East Denmark and wished to invade. The winter 1657-1658 was harsh and very cold and the king marched over the ices with parts of the Swedish army and put a siege on Copenhagen. The war between the two neighbouring countries raged on. At the peace treaty in Roskilde Cathedral on February 26th 1658 Denmark had to leave Skåne, Halland and Blekinge to Sweden. The war broke out again in the summer and a new treaty was signed in Copenhagen in 1660.  That same year Carl X Gustav died and was replaced with his five year old son Carl XI who because of his tender age was led by a regency until he came of age.

The new national belonging was not taken lightly and the farmers, the bourgois merchants and many other locals were used to the Danish rule. Now they suddenly were expected to become South Swedes instead of East Danes. Both the Danish and Swedish armies burned, violated, threatened the Scanian population and sacked the region. Partisan forces grew up, so called Snapphanar. These partisan bands were often a mix of local patriots, rebellious farmers, unfortunate people who had come in-between, wild teen-age kids and thieves. The Swedish army retaliated fiercely and I have in January written a little about The Göinge Chieftain Svend Poulsen in my text “A balanced national pride”. He was one of the more famous Snapphane leaders in that era. Everyone who was suspected to support these bands or the Danish crown was punished harshly, often with both torture and death. A Swedish university was founded in the archbishopric of Lund in 1668. The foundation of Lund University was one way of securing the Swedization process of the province. Swedish school books, Swedish church, priests, teachers, corriculum and language. Everything had to be in Swedish.

Being a vicar in a province like this can’t have been easy, but Jens Henriksen was diplomatic and used various ways to save Östra Sallerup and his congregation. He changed his name from its Danish form into the Scanian-Swedish Jöns Henriksson and he managed over the years to keep a diplomatic attitude with both sides in the power-struggle. In 1675 the so called Scanian War broke out which lasted until 1679. The most fierce battle was the one north of Lund on December 4th 1676 led by the now adult Carl/Charles XI. The Danish king Christian V tried to take Scania back, but didn’t succeed. A new peace treaty was signed at Lund in 1679. The year after Carl XI of Sweden married Ulrika Eleonora of Denmark. In 1681 the bishopric of Lund began replacing the old Danish Bibles and psalm books with Swedish ones. That was completed in 1686.

Vicar Jöns Henriksson was outspoken, but being too critical of the new rule could be dangerous. In 1684 his congregation got new inhabitants. Charles XI didn’t trust the Scanians and sent troups to Skåne to safe-guard the Swedization process. The newcomers were cavalry captain Johan Orrfeldt from Åbo, Finland (then part of Sweden) and his men from the county of Småland and other parts of the Swedish realm. They all were part of Southern Scania’s Cavalry Regiment. Orrfeldt moved into a house north of the church. During the 1680’s Jöns Henriksson also founded the Vicarage Park in its vicinity. The park contained ponds, groves, plantations, a Swedish and a Danish side, an observatory where he might watch the stars, a perspective path through the park towards the church. In the south-west corner of the park Jöns Henriksson had a big sign made in capital letters. The letters were made of stones in two lines and eight to nine metres each. The text said: “CAROLUS XI MONARCHA SVECIAE” = “CHARLES XI MONARCH OF SWEDEN”. We can’t be sure, but it’s not unlikely that Johan Orrfeldt and his cavalry men had an influence on that decision. When I visited the park yesterday one could still see small pieces of remnants in the ground from those letters. Eva Grip who guided us showed us where to look. Before his death Jöns Henriksson had a sarcophagus made in his own honour and in which he was placed after his passing away in 1689. Soon after his death the park was abandoned and has been neglected through the centuries. Jöns Henriksson’s sarcophagus was destroyed in the 1800’s, but during the 20th century he was notified again and in the 1990’s they began restoring the Vicarage Park. We don’t know what this vicar looked like, but probably he had a beard. A few of his letters remain, pieces of his sarcophagus and a few comments about him from later local priests.

The Scanian population began realising that they now were Swedish, but the local patriotism has never died. Here in Malmoe we have a statue of Carl X Gustav on his horse in the middle of the Major Square and in the late 1990’s the debate was fierce in the local papers and other media if he should remain there since he also was an invader and killer of Scanians. His son Carl XI died at Stockholm Castle in 1699 and was replaced by his son in turn Carl XII.

In 1701 the Sallerup Cavalry was called out in the new war abroad to defend the borders of the Swedish super-power. Johan Orrfeldt fell at the battle of Kissow in 1702 and at Poltava in Ukraine in 1709 Zar Peter the Great of Russia defeated the Swedish army. The Swedish king Carl XII and some of his troups fled to the Turkish Sultan. The soldiers from Sallerup however were either killed or taken captive at Poltava. A small group of the Sallerup Cavalry under their new captain Olof Rudbeck returned to Eastern Sallerup in 1722 after 13 years of captivity in Siberia.

When the Swedish army was defeated at Poltava in 1709 the Danish king saw his chance. He had recently renewed his pact with Poland and Russia. In November 1709 the Danish troups marched into Western Skåne/Scania at Råå and put a siege at Helsingborg. General Magnus Stenbock, governor of Scania retaliated. A battle was fought on February 28th 1710 which the Danes lost. About 5000 Danish soldiers fell and 2000 were taken captive. This was the last Danish attempt to take Skåne back. Now it was part of Southern Sweden for sure. Since then many things have happened and the region flourished in many ways. Jöns Henriksson can’t have had an easy task in such a problematic era of violence, wars, civil wars, famine and new rules. I can understand why the sign has been put up on the church wall in his memory.

Anders Moberg, May 27th 2013


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