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Halland · Scania · Blekinge
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Sweden and part of Denmark, with the historic region Skåneland (the Scanian Provinces) in brown, consisting of the Swedish provinces Blekinge, Halland and Scania, and the Danish island Bornholm

Flag of Skåne.svg

Flag of Skåneland, registered with Scandinavian Roll of Arms as a cultural symbol for the region, in official use by Skåne Regional Council since 1999, and used almost exclusively in the Swedish province Scania. Day of the Scanian Flag is celebrated on the third Sunday in July.

Skåneland (Swedish) and Skånelandene (Danish) are terms used in historical contexts in Scandinavia to describe the area on the southern and south-western part of the Scandinavian peninsula, which under the Treaty of Roskilde (1658) was transferred from Denmark to Sweden. It corresponds to the provinces of Blekinge, Halland and Scania. The island of Bornholm, which in the Treaty of Copenhagen (1660) was returned to Denmark, is also often included in the term.[1] Equivalent terms in English and Latin are "the Scanian provinces" and "Terrae Scaniae" respectively. The denomination is seldom used in everyday life or as a geographical region.

The area became a Danish province, sometimes referred to as the Eastern Province, after the 12th-century civil war called the Scanian Uprising.[2] The region was part of the territory ceded to Sweden in 1658 under the Treaty of Roskilde, but after an uprising on Bornholm, that island was returned to Denmark in 1660, under the Treaty of Copenhagen, in exchange for the ownership of 18 crown estates in Scania. Since then, the Dano–Swedish border has remained unchanged.


The name Skåneland is first recorded in print in the year 1719 [3] It is unclear what area is meant. Later (1751) Carl Linnaeus uses it, meaning the province of Scania.[4] The modern use of the denomination as a short form for De skånska landskapen ("The Scanian provinces"), for the combined area of the provinces of Blekinge, Halland and Scania, was launched by the Swedish historian and Scandinavist Martin Weibull in Samlingar till Skånes historia (six volumes) 1868-73 in order to illuminate the common pre-Swedish history of Scania, Blekinge, and Halland.

The term is mostly used in historical contexts and not in daily speech. In Danish, Skånelandene is used more often. The terms have no political implications as the region is not a geopolitical entity but a cultural region, without officially established political borders. In some circumstances, the term Skåneland, as opposed to the terms Skånelandskapen and Skånelandene, can also be used as a figure of speech for the province Scania.

Weibull used the term as a combined term for the four provinces where Skånelagen ("The Scanian law", the oldest provincial law of the Nordic countries) had its jurisdiction, as well as the area of the archdiocese of Lund until the Reformation in 1536, later the Danish Lutheran diocese of Lund. This form of Skåneland was then used in the regional historical periodical Historisk tidskrift för Skåneland, beginning in 1901, published by Martin's son, Lauritz Weibull.[5]


An earlier administrative and political function of the area was to serve as a core area for one of the three provincial things that together elected the king of Denmark. The first Danish administrative sub-divisioning occurred as part of the centralization process, when the area became divided into administrative units called hundreds (herreder in Danish). The hundreds were possibly based on older, already existing units,[6] but the establishment of the new form of hundreds was prompted by an increase in royal power during the High Middle Ages. These differed from the provincial thing areas in that they were not local communities joined under a governing assembly but top-down regional divisions established to ensure royal authority. These medieval Danish hundreds were used to implement military obligations and to expedite the collection of renders due to the king in the provinces. They were first established in Jutland, where they replaced previous administrative units called syssel. According to some scholars, they were introduced in Skåneland possibly as early as the 11th century.[7]

In the 13th century, a new fiscal system was introduced and the hundreds were gradually included into larger administrative units called len, with a castle serving as the administrative center. This new administrative development was a result of the increased power of the aristocracy. In each len, a noble man was put in charge, with the title lensmand.[8]

Each of the four provinces of Skåneland had representation in the Scanian Thing, which, along with the other two Things of the Danish state (Jutland and Zealand), elected the Danish king.

