Abstract

In his 1585 treatise Pro lege, rege et grege, then-Royal Chancellor Erik Sparre (1550–1600) sought to conceptualize a novel relationship between the king, the crown of the realm, and the people of Sweden. Sparre saw the council of the realm, the body of which he was a member, as the keystone locking together the relationship of all these political subjects, and thus the ultimate protector of the interests of the crown. In order to clearly separate the office and rights of the king from those of the crown, whose possessions were not to be pawned or diminished by any incumbent under any circumstances, Sparre pointed to the incompatible temporal nature of the two. The king, “som dödelig är” (who is mortal), should not be able to make any infringements on the possessions of the immortal and thus immutable crown, “som odödelig achtas” (which is immortal). The people's loyalty and adherence were due primarily to the eternal crown, whose sovereignty was uncircumscribed by any temporal limitations (Sparre 1924, 49). Despite Sparre's efforts and eloquence, his ideas did not gain sufficient traction to directly influence the constitutional order of Sweden at that time. Instead, their author was found guilty of treason and executed 15 years after the publication of his treatise. Sparre's ideas nonetheless reflect a larger, complex historical process during which the temporal parameters of politics slowly expanded. The purpose of this theoretically framed article is to sketch this process in the kingdom of Sweden between the end of the Middle Ages and the dawn of nationalism in the nineteenth century. By doing so, we outline a novel research agenda for the investigation of the symbolic and practical articulations of temporal sovereignty and its role in state formation.The notion of sovereignty remains one of the most scholarly and historically contested concepts. The core understanding of the concept tends to boil down to supreme authority within a territory, although the meanings of “supreme,” “authority,” and “territory” remain to be agreed upon (Philpott 2016; Krasner 2001). As a result, historians intervening in this debate have focused on when such supreme authority was assumed (Anderson 1974; Tilly 1992; Ertman 1997), and, in the case of the early modern conglomerate kingdom of Sweden, in relation to which territories and peoples (Gustafsson 1998; Lerbom 2003). We argue that historians’ absorption of sovereignty's spatiality needs to be complemented by an investigation of its temporality. As pointed out by R. B. J. Walker, state sovereignty “expresses a specifically modern articulation of political identity both in space and time [our emphasis]” (1991, 446). Spatial articulations of sovereignty are in fact secondary to their temporal aspect; if the supreme authority within a territory is not ascribed to time immemorial and projected into the future, ideally in perpetuity, its territorial claims are exceedingly vulnerable to contestation, by both other states and the domestic population (Stockdale 2015, 18–24).Accordingly, by “temporal sovereignty,” we mean the articulation and capacity to self-determine and command the time frame in which historical agents operate and enjoy sovereignty, be they monarchs, realms, or nations. Temporal sovereignty is an assertion of an ideal, immutable identity of the political subject or polity that does not succumb to the debilitating effects of the passing of time. It is a politics of eternity (Davis 2008, 5–6; Rifkin 2017, 26–40). While the emergence of the spatial organization and administration of sovereign states has been researched extensively, the question of how and through what means early modern states articulated and administered their temporal horizons has remained under-studied. We argue that the articulations of state sovereignty depended on the expanding sacral and secular notions of eviternity, that is, a form of duration and existence without end. These articulations, we contend, were an important offshoot and vehicle of the state formation process, well-exemplified by the Swedish case.Our theoretical point of departure is the political doctrine of the king's two bodies, which came into use in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and was most eloquently expressed in Edmund Plowden's Reports (1571), a succession treatise in Elizabethan England, a distant echo of which is traceable in Sparre's treatise (Axton 1974; Fortin 2021). According to Ernst H. Kantorowicz, this doctrine presented monarchs in general as geminae personae, that is, as consisting of two bodies: one body material and mortal (the physical body of the ruler) and the other immortal and sublime (the body politic). While the physical body of the ruler suffered the incapacitating effects of the passage of time (Sennefelt 2021), the body politic of the kingdom enjoyed an eternal, immutable quality. The fiction of corporeal duality thus solved the problem of the biological transience of incumbents and