Thursday, January 14, 2010

How History Made Me Swedish


This fat king on his fat horse, a quote from an old friend's (Mikael Wiehe) song when he turned 55, actually made sure I was born Swedish and not Danish.

It is very appropriate to mention him now in this cold weather because in January 1658 he (or rather his generals) took his army across the ice between some Danish islands and secured victory. They had come from Poland, where they had been fighting earlier, and attacked the Danes from the least expected direction. He was Karl X Gustav.

They had arrived when the water was open, but decided to try the ice when it just kept freezing. Nearly all the army made it across, only a couple of German squadrons fell through the ice and drowned, but what the heck.

That cunning plan surprised the Danes, who had to fight the enemy coming from behind. The peace treaty that ensued gave the southern parts of the Scandinavian peninsula to Sweden, and this statue stands in the main square in Malmö, my home town, to commemorate this historical event.

By the way, I am sure I would have been happy to be Danish as well!


Diane said...

Cool history lesson!

You know I was born in Scotland, right on the North Sea and my last name means 'half Dane'. I'm sure I would have been happy to be born Danish as well ;)

oreneta said...

Very diplomatic ending there....quite a cool (no pun intended) way to win a battle. Something to think about, no?

Protege said...

Having lived in Malmo I know this history piece so well.;) I have always loved the way some people in Skåne consider themselves Danish anyway (like the red-yellow flag;)
Isn't this picture taken of the statue from Stortorget in Malmo? In front of the City Hall?
Have a great Friday,

CanadianSwiss said...

You mean to tell me your parents had nothing to do with it?? Just kidding ;)

I agree. Pretty cool history lesson :)

swenglishexpat said...

'Half Dane' - Diane, that's interesting. So, is your other half Scottish or American?

Oreneta - I always try hard not to insult people! ;-)

Protege - Dead right, Stortorget! We have often been called half-Danes by "northerners".

CS - My mum's family is actually from parts of Sweden where they consider themselves to speak proper Swedish. My accent/dialect is still Danish-influenced.

Lynda said...

That is a very cool story...
I was thinking of you last night. We were discussing where we want to go in the Summer. "Well didn't you always want to visit Sweden?" from Mr Dear Husband...

And so we shall... I think I just want me a piece of Pippi Langstrumpf.