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Eight Coronation and Coronation Ordines in Medieval Scandinavia
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Christianity arrived in Sweden[99] later than in the other Scandinavian realms. Succession struggles characterized here, too, the century between 1150 and 1250, fought out mainly among the families of the Sverker and the Erik-clan. Similar to Jarl Erling in Norway, Birger Jarl succeeded in placing his son Waldemar on the throne as an heir, albeit on his mother's side, of the Erik-line and thereby founded the (erroneously) so-called Folkunger dynasty. Just as for the Erik-dynasty before them, the establishment of a cult for the ancestor of the family, St. Erik.[100] was of paramount importance in this process. St. Erik's grandson, Erik Knutsson (1208–1216) was the first King of Sweden to be crowned by the archbishop of Uppsala.[101] The existence of royal insignia, above all, crowns, before the first Christian coronation can be assumed for Sweden as well.[102]

It is most likely that the pre-Christian acts of royal acclamation on the Mora-field near Old Uppsala included some kind of investiture with insignia and, from the twelfth century onwards, probably with a crown. However,


Olivecrona and Thordeman may go too far when they try to deduce a formal Germanic "coronation ceremony" from the Uppland Law of the thirteenth century, which contains a description of the old secular acts of royal inauguration.[103] The crown mentioned here is surely a later interpolation, as Hans Kuhn suggested. The division between secular inauguration on the Mora-field, the subsequent Eriksgata , comparable to the German Königsumritt[ 104] as acknowledgment of the new king by the tribes and the final ecclesiastical coronation, is not particularly Swedish, as Thordemann wants to claim. There was a royal circuit to the landsthinger also in Denmark, and German kings were often elected in one place and crowned in another, but these are not sufficient grounds to assume a specific secular act of coronation in connection with the nonecclesiastical inauguration.

After 1210 all Swedish kings were crowned. Only for the two sons and coregents of Magnus Eriksson, Erik and Haakon VI (of Norway), do we lack explicit records of their coronation.[105] Apparently the coronator was usually the archbishop of Uppsala[106] even though we have no specific evidence for this between 1210[107] and the coronations of the Union kings Christopher III (1441)[108] and Christian II (1520).[109] However, considering the general dearth of reliable sources for high medieval Sweden, this is by no means a particularly poor record. The assumed prerogative of the see of Uppsala was occasionally overridden, and we have sources for the exceptional cases. As already mentioned, one source credits the bishop of Dorpat wit the role of coronator in 1336 at the crowning of Magnus Eriksson.[110] Since this act was meant to be for both Sweden and Norway, the choice of a prelate outside either realm may have been motivated by an attempt to avoid any conflict between Uppsala and Trondheim. In 1448 Karl Knutsson was crowned by the bishop of Linköping,[111] merely an emergency solution, for the archbishop-elect was not yet consecrated. Karl's opponent, Christian I, was crowned by the bishop of Strengnäs in 1457, even though the archbishop was his ally.[112]

Although, like the two other Scandinavian countries, Sweden did not have a definite site for coronation, Uppsala enjoyed a certain preeminence, comparable to Lund in Denmark. Uppsala's position was logical for the early coronations since it counted as the sacral and political centre in pre-Christian Sweden. It was also "practical" since the secular ascension on the Mora-field at the Mora stone (super lapidem) was quite close to Old Uppsala where the Christian consecration could take place.[113] After the coronation of Magnus Eriksson in Stockholm (1336)[114] the royal residence frequently also came to be the place for coronations; the Union kings Hans in 1497[115] and Christian II in 1520[116] were crowned there. For the sake of completeness the coronation of the king of the Union in Kalmar (1397)[117] should also be mentioned. As in the rest of Scandinavia, the crowning of the queen seems to have been typical in Sweden as well.[118]


While no medieval coronation ordines survive from Sweden, we have good evidence about the insignia from a charter of King Birger from 1311.[119] The king entrusted a number of signs of rulership and relics to the cathedral chapter of Uppsala and listed the insignia as well the other ornamenta regalia : crown, scepter, dalmatica, mantle, tunic, linen garments, sandals, a golden eagle, a silver garter (for the sword), and a liber de coronacione regis . Thus we have the "official" list of royal insignia for early fourteenth-century Sweden. It contains, besides the well-known major insignia and the coronation dress, an imperial symbol, the eagle, but lacks the otherwise ever-present royal sword. Most important, the treasure includes a book on the king's coronation which must have contained the coronation ordo, as was usual for other kingdoms in Europe.[120]

Unfortunately no other written source exists about medieval Swedish coronations. The oldest report containing some details concerns the coronation of Christian II in 1520, in the City Church of Stockholm.[121] It informs us that in the course of the consecration the king swore an oath and after the coronation mass partook of the sacrament. The coronation of Gustavus Wasa on 1 December 1528 in the Cathedral of Uppsala should, to my mind, still be seen as a medieval one, and not as the first Protestant ordination. That distinction belongs to the coronation of Christian III in 1537 in Copenhagen, as discussed above. Wasa never unequivocally embraced Lutheranism and only used the religious conflict to reduce the power of bishops and churchmen in Swedish political life. This attitude explains the mixed character of his coronation.[122] Gustavus had the Swedish protagonist of the reformation, Olaus Petri, preach the sermon, but the coronation was entrusted to the senior bishop, Magnus of Skara, since the archbishop, Gustav Trulle, had left the country as a political enemy of the king. Thus the coronation must have followed the traditional, Catholic, and medieval ordo, which we, alas, do not know. We know only that six bishops assisted the coronator and that the insignia were carried by the leading men of the realm: the orb by the imperial master of the court, the sword by the marshal, and the scepter by another member of the royal council.