members of institutions, assuring that the offices and institutions themselves remained permanent. This, in turn, enabled smoother succession and continuity (Kantorowicz 1997, 7–23).What was novel about the uses to which the doctrines of temporal sovereignty and corporeal duality were put in the early modern period was the scope of their secular deployment and political ramifications, not the ideas themselves. The historical forerunners of this type of institutional eviternity were medieval corporations such as episcopal chapters or universities comprising students and their teachers, which, legally speaking, were immortal and perpetual. According to the principle of plurality of succession upon which they operated, at any point in their institutional life, they incorporated and made simultaneously present their previously deceased, contemporarily living, and future members. Their juridical identity as personae fictae, fictive personas, was therefore independent of their members’ actual mortality (Kantorowicz 1997, 273–313, 446–50). These creative legal solutions depended, in turn, on novel theological reflections on the nature of time and how different entities were situated in different temporal spheres and horizons. During the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, scholastic theologians developed the idea of aevum (an everlasting time stretching both backward and forward) as an indispensable intermediary between the time of God (aeternitas, a time without time or change) and the time of humans (tempus). Though initially inhabited only by angels, from the fourteenth century onward, the legalistically convenient space-time of medium aevum began to be populated by political ideas, dignities, and juridical fictions: universities and juridical associations of corporative character, ecclesiastical institutions, the ideas of everlasting patria, and holy, incorporative crowns of kingdoms. By the end of the Middle Ages, the notion of eviternity began to be secularized and transferred to the relationship between the ruler and his/her country and people. The body politic itself was increasingly conceptualized as an eternal and corporative being (Kantorowicz 1997, 275–84; Lerner 1997, 115–6; Anzulewicz 2001).The ideas of eviternity and incorporation—the key components of temporal sovereignty as it is considered here—would have remained pre-modern politico-juridical idiosyncrasies had they not survived into modernity in a changed form. As observed by Kantorowicz, Eric L. Santner, and others, the principle of plurality of succession and the vision of people/nation as an undying corporative body politic are at the heart of modern nationalism (Kantorowicz 1997, 232–49; Lerner 1997; Santner 2011, 42–3; Foucault 2007, 259–61). The idea of a national sovereign is built around a projection of an unbroken, transgenerational bond of solidarity between the past, present, and future members of a given nation, supposedly always already connected by a common history and fate (Smith 1988, 173, 179–82; 1998, 41–4, 131–8; B. Anderson 1991, 11–2). This connection motivates us to take a longitudinal bird's-eye view––from the Late Middle Ages to the early nineteenth century––of a number of institutional and practical articulations of temporal set-ups and development of multiple time frames in which the Swedish realm and people enjoyed sovereignty—their eternities past (Koselleck 2004; Ewing 2018).How could temporal sovereignty be articulated and represented concretely? In the case of early modern Sweden, the secularization of theological notions to frame the relationship between the realm, its ruler, and the religious order was perhaps most clearly expressed in the newly introduced prayer accompanying the coronation of King Karl IX in 1607—incidentally, the same king who executed Sparre: Alzmechtige och barmhertige Gudh som Riksens Crono, hwilkens konungsliga äre och vördigheet betyder, eder gifwit havwer . . . och att i efter thetta timmeliga och förgengeliga Rijket, måge blifwe deelachtige af thet som ewigt är, och ther bekomme then Chronan som Gudh allom rättfärdigom lofwar, och i himmelen förwarat hafuer. (Acta Coronationis Caroli IX, fol. 21, R4760, SNA)(Almighty and merciful God, who has given you the crown of the kingdom, symbolizing royal honor and dignity . . . so that after this temporal and transient earthly kingdom you may participate in that which is eternal, and receive the crown that God promises to all who are right and just, and has kept safe in heaven.)According to the prayer, the king is given authority over the temporal realm, with the promise of stepping into the eternal order afterward. His reign thus extends into eviternity. This appropriation of the religious order and salvific time frame for the sake of political authority, that is, political theology (Assmann 2000, 15; de Vries 2006, 25–9; Schmitt 2005, 36), lagged far behind its emergence elsewhere, however. From the perspective of developments in political theology, the