W. E. Colins



THE Scandinavian nations had entered somewhat late into the general stream of European history, and, at the beginning of the sixteenth century, were still not a little behind the rest of Western Europe in civilization. But they were early brought into contact with the Reformation movement, and nowhere were its effects more generally felt or more far-reaching. In order to see to what extent this was the case, some attention must be paid to their earlier history.

It was not till the tenth century that Denmark, Norway, and Sweden began to exist as single monarchies; and it was under their early Kings that Christianity, first introduced some time previously, came to be the religion of all their people. From this time forward, although they were frequently devastated and rent asunder by internal warfare, the three kingdoms may be said to have taken their part, each in its own way, in European history. The Swedes, pressed by their heathen neighbors to the north and north-east, were at first unable to make much headway. The Norwegians, fully occupied by their activities beyond the seas, in Iceland, in parts of Scotland and Ireland, and even in far-away Greenland, never acquired much strength at home. Denmark was usually the most powerful kingdom of the three. Under the Kings of the Estridsen line the Danes vindicated their independence of the Empire, and conquered large territories from the heathen Wends and Esthonians on the shores of the Baltic; in fact, there was a time, under Valdemar the Victorious (1204-41), when the Baltic was to all intents and purposes a Danish lake. But the capture and imprisonment of Valdemar by Count Henry of Schwerin gave a blow to their power from which it never recovered. The increasing influence of the Teutonic knights and the Livonian knights of the sword on the one hand, and the rapid advance of Sweden under its Folkung dynasty on the other, still further shattered it. The Danes were further hampered by the commercial and naval rivalry of the Hanseatic League, and by frequent border warfare with the duchy of Holstein. Altogether, it looked for a time as though Sweden must take the place of Denmark as the chief power of the north. But although the Swedes gradually extended their sway over Dalecarlia and Finland, their further extension was prevented by the advance of the Russians of Novgorod to the shores of the Gulf of Finland; and thus the peoples of the north were once more thrown back upon themselves.

After several unsuccessful attempts at dynastic union, the three kingdoms were at length united. In 1363 Valdemar III (Atterdag) of Denmark had given his daughter Margaret in marriage to Hakon of Norway. On his death in 1375 Margaret’s son Olaf became King of Denmark. Five years later, on the death of his own father, Olaf succeeded to the crown of Norway; and Margaret became the real ruler of both realms in the name of her son. About the same time she laid claim to the crown of Sweden in right of her late husband Hakon; and, although the claim was at first very shadowy, it became formidable when the Swedish nobles espoused her cause. The King, Albert of Mecklenburg, was defeated and made prisoner at the battle of Falköping; and the Treaty of Lindholm (1393) left her undisputed mistress of Sweden. Thus the three realms were united under Queen Margaret, for her son Olaf had died in 1387. The personal union before long became a constitutional one. In 1397 Margaret caused her grand-nephew Erik to be crowned King at Kalmar; and on that occasion there was concluded, by nobles representing the three kingdoms, the famous Union of Kalmar, by which Sweden, Norway, and Denmark were declared to be forever united under one King, each retaining its own laws and customs. But the Union was not regularly promulgated or made widely known, its terms were vague and indefinite, and they opened up more questions than they solved. It was provided that a son of the reigning King should be chosen if possible; but nothing was said as to the method by which the three kingdoms were to participate in the election. It was provided that all should take up arms against the general enemy but no reference was made to the carrying out of projects which concerned one of the three only. It is plain that nothing but pressing common interests or a strong ruler could render such an agreement permanent, and this was precisely what was wanting. On the one hand, Erik and his successors really ruled in the interests of Denmark; on the other, the condition of Sweden, practically one of anarchy, made any settled government well-nigh impossible. Revolts were of frequent occurrence, and before long the Danish governors were driven out, and Karl Knudson, the leader of the higher nobility, became administrator of Sweden. On the accession of the House of Oldenburg to the throne of Denmark in 1448, Karl Knudson was proclaimed King of Sweden, and soon afterwards of Norway also. Christian I soon regained his hold over the latter realm; but from this time forward the Danish Kings were seldom able to make good their claims over Sweden, which continued to be ruled by Swedish administrators until 1520, when the death of Sten Sture the younger placed Sweden for the moment entirely in the hands of Christian II of Denmark. On the other hand, the Oldenburg line had gained ground elsewhere. In 1460 Christian I was chosen as Duke of Schleswig and Count of Holstein. But the great revolt of the Ditmarsch peasants, ending in the destruction of the Danish army, with two Counts of Oldenburg and the flower of the Schleswig-Holstein nobility, in 1500, further weakened the Danish throne, and indirectly helped to break up the Union of Kalmar.

The general effect of the changes which had taken place in the Scandinavian kingdom since the twelfth century had been to strengthen the power of the nobles at the expense of the King and the bonder or free peasants. Neither in Denmark nor in Sweden was there a law of heredity; and every election was secured at the cost of a capitulation which involved a certain weakening of the royal prerogative. In order to obviate the evils of a disputed succession, the Kings frequently attempted to secure an election in their own lifetime and left large appanages to their younger sons : with the result that the effort to transform these personal fiefs into hereditary possessions often led to civil wars, and still further weakened the Crown. Under pressure from the nobles the royal castles were step by step demolished everywhere, and the royal domain was gradually encroached upon. The Rigsraad, or Council of State, consisting entirely of the nobles and the higher clergy, altogether supplanted the ancient assemblies of the people as the final legislative authority. In Sweden King Albert (Count of Mecklenburg) was little more than the President of this Council. Even in Denmark things were not much better; and they did not improve. Under the Oldenburg Kings the Court was German rather than Danish, and its influence was none the greater on that account. Nor, owing to the privileges of the Hanseatic’ towns, was there a great merchant class, to act as a counterpoise to the nobles. And as for the fonder, formerly the most important class of all, their condition was pitiable indeed. By degrees their rights were encroached upon, till, from free and noble-born small proprietors, they became mere peasants. In Denmark they were at length compelled to have recourse to the practice of commendation, which ended, in the latter part of the fifteenth century, in a widespread system of serfage.

The power of the clergy had grown pari passu with that of the nobles. Down to the twelfth century, indeed, the Scandinavian Bishops were only suffragans of the see of Bremen. It was not till 1104 that the see of Lund, in the Danish province of Skaane, was raised to metropolitical rank, with jurisdiction over all the bishoprics of the three kingdoms and it was only in 1152 that the famous mission took place of the Cardinal of Albano, Nicholas Breakspeare (afterwards Pope Adrian IV), which gave to the northern Churches their permanent character. Under his guidance Nidaros (Trondhjem) was made the metropolitical see of Norway, and soon afterwards Upsala was raised to a similar position in Sweden; the payment of Roma skat was introduced, and the ecclesiastical system of the northern nations was remodeled on the lines which prevailed at the time in other parts of Western Christendom; though it was not till 1250 that a papal Bull took the choice of the Bishops from the people and gave it to the Chapters. From this time forward the power and the riches of the clergy had rapidly increased. They held large fiefs in all three countries; it is said that more than half of Denmark was in the hands of the Bishops, and Copenhagen itself was built on a fief of the Bishop of Roskilde. Their possessions, like those of the nobles, were exempt from taxation, nor were they liable to the same restrictions with regard to trade as the people at large. With some conspicuous exceptions, they were not less opposed to the Kings than were the nobles; quarrels respecting clerical immunities were frequent, and they generally ended in the infliction of ecclesiastical censures, followed by the surrender of the King at discretion and the payment of an indemnity. As a rule, the higher clergy had been trained abroad, and were not less foreign in feeling and sympathies than the Court itself. Owing partly to difficulties in securing confirmation at Rome, partly to the exaggerated importance that was attached to their civil and constitutional functions, Bishops elect frequently remained unconsecrated for years, their spiritual functions being carried out by others. Naturally, abuses were far from uncommon amongst them, and there was not much love lost between them and the people at large. Indeed the success of the Reformation, both in Denmark and in Sweden, was largely due to the fact that it put an end to the power of the clergy and despoiled them of their possessions.





The accession of Christian II in 1513 marks the beginning of a new era. A man of great natural gifts but violent passions, his father had given him an education which at once developed his love for the people and his self-love, and at the same time made him one of the most learned monarchs of the day. He was sent to Norway to put down a rebellion in 1502, and as regent there he received his apprenticeship in government during a series of turbulent years. His marriage in 1515 with Isabella, sister of the future Emperor Charles V, obtained for him an influence in Europe such as for centuries no other King of Denmark had enjoyed. But he was cruel and treacherous, both by nature and of deliberate policy. These characteristics had already shown themselves in Norway : they were present throughout his reign, and after ten years they helped to drive him from his beloved Denmark. Thus, although he introduced many notable changes, he himself was overthrown by the reaction to which they gave rise; and they were only carried out in their entirety by others after his downfall.

Christian had himself reconquered Norway for his father : at his own accession he found Sweden practically independent. On the death of the administrator Svante Sture in 1512 the Rigsraad had chosen the old Erik Trolle in his place and had decided in favor of union with Denmark. But a popular party led by Hemming Gadd, the Bishop of Linköping, had risen against him and set up Sten Sture the younger in his stead, who, being a wise and statesmanlike leader, soon obtained the upper hand. There was still a strong party opposed to him however, under the leadership of Gustaf, the son of Erik Trolle and Archbishop of Upsala. In the course of the civil war which followed Gustaf was besieged in his castle of Staekeborg near Stockholm. He at once appealed to the Danes for help; and his assailants were excommunicated by Archbishop Berger of Lund, by virtue of the authority which he claimed as Primate of Scandinavia. Thereupon Sten Sture and the Rigsraad resolved that Trolle should be no longer recognized as Archbishop, and that he should be imprisoned and his castle razed to the ground. Gustaf at once appealed to Pope Leo X, who approved the excommunication of Sten Sture and called upon Christian to enforce it. From 1517 onwards, therefore, Christian was endeavoring by negotiation or otherwise to take possession of Sweden. At first he had little success, excepting that in 1518, after an attack on Stockholm which failed of its object, he suggested an interview with Sten Sture, demanded hostages for his own safety, and then carried them off to Denmark, Bishop Gadd and a young man named Gustaf Eriksson among them. In the following year he returned to Sweden with a large army of mercenaries. On January 18,1520, Sten Sture was defeated in a battle fought on the ice on Lake Âsunden and so severely wounded that he died some weeks after. A second battle before Upsala left all Sweden in Gustaf’s hands except Stockholm, which was valiantly defended by Sten Sture’s widow, Christina Gyllenstjerna; and the promise of a general amnesty made in Christian’s name by his general, Otte Krumpen, together with the persuasions of Gadd, who had gone over to the King’s side, at length prevailed upon her to open the gates. Christian entered Stockholm, and was crowned King of Sweden on Sunday, November 4, 1520.