The four Scanian provinces were joined under the jurisdiction of the Scanian Law, dated 1200–1216,[9] the oldest Nordic provincial law. In the chapter "Constitutional history" in Danish Medieval History, New Currents, the three provincial Things are described as being the legal authority that instituted changes suggested by the elected king. The suggestions for changes submitted by the king had to be approved by the three Things before being passed into law in the Danish state.[2]

Status today[edit]

Skåneland is strictly a historic and cultural region. The name has long appeared as a term used in historical contexts in a variety of sources.[10] The southern part of Sweden, including Skåneland, is considered to be included in Götaland, one of three historic "lands of Sweden". The "land" Götaland bears the same name used for the historic province Götaland (a province referred to as "Gothia" on the 17th-century maps); the inclusion of Skåneland is described as "historically inaccurate" by the Swedish Nationalencyklopedin.[11]

As in other cultural regions, regionalism in Scania sometimes has a base in regional nationalism and sometimes in a more general opposition against centralized state nationalism or expansionist nationalism. As noted about regionalism in Norway, Scandinavian regionalism is not necessarily separatist.[12]

Modern usage[edit]

The collective terms Skåneland or Skånelandskapen for the provinces are uncommon in daily speech, but are in general use among historians focused on the centuries immediately before and after 1658, and are often used in professional, peer-reviewed journals and history magazines aimed at the general public. In most cases the term is explained the first time it is mentioned in such articles, as many readers are not familiar with it.

The modern usage is mostly found in historical research as a way to refer to the common culture, language and history of Skåne, Blekinge, Halland and Bornholm before the Swedish acquisition of Skåne, Blekinge and Halland, as a way to stress the culturally unique features of the region. Although the term is rarer in official contexts, recent interest has spurred the national broadcaster Sveriges Television to examine the concept and the word is therefore becoming more familiar in Sweden.

There are a number of minor organisations promoting the use of the term, mainly active on the Internet, e.g., Föreningen Skånelands Framtid [13] or Skåneländsk Samling,[14] Skåneland Football Federation [15] and Stiftelsen Skåneländska Flaggans Dag.[16] The total number of members of the organisations are unknown, but there are a lot of double memberships.

The private foundation Stiftelsen Skånsk Framtid ("Scania Future Foundation").[17] was a member of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) 1993-2011, representing the area under the name of Scania. This was a bit confusing as this exonym normally refers only to the province of Scania.


Anders Sunesøn's 13th-century version of the Scanian Law and Church Law, containing a comment in the margin called the "Skaaningestrof" (the Scanian stanza): "Hauí that skanunga ærliki mææn toco vithar oræt aldrigh æn." (Let it be known that Scanians are honorable men who have never tolerated injustice.)

Early history[edit]

From 1104 the Danish archbishop had his residence in Lund; and it was also here the first Danish university was founded, the Lund Academy (1425–1536).

The earliest Danish historians, writing in the 12th and 13th century, believed that the Danish Kingdom had existed since king Dan, in a distant past. Eighth century sources mention the existence of Denmark as a kingdom. According to 9th century Frankish sources, by the early 9th century many of the chieftains in the south of Scandinavia acknowledged Danish kings as their overlords, though kingdom(s) were very loose confederations of lords until the last couple medieval centuries saw some increased centralization. The west and south coast of modern Sweden was so effectively part of the Danish realm that the said area (and not the today Denmark) was known as "Denmark" (literally the frontier of the Daner).[18][19] Svend Estridsen (King of Denmark 1047 – ca. 1074), who may have been from Scania himself, is often referred to as the king who along with his dynasty established Scania as an integral, and sometimes the more important, part of Denmark.

In 1332 the king of Denmark, Christopher II, died as a "king without a country" after he and his older brother and predecessor had pawned Denmark piece by piece. Magnus IV of Sweden took advantage of his neighbour's distress, redeeming the pawn for the eastern Danish provinces for a huge amount of silver, and thus became ruler also of Skåneland. But got replaced in 1360 by Valdemar IV of Denmark.

From the Kalmar Union to Denmark's loss of Skåne, Blekinge and Halland[edit]

When the Kalmar Union was formed in 1397, the union was administered from Copenhagen. By 1471 Sweden rebelled under Sture family leadership. In 1503, when Sten Sture the Elder died, eastern Sweden’s independence from Denmark had been established.[20]

In 1600 Denmark controlled virtually all land bordering on the Skagerrak, Kattegat, and the restricted Sound (Øresund). The current Swedish provinces of Skåne, Blekinge and Halland were still Danish and the province of Båhuslen was still Norwegian. Skåneland became the site of bitter battles, especially in the 16th, 17th and 18th century, as Denmark and Sweden confronted each other for control of the Baltic and of Swedish access to western trade. Danish historians often represent this as a period of unending Swedish aggression during which Sweden was continuously at war, while Swedish historians often represent this as "Sweden's Age of Greatness".[21][22][23][24][25]

