Stockholm Bloodbath 500 years

Gustav Trolle points out the accused of heresy. Executioner swings his sword over a kneeling bishop. Kristian II standing in the background. Kristina Gyllenstierna extends her hand in a stop gesture.
Karl-Olof Björk's sculpture group "Stockholm Bloodbath". Photo: Mattias Ek

Follow the intricate power struggle for Sweden's throne which ended in a massacre where 82 people were executed on Stortorget in the Old Town in 1520. The exhibition is shown 11 August 2020–7 November 2021.

Between November 7 and 9, 1520, blood flowed in the alleys of the Old Town. According to chief executioner Jürgen Homut, 82 people were executed on Stortorget in what is usually called Stockholm Bloodbath. The executions were the culmination of a complicated power struggle for Sweden's throne.

The Medieval Museum pays attention to this event with the exhibition "Stockholm Bloodbath 500 Years". Here you can see archaeological finds from the time, Björn Eneroth's dramatic painting of the Bloodbath and Karl-Olov Björk's sculpture group "Stockholm Bloodbath" with the main characters in this drama: Kristian II, Kristina Gyllenstierna and the chief executioner Jürgen Homut and more.

Kristian II of Denmark was crowned king of Sweden by Archbishop Gustav Trolle in Storkyrkan in Stockholm on Sunday November 4. The coronation feast, which lasted three days, included entertainment such as jousting and juggling. On the fourth day the guests were called to a meeting at the Tre Kronor Castle. Here Archbishop Trolle accused some guests of heresy for deposing him and destroying his stronghold. During the meeting the castle gates were locked and the guests became prisoners. The next day the Danish Bishop Jens Andersen Beldenak convened a Church council, which found those accused by Trolle to be guilty of heresy.

At midday, November 8, many of the prisoners were led into Stortorget square and executed in order of social standing. Kristian II was not present. Instead the executions were organised by his advisor Didrik Slagheck. Olaus Petri witnessed the executions and later recorded the events. The two bishops were beheaded first, followed by a number of privy councillors and knights, then Stockholm’s mayors, all the town councillors and finally some other burghers.

Executions continued the next day, when many burghers and noblemen’s servants were put to death. Lambrekt the Barber was dragged from his shop while shaving a customer. Lasse Hass was executed for the crime of weeping openly in the square. Noblemen’s servants were pulled from their horses and hanged while still wearing their spurs. The homes of executed burghers were looted in front of their wives and children.

The dead were left lying on the square until the third day, when they were gathered up and taken to Södermalm, just outside town, and burned. The coffin of Sten Sture the Younger was dug up so that his body could be burned too. Kristina Gyllenstierna, Sten Sture's widow, avoided execution but was imprisoned and taken to Copenhagen, along with other noblewomen.