The Stockholm Bath of Blood. [1520

The event that followed is the blackest in Christian’s life. On the Wednesday, during the coronation festivities, the Swedish magnates and the authorities of Stockholm were suddenly summoned into the citadel. Then Diederik Slaghök, a Westphalian follower of the King’s, and Jens Andersen, surnamed Beldenak, the Bishop of Odense, stood forth in the name of Gustaf Trolle and demanded reparation for the wrongs which, as they alleged, had been inflicted on him. Christian at once called for the names of those who had signed the act of deposition and committed them to prison; the only exceptions being Bishop Brask of Linköping, who had signed under protest, and another Bishop who now joined himself with Trolle as accuser. The following day, November 8, at nine o'clock, they were brought before a Court of twelve ecclesiastics, one of whom was Trolle, who thus became a judge in his own cause. The single question was put to them by Beldenak, whether men who had raised their hands against the Pope and the Holy Roman Church were not heretics? They could give but one answer. Thereupon they were told that they had condemned themselves, and were declared guilty of notorious heresy. On the very same day, at noon, they were brought forth into the market-place and there beheaded one by one before the eyes of the citizens. The Bishops of Strängnäs and Skara were the first to suffer; they were followed by the rest of the signatories, amongst whom was the father of Gustaf Eriksson, afterwards King of Sweden; and these by others of the principal nobles and citizens, who showed their sympathy too plainly, until the square ran with blood. A spectator counted more than ninety corpses before the day was done; and the ghastly work was not confined to one time or place. The bodies lay where they had fallen for three days, after which they were conveyed outside the town and burnt; the bodies of Sten Sture and of his young son, born since his excommunication, being exhumed and thrown upon the pyre. It was hoped that this terrible deed, which is known as the Stockholm bath of blood (Stockholms Blodbad), had secured Sweden to the Danes; as a matter of fact, as it has been said, the Union of Kalmar was drowned in it for ever. Fierce revolts broke out everywhere, and before long Sweden was independent under its own King Gustavus.

Christian was a more successful ruler at home than he had been in Sweden. He was well aware of the evils under which Denmark was groaning, and was resolved to provide a remedy. As the price of his election to the Crown he had been compelled to accept not only the conditions which had bound his father, but others even more onerous. One of these gave the judicial power entirely into the hands of the magnates; another nullified the royal right of conferring nobility; the last of all provided that if he broke his agreement in any particular, “then shall all the inhabitants of the kingdom faithfully resist the same without loss of honor and without in any wise by so doing breaking their oath of fealty to us”. But from the first Christian treated his capitulation as a dead letter, and endeavored in every way to increase the power of the burghers and the peasants. Himself brought up in the household of a burgher, Hans Metzenheim, surnamed Bogbinder, he surrounded himself with advisers of ignoble and often of foreign birth: Sigbrit, the mother of his beautiful Dutch mistress Dyveke, Diederik Slaghök, who has been mentioned already, a Malmö merchant named Hans Mikkelsen, and many more. Mother Sigbrit, as she was called, a woman of great capacity, was his chief counsellor in all fiscal and commercial matters. By her advice he disregarded the Rigsraad altogether, subjected the higher orders to taxation, and violated all their most cherished privileges. Nor was it otherwise with the clergy, who soon found that in him they had a master. He levied from them by arbitrary and lawless methods the money which he really needed, but could not obtain in any legal way; Beldenak in particular was fleeced unmercifully. Meanwhile he skillfully availed himself of the jealousy between them and the nobles, who could not forget that many of them, including Archbishop Berger and Bishop Beldenak, were not nobly born, in order to overturn the power of both. For the time it seemed as if he had succeeded; and two great collections of laws, the so-called Secular and Ecclesiastical Code, which he put forth in 1521 and 1522 on his own authority, without submitting them to the Rigsraad, might seem to have marked the downfall of the aristocratic power. But in little more than a year they had been publicly burned and their author was a fugitive.

But Christian’s work was not merely destructive. The people at large found in him a careful and wise ruler, who scrutinized every detail of civil life and government and was never weary of working for their good. His reforms of municipal government were at once elaborate and rigorous. He built great ships and put down piracy; he made wise treaties with foreign Powers. He extended commercial privileges to his burghers, and restricted those of the Hanseatic towns, endeavoring to make Copenhagen the centre of the Baltic trade; and with this object in view he encouraged Dutch merchants to found houses there, and extended a warm welcome to the rich banking-house of the Fuggers. He brought Flemish gardeners to Denmark in order that they might teach his people horticulture, and established them in the little island of Amager, where their descendants are to this day. He abolished the old “strand rights” and rights of wreck, and decreed that all possible assistance should be given to ships in peril and to shipwrecked mariners; and when the Jutland Bishops remonstrated with him, saying that there was nothing in the Bible against wrecking, Christian answered, “Let the lord-prelates go back and study the eighth commandment”. He caused uniform weights and measures to be used throughout his dominions; he took steps for the improvement of the public roads, and made the first attempt at the creation of a postal system. He abolished the worst evils of serfage, and made provision for the punishment of cruel masters. His laws on behalf of morals and of public order are enlightened and wise; he abolished the death penalty for witchcraft; he founded a system for the relief of the sick. He did his utmost for the encouragement of learning. The University of Copenhagen, authorized by Pope Martin V in 1419, actually founded by Christian I in 1478 with three professors only, of law, theology, and medicine, first became important under Christian II. He founded a Carmelite House in Copenhagen, which was to maintain a graduate in divinity who should lecture daily in the University; and the famous Paul Eliae or Eliaesen (Povel Helgesen), a student of Erasmus’ writings and of Luther’s earlier works, and an earnest seeker after Catholic reform, who has been not inaptly styled the Colet of Denmark, came from Elsinore to be the first head lecturer. Christian directed that schools should be opened for the poor throughout his dominions; he exerted himself to provide better school-books; he actually went so far as to enact that education should be compulsory for the burghers of Copenhagen and all the other large towns of Denmark.

Meanwhile Christian had been turning his attention to matters strictly ecclesiastical. Here too it cannot be said that he was anything but an opportunist, and it would be superfluous to credit him with any very pronounced convictions in favor of the Reformed doctrines; but there is no reason to doubt the earnestness with which he set to work to correct practical abuses. As early as 1517 there had come to Denmark a papal envoy named Giovanni Angelo Arcimboldo, afterwards Archbishop of Milan, with a commission to sell Indulgences, the right to act under which he purchased from the King for 1100 gulden. It was just at the time when Christian was engaged in negotiations with Sweden; and he resolved to make use of Arcimboldo as an intermediary. Soon however he discovered that the envoy, apparently in pursuance of secret instructions from the Pope, was negotiating independently with Sten Sture. Arcimboldo managed to escape to Lübeck with part of his booty; but the King at once gave orders for the seizure of what was left, and found himself in possession of a rich harvest in money and in kind. That this action did not involve any breach with the existing ecclesiastical system is plain from the fact that the victims of the terrible “Stockholm bath of blood” were put to death by Christian, not as traitors to the King, but as rebels against the Holy See.

But he had already gone further than this. In 1519 he wrote to his maternal uncle, Frederick of Saxony, begging him to send to the University of Copenhagen a theologian of the school of Luther and Carlstadt. Frederick sent Martin Reinhard, who arrived at Copenhagen late in 1520, and began preaching in the church of St Nicholas. But Reinhard unfortunately knew no Danish, and his sermons had to be interpreted, it is said by Paul Eliaesen. The effect was not happy : the sermons lost much of their force, and the preacher’s gestures, divorced from his words, seemed grotesque and meaningless. At the next carnival the canons of St Mary’s took advantage of the fact by dressing up a child and setting him to imitate the preacher. What was more serious, Paul began to find that he had no sympathy with Luther’s developed position. Mocked by the people and bereft of his interpreter, Reinhard was sent back to Germany. Christian now endeavored to attract Luther himself; and, although this proved impossible, Carlstadt came for a short visit. But the Edict of Worms (May, 1521), which placed Luther and his followers under the ban of the Empire, was a hint too significant to be neglected, and for a time no more is heard of foreign preachers in Copenhagen.

Within Denmark itself, however, things were not standing still; and Christian’s codes of laws, already referred to, were full of bold provisions for ecclesiastical reform. The monasteries were again subjected to episcopal visitation. Clerical non-residence, which, partly owing to local difficulties, was commoner in Norway and Denmark than elsewhere, was stringently forbidden. To make an end of the ignorant “priest-readers” of whom the Danish Church was full, no candidate for holy Orders was to be ordained unless he had studied at the University and had shown that he understood and could explain “the Holy Gospel and Epistle” in Danish. The clergy were not to acquire landed property or to receive inheritances, “at least unless they will follow the precept of St Paul, who in his First Epistle to Timothy counsels them to be the husband of one wife, and will live in the holy state of matrimony as their ancestors did”. The state which the Bishops were accustomed to keep up was forbidden : in journeying “they shall ride or travel in their litters, that the people may know them from other doctors; but they shall not be preceded by fife and drum to the mockery of holy Church”. The spiritual Courts were no longer to have cognizance of questions of property. Most radical change of all, a new supreme tribunal was to be set up at Roskilde, by royal authority alone, consisting of “four doctors or masters well learned in ecclesiastical and imperial law”, the decisions of which, as well ecclesiastical as civil, were to be final, the appeal to the Pope being abolished.

But Christian’s new code never came into operation. His position was already one of great difficulty, and the toils were fast closing round him. He was in bad odour at Rome, partly on account of his attempted reforms, partly because of the three Bishops whom he had slain in Sweden; for Hemming Gadd had been put to death not long after the massacre of Stockholm, in spite of his loyalty to the King. This last matter was arranged without much difficulty. The Nuncio Giovanni Francesco di Potenza, whom Leo X had sent to Denmark, declared Christian innocent and found a scapegoat in Diederik Slaghök, now Archbishop elect of Lund. For this and other crimes he was condemned to death, and burnt on January 22, 1522. But there were other difficulties which could not be met in this way. The citizens of Lübeck had declared war, and were soon devastating Bornholm and threatening Copenhagen. Christian was embroiled in a hopeless contest in Sweden. He had offended his father’s brother, Frederick of Schleswig-Holstein, by obtaining the investiture of the duchy at the hands of Charles V, which he now abandoned by the Treaty of Bordesholm (August). And now, when everything was against him abroad, the seething discontent at home came to a head. Late in 1522 the nobles of Sjaelland broke out in open rebellion. To meet this, Christian gathered together an army of peasants, and summoned a council of nobles (Herredag) to meet at Kallundborg. The nobles and bishops from Jutland failed to put in an appearance, alleging that the wind and time of year made it impossible. Thereupon he summoned them and the representatives of the commons to meet in a national assembly (Riksdag) at Aarhuus.

But it was too late: the Jutlanders had already assembled at Viborg, renounced their allegiance to him, and proclaimed Frederick King, putting forth at the same time a statement of grievances (March, 1523). A letter in which they communicated the news to Christian reached him early in the following month. The case was far from desperate. Norway had not declared against him; most of the islands were still his, and many of the chief citadels; the peasants were devoted to him, and so were many excellent leaders, chief amongst them being the brave Admiral Sören Norby. But Christian had lost heart. Every day some renounced their allegiance, and an alliance which Frederick had contracted with Sweden and Lübeck filled him with alarm. On April 13 he left his capital and embarked for Flanders with his young Queen and his three little children, and spent the next nine years in exile, often under great hardships. He continued vigorously to dispute Frederick’s throne, but without success, in spite of the fact that he invoked the aid of his powerful brother-in-law, and at length, late in 1529, was formally reconciled to the Roman communion. Two years later he desired to enter into communication with Frederick, and gave himself into the hands of his uncle’s commander, Knud Gyldenstierne, on a safe-conduct. But in spite of this he was thrown into the dungeons of Sönderborg, where he remained for seventeen years, part of the time with no companion but a half-witted Norwegian dwarf; and he only left Sönderborg for a less rigorous captivity elsewhere, which endured till his death in 1559.

Frederick’s new position was no happy one. For years his dominions were torn asunder by civil war; and Christian was still recognized as the lawful King by the Pope, the Emperor, and the Lutherans. The new King owed everything to those who had elected him, and concession was naturally the order of the day. To Norway he granted that henceforward it should be a free elective monarchy, as Denmark and Sweden were. To the nobles he made even greater concessions than Christian II had made at his coronation, promising amongst other things that none but noble-born Danes should be appointed to bishoprics in future; whilst as regards the Church he bound himself “not to permit any heretic, Luther's disciple or any other, to preach or teach, either openly or publicly, against the holy faith, against the most holy father the Pope or the Church of Rome”. This last promise was more than once repeated subsequently, in return for subsidies granted by the clergy; but both parties must soon have come to realize that a change was coming whether they would or no. And although the actual settlement did not take place till after his death, the reign of Frederick I saw the real overthrow of the Church in Denmark.

