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Battle of Gotland, 11 September 1563

Battle of Gotland, 11 September 1563

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Battle of Gotland, 11 September 1563

The battle of Gotland, 11 September 1563, was an inconclusive clash during the Nordic Seven Years War. It was fought between a Swedish fleet that probably contained twenty seven ships (but may have been as small as eighteen or as large as forty) and a combined fleet from Denmark and Lübeck that contained thirty three ships. The Danish fleet had been at sea since early August, protecting the German coast against Swedish pirates.

The two fleets clashed on 11 September. Although only thirteen Swedish ships were engaged, the allies were unable to take advantage. Indeed the Danish vice-admiral Bille was killed in the fighting. Darkness ended the battle before either side could claim a real advantage. Both fleets returned to port after the battle. The Swedish fleet remaining in port until the next spring while the Danish fleet returned to sea until the winter storms forced the elderly admiral Peder Skram back to port. Both admirals were punished by their monarchs. Skram was removed from command of the fleet, while his Swedish counterpart Jakob Bagge lost one year’s pay.


Visby (Swedish pronunciation: [ˈvǐːsbʏ] ) is an urban area in Sweden and the seat of Gotland Municipality in Gotland County on the island of Gotland with 24,330 inhabitants as of 2017 [update] . [2] Visby is also the episcopal see for the Diocese of Visby. The Hanseatic city of Visby is arguably the best-preserved medieval city in Scandinavia, and, since 1995, it has been on the UNESCO World Heritage site list. [3] Among the most notable historical remains are the 3.4 km (2.1 mi) long town wall that encircles the town center, and a number of church ruins.

Visby is a popular vacation destination for Scandinavians during the summer and receives thousands of tourists every year. It is by far the most-populous Swedish locality outside the Swedish mainland. The Gotland University is in Visby, and, since 1 July 2013, it is a department of Uppsala University under the name Uppsala University–Campus Gotland. Visby is also the sole county seat in Sweden accessible from the mainland only by boat and air.


May 21: The occurs, when a West German Trade ship and several military ships are fired upon after accidentally crossing into Polish water space. While the trade ships were easily destroyed, the allied military ships returned fire, and three managed to escape and return to their port in Rostock, and alert Allied forces as to what happened. In total, 112 people were killed in the incident, 101 of whom were from the German convoy

May 23: Following the incidents, tensions between the Allies and the Soviets were at an all time high. A conference was to be held in Geneva on May 27, however two days before that many anti-communist protests broke out in East Germany. While they were initially dismissed, after a key government building was seized in Dresden, Soviet military forces moved in. However, secretly, allied forces had been arming the protesters, and when Soviet Forces were fired upon, a full scale battle broke out in Dresden.

May 26: Following the end of the Revolt, Soviet spies leaked the allied arming of the rebels, and the Soviets then refused to go to the Geneva conference. At the same time, they began an en masse mobilization of their armies along the Iron Curtain. Allied forces also begin the mobilization of their armies. However, due to their smaller territory, they mobilize much quicker.

May 29: With an armed force numbering at 5 million along the Iron Curtain, and the Soviets only around three million (As troops from far eastern Soviet territories were still arriving), Allied command launches a heavily modified version of Operation Unthinkable, and World War Three begins. At the same time, Soviet forces (link) besiege West Berlin.

May 30: Japan, Italy, Austria, and several others enter the war on the side of the allies.

September 3: Despite over 120,000 allied casualties, the Soviets are repelled after several engagements, including the battles of (link), (link) and (link). Soviet casualties are estimated at around 200,000-260,000. Allied forces then regroup, and make a drive towards Dresden.

September 5: Despite several small engagements, the (link) allied capture of Dresden went nearly flawlessly. Most Soviet soldiers had either retreated deeper into Soviet territory or to Berlin, so Dresden fell fairly easily. However, by this time the bulk of the Soviet force in Europe had mobilized, and was heading towards allied positions. Estimates for their numbers were around seven million. Allied forces numbered only around five million, although fresh troops from across the seas were arriving. Despite their numerical disadvantage, the allies agreed to go ahead with their plan to attack Berlin. The 2nd and 3rd French army, alongside the 1st British army were sent, whereas American and West German forces were positioned to defend occupied territory against the incoming Soviet offensive.

September 7-14th: Several (link) skirmishes during the allied push towards Berlin occurred. However, none was decisive for either side. Finally, on September 13, allied forces (link) arrived in Berlin, breaking through Soviet lines that were besieging West Berlin. They then pushed back the rest of the Soviets who were besieging West Berlin, and attempt a drive into East Berlin. This offensive, however, is repelled and the battle becomes a stalemate.