The Swedish coronation oath, recorded for the first time at this occasion,[123] consists of the first part of the professio known from the German ordo. One may assume that the medieval Swedish ordo contained the entire text and was, therefore, identical with the medieval Danish one. Gustavus Wasa quite consciously halved the text. In this way he retained only a general promise of lex, iustitia , and pax to the church and his people. The latter half would have bound him specifically to observe the honor, rights, and privileges of clergy and church, of abbots and of counts as vassals, whose counsel he would also have promised to follow. Leaving these out the king avoided swearing on any truly constitutional point which would have limited his attempts to strengthen royal prerogative.


For the first genuine Protestant coronation in Sweden, that of Erik XIV on 19 June 1561, several handwritten and printed sources have come down to us. These permitted Per Janzon[124] to establish, by careful sifting and comparison, two versions of the ordo that were prepared before the coronation. Janzon concluded, just as we did for the first Danish Protestant coronation, that the ordo went back to medieval ordines but was fused with Lutheran ideas, especially in the sermons and the liturgy. The ordo of 1561 existed in two versions before the coronation, represented in a number of variants. Version A appears to have been a draft, and hence closer to medieval models, while version B displays a stronger influence of Lutheran thought. While B represents in all likelihood the ordo that was used in 1561, version A is, of course, more important for our enterprise of reconstruction,[125] and we shall follow it in detail.

The king, at this time still unmarried, was received at the church door by the bishops, wearing their pallia . After greeting and prayers he was led to the altar while a reponsorium is sung. The ordinator —in 1561, the Lutheran archbishop of Uppsala—preached a sermon. Following that, the king, now dressed for anointing, knelt on a prayer bench. Then followed the collect, spoken by the archbishop; Epistle, read by one of the leading pastors; and, with the Introit, Kyrie, and Gloria omitted, the scrutiny. Consisting of three main questions by the archbishop, it is clearly discernible, in contrast to the Danish precedent. The king promised to obey God, to hold the right faith, which in Lutheran formulation was called "the pure word of God," to abolish all false teaching and heresy, to protect the church and her servants and the subjects of his realm, and to observe the law of the land and resist injustice. The king replied with "Yes" to all the questions and finally swore a coronation oath that summarized all the preceding points. The oath was similar to the Danish one in the ordo of 1537, but different both from the old professio and the Gustavus Wasa version of it.

The king was then anointed on the forehead, the chest, between the shoulders, on both shoulders, elbows, and wrists. After another prayer, he was given the gloves, the ring, a small sword (girded to his waist), and the mantle. Together with the other bishops, the ordinator -archbishop placed the crown on the head of the kneeling king, who was then led to the throne. Seated there, he was given scepter, sword, and orb, and acclaimed as king of Sweden. Subsequently the Swedish king too read the Gospel of the week, holding up the naked sword, while two clerics held the Gospel-book in front of him. The ceremonies ended with the Creed, the king's offertorium, and his partaking of the Lord's Supper for the first time as king. A blessing is the last act noted. The sources do not contain any details about the investiture with the insignia; nothing is said of the swinging of the sword or of secular participation in the placing of the crown, as in Denmark.

The ordo of 1561 shows both parallels with and differences from the 1537


Copenhagen coronation. The combination of scrutinium and professio is the same in both. But the anointing in Sweden is much more elaborate than the Danish and resembles rather the high medieval practice in Germany and Western Europe.[126] Only the anointing of the hands is missing, but this was omitted for a while in thirteenth-century France.[127] The number of the insignia parallels that of the English and German regalia. The duplication of the sword is noteworthy. The place of the coronation in the middle of the ceremony points to Western European models. While an enthronement was only hinted at in Christopher III's coronation in 1443, it is here explictly included. The acclamation of the king in the 1561 ordo (version B ) refers quite clearly to the medieval practice of the assent of "the people."[128] Here it is noted that after the king has been announced as ruler by a herald, the usual acclamation is given: "God give our king luck and health," or "May he enjoy good luck and a long reign." It is most noteworthy that the king's reading of the Gospel features in the Swedish ordo in the same way as it did in the 1443 coronation in Denmark. I regard this as an additional proof for my hypothesis about Christopher III's introduction of this act to Scandinavian coronation rituals.[129] It is most likely that he proposed it not only for Denmark but also at the coronations for his two other realms, including that in 1441 for Sweden.[130] Thus it is most likely that this German practice did indeed find its way into Scandinavia during the reign of Christopher III.

In summary, coronation and anointing were also introduced to Sweden from the older Christian kingdoms to enhance royal prerogative and state power as well as to secure succession by primogeniture, just as in Norway and Denmark. Here, too, the first coronation was held for a king who claimed the throne as a descendant of a holy king, St. Erik. The office of coronator was from 1210 throughout the Middle Ages with very few exceptions the privilege of the metropolitan of Sweden, the archbishop of Uppsala. Even though a fixed coronation place was not established, the prevalence of Uppsala as archsee and as the church closest to the traditional secular center of ascension, the Mora-field, is obvious. Uppsala's position was unchanged until around 1336 when the principal residence of the kings, Stockholm, moved into first place. The kind and number of the insignia parallel those in Germany and England but lack baculus and armillae and so surpass the Danish ones. The inclusion of a professio, the insignia, and the form of unction point to German ordines while the sequence of the investiture points rather to English examples. In the light of the above, the medieval Swedish ordo may have had the following structure:

1. Entry of the king.
2. Sermon, prayer for the ruler, collect, Epistle.
3. Scrutinium.
4. Unction (forehead, chest, back, shoulders, elbows, wrists); prayer.


5. Gloves and ring.
6. Small sword.
7. Mantle.
8. Coronation of kneeling king.
9. Enthronement; scepter, orb, large sword.
10. (Since 1441?) Reading of the Gospel with upheld sword by the king.
11. Creed, offertorium, communion.

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