The Plague, crises and interaction between military and civilian in the early 18th century Sweden, the case of Karlskrona.

Document type: Conference Papers
Peer reviewed: Yes
Author(s): Karl Bergman
Title: The Plague, crises and interaction between military and civilian in the early 18th century Sweden, the case of Karlskrona.
Conference name: IXth Europena Urban History Conference
Year: 2008
City: Lyon
Organization: Blekinge Institute of Technology
Department: School of Technoculture, Humanities and Planning (Sektionen för teknokultur, humaniora och samhällsbyggnad)
School of Technoculture, Humanities and Planning S-371 79 Karlskrona
+46 455 38 50 00
Authors e-mail:
Language: English
Abstract: The Plague, crises and interaction between military and civilian in the early 18th century Sweden, the case of Karlskrona.

The plague in 1710, the naval base and the city.
The plague reached the German North Sea coast in 1709. The following year, in the summer or early autumn it hit the capital of Sweden, Stockholm. Later on, in October 1710, the plague reached the naval base in the south of Sweden. In March 1711, this wave of the plague faded out. It is not possible, due to the gaps in the sources, to estimate the exact figures of the dead in the city or at the naval base. However notes in the dead book from one of the three parishes in the city mention 6 000 dead. If we estimate the figures of dead people from different oral sources written down in the Admiralty colleague’s protocol, the rate of dead would be between 50 and 75 %. The numbers of death was, as every where else, a human catastrophe. This was a grave set back for the Swedish fleet at a time when the Swedish position in the Baltic Sea was challenged by the Russian and the Danish fleets. At the time when the plague hit the area around the Baltic sea, the Swedish Great Power lost several important bridgeheads on the east side of the Baltic sea to its enemies and the Swedish main land was in danger of being invaded. In the year 1709, the Danish army tried, but failed, to invade the south of Sweden (the former East Danish provinces, lost to Sweden in1658).
These circumstances, the threat from the plague and the enemies at the same time, should have been a strong incentive for the authorities to act together and with force. The Swedish Great Power, the military state at that time, is often described as one of the truly centralized European states of the time. But did the state act as a centralized power and did civilian and military authorities act together? When we looking back it is obvious that the authorities were rather anxious and uncertain and if they acted at all it happend too late. The cooperation between different parts of society was never effective - according to modern standards. Another question is, if this intracity crisis also created a meeting between civil and military authorities with consequences beyond the present plague problem. One effect of this 18th century city crisis that will be discussed is the crisies as an incitement for, or a move towards growing urbanity.
This was a process that implicated the development of the city, the organisation and resources needed for this project could not be found in the countryside. The interaction during the crisis tended to strengthened the division between the “own” city and the strangers from the outside or from the other city or from the countryside. In this way the crises, and the enforced interaction between military and civilian sectors, became one piece in a jigsaw puzzle which we can name the early modern urbanization process.
Summary in Swedish: Pesten drabbade staden Karlskrona och örlogsflottan med våldsam kraft vintern 1710-11. Hur denna farsot behandlades av civila respektive militära myndigheter behandlas i detta arbete. Interaktionen och bristen på interaktion behandlas som ett exempel på en kris i staden där mötet civilt och militärt undersöks som ett incitamnet för en en tidigmodern urbanitet.
Subject: The Humanities\History
Keywords: Pest, stadshistoria, urbanitet, tidigmoderna städer