The various provinces of Sweden were absorbed around 1000 AD into a single unit, but the crown began to gain significant influence only during the late 13th century.
In 1280 King Magnus Ladulås (1275–90) issued a statute authorising the establishment of a nobility and the organisation of society on the feudal model.
This union was peacefully dissolved in 1905 after many internal disputes.
After the death of the warrior king Karl XII in 1718 and Sweden’s defeat in the Great Northern War, the Swedish parliament (Riksdag) and council were strong enough to introduce a new constitution that abolished royal absolutism and put power in the hands of parliament.
In 1397, the Kalmar Union was formed, with the three Scandinavian countries under a single monarch.
However, the union (1397–1523) was scarred by internal conflicts that culminated in the ‘Stockholm Bloodbath’ in 1520, when 80 Swedish nobles were executed at the instigation of the Danish union king, Kristian II.
Finland, provinces in northern Germany and the present-day Baltic republics also belonged to Sweden, and after the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 and the Peace of Roskilde with Denmark in 1658, Sweden was a great power in northern Europe.
Industry did not begin to grow until the 1890s, although it then developed rapidly between 19 and transformed Sweden into one of Europe’s leading industrial nations after World War II.
However, Sweden had a largely agrarian economy and lacked the resources to maintain its position as a great power in the long run.
After its defeat in the Great Northern War (1700–21) against the combined forces of Denmark, Poland and Russia, Sweden lost most of its provinces on the other side of the Baltic Sea and was reduced essentially to the same frontiers as present-day Sweden and Finland.
Dwelling places and graves dating from the Stone Age, lasting until about 1,800 BC, are found today in increasing numbers.
The Bronze Age was marked in the Nordic region – especially in Denmark but also in Sweden – by a high level of culture, shown by the artifacts found in graves.
However, the Black Death, which reached Sweden in 1350, led to a long period of economic and population decline.