Att hålla folket på gott humör : Informationsspridning, krigspropaganda och mobilisering i Sverige 1655-1680

University dissertation from Stockholm : Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis

Abstract: Starting around 1500 a period of state formation changed the European map. The scattered medieval principalities were replaced with more centralised and better organised states with permanent armies. Sweden was quite successful in competing with these states and experienced a period of expansion. The means for warfare were drawn, to a large extent, from the peasantry, which meant that a great number of Swedes were sent to the front line and were never to return. This thesis investigates the dissemination of information, war propaganda and mobilisation in Sweden, 1655–1680. This period is interesting since it includes both offensive wars (under the reign of Karl X Gustav), a period of peace (under the regency) and defensive warfare(under Karl XI). A basic assumption has been that information is an important power resource. In the study both the dissemination and the content of the propaganda are examined.The most important sources have been the minutes and correspondence of the kings, the regency and the council of the realm, along with the sources from the diet and the provincial meetings. In particular, the prayer days and thanksgiving days, in both manuscript and printed sources, have been studied. To investigate the actual dissemination of information, the sources in the regional archives of the counties of Uppsala and Kopparberg and the archives of several episcopates have been examined. There existed developed media for the dissemination of information, namely, “the system of information”. Information was disseminated from the pulpits, at the diet and provincial meetings, by county governors and bailiffs, and by printed texts.In this thesis it is shown that the rulers were anxious to explain and justify the wars to the people and that they deliberately used the dissemination of information as a power tool. To keep the people in a good mood was vital for the war effort. War propaganda was spread both in times of war and peace, and its main messages remained the same during Sweden’s Age of Greatness. The main message of the long-term propaganda was that the wars were a divine punishment: it was because of the sinful people that wars broke out. According to the propaganda, the world was populated with evil enemies that were striving to destroy Sweden. The best protection against the enemies (next to God) was a good regent. It was also stated that, in the event of war, it was the duty of the subjects to contribute.The direct propaganda was conducted in four different phases. The first phase was about explaining the outbreak of war, the second phase was about mobilisation, the third phase was about disseminating information in order to uphold the morals and the fourth and last phase was about explaining the peace. The messages of the long-term propaganda had their equivalents in the direct propaganda. These arguments, however, were not always sufficient.The state representatives also highlighted the great perils threatening the country and used a patriotic rhetoric. The war propaganda depoliticised the wars, and made it possible to mobilise great resources from the population in times of war. The frequently used picture of threatening wars contributed to the legitimacy not only of a permanent army and offensive warfare, but also of the power of the king and the social order at large.

  This dissertation MIGHT be available in PDF-format. Check this page to see if it is available for download.