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DENMARK ACCEPTS THE PROTESTANT FAITH.!
Christian III., 1536-1559.-In the year 1536 Count Christopher found that he could no longer keep up the feud, and the nobles and clergy, after taking good care of their own interests, agreed to offer the crown to Christian, who in the summer of that year made his solemn entry into Copenhagen, and was proclaimed king under the title of Christian III. We may here notice that from the time of Frederick I. it has been the custom in Denmark to have no names but these two, Frederick and Christian, in the succession ; each new king dropping any other first name that he might have had given him in his baptism, and taking up either that of Frederick or Christian. Christian's first act was to summon the Council of State and engage the members of that body to stand by him in the execution of the plans, which he laid before them for putting down the power of the Romish Church. The bishops were then all placed under arrest in one day, but those who pledged themselves not to oppose the king's measures were soon released. A great Thing, or general diet, was called in the autumn of 1536, at which the Lutheran faith was proclaimed to be the established belief of Denmark, and the Roman Catholic bishops were deprived of their rank, titles, and lands. The Lutheran clergy, who were placed at the head of the new church, were known at first by the name of “over-scers,” but after a time they were called by the old title of “ bishop.” Every parish was allowed to choose its own pastor, or vicar, the vicars were left to choose their provost, and the provosts in their turn were free to make choice of their own bishop. By these measures the Pope lost all power in the Danish kingdom. The nobles on the other hand gained a great increase of wealth and influence in the land, for on one pretence or other they obtained a large number of the estates which had been held by the Church, while at the same time they kept down the clergy, and by degrees came to treat tiem as persons much inferior to themselves in rank. Chris
tian III. was a just, kind-hearted man, who tried to do his best for the welfare of his subjects, and he showed himself anxious to have the wealth of the Romish Church used to endow schools for the clergy and poorer laity, but the nobles had left him so little power in the state that he could not effect the good he nad so much at heart. A few Latin schools were opened for poor scholars, and the University of Copenhagen now first acquired honour and credit on account of the learning of its teachers. Neither the king nor his people had, however, learnt much charity by changing their faith, and very soon the Lutheran Danes proved themselves to be quite as cruel to all who differed from them in religion as the Catholics had been. Whenever a Calvinist or other Reformed teacher, who did not belong to the Church of Luther, came to Denmark and began to preach, he was hunted out of the land without mercy, as if he had been some wicked malefactor, instead of a minister of the Church of Christ.
Progress in the kingdom.-When Christian III. died on New Year's Day 1559, in the first year of our Queen Elizabeth's reign, Denmark was in a more settled state as to the religious, foreign, and home affairs of the nation, than it had been for a very long time. The troubles in the Church seemed to be at an end, and in every parish in the country the doctrines of Luther were preached from the pulpits, and all men and women from the highest to the lowest could read their bibles in their own tongue. The convents and monasteries were indeed still held by the nuns and monks, who had not been willing to leave them, for King Christian had shown a tender regard to the feelings of those who desired to end their days within the walls of the cloisters, in which they had taken their vows before the establishment of the Lutheran religion in the kingdom. But by degrees one convent after the other was closed, and Denmark, like Sweden and Norway, became a thoroughly Protestant land.
Great progress had been made in learning during Christian's reign. The laws had been revised with much care ; equal weights and measures were brought into use in Norway and
Denmark; one form of money was made legal for both countries, and a more just standard was fixed for the amount of silver to be put into the coinage. Trade began to flourish again, and the Danes now went in their own ships to buy the wares in foreign ports, which for a long time had been brought to them by the rich German traders of Hamburgh and Lübeck.
SWEDEN BETWEEN 1520 AND 1568.
Gustaf Eriksson, known as Vasa–His birth, family, early school life-His
treatment as a hostage-His escape-His wanderings among the miners of Dalekarlia-His various dangers and adventures—His ill-treatment at the hands of the peasants—Their repentance and subsequent choice of him for the “Chief Man”—The beginning of his army-His first flag made of the silk of the Danish traders-His troops encounter the Danes—Bishop Beldenak's surprise at their hardiness-Defeat of the Danes-Gustaf's letter to the princes of Europe-- The fate of his mother and sisters-Christian II. tries to avenge himself-Norby's conduct to his prisoners--Complete submission of Sweden to the authority of Gustaf, who is crowned king in 1523–State of Stockholm-Gustaf's want ol money–His conduct to the clergy-Favours the Reformers-Puts down the power of the Romish Church-Seizes on its revenues and landsThe peasants support him against nobles and prelates-Submission of all classes-Gustaf's restless activity in controlling the affairs of all his subjects-His troubles in his family-His division of his kingdomErik succeeds-Erik's strange character and conduct—His extravagance and caprice-His suit to Queen Elizabeth-His gists to her–His inten. tions towards Earl Leicester--War with Denmark-Erik's cruelty to the Stures-His fits of insanity–His submission to Karren MannsdatterHis marriage with her–His deposition-His imprisonment and the cruel usage he met with-His sufferings-His death by poison-The fate of his wife and children.
GUSTAF VASA FREES SWEDEN.
Gustavus Vasa, 1523-1560.-AFTER the Blood Bath at Stockholm, in 15.20, Christian II. returned to Denmark in full confi. dence that he had nothing further to fear in Sweden. His course had everywhere been marked by cruelty. At Jonköping he ordered the captain of the castle to be executed, together with his children; and at Nydala he caused the abbot and some of the servitors of his abbey to be drowned.
No open resistance had followed these acts, but at the very moment that Christian thought himself most secure in his power over Sweden Gustaf Eriksson Vasa,' the future deliverer of his country, was already undermining the Danish dominion. This remarkable man, who was born in 1496, was the son of Erik Johansson, one of the victims in the Blood Bath of Stockholm, and had, as we have seen in a former chapter, been unjustly made captive and carried to Denmark by the orders of Christian when he fell into his power as a hostage during the king's conference with Sten Sture the younger. Gustaf had been kept a prisoner for more than a year at Kallö in Jutland, under the custody of his own kinsman, Erik Bauer; and after his escape in 1519, he for a time found safety at Lübeck. In the spring of 1520 he ventured to return to Sweden, where he was forced to assume various disguises, and to labour on farms and in the mines of Dalekarlia, to escape the notice of the Danish authorities, by whom a price had been set on his head. The Swedish peasants themselves at first often threatened his life, declaring that they meant to be true to the king as long as “he left them herrings and salt enough for themselves and their families.” But by degrees friends and supporters sprang up around him, and his confidence in his countrymen was seldom abused.2 Even when
1 This king, known to foreigners as Gustavus, was called Gustaf by his own countrymen. The name Vasa was never used by Gustaf himself, nor had it belonged to any of his ancestors, surnames not having been adopted by the Swedish nobles at that period. Some writers have derived the name from the estate of Vasa in Upland ; but others, with apparently better reason, believe it to have been taken from the arms of the family, which were a fascine (or vase), such as was used in storming ; the black colour of which was changed by King Gustaf into gold (or), which led to the idea that his cognizance had been a sheaf of ripe corn.
. Once he only escaped falling into the hands of the Danes by concealing himself under a load of hay, and when the solliers thrust their spears into the mass and wounded him in the side, he still kept silence, while his faithful guide, to account for the appearance of the blood which had trickled from his wound to the frozen snow-covered road, cut his horse in the leg. The barn at Rankhytta in Dalekarlia, where he thrashed oats ; the spot in the woods near Marnaas, where he lay three days and nights concealeci under a felled pine trunk, and was fed by the peasants of the district ; and many other places rendered memorable by his labours, are still preserved and honoured in Sweden.