1522-6] Paul Eliaesen and his followers.

Although the causes which brought this about were political rather than religious, they were not entirely so, and there were already not a few in Denmark who were propagating the new doctrines. Paul Eliaesen had indeed found himself unable to go the whole length with the Lutherans, and before long received from them the nickname of Paul Turncoat (Vendekaabe) for his alleged instability. But Paul was neither a coward nor a renegade : he is almost the only representative in the north of that class of earnest and enlightened men who desired reform, both practical and doctrinal, without any general loosening of the ecclesiastical system. It is true that after Christian II turned him out of his lectureship in 1522 a rich canonry was founded for him by Bishop Lage Urne of Roskilde, the duties of which were to teach in the University and preach to the people. But he had lost his former office in consequence of a bold public denunciation of the King’s cruelty; and he was not more flexible in the hands of Frederick I in 1526, when that monarch tried to make him a Lutheran propagandist. Yet, although he refused to throw in his lot with the extremists, and became more decided in his opposition to them as their action became more decided, he never ceased to inveigh against the corruptions of the old order. He translated selected tracts by Luther into Danish, and asserted many of his earlier theses, even whilst he condemned that teacher's later actions; and his last effort at peace-making, his Christian Reconciliation and Accord, written about 1534, is an earnest plea for peace on the basis of the historic system of the Church, with the services in Danish, communion in both kinds, marriage of the clergy and the like.

But although Paul could go no further than this, there were many of his disciples who went much farther. Chief amongst them was Hans Tausen, known as the “Danish Luther”. The son of a peasant of Fyen (b. 1494) he had joined the Johannite priory of Antvorskov, where his abilities soon won recognition and he was sent abroad. After studying and lecturing at Rostock he was nominated professor of theology at Copenhagen; but his Prior, willing to see him still better equipped, sent him abroad again, and he now studied at Cologne and Louvain. Thence he passed to Wittenberg (1523), where he was listening to Luther’s teaching with avidity when the alarmed Prior summoned him home in 1524 and imprisoned him. After a time he was transferred to the Johannite house at Viborg, in order that the Prior there, the learned Peder Jensen, might show him the error of his ways. He soon won Jensen’s confidence, and was permitted to preach to the people after vespers. His preaching created a great sensation, but soon caused the prior to admonish and warn him; so one day, at the end of his sermon, Tausen threw himself upon the protection of his hearers, left the monastery, and took up his abode in the house of one of the chief citizens.

Here he was joined by Jörgen Sadolin, who had studied with him under Luther, and whose sister he presently married; and the two continued their irregular preaching under the eye, and in spite of the prohibition of, the Bishop, Jörgen Friis. The same kind of thing was going on at Malmö, where under the protection of the Burgomaster, Jörgen Kok “the moneyer”, one Klaus Mortensen the cooper had begun preaching in the open air, until the people rose and insisted that one of the churches should be placed at their disposal. And the movement was spreading elsewhere. In 1524 there was printed a Danish version of the New Testament, which is commonly attributed to Hans Mikkelsen, formerly Burgomaster of Malmö, now a fugitive with the dethroned King, and which may be in part his work. It was imported into Denmark in very large quantities, and was largely read by the people in spite of episcopal prohibition, until its place was taken five years later by a far better version. This was the work of the gentle Christian Pedersen, known as the father of Danish literature. He had been a canon of Lund, but followed Christian II into exile, and became a convinced Lutheran; he returned to Denmark in 1531, and spent the rest of his life, till his death in 1554, in literary work for the cause of the Reform.

Such was the state of religion in Denmark when the struggle began which led to the overthrow of the Danish Church. In May, 1525, the nobles complained to Frederick I that the see of Lund had been over-long vacant : they pointed out that the Archbishop of Lund was “the gate and bulwark between Denmark and Sweden, as the Duke of Schleswig is between Denmark and Germany”, and begged the King “no longer to allow that the Church in this land should be thus dealt with”. The circumstances were peculiar. On the death of Archbishop Berger in 1519, the Chapter had elected their Dean, Aage Sparre; the King had nominated Jörgen Skodborg; and Leo X, to the great indignation of the Danes, tried to appoint a young Italian by provision. All three were set aside, and Diederik Slaghök was elected instead; but after his death there was a deadlock. Frederick now attempted to put an end to this by negotiation with the Pope. At first he seemed to have succeeded; Clement VII apparently accepted the nomination of Skodborg, and confirmed it. But what had happened in reality was that Skodborg had been induced to buy out his Italian rival, and by so doing had recognized his claim. Frederick was furious at finding that he had been tricked. On August 19, 1526, he published a rescript by which he repudiated the appointment of Skodborg and (with the consent of the Rigsraad) confirmed the election of Aage Sparre, saving however Skodbor’s right of appeal to the King and the Rigsraad. The accustomed fees for the confirmation were paid to the King instead of the Pope.

This momentous act had consequences greater, probably, than those who took part in it anticipated. The procedure in question was accepted at the Herredag at Odense in December, 1526, not without careful stipulations for the safeguarding of ecclesiastical liberties; and from this time forward no Danish Bishop sought papal confirmation. Another sees fell vacant they were filled in the same way, confirmation being given by the King; but in each case the Bishop elect remained unconsecrated, such purely episcopal functions as were required being performed by one or other of the retired Bishops or those who, like the Bishop of Greenland, had never proceeded to their dioceses. Meanwhile Frederick was rapidly carried in the direction of further change. His son Christian, Duke of Schleswig, was already a convinced Lutheran; and in 1525 Albert of Brandenburg, the head of the Teutonic Order, renounced Catholicism and as Duke of Prussia became a suitor for the hand of Christian’s daughter. The prospect of a strong Protestant alliance finally decided the question. Frederick, who had already shown Lutheran inclinations, from this time forward did his utmost to propagate the new views throughout his dominions. Naturally, not a few of his courtiers went with him; and in particular Mogens Gjoe, the high steward of Denmark, became an ardent Reformer.

His son Christian had already shown the way in Schleswig and Holstein. A Lutheran preacher named Hermann Tast had been working at Husum since 1522, and under his influence and that of other German preachers whom Christian had brought in as his chaplains, the new views were spreading everywhere. Early in 1526 Christian attacked Bishop Munk of Ribe, telling him that he ought to provide his diocese with married priests who could preach the Gospel. The Bishop temperately replied that the Gospel was already preached, and that, with regard to the marriage of the clergy, “when the Holy Church throughout Christendom adopts it, we will do the same”. From this time forward Christian took matters into his own hands, and drew up a new Lutheran order which he imposed on the duchies; four clergymen who would not accept it were deprived, and the Duke’s chaplains ordained others in their places. At Flensburg in 1529, after a disputation between Tast and the Anabaptist Melchior Hofmann, the doctrines of the Sacramentaries and Anabaptists were abjured; and the system was complete when Bugenhagen gave them a Lutheran “Bishop” in 1541, and the Danish ritual came into use in 1542. In Denmark Christian’s Reforming tendencies were the cause of his never being acknowledged by the Rigsraad as successor to the throne during his father's lifetime.

Frederick followed his son’s lead by nominating Tausen and others as his chaplains, thus at once exempting them from episcopal control and giving them protection. The plan was of course not unknown before, but it was so effective that it caused the Bishops no little alarm. At the Herredag of 1526 they remonstrated against any preacher being licensed excepting with their consent, and “in such wise that he preach God’s Word”. Frederick was discreetly silent on the former point, and answered as to the latter that he never commissioned them to preach anything else; so the practice went on unchecked. Soon it produced its effect in a widespread defection, which so alarmed the Bishops that they endeavored to secure the presence in Denmark of Eck or Cochlaeus, or some other champion of orthodoxy, in order that the doctrinal question might be thoroughly thrashed out. But this proved to be impossible, and they were thrown back on their own resources, and resolved to fight it out on the constitutional grounds with which alone they were familiar.

At the Herredag at Odense in August, 1527, they demanded that the people should be compelled to pay the tithes and other dues, which were now being refused on all sides. This was granted, in return for concessions to the nobles; as was also the claim that they should be supported in the exercise of Church discipline. But when they went on to protest against the propagation of the new doctrines and the protection of the preachers, Frederick replied that faith is free, and that each man must follow his conscience; that he was lord of men’s bodies and of their goods, but not of their souls; and that every man must so fashion himself in religion as he will answer for it to God at the Last Day. He would no longer issue letters of protection to preachers; but if anyone molested those who were preaching what was godly and Christian, he would both protect and punish. He further suggested that the religious question should be decided by a national assembly convoked for the purpose; but this suggestion was at once repudiated by nobles and Bishops alike. He managed however to estrange the nobles from the Bishops by supporting their attacks on ecclesiastical property; and thus the ecclesiastical movement went on vigorously. In some places the old order was overturned altogether; at Viborg for instance even the Cathedral came into the hands of the Lutherans in 1529, and at Copenhagen, whither the King had summoned Tausen, they soon had the upper hand. Meanwhile, the Bishops seemed incapable of taking the only measures that could have been of any use. Preaching was almost in abeyance on their side; and in many places there were services only two or three times a year, and large numbers of country benefices were left entirely vacant. In 1530 for instance the sixteen extensive parishes of the diocese of Aarhuus had only two priests between them.

In 1530 the contest advanced a stage further. Preparations were being made in Germany for the Diet of Augsburg, which, it was hoped, would put an end to the religious controversy; and it seemed to the Bishops that the same happy result might be looked for in Denmark, if the Lutheran leaders could be made to appear before the King and the magnates. Twenty-one of them were accordingly cited to appear at Copenhagen before the Herredag, the Bishops taking care also to secure the help of Paul Eliaesen and of two German theologians, one of whom was Dr Stageführ of Cologne. The session was opened, and several days were spent in accusations against the preachers as heretics. When the time came for his reply, Tausen suddenly produced a confession of faith in forty-three articles, which he and his fellows allotted among themselves and publicly defended day after day before great multitudes of excited people, in the Church of the Holy Spirit.

At first the Bishops only reminded the King of his oath to put down heresy; but finding that this had no effect either upon him or upon the assembly, they drew up twenty-seven articles against the preachers and asked that their opponents might be kept under restraint till the whole matter was decided. Tausen and his followers replied with an apologia, also in twenty-seven articles, in which they made a violent attack upon the whole Church system. But here the matter ended; the disputation which had been projected never took place because of a disagreement as to the language in which it was to be held. The Bishops asked that it should be in Latin, so that their German advocates might take part; the preachers insisted upon Danish, not only as the language best understood by the assembly, but because their whole appeal was to the common people. Naturally, the popular voice was on their side. There were loud outcries in Copenhagen against the Bishops and still more against the German doctors; and when Frederick dismissed the assembly, enjoining peace upon both parties, there could be no question that the Bishops had lost their case. They were disheartened in many ways: the ablest of their number, Lage Urne of Roskilde, was dead; Jörgen Friis of Viborg had been excommunicated, rather gratuitously, by the Pope; Beldenak had been deprived of his civil rights for disrespect to the Crown, and soon afterwards resigned; and his successor Knud Gyldenstierne, the same who brought the dethroned Christian to Copenhagen, had so far thrown in his lot with the Lutheran movement as to make Sadolin a kind of coadjutor in his diocese, where he translated Luther’s Shorter Catechism into Danish and issued it to the clergy to be used as a manual of instruction. On all hands the Lutherans were gaining ground. In some places there were iconoclastic outbreaks, though both now and throughout the period they were surprisingly few; and to this day many of the Danish churches contain their ancient altar-tables and reredoses, and the clergy wear the old copes. But everywhere the Reform progressed, until Elsinore was almost the only stronghold of Catholicism.