Painting by Swedish-German artist Johan Philip Lemke of the 1676 Battle of Lund during the Scanian War, the bloodiest battle ever fought between Denmark and Sweden

Sweden intervened in the Danish civil war known as the Count's Feud (1534–1536), launching a highly destructive invasion of Skåneland as the ally of later king Christian III, who upon his coronation introduced Protestantism to these provinces. Subsequently, in the period between the breakup of the Kalmar Union and 1814, Denmark and Sweden fought 11 times in Skåneland and other border provinces: during the Northern Seven Years' War (1563–70), Kalmar War (1611–1613), Torstenson War (1644–1645), Second Northern War (1657–1658 and 1659–1660), Scanian War (1674–1678), Great Northern War (1700 and 1709–1720), Theater War (1788), and during the Napoleonic Wars (1808–1809 and 1814).[23][24][26][27]

Vilhelm Moberg, in his history of the Swedish people, provides a thoughtful discussion of the atrocities which were committed by both sides in the struggle over the border provinces, and identified them as the source of propaganda to inflame the peoples’ passions to continue the struggle. These lopsided representations were incorporated into history text books on the respective sides. As an example, Moberg compares the history texts he grew up with in Sweden which represented the Swedish soldier as ever pure and honorable to a letter written by Gustavus Adolphus celebrating the 24 Scanian parishes he had helped level by fire, with the troops encouraged to rape and murder the population at will, behavior that may well have been mirrored equally on the Danish side. Skåneland was a rather unpleasant place to dwell for an extended period.[26]

Assimilation with Sweden[edit]

Map from 1710 of "Scaniae" (Skåneland), consisting of the provinces "Scania, Hallandia et Blekingia"

Following the Treaty of Roskilde in 1658 – but in direct contradiction of its terms – the Swedish government in 1683 demanded that the elite groups (nobility, priests and burghers) in Skåneland accepted Swedish customs and laws. Swedish became the only language permitted in the Church liturgy and in schools, religious literature in Danish was not allowed to be printed, and all appointed politicians and priests were required to be Swedish. However the last Danish bishop, Peder Winstrup remained in charge of the Diocese of Lund until his death in 1679. To promote further Swedish assimilation the University of Lund was inaugurated in 1666; the inhabitants of Scania were not allowed to enroll in Copenhagen University until the 19th century.[29]

The population was initially opposed to the Swedish reforms, as can be ascertained from church records and court transcripts. The Swedes did encounter civil revolts in some areas, perhaps most notably in the Göinge district, in dense forest regions of northern Scania. The Swedish authorities resorted to extreme measures against the 17th-century rebels known as the "Snapphane", including the use of impalement, in which a stake was inserted between the spine and the victim's skin, the use of wheels to crush victims alive, as well as the nailing of bodies to church doors. In that way, it could take four to five days before the victim died.[30]

The transformation of age-old customs, commerce and administration to the Swedish model could not be effected quickly or easily. In the first fifty years of the transition, the treatment of the population was rather ruthless. Denmark made several attempts to recapture the territories – the last in 1710, during which it almost recovered the entire Skåneland.[21]

Before 1658, one of the provinces of Skåneland, Scania proper, had consisted of four counties: the counties of Malmøhus, Landskrone, Helsingborg and Christianstad. When Skåneland was annexed by Sweden, one of the counties of the Scania proper, Kristianstad County, was merged with Blekinge to form one of a total of three Blekinge counties.

Bornholm rebellion[edit]

In 1658, shortly after the Swedish general Printzenskiold was sent to Bornholm to start the "Swedification" process, the population of Bornholm rebelled against their new masters. Led by Jens Kofoed and Poul Anker, the rebellion formed in the town of Hasle, north of the largest city, Rønne. Before the rebel army reached the Swedish headquarters in Rønne, Printzenskiold was shot by Willum Clausen in the street of Sølvgade, in central Rønne. The Swedish fled the island as a result of the confusion and fear amongst the conscripts; Jens Kofoed installed an intermediate rule and sent a message to King Frederick III of Denmark that Bornholm had liberated itself, and wished to return to Danish rule. This was confirmed in the 1660 peace settlement between Denmark and Sweden.[31][32]

Swedish administration[edit]

Further information: Swedish Governors-General
Gustaf Otto Stenbock, Swedish field marshal

Sweden appointed a Governor General, who in addition to having the highest authority of the government, also was the highest military officer. The first to hold the post of Governor General was Gustaf Otto Stenbock, between 1658 to 1664.[33] His residence was in the largest city, Malmö.

