Konungariket Sverige
Kingdom of Sweden

Component of ‌Sweden-Norway
Naval Ensign of Sweden 1809–1905 Flag of Sweden
Union Flag of Sweden Coat of Arms of Sweden-Norway
Map of Sweden-Norway
Government Constitutional monarchy
King of Sweden
- 1809-1818Charles XIII
- 1818-1844Charles XIV John
- 1844-1859Oscar I
- 1859-1872Charles XV
- 1872-1907Oscar II
Legislature Riksdag
- Upper houseFirst Chamber
- Lower houseSecond Chamber
September 17, 1809Treaty of Fredrikshamn
January 14, 1814Treaty of Kiel
November 4, 1814Charles XIII elected king of Norway
May 27, 1873Monetary union with Denmark
October 16, 1875Norway accedes to monetary union
August 13, 1905Union dissolved
October 26, 1905Oscar II renounces claims to Norway
Area449,964 km²
Naval Ensign of Sweden Sweden Sweden Flag of Sweden

The Kingdom of Sweden (1809-1905) was a constitutional monarchy in Northern Europe. From 1814 to 1905 it was a component of the United Kingdoms of Sweden and Norway.

Sweden and Norway were separate countries with their own regulated internal self-government led by the union monarch. The fact that the king resided in Stockholm, and only occasionally visited the Norwegian capital Kristiania to personally lead the Norwegian Council of State, left the Norwegian government to be headed by other, and frequently Swedish, appointees named by the king. As the Norwegian council meetings were held in Kristiania bills could not receive royal assent there, but had to be presented to the king in Stockholm in a separate council with a permanent delegation of Norwegian minsters stationed there.

Foreign affairs were conducted by the king in Stockholm, where ambassadors were accredited, and he was helped by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, a member of the Swedish Council of State. In the event that an issue involved both of the union countries the king could call upon a Joint Council of State, where both Swedish and Norwegian ministers would participate. The Norwegian government did not have a minister corresponding to the Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs, and any question involving the relations of foreign states with Norway would thus be a union matter, which was handled by the Swedish foreign minister.


Sweden is a limited monarchy, the constitution resting primarily on a law (regeringsformen) of the 6th of June 1809. The king is irresponsible, and executive power is vested in him alone. All his resolutions, however, must be taken in the presence of the cabinet (statsrad) . The cabinet councillors are appointed by the king and are responsible to the parliament (Riksdag).

They are eleven in number, one being prime minister, two others consultative ministers, and the remaining eight heads of the departments of administration, which are

  • justice,
  • foreign affairs,
  • land defence,
  • naval defence,
  • home affairs,
  • finance,
  • public works,
  • agriculture.

The councillors must be of Swedish birth and adherents of the Lutheran confession. The appointment of the majority of public officials is vested in the king, who can himself dismiss cabinet ministers and certain others, whereas in most cases a judicial inquiry is necessary before dismissal. The king shares legislative powers with the Riksdag, possessing the rights of initiation and absolute veto. He has also, in certain administrative and economic matters, a special legislative right.

The Riksdag consists of two chambers. The members of the first chamber are elected by the landsting, or representative bodies of the lan, and by the municipal councils of some of the larger towns. They number 150, and are distributed among the constituencies in proportion to population; the distribution being revised every tenth year. Eligibility necessitates Swedish birth, an age of at least 35 years, and the possession, at the time of election and for three years previously, either of real property to the value of 80,000 kronor (£4400), or an annual income on which taxes have been paid of 4000 kronor (£220). Members are unpaid.

The members of the second chamber number 230, of whom 150 are elected from rural constituencies and 80 from towns. The members receive a salary of 1200 kronor (£66), and are elected for a period of three years by electors, or directly, according to the resolution of the electoral district. If a member retires during that period, or if the chamber is dissolved, succeeding members are elected for the remainder of the three years, and thus the house is wholly renewed at regular intervals, which is not the case with the first house.