The Count’s War. [1533-4

At this point however there came a period of disorder, caused by the death of Frederick I at Gottorp in Schleswig. The effect of Frederick’s concessions to the nobles had been to divide the country into a series of semi-independent local governments; and nobles, Bishops, and people alike realized that they had everything to gain or to lose under the new King. Under these circumstances conflict was inevitable. No sooner had the Estates come together than the Bishops demanded that the religious question should be dealt with. This was distasteful to many of the lay nobles; but in return for concessions they gave way, and it was resolved that the old order should be in all respects upheld, saving for actual abuses, that the Mass should be restored wherever it had been abolished, and that nobody should preach without the consent of the Bishop. Thus all the innovations introduced since the Herredag of Odense in 1527 were swept away. The Estates next proceeded to the election of a successor to the Crown. The late King, Frederick I, had left two sons, Christian of Schleswig-Holstein and his half-brother Hans. Most of the nobles favored the former, whilst the Bishops placed all their hopes in the latter, who was a mere child and might still be kept from Lutheranism. Failing to come to an agreement, they resolved to postpone the election for a year; whereupon Mogens Gjoe and others left Denmark and endeavored to persuade Christian to claim the crown by force. This he refused to do. But his self-restraint was of little use, for within a year civil war had broken out. The towns, smarting under the curtailment of their privileges at the hands of the lay nobles and of their religious liberties at those of the Bishops, began to look back longingly to the days of King Christian II, and soon broke out in revolt. The Burgomasters of Copenhagen and Malmö, who were at the head of the movement, made common cause with the democracy of Lübeck, whose forces took the field under Count Christopher of Oldenburg in order to place the imprisoned Christian II once more on the throne. Such at least was the avowed object of the so-called Count’s War; but behind these were plans of another kind; for the people of Lübeck, under their determined leader Wullenwever and his admiral Meyer, had only thrown in their lot with the Danish towns in order to get Denmark into their own hands and so to restore the old supremacy of the Hanseatic League in the north.

Christopher directed his forces towards Zealand, and disembarked at Skovshoved on June 23, 1534. Copenhagen opened its gates to him, and Malmö soon drove out the garrison which had been placed there to overawe it; and before long the islands had all overthrown their oppressors, often with great ferocity, and proclaimed Christian II. Freedom of worship was at once restored. Bishop Roennov of Roskilde was deprived and his see given to the aged Gustaf Trolle, formerly of Upsala; and on Roennov offering a bribe of 10,000 marks in order to retain possession of the See, Trolle was transferred to Fyen, in the place of Gyldenstierne, who was likewise ejected. From the islands Christopher turned his attention to the mainland. One of his lieutenants was sent to Jutland, where the peasants quickly gathered round him. The nobles at once marched against them, but were routed in the outskirts of Aalborg; and thus the greater part of Jutland once more owned Christian II's sway. But the turning-point of the war was already come. In the face of so great dangers the Estates had sought an alliance with King Gustavus of Sweden, and another with Duke Christian of Schleswig-Holstein; by the terms of the latter, Christian was to unite with them against the common enemy, and differences were to be settled afterwards. He observed the terms loyally; but first the nobles of Jutland and then those of Fyen elected him their King; and at length, in an assembly held at Ry, near Skanderborg, the nobles and Bishops of the mainland united in proclaiming him.

Whether as ally or as King, everything depended upon him and his power. As Duke of Schleswig he made peace with Lübeck, thus becoming free to use his army elsewhere. Then he dispatched his best general, Hans Ranzau, against the peasants of Jutland, who shut themselves up in Aalborg. Ranzau took the town by assault, and crushed the rising in Jutland by putting the enemy to the sword, sparing none but women and children. Thence he passed into Fyen, and inflicted a crushing defeat upon the main body of Christopher’s army on the hill of Oxnebjerg, near Ässens, in which Gustaf Trolle was mortally wounded. Meanwhile, Gustavus had invaded Skaane and Jutland, where his mere presence was enough to restore heart to the nobles, who had only given in their allegiance to Count Christopher through necessity. The Danish admiral Peder Skram (‘Denmark's Adventurer’) attacked and defeated the great Lübeck fleet near Bornholm, thus regaining command of the sea; and Ranzau’s army being thereupon transported to Sjaelland, Copenhagen was invested by land and by sea. These disasters occasioned great disorders at Lübeck: Wullenwever and Meyer having in vain attempted to retrieve their fortunes by sending forth a new commander, Albert of Mecklenburg, were themselves removed from power, and Lübeck made its peace with Denmark. Gradually all resistance died away: Malmö opened its gates on April 2, 1536, Copenhagen surrendered at discretion on July 29, and on August 6 Christian III entered his capital in triumph. Soon after the victory of Ässens Norway had acknowledged his sway.

The accession of Christian, as the Bishops well knew, meant their downfall; and it was only actual necessity which had compelled them to accept him. Before the outbreak of the Count’s War it had seemed that their cause might yet triumph : Tausen himself had been proceeded against and silenced, their own authority was restored, they had even reopened communications with Rome, which had been met, however, with chilling reserve. Now, all was lost. Christian III was a determined foe of the old order and had long ago expressed his intention of uprooting it. Nor were they long kept in suspense. On August 11 Christian consulted with his commanders, who agreed that the Bishops should be “pinioned”. At four o'clock the following morning three of them were brought as prisoners into the castle. Four hours afterwards the King called together the lay members of the Rigsraad, and proposed that the Bishops should be deprived of their share in the government of the realm and that their possessions should be forfeited to the Crown. They not only consented willingly, but also voted that their spiritual power should no longer be recognized, unless it should be approved by a general council of the Danish Church; and the remaining Bishops were forthwith sought out and arrested. This vote of the Rigsraad was approved by a national assembly (Rigsdaag or Thing) at Copenhagen, in which however the nobles took the chief part, which solemnly declared, on October 30, 1536, that they wished to keep the holy Gospel and no longer to have Bishops, and that the goods of the Church ought to be given up to the Crown in order to lighten the taxation of the people. Thus fell the Danish Bishops, as the result partly of the jealousy roused in the nobles by their greed of temporal power, partly of the fanatical Lutheranism of Christian III. They were not badly treated. The Raad of August 12 had decided that they were to be set at liberty and adequately supported, on condition of their promising to remain quiet; Rönnov indeed continued in prison till his death in 1544, but the rest were set free, and two of them, Gyldenstierne and Ove Bilde, ultimately conformed to the new order.

Christian now turned to Luther for help; and as the services of Melanchthon were not obtainable, Jakob Bugenhagen, who had already organized the Reform in Pomerania, was sent in July, 1537, to accomplish the same work in Denmark. He was first called upon to crown Christian and his wife, by a usurpation of the ancient privilege of the Archbishops of Lund. Then the King nominated seven Superintendents, who were to take the place of the ancient Bishops, and who soon became known by their name. On September 12, Bugenhagen, himself no more than a presbyter, laid hands on them; and thus, by a deliberate innovation, the new Danish ministry was constituted. Of the persons chosen all were Danes, with the unfortunate exception of Wandel, a German who knew no Danish, and who had to be accompanied about his diocese by an interpreter. The most important of them was Peder Plade (Palladius), who had studied at Wittenberg, and became Bishop of Zealand, and the record of whose visitations gives us the most graphic picture that we possess of the internal life of the new Church. Tausen was so far discredited as to be for the time overlooked, though subsequently, on the death of Wandel, he became Bishop of Ribe.

On the same day (September 2) was published the new Church Ordinance, which had been prepared by the Danish theologians and approved by Luther. It was subsequently sanctioned by the Assembly of Odense in 1539, and became, with additions made at various later synods (1540-55), the fundamental law of the Danish Church. The Bishops were to have under them a number of provosts or deans rural; and both alike were to be chosen by delegates of the clergy, who in turn were chosen by the people or their representatives, saving the rights of the nobles in some places; all being finally subject to the King’s approval. These provisions, however, remained practically inoperative, so far as episcopal elections were concerned. In each diocese there were to be two diocesan officers who administered the confiscated Church property (or so much of it as had not fallen into the hands of the nobles) in the name of the King, and with the Bishops supervised the finances of the churches, hospitals, and schools, and confirmed the election of the lower clergy. These latter continued to hold their share of the tithe, to which the nobles still refused to contribute; the episcopal tithe, however, was confiscated and largely used for good works. The University, which had fallen into decay, was greatly enlarged; ecclesiastical revenues were applied to the support of men of merit and learning and the plans of Christian II with regard to education were at length carried out. A liturgy was compiled, and a new translation of the Bible from the original tongues was set on foot. For the rest, changes were made gradually, and there was at first little disorder. The Augsburg Confession was ultimately adopted with certain modifications, and Tausen’s Confession of 1530 was dropped; on the other hand, the Formula of Concord was never accepted by the Danish Church. The monastic houses and Cathedral Chapters were not at once abolished, though their members were free to depart. The Chapter of Roskilde was engaged in a formal disputation with Palladius and others as late as December, 1543; this and most of the other Chapters only ceased to exist as the canons died out; and the convent of women at Maribö was not suppressed till 1621. Unfortunately, in other respects a very different temper prevailed as time went on. In 1551 Christian was compelled to issue an edict forbidding the nobles to treat the children of ministers as serfs. The power and influence of the nobles were, however, considerably increased under his rule, the downfall of clerical authority contributing largely to this result. The adherents of the Roman communion were treated with no little severity; and the Pole John Laski, when he left England at the commencement of Queen Mary’s reign, found that there was no toleration in Denmark for such heretics as himself and his followers. Nevertheless, in spite of many drawbacks, the Reformation brought with it a distinct advance in civilization; and, when Christian III died on New Year’s Day, 1559, Denmark was in a more settled condition than it had been since the days of Queen Margaret, whilst trade and learning flourished as they had never done before.






The same thing could hardly be said with regard to the result of the changes in Norway and Iceland, where the ecclesiastical Order had been much less unpopular, and probably less in need of reform, than in Denmark. In fact, it cannot be said that in either case any popular movement for Reformation existed. As regards Norway, Frederick I had made the same promises to uphold the Church and to put down Lutherans which he had made in Denmark; and his change of opinion was followed by the same results in both countries. In 1528 there came to Bergen a Lutheran preacher named Antonius, who seems to have devoted himself mainly to the German residents. Next year he was followed by two others, Hermann Fresze and Jens Viborg, who bore royal letters of protection similar to those which had been given to Tausen, and perhaps one or two more in other places. Meanwhile a systematic spoliation began of the religious houses and churches in Bergen. In 1528 the Nonnesaeter cloister was secularized and given over as his residence to Vincent Lunge, the commander of the royal citadel (Bergenhus). Soon afterwards, the Dominican priory was destroyed by fire, apparently with the connivance of Lunge and the prior Jens Mortenssön, who are said to have divided the spoil; and the chapel royal was pillaged. But these were nothing compared with the outrageous proceedings of Eske Bilde, who replaced Lunge in 1529, and became known as the Kirkebryder, from his activity in destroying churches. About the citadel of Bergen stood a group of the richest and most venerable churches in Norway, together with the palace of the Archbishops of Trondhjem and the canons’ houses. On the pretext (for it seems to have been no more) that they interfered with the effective character of the fortress, Frederick ordered an attack to be made on these. One by one they were destroyed, and their treasures removed to Denmark; and at length, in May, 1531, the ancient cathedral itself was demolished. This was done in pursuance of a bargain made some three months before with the Bishop of Bergen, Olaf Thorkildssön, by which he was to receive in exchange for his palace and cathedral the great monastery of Munkeliv, formerly Benedictine, now Brigittine, on the further side of the harbor. These proceedings naturally gave courage to the disaffected; the Lutherans now seized upon the Church of St Cross whilst the German merchants intruded their minister Antonius in the Church of St Halvard, and another in the Maria Kirke.

