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The earliest written documentation of Stockholm dates back to 1252 AD and describes the city as an iron trading town, but in some Norse sagas it is claimed to be the lost city of Agnafit (where legendary King Ange was hanged by his captive bride Skjalf). Another tale states that the city was founded by the Swedesman Birger Jarl to protect the fledgling country from invading navies. Regardless of whichever is actually correct, the city quickly grew into a center for commerce, mining, and fishing. Stockholm over time grew into an important mercantile city, as trade in the Baltic boomed with the advent of the Hanseatic League (a guild of merchants).
In the 15th century a national independence movement began to form in Stockholm as the people of Sweden yearned to overthrow their Danish rulers. The Revolution did not go well, unfortunately, and in 1520 the Danish King Christian II entered the city and incited the Stockholm Bloodbath, a gruesome massacre of many of the Swedish opposition forces. Further uprisings across the country in the coming years were more successful and broke up the Kalmar Union (the pleasant name for the Danish control of Scandinavia), and Sweden gained its independence from the Danes. The first king of Sweden, Gustav Vasa, was crowned in 1523, and the population of Stockholm began to rapidly grow. Within a hundred years, the population of the city increased over six times in size.
In 1634, Stockholm was named the capital of the Swedish Empire and a bevy of new trading laws gave it complete control over trade between foreign merchants and its own Swedish territories. This "golden age" ended emphatically some forty years later, as the Black Death reached the city and war broke out between Sweden and its allies. Under the twin catastrophes Stockholm stagnated economically for some time, but it did continue to develop culturally. It took nearly two hundred years for the city to regain its leading economic role.
During the last half of the 20th century Stockholm became the technological and economic hub of the country. To make way for booming industry and population growth, many historic buildings (a great majority of which had been around since the Middle Ages) were torn down and replaced with shiny new architectural structures. The city has continued to move away from its roots of fishing, mining, and other labor-intensive industries and move towards high-tech electronics, architecture, and modern services.