Erik Eskilsson

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Erik Eskilsson (fl. 1687) was a Sami accused of blasphemy alongside the Sami Amund Thorsson during the Swedish Christianization of the Sami in the late 17th century. Their case was a notable one and is often referred to in Sami history.

During this period, the Sami people generally kept two religions in parallel; they attended church regularly, but still maintained the Sami religion at home. Erik Eskilsson, as well as Thorsson, belonged to the more wealthy of the Sami in Norrbotten and thereby felt secure to maintain their religion due to the taxes they could afford to give to the crown. During a Christian sermon, where the vicar preached against the Sami religion, Eskilsson and Thorsson commented that they found the hostility against the Sami religion strange, and that they would obviously not abandon the faith of their ancestors. Afterward, the vicar visited them in the company of the Christian Sami. He vandalized the pagan altar and stole the Sami drum by use of violence. Eskilsson and Thorsson followed him and retrieved the drum. The vicar defended his actions and wondered if Thorsson's father had been repentant for being a pagan. Upon this Thorsson replied: "If my father is in Hell, then I can take the same suffering as him".

The Vicar reported them to the authorities for blasphemy and recommended the death sentence, as it was his opinion that the Sami would never be truly Christian unless such "weeds" were exterminated. On 7 February 1687, Eskilsson and Thorsson were put on trial in Arjeplog. The charges were blasphemy, due to them having a religion other than Christianity, and insulting a clergyman. Erik Eskilsson was freed from the charges of insulting a clergyman after it was revealed that the vicar was selling alcohol to the Sami and Eskilsson was drunk during the incident in question. He was freed from the charges of blasphemy after he abandoned his religion, converted to Christianity and turned over his drum. There is no further information on the case against Thorsson.

Between 1665 and 1708, there were three confirmed death sentences among the Sami for blasphemy, which was the usual charge against Sami who refused to officially relinquish their religion.

See also[edit]


  • Kajsa Larsen (Swedish): Blad ur samernas historia(Pages from the history of the Sami) (1994)