Kingdom of Sweden was a latecomer and constituted a periphery in the Late Middle Ages relative to both a European and a Scandinavian background. For instance, the fifteenth-century attempts to leverage the cult of St. Erik for purposes of political legitimacy in Sweden paled in comparison with the Norwegian counterpart, St. Olaf, already established as rex perpetuus Norvegiæ (perpetual king of Norway) in the High Middle Ages. Nor did the Uppsala archbishopric ever provide the breadth of historiographic and religious legitimation for the Swedish monarchs as did the archiepiscopal see of Lund for the Danish. When it comes to coronations and other official, symbolic articulations of political theology, rather than constituting the avant-garde, Sweden simply emulated other, more successful examples (Oertel 2016, 204–32; Jezierski et al 2021; Schramm 1956, 774–9, 789–91).What makes the Swedish case exceptionally suitable for studying temporal sovereignty is its rapid and radical state formation process. The Reformation, combined with the late, sudden rise of Sweden on the international scene during the Swedish Empire era (1611–1721)—which took place despite the country's peripheral position and small population—resulted in a re-invention of the kingdom during a short period. New time frames, long continuities, and projections of eternity were used to smooth out breaks and anchor the realm in a wider temporal context. Because it suddenly lost contact with the well-tried forms of sublime political theology delivered by the Catholic Church, the realm seems to have employed more practical means of applying political theology and economic teleology. In the Swedish case, we contend, rather than looking for traces of temporal sovereignty and incorporation in royal ideology expressed on such extraordinary occasions as coronations, one should therefore explore other areas in which emerging state perpetuity and national eternity were articulated and projected both backward and forward. For the purposes of this article, we have identified four such key areas: (1) The ideas of incorporation and representation of the realm and the Swedish people in late medieval historiography; (2) the transformation of political loyalty from personal oaths of and to the monarchs to popular, national loyalty; (3) the transformation of tax-collection from occasional to perpetual; and (4) the transition from personal debts of monarchs to state debt. Although the four case studies are treated rather summarily here, for the sake of clarity of argument, they build on extensive research that has not previously been used for this purpose. Together, they show that the admittedly abstract notions of temporal sovereignty and politics of eternity often had a very practical nature, closely tied to the expanding administration and bureaucracy.The first two cases fall roughly into the research field of state ideology and political culture. The connection between late medieval nationalism and the slow emergence of national consciousness has been studied previously, but it has not been tied to issues of temporal sovereignty (see, in particular, Ferm 2002; Nordquist 2017; 2019; Gustafsson 2000, 329–32; Lerbom 2017). The inclusion of the more technocratic third and fourth cases requires more justification. The Swedish kingdom's expansion during the seventeenth century was possible because of an unprecedented ability to extract resources from its population. Studies have shown that this successful mobilization of resources depended mainly on two factors. On the one hand, Sweden had a relatively advanced administrative organization, strong and early proto-bureaucratic tendencies, and an unparalleled repressive capacity. On the other hand, it also upheld strong legitimacy of state leadership and political cohesion, resulting, for example, in the absence of large-scale rebellions during the formative seventeenth to early eighteenth century (Glete 2002, 174–8).Focusing on these factors, scholars of state formation have studied the administrative apparatus's capacity and the political agency of peasants and office-holders in this system (see, for example, contributions in Dørum, Hallenberg, and Katajala 2021). Researchers have shown how certain branches of the Swedish state organization during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries acted as an entrepreneurial company—a corporation—selling protection in exchange for loyalty and taxes (see, for example, Hallenberg, Holm, and Johansson 2008). The temporal horizons and the ideological ramifications of Sweden, Inc., have been ignored, however. By tracing the late medieval and early modern connections between political theology and economic teleology—between the permanence of political incorporation and perpetuation of the administrative apparatus (cf. Lefort 1988; Agamben 2011)—this article outlines a new research agenda and a novel vantage point for investigating state formation in Sweden. Given the long period considered