First Swedish Crusade

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Eric IX of Sweden and bishop Henry en route to Finland. Late mediaeval depiction from Uppland.
Christianization of Finland
Seal of bishop bero of finland.gif
Bishops: ThomasHenry
Popes: Alexander III
Innocent IIIGregory IX
Archbishops: Anders
Others: Birger Jarl
SergiusLalliKing Eric
Turku Cathedral
Finnish-Novgorodian wars
First Swedish Crusade
Second Swedish Crusade
Third Swedish Crusade

The First Swedish Crusade was a possibly mythical military expedition around 1150 that has traditionally been seen as the first attempt of Sweden to convert pagan Finns to Christianity by force. According to the legend, the crusade was conducted by King Eric IX of Sweden. English bishop Henry of Uppsala accompanied him and remained in Finland, he was later killed at lake Köyliönjärvi by Lalli.[1]

Academics debate whether this crusade actually took place. No archaeological data give any support for it, and no surviving written source describes Finland under Swedish rule before the end of the 1240s. Furthermore, the diocese and bishop of Finland are not listed among their Swedish counterparts before the 1250s. Also, the Christianisation of the South-western part of Finland is known to have already started in 10th century, and in the 12th century, the area was probably almost entirely Christian.[2]

At the time, leading the leiðangr was the responsibility of the jarl, this gave rise to a theory that Eric conducted the expedition before he became king or pretender to the throne.[citation needed] Legends give no year for the expedition, and attempts to date it to an exact year in the 1150s are all much later speculations. All that is known about King Eric and Bishop Henry is that they most probably held important positions in Sweden some time in the mid-12th century.[citation needed]

The Swedish bishop normally involved in the eastern campaigns was the Bishop of Linköping, not the Bishop of Uppsala.[citation needed]

The mid-12th century was a very violent time in the northern Baltic sea, with Finnish tribes such as Tavastians and Karelians as well as Swedes in frequent conflicts with Novgorod and with each other.[3] The First Novgorod Chronicle tells that in 1142 a Swedish "prince" and bishop accompanied by a fleet of 60 ships plundered just three Novgorodian merchant vessels somewhere "on the other side of the sea", obviously being after something more important.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Eric's crusade to Finland". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. . Original medieval legend in Latin.
  2. ^ Georg Haggren, Petri Halinen, Mika Lavento, Sami Raninen ja Anna Wessman (2015). Muinaisuutemme jäljet. Gaudeamus. p. 343. 
  3. ^ See articles Swedish-Novgorodian Wars and Prehistoric Finnish wars.
  4. ^ "First Novgorod Chronicle entry on the attack in 1142". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. . In Swedish.