Swedish literature: From Early Works to the Sixteenth Century

Swedish literature may have flourished in early medieval times, but few written traces remain. Historical chronicles, religious writings, and ballads and verse in Swedish are extant from the 12th cent. The earliest major religious writer was St. Bridget of Sweden (c.1300–1373). As Danish influence grew after the Kalmar Union (1397), there was a period of literary decline.

Of note in the 15th cent. were the poems of Bishop Thomas of Strängnäs (d. 1443) in praise of liberty. The Reformation (16th cent.) conferred a somber spirit upon Sweden, and few secular works were written. The theological and historical works of Olaus Petri (1493–1552) are notable for beginning the linguistic transition to modern Swedish. Petri also assisted in the great Swedish translation of the Bible (1540–41), a project directed by his brother Laurentius Petri (1499–1573).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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