September 17 : Soviet forces arrive in Berlin and Dresden, were a vicious (link) battle ensues. At the same time, Austria and Italy launch an offensive into Czechoslovakia, with the hopes of capturing that country and then directly re-inforcing allied forces in Germany.

September 24: (link) The Battle of Prague occurs, resulting in a Pyrrhic Allied victory, as Soviet reinforcements had arrived in Czechoslovakia just days before the battle. Despite the cities fall, the extreme losses suffered, as well as the risk of a Hungarian attack disrupted the Austro-Italian plan to immediately send their forces to Dresden and Berlin.

October 11: (link) The Battle of Gotland, a naval engagement between a Norwegian and Soviet fleet off the coast of Gotland occurs, resulting in Soviet victory.

October 13: (link) The Battle of Sakhalin occurs, one of the few naval engagements between Japan and the Soviet Union. Japanese victory.

October 30-November 3: With the aid of French and Spanish reinforcements, allied forces in Berlin attempt a tank-based offensive, with the aim to encase the Soviet forces in a funnel, and slowly surround them. It is a partial success, as the most of the Soviets are surrounded. However, the allies overestimated the amount of casualties the Soviet’s would sustain and how large the blow to their morale would be, and as such the Soviets quickly fought their way out and regained much of their lost territory. While the Soviet’s only suffered around 9,000 casualties, the allies lost nearly 30,000.

November 11: Austrian and Italian forces, having recovered from the loses sustained at Prague, arrive in Dresden, and aid the weakened American forces.

November 16: With much of the Austrian and Italian forces in Dresden, Hungarian and Romanian troops move quickly towards the Austrian city of Vienna and (link) attack it. The ensuing battle lasts only a few hours, ending in a Hungarian victory. This forces Austrian troops to pull out of Dresden and recapture Vienna.

November 18: Austrian forces arrive in Vienna, however they underestimate the presence of enemy forces in the city and are defeated. November 28-December 1: Following the arrival of fresh troops, Soviet forces break through American lines in Dresden and force them out of the city. The Americans attempt a counter offensive, however it is repelled.

December 6: Hungarian and Romanian forces from Vienna meet up with the Soviets in Dresden and (link) make a surprise attack on the city of Munich, in West Germany. The allies, who thought the Soviets would instead move to Berlin, left the city undefended and it falls easily.

Battle of Gotland, 11 September 1563 - History

Walking through Gotland’s Historical Museum (Fornsalen), besides experiencing the very dramatic room of picture stones, you learn about the people’s lives, the history of the Danish invasion of 1361 and see the remains of medieval armour and some skeletons from that battle. It is a large part of the history of the island and a large part of the museum.

From the website ancient-origins.net:

The Battle of Visby was a violent Medieval battle near the town of Visby on the Swedish island of Gotland, fought between the inhabitants of Gotland and the Danes, with the latter emerging victorious. The battle left a lasting archaeological legacy masses of slaughtered soldiers and citizens lay scattered across what was once a blood battle field. Slashed and broken bones, skeletons still in their chain mail and armor, and smashed skulls, some still with spears and knives protruding out of them.

In the summer of 1361, a Danish army set sail for Gotland. The inhabitants of Visby had been warned about the invading Danish force, and prepared themselves for the battle. In late July 1361, Valdermar’s army landed on the west coast of Gotland. The Danish army numbered between 2000 and 2500 men, and consisted mainly of experienced Danish and German mercenaries. The defending Gotlanders, on the other hand, numbered around 2000, and were militiamen with little or no experience of battle.

The Battle of Visby was fought before the walls of the town. Although the militiamen were fighting for their lives, and fought as best as they could, they were simply no match for the professional Danish army. As a result, the majority of the defenders were killed, and the town surrendered to Valdemar.

We toured the museum last week and read about the invasion. This Saturday, we got to watch the battle live. On the last day of Visby’s Medieval Week festival, participants reenacted the battle in front of the Visby Wall. We paid our 150 SEK each and lined up behind the safety rope.

This was the first day we had a sprinkling of rain, and it made the entire production seem very realistic, with wet straw and mud on the ground, bedraggled looking dogs, and people huddled under long wool capes.

The flags are introduced.

Women, children, and dogs flee as the Danes approach.

The “battle” began just outside the Visby wall, which made a fantastic backdrop to the activity. The narrator, a Swedish historian, spoke for about thirty minutes prior to the introduction of the flags. A woman from Stockholm standing next to me kindly translated much of what he said during the introductions. But when the battle got going, there was a lot of activity. Many of the local Gotland spectators got emotional. We thought we saw some tears.

