Monday, 22 June 2015

Episode 29: The home front

During the long 17th century, 1560-1718, Sweden had been at war far more than it had seen peace. War cost. The were some natural assets to Swedens advantage - iron, copper, tar, pitch, coal - and the effective administration and control of the population. Still, the goverments that ruled during this period had to be very creative in financing war, mainly working from the principle that the war should pay for itself - that is in reality that others should pay for it.

The cost of war was also human. Even though Swedish men were far from the only nationality in the Swedish army they were there in great numbers. And they died, mostly from disease in camps. The chance of surviving it sent overseas was small. Jan Lindegren has shown that of the 255 men who were conscripted from Bygdeå in North Sweden between 1620 and 1644, at least 197 died.

Surprisingly, and due to a high number of children born, the Swedish population still grew during this period. The last army, the on Karl XII led on his Norwegian campaign in 1718, could still be raised by using Swedish men of the "right" age - 15-40 years old.

In the summer of 1674, Lorenzo Magalotti, a diplomat from Tuscany, travelled through Sweden. He both wrote about and scetched what he saw. This image portais Swedish farmers.