Whether Archbishop Olaf Engelbrektssön of Trondhjem would have been able to do anything to stay the hand of the destroyer is perhaps doubtful, for his own diocese was not a little troubled by the same kind of thing; but as a matter of fact it was only when the work was complete that his suffragan of Bergen told him what was being done. Archbishop Olaf was already none too well disposed towards King Frederick. In 1523, whilst on his way to Rome to be consecrated, he had gone to Malines, where the exiled Christian II (who might still have claimed to be the legal King of Norway) then resided, and had sworn allegiance to him. On his way home the Archbishop had visited Copenhagen, and had done homage to Frederick I; nor does he seem to have flinched from his allegiance. But the spoliations in Norway now made him feel that the Church would be safer under Christian, or at any rate that they could get on better without Frederick. He was by no means the only man in Norway who held this view; and Christian himself was at this very time seeking an opportunity of invading Norway. Before long it came. The Bishops and the Danish nobles in Norway were summoned to a Herredag to meet in Copenhagen in June, 1531; the Archbishop, being provided with a good excuse in a great fire which devastated Trondhjem and almost destroyed the cathedral, remained behind. On November 5 Christian reached the Norwegian coast with a fleet of twenty-five ships and a considerable army, and the next day he issued a proclamation to the people of Norway in which he put himself forward as their deliverer, and summoned them to gather round him at Oslo. The Archbishop accepted and proclaimed him, as did the Bishops, but in a somewhat lukewarm fashion; and Christian dissipated his energies and wasted his opportunity to such an extent that the following year he was compelled to make overtures to his uncle, which, as we have seen, ended in his imprisonment. Frederick was far too wise to push matters to an extremity, and the Bishops were glad to purchase their safety by paying him fines; but two monasteries which had given help to Christian were secularized, and Knud Gyldenstierne carried off no small amount of Church plunder to Denmark.

The death of Frederick I and the wars which followed once more plunged Norway into disorder. The Archbishop was at the head of the Norwegian Council, and had he only known his own mind, it is possible that he might have chosen his own King, or even secured the independence of Norway. But he hesitated until Duke Christian had won his first victories, and then it was too late. In May, 1535, the Bishops of Oslo and Hamar, together with the chief nobles of the south, signed a manifesto by which they accepted Christian III as King, provided that he would promise to be faithful to the ancient laws of Norway; and they sent this to the Archbishop and the northern lords for their signature. By this time Olaf was beginning to recognize the fact that anything was better than a Lutheran King; and just then he received a letter from the Emperor urging him to support the claims of Frederick, the Count Palatine, who was about to marry the daughter of the imprisoned Christian II. He therefore temporized in the hope that matters might settle themselves. Soon, however, there came two emissaries of Duke Christian to Norway with instructions to press forward his cause, whereupon the members of his party decided to go northwards to Trondhjem. They arrived towards the end of December, 1585, and a Council was at once summoned, at which were present the Bishops, the chief Danish nobles in Norway, and a considerable number of the bönder of the northern provinces. Vincent Lunge, the chief adherent of Duke Christian, at once demanded that he should be elected King, and that Norway should forthwith pay skat to him. To this it was answered, reasonably enough, that no election could be complete until the person chosen should have promised to observe the laws and customs of Norway, and that not till then was skat due. The bonder now withdrew and held a hasty consultation with the Archbishop, from which, probably roused by his words, they rushed in fury to the house of Vincent Lunge and slew him. Some of the other leaders barely escaped with their lives, and these were at once arrested and imprisoned by Olaf. There followed a short and ill-judged attempt on the part of Olaf to get the upper hand in Norway; but his party was less strong than he had supposed, and before long practically the whole land was subject to Christian, and Olaf was seeking terms. Presently losing all hope, the Archbishop collected all the treasure upon which he could lay his hands, together with the archives of the kingdom, and set sail for the Netherlands on April 1, 1537. He died at Lierre, in Brabant, on March 7 of the following year.

Christian III and the Reformation. [1537-45

His departure left the way open for Christian III, who almost immediately took possession. He had already taken steps both to avenge himself and to put an end to what had long been a serious danger to his realm. By the third article of his capitulation, made in the Rigsdag at Copenhagen in October, 1536, he vowed that the kingdom of Norway should “hereafter be and remain under the Crown of Denmark, and not hereafter be or be called a separate kingdom, but a dependency of the kingdom of Denmark”. Thus Norway lost its ancient liberties at a stroke. After this, although the “Recess” on religion which had been put forth at the same time (ratifying the changes which had already been made) said nothing of Norway, it was inevitable that the Norwegian Church should fall after the example of her sister of Denmark. One by one the Bishops were turned out, with two exceptions. Hans Reff, the Bishop of Oslo, a man of easy convictions, soon succeeded in convincing the King of his conversion to Lutheranism, and was reinstated in charge not only of Oslo, but of Hamar, where he remained till his death in 1545. Gebel Pederssön, the Bishop elect of Bergen, a man of far nobler character, had become a convinced Lutheran: in 1537 he went to Denmark, where Bugenhagen laid hands on him, and returned to take charge as Bishop of Bergen and Stavanger. For the rest, little or none of the care which was taken in Denmark to supply teachers, preachers, and schools, was extended to Norway. The undermanning of the Bishoprics was typical of what went on elsewhere. In large numbers of country places the old clergy were left till they died; at their death their places were left unoccupied. The few Lutheran pastors who were sent to Norway were unacquainted with the ancient Norse language, which was still, to a large extent, used in country places. Their attempts to obtain possession of the tithes led to frequent disputes which often ended in bloodshed; and on the whole the Reformation caused as much harm to the social condition of the people in Norway, for half a century at any rate, as it did good in Denmark.

In ICELAND things were even worse. At first, indeed, there seemed to be hope of a conservative reformation; for Bishop Gisser Einarsen of Skalholt, who had been educated in Germany, began making changes on the lines of those in Denmark, though without overturning the ancient ministry; and an Icelandic version of the New Testament, printed in 1540, found plenty of readers. But when a formal attempt was made to introduce the Danish ecclesiastical system, there came a violent reaction. In 1548 Bishop Jon Aresen, of Holum, and Oegmund, the ex-Bishop of Skalholt, placed themselves at the head of what rapidly grew into a revolt against the Danish power. And although the former was taken prisoner in 1551 by David Gudmundarsen, and executed as a traitor, together with his two sons, his followers long strove to avenge his death. It was not till 1554 that they were put down, and the Reformation imposed by force on Iceland.






We now return to trace the fortunes of SWEDEN, where, as we have seen, the massacre of Stockholm had decided the fate of the Danish rule. But if the Swedish War of Independence was already inevitable, in its actual course it was the work of one man, the young Gustaf Eriksson, known to later ages as Gustavus Vasa from the fascine or sheaf (vasa) which was the badge of the family. Born in 1496 at Lindholm, he had studied from 1509 to 1514 at Upsala, after which he entered the service of the younger Sten Sture and fought under him against the Danes. Given as a hostage to Christian II in 1518 and carried away treacherously to Denmark, he had broken his parole in September of the following year and made his way to Lübeck, whence after some months he was allowed to proceed to Sweden, and landed near Kalmar on May 31, 1519. He spent the summer as a fugitive in the south, till the news of the massacre reached him and he fled to his own remote province of Dalecarlia. Here, after enduring many hardships and having many narrow escapes, he found himself early in 1521 at the head of a sufficient force of dalesmen to raise the standard of revolt. From this time forward it was never lowered until the whole country was in his hands and the Danes had been driven out. The first success of the insurgents was the capture of the town, though not of the citadel, of Västeräs. Upsala fell not long afterwards, and within little more than a year most of the Danish garrisons had been invested. Thanks to the undisciplined character of his troops two attacks upon Stockholm failed; and the same thing occurred elsewhere. But Christian’s own throne was insecure; and when once the power of Denmark was divided it could only be a question of time. On June 20, 1523, Gustavus entered Stockholm, and by July 7 the last Danish garrison in Sweden, that of Kalmar, had capitulated. Meanwhile Gustavus was no longer merely the leader of a band of insurgents. On July 14,1522, he was able to issue a proclamation as the recognized commander of five provinces. An assembly at Vadstena on August 24 is said to have offered him the crown, which he refused, accepting however the office of Administrator, and adding that it would be time enough to choose a King when they had driven the foe out of the land. A general diet, so-called, met at Strängnäs on May 27, 1523. It is not clear whether the few magnates who still survived were summoned, but the diet nominated a new Riksrad, and then, on June 7 proceeded to elect Gustavus as King of Sweden.

The new King’s position was no easy one. Although he had been duly elected he had little power; the peasants who were his strongest supporters were impatient of control, and the older nobles looked on him with jealousy, and almost with contempt. Sweden was so devastated by the war as to be practically bankrupt; the fields lay fallow, the mines were unworked, and many of the cities, Stockholm in particular, were desolated. The Swedish possessions in Finland were still in the enemy’s hands; and the only ally of the Swedes, the city of Lübeck, had helped them in pursuance of its own schemes of aggrandizement, and was now claiming large sums of money in return for advances made and aid given during the course of the struggle. To appease them, the diet of Strängnäs had granted to Lübeck, Danzig, and their allies a monopoly of Swedish commerce; but ambassadors still followed Gustavus wherever he went, and urged the speedy payment of the account. To eke out the scarcity of money, Gustavus, like most of the kings of his day and to an even greater extent, had adopted the plan of debasing the coinage; but the effect was to inspire distrust, and before long he was compelled to circulate his Klippings at a greatly depreciated rate.

He was at the end of his resources, and the only remedy seemed to be to turn to the Church, which was still as wealthy as ever. The Bishops as a whole were not unfriendly. Johan Brask, Bishop of Linköping, an astute and far-seeing patriot, had early thrown in his lot on the winning side with Gustavus; the Danish Bishops of Strängnäs and Skara had been replaced by Bishops elect who were favorable to him, and the vacant sees of Västeräs, Abo, and Upsala (from the last-named of which Gustaf Trolle had fled) were likely to be filled in the same way. Moreover, Gustavus himself was just then in good odor in Rome. He had indeed been accused of heresy by Christian II in 1521; and his sojourn at and alliance with Lübeck lent color to the charge. But his cause found a staunch defender in the famous Joannes Magni (Johan Magnusson), a Swedish scholar and canon of Linköping who had lived away from his country for seventeen years without losing any of his interest in its affairs. He had studied at Louvain under Adrian of Utrecht, a man very likeminded with himself; and in 1522 his old master, now Pope Adrian VI, sent him as Legate to Sweden. He arrived whilst the Diet of Strängnäs was in session, was warmly welcomed, and in turn spoke very warmly with regard to Gustavus, and seemed to look favorably on his plans for restoring efficiency to the Church. So much pleased with him was the new Riksrad that it addressed a letter to the Pope begging that he and the Bishops might be empowered to set to work at once. To this request no answer was ever made, but soon afterwards the Canons of Upsala chose Joannes to be their Archbishop.

