Short history of Jämtland from the Viking period to the beginning of the 19th century.


During the Viking age, Jämtland was an autonomous peasant republic with one of the world’s oldest parliamentary assemblies called ‘Jamtamot’.  At one point during this period Jämtland came under the control of Denmark which proceeded to officially ban the Jamtamot, however it continued to operate under a veil of secrecy.

During the Middle Ages, Jämtland became part of the Kingdom of Norway, but continued to operate with a degree of autonomy (semi self-governing region) along with the ability to generate its own local laws.

Jämtland’s position through time is further captured in its Coat of Arms which depicts a Moose (symbolizing Jämtland) being attacked from the west by a Dog (symbolizing Norway) and from the east by a Falcon (symbolizing Sweden).

In 1523, King Gustav Vasa of Sweden desired that Jämtland be allied with his Kingdom but his request was rejected. Twenty-eight years later in a retaliatory move, Gustav Vasa therefore banned Jämtland from buying copper from Sweden.

In 1575, Jämtland’s official State Seal which had endured since 1274 was abolished and a new seal unveiled depicting a Shield with two Norwegian Axes-of-Olov (Olovsyxor). Later in 1614 however, the King of Denmark withdrew this seal from Jämtland.

Between 1178 and 1645 Jämtland was considered part of Norway.  This did not, however, prevent Jämtland from officially changing allegiance 13 times between 1563 and 1677.  For example, from the autumn of 1563 to the winter of 1564, the Jämtar (people of Jämtland) swore allegiance back and forth between Sweden and Denmark no less than four times.

The Kalmar war between Sweden and Denmark-Norway, referred to as ‘Baltzarfejden’ (the Balthazar Conflict) in Jämtland, took place between 1611 and 1613. Following the war, 1,300 of Jämtland’s 1,470 farmers and homesteaders had their land confiscated due to behavior considered ‘disloyal’ during the war. It was not until 1647 that the Jämtar were able to retrieve their land along with all that had been confiscated.

In 1645 Jämtland became officially Swedish, but it was not until 1699 that Jämtar were considered Swedish enough to be bestowed with Swedish citizenship. Therefore, the people of Jämtland are the last ‘group’ of people in what is considered present day Sweden to receive Swedish citizenship.

In 1657 and 1677 Jämtland was twice occupied by Denmark for a short period, and both times was freed by Norway.  During this period, the Jämtar also pursued guerilla warfare (snapphaneverksamhet) against Sweden.

In 1688, the Jämtar legislated an agreement and issued a statement that the forces of Jämtland could only be used in defense of homeland, and must not be used to wage war.  King Karl XII who ruled Sweden between 1697 and 1718 was very displeased tore up the agreement . A force of 5,800 Jämtar therefore had to participate in the Armfeldt campaign against Trondheim during 1718/19. This military campaign became known as the Death March of the Carolinians (Karolinernas Dödsmarsch) as 4,273 men died crossing the mountains between Sweden and Norway, including King Charles XII himself.

Östersund was founded in 1786, and in 1810 both Jämtland and Härjedalen counties were reunited under the county reformation act, thereby becoming Jämtland County with Östersund as its capital city. At the time, Östersund was the smallest city in Sweden with only 200 inhabitants.