16th century

An Appropriate Death for a Woman

Today, I thought I’d treat you to one of my short stories. And as such stories should work without an extensive introduction, without further ado allow me to begin: “No sooner has a man found his bed but he is dragged out of it,” Eskil Gyllenstierna complained. He hastened down the narrow cobbled street towards …

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Hail the conquering hero

On June 6, 1523, Gustav Eriksson Vasa entered Stockholm after having freed Sweden from the yoke of Danish oppression. At last the sacrifices made by those who’d fought the Danes and lost it all – like his aunt, Kristina Gyllenstierna – were vindicated. Where some years earlier the main square of Stockholm had run red …

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El Manco de Lepanto – or how to be a successful writer with only one hand

Ask people what they know about Miguel de Cervantes, and they’ll say he’s the bloke who wrote Don Quijote. Tick. Some will go on to say he and Shakespeare died on the same day, April 23, 1616, thereby depriving the world of two literary giants in one fell swoop. This is not strictly correct, but …

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No nose & a burst bladder – poor man!

Today’s post is about a gentleman who is mostly famous for two things, one of which is not having a nose. It is strange, isn’t it, what peculiar aspects of people go down as truly noteworthy for future generations, and in this particular case the loss of a nose clearly overshadows the impressive intellect and exciting …

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Love conquers all – even the mother from hell

Given today’s date, I thought it appropriate to bring you a story of how love can survive, no matter what obstacles. Mind you, it is my experience that love is at times fickle rather than constant – very few of us can go about more than a decade waiting and hoping that one day the …

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What is in a name? Of Don Carlos, in various incarnations

Being named Carlos was not really a good thing if you were a Spanish Hapsburg – well with the exception of the first, namely Carlos I of Spain. But this Carlos was not really Spanish. Yes, his mother was Spanish – the woman known to history as Juana la Loca or Joanna the Mad – …

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Of divine sparks and serious talks

Very many years ago, my mother and I were out walking. We did that a lot, she and I, and we would spend most of our standard circuit talking about this and that. That day, we were talking about faith. My mother grew up believing in God, but when she was fourteen, her mother fell …

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Too much strife, too little love – a Scottish marriage and its consequences

These days, we tend to have a romanticised view of marriage. It is white dresses and orange blossoms, it is love shining out of teary eyes and promises to love and to hold until death do us part. Today, most of us assume people marry for love. Okay, so there are different types of love …

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Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live

In the lost mists of time, long before the advent of monotheist religions, man worshiped Mother Nature. Time passed, civilisations developed, and somewhere 4 000 years ago, the old veneration for Mother Nature – a most female deity – was replaced by the decidedly male God of the Hebrews, soon to become the equally male …

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Bottoms up!

Us Swedes like our herring. And with herring, we serve chilled akvavit, served in small glasses. When we eat herring and drink to the herring, we often sing, strange songs about pike fish with legs (but that one we can blame on the Finns, it’s their song) or about hopping frogs, or about girls that …

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