Gotland archers behind their blue and yellow striped flag move into position.

Gotland arrows fly in support of the ground troops.

Without knowing who belonged to what flag, it was hard to tell who was a Dane and who was a Gotlander. There were swordsmen, archers and horsemen as well and flag bearers with flags representing specific households. There was one man playing the part of the Danish prince, and one playing the Danish king. They mostly got heckled and booed by the audience.

Danish horsemen flank and surround the Gotland archers.

The horses were the best part in my opinion, but they were Danes. There were about a dozen horses, my favorite being the big black horse. We think at least half the horsemen were women, and one was riding without a saddle. It seemed to me it would be hard enough to ride carrying a sword, so I gave the horsemen and women lots of credit.

Gotland archers regroup and continue the fight.

The Danish horsemen break through the Gotland defenses.

At one point the battle got very close to where we were standing, and the rope divider was knocked down as many participants fell to the sword (but no spectators).

At the end of the battle scene, one Gotlander challenged the prince and was taken down by another Dane from behind, and finished off with a hammer by the Prince.

The King of Denmark makes his entrance.

After the battle, townspeople attended to the dead and dying. A processional of youths made their way out singing a cappella, and were quite good. Then a priest made his way from body to body and carts were hauled out to remove the dead. It was a devastating loss of life for the local people. We read in the museum that half the men of the Gotland countryside were killed and it altered the future of the island and its people, creating a huge hardship. Some farms were unable to continue working and producing.

After the “battle” all the participants lined up and were applauded by the crowd of approximately 3,000 spectators. They were introduced in groups of countrymen, some from as far away as Australia. (No group stepped forward to represent the US, but we saw a group of Norwegians, Swedes and Finns).

The Battle of Gotland

With the help of unique objects and newly achieved knowledge the exhibition “Medieval Massacre – the Battle of Gotland 1361” tell the story about a horrifying medieval battle between the farmers of Gotland and the well trained soldiers of the Danish army.

It was at the end of July 1361 that 1,800 Gotland farmers lost their lives in a brutal clash with Danish troops under King Valdemar Atterdag. He was intent on subjugating Gotland after conquering parts of Skåne and Öland. He had now landed on the island with a professional army and was preparing to march on Visby. Part way there, in the marshlands of Mästerby, the Gotland farmers tried, unsuccessfully, to halt his advance. Bits of weapons, lost horse shoes and battered fragments of armour from the action are on display here.

The last battle was fought beneath the Visby town wall. Both children and old people among Gotland’s farming population had joined in the defence of their island. Visby was forced to surrender on 29th of July. King Valdemar was victorious, and more than half the farmers of Gotland had been killed in battle. Valdemar’s son Kristoffer served with the Danish army, and his reconstructed armour and accoutrements are pictured here.

The dead soldiers and their equipment were swiftly buried in large mass graves after the battle. The remains of the dead, the armour and the weapons are internationally unique in the sense of so much remaining in a state of preservation when archaeologists excavated the site in the 1920s.

Items on display include mail shirts (hauberks) and coifs (headgear), chain mail gauntlets, maces, swords, crossbows and arrowheads. Together, the artefact finds and human remains give us an insight into the nature of medieval warfare.

In this exhibition you can follow the progress of three Gotlanders and two Danish soldiers. New findings are presented about their living conditions. Diseases, height, build and age are some of the things which can be detected by analysing their skeletons. From injuries and bone incisions we can also reconstruct fighting techniques and identify the weapons used, just as in a modern crime scene investigation. The soldiers’ armour presents modern but also antiquated features by the standards of the time. It looks heavy to wear, but the mobility of the plates in relation to each other made it easy to move about in. There are reconstructions of the soldiers’ gear which you can touch or try on.

One of the armours on display may have belonged to Bavo or Schelto Roorda. They were two brothers of a noble family in what we now call the Netherlands. We don’t know how they fared. The different bronze heraldic emblems on the armour represent different branches of the clan. A leather pouch containing a small fortune in coins was found together with another soldier who probably served in Valdemar’s army.

Take a look also at the young, quite heavily built Gotlander, aged between 30 and 35. He was probably attacked from behind, sustaining several blows to the head from both axe and mace.

This exhibition gives us an opportunity of pondering war in a historical perspective. The battle beneath the town wall demonstrates that acts of violence and war are recurrent, destructive phenomena through the ages. The strikingly well-preserved skeletons, the photographs of mass graves, and the weapons on display here remind us of acts of cruelty occurring in the present. Children and sensitive adults may find some parts of this exhibition frightening.

