Sweden

A mystery lady with bad taste in hats

Some months ago, I visited Nationalmuseum in Stockholm. Even those with no Swedish can probably work out that Nationalmuseum means National museum—somewhat of a misnomer, IMO, as a lot of the stuff on display comes from other places than Sweden. That’s what happens when an ambitious up-and-coming military nation sweeps through a broken Europe in […]

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Snatching crowns from princes

Today, we’re going to spend some time with two little Swedish boys. They happen to share a couple of things: both of them were named Gustav. Both of them belonged to the Vasa dynasty (in the case of prince number two, he was really surnamed Holstein-Gottorp, but would become known as a Vasa prince). Both

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From French monk to Supreme Commander – a rather unusual career

There must be something about the Swedish air that attracts ambitious Frenchmen to our shores. Or maybe it’s the beautiful Swedish women. Or the fact that there’s so much space up here. After all, there must be a reason why Jean Baptiste Bernadotte, French marshal in Napoleon’s army, left the cultured life of Paris to

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The princess and the beast

In 1547, Gustav Vasa, King of Sweden, and his extremely fertile second wife Margareta Leijonhufvud welcomed their fourth daughter to the world. The little baby was christened Sofia, and as Gustav already had plenty of sons I imagine he was more than delighted with the new addition to his nursery. After all, a princess was

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The female touch – of a renaissance king and his wives

Gustav Eriksson Vasa is something of a national hero in Sweden. Okay, so we don’t do national heroes all that well, so while we credit him with freeing Sweden from the unbearable Danish yoke as represented by Christian II, we also consider Gustav Vasa as something of a grasping bastard. If we start with the

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Of royal oaks and sinking ships

Behold a baby oak. Well, baby and baby – as per my reckoning, this thin little thing is at least 7 years old, but from the perspective of an oak, I suppose that means it is an infant. Hubby has recently scythed the meadows, but whenever he comes across an oak sapling, he detours, saying

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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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Shining a light into the darker corners

Sweden has the dubious honour of being second only to Third Reich Germany in the number of people sterilised against their will. It is one of those “skeletons in the closet” things, in that the Swedish establishment avoided talking about it for a number of years, preferring to bury this rather sordid aspect of our

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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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A restless Swedish skeleton – of events in the aftermath of WW II

I have an acquaintance who some years ago decided to dig into her ancestry. As most parishes in this neck of the woods have kept detailed tabs on people since the early 17th century, it isn’t that difficult to construct a family tree, and most of these old records are available on line – a

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