The Age of Freedom (1719–72)
At the Riksdag in 1719 the monarchy was abolished, and a new form of government gave great power to the council and the Riksdag. This was marked even more strongly in 1720, when Ulrika Eleonora, who succeeded brother Charles XII, handed over the crown to her husband, Fredrik by Hessen-Kassel (Fredrik I). With 1720 form of government and 1723 parliamentary order, the king was reduced to the chairman of the council, while power was shared between the council and the four-day kingdom. Under Council President Arvid Horn, the Council dominated, but since Horn overthrew the Riksdag in 1738–39, Parliament was the center of power. By licensing the national council, ie. set aside them for alleged misconduct, a majority of the parliament could also decide the composition of the council.
The group that overthrew Horn’s regime came to be called hats, while their opponents were called hats (see the hat party and the mouse party). However, they were not parties in our time. They constituted groupings among the Riksdagmen but were little active between the Riksdag. The hats and hats had different views in e.g. foreign and fiscal policy, but in many issues the parliamentarians were divided along other lines. Often, e.g. agricultural interests in the priesthood and nobility stand together with the peasants against officials and citizens. The decision order, in which three positions must be agreed, paved the way for a lively political activity. A political game reminiscent of modern parliamentarism developed, first among the higher classes, but over time the peasant political strength also grew. The result was also increased political consciousness among broad groups in society. However, there was no basic idea of democracy. Political opponents were sometimes thrown in jail,
The years 1738-65 put the hats in power and led an active foreign policy. After the Great Nordic War, all the conquests of the great power had been lost except for Svenska Pommern and the Wismar pledged in 1803, but in 1741 they sought revenge against Russia. However, the peace of 1743 meant land resignations in Finland and that Russia dictated the choice of successor to the childless Fredrik I: Adolf Fredrik, relative of the tsar’s house. At the end of the war, the last great Swedish peasant uprising occurred, the valley uprising in 1743 (the “great valley dance”). The rebels marched to Stockholm with demands for tax relief, punishment for the military leaders and continued anti-Russian politics, but were beaten in a massacre in central Stockholm. Despite the defeat of the men, the regime was shaken, and the policy towards the peasants became more cautious.
The farmers’ position was also improved by good agricultural economic conditions. A general increase in the population can be clearly seen in the statistics, which flow abundantly from the Established Table Board in 1749. Above all, the marginal groups of the countryside grew up as croppers and hutters. Farmer households became an elite within the all-powerful. Many krone farmers bought their farms from the state.
Agricultural expansion and population growth form the background to the land reforms, which with the great shift from 1757 slowly changed the landscape. The peasants’ peas were gathered in contiguous estates, and sometimes the village buildings were also dissolved, although the radical changes first came with the single shift (from 1803) and the legal shift (from 1827). The farmers themselves were driven to implement the parcels, and their improvements in farming methods and new cultivation meant more to the development of agriculture than some of the more spectacular reform attempts by landlords.
In other ways, the time was also marked by the progress of non-religious groups. The nobility’s monopoly on tax-advantaged salvation land was slowly undermined. Its monopoly on high office was questioned. An increasing number of gentlemen were adopting a noble lifestyle without being noble. The non-noble founders, such as non-noble officials, utility and manufacturing owners and academics, were a new middle class that did not fit within the confines of the standing community. By the middle of the 18th century, they were more than the nobility and the priesthood together but did not represent the Riksdag.
Metallex exports constituted the backbone of foreign trade. A government investment in science and technology favored mining and manu- facturing. With the 1739 Establishment Fund, the Hats provided state support for textile, metal, tobacco and other manu- factures in an attempt to make the country less import-dependent. With the product poster in 1724, foreign ships were prohibited from importing goods other than their own country to Sweden. Foreign trade on Swedish ships grew, and in 1731 was established in the Gothenburg East India Company.
The hats continued the active foreign policy. On the peaceful side was the Lapp codicill 1751, an agreement with Denmark-Norway that secured the rights of the Sami on both sides of the border. But the warlike ambitions led 1757 into Sweden in the seven-year war (1756–63) on the continent. The war in Pomerania against Prussia became a military failure, and Sweden made peace without frontier changes in 1762. The dissatisfaction with the hat regime grew.
The hats were also blamed for rising inflation. The so-called younger caps propagated for thrift and against the financial regulations. At the Riksdag 1765–66 they took power. Manufacturing support was withdrawn, and many regulations, such as the bottom line of the compulsory trade, were abolished. Hats and mice regimes then replaced each other during the last hectic years of freedom. When the freedom of the press and the principle of publicity was constitutionally protected in 1766, the political debate became lively than ever before. The unruly positions openly criticized the privileges of the nobility.