Battle of Gotland, 11 September 1563 - History

In keeping with our Islands of Sweden theme, my brother and I left Stockholm for Gotland. It was a short bus ride to the ferry dock in Nynashamn, and just under three hours by ferry to Gotland. As with everywhere else, dogs were allowed on the ferry.

Fountain in the inner city of Visby

My first impression of Gotland was a lot like the rest of Sweden clean and orderly. But the little town of Visby, the innerstad a World Heritage site, is one of the most picturesque towns I’ve visited. The houses along the tiny stone paved streets are all well kept and nicely painted, most with roses or holly hocks out front.

Front door to a home in Visby

Our room at the Hotell Gute was quite nice and in a very good location. We checked in, put our feet up for about an hour, then walked to the Gotland Museum, only a few blocks from the hotel. Visby is known for its ruins and roses, and we certainly saw that. For a small city, it has a wonderful botanical garden and a stellar museum. The Gotland Museum guide includes the following statement “Visby was added to the World Heritage list in 1995. It includes the intramural city with adjoining green open spaces.”

These stone sheep are at each entrance to the city and around the town

The ground floor of the Gotland Museum is filled with picture stones, all found on Gotland

With only two hours in the Gotland Museum, our first stop, we made the most of it. The three floors housed some fantastic picture stones, a history of Gotland including remains from the Battle of Gotland, Viking buried treasures, and a farmhouse interior from the 18th century, plus many other interesting exhibits.

On the stone above, the largest in the museum, you can clearly see the horse and rider in battle in the top most picture. This stone was accompanied by the following description:

This stone is a good example of the picture stones from the late Iron Age, the Viking Age, with its many images and different scenes. The picture stone might be a memorial to a man, who has died a hero’s death in battle on the battlefield. Borne by the ship of death, he is on his way to Valhalla, the dwelling of Odin the god. There, a woman welcomes him, handing him a horn of mead. Perhaps she is a Valkyrie, a female figure connected with Odin. The scene below the ship might be an illustration to one of the Icelandic sagas in which a man, Gunnar, is thrown into a snake pit and left to die.

A picture stone in the Gotland Museum

A skull from the battle of Gotland.

After the museum and before dinner, an evening stroll through the inner city revealed lovely homes and many friendly cats. The botanical garden is quite large for a small city, and beautiful.

One of the many cats we saw in Visby

The main square in the old town, Stora Torget, is next to the ruins of St. Katarina and ringed with restaurants. St. Catherine Church was a Franciscan monastery, founded in 1233. It was completed in 1250, and survived until the 16th century.

The interior of St. Catherine’s Church ruin in the main square in Visby.

St. John’s Arms

Today we head back to Gotland for another ancient knotlike symbol. The Saint John’s arms is a square with loops at each edge. The shape is actually not a knot but an unknot: if you pulled at it you would discover that it is a torus which has been twisted.

Fornsalen Museum, Visby ( Gotland ). Picture stone with Saint John’s Arms Knot (photo by Wolfgang Sauber)

The symbol appears carved on a 1500 year old image stone from Hablingbo, on the island of Gotland (a Swedish Island in the Baltic Sea). Ever since then it has appeared throughout the Scandinavian/Baltic world to demark sights of interest. Although it is especially common in Finland (where it gained a reputation for warding off evil), the Saint John’s arms can be found blazoned upon cultural attractions throughout Belarus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Lithuania, Norway, and Sweden.

Rana museum, department of Natural history in Mo i Rana (Nordland, Norway)

From its obscure Scandinavian roots, the Saint John’s arms vaulted into international fame during the 80s. Originally Apple computer utilized the “open apple” and “closed apple” as its command keys (I even remember these from my old Apple IIe and my halcyon days of adventuring in the realms of Ultima). In 1984, when the Macintosh personal computer was introduced, Steve Jobs decided that using the apple for shortcut commands was denigrating the brand. According to Apple insider Andy Hertzfeld, when Jobs saw how many apple commands were in an early version of MacDraw he peremptorily told the design team, “There are too many Apples on the screen! It’s ridiculous! We’re taking the Apple logo in vain! We’ve got to stop doing that!” The bitmap artist, Susan Kare, flipped through her dictionary of international symbols until she found one that easily translated into 16 bit-resolution. It was the Saint John’s arms symbol—which the symbol dictionary said indicated camping grounds in Sweden.

So today the Saint John’s arms, a mysterious Viking symbol carved on a weird rock on a haunted island, is in use everywhere that Apple computers are.