Both chambers have in theory equal power. Before bills are discussed they may be prepared by committees, which play an important part in the work of the house. The agreement of both chambers is necessary before a bill becomes law, but when they differ on budget questions the matter is settled by a common vote of both, which arrangement gives the second chamber a certain advantage from the greater number of its members. By revisers elected annually the Riksdag controls the finances of the kingdom, and by an official (justitieombudsman) elected in the same way the administration of justice is controlled; he can indict any functionary of the state who has abused his power. The bank of the kingdom is superintended by trustees elected by the Riksdag, and in the same way the public debt is administered through an office (riksgaldskontoret), whose head is appointed by the Riksdag.[1]

History Edit

On the 21st of February 1808 a Russian army crossed the Finnish border without any previous declaration of war. On the 2nd of April the king ordered a general levy of 30,000 men; but while two army corps, under Armfelt and Toll, together with a British contingent of Io,000 men under Moore, were stationed in Scania and on the Norwegian border in anticipation of an attack from Denmark, which, at the instigation of Napoleon, had simultaneously declared war against Sweden, the little Finnish army was left altogether unsupported. The conquest of Finland, after an heroic struggle against overwhelming odds, is elsewhere recorded (see Finland: History). Its immediate consequence in Sweden proper was the deposition of Gustavus of Gustavus IV. (March 13, 1809), who was clearly incapable of IV., governing. The nobility took advantage of this opportunity to pay off old scores against Gustavus III. by excluding not only his unhappy son but also that son's whole family from the succession - an act of injustice which has never been adequately defended. But indeed the whole of this intermediate period is full of dark subterranean plots and counterplots, still inexplicable, as, for instance, the hideous Fersen murder (June 20, 1810) (see Fersen, Hans Axel Von) evidently intended to terrorize the Gustavians, whose loyalty to the ancient dynasty was notorious. As early as the 5th of June 1809 the duke regent was proclaimed king, under the title of Charles XIII. (q.v.), after accepting 1819. the new liberal constitution, which was ratified by the Riksdag the same day.

The new king was, at best, a useful stopgap, in no way likely to interfere with the liberal revolution which had placed him on the throne. Peace was what the exhausted nation now required; and negotiations had already been opened at Fredrikshamn. But the Russian demands were too humiliating, and the war was resumed. But the defeats of Savarsbruk and Ratan (Aug. 19, 1809) broke the spirit of the Swedish army; and peace was obtained by the sacrifice of Finland, the Aland islands, " the fore-posts of Stockholm," as Napoleon rightly described them, and Vesterbotten as far as the rivers Tornea and Muonio (treaty of Fredrikshamn, Sept. 17, 1809).

The succession to the throne, for Charles XIII. was both infirm and childless, was settled, after the mysterious death (May 28, 1810) of the first elected candidate, Prince Charles Augustus of Augustenburg, by the Crown selection of the French marshal, Bernadotte (see Prince. Charles Xiv., king of Sweden), who was adopted by Charles XIII. and received the homage of the estates on the 5th of November 1810.

The new crown prince was very soon the most popular and the most powerful man in Sweden. The infirmity of the old Influence' king, and the dissensions in the council of state, Policy 'of placed the government and especially the control of foreign affairs almost entirely in his hands; and he boldly adopted a policy which was antagonistic indeed to the wishes and hopes of the old school of Swedish statesmen, but, perhaps, the best adapted to the circumstances. Finland he at once gave up for lost. He knew that Russia would never voluntarily relinquish the grand duchy, while Sweden could not hope to retain it permanently, even if she reconquered it. But the acquisition of Norway might make up for the loss of Finland; and Bernadotte, now known as the crown prince Charles John, argued that it might be an easy matter to persuade the antiNapoleonic powers to punish Denmark for her loyalty to France by wresting Norway from her. Napoleon he rightly distrusted, though, at first he was obliged to submit to the emperor's dictation. Thus on the 13th of November 1810, the Swedish government was forced to declare war against Great Britain, though the British government was privately informed at the same time that Sweden was not a free agent and that the war would be a mere demonstration. But the pressure of Napoleon became more and more intolerable, culminating in the occupation of Pomerania by French troops in 1812. The Swedish government thereupon concluded a secret convention with Russia (treaty of Petersburg, April 5, 1812), undertaking to send 30,000 men to operate against Napoleon in Germany in return for a promise from Alexander guaranteeing to Sweden the possession of Norway. Too late Napoleon endeavoured to outbid Alexander by offering to Sweden Finland, all Pomerania and Mecklenburg, in return for Sweden's active co-operation against Russia.

