On This Day
1600 – The Linköping Bloodbath takes place on Maundy Thursday in Linköping, Sweden: five Swedish noblemen are publicly beheaded in the aftermath of the War against Sigismund (1598–1599).
The Linköping Bloodbath (Swedish: Linköpings blodbad) on 20 March 1600 was the public execution by beheading of five Swedish nobles in the aftermath of the War against Sigismund (1598–1599), which resulted in the de facto deposition of the Polish and Swedish King Sigismund III Vasa as king of Sweden. The five were advisors to Catholic Sigismund or political opponents of the latter’s uncle and adversary, the Swedish regent Duke Charles.
Detention, trial and execution
King Sigismund, eldest son to King John III, had inherited the crown from his father and been crowned the rightful king of Sweden after giving assurances that he would not act to aid the Catholic cause in Sweden during the mounting religious turmoil of the counter-reformation in the late 16th century. He violated the agreement, setting off civil war in Sweden. After trying to manage the Swedish situation from afar, Sigismund invaded with a mercenary army after receiving permission from the Polish legislature, and initially was successful. The turning point of his Swedish campaign was the Battle of Stångebro on 25 September 1598, also known as the Battle of Linköping, where Sigismund became trapped in an unfavourable position and had to agree to a truce with Charles. One of Charles’ conditions for the truce was the handing over of Swedish privy counsellors from Sigismund’s camp. Sigismund complied.
Most prominent among these Swedish senators was the Chancellor of Sweden, Erik Sparre. While Charles did not detain Sigismund as well, he forced him to agree to the Treaty of Linköping and to agree that their dispute would be settled by a future Riksdag of the Estates in Stockholm. Sigismund retreated to the port of Kalmar, but instead of sailing to Stockholm, he took his sister Anna, left for Danzig in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and never returned to Sweden again. Charles then crushed the remaining military opposition from forces loyal to Sigismund and those nobles who had previously taken control of Finland in the Cudgel War. During these campaigns, some nobles were tried, executed or detained. Executions, including the so-called Åbo Bloodbath, were carried out through decapitation or impalement, Charles himself executed a son of his adversary Clas Fleming.
When in March 1600 a riksdag met in Linköping, Charles, who was meanwhile created omnipotent ruler of Sweden and had repeatedly been offered the Swedish crown, set up a court to try his remaining prisoners. The court, headed by Axel Leijonhufvud and Erik Brahe, consisted of 155 members, with Charles himself being the prosecutor. Tried were six nobles captured in Stångebro and two Finnish nobles captured later, including Arvid Stålarm, who in 1598 had intended to aid Sigismund in Stångebro, but aborted the action when his army had reached Stockholm from Finland only after Sigismund had accepted the aforementioned truce. The other Finnish noble, Axel Kurck, was sentenced to death along with Stålarm in Finland already, but the verdict had been suspended to again try them in Linköping. These eight noblemen were eventually sentenced to death, but three of them were pardoned.
The noblemen publicly executed on the Linköping market square on 20 March 1600 were:
Erik Sparre — the Chancellor of Sweden and a senator in the Riksens ständer
Ture Nilsson Bielke — a senator in the Riksens ständer
Gustaf Banér — a senator in the Riksens ständer and father of Gustavus II Adolphus the Great’s Swedish Field Marshal Johan Banér
Sten Banér — a senator in the Riksens ständer
Bengt Falck — a senator in the Riksens ständer
Born On This Day
1612 – Anne Bradstreet, Puritan American poet (d. 1672)
Anne Bradstreet (March 20, 1612 – September 16, 1672), née Dudley, was the most prominent of early English poets of North America and first writer in England’s North American colonies to be published. She is the first Puritan figure in American Literature and notable for her large corpus of poetry, as well as personal writings published posthumously.
Born to a wealthy Puritan family in Northampton, England, Bradstreet was a well-read scholar especially affected by the works of Du Bartas. A mother of eight children and the wife of a public officer in the New England community, Bradstreet wrote poetry in addition to her other duties. Her early works read in the style of Du Bartas, but her later writings develop into her unique style of poetry which centers on her role as a mother, her struggles with the sufferings of life, and her Puritan faith.
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