Battle of Gotland, 11 September 1563 - History

Evidence of trade, diplomacy, and vast wealth on an unassuming island in the Baltic Sea

The accepted image of the Vikings as fearsome marauders who struck terror in the hearts of their innocent victims has endured for more than 1,000 years. Historians&rsquo accounts of the first major Viking attack, in 793, on a monastery on Lindisfarne off the northeast coast of England, have informed the Viking story. &ldquoThe church of St. Cuthbert is spattered with the blood of the priests of God,&rdquo wrote the Anglo-Saxon scholar Alcuin of York, &ldquostripped of all its furnishings, exposed to the plundering of pagans. Who is not afraid at this?&rdquo The Vikings are known to have gone on to launch a series of daring raids elsewhere in England, Ireland, and Scotland. They made inroads into France, Spain, and Portugal. They colonized Iceland and Greenland, and even crossed the Atlantic, establishing a settlement in the northern reaches of Newfoundland.

But these were primarily the exploits of Vikings from Norway and Denmark. Less well known are the Vikings of Sweden. Now, the archaeological site of Fröjel on Gotland, a large island in the Baltic Sea around 50 miles east of the Swedish mainland, is helping advance a more nuanced understanding of their activities. While they, too, embarked on ambitious journeys, they came into contact with a very different set of cultures&mdashlargely those of Eastern Europe and the Arab world. In addition, these Vikings combined a knack for trading, business, and diplomacy with a willingness to use their own brand of violence to amass great wealth and protect their autonomy.

Gotland today is part of Sweden, but during the Viking Age, roughly 800 to 1150, it was independently ruled. The accumulation of riches on the island from that time is exceptional. More than 700 silver hoards have been found there, and they include around 180,000 coins. By comparison, only 80,000 coins have been found in hoards on all of mainland Sweden, which is more than 100 times as large and had 10 times the population at the time. Just how an island that seemed largely given over to farming and had little in the way of natural resources, aside from sheep and limestone, built up such wealth has been puzzling. Excavations led by archaeologist Dan Carlsson, who runs an annual field school on the island through his cultural heritage management company, Arendus, are beginning to provide some answers.

Traces of around 60 Viking Age coastal settlements have been found on Gotland, says Carlsson. Most were small fishing hamlets with jetties apportioned among nearby farms. Fröjel, which was active from around 600 to 1150, was one of about 10 settlements that grew into small towns, and Carlsson believes that it became a key player in a far-reaching trade network. &ldquoGotlanders were middlemen,&rdquo he says, &ldquoand they benefited greatly from the exchange of goods from the West to the East, and the other way around.&rdquo

Situated between the Swedish mainland and the Baltic states, Gotland was a natural stopping-off point for trading voyages, and Carlsson&rsquos excavations at Fröjel have turned up an abundance of materials that came from afar: antler from mainland Sweden, glass from Italy, amber from Poland or Lithuania, rock crystal from the Caucasus, carnelian from the East, and even a clay egg from the Kiev area thought to symbolize the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And then, of course, there are the coins. Tens of thousands of the silver coins found in hoards on the island came from the Arab world.

Many Gotlanders themselves plied these trade routes. They would sail east to the shores of Eastern Europe and make their way down the great rivers of western Russia, trading and raiding along the way at least as far south as Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, via the Black Sea. Some reports suggest that they also crossed the Caspian Sea and traveled all the way to Baghdad, then the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate.

Entire Viking families are believed to have made their way east. &ldquoIn the beginning, we thought it was just for trading,&rdquo says Carlsson, &ldquobut now we see there was a kind of settlement. You find Viking cemeteries far away from the main rivers, in the uplands.&rdquo Other evidence of Scandinavian presence in the region is plentiful. As early as the seventh century, there was a Gotlandic settlement at Grobina in Latvia, just inland from the point on the coast closest to Gotland. Large numbers of Scandinavian artifacts have been excavated in northwest Russia, including coin hoards, brooches, and other women&rsquos bronze jewelry. The Rus, the people that gave Russia its name, were made up in part of these Viking transplants. The term&rsquos origins are unclear, but it may have been derived from the Old Norse for &ldquoa crew of oarsmen&rdquo or a Greek word for &ldquoblondes.&rdquo

To investigate the links between the Gotland Vikings and the East, Carlsson turned his attention to museum collections and archaeological sites in northwest Russia. &ldquoIt is fascinating how many artifacts you find in every small museum,&rdquo he says. &ldquoIf they have a museum, they probably have Scandinavian artifacts.&rdquo For example, at the museum in Staraya Ladoga, east of St. Petersburg, Carlsson found a large number of Scandinavian items, oval brooches from mainland Sweden, combs, beads, pendants, and objects with runic inscriptions, and even three brooches in the Gotlandic style dating to the seventh and eighth centuries. Scandinavians were initially drawn to the area to obtain furs from local Finns, particularly miniver, the highly desirable white winter coat of the stoat, which they would then trade in Western Europe. As time went on, Staraya Ladoga served as a launching point for Viking forays to the Black and Caspian Seas.