The Orebro Riksdag (April - August 1812), remarkable besides for its partial repudiation of Sweden's national debt and its reactionary press laws, introduced general conscription into Sweden, and thereby enabled the crown prince to carry out his ambitious policy. In May 1812 he mediated a peace between Russia and Turkey, so as to enable Russia to use all her forces against France (peace of Bucharest); and on the 18th of July, at Orebro, peace was also concluded between Great Britain on one side and Russia and Sweden on the other. These two treaties were, in effect, the corner-stones of a fresh coalition against Napoleon, and were confirmed on the outbreak of the FrancoRussian War by a conference between Alexander and Charles John at Abo on the 30th of August 1812, when the tsar undertook to place an army corps of 35,000 men at the disposal of the Swedish crown prince for the conquest of Norway.

The treaty of Abo, and indeed the whole of Charles John's foreign policy in 1812, provoked violent and justifiable criticism among the better class of politicians in Sweden. The immorality of indemnifying Sweden at the expense of a weaker friendly power was obvious; and, while Finland was now definitively sacrificed, Norway had still to be won. Moreover, Great Britain and Russia very properly insisted that Charles John's first duty was to the anti-Napoleonic coalition, the former power vigorously objecting to the expenditure of her subsidies on the nefarious Norwegian adventure before the common enemy had been crushed. Only on his very ungracious compliance did Great Britian also promise to countenance the union of Norway and Sweden (treaty of Stockholm, March 3, 1813); and, on the 23rd of April, Russia gave her guarantee to the same effect. The Swedish crown prince rendered several important services to the allies during the campaign of 1813 (see Charles Xiv., king of Sweden); but, after Leipzig, he went his own way, determined at all hazards to cripple Denmark and secure Norway.

How this " job " was managed contrary to the dearest wishes of the Norwegians themselves, and how, finally (Nov. 14, 1814), Norway as a free and independent kingdom was united to Sweden under a common king, is No rw ay. elsewhere described (see Denmark; Norway; Charles Xiv., king of Sweden; CHRISTIAN VIII., king of Denmark) .

Charles XIII. died on the 5th of February 1818, and was succeeded by Bernadotte under the title of Charles XIV. John. The new king devoted himself to the promotion of the material development of the country, the Gota canal absorbing the greater portion of the twenty- 1844 four millions of dalers voted for the purpose. The external debt of Sweden was gradually extinguished, the internal debt considerably reduced, and the budget showed an average annual surplus of 700,000 dalers. With returning prosperity the necessity for internal reform became urgent in Sweden. The antiquated Riksdag, where the privileged estates predominated, while the cultivated middle class was practically unrepresented, had become an insuperable obstacle to all free development; but, though the Riksdag of 1840 itself raised the question, the king and the aristocracy refused to entertain it. Yet the reign of Charles XIV. was, on the whole, most beneficial to Sweden; and, if there was much just cause for complaint, his great services to his adopted country were generally acknowledged. Abroad he maintained a policy of peace based mainly on a good understanding with Russia. Charles XIV.'s son and successor King Oscar I. was much more liberally oscarL, g y inclined. Shortly after his accession (March 4, 1844) he laid several projects of reform before the Riksdag; but the estates would do little more than abolish the obsolete marriage and inheritance laws and a few commercial monopolies. As the financial situation necessitated a large increase of taxation, there was much popular discontent, which culminated in riots in the streets of Stockholm (March 1848). Yet, when fresh proposals for parliamentary reform were laid before the Riksdag in 1849, they were again rejected by three out of the four estates. As regards foreign politics, Oscar I. was strongly anti-German. On the outbreak of the Dano-Prussian War of 1848-49, Sweden sympathized warmly with Denmark. Hundreds of Swedish volunteers hastened to Schleswig-Holstein. The Riksdag voted 2,000,000 dalers for additional armaments. It was Sweden, too, who mediated the truce of Malmo (Aug. 26, 1848), which helped Denmark out of her difficulties. During the Crimean War Sweden remained neutral, although public opinion was decidedly anti-Russian, and sundry politicians regarded the conjuncture as favourable for regaining Finland.