The office of Governor General was abandoned in 1669, deemed unnecessary. However, when the Scanian War erupted in 1675, the office was reinstated, and Fabian von Fersen held the office between 1675 to 1677, when he died in the defence of Malmö.

He was replaced by Rutger von Ascheberg, in 1680, who held it to his death in 1693. It was during Ascheberg's time in office that the stricter policy of Swedification was initiated, as a reaction to the threats of war and possible Danish repossession.

Following the death of Ascheberg, the Governor Generalship was dismantled into a separate county governor for each of the Swedish provinces Blekinge, Halland and Scania. However, a Governor Generalship was reinstated in the province of Scania during the Napoleonic War, when Johan Christopher Toll became the last Governor-General in the region, a post he held 1801–09.

Recent history[edit]

The complete history of Skåneland was not taught for a long time in schools in Skåneland, especially during periods with the immediate threat of revolt. Instead a Swedish-centric history was taught, and the Scanian history before 1658, for instance concerning the list of monarchs, was disregarded as a component of Danish history. In reaction, a movement began in the late 19th century to revive awareness of the history and culture of Skåneland. The renewed focus resulted in the publication of several books about Scanian history.[29]

It is still disputed whether children of the Scanian provinces should learn the local Danish-era history or the Swedish history for the period before 1658. Proposals from representatives of the Scanian constituencies in the Swedish parliament to include Scanian history in the curriculum of Scanian schools have not been accepted in the decision-making plenary meetings at the Swedish Riksdag in Stockholm.[34][35]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ For popular usage, see for example the publication Populärhistoria: Hjälpreda om Skåneland: "Skåneland, d v s Halland, Skåne och Blekinge", Fredsfördraget firas i Altranstädt: "Sverige ingick mot slutet av århundradet i en västeuropeisk allians med Holland och England och kunde därigenom stoppa Danmarks revanschplaner för förlusten av Skåneland", Ett liv fyllt av skandaler: "År 1660, då Marie Grubbe anlänt till Köpenhamn, satt Fredrik III på Danmarks tron. Det var han som hade förlorat Skåneland till Sverige vid Roskildefreden 1658".
  2. ^ a b Hoffmann, Erich (1981). "The Unity of the Kingdom and the Provinces in Denmark During the Middle Ages." In Skyum-Nielsen, Niels and Niels Lund, eds. (1981). Danish Medieval History, New Currents. Museum Tusculanum Press, ISBN 87-88073-30-0. (On p. 101, Dr. Hoffmann, Professor at University of Kiel, argues that the contemporary descriptions of Scania as an autonomous polity had merit; Scania was often disagreeing in the choice of kings, which resulted in several, simultaneously elected kings in the early Danish state. Scania became officially integrated as a province in the late 12th century, with the Treaty of Lolland.
  3. ^ Svenska Akademiens Ordbok: Skåneland (består) uti af skillde och nog synlige delar af skog och slättmark. 2RA 1: 4 (1719).
  4. ^ Skåneland in Svenska Akademiens Ordbok (SAOB) on the Internet, and Skåneland in Nordisk Familjebok.
  5. ^ Swedish National Encyclopedia article Skånelandskapen
  6. ^ Helle, Knut, ed. (2003). The Cambridge History of Scandinavia. Cambridge University Press, 2003. ISBN 0-521-47299-7, p. 183.
  7. ^ Sawyer, Birgit and P. H. Sawyer (1993). Scandinavia: From Conversion to Reformation, Circa 800-1500. U of Minnesota Press. ISBN 0-8166-1739-2, p. 85.
  8. ^ Bonney, Richard (1995). Economic Systems and State Finance. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-820545-7, p.110.
  9. ^ Damsholt, Nanna. "Women in Medieval Denmark". In Skyum-Nielsen, Niels and Niels Lund, eds. (1981). Danish Medieval History, New Currents. Museum Tusculanum Press, ISBN 87-88073-30-0: p. 76.
