Some of the history of the early kings of Sweden can be found in sagas such as the Heimskringla, by 13th century Icelandic historian Snorri Sturluson. Lists of Swedish monarchs often start with the 10th century royal House of Yngling's King Erik the Victorious and his son Olaf Skötkonung (whose name may mean "Olaf the Tax King").
Sweden and Norway were united under the same monarch, King Magnus Eriksson, in 1319. The son of a Swedish prince and a Norwegian princess, Magnus inherited both crowns when he was a small child.
In 1397, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark formed the Kalmar Union under Margaret I, a Danish princess who had married King Magnus's son Haakon VI. Although her nephew Eric of Pomerania was the official king it was Margaret who ruled until her death in 1412. Sweden left the Kalmar Union by electing its own king, Gustav I, in 1523.
The current Swedish royal family, the House of Bernadotte, is descended from a French commoner, Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, who was a marshal of Napoleon Bonaparte. Adopted by the childless Swedish king Karl XIII in 1810, Bernadotte ascended the throne in 1818 as King Carl XIV Johan.
Denmark ceded Norway to Sweden in 1814, and the Bernadottes ruled both countries until 1905, when Norway became independent and elected a Danish prince as its new king. Swedish monarch Oscar II was forced to abdicate as king of Norway, but continued to reign in Sweden until his death in 1907.
Oscar II's son and successor, King Gustaf V, helped keep Sweden neutral in both world wars. Gustav V died in 1950 and was succeeded by his son Gustaf VI Adolf.
The current monarch, Gustaf VI's grandson Carl XVI Gustaf, became king in 1973. Under the terms of the constitution, the monarch has plays a mostly representative and ceremonial role.
The king married Silvia Sommerlath, an interpreter of German-Brazilian descent, in 1976. The king and queen have three children: Crown Princess Victoria, born in 1977; Prince Carl Philip, born in 1979; and Princess Madeleine, born in 1982.
Princess Victoria, the heir to the throne, married her former personal trainer, Daniel Westling, in 2010. He is now known as Prince Daniel. Their first child, Princess Estelle, was born in February 2012. Four years later they had a son, Prince Oscar.
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A Concise History of Sweden by Neil Kent. This book sweeps through Sweden's history from the Stone Age to the present day. Topics include the Vikings, the Scandinavian Union, the Reformation, royal absolutism, the rise of Social Democracy, and the European Union.
The History of Sweden by Byron J. Nordstrom. Includes a timeline of historical events and a list of notable people in Swedish history. The history of Sweden, including prehistory, the Viking past, and the modern era.
Sweden: The Nation's History by Franklin D. Scott. Traces the development of Sweden from a poor, backward warrior nation to a prosperous modern one.
Sweden: An Illustrated History by Martina Sprague. A brief history of Sweden from the Bronze Age to the modern era.
A History of the Swedish People: Volume 1: From Prehistory to the Renaissance by Vilhelm Moberg, translated by Paul Britten Austin. Beginning in prehistoric times and culminating with the Dacke rebellion of 1542, this book covers the lives of both peasants and royal families. It examines Viking raids, the coming of Christianity, the tyrannical Folkungs royal dynasty, the Black Death, and the reign of Queen Margareta who founded the Kalmar Union comprising all of Scandinavia.
A History of the Swedish People: Volume II: From Renaissance to Revolution by Vilhelm Moberg, translated by Paul Britten Austin. Topics include the ruthless King Gustav Vasa and his two tragic opponents: the psychopathic Christian II of Denmark and Nils Dracke, leader of the Smalanders.
Heimskringla, or the Lives of the Norse Kings by Snorri Sturlason. A 13th century history of the kings of Norway, from prehistoric times to 1177. Includes the Yngling Saga, about early Swedish kings.
Beowulf. Translation of famous Anglo-Saxon poem about Scandinavian kings.
The Cult of St Erik in Medieval Sweden by Christian Oertel. The veneration of a royal saint from the 12th century to the 16th century.
Queen Margrethe I, 1353-1412, and the Founding of the Nordic Union by Vivian Etting. The fascinating story of Queen Margrete I's rise to power in Denmark, Norway and Sweden, which culminated in the founding of the Nordic Union in 1397. Gives a vivid picture of medieval society in Scandinavia. Well illustrated.
The Early Vasas: A History of Sweden 1523-1611 by Michael Roberts. Includes a full account of the reign of Gustav Vasa (1523-60), one of the greatest rulers of his age.
Warrior Kings of Sweden by Gary Dean Peterson. The rise of an empire in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Gustavus Adolphus by Theodore Ayrault Dodge. Examines the life and battles of the 17th century Swedish king Gustav Adolf II.
Queen Hedwig Eleonora and the Arts: Court Culture in Seventeenth-Century Northern Europe edited by Kristoffer Neville and Lisa Skogh. As queen consort and dowager, Hedwig Eleonora (1636-1715), wife of King Charles X Gustav of Sweden, left a strong mark on Swedish court culture.
Charles XI and Swedish Absolutism by Anthony F. Upton. An account of what was achieved under the direction of a distinctly unglamorous but pious and conscientious ruler.
Gender and Politics in Eighteenth-Century Sweden: Queen Louisa Ulrika (1720-1782) by Elise M. Dermineur. The life and political role of Prussian princess who married King Adolf Frederick of Sweden.
Charles XII by Ragnhild Hatton. Biography of the complex 18th century king.
The History of Charles the Twelfth, King of Sweden by Voltaire.
Poltava 1709: Russia Comes of Age by Angus Konstam. Military history. In 1707, the seemingly invincible King Charles XII of Sweden led his army deep into Russia. It was to prove his undoing, and the Battle of Poltava marked the demise of Sweden as a great power.
Christina, Queen of Sweden: The Restless Life of a European Eccentric by Veronica Buckley. Biography. Notorious for her extravagant lifestyle, Christina was instrumental in bringing the Thirty Years War to a close at the age of 22. In 1654, to the astonishment and dismay of her court, she announced her abdication.
Queen Christina of Sweden by Joanne Mattern. Biography for children ages 9 to 12.
Kristina: The Girl King, Sweden, 1638 by Carolyn Meyer. Novel about Queen Kristina of Sweden from the Royal Diaries series for children ages 9 to 12.
Great Royal Palaces of Sweden: From Vasa to Bernadotte by Goran Alm. Traces the history of the royal palaces and their gardens from the Vasa period to the present. Includes color photographs.
Reindeer With King Gustaf: What to Expect When Your Spouse Wins the Nobel Prize by Anita Laughlin. Author's humorous account of what she experienced when her husband won the Nobel Prize in physics, including an intimate dinner with the king of Sweden.
Désirée: The Bestselling Story of Napoleon's First Love by Annemarie Selinko. Novel about Desiree Clary, a French merchant's daughter who was engaged for a time to Napoleon Bonaparte but instead eventually became the queen of Sweden. First published in 1951.
The Queen's Tiara by Carl Jonas Love Almqvist. Translation of a 19th century Swedish novel about the assassination of King Gustav III and the disappearance of the queen's tiara.
These DVDs are formatted for North American audiences.
Queen Christina starring Greta Garbo. Classic 1933 movie about the life of Queen Christina.
Desiree. This 1954 movie stars Marlon Brando as Napoleon and Merle Oberon as his early love Desiree Clary, who eventually became queen of Sweden.
The Royal Court of Sweden (official site)