These journeys entailed a good deal of risk. The route south from Kiev toward Constantinople along the Dnieper River was particularly hazardous. A mid-tenth-century document by the Byzantine emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus tells of Vikings traveling this stretch each year after the spring thaw, which required portaging around a series of dangerous rapids and fending off attacks by local bandits known as the Pechenegs. The name of one of these rapids&mdashAifur, meaning &ldquoever-noisy&rdquo or &ldquoimpassable&rdquo&mdashappears on a runestone on Gotland dedicated to the memory of a man named Hrafn who died there.

People from the East may have traveled back to Gotland with the Vikings as well. At Fröjel, Carlsson has uncovered two Viking Age cemeteries, one dating from roughly 600 to 900, and the other from 900 to 1000. In all, Carlsson has excavated around 60 burials there, and isotopic analysis has shown that some 15 percent of the people whose graves have been excavated&mdashall buried in the earlier cemetery&mdashcame from elsewhere, possibly the East.

In their voyages, the Vikings of Gotland are thought to have traded a broad range of goods such as furs, beeswax, honey, cloth, salt, and iron, which they obtained through a combination of trade and violent theft. This activity, though, doesn&rsquot entirely account for the wealth that archaeologists have uncovered. In recent years, Carlsson and other experts have begun to suspect that a significant portion of their trade may have consisted of a commodity that has left little trace in the archaeological record: slaves. &ldquoWe still have some problems in explaining what made this island so rich,&rdquo says Carlsson. &ldquoWe know from written Arabic sources that the Rus&mdashthe Scandinavians in Russia&mdashwere transporting slaves. We just don&rsquot know how big their trading in slaves was.&rdquo

According to an early tenth-century account by Ibn Rusta, a Persian geographer, the Rus were nomadic raiders who would set upon Slavic people in their boats and take them captive. They would then transport them to Khazaria or Bulgar, a Silk Road trading hub on the Volga River, where they were offered for sale along with furs. &ldquoThey sell them for silver coins, which they set in belts and wear around their waists,&rdquo writes Ibn Rusta. Another source, Ibn Fadlan, a representative of the Abbasid Caliph of Baghdad who traveled to Bulgar in 921, reports seeing the Rus disembark from their boats with slave girls and sable skins for sale. The Rus warriors, according to his account, would pray to their gods: &ldquoI would like you to do me the favor of sending me a merchant who has large quantities of dinars and dirhams [Arab coins] and who will buy everything that I want and not argue with me over my price.&rdquo Whenever one of these warriors accumulated 10,000 coins, Ibn Fadlan says, he would melt them down into a neck ring for his wife.

It is unclear whether the Vikings transported Slavic slaves back to Gotland, but the practice of slavery appears to have been well established there. The Guta Lag, a compendium of Gotlandic law thought to have been written down in 1220 includes rules regarding purchasing slaves, or thralls. &ldquoThe law says that if you buy a man, try him for six days, and if you are not satisfied, bring him back,&rdquo says Carlsson. &ldquoIt sounds like buying an ox or a cow.&rdquo Burials belonging to people who came from places other than Gotland are generally situated on the periphery of the graveyards with fewer grave goods, suggesting that they may have occupied a secondary tier of society&mdashperhaps as slaves.

For the Gotland Vikings, accumulation of wealth in the form of silver coins was clearly a priority, but they weren&rsquot interested in just any coins. They were unusually sensitive to the quality of imported silver and appear to have taken steps to gauge its purity. Until the mid-tenth century, almost all the coins found on Gotland came from the Arab world and were around 95 percent pure. According to Stockholm University numismatist Kenneth Jonsson, beginning around 955, these Arab coins were increasingly cut with copper, probably due to reduced silver production. Gotlanders stopped importing them. Near the end of the tenth century, when silver mining in Germany took off, Gotlanders began to trade and import high-quality German coins. Around 1055, coins from Frisia in northern Germany became debased, and Gotlanders halted imports of all German coins. At this juncture, ingots from the East became the island&rsquos primary source of silver.