Oscar I. was succeeded (July 8, 1859) by his son, Charles XV., who had already acted as regent during his father's illnesses. He succeeded, with the invaluable assistance Geer (q.v.), in at last accomplishing the much-needed reform of the constitution. The way had been prepared in 1860 by a sweeping measure of municipal reform; and, in January 1863, the government brought in a reform bill by the terms of which the Riksdag was henceforth to consist of two Constitu- chambers, the Upper House being a sort of aristo- Reform, cratic senate, while the members of the Lower 1866. House were to be elected triennially by popular suffrage. The new constitution was accepted by all four estates in 1865 and promulgated on the 22nd of January 1866. On the 1st of September 1866, the first elections under the new system were held; and on the 19th of January 1867, the new Riksdag met for the first time. With this one great reform Charles XV. had to be content; in all other directions he was hampered, more or less, by his own creation. The Riksdag refused to sanction his favourite project of a reform of the Swedish army on the Prussian model, for which he laboured all his life, partly from motives of economy, partly from an apprehension of the king's martial tendencies. In 1864 Charles XV. had endeavoured to form an anti-Prussian league with Denmark; and after the defeat of Denmark he projected a Scandinavian union, in order, with the help of France, to oppose Prussian predominance in the north - a policy which naturally collapsed with the overthrow of the French Empire in 1870. He died on the 18th of September 1872, and was succeeded by his brother, the duke of Gothland, who reigned as Oscar II. (R. N. B.) The economic condition of Sweden, owing to the progress in material prosperity which had taken place in the country as the result of the Franco-German War, was at the accession Oscar ll., of Oscar II. to the throne on the 18th of September 1872-1907. p 1872 fairly satisfactory. Politically, however, the outlook was not so favourable. In their results, the reforms inaugurated during the preceding reign did not answer expectations. Within three years of the introduction of the new electoral laws De Geer's ministry had forfeited much of its former popularity, and had been forced to resign. In the vital matter of national defence no common understanding had been arrived at, and during the conflicts which had raged round this question, the two chambers had come into frequent collision and paralysed the action of the government. The peasant proprietors, who, under the name of the " Landtmanna" party,' formed a compact majority in the Second Chamber, pursued a consistent policy of class interests in the matter of the taxes and burdens that had, as they urged, so long oppressed the Swedish peasantry; and consequently when a bill was introduced for superseding the old system of army organization by general compulsory service, they demanded as a condition of its acceptance that the military burdens should be more evenly distributed in the country, and that the taxes, which they regarded as a burden under which they had wrongfully groaned for centuries, should be abolished. In these circumstances, the " Landtmanna " party in the Riksdag, who desired the lightening of the military burden, joined those who desired the abolition of landlordism, and formed a compact and predominant majority in the Second Chamber, while the burgher and Liberal parties were reduced to an impotent " intelligence " minority. This majority in the Lower Chamber 1 The Swedish " Landtmanna " party was formed in 1867. It consisted mostly of the larger and smaller peasant proprietors, who at the time of the old " Standers Riksdag " were always opposed to the nobility and the clergy. The object of the party was to bring about a fusion between the representatives of the large landed proprietors and the regular peasant proprietors, to support the interests of landed proprietors in general against those of the town representatives, and to resist Crown interference in the administration of local affairs.

was at once attacked by another compact majority in the Upper, who on their side maintained that the hated land taxes were only a kind of rent-charge on land, were incidental to it and in no way weighed upon the owners, and, moreover, that its abolition would be quite unwarrantable, as it was one of the surest sources of revenue to the state. On the other hand, the First Chamber refused to listen to any abolition of the old military system, so long as the defence of the country had not been placed upon a secure basis by the adoption of general compulsory military service. The government stood midway between these conflicting majorities in the chambers, without support in either.

Such was the state of affairs when Oscar II., surrounded by his late brother's advisers, began his reign. One of his first cares was to increase the strength of his navy, but in The Party consequence of the continued antagonism of the Compromise political parties, he was unable to effect much. of 1874. In the first Riksdag, however, the so-called " compromise," which afterwards played such an important part in Swedish political life, came into existence. It originated in the small " Scania " party in the Upper House, and was devised to establish a modus vivendi between the conflicting parties, i.e. the champions of national defence and those who demanded a lightening of the burdens of taxation. The king himself perceived in the compromise a means of solving the conflicting questions, and warmly approved it. He persuaded his ministers to constitute a special inquiry into the proposed abolition of land taxes, and in the address with which he opened the Riksdag of 1875 laid particular stress upon the necessity of giving attention to the settlement of these two burning questions, and in 1880 again came forward with a new proposal for increasing the number of years of service with the militia. This motion having been rejected, De Geer resigned, and was succeeded by Count Arvid Posse. The new prime minister endeavoured to solve the question of defence in accordance with the views of the "Landtmanna " party. Three parliamentary committees had prepared schemes for a remission of the land taxes, for a new system of taxation, for a reorganization of the army based on a stammtrupp (regular army), by the enlistment of hired soldiers, and for naval reforms. In this last connexion the most suitable types of vessels for coast defence as for offence were determined upon. But Count Posse, deserted by his own party over the army bill, resigned, and was succeeded on the 16th of May 1884 by Oscar Themptauder, who had been minister of finance in the previous cabinet. The new premier succeeded in persuading the Riksdag to pass a bill increasing the period of service with the colours in the army to six years and that in the militia to forty-two days, and as a set-off a remission of 3 o % on the land taxes.

