On This Day In History: Fatal Fire Broke Out In Tre Kronor “Three Crowns” Castle, Stockholm, Sweden – On May 7, 1697

AncientPages.com - On May 7, 1697, the fatal fire broke out in Tre Kronor "Three Crowns") castle located in Stockholm, Sweden, on the site where Stockholm Palace is today.

The fire started at two o'clock in the afternoon of May 7, 1697, and completely demolished the majority of the then more-than-400-year-old castle.

Castle Tre Kronor - after the fire.

Castle Tre Kronor - after the fire 1697. Unknown author - Herzog-August-Bibliotek i Wolfenbüttel, Tyskland - Public Domain

There are detailed court records and other testimonies that allow a full account of the course of the fire.

For example, we know that the Dowager Queen Hedvig Eleonora's ladies-in-waiting had just finished their meal when thick smoke swelled outside the windows.

When the windows were opened, the castle was seen on fire. One of the witnesses of this event was the Danish king's envoy, Bolle Luxdorph, who described how the widowed queen could barely stand on her feet, upset and confused and had to be carried down the stairs.

The tower's cannons fell.

The fire was discovered by the castle's keeper, Georg Stiernhoff. The fire marshal, Sven Lindberg, informed the royal staff that he could not get to the fire extinguishing equipment because the fire blocked his access to it. The servants attempted to save as much as possible of the royal possessions.

The fire spread quickly to all parts of the castle. Since the castle was made out of wood and copper, the hot copper plates set the roof on fire.

The royal family and court were evacuated. Due to the fire most of Sweden's national library and royal archives were destroyed.

Royal PAlace, Stocholm. Sevenbom Johan (1721-1784)

Royal Palace, Stockholm, Sweden, Painting by  Sevenbom Johan (1721-1784) via Stockholmskällan -  

The witnesses reported the deafening thunder when the tower's cannons plunged into the widow Queen's wine cellar.

It was never clear what caused the fire.

It is however known that the fire started in the attic above the Kingdom Hall, and those who were assigned to watch the winds of the Kingdom Hall were not there that fateful afternoon.

Shortly after the fire died out, the investigation was launched into why it was not discovered earlier. A royal court found three possible culprits that included Sven Lindberg, the fire marshal for the castle,  and Anders Andersson and Mattias Hansson, soldiers on fire watch for the night.

It was revealed that Anders Andersson was running an errand for the fire marshal's wife, against fire watch regulations. Mattias Hansson had left his post, going into the kitchen to get some food. Hansson claimed that the fire marshal's wife had given permission to do so – a statement that she later denied.

The royal court concluded that the fire marshal had used the soldier for his and his wife's private errands. It was also found that he had accepted bribes in exchange for hiring people into certain positions at the castle. In February 1698 the sentences were handed out. Sven Lindberg and Mattias Hanson were sentenced to death since they had both neglected their duty. Anders Andersson was sentenced to run the gauntlet.

The death sentences were both later commuted to running the gauntlet and six years of forced labor at Carlsten fortress.

Lindberg died while running the gauntlet.

Plans were made to rebuild a new castle on the old foundation. Nicodemus Tessin the Younger was the architect in charge of rebuilding. The new building, Stockholm Palace, was completed in 1754. Unfortunately, Nicodemus died in 1728 and did not get to see it completed.


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