Mirkka Lappalainen: Susimessu – 1590-luvun sisällissota Ruotsissa ja Suomessa [Wolf Mass. Civil war in Sweden and Finland in the 1590s]

4 June 2010 | Mini reviews

Susimessu – 1590-luvun sisällissota Ruotsissa ja Suomessa
[Wolf Mass. Civil war in Sweden and Finland in the 1590s]
Helsinki: Siltala, 2009. 319 p.
ISBN 978-952-234-016-0
€32, hardback

Sweden at the end of the 16th century was riven by struggles for power: the opponents were the Protestant Duke Charles and Sigismund, King of Poland and Sweden, a strong supporter of the Counter-Reformation in the Nordic lands. A peasant uprising that came to be known as the ‘Cudgel War’ was underway in Finland – then part of the kingdom of Sweden. This book recounts the dramatic history of that civil war and, in line with current interpretive methods of historical research, explodes some popular myths that have been built up around these events. Mirkka Lappalainen has gained recognition as a bold writer who skilfully combines micro- and macro-level history. She characterises Sigismund, whom the Vatican supported to no avail, as a ‘melancholy, absent-minded vacillator, who preferred to play music.’ Lappalainen provides a fascinating alternative historical interpretation of what would have happened if the Vatican’s plans to wrest Finland away from Sweden and unite it with Poland had come to fruition.

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