Influenced by the economic reaction which took place in 1879 in consequence of the state of affairs in Germany, where Prince Bismarck had introduced the protectionist system, a Protec- protectionist party had been formed, which tried to tionist gain adherents in the Riksdag. It is true that in Movement. the Riksdag of 1882 the commercial treaty with France was renewed, but since 1885 the protectionist party was prepared to begin the combat, and a duty on corn, which had been proposed in the Riksdag of the same year, was rejected by only a slight majority. During the period of the unusually low price of corn of 1886, which greatly. affected the Swedish farmers, protection gained ground to such an extent that its final triumph was considered as certain within a short time. During the Riksdag of the same year, however, the premier, Themptauder, emphatically declared himself against the protectionist party, and while the parties in the Second Chamber were equal in number, the proposed tax on corn was rejected in the First Chamber. In the Riksdag of 1887 there was a majority for protection in the Second Chamber, and in the first the majority against the tax was so small that the tax on corn would have triumphed in a combined meeting of the two chambers. The government, availing itself of its formal right not to dissolve the chamber in which it had the support of a majority, therefore dissolved only the Second Chamber (March 1887).

The new Riksdag assembled in May with a free trade majority Charles XV., of the minister of justice, Baron Louis Gerhard de 1859-1872. in the Second Chamber, but nothing in connexion with the great question of customs was settled. In the meantime, the powerful majority in the Second Chamber split into two groups - the new "Landtmanna " party, which approved protection in the interests of agricultural classes; and a somewhat smaller group, the old " Landtmanna " party, which favoured free trade.

The victory of the free traders was not, however, destined to be of long duration, as the protectionists obtained a majority in both chambers in the next Riksdag (1888). To the First Chamber protectionists were almost exclusively elected, and in the Second all the twenty-two members for Stockholm were disqualified, owing to one of their number not having paid his taxes a few years previously, which prevented his being eligible. Instead, then, of twenty-two free traders representing the majority of the Stockholm electors, twenty-two protectionists, representing the minority, were elected, and Stockholm was thus represented in the Riksdag by the choice of a minority in the capital. This singular way of electing members for the principal city in the kingdom could not fail further to irritate the parties. One result of the Stockholm election came at a convenient time for the Themptauder ministry. The financial affairs of the country were found to be in a most unsatisfactory state. In spite of reduced expenses, a highly estimated revenue, and the contemplated raising of taxes, there was a deficit, for the payment or discharge of which the government would be obliged to demand supplementary supplies. The Themptauder ministry resigned. The king retained, however, for a time several members of the ministry, but it was difficult to find a premier who would be able, during the transition from one system to another, to command sufficient authority to control the parties. At last Baron Gillis Bildt, who, while Swedish ambassador in Berlin, had witnessed the introduction by Prince Bismarck of the agrarian protectionist system in Germany, accepted the premiership, and it was under his auspices that the two chambers imposed a series of duties on necessaries of life. The new taxes, together with an increase of the excise duty on spirits, soon brought a surplus into the state coffers. At a council of state (Oct. 12, 1888) the king declared his wishes as to the way in which this surplus should be used. He desired that it should be applied to a fund for insurance and old age pensions for workmen and old people, to the lightening of the municipal taxes by state contributions to the schools and workhouses, to the abolition of the land taxes and of the obligation of keeping a horse and man for military service, and, lastly, to the improvement of the shipping trade; but the Riksdag decided to devote it to other objects, such as the payment of the deficit in the budget, the building of railways and augmentation of their material, as well as to improvements in the defences of the country.