Interestingly, when a silver source from the Arab or German world slipped in quality, Jonsson points out, and the Gotlanders rapidly cut off the debased supplies, their contemporaries on mainland Sweden and in areas of Eastern Europe did not. &ldquoWord must have spread around the island, saying, &lsquoDon&rsquot use these German coins anymore!&rsquo&rdquo says Jonsson. To test imported silver, Gotlanders would shave a bit of the metal with a knife so its contents could be assessed based on color and consistency, says Ny Björn Gustafsson of the Swedish National Heritage Board. He notes that many imported silver items found on Gotland were &ldquopecked&rdquo in this way, and that Gotlanders may also have tested imported coins by bending them. By contrast, silver items thought to have been made on Gotland&mdashincluding heavy arm rings with a zigzag pattern pressed into them&mdashwere not generally pecked or otherwise tested. &ldquoMy interpretation,&rdquo Gustafsson says, &ldquois that this jewelry acted as a traditional form of currency and was assumed to contain pure silver.&rdquo

These arm rings are among the most commonly found items in Gotland&rsquos hoards, along with coins, and experts had long assumed they were made on the island, but no evidence of their manufacture had been found until Carlsson&rsquos team uncovered a workshop area at Fröjel. &ldquoWe found the artifacts exactly where they had been dropped,&rdquo says Carlsson. There are precious stones: amber, carnelian, garnet. There are half-finished beads, cracked during drilling and discarded. There is elk antler for crafting combs. There is also a large lump of iron, as well as rivets for use in boats, coffins, and storage chests. And, providing evidence of a smelting operation, there are drops of silver.

Researchers found that the metalworkers of Fröjel used an apparatus called a cupellation hearth to transform a suspect source of imported silver, such as coins or ingots, into jewelry or decorated weapons with precisely calibrated silver content. They would melt the silver source with lead and blow air over the molten mélange with a bellows, causing the lead and other impurities to oxidize, separate from the silver, and attach to the hearth lining. The resulting pure silver would then be combined with other metals to produce a desired alloy. The cupellation technique is known from classical times, says Gustafsson, but so far this is the first and only time such a hearth has been found on Gotland. Only one other intact example from the Viking Age has been found in Sweden, at the mainland settlement of Sigtuna.

Traces of lead and other impurities were found embedded in pieces of the cupellation hearth among the material excavated from the workshop area at Fröjel. The hearth has been radiocarbon dated to around 1100. Also unearthed from the workshop area were fragments of molds imprinted with the zigzag patterns found on Gotlandic silver arm rings, establishing that they were, in fact, made on the island&mdashand that the workshop was the site of the full chain of production, from metal refinement to casting. &ldquoWe have these silver arm rings in many hoards all over Gotland,&rdquo says Carlsson. &ldquoBut we never before saw exactly where they were making them.&rdquo

During the Viking Age, Gotland seems to have been a more egalitarian society than mainland Sweden, which had a structure of nobles led by a king dating from at least the late tenth century. On Gotland, by contrast, farmers and merchants appear to have formed the upper class and, while some were more prosperous than others, they shared in governance through a series of local assemblies called things, which were overseen by a central authority called the Althing. According to the Guta Saga, the saga of the Gotlanders, which was written down around 1220, an emissary from Gotland forged a peace treaty with the Swedish king, ending a period of strife with the mainland Swedes. The treaty, believed to have been established in the eleventh century, required Gotland to pay an annual tax in exchange for continued independence, protection, and freedom to travel and trade.

Stratification did increase on the island as time passed, though. Archaeologists have found that, throughout the ninth and tenth centuries, silver hoards were distributed throughout Gotland, suggesting that wealth was more or less uniformly shared among the island&rsquos farmers. But around 1050, this pattern shifted. &ldquoIn the late eleventh century, you start to have fewer hoards overall, but, instead, there are some really massive hoards, usually found along the coast, containing many, many thousands of coins,&rdquo says Jonsson. This suggests that trading was increasingly controlled by a small number of coastal merchants.

This stratification accelerated near the end of the Viking Age, around 1140, when Gotland began to mint its own coins, becoming the first authority in the eastern Baltic region to do so. &ldquoGotlandic coins were used on mainland Sweden and in the Baltic countries,&rdquo says Majvor Östergren, an archaeologist who has studied the island&rsquos silver hoards. Whereas Gotlanders had valued foreign coins based on their weight alone, these coins, though hastily hammered out into an irregular shape, had a generally accepted value. More than eight million of these early Gotlandic coins are estimated to have been minted between 1140 and 1220, and more than 22,000 have been found, including 11,000 on Gotland alone.

Gotland is thought to have begun its coinage operation to take advantage of new trading opportunities made possible by strife among feuding groups on mainland Sweden and in western Russia. This allowed Gotland to make direct trading agreements with the Novgorod area of Russia and with powers to the island&rsquos southwest, including Denmark, Frisia, and northern Germany. Gotland&rsquos new coins helped facilitate trade between its Eastern and Western trading partners, and brought added profits to the island&rsquos elite through tolls, fees, and taxes levied on visiting traders. In order to maintain control over trade on the island, it was limited to a single harbor, Visby, which remains the island&rsquos largest town. As a result, the rest of Gotland&rsquos trading harbors, including Fröjel, declined in importance around 1150.