Under these circumstances Gustavus, after having already in 1522 claimed an aid from the clergy, made in 1523 an urgent demand for money upon Bishop Brask, and issued a proclamation calling upon all the monasteries and churches to send him, as a loan, such church vessels and such money as could be spared, the amount which each diocese or monastery was expected to provide being stated in a schedule. The result was not satisfactory. The demands of the Lübeck ambassadors were indeed met, but the forced loan caused no little irritation in Sweden, and gave mortal offence at Rome. A letter from Adrian VI was presently received, saying nothing about the confirmation of the Bishops elect for which Gustavus had asked, and insisting on the restoration of Archbishop Trolle. The King wrote back in no measured terms, refusing to restore him; and in November 2, 1528, in demanding confirmation for the Bishop elect of Âbo, he threatened that if it was refused they would do without it, and that he himself would carry out the reformation of the Church. “Let not your Holiness imagine”, he concludes, “that we shall allow foreigners to rule the Church in Sweden”. These were plain words, and they appear to have had some effect. Early in 1524 the new Pope granted confirmation to Peter Magnusson, the Legate’s brother, Bishop elect of Västeräs (in place of the former elect Peter Jakobsson or Sunnenvaeder, removed for disloyalty); and thus on Rogation Day there was consecrated, in Rome, the Bishop from whom the whole of the later Swedish episcopate derived its succession.

Meanwhile Gustavus’ position was not growing easier. Soon after his accession a war for the recovery of Finland had greatly taxed his resources. This was followed by an expedition against the ‘robbers’ stronghold’ of Sören Norby in the island of Gottland, which was rendered difficult by the ill-concealed jealousy of Denmark and Lübeck, and became a positive danger when Bernhard von Mehlen, the German knight to whom Gustavus had given the command of the expedition, turned traitor and endeavored by means of it to reconquer Sweden for Christian II. Nor were things better at home. The further demand for money which he was forced to make upon clergy and people alike gave rise to serious discontent. When Peter Sunnenvaeder was removed from Västeräs for disaffection, as has been mentioned above, he fled to Darlecarlia, together with Knud, the Provost of Västeräs, at one time Archbishop elect of Upsala, who had also been turned out, and there they raised the standard of revolt. One plot followed another, now on behalf of Christian II, now on behalf of one of the Stures, and again, early in 1527, on behalf of a pretender to their name. Gustavus found no great difficulty in suppressing them, and generally took severe measures of reprisal; but he could not prevent their recurrence. An entire readjustment of burdens, as between the clergy, the nobles, and the people at large, was plainly needed; and when the King convoked the general Diet of Västeräs to meet in June, 1527, it was with the deliberate intention of taking action in the matter.

But it was no longer merely or chiefly a question of money; during the last few years Lutheranism had made great strides in Sweden, and the whole status of the Swedish Church was now at issue. The first preachers of the new opinions were Olaus and Laurentius Petri (Olaf and Lars Petersson, b. 1497 and 1499), the sons of a blacksmith at Orebro, who had sent them to study at Wittenberg with no idea of the consequences which were likely to follow. On their return to Sweden in 1519, Olaus went to Strängnäs, where, as master of the Chapter school, he soon acquired a great influence over the Archdeacon, Laurentius Andreae (Lars Andersson, 1482-1552). For a time his teaching aroused no suspicion, and his sermons preached at the diet of Strängnäs made a great impression; but he had already roused the suspicions of Bishop Brask, who accused him of heresy in a letter dated May 7, 1523, and from this time forward was constantly urging Gustavus to take action against him. At first the King seemed to agree, though he urged that persuasion was a better remedy than force. But the inducements to take the other side were very strong; and before long, partly from interest and partly from conviction, he had decided to give his support to the new preachers, still protesting however that he desired to reform and not to overthrow the Church.

In the summer of 1524 he summoned Olaus Petri to Stockholm as city clerk, sent his brother to Upsala as professor of theology, and made Laurentius Andreae, already his Chancellor, Archdeacon of Upsala. The advancing wave was checked for a moment in the autumn, when the iconoclastic excesses brought about at Stockholm by two Dutch Anabaptists, Knipperdolling and Melchior Rink, caused a reaction of popular feeling and drew from Gustavus a stern condemnation. At Christmas, however, a discussion held in the royal palace between Olaus Petri and Peter Galle, a champion of the old order, on the subject of the sufficiency of Scripture, once more gave them confidence; and in February, 1525, Olaus publicly set the rules of the Church at defiance by marrying a wife. A few months afterwards Gustavus directed Archbishop Magni to set on foot the translation of the Bible into Swedish. The work was actually planned out and the books allotted to different translators; but, apparently owing to the opposition of Brask, it was never carried out; and the vacant place was in part filled by a version of the New Testament, mainly the work of Andreae, which appeared in 1526, followed subsequently, in 1540-1, by a much better translation of the whole Bible, which was edited and largely made by Laurentius Petri. In the same year (1526) Gustavus sent a series of doctrinal articles to the prelates, intending to use their replies as the basis for a second and more exhaustive theological disputation; and although this plan fell through owing to the natural reluctance of some of the persons concerned to submit their faith to the tribunal of popular opinion, the answers of Peter Galle were published, with disparaging comments by Olaus Petri.

While thus undermining the claims of ecclesiastical authority, the King was also making insidious attacks upon the property of the Church. He systematically billeted his troops upon the monasteries; he left no means untried to get a hold upon their internal affairs; he sought out legal pretexts for reclaiming lands given to them by his ancestors. The property of the Bishops suffered in like manner, and especially that of the richest of them, the aged Brask, whom the King seems to have despoiled with special malice or policy. Archbishop Joannes Magni suffered even worse things. Injudicious letters which he had written to ecclesiastics abroad subjected him to a charge of conspiracy, on which he was arrested and imprisoned. The King allowed him to leave Sweden in the autumn of 1526, ostensibly on an embassy to Poland; but it was really a banishment, from which he never returned. He took up his abode at Danzig and was soon afterwards confirmed by the Pope and consecrated with the barren title of Archbishop of Upsala. And thus at length the way was prepared for further encroachment. By the terms of the summons, the Diet of Västeräs was to discuss questions of faith, and especially the relations between Sweden and the Papacy.

The Diet met on June 24, 1527. There were present four Bishops, four canons, fifteen lay members of the Riksrad, one hundred and twenty-nine nobles, thirty-two burgesses, fourteen deputies of the miners, and one hundred and four of the peasants. For the first time in Swedish history the Bishops were degraded from their place of honor next the King and were ranked below the senators. Smarting under the affront, they held a secret meeting before the session of the following day, at which, instigated by Brask, they signed a set of protests, a copy of which was found fifteen years afterwards under the floor of the cathedral, against anything that might be done in the direction of Lutheranism or contrary to the authority of the Pope. When the Diet again met the Chancellor arose in Gustavus’ name, reviewed the events of his reign, and urged the necessity for a larger revenue, plainly pointing to the ecclesiastical property as the only source from which it might be obtained. Brask replied on behalf of the Bishops, saying that they could not help the state of the kingdom; that they would do all in their power to put down abuses, but that, being directed by the Pope to defend their property, they could not do otherwise. This brought Gustavus himself to his feet. He enquired whether the members of the Diet considered this a fair answer. Thure Jönsson, the oldest amongst them, replied that it was. “Then”, said Gustavus, “I will no longer be your King, and if you can find one who will please you better I shall be glad. Pay me for my property in the kingdom, and return what I have expended in your service; and then I solemnly protest that I will never return to this degenerate and thankless native land of mine”. With this outburst he strode from the hall and left them to discuss at their leisure. He knew what the result must be; he had made Sweden, and it could not do without him. They had all the power in their hands, whilst his only asset was his own personality. But it was enough; and after three days the members of the Diet sent to say that they would conform to his wishes in all things.


The Recess of Vasteras. [1527


Gustavus was now master. The Orders, with the exception of the clergy, made their proposals for dealing with the crisis. Contrary to all precedent, these proposals were formulated by the Riksräd instead of being voted on by the whole Diet; but the resulting decree, the famous Västeräs Recess, was nevertheless put forth in its name. It provided that all episcopal, capitular, and monastic property which was not absolutely required (and of this he was the judge) was to be handed over to the King; all the lands exempt from taxes which had been given to the Church since 1454 were to revert to the original owners; taxable land was to be given up however long it had been alienated. Preachers were to set forth the pure Word of God and nothing else, whilst on the religious question in general a disputation was to be held in the presence of the Diet, and a settlement to be made on it as a basis. The disputation, if held at all, was naturally of no importance; and the Diet proceeded, on June 24, to pass the Västeräs Ordinantie, consisting of twenty-two regulations on the subject of religion. By these, detailed provision was made for the confiscation of the bulk of the Church property, in accordance with the terms of the Recess. No dignitaries were to be appointed until their names had been approved by the King; parish clergy were to be appointed by the Bishops, subject to removal by the King in case of unfitness; small parishes might be united where it was desirable, the Gospel was to be taught in every school, compulsory confession was abolished, monks were not to be absent from their monasteries without licence from the civil authority, and so forth. The result of these Ordinances was to give the King all the power that he could wish for over the Church. Dispirited and almost heartbroken, the aged Brask before long obtained permission to visit the island of Gottland, which was part of his diocese, crossed the Baltic, and joined Archbishop Magni at Danzig. None of his brethren dared to oppose Gustavus’ will.

Nor was it only the ecclesiastical order that suffered. In Sweden, unlike Denmark, none but the King gained power through the Reformation. The Riksräd, once all-important, was now nothing more than a complaisant royal Council. As leader of a popular movement, Gustavus had triumphed over the nobles, who were now glad to make common cause with the peasants wherever they were aggrieved. It should however be noted that one of the Västeräs Ordinances gave the nobles the right to recover all their property which had been acquired by the churches and convents since the redaction of the year 1454, an important concession. There were revolts from time to time, generally directed in part at any rate against the new ecclesiastical order, as for instance in West Gothland in 1529 under Thure Jönsson, and again on a larger scale in 1542 under Nels Dacke. But they were in general easily put down, and always left Gustavus’ power stronger than before. Nor was this all. The inevitable result of the changes which were being made was to put into abeyance rights which formerly belonged to one class or another of the community. These were by degrees seized upon by Gustavus as a kind of extension of his prerogative royal; and before long he was exercising without opposition an authority which no previous King of Sweden had ever possessed. In a Council held at Orebro early in 1540, the chief nobles were made to take an oath acknowledging Gustavus’ sons, Johan and Erik, as the legitimate heirs to the kingdom; and the Act of Hereditary Settlement, passed on January 13, 1544, formally recognized hereditary succession in the male line as the rule of the Swedish constitution. Meanwhile the kingdom grew greatly in wealth and importance. Under Gustavus’ influence the mines of the north became vast sources of wealth; manufactures grew up everywhere, and commerce was fostered by treaties with England, France, Denmark, and Russia. Before his death, which took place on Michaelmas Day, 1560, he had raised Sweden to a condition of unexampled prosperity, and had prepared the way for the great epoch of the next century.

We now return to the Swedish Church. Although the Ordinances of Västeräs had shorn it of its grandeur and delivered it into Gustavus’ hands, they had not abolished its essential character. On January 5, 1528, the Bishops elect of Skara, Strängnäs, and Âbo were consecrated by the Bishop of Västeräs “by command of the King”, without the confirmation of the Pope indeed, but with the accustomed rites; and on the following day Gustavus himself was crowned by them “with great pomp” in the Cathedral of Upsala. The monasteries were deprived of most of their property, and many of them ceased to exist at once; but the rest only died away by degrees, until at length there remained but a few nuns in the cloisters of Vadstena, Nadendal, Skenninge, and Skog, who lived on the King’s bounty. But no man in all Sweden died for the old faith. A certain number of the clergy were deprived, but the bulk of them still went on; and their general condition may perhaps be gauged by the fact that in not a few cases they married their former housekeeper or mistress in order to legitimatize the children. The Bishops had lost much of their property, but were still comparatively well off; for many years the new Archbishop of Upsala, Laurentius Petri (called Nericius), consecrated in 1531, used to support some fifty students in Upsala, and Bishop Skytte of Âbo supported eight abroad.

