|Christianity||Early Church Laws||Reformation||Laws of 1686|
|<<-- to main menu||Literature ->||Practices ->|
The first religious "system" of belief was the Nordic mythology including many deities like Oden (Odin), Tor, Freja, Balder, Höder, This was probably fairly uniform throughout the Nordic countries. There are many remnants from these beliefs still around today but the origin is unknown to many. Not only do we find hällristningar (rock carvings), runstenar (rune stones) and blotplatser (offering sites) in nature but we still use place and person names, weekdays, proverbs and more referencing the deities and customs of the heathen period. This includes not only the Nordic region but also most of the (old) English speaking world as well. Just think of Thursday = the day of the god Thor.
Christianity came to the Nordic countries in the 9th century though
traders. The first known "regular" missionary was the
who visited the trading place of Birka
(in lake Mälaren, north of today's Stockholm) but the more
general spreading of the new faith started with the formal
christening of the king Olaf Skötkonung
who reigned around the year 1000 in province
Västergötland and his creation of a bishopric
in Skara (Västergötland province, south of lake Vänern). Its first
bishop was named Turgot.
The first known church laws
are known from the landskapslag
(provincial laws) from province Uppland (north of
Stockholm). These laws were created in each province
(written down in the 13th century) before Sweden was united
to one realm and the laws from province Uppland were
accepted by a national church convention to be valid for
Reformation - the move from Catholic to Protestant faith
Under the reign of King
Gustav Vasa, who instigated the "reformation"
(including the confiscation of most church property), the
church laws were revised by the parliament at Västerås in 1527. This is the turn from Roman-Catholic to Evangelical Lutheran faith.
|Church laws of 1686
This is a comprehensive law
regulating most aspects of the church organization and
practice. First of all it states what is the
"correct" faith (Evangelical-Lutheran).
The church services at mass, christening, communion and
funeral, how to elect priests and bishops, as well as
church staffing and care of church property is regulated.
It is here the instructions about the church records are
written and the reason that Sweden has such a rich treasure
of records from old times. In several areas it took many
years before a regular practice was established and
recording may have started as late as a couple of decades
into the 18th century in some places even though the law
was officially valid as of 1688.
(church laws of
With the growing pietistic
movement in the early 18th century the state church passed
a law against the practice of private religious meeting,
called konventikel. The law
states that only the parish priest could lead religious
meetings except for the head of family leading a devotion
with his family, a practice called husandakt.
The punishment for arranging a religious meeting was a fine or
even a jail sentence.
In the 19th century several Christian revival
movements developed within Svenska Kyrkan (the state church). The
major ones in Sweden were:
Outside the state church the main movements were :
Not until 1860 was it possible to leave the Svenska Kyrkan
and still only to enter another evangelical movement.
|Last updated by||F Hae||2005-05-23 00:22||© Fredrik Haeffner, 2001-5|