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Swedish Pomerania

The Pomeranian
Coat of Arms

Swedish Pomerania was a dominion under the Swedish Crown from the 17th to the 19th century, situated on the German Baltic Sea coast. Following the Polish War and the Thirty Years' War Sweden held extensive control over the lands on the Southern Baltic Coast including Pomerania and parts of Silesia and Prussia. At the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 Sweden received Upper Pomerania, or Vorpommern, a strip of Lower Pomerania, or Hinterpommern, with the islands of Rügen, Usedom and Wollin.

Table of contents
1 The Thirty Years' War
2 Under the Swedish Crown
3 Constitution and Administration
4 Legal System
5 Economy
6 Integration in the Eleventh Hour
7 List of Governors General
8 See also
9 External Links

The Thirty Years' War

Pomerania became involved in Thirty Years' War during the 1620's, and with the town of Stralsund under siege by imperial troops its ruler Bogislaus XIV, the Duke of Stettin, concluded a treaty with the Swedish King Gustavus Adolphus in June 1628. In July 10, 1630 the treaty was extended into an eternal pact and by the end of that year the Swedes had completed the military occupation of Pomerania. After this point Gustavus Adolphus was the real ruler of the country, and even if the rights of succession to Pomeranian, held by the Kurfurst George Wilhelm of Brandenburg was recognised, the King still demanded that Brandenburg break with the Emperor. In 1634 the Estates of Pomerania, assigned the interim government to an eight member directorate, which lasted until Brandenburg by right of the Imperial investiture ordered the directorate disbanded in 1638.

As a consequence Pomerania would lapse in to a state of anarchy, there by forcing the Swedes to act and from 1641 the administration was led by a council ("Concilium status") from Stettin, until the peace treaty in 1648 settled rights to the province in Swedish favour. At the peace negotiations in Osnabrück Brandenburg received Lower Pomerania except the Stettin, a strip of land east of the Oder containing the districts of Damm and Gollnow and the island of Wollin. These territories together with Upper Pomerania and the islands of Rügen and Usedom were ceded to the Sweden as a fief from the Emperor. The Recess of Stettin in 1653 settled the border with Brandenburg, in a manner favourable to Sweden. The border against Mecklenburg, along Trebek and Recknitz, followed a settlement from 1591.

Under the Swedish Crown

The history of Pomerania under Swedish Dominion is in much a story of destitution and conflict. During 1657 to 1659, under the Northern War (not to be confused with the Great Northern War), Polish, Austrian and Brandenburg troops ravaged the country and upon this followed the occupation by Denmark and Brandenburg 1675-1679 under the Scanian War, where by Denmark claimed Rügen and Brandenburg the rest of Pomerania. Both campaigns were in vain for the siegers, except that Gollnow and the strip of land on the east side of Oder which were held by Brandenburg as a pawn in exchange for reparations, until these were paid in 1693.

The first years of the Great Northern War did not affect Pomerania and even when Danish, Russian and Polish forces had crossed the borders in 1714, Prussia first appeared as a hesitant mediator before turning into an aggressor. King Charles XII of Sweden led the defence of Pomerania for an entire year, November 1714 to December 1 715 from the walls of Stralsund before fleeing to Lund. The Danes seized Rügen and Upper Pomerania above the river Peene, and the rest was taken by Prussia. By the Treaty of Fredriksborg, June 3, 1720, Denmark was obliged to hand back control over the occupied territory to Sweden, but in the Treaty of Stockholm, on January 20 in the same year, Prussia had been allowed to retain its conquest. By this Sweden ceded the parts of Lower Pomerania that had had been won in 1648 as well as Upper Pomerania south of Pene and the islands of Wollin and Usedom. The remainder of the Pomeranian dominion held by Sweden after 1720 was the so-called Swedish Pomerania. A feeble attempt to regain the lost territories in the Pomeranian War (1757-1762), coinciding with the Seven Years War, failed.

The entry into the Third Coalition in 1805, where Sweden unsuccessfully fought its First War against Napoleon subsequently led to the occupation of Swedish Pomerania by French troops from 1807 to 1810. In 1812, when French troops yet again marched into Pomerania, the Swedish army mobilized and won against Napoleon in the Battle of Leipzig in 1813, together with troops from Russia, Prussia and Austria. Sweden also attacked Denmark and by the Treaty of Kiel on January 14, 1814, Sweden gave away Pomerania in exchange for Norway. The fate of Pomerania was however finally settled through the treaties between Prussia and Denmark on June 4 and on Sweden on June 7, 1815. In this manoeuvre Prussia had gained Pomerania in exchange for Lauenburg and 2.6 Million Thalers given to Denmark and of 3.5 Million Thalers awarded to Sweden in war damages. The territory was incorporated as Neuvorpommern ("New Upper Pomerania") into the already Prussian province of Pomerania.