Gustavus himself did all in his power to prevent changes being forced on a reluctant people. A synod held at Örebro in 1529, under the presidency of Laurentius Andreae, provided that a lesson from the Swedish Bible should be read daily in all cathedrals, and that evangelical preachers should be appointed to carry the new doctrines about the country; but the King was so careful to preserve the old ceremonies, or such of them as “were not repugnant to God’s Word”, that he roused no little indignation amongst the more extreme Reformers as having fallen away from the Gospel. In 1528 he issued an ordinance insisting upon the payment of the legal dues of the clergy. Ten years later, when the nobles seemed to have learned too well the lesson which he had given them in the despoiling of churches, he restrained and rebuked those whose religious zeal manifested itself only in the way of destruction. “After this fashion”, he said, “every man is a Christian and evangelical”. Yet he recognized no limits to his own power: “it behoveth us as a Christian monarch”, he wrote to the commons of the northern province, “to appoint ordinances and rules for you; therefore must ye be obedient to our royal commands, as well in matters spiritual as temporal”. In 1540, when Laurentius Andreae and Olaus Petri were put on their trial for treason in not having made known to the King a conspiracy, the existence of which they had learned in confession, the Archbishop was compelled to be their judge. They were condemned to death, and only obtained pardon by the payment of a large fine.

But although Gustavus ever denied that he was setting up a new Church in Sweden, the changes became more pronounced as time went on, both in doctrine and discipline. Olaus Petri was putting forth a continual stream of tracts and pamphlets in Swedish which reflected his own strict Lutheranism, and by degrees they had a considerable effect. The first Swedish service-book, Een Handbock pää wensko, appeared in 1529; it was followed in 1530 by a hymn-book, and in 1531 by the first Swedish “Mass-book”, the Eucharistic doctrine of which was the Consubstantiation of Luther’s earlier days; all these were many times reprinted in subsequent years, though the use of the Latin service was by no means everywhere abolished. Gustavus himself gradually went further. He repudiated prayers for the dead, and confession; for instance, he refused on his deathbed to listen to the clergy when they urged him to confess his sins and seek absolution. He seems at one time almost to have contemplated the discontinuance of the episcopal office. In 1539 one George Norman, who had been recommended to him by Melanchthon, was appointed, by a commission not unlike that which had been given by Henry VIII to Cromwell a few years before, to superintend and visit the clergy and churches of Sweden; and a general visitation of the whole kingdom took place under his auspices in 1540. From 1544 the King refused to give the episcopal title to any but the Archbishop of Upsala; the rest he styled Ordinaries. As time went on, the dioceses were divided up into some twelve portions in all, each under its Ordinary. That this division was in itself desirable is likely enough, for the old dioceses were very large and unwieldy. Moreover some at any rate of Gustavus’ new Ordinaries were in episcopal orders; e.g. when the old diocese of Abo (Finland) was subdivided into Abo and Viborg, the two new Ordinaries, Michael Agricola (who had previously been vicar-general of the whole diocese) and Paulus Juusten, were consecrated as Bishops together by Bishop Bothvid of Strängnäs in 1554. Nevertheless the effect of his action was undoubtedly to cast a slight upon the episcopal Order, and had there not been a reaction subsequently it must have been highly prejudicial if not fatal to the continued existence of episcopacy in Sweden.


1560-69] Erik XIV.


The nine years of Gustavus’ son and successor Erik XIV (1560-9), for some time the suitor of Elizabeth of England, were years of disaster for the Swedish State, and not less so for the Church. He inclined towards Calvinism, and already during his father’s lifetime an overture had been made by Calvin towards the Swedish royal House by the joint dedication of a writing to father and son. It was ineffective so far as Gustavus was concerned, but Erik on his accession at once began to show favor towards Calvinists, announced his intention of making Sweden a refuge for distressed Protestants, and used his authority in the Church to bring about the suppression of a few fast days and other observances of the old order. His wasteful extravagance from the first pressed heavily on the State. But the real afflictions arose in the latter part of his reign, when he was engaged in war both at home and abroad, and everything was allowed to fall into neglect; churches fell into ruins, the church plate disappeared, benefices were not filled up, or only by incompetent persons, and the schools ceased to exist. At length in 1569 Erik was dethroned by his brothers, Johan and Karl, to whom their father had left hereditary dukedoms, and who seem to have agreed upon a joint conduct of the government after Erik’s deposition; and some years later he was brutally murdered in prison, in pursuance of a vote of the members of the Riksrad, both lay and clerical.

The new King, Johan III, was a scholar and a theologian, whose reading of Cassander and other similar divines led him to lay all possible stress upon the ancient order of the Swedish Church, whilst his love for his consort, Catharine, the sister of Sigismund II of Poland, who was a Roman Catholic, inclined him to seek a reconciliation with the Pope, if it could be obtained on reasonable terms. Under his influence a new Church order (Kyrko-ordning) was drawn up by the aged Archbishop Laurentius Petri and put forth by authority, which became the basis of the practice which prevails at the present day. Care is taken for the education and examination of the clergy, though the use by them of books of Homilies, such as the Postilla of Olaus Petri, is permitted. Latin psalms and prayers may still be used, and confession, excommunication, and public penance are provided for. The Bishop is elected by the clergy and others having competent knowledge, and consecrated in due course. The people choose their minister and present him to the Bishop, who either ordains him or another in his place; but it is to be noticed that the same form of service is to be used whether the person so “consecrated” is previously a layman or a minister from another charge. There are also assistant clergy or chaplains (Kapellaner) in the larger parishes. Before long the King was able to make further changes. The old Archbishop died in October, 1573; in June of the following year “the principal divines” were convened for the election of a successor, and “the votes of the great majority” were given to his son-in-law, Laurentius Petri Gothus, who was a student of the Fathers, and in many ways likeminded with the King.

In December the Archbishop elect was confirmed by the King after giving his assent to a series of seventeen articles which approved of the restoration of the convents, prayers for the dead, and the veneration of saints; and on July 15, 1575, he was consecrated “according to the complete Catholic use”, with mitre, crosier, ring, and chrism, which were also used by the new Archbishop in future consecrations of his suffragans. A royal ordinance presently restored to the Archbishop that jurisdiction over his suffragans which had almost ceased to exist under Gustavus; and another gave the Archbishop and Chapter of Upsala a voice in all elections of Bishops. Other changes were made of the same general character, and some of the old convents were reopened. In 1576 a more important step was taken : a new liturgy on the lines of the reformed Roman Missal, the so-called “Red Book of Sweden” (Röda Boken), was published; it was fathered by the Archbishop in a preface, but was really the work of the King and his secretary, Peter Fechen. It was adopted, after considerable opposition (in which the Bishops of Linköping and Strängnäs took part) at the Diet of 1577; and the King did his best to force it upon the whole Church. But he was never able to compel all the country clergy to use it; and his brother Karl, the Duke of Suthermanland (afterwards Charles IX), the ablest by far of the ‘brood of King Gustavus’, not only refused to adopt it, but made himself the champion of the Kyrko-ordning (New Church Order) of 1571 and of all who suffered for their fidelity to it. The result during Johan’s lifetime was estrangement, and very nearly civil war, between the brothers; after his death it led to the triumph of Lutheranism at the Upsala assembly.

All this time the King was carrying on negotiations with the Papacy. So early as 1572 Cardinal Stanislaus Hosius was writing hopefully of his conversion. In 1576 two Jesuits from Louvain, Florentius Feyt and Laurentius the Norwegian, appeared at Stockholm in the guise of evangelical preachers. They were instructed to proceed with great caution. The Cardinal gave directions that the last-named was to extol faith and depreciate works without faith, to preach Christ as the only mediator, and His cross as the only means of salvation ; “and thereupon”, he proceeded, “let them show that nothing else has been preached in the papal Church”. We know from their own account that at the King’s bidding they concealed their real condition and were taken for Lutherans; and the clergy were compelled to receive their instruction, which was carried on in the spirit of Hosius’ directions. In the same year the King sent messengers to Rome to negotiate for the restoration of the papal authority in Sweden. It soon became evident that he was asking for conditions which were not likely to be granted; he demanded, amongst other things, the concession of the Cup to the laity, the partial use of Swedish in the liturgy, the surrender of clerical exemptions, toleration of the marriage of the clergy (though with a preference for celibacy), and the condonation of all that had been done in the past.

The time was past for such concessions, although hopes of something of the kind were held out more than once by Cardinal Hosius in his letters. In 1577 however the Jesuit Antony Possevin was sent to the north, with a commission as Legate to the Emperor, and instructions to use all his influence with King Johan. He made his appearance in the following year ; and so great was the impression which he produced upon the King that after a few interviews, as we are told in his reports, Johan declared his willingness to make the Tridentine profession of faith without waiting to see what concessions the Pope might be willing to make towards Sweden. He accordingly did so, made his confession and was absolved (penance being imposed upon him for the murder of his brother, for which he had always felt the deepest remorse), and received the Communion in the Roman manner. This year, then, marks the zenith of the papal influence. About the same time Bishop Martin Olafsson of Linköping, who had always been opposed to the direction in which things were moving in the Swedish Church, was deposed and degraded for calling the Pope antichrist. Luther’s Catechism, which had been used in the schools for some years, was made to give place to that of Canisius; many Jesuits were admitted into the country, on one pretext or another, and large numbers of Swedish boys were sent abroad to be educated in their seminaries; above all, the primatial see was kept vacant for four years after the death of Laurentius Petri Gothus in 1579, in the hope that it might next be filled by an Archbishop of the Roman obedience.

This hope was doomed to be disappointed, for the proposed surrender proved to be less attractive on a nearer view. The King’s plans in religion were closely bound up with political schemes which had for their object the obtaining for himself the Duchies of Bari and Rossani in right of his wife, whose mother was a Sforza; and these had just received a check. Gregory XIII declined to make the concessions which Johan thought that he had been led to expect; and on further consideration he found himself too honestly convinced of the essential soundness of the position of the Swedish Church to be content to give up all that had been won already. The last shreds of the influence of the Romanizing party disappeared entirely after the death of Queen Catharine in 1584; the Jesuits and their fautores were once more expelled; and Johan, after turning his thoughts for a moment towards the orthodox east, settled down to the work of consolidating the Swedish Church as he found it.

Not long afterwards, however, the question was reopened, and in a more acute form, by the death of Johan III on November 17, 1592. The crown fell to his son Sigismund, who had been elected King of Poland in 1586, and who was a convinced Roman Catholic. With the consent of the Riksrad, his uncle Duke Charles at once assumed the government in his name; and together they resolved to make provision for the maintenance of Protestantism before the new King arrived. The Rad was anxious that the matter should be dealt with by certain members of their own body in conjunction with the delegates of the clergy; but Charles had made his brother promise two years before that a general assembly (Kyrko-möte) should be held, and he assented to the demand of the clergy that it should take place now. Accordingly a synod was convened which was attended by deputies both clerical and lay from all parts of the kingdom, though Finland was but sparsely represented. There were present, in addition to the members of the Riksrad, four Bishops (most of the sees were vacant, and were filled whilst the Synod was still in session), over three hundred clergy, and nearly as many nobles and representatives of the citizens, miners, and peasants. The famous “Upsala-möte” was opened on February 25, 1593, Nicolaus Bothniensis, one of the professors of theology at Upsala, being chosen as speaker. The assembly first laid down the rule of Scripture as the basis of all doctrine. Then it sought a doctrinal standard; and the obvious one was the Augsburg Confession, which had already been commonly accepted in Sweden, though it had never been definitely adopted by the Swedish Church. The articles were now gone through one by one, after which it was solemnly received as the confession of the Swedish Church. Luther’s Catechism was again made the basis for instruction in religion; the use of the “Red Book” was abolished, and Laurentius Petri’s Church Ordinance once more became the standard of worship, subject however to a certain amount of pruning in the matter of ritual. After this the Synod proceeded to the details of practical reform.