Gotland remained a wealthy island in the medieval period that followed the Viking Age, but, says Carlsson, &ldquoGotlanders stopped putting their silver in the ground. Instead, they built more than 90 stone churches during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.&rdquo Although many archaeologists believe that the Gotland Vikings stashed their wealth in hoards for safekeeping, Carlsson thinks that, just as did the churches that were built later, they served a devotional purpose. In many cases, he argues, hoards do not appear to have been buried in houses but rather atop graves, roads, or borderlands. Indeed, some were barely buried at all because, he argues, others in the community knew not to touch them. &ldquoThese hoards were not meant to be taken up,&rdquo he says, &ldquobecause they were meant as a sort of sacrifice to the gods, to ensure a good harvest, good fortune, or a safer life.&rdquo In light of the scale, sophistication, and success of the Gotland Vikings&rsquo activities, these ritual depositions may have seemed to them a small price to pay.

Campaigns of the European Theater In World War II

Early on D-Day airborne troops landed in France to gain control of strategic areas. Aerial and naval bombardment followed. Then the invasion fleet, covered by an umbrella of aircraft, discharged Eisenhower�s assault forces. Soon the beachhead was secure, but its expansion was a slow and difficult process in the face of strong opposition. It was not until late in July that the Allies were able to break out of Normandy.

Northern France 25 July - 14 September 1944

Bombardment along a five-mile stretch of the German line enabled the Allies to break through on 25 July. While some armored forces drove southward into Brittany, others fanned out to the east and, overcoming a desperate counterattack, executed a pincers movement that trapped many Germans in a pocket at Falaise. The enemy fell back on the Siegfried Line, and by mid-September 1944 nearly all of France had been liberated. During these operations in France, while light and medium bombers and fighter-bomber aircraft of Ninth Air Force had been engaged in close support and interdictory operations, Eighth and Fifteenth Air Forces had continued their strategic bombing.

Southern France 15 August - 14 September 1944

While the Germans were retreating in Italy in the summer of 1944, the Allies diverted some of their strength in the theater to the invasion of Southern France. After preliminary bombardment, a combined seaborne-airborne force landed on the French Riviera on 15 August. Marseilles having been taken, Sevmth Army advanced up the Rhone Valley and by mid-September was in touch with Allied forces that had entered France from the north.

Rhineland 15 September 1944 - 21 March 1945

Attempting to outflank the Siegfried Line, the Allies tried an airborne attack on Holland on 17 September 1944. But the operation failed, and the enemy was able to strengthen his defensive line from Holland to Switzerland. Little progress was made on the ground, but the aerial attacks on strategic targets continued. Then, having regained the initiative after defeating a German offensive in the Ardennes in December 1944, the Allies drove through to the Rhine, establishing a bridgehead across the river at Remagen.

Ardennes-Alsace 16 December 1944 - 25 January 1945

During their offensive in the Ardennes the Germans drove into Belgium and Luxembourg, creating a great bulge in the line. For some time the weather was bad, but when it cleared the Allies could send their planes to assist their ground forces by bombing and strafing the enemy's columns, dropping paratroops and supplies, and interdicting the enemy's lines of communications. By the end of January 1945 the lost ground had been regained and the Battle of the Bulge, the last great German offensive, was over.

Central Europe 22 March - 11 May 1945

Following the Battle of the Bulge the Allies had pushed through to the Rhine. On 22 March 1945 they began their assault across the river, and by I April the Ruhr was encircled. Armored columns raced across Germany and into Austria and Czechoslovakia. On 25 April, the day American and Russian forces met on the Elbe, strategic bombing operations came to an end. Germany surrendered on 7 May 1945 and operations officially came to an end the following day, although sporadic actions continued on the European front until 11 May.

The people found it hard to accept the edict of pacification at Amboise

Peaceful coexistence was encouraged by the authorities who sent commissioners from the parliament to receive complaints, to return property on both sides, and the banning of carrying arms. In some cities such as Lyon, Orléans or Castres, both confessions were on equal terms. Reinstating confidence and restoring prosperity were the main goals, but neither the Protestants nor the Catholics approved of the edict. Several parliaments refused to record it. Some thought that tolerance could not be consistent with the principle monarchy. Protestant troops still ruled over a large part of the kingdom, notably in Normandy, Languedoc and Dauphiné regions. For many the «pacification» could not last.

Watch the video: THE VISBY CATHEDRAL Gotland (June 2022).


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