Baron Bildt resigned as soon as the new system seemed settled, making room for Baron Gustav Akerhjelm. The latter, however, also soon resigned, and was succeeded on the 10th of July 1891 by Erik Gustav Bostrom, a landed proprietor. The protectionist system gained in favour on the expiry of the commercial treaty with France in 1892, as it could now be extended to articles of industry. The elections of 1890, when the metropolis returned free traders and Liberals to the Second Chamber, certainly effected a change in the latter, as the representatives of the towns and the old " Landtmanna " party joined issue and established a free-trade majority in the chamber, but in the combined meetings of the two chambers the compact protectionist majority in the First Chamber turned the scale. The customs duties were, however, altered several times in accordance with market prices and ruling circumstances. Thus in 1892, when the import duty on unground corn was reduced from 2S. 10d. to is. 5d., and that on ground corn from 4s. 9d. to 2S. iod. for 100 kilogrammes, the same duties were also retained for the following year. They were also retained for 1894 at the request of the government, which desired to keep faith with their promise that while the new organization of the army was going on no increase of duties on the necessaries of life should take place. This measure caused much dissatisfaction, and gave rise to a strong agrarian movement, in consequence of which the government, in the beginning of 1895, before the assembling of the Riksdag, made use of its right of raising the two duties on corn just referred to, 3s. 7d. and 7s. 2d., which were afterwards somewhat reduced as far as seed corn for sowing purposes was concerned.

The question of customs duties now settled, that of national defence was taken up afresh, and in the following year the government produced a complete scheme for the abolition of the land tax in the course of ten ears years ?

in exchange for a compensation of ninety days' drill for those liable to military service, proposed to retain the old military system of the country and to strengthen the defences of Norrland, and the government bill for a reorganization of the army was accepted by the Riksdag in an extraordinary session. But it was soon perceived that the new plan was unsatisfactory and required recasting, upon which the minister of war, Baron Rappe, resigned, and was succeeded by Colonel von Crustebjorn, who immediately set to work to prepare a complete reorganization of the army, with an increase of the time of active service on the lines of general compulsory service. The Riksdag of 190o, in addition to grants for the fortifications at Boden, in the province of Norrbotten, on the Russian border, and other military objects, voted a considerable grant for an experimental mobilization, which fully exposed the defects and faults of the old system. In the Riksdag of 1901 E. G. Bostrom resigned, and was succeeded by Admiral F. W. von Otter, who introduced a new bill for the army reorganization, the most important item of which was the increase of the period of training to 365 days. The cost in connexion with the new scheme was expected to amount to 22 millions of kronor. The Riksdag, however, did not accept the new plan in its full extent. The time of drilling was reduced to 240 days for the infantry, to 300 days for the navy, while for the cavalry and artillery the time fixed was 365 days. The plan, thus modified, was then accepted by the government.

After the elections in 1890, the alliance already mentioned between the old " Landtmanna " party and the representatives of the towns had the result that the Liberals in the Second Chamber to whom the re resentatives of the Franchise ' ', p Reform. towns mostly belonged, were now in a position to decide the policy which the two united parties should follow. In order to prevent this, it was proposed to readjust the number of the members of the Riksdag. The question N as only settled in 1894, when a bill was passed fixing the number of the members of the Riksdag in the First Chamber at 150, and in the Second at 230, of which 150 should represent the country districts and 80 the towns. The question of protection being now considered settled, there was no longer any reason for the continued separation of the two " Landtmanna " parties, who at the beginning of the Riksdag of 1895 joined issue and became once more a compact majority in the Second Chamber, as they had been up to the Riksdag of May 1887. The influence of the country representatives was thus re-established in the Second Chamber, but now the demands for the extension of the franchise came more and more to the front, and the premier, Bostrom, at last felt bound to do something to meet these demands. He accordingly introduced in the Riksdag of 1896 a very moderate bill for the extension of the franchise, which was, nevertheless, rejected by both chambers, all similar proposals by private members meeting the same fate. When at last the bill for the reorganization of the army, together with a considerably increased taxation, was accepted by the Riksdag of 1901, it was generally acknowledged that, in return for the increased taxation, it would only be just to extend the right of taking part in the political life and the legislative work of the country to those of the population who hitherto had been excluded from it. The government eventually laid a proposal for the extension of the franchise before the Riksdag of 1902, the chief feature of which was that the elector should be twenty-five years of age, and that married men over forty years should be entitled to two votes. The Riksdag, however, finally agreed to a proposal by Bishop Billing, a member of the First Chamber, that an address should be presented to the king asking for a full inquiry into the question of extending the franchise for the election of members to the Second Chamber.