The Upsala Assembly may be considered the coping-stone of the Swedish Reformation. Sigismund came to the throne with the knowledge that his new kingdom had made a definite stand from which there could be no withdrawal; and although many efforts were made during his reign on behalf of Roman Catholicism, first for concurrent establishment, and then for bare toleration, the issue was never for a moment doubtful. The Swedish Church was definitely committed to Lutheranism; the clergy continued to be an estate of the realm down to the middle of the nineteenth century; and separation from the national communion was so severely punished that until modern days organized dissent was practically unknown. The endeavors of Charles IX, the most learned of the royal brothers, to widen the doctrinal basis of the Swedish Church, were on the whole unsuccessful. But it was not only in Sweden that the mote had far-reaching consequences. The definite adhesion of Sweden to the Augsburg Confession gave strength to the cause of Protestantism everywhere : it opened the way for the Protestant League of the North in the following century.




THE Reformation in Poland, although its influence on general European history in the period treated in this volume is comparatively slight, has some features of special interest. It pursued its course for nearly half-a-century without material hindrance either from the national government or the authorities of the Church. During this era its difficulties arose principally from the dissensions of the Reformers, from the independence of the nobility, the ignorance and apathy of the oppressed peasantry, and the want of sympathy between the country and the towns, where the German element was strong, and between the burghers and the nobles. Thus the evolution of a national Reformed Church was impossible; the Reform movement never obtained any vital hold on the mass of the people; and no united opposition could be offered to the forces of the Counter-Reformation, when at length they began to act. On the other hand the lack of organization, of combination, and of national and ecclesiastical control, left the way free for the most hazardous and audacious speculations. Every man’s intellect was a law to himself, and heresy assumed its most exorbitant forms.

The conditions of the Church in Poland called for reform not less than elsewhere. The Bishops were enormously wealthy; and the character of the episcopate was not likely to be improved by the measures of 1505, and 1523, which were intended to exclude all but nobles from the bishoprics. The right of the King to nominate to bishoprics was practically recognized. In 1459 a memorable attack was made upon the administration of the Polish Church by John Ostrorog, a man not only of the highest rank, but of great learning. His indictment, made before the Diet, foreshadows the general demand for a reform of the Church, though nothing is said about doctrine. The excessive authority of the Pope, the immunity of the clergy from public burdens and public control, the exactions of the Papacy, the expenses of litigation before the Curia, indulgences, simony, and the requirement of fees for spiritual offices, the unworthiness and ignorance of monks and clergy, the encouragement of idleness, are all put forward with no sparing hand. Owing to the privileges of the Polish nobility the power of the ecclesiastical Courts was less in Poland than elsewhere, and excommunication was openly set at defiance. On the side of doctrine Hussite influence, continually spreading in Poland during the fifteenth century, prepared the ground; and the fact that nearly a half of the subjects of the Polish Crown, the Slavonic population of the South and East, professed the faith of the Greek Church, familiarized the Jagellon Kings with divergences in faith, and the people with the existence of other beliefs.

It was not long before the movement initiated by Luther spread to Poland, and it appeared first in Polish Prussia, the western part of the territory of the Teutonic Order, ceded by it in 1466 to King Casimir III. Danzig was the first centre of an active propaganda, and the urban population favored the new opinions. The ecclesiastical authorities endeavored to act with firmness, but found their authority insufficient. In 1525 the Reformers captured the town government, and the Reformation was set on foot. But in the following year Sigismund I, then King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania, took forcible measures to suppress the Reform. In this, almost the only energetic step taken by that King against the spread of Reform, he was actuated by political motives. In 1523 Albert of Brandenburg, the last Grand Master of the Teutonic Order, had adopted the Reform, and in 1525 he converted the dominions entrusted to his charge into a hereditary dukedom; and Sigismund feared that the Reforming tendencies of West Prussia might lead the inhabitants into closer political relations with the emancipated master of East Prussia. In spite, however, of Sigismund’s temporary success at Danzig, Lutheran opinions continued to spread, and finally triumphed in Polish Prussia.

In Poland itself frequent acts against the new opinions were passed by ecclesiastical synods, in 1527, 1530, 1532, 1542, and 1544. But the Church was powerless in face of the famous Polish privilege and the other immunities of the nobles. The ecclesiastical Courts were regarded with general contempt. The hostility of the Diets was undisguised. In 1538 they forbade the Polish clergy to receive any preferment from the Pope, in 1543 they abolished annates, and in 1544 they subjected the clergy to ordinary taxation. Sigismund I issued an order in 1534 forbidding Polish students to study at foreign universities, but this order was cancelled in 1543; and the inaction of Sigismund proclaims either his impotence or his lack of zeal. His son, Sigismund II Augustus, who succeeded in 1548, was probably rather friendly than indifferent. In any case the power of the King was little; and individual nobles took what line they pleased without reference to King or Church.

In these circumstances not only did Lutheran views spread freely, but other heresies appeared. A society was formed at Cracow, under the influence of Francisco Lismanini, which not only ventilated the opinions of the more orthodox Reformers, but also cast doubt upon the doctrine of the Trinity. In 1548 the Reformation in Poland received a great impulse by the expulsion from Bohemia of the Bohemian Brethren, a sect which received a definite organization about 1456, and had survived through many vicissitudes, preserving many of the more advanced Hussite opinions. Luther, at first hostile to their views, afterwards became reconciled, and established a spiritual communion with them. Ferdinand, after other repressive measures had failed, expelled them from his territories; and on their way towards Prussia they found temporary hospitality in Posen, where they were entertained by Andreas Gorka, the Castellan of Posen. The Bishop of Posen, however, before long procured their expulsion; they passed into Prussia, leaving behind, however, many converts; and their congregations afterwards evangelized many districts of Posen and of Great Poland.

The reign of Sigismund Augustus (1548-72) saw the Polish Reformation at its height. The Synod of Piotrkow in 1552, at which Stanislaus Hosius, the Bishop of Ermland, first took a prominent part as a defender of the Church, initiated a vigorous campaign against the Reform; but although the clergy procured the martyrdom of a poor priest, they found themselves helpless against the nobles. The Diet of 1552 left to the clergy the power of judging heresy, but deprived them of the authority to inflict any civil or political penalty. In the same year a Polish Reformer, Modrzewski, laid before the King a remarkable and moderate scheme of national ecclesiastical reform; but there was no authority capable of carrying it out. In 1556 licence assumed the form of law, and the principle of cujus regio was carried to its extreme consequence, when the Diet enacted that every nobleman could introduce into his own house any form of worship at his pleasure, provided that it was in conformity with the Scriptures. The King at this time also demanded from Pope Paul IV in the name of the Diet the concession of mass in the vernacular, communion in both kinds, the marriage of priests, the abolition of annates, and a National Council for Reform and the union of sects. He received in the following year a stinging reprimand from the fiery Pontiff for an offence in which he was little more than a passive agent.

The Reformation seemed to be triumphant. But excessive liberty was a source of weakness. The Bohemian brethren, indeed, formed a durable union with the Genevan Churches in Poland in 1555. The former were most powerful in Posen and Great Poland, the latter in Little Poland and Lithuania. But the Lutherans were a persistent obstacle to union. It was hoped that the return of John Laski (à Lasco) to his native land in 1556 might put an end to divisions. This member of a noble Polish house had listened to the voice of Zwingli and Erasmus in his youth, and afterwards had renounced his prospects of high preferment in his own Church in order to preach reform. His self-denying labors in East Friesland had been crowned with success, and as head of the community of foreign Reformers in London he had won a reputation beyond the Channel. His gentle nature, and the moderate character of his opinions, which, although they were nearest to those of Calvin and Zwingli, were calculated to give the least possible offence to the Lutherans, raised great hopes of him as a mediator. But he died in 1560, having effected nothing.

1560-79] Protestant dissensions. The Sozzini.

Protestant dissensions continued, and the Protestant cause was further discredited by the activity of the anti-Trinitarians. Lismanini had openly denied the Trinity, and Bernardino Ochino in 1564 found many hearers. He was expelled, however, very shortly. The Unitarians had their centre at Pinczow, near Cracow, and among their leaders were first Stancari and Lismanini, and afterwards Georgio Biandrata, and Peter Gonesius, a Pole. Even in the face of this double danger, from their own advanced wing and from the Catholic side, the Protestants failed to achieve unity. At length at the synod of Sandomir, 1570, mutual toleration rather than union was arranged between the Lutherans on the one hand, and the united Church of Genevans and Bohemians on the other. Thus the critical time of the death of Sigismund Augustus in 1572 found the Protestant sects widely spread in the Polish dominions, enjoying virtual toleration, but probably not very deeply rooted in the Polish people, compromised by advanced freethinkers, and barely concealing their mutual antagonism.

Meanwhile dangers were arising. The direct efforts of Stanislaus Hosius, the mission of Lippomani in 1555, and that of Commendoni in 1563, did little to check the Reformed opinions. But from the introduction of the Jesuits into Poland at the suggestion of Cardinal Hosius in 1564, and from the transfer into their hands of the institutions of higher education founded by him in Poland, dates the beginning of a more insidious and effective opposition, which was destined in a period beyond our present scope to attain complete success.

This brief note may serve to show the position of the new religions in Poland down to the death of Sigismund Augustus. But the name of Socinus is so closely linked with the religious history of that country and with that of the dissidentes de religione (the appellation given in Poland in 1573 to the adherents of the Reformation, though afterwards extended in its significance), that a word must be said about the two well-known teachers of that name. Lelio Sozzini was a native of Siena, born in 1525. Attracted early by the writings of Luther, he made himself suspected at home, and travelled widely throughout Europe, coming into contact with all the leading Reformers. He visited Poland twice, and doubtless found kindred spirits there; he probably influenced Lismanini; but although the audacity of his opinions and the free expression of his doubts seem to have caused him to be regarded with suspicion by more orthodox Reformers, he does not appear to have actually denied the doctrine of the Trinity. He died in 1562. His nephew, Fausto Sozzini, passed the line. He also was born at Siena in 1539. He came to Poland in 1579, after the anti-Trinitarian opinions had long been developed there. Under the protection of the Transylvanian Prince, Stephen Bathory, the sect had flourished, and had acquired in the town of Racow its own school, church, and printing-press. Sozzini speedily won great influence, and was able to influence the doctrines of the Unitarians. Eventually the sect received his name, and was known as Socinian.

The distinctive doctrine of the Socinians was the denial of the doctrine of the Trinity, the teaching of One God. They recognized divinity in the Father alone, and denied it to the Son and the Holy Ghost. They reverenced Christ as the Messiah, as a teacher and a reformer, but as a human being. They believed nevertheless in His supernatural birth, in His miracles, His resurrection, His ascension. They believed that He received revelations from the Father. They followed also the Bible as their guide and standard; giving it their own interpretation, which differed from that of the Protestants and of the Fathers of Nicaea. They rejected the Augustinian doctrine of original sin, and believed that salvation was to be obtained by conscientious following of Christ’s teaching, and virtuous living. They rejected therefore also the doctrine of the Atonement. Baptism was for them only the symbol of admission into the Christian communion, and the Lord’s Supper a mere memorial. This remarkable sect had its origin in the active brains of speculative Italians, its favorable ground for growth in the religious liberty or anarchy of Poland, but it received its definite organization, its tenets, and its name from Fausto Sozzini.