Constitution and Administration

The nobility of Pomerania was firmly established and held extensive privileges, as opposed to the other side of the spectrum which was populated by a numerous class of serfs. Even by the end of the 18th century the class of serfs made up two thirds of the population on the country side. The estates owned by the nobility was divided in to districts and the royal domains which covered about a quarter of the country were divided into amts.

The position of Pomerania in the Swedish Realm came to depend on the talks that were opened up between the Estates of Pomerania and the Government of Sweden. The talks showed few results until the Instrument of Government of July 17, 1663 (promulgated by the recess of April 10, 1669) could be presented and only in 1664 did the Pomeranian Estates salute the Swedish Monarch as their new ruler. The Royal Government of Pomerania (Die königliche landesregierung), was composed of the Governor General, whom always were a Swedish Privy Councillor, as chairman and five Councillors of the Royal Government, among them the President of the Appellate Court, the Chancellor and the Castle Hauptmann of Stettin, overinspector of the Royal Amts. When the circumstances so demanded the Estates, nobility, burgesses and until the 1690?s also the priests, could be called to the meeting of a Landtag. The nobility was represented by one deputy per district, who in turn were mandated by their respective district convents of nobles. The estate of the burgesses consisted of one deputy per politically franchised city, particularly Stralsund. The Landtag were presided over by a Marshall (Erb-landmarschall). A third element of the meeting of the Estates were the five, initially ten, Landtag Councillors who were appointed by the Royal Government of Pomerania, following the nomination by the Estates. The Landtag Councillors formed the Land Council, which mediated with the Swedish Government and oversaw the constitution.

The Estates which had exercised great authority under the Pomeranian Dukes, where unable to exercise any significant influence against Sweden, even if the Constitution of 1663 had provided them with a veto in as far as Pomerania was affected. Their rights of petition were however not limited, and by the privileges of Frederick I of Sweden on 1720 also an explicit right to participate in legislation and taxation.

Legal System

The legal system in Pomerania was in a state of great confusion, due to the lack of a consistent legislation or even the most basic collection of laws and instead consisting of a disparate collection of legal principles. The Swedish rule brought if nothing else at least the rule of law into the court system. Starting in 1655, cases could be appealed from the first instance courts to the appellate court in Greifswald (located in Wolgast 1665-1680), where sentences were issued under the appellate law of 1672, a work by conducted by David Mevius. Cases under canon law were directed to a consistorium in Greifswald. From the appellate court cases could be appealed to the supreme court for the Swedish dominions in Germany, the High Tribunal in Wismar, which had opened in 1653.


In economic terms Pomerania did not represent any gain for Sweden. Only during the administration under Fredrik Vilhelm von Hessenstein (1776-1791) did the dominion produce a surplus. (The total income in 1782 had been 250.000 Thaler.) In other terms it had represented a liability, where the main expenditures were the Fortress at Stralsund and military defences in general. The primary source of income was the "licent", the duties levied on export and import by sea. The taxes on spirits and grains brought to mill were replaced in 1672 by a personal tax, the "quartalsteuer". The contributions to the war effort during the Thirty Years War had become a standing order and by the 18th century they had been replaced by a base tax, the "hujensteuer". The population of Swedish Pomerania were 89.000 subjects in 1766 and had reached 113.000 in 1802, with about a quarter were living on the island of Rügen.

Integration in the Eleventh Hour

By Royal proclamation on June 26 in 1806 the Constitution of Pomerania was declared to have been suspended and abolished. The Swedish Instruments of Government of 1772 and 1789 and Law of 1734 were declared to have taken precedence and were to be implemented following September 1 1808. The reason for perpetrating this Royally sanctioned coup d?etat was that the Estates, despite a Royal prohibition had taken to courts to appeal against Royal statutes, specifically the statute of April 30, 1806 regarding the raising of Pomeranian army. In the new order Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden attempted to introduce a government divided into departments. Swedish church law was introduced. The country was divided into four provincial districts ("Härad") and congregational districts ("Socken") complying to the Swedish model of administration. The Estates of Pomerania could only be called regarding questions that specifically concerned Pomerania and Rügen. The new order of Landtag was modelled on the Swedish Riksdag of the Estates and a meeting according to the new order also took place in August 1806, which declared its loyalty to the King and hailed him as their ruler. In wake of this revolution a number of social reforms were implemented and planned, where the most important was the abolisment of serfdom by a Royal statute of July 4, 1806, a practice that had never been implemented in Sweden itself.

List of Governors General

Main article: Governor-General in the Swedish Realm

See also

External Links