In 1897 the Riksdag had received among its members the first socialistic representative in the person of R. H. Brauting, the leader of the Swedish Social Democrats. The Movement. who had formerly confined their activity Socialists, Y y to questions affecting the working classes and their wages, took, however, in 1902 an active part in the agitation for the extension of the franchise. Processions of many thousands of workmen were organized, in Stockholm and in other towns of the kingdom, just before the Riksdag began the discussion on the above-mentioned bill of the government, and when the bill was introduced in the chambers a general and wellorganized strike took place and continued during the three days the debate on the bill lasted. As this strike was of an exclusively political kind, and was intended to put pressure on the chambers, it was generally disapproved, and failed in its object. The prime minister, Admiral von Otter, resigned shortly after the end of the session, and was succeeded by Bostrom, the expremier, who at the request of the king again assumed office.

The relations with Norway during King Oscar's reign had great influence on political life in Sweden, and more than once it Relations seemed as if the union between the two countries was with on the point of being wrecked. The dissensions Norway. chiefly had their origin in the demand by Norway for separate consuls and foreign ministers, to which reference is made under Norway. At last, after vain negotiations and discussions, the Swedish government in 1895 gave notice to Norway that the commercial treaty which till then had existed between the two countries and would lapse in July 1897 would, according to a decision in the Riksdag, cease, and as Norway at the time had raised the customs duties, a considerable diminution in the exports of Sweden to Norway took place. The Swedish minister of foreign affairs, Count Lewenhaupt, who was considered as too friendly disposed towards the Norwegians, resigned, and was replaced by Count Ludvig Douglas, who represented the opinion of the majority in the First Chamber. When, however, the Norwegian Storthing, for the third time, passed a bill for a national or " pure " flag, which King Oscar eventually sanctioned, Count Douglas resigned in his turn and was succeeded by the Swedish minister at Berlin, Lagerheim, who managed to pilot the questions of the union into more quiet waters. He succeeded all the better as the new elections to the Riksdag of 1900 showed clearly that the Swedish people was not inclined to follow the ultraconservative or so-called " patriotic " party, which resulted in the resignation of the two leaders of that party, Professor Oscar Alin and Count Marschal Patrick Reutersvard as members of the First Chamber. On the other hand, ex-Professor E. Carlson, of the High School of Gothenburg, succeeded in forming a party of Liberals and Radicals to the number of about 90 members, who, besides being in favour of the extension of the franchise, advocated the full equality of Norway with Sweden in the management of foreign affairs. (0. H. D.) The state of quietude which for some time prevailed with regard to the relations with Norway was not, however, to be of Dissolu- long duration. The question of separate consuls The Lion of the for Norway soon came up again. In 1902 the Union with Swedish government proposed that negotiations in Norway. this matter should be opened with the Norwegian government, and that a joint committee, consisting of representatives from both countries, should be appointed to consider the question of a separate consular service without in any way interfering with the existing administration of the diplomatic affairs'of the two countries. The result of the negotiations was published in a so-called " communique," dated the 24th of March 1903, in which, among other things, it was proposed that the relations of the separate consuls to the joint ministry of foreign affairs and the embassies should be arranged by identical laws, which could not be altered or repealed without the consent of the governments of the two countries. The proposal for these identical laws, which the Norwegian government in May 1904 submitted, did not meet with the approval of the Swedish government. The latter in their reply proposed that the Swedish foreign minister should have such control over the Norwegian consuls as to prevent the latter from exceeding their authority.' This proposal, however, the Norwegian government found unacceptable, and explained that, if such control were insisted upon, all further negotiations would be purposeless. They maintained that the Swedish demands were incompatible with the sovereignty of Norway, as the foreign minister was a Swede and the proposed Norwegian consular service, as a Norwegian institution, could not be placed under a foreign authority. A new proposal by the Swedish government was likewise rejected, and in February 1905 the Norwegians broke off the negotiations. Notwithstanding this an agreement did not appear to be out of the question. All efforts to solve the consular question by itself had failed, but it was considered that an attempt might be made to establish separate consuls in combination with a joint administration of diplomatic affairs on a full unionistic basis. Crown Prince Gustaf, who during the illness of King Oscar was appointed regent, took the initiative of renewing the negotiations between the two countries, and on the 5th of April in a combined Swedish and Norwegian council of state made a proposal for a reform both of the administration of diplomatic affairs and of the consular service on the basis of full equality between the two kingdoms, with the express reservation, however, of a joint foreign minister - Swedish or Norwegian - as a condition for the existence of the union. This proposal was approved of by the Swedish Riksdag on the 3rd of May 1905. In order that no obstacles should be placed in the way for renewed negotiations, Mr Bostrom, the prime minister, resigned and was succeeded by Mr Ramstedt. The proposed negotiations were not, however, renewed.

On the 23rd of May the Norwegian Storthing passed the government's proposal for the establishment of separate Norwegian consuls, and as King Oscar, who again had resumed the reins of government, made use of his constitutional right to veto the bill, the Norwegian ministry tendered their resignation. The king, however, declared he could not now accept their resignation, whereupon the ministry at a sitting of the Norwegian Storthing on the 7th of June placed their resignation in its hands. The Storthing thereupon unanimously adopted a resolution stating that, as the king had declared himself unable to form a government, the constitutional royal power " ceased to be operative," whereupon the ministers were requested, until further instructions, to exercise the power vested in the king, and as King Oscar thus had ceased to act as " the king of Norway," the union with Sweden was in consequence dissolved.

In Sweden, where they were least of all prepared for the turn things had taken, the action of the Storthing created the greatest surprise and resentment. The king solemnly pro- The First tested against what had taken place and summoned extra- an extraordinary session of the Riksdag for the 10th ordinary of June to consider what measures should be taken Riksdag, with regard to the question of the union, which had 1905' arisen suddenly through the revolt of the Norwegians on the 7th of June. The Riksdag declared that it was not opposed to negotiations being entered upon regarding the conditions for the dissolution of the union if the Norwegian Storthing, after a new election, made a proposal for the repeal of the Act of Union between the two countries, or, if a proposal to this effect was made by Norway after the Norwegian people, through a plebiscite, had declared in favour of the dissolution of the union. The Riksdag further resolved that loo million kroner (about £555,000) should be held in readiness and be available as the Riksdag might decide. On the resignation of the Ramstedt ministry Mr Lundeberg formed a coalition ministry consisting of members of the various parties in the Riksdag, after which the Riksdag was prorogued on the 3rd of August.

After the plebiscite in Norway on the 13th of August had decided in favour of the dissolution of the union and after the Storthing had requested the Swedish government to The co-operate with it for the repeal of the Act of Union, Karlstad a conference of delegates from both countries was Convention. convened at Karlstad on the 31st of August. On the 23rd 1 For further details see Norway: History. of September the delegates came to an agreement, the principal points of which were: that such disputes between the two countries which could not be settled by direct diplomatic negotiations, and which did not affect the vital interests of either country, should be referred to the permanent court of arbitration at the Hague, that on either side of the southern frontier a neutral zone of about fifteen kilometres width should be established, and that within eight months the fortifications within the Norwegian part of the zone should be destroyed. Other clauses dealt with the rights of the Laplanders to graze their reindeer alternatively in either country, - and with the question of transport of goods across the frontier by rail or other means of communication, so that the traffic should not be hampered by any import or export prohibitions or otherwise.

From the 2nd to the 19th of October the extraordinary Riksdag was again assembled, and eventually approved of the The Second arrangement come to by the delegates at Karlstad with regard to the dissolution of the union as well ordinary as the government proposal for the repeal of the Act of Union and the recognition of Norway as an independent state. An alteration in the Swedish flag was also decided upon, by which the mark of union was to be replaced by an azure-blue square. An offer from the Norwegian Storthing to elect a prince of the Swedish royal house as king in Norway was declined by King Oscar, who now on behalf of himself and his successors renounced the right to the Norwegian crown. Mr Lundeberg, who had accepted office only to settle the question of the dissolution of the union, now resigned and was succeeded by a Liberal government with Mr Karl Staaff as prime minister.[1]

King of Sweden

  • Charles XIII () (September 17, 1809 - February 5, 1818)
  • Charles XIV John () (February 5, 1818 - March 8, 1844)
  • Oscar I () (March 8, 1844 - July 8, 1859)
  • Charles XV () (July 8, 1859 - September 17, 1872)
  • Oscar II () (September 17, 1872 - December 8, 1907)



Scandinavian Polities


  1. Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.)