Klostren och reformationen. Upplösningen av kloster och konvent i Sverige 1523-1596 : The Dissolution of the monasteries in 16th century Sweden

Sammanfattning: The aim of the study is to investigate the dissolution of the monasteries in 16th century Sweden. One reason behind this aim is that this process has never before been investigated in its totality. Based on earlier research as well as on my own, I have tried to present a picture of the process as a whole. In particular, I have shown that the most important cause of the dissolution of the monasteries was the decisions issued at the Diet of Västerås in 1527, especially concerning secular administration of monastic estates and the limitation of the mendicants’ freedom of travelling. I have given minor weight to the decisions on limitation of the bishop’s authority over the monasteries and on the right of reclaiming monastic estates. Important for the disappearance of the monastic culture was also the transition from medieval Catholicism to early modern Lutheranism. Special attention has been devoted to the contemporary criticisms articulated against the dissolution of the monasteries. Here we can discern a defence of the monasteries and the monastic life based on juridical considerations as well as on the function of the monasteries concerning salvation and the diminishing of God’s wrath. I have also paid attention to a number of problems that have not been investigated in earlier research. As regards for example Vadstena Abbey it has been shown that the State supported the nunnery from the late 1540s until its dissolution in 1595. It has also been shown that the clergy was a driving force behind this dissolution, although the impact of the church policy of Duke Karl cannot be neglected. Further, I have re-examined the administration of the monasteries and nunneries after the Diet of Västerås in 1527 and concluded that the abbots and abbesses had a higher level of freedom concerning the administration than what is apparent from earlier research. The study also suggests that the main reason for the relatively long life of some nunneries is to be explained in social terms. I have given additional attention to the fact that the notion of “evangelical communities” cannot be excluded concerning some of these nunneries. It is also emphasised that the policy of John III toward the monasteries, although considered “catholic” in its orientation, need not be interpreted as an expression of medieval or Tridentine Catholicism.

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