The Provinces or Landskap were the subdivision of Sweden until 1634, when they were replaced by Counties in a reform, led by Axel Oxenstierna, that still remains in force in Sweden Proper. The county reform also survived until 1997 in Finland, despite the separation from Sweden in 1809. The provinces have no administrative function today but remains as an historical legacy and as source of cultural identification. Even if the provinces are defunct as entities their traditions are still maintained by present day authorities.
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The origin of the division into provinces were the smaller separate kingdoms that eventually united and formed the unified Sweden. Even after being united under a Swedish monarch each of these lands had its own law and Thing, a combined political and judicial assembly. The constituent provinces were held as duchies, but as the kingdom expanded with newly conquered provinces depending on their importance they received a status of duchy or county.
Of the conquests made after separation from the Kalmar Union in 1523 only some were incorporated as provinces. Most significantly at the Treaty of Roskilde in 1658, where the former Danish provinces of Scania, Blechingia, Hallandia and Bahusia, with the Norwegian provinces of Jemtia and Herdalia became Swedish and eventually fully integrated. Other than that conquered territories were ruled as separate Dominions under the Swedish monarch, which in some cases lasted for two or even three centuries. Norway was in personal union with Sweden for during the 19th century but never an integral part of Sweden.
The division of Västerbotten that took place when ceding Finland inavertly caused the new province of Norrbotten to emerge and eventually it came to be recognised as a province in its own right but it has never been granted a coat of arms.
At the funeral of King Gustav Vasa(Gustav I) in 1560 the coats of arms for the provinces were displayed togeather for the first time and several of them had been granted for that particular occasion. After the separation of Sweden and Finland the traditions for respective provincial arms diverged. Most noticeably in that all Swedish provinces carry dukal crowns, following an order by the Privy Council on January 18, 1884, while the Finnish provincial arms still distinguish between dukal and countal dignity. A complication is also that the representation of Finnish dukal and countal coronets resemble Swedish coronets of a lower order, namely countal and baronal. The division of Lappland necessitated a distinction between the Swedish and the Finnish arms.