here and the theoretical character of this article, this outline is necessarily presented in a cursory fashion, though with support from the primary sources as far as possible.In searching for expressions of temporal sovereignty in Sweden, the first step is to look for the projections of eternity back into the past and onto the relationship between the people and the realm. Eloquent expressions of the claim that people and realm should preferably overlap are found in the national-historical works that appeared in most European realms during the Late Middle Ages (Reynolds 1997, 250–331).1 Their authors employed two narrative grids to achieve a sense of continuity between the present polity and its past. First, the bloodline of kings, presented as royal genealogies representing dynastic continuity, created links that explained how various rights evolved historically through the instrument of succession (Spiegel 1983). Second, these royal genealogies were extrapolated further through positing the existence of discrete peoples, often presented in the form of origin myths that provided political communities with the consolidating idea of a common “primordial” past linked to a specific territory (Reynolds 1983; 1997). Furthermore, in order to envisage a continual history of a realm stretching over centuries and involving considerable political change, the same authors used the principles of incorporation and plurality of succession. Some identified the regnum—usually understood as the sphere of the ruler's authority—with its past, present, and future members (the populus). For others, the regnum also acquired an abstract and perpetual character—a legal personality of its own—distinct from its members and acting through the office of the current ruler or some other representative (Canning 1988, 473–6; Kantorowicz 1997, 273–450).In order to determine when and where notions of Sweden as a perpetual political body took hold, we need to examine the early histories of the realm. When did national histories appear in Sweden? How did these texts represent the realm and its perpetuity? How was continuity envisaged despite considerable political change? And how did these representations of the realm correspond to its institutional development?According to Herman Schück, by the end of the thirteenth century in Sweden, the term regnum referred to the political elite writ large. In a certain sense, the lay and ecclesiastical aristocracy who had a stake in the realm's politics were the realm in their own eyes. They appear in the documents as the homines regni (men of the realm), and in periods of royal minorities or constitutional crises, the government could pass from the hands of the ruler to this aristocratic body, assembled under the name of alt Swearikes rad, a Swedish counterpart of the more familiar Danehoff (Schück 2005, passim). During the late thirteenth century, the Swedish realm thus began to assume some corporative character.During the same time, lists of kings with annalistic notes for each ruler in succession appeared, for instance, the vernacular list of kings attached to the Old Västergötland Law (Bolin 1931, 141–60). This rudimentary chronicle, modest in comparison with Saxo's Danish history or the Historia Norwegiae, presented a seventeen-link-strong chain of independent kings of Sweden, without any attempt to trace the origins of the realm prior to the arrival of its first Christian ruler or to frame the Swedes as a separate people (Wiktorsson 2011, 49r–50r). In the prologue to the fourteenth-century vernacular Erikskrönika (The Chronicle of Duke Erik), Sweden is praised as one of many countries established by God, a land of great knights able to match even Dietrich of Bern (Theoderic) (Jansson 2003, 27). These individual elements—the praise of the realm and the vague allusion to the Goths via Theoderic—heralded the Swedish national histories that were to come in the following century. In practice, however, the historical scope of the Erikskrönika was limited to a short span of political events (c. 1250–1319) and was cast in the aristocratic style of romance rather than as a national history.The middle of the fifteenth century, with the intensification of the political tensions of the Kalmar Union, was the first time a text told a comprehensive story of the Swedish realm from its beginnings, this time projected far back almost to times immemorial. The brief vernacular Prosaiska krönika (c. 1450) was preoccupied with establishing a royal genealogy, which began in the deep past with a legendary King Erik. The chronicle also established a novel account of the ethno-genesis of the Swedes and their realm. The anonymous author claimed to have ransacked earlier chroniclers for information about the people (folk) who previously had been known as göta or gota, but who in his own time were called Swedes (Swenske). In a manner typical of this class of text, his story began with the Flood and with humanity's fragmentation into different tongues, customs, and lands—the punishment for human pride at the Tower of Babel. In this view, the Swedes were descended from Noah's son Japhet, who fathered the Goths, who in their turn arrived as two subgroups, Götha and Swidia, to occupy the land known as Sweden. There, they eventually coalesced as one single polity (Klemming 1868–1881, 219–21).The Chronica regni Gothorum (c. 1471) was a longer and more ambitious work in Latin, compiled at the archbishopric of Uppsala by one of its canons, Ericus Olai (Ericus Olai Chronica regni Gothorum1993; for a fuller account of the following, see Tjällén 2007). As in the Prosaiska krönika, the representation of a long and unbroken line of independent kings was crucial for Ericus's endeavor. This project was fraught with difficulties caused by the lack of sources and by the fact that the available sources did not support the dynastic longevity that Ericus wished to project. Ericus suspected that agents of the foreign rulers of the union between Denmark, Sweden, and Norway had erased the Swedish genealogical records deliberately. His diatribe against them demonstrates that there was more at stake than the status of one particular dynasty: a long and independent line of kings vouchsafed the very independence of the realm (Ericus Olai Chronica regni Gothorum1993, IV, 75; Tjällén 2007, 77).2Ericus Olai adhered to the tradition from the Prosaiska krönika and the common belief that God had divided the world into distinct territories inhabited by distinct peoples. Here, too, the Swedes were Goths, descending from Japhet, the first to inhabit Sweden after the Great Flood had receded. In contrast to its vernacular forerunner, however, here, the first arrival was linked to the rights of the first occupants and the nature of political authority. This section of the work illustrates Ericus's sense of the perpetual and corporative nature of the realm. By combining theology with political philosophy, Ericus Olai argued that the first occupant was given the right to dominium, a term that involved both property right and lordship. The nature of auctoritas politica, which he contrasted with auctoritas paterna, depended on the consent of the people governed (Ericus Olai Chronica1993, IV, 8–50; Tjällén 2007, 71–6). Though he did not offer any legal definition, Ericus still voiced something fundamental about the Swedish constitutional order. Sovereignty, he seemed to say, pertained to Swedish men of the realm because of their ancient past, inasmuch as they were descended from the Goths, who had acquired this right as the first occupants. A king who ruled according to his own will (sue libitum voluntatis) and without the involvement of Swedish councillors, such as Erik of Pomerania in the first half of the fifteenth century, was a threat to Sweden's status as a realm of its own (to its nomen regni) and risked reducing it to a dependant of Denmark (Ericus Olai Chronica1993, XLVII, 12). As suggested by the title of Ericus's work—“a chronicle of the realm of the Goths”—his view was that the realm belonged to the Swedes as a people, not to the current and only temporary incumbent of the royal office.The first national histories of Sweden represented the Swedish regnum as a perpetual corporative entity, comprising an ancient people that consented to be governed by its own kings. To some extent, this reflected the narrative conventions of the genre, with its focus on origin myths and royal genealogies. However, these texts also corresponded to the constitutional realities and developments of the Swedish realm at the time. It is not too far-fetched to imagine that the Swedish political elite, the “men of the realm,” would identify as the heirs of the prestigious Goths, from whom their rights and liberties had evolved. The origin myths presented by these first two national histories were taken seriously enough to become politically consequential: by the mid-fifteenth century, their stories had made their way into the national law code, the Kristofers landslag (1442). The Gothicist myth from the Prosaiska krönika and the Chronica regni Gothorum, which represented the Swedish realm as a perpetual and corporative political entity, was used to make the same claim of continuity in the prologue to the law, which stated that the ancient “gothic name” had a fixed abode only in Sweden (though others tried to claim it).3 By this time, the association of the Swedish realm with the perpetuity of the ancient Goths was a national doctrine, bound up—literally—with the written constitution of the realm.Gothic patriotism was further elaborated and even more forcibly promoted by the royal power in the following centuries. In an effort to aid the counter-Reformation efforts, Archbishop Johannes Magnus in the early sixteenth century wrote Historia de omnibus Gothorum Sveonumque regibus (Magnus 1554), arguing again for the Gothic origins of the Swedes. King Gustav I used this text as he sought to legitimize his rule after he rebelled against Danish rule, and, ironically, brought the Reformation into Sweden. After him, kings continued to adhere to and use Gothicism as a legitimizing device, extending the history of the Swedish people to times immemorial. At the end of the seventeenth century, Olof Rudbeck may well represent the peak of Gothicism, when he argued in Atlantica that Sweden was in fact the sunken continent Atlantis, and thus the homeland of Western culture as such (Forss 2018, 96–9; Ekman 1962).Gothicism was not a singularly Swedish phenomenon: Denmark, the Holy Roman Empire, and Spain all laid claims to Gothic roots. While used by the Swedish royal power to enforce its temporal as well as geographical sovereignty, the Gothic myth could therefore also be used as a unifying tradition, alluded to in negotiations above all between Sweden and Spain (Neville 2009).Political oaths were widely used to establish and confirm fidelity in Europe during the medieval and early modern periods. After the seventeenth century, their usage waned, and the personal loyalty each subject owed to the monarch was increasingly replaced by ideas of a national loyalty, directed toward the impersonal state rather than the personal ruler. National loyalty and identity gained ground at the expense of the previously strong local identities, and in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, political oaths were abolished in many countries, including Sweden (Prodi 1997, 332–74; Malmer 1996, 235–67). In this section, we investigate how changes made to the oath institution in Sweden, mainly during the formative years of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, turned this instrument to promoting eternal rather than temporary loyalty, on the part of both rulers and subjects. Of particular interest are modifications to the oath institution, which gradually presented the political relationship as impersonal and continual, rather than personal and temporary.According to Magnus Eriksson's law of the realm (c. 1340), reciprocal oaths between king and subjects were to be sworn at each king's election. Several features of the oath swearing underlined its strong dependence on personal presence, such as the use of the body and visual aids (Schlyter 1862, Konungabalken, chaps. 4–7; see also Schlyter 1869, Konungabalken, chaps. 2, 4; cf. Nauman 2017, 37–49; Brink 2011, 147–56; Péneau 2008, 191–5). According to Hans Jacob Orning, royal authority in high medieval Scandinavia rested on the cyclical appearance of the ruler in the territory he had authority over, partly because the lack of controlling instruments in an oral political culture made authority at a distance unenforceable (Orning 2008, 5–10, 319–25; Retsö 2017, 101–17). The eriksgata, during which the king traveled through Sweden after his coronation, to repeat his oath to inhabitants of provinces in exchange for their allegiance, extended the reach of the oath in time and space but not beyond his physical presence and lifetime: the oath was limited to a king's reign (Nauman 2017, 40–3).Hereditary succession was instated in Sweden in 1544, but political oaths continued to be renewed at each coronation during the sixteenth century. This suggests that the time horizon of the political relationship was still limited, though two changes indicate that it was slowly starting to expand. First, after 1544, the subjects’ oaths also included a declaration of loyalty toward the king's heirs, “arvinge efter arvinge medan någon av samma stämma igen är” (“Oath of the Royal Council 1650,” Eder [Oaths] Vol. 4, SNA) [heir after heir, as long as there is anyone of the same dynasty].4 The loyalty proclaimed was thus more enduring than before, smoothing over in advance the transitions between successive rulers. However, the loyalty established by the oath still depended on the survival of the bloodline. Second, whereas previously oaths had been flexible and reformulated for each new reign to fit the specific situation, adding or retracting certain articles, during the sixteenth century and onward, the oath formulations started to ossify into pre-established formulas in accordance with the law. At the coronations of Kristina in 1650, Karl X in 1654, and Karl XI in 1675, the oath formulations in the coronation were more or less completely fixed (Nauman 2017, 73–119). Oaths thereby lost their flexibility and ability to define a specific, changing relationship.Oaths were increasingly defined as unnecessary for the establishment of the political relationship between ruler and subjects, but nevertheless remained in place in the coronation ceremonies. The discussions before the coronations of the seventeenth century illustrate and explain this paradox. While preparing the coronation of Gustav II Adolph in 1617, the noble estate argued that the king's oath should no longer be an obligatory component, as the king had already shown that he aimed to rule well, and that his “tal och ord, haver sås

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