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A Short History of Lund

A Short History of Lund

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The Beginning

The Danish Viking-king Svend Tveskæg (Sweyn Forkbeard, O.N.Sveinn Tjúguskegg) is thought to be the founder of Lund. Archaeological excavations indicate that he had the oldest known stave church in Scania built in Lund in 990. Behind the founding of the city were the mutual need and desire of the King and the Church to create a power-centre. Denmark had not been unified until 960, and Svend needed support in the different parts of the kingdom, in order to firmly establish his authority. The advancing Christian Church, on the other hand, needed a secure base for its continuing missionary work.

The Location

Why is Lund found in its present location? One reason was the intended role as a royal and ecclesiastical power-centre. This meant that it had to be economically sound and have good connections with the surrounding country-side. Lund was founded on a spot where several roads already crossed, which contributed towards the realisation of the great economic potential of south-west Scania.

The Middle Ages (ca. 1000-1500)

The Middle Ages were something of a golden era for the city. By the beginning of the 12th century Lund had already become a well-established town. Craftsmanship and trade were prospering and Denmark's largest mint was situated here. In 1103 the city was made the archbishopric for all of Scandinavia. The Cathedral was consecrated in 1145 and at most there were twenty-seven monasteries and churches in the city. From the 13th century Lund was Denmark's most important city - a city from which the archbishops exercised ecclesiastical power over all of Scandinavia.

The Reformation (ca. 1500-1600)

Towards the end of the Middle Ages the city lost its role as the economic centre of Scania to Malmö. Consequently, after more than four hundred years in Lund the mint was moved to Malmö in the 1440s. In 1536 the days of glory of the Church also came to an abrupt end. The Reformation meant that king Christian III broke with the pope in Rome, and established a Danish Lutheran church. The archbishopric was abolished, estates belonging to the church were made Crown property and most of the churches and monasteries in Lund were torn down. Reminders of medieval Lund today are the Cathedral, St. Peter's monastery church and the city's winding street system - something neither the Reformation nor later generations' city planners have been able to change.

War, disasters and new opportunities (17th century)

The 17th century was a century of troubles for Lund, but it also brought new possibilities. After several wars between Sweden and Denmark, Scania became Swedish in 1658. The decision to establish a university in Lund was taken as part of an effort to make Scania more 'Swedish'. It was inauguratth the explicit aim of turning young people from Scania and the rest of Sweden into one people by means of the same education and close and friendly ties.

The Scanian War (1676-1679) began as Denmark's attempt to recaped in 1668, witure its lost eastern provinces. On December 4, 1676 one of history's cruellest battles was fought at Lund. It ended in a Swedish victory, but nearly half of the combatants died in the battle - which has been referred to as 'a massacre, not a battle'.

On 11th August 1678, large tracts of Lund were set on fire by a Danish army division. Out of 304 farms