Living on the Limit: the rise and fall of the town of Lödöse
The Swedish town of Lödöse was situated in a disputed border area, where the River Göta Älv intersected with the inland road to the city of Skara. Until 1658, this border area was the dynamic meeting point of the expansive medieval and early modern Scandinavian kingdoms of Sweden, Norway and Denmark. This article is an introduction to the topic with the purpose of explaining how and why the town was affected by the proximity of the Swedish-Norwegian border. The chronology of Lödöse is presented in a wider political context which also shaped the three provinces of Västergötland, Bohuslän and northern Halland. Today, these provinces are all part of Sweden, but before 1658 each belonged to a different Scandinavian kingdom.
The life cycle of Lödöse spans from c. 1050 to 1646. From the outset, Lödöse's main function was long-distance trade, and until 1473 it was the only Swedish town with access to the sea in the west. Its political significance was therefore great, and the town hosted both inter-Scandinavian and Swedish political assemblies. The border between Sweden and Norway was recognized for the first time in 1101, which means that Lödöse in fact preceded this border. Strong Norwegian cultural influences in the town's earliest period raises the question of who actually controlled Lödöse during its first century of existence. It is believed that the Swedish sovereigns began investing in Lödöse as the state formation of Sweden and Norway progressed, turning the town into a stronghold with the border as a dividing line. Lödöse's apex occurred during the fourteenth century when it became a town located at the centre of the union between Norway and Sweden. After the dissolution of the union, border feuds escalated and Lödöse's location became less favourable. Throughout its existence, Lödöse's fortunes depended on the exercise of royal power, as well as changes in domestic and foreign policies and in the regional trade and economy. During the late Middle Ages, Denmark became the dominant factor in region, which in 1473 resulted in the foundation of a new town closer to the Danish border - Nylödöse. The foundation of Nylödöse shows that, as far as the ruler of Sweden was concerned, what was important was not so much Lödöse itself but a town in the west with access to the sea. Lödöse's charter was withdrawn in 1646 because the town was considered obsolete. Between 1473 and 1646 Lödöse dwelled in obscurity, with only a brief period of prosperity during the late sixteenth century when Count Per Brahe invested in the town. This proves yet again that Lödöse's fortune was dependent on the contemporary external political situation over which the town could have little influence.
Historia och arkeologi
Historia och arkeologi ->