Sweden is record holder for deposing monarchs

At the moment, I am re-writing the chapter presenting the case studies, including cutting most details needed for the German dissertation out of the upcoming monograph. I’ll try to roughly work parallel on the editing of the German publication and the re-writing of the English monograph, and I am now coming to the end of the Scandinavian case studies.

So, what brought me to include the Scandinavian kingdoms into my research? England and even Scotland were pretty clear, the English even have a reputation for being “king-slayers” – it’s a bit undeserved; usually they deposed their monarchs first, or more precise, forced them to abdicate – afterwards, they killed them, so it should be something like “ex-king-slayers”? But even the English with all their depositions from 1327 (Edward II) right through the Wars of the Roses and until Charles I and James II in the 17th century, do not hold a candle to the Swedish.
Very early on, it became clear that if I want to understand deposition, I have to include Sweden. If I counted correctly, from all the kings between ca. 1350 until 1600, only three were not deposed. Plus Margaret who ruled but was never crowned. In between were also a few regents (riksföreståndare) who were deposed though more of them avoided deposition. There is then a break in the Swedish favourite pastime of deposing kings until the late 18th century. Then they start again – Gustav III gets shot during a masquerade ball which even inspired Verdi to write his opera Un ballo in maschera about it. He also brought in a (fictive) love triangle for reasons unknown to me. I thought the events were dramatic enough but I am also not writing operas… Gustav’s son, Gustav IV, was deposed as well in 1809 before Sweden finally stopped deposing all their monarchs. At least until now.
As early modernist, I focussed on the depositions of the 16th century – 1501 started with the deposition of John II, and up until Sigismund’s deposition in 1599, two further kings were deposed. Out of the six monarchs of this century! The other two, Gustav I and John III, were also involved, but as deposers themselves. As it turned out, the sixteenth century was a defining century for Sweden and formed much of the later monarchy. Depositions were a part of this struggle and search for a political identity.

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