Sweden in the 18th and 19th centuries
ParliamentarismAfter the downfall of the Swedish Great Power in 1718, the monarchy's influence diminished. All power was in the hands of the Council of Aristocrats. They were depending on the support of the Parliament for the execution of power.
In 1772 the new king, Gustav III, began a reform that strengthened the power of the king. This developed into an almost absolute monarchy. Gustav III is best known for his engagement in art, theatre and literature. He instituted the Swedish Academy in 1786. Today, the academy is responsible for the Nobel Prize in Literature. In 1792 he was murdered, shot, during a fancy dress ball. He was succeeded by king Gustav IV Adolf who was dethroned after losing Finland to the Russians in a war, 1808-09.
After the war, the Parliament passed a new constitution in 1809. In this constitution the power was divided between the king, the parliament and the courts. This constitution did not change until 1974.
In 1818 the first Bernadotte became King of Sweden. Jean Baptiste Bernadotte, one of Napoleon's field marshals, was chosen to succeed king Karl XIII. As crown prince he waged war against Napoleon, with the support of Russia. This led to an attack on Denmark which was forced to give up Norway to Sweden. This was the beginning of the union between Norway and Sweden, which lasted from 1814 to 1905.
Reformation towards democratisationDuring the 19th century a number of liberal reforms took place. In 1842, the Elementary Education Act gain legal force. A liberal opposition demanded that the Diet of the Four Estates should be abolished. In 1865 the Diet of the Four Estates was replaced with a two-chamber parliament. Also, during the 19th century a limited freedom of religion was allowed and the women's rights were improved. For instance, women were allowed to graduate from upper secondary school in 1870.
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