  10. ^ Thurston, Tina L. (2001). Landscapes of Power, Landscapes of Conflict: State Formation in the South Scandinavian Iron Age. Kluwer Academic, NY, ISBN 0-306-46320-2. "Scania—Skåneland, Cultural Region in Scandinavia and in Europe", p. 277.
  11. ^ "Götaland" (2007). Nationalencyklopedin, 5 February 2008, (in Swedish): "Ehuru historiskt oegentligt, kom även Skåne, Halland, Blekinge och Bohuslän att räknas dit." (Although historically inaccurate, Scania, Blekinge and Bohuslän came to be counted [as part of Götaland]".
  12. ^ Vikør, Lars S. (2000). "Northern Europe". In Language and Nationalism in Europe. Eds. Stephen Barbour, Cathie Carmichael. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-823671-9, p. 117: "Norway is a country were regionalism has always been strong, [...] a regionalism without any traces of separatism. The idea of unity in diversity has always been exceptionally strong in Norway".
  13. ^ "Vägen framåt » Skånelands Framtid". 
  14. ^ "Skåneländsk Samling". 2007-04-29. 
  15. ^ "Skånelands Fotbollsförbund". 
  16. ^ "Stiftelsen Skåneländska Flaggans Dag". 
  17. ^ - SSF's Official Website. Accessed January 22, 2011
  18. ^ Medieval Scandinavia, by Bridget and Peter Sawyer, University of Minnesota Press, 1993.
  19. ^ Kings and Vikings, by P.H. Sawyer, Routledge, 1982. (Sawyer considered sources such as Saxo Grammaticus and Snorri Sturluson but validated their material against contemporary primary documents of the period).
  20. ^ Sweden and the Baltic, 1523 - 1721, by Andrina Stiles, Hodder & Stoughton, 1992 ISBN 0-340-54644-1
  21. ^ a b A History of Sweden by Ingvar Andersson, Praeger, 1956
  22. ^ Nordens Historie, ved Hiels Bache, Forslagsbureauet i Kjøbenhavn, 1884.
  23. ^ a b c d e The Northern Wars, 1558-1721 by Robert I. Frost; Longman, Harlow, England; 2000 ISBN 0-582-06429-5
  24. ^ a b c d The Struggle for Supremacy in the Baltic: 1600-1725 by Jill Lisk; Funk & Wagnalls, New York, 1967
  25. ^ Sweden; the Nation's History", by Franklin D. Scott, Southern Illinois Press, 1988.
  26. ^ a b Min Svenska Historia II, by Vilhelm Moberg, P.A. Nordstedt & Söners Förlag, 1971.
  27. ^ The most notable periods of combat for Skåneland were the Northern Seven Years' War (1563–1570), the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648) and the Northern War (1655–1658).
  28. ^ Fra Bondeoppbud til Legdshær by Trygve Mathisen, Guldendal Norsk Forlag, 1952
  29. ^ a b Skånelands historia, ved Ambrius, J, 1997 ISBN 91-971436-2-6
  30. ^ Herman Lindquist (1995). Historien om Sverige – storhet och fall. Norstedts Förlag, 2006 (ISBN 91-1-301535-4) (In Swedish), Sixten Svensson (2005). Sanningen om Snapphanelögnen. (ISBN 91-975695-1-8) (in Swedish), and Sten Skansjö (1997). Skånes historia. Lund (ISBN 91-88930-95-5) (in Swedish).
  31. ^ (English) The Swedish Period - revolt against the Swedes - from, a website of TV 2 (Denmark)-Bornholm and Destination Bornholm - an organisation for tourist enterprises on Bornholm. Accessed September 5, 2008.
  32. ^ (Danish) 1658 - opstanden på Bornholm - Bornholms Museum, pp.1-6. Accessed September 5, 2008.
  33. ^ Gustafsson, Harald (2003). "Att göra svenskar av danskar? Den svenske integrationspolitikens föreställningsvärld 1658-1693". Da Østdanmark blev Sydsverige. Otte studier i dansk-svenske relationer i 1600-tallet. Eds. Karl-Erik Frandsen and Jens Chr.V. Johansen. Narayana Press. ISBN 87-89224-74-4, p. 35-60.
  34. ^ Wallin, Gunnel (1999). "Motion Skånelands och andra regioners historia". Motion till riksdagen 1999/2000:Ub239. (In Swedish). Retrieved 15 February 2008.
  35. ^ Roslund, Carl-Axel (2003). Motion Skånsk historia. 2003/04:Ub277. For previous proposals, see: Motion 2002/03:N340, Motion 2001/02:Ub224, Motion 2000/01:Ub208, Motion 1999/2000:Ub239, Motion 1999/2000:Ub240, Motion 1998/99:Ub204, Motion 1997/98:Ub203, Motion 1996/97:Ub202, Motion 1994/95:Ub301, Motion 1992/93:Ub491. (In Swedish). Retrieved 15 February 2008.


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]