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1520: Stockholm Bloodbath

November 8th, 2007 Headsman

On this date in 1520, four days after the Danish King Christian II gained the Swedish throne, nearly 100 prominent supporters of Swedish independence were executed en masse as a civil war’s apparent victors purged their enemies.

The Stockholm Bloodbath followed years of conflict between supporters of the Danish-dominated Kalmar Union and independence advocates under the banner of Sten Sture the Younger. With Sture’s death in battle earlier in 1520, the unionists had gained the upper hand. Stockholm, the last outpost of resistance, had held against four months’ siege before accepting a general amnesty in exchange for capitulation.

But with the city in hand, Christian — known to Swedish history as “Christian the Tyrant” — had its leaders charged for having deposed during the conflict the pro-union Archbishop Gustav Trolle, construed as an offense against the Church not in the temporal authority’s power to reprieve. Less than 24 hours after this legal maneuver was sprung, public beheadings of prelates, merchants and burgomasters were underway at Stortorget* — and Sture’s remains were exhumed and posthumously burnt at the stake.


It proved a Pyrrhic victory for the Danish party.

Inside of three years, Christian himself had been deposed with multiple lands and factions throughout his realm in open revolt. Gustav Vasa, whose father had been one of the Stockholm Bloodbath’s victims, would not only decisively break Denmark’s hold on Sweden but found the Vasa Dynasty under which Sweden would burgeon into one of Europe’s great powers.

*One Hans Brask survived the purge despite having endorsed the removal of Archbishop Trolle. Brask supposedly placed a note under his seal on this document saying “To this I am forced and compelled.” This cunning device gave the Swedish tongue the word Brasklapp — a secret reservation.

Also on this date

Entry Filed under: 16th Century,Beheaded,Denmark,Famous,God,Language,Mass Executions,Notably Survived By,Occupation and Colonialism,Politicians,Popular Culture,Posthumous Executions,Power,Public Executions,Summary Executions,Sweden,Treason,Wartime Executions

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6 Responses to “1520: Stockholm Bloodbath”

  1. 1
    Dr. Thinus Coetzee Says:

    Why do people kill so that they can have power? Almost reminds me of a Governor in Alabama…

  2. 2
    ExecutedToday.com » 1402: False Olaf Says:

    [...] ruler, cautiously welding Denmark, Sweden and Norway into the Kalmar Union that would hold until the 16th century. They called her “the Semiramis of the North,” centuries before Catherine the Great [...]

  3. 3
    ExecutedToday.com » 1520: Hemming Gadh Says:

    [...] And young Sten’s arrival was just in time, because around 1518, Gadh got captured, went over to the Unionist party, and helped it capture Stockholm … precipitating an infamous bloodbath. [...]

  4. 4
    ExecutedToday.com » 1756: Four members of the Swedish Hovpartiet Says:

    [...] was Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe. (Although there was also a Brahe among the casualties of the Stockholm Bloodbath: they go way [...]

  5. 5
    Peter Says:

    Hi, nice article on a very interesting subject indeed. I especially like the part about the “brasklapp”.

    You can find more information about Gustav Vasa on my webpage at: http://www.go-to-sweden.com/gustav-i-1

    Please come by and have a look!

  6. 6
    Swedish guy Says:

    Well, our last execution in sweden was 1910 and they used the guillotine his name was Johan Alfred Ander he was executed 29th november 1910 and penalty to death was officially abolished in Sweden for crimes committed in peacetime in 1921 and all crime 1976.

    -A guy from Stockholm, Sweden

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