Gustav Vasa through his beard – a history of power - Kalmar Slott - ett riktigt slott kalmar slott

Gustav Vasa through his beard – a history of power

This year, 500 years have passed since Gustav Vasa made his entrance in Kalmar. Now, he will once more take over at Kalmar Castle. This year’s seasonal exhibition, Gustav Vasa through his beard – a history of power is displayed at Kalmar Castle from April 4th through to November 8th, 2020.

Gustav Vasa ruled between 1523 and 1560, and is the most well-known monarch in Sweden. He brought the nation out of the Middle Ages and into the new era – the Renaissance. He is the king who created the modern state that is Sweden.

In 1520, Gustav Vasa lands at the Stensö peninsula, just south of Kalmar Castle, after having been held hostage at Kalö Castle in Denmark. Now, the war begins against the Union King, Christian II, a war that ends when Gustav Vasa is elected regent in 1521, and King of Sweden in 1523.

After the nearly 40 years of Gustav Vasa’s reign, Sweden had been fundamentally transformed into a state with a strong central power, ruled entirely by the King. Now, the nation had a tax system, completely under the King’s control, and a national army had been raised. The power of the Catholic Church had been outmanoeuvred through Gustav’s machinations, by which he had introduced Protestant teachings and made the Church subordinate to the Crown. Government offices had been established to loyally govern the realm, and to communicate with the outside world. At the time of the King’s death, the throne was no longer something you’d be elected for, but an hereditary seat. 

The exhibition has been produced in collaboration with the Royal Armoury. A selection of their items from the time will be displayed, as well as objects from the Swedish History Museum. Other items are further explored using modern 3D technology. The exhibition reserves a place of honour for the royal beard – illuminated, and with its very own voice! Themes touched upon are power, manipulation and propaganda.

The exhibition is displayed at Kalmar Castle from April 4th through to November 8th, 2020.