This period was characterised by small bands of hunter-gatherer-fishers using flint technology. Sweden is first described in a written source in Germania by Tacitus in 98 AD.
In Germania 44 and 45 he mentions the Swedes Suiones as a powerful tribe distinguished not merely for their arms and men, but for their powerful fleets with ships that had a prow at each end longships.
Which kings kuningaz ruled these Suiones is unknown, but Norse mythology presents a long line of legendary and semi-legendary kings going back to the last centuries BC.
As for literacy in Sweden itself, the runic script was in use among the south Scandinavian elite by at least the 2nd century AD, but all that has come down to the present from the Roman Period is curt inscriptions on artefacts, mainly of male names, demonstrating that the people of south Scandinavia spoke Proto-Norse at the time, a language ancestral to Swedish and other North Germanic languages.
Jordanes describes the Suetidi and Dani as being of the same stock and the tallest of people. He later mentions other Scandinavian tribes as being of a same stature. The Icelandic historian Snorri Sturluson also wrote that the Swedish king Adils Eadgils had the finest horses of his day. The Vikings See also: The Swedish Viking Age lasted roughly from the 8th century to the 11th century.
Their routes passed through the Dnieper south to Constantinople , on which they carried out numerous raids. The Byzantine Emperor Theophilos noticed their great skills in war, and invited them to serve as his personal bodyguard, known as the Varangian Guard. The Arab traveller Ibn Fadlan described these Vikings as follows: Ales stones I have seen the Rus as they came on their merchant journeys and encamped by the Itil.
I have never seen more perfect physical specimens, tall as date palms, blond and ruddy; they wear neither tunics nor caftans, but the men wear a garment which covers one side of the body and leaves a hand free.
Each man has an axe, a sword, and a knife, and keeps each by him at all times. The swords are broad and grooved, of Frankish sort. There was also considerable participation in expeditions westwards, which are commemorated on stones such as the England runestones. The last major Swedish Viking expedition appears to have been the ill-fated expedition of Ingvar the Far-Travelled to Serkland , the region south-east of the Caspian Sea. Its members are commemorated on the Ingvar runestones , none of which mentions any survivor.
What happened to the crew is unknown, but it is believed that they died of sickness. The Kingdom of Sweden This section possibly contains synthesis of material which does not verifiably mention or relate to the main topic.
Relevant discussion may be found on the talk page. Sweden and Gothia were two separate nations long before that and since antiquity. It is not known how long they existed: The island of Gotland was disputed by other than Swedes, at this time Danish, Hanseatic, and Gotland-domestic.
The south-west parts of the Scandinavian peninsula consisted of three Danish provinces Scania , Blekinge and Halland. But there were Swedish settlements in south-west Finland, and along the southern coastline of Norrland. Gamla Uppsala Old Uppsala , a site of religious and political importance in the early days of Sweden During the early stages of the Scandinavian Viking Age, Ystad in the Danish province Scania and Paviken on Gotland were flourishing centres of trade, but they were not parts of the early Swedish Kingdom.
Remains of what is believed to have been a large market dating from to AD have been found in Ystad. Between and , trade brought an abundance of silver to Gotland, and according to some scholars, the Gotlanders of this era hoarded more silver than the rest of the population of Scandinavia combined.
Ansgar is usually credited with introducing Christianity in , but the new religion did not begin to fully replace paganism until the 12th century. During the 11th century, Christianity became the prevalent religion, and from Sweden is counted as a Christian nation. The period between and was characterised by internal power struggles and competition among the Nordic kingdoms.
In the years — according to the legend of Eric IX and the Eric Chronicles and Swedish kings made a first , second and third crusade to pagan Finland against Finns , Tavastians and Karelians and started conflicts with the Rus' who no longer had any connection with Sweden.
Slavery also called thralldom was not common in Sweden,  and what slavery there was tended to be driven out of existence thanks to the spread of Christianity as well as to the difficulty to obtain slaves from the lands east of the Baltic Sea, and by the development of cities before the 16th century.
Former slaves tended to be absorbed into the peasantry, and some became labourers in the towns. Still, Sweden remained a poor and economically backward country in which barter was the primary means of exchange. For instance, the farmers of the province of Dalsland would transport their butter to the mining districts of Sweden and exchange it there for iron, which they would then take to the coast and trade for fish, which they consumed, while the iron would be shipped abroad.
The final battle outside the walls of Visby in ended with a massacre of 1, defenders of the city. In the middle of the 14th century, Sweden was struck by the Black Death. The population at same territory did not reach the numbers of the year again until the beginning of the 19th century. One third of the population died in the triennium of — During this period, the Swedish cities began to acquire greater rights and were strongly influenced by German merchants of the Hanseatic League , active especially at Visby.
However, Margaret's successors, whose rule was also centred in Denmark, were unable to control the Swedish nobility.
Many times the Swedish crown was inherited by children kings over the course of the kingdom's existence; consequently real power was held for long periods by regents notably those of the Sture family chosen by the Swedish parliament. King Christian II of Denmark , who asserted his claim to Sweden by force of arms, ordered a massacre of Swedish nobles in Stockholm in This came to be known as the " Stockholm blood bath " and stirred the Swedish nobility to new resistance and, on 6 June now Sweden's national holiday in , they made Gustav Vasa their king.
Shortly afterwards the new king rejected Catholicism and led Sweden into the Protestant Reformation. The League sought civil and commercial privileges from the princes and royalty of the countries and cities along the coasts of the Baltic Sea. Having their own navy, the Hansa were able to sweep the Baltic Sea free of pirates.
They sought agreement to be free of all customs and taxes. The main exports from Sweden were iron and copper. Consequently, when Gustav Vasa or Gustav I broke the monopoly power of the Hanseatic League he was regarded as a hero by the Swedish people.
The foundations laid by Gustav would take time to develop. Furthermore, when Sweden did develop, freed itself from the Hanseatic League, and entered its golden era , the fact that the peasantry had traditionally been free meant that more of the economic benefits flowed back to them rather than going to a feudal landowning class.
Before the emergence of the Swedish Empire, Sweden was a poor and scarcely populated country on the fringe of European civilisation, with no significant power or reputation.
Sweden rose to prominence on a continental scale during the tenure of king Gustavus Adolphus , seizing territories from Russia and Poland—Lithuania in multiple conflicts, including the Thirty Years' War. These German provinces excluded themselves from Swedish power one by one, leaving Sweden with only a few northern German territories: Swedish Pomerania , Bremen-Verden and Wismar.
Stockholm in midth century In the middle of the 17th century Sweden was the third-largest country in Europe by land area, only surpassed by Russia and Spain. Sweden reached its largest territorial extent under the rule of Charles X after the treaty of Roskilde in After more than half a century of almost constant warfare, the Swedish economy had deteriorated. It became the lifetime task of Charles' son, Charles XI , to rebuild the economy and refit the army.
His legacy to his son, the coming ruler of Sweden, Charles XII , was one of the finest arsenals in the world, a large standing army and a great fleet. Sweden's largest threat at this time, Russia, had a larger army but was far behind in both equipment and training. This gave Russia time to rebuild and modernise its army. After the success of invading Poland, Charles decided to make an attempt at invading Russia, but this ended in a decisive Russian victory at the Battle of Poltava in After a long march exposed to Cossack raids, the Russian Tsar Peter the Great 's scorched-earth techniques and the extremely cold winter of , the Swedes stood weakened with a shattered morale and were enormously outnumbered against the Russian army at Poltava.
The defeat meant the beginning of the end for the Swedish Empire. In addition, the plague raging in East Central Europe devastated the Swedish dominions and reached Central Sweden in The Battle of Poltava in In the years following Poltava, Russia and her allies occupied all the Swedish dominions on the Baltic coast and even Finland. Charles XII attempted to invade Norway in , but he was shot dead at Fredriksten fortress in The Swedes were not militarily defeated at Fredriksten, but the whole structure and organisation of the campaign fell apart with the king's death, and the army withdrew.
Forced to cede large areas of land in the Treaty of Nystad in , Sweden also lost its place as an empire and as the dominant state on the Baltic Sea. With Sweden's lost influence, Russia emerged as an empire and became one of Europe's dominant nations. As the war finally ended in , Sweden had lost an estimated , men, , of those from the area of present-day Sweden and 50, from the Finnish part of Sweden.
In interest of re-establishing Swedish dominance in the Baltic Sea, Sweden allied itself against its traditional ally and benefactor, France, in the Napoleonic Wars.
Sweden's role in the Battle of Leipzig gave it the authority to force Denmark—Norway, an ally of France, to cede Norway to the King of Sweden on 14 January in exchange for northern German provinces, at the Treaty of Kiel. He launched a military campaign against Norway on 27 July , ending in the Convention of Moss , which forced Norway into a personal union with Sweden under the Swedish crown, which lasted until The campaign was the last time Sweden was at war.
The trade continued into the 19th Century, and caused the little town to become Sweden's second city. It is thought that between and more than one million Swedes moved to the United States. Despite the slow rate of industrialisation into the 19th century, many important changes were taking place in the agrarian economy due to constant innovations and a rapid population growth.
These movements precipitated Sweden's migration into a modern parliamentary democracy, achieved by the time of World War I. As the Industrial Revolution progressed during the 20th century, people gradually moved into cities to work in factories and became involved in socialist unions. A communist revolution was avoided in , following the re-introduction of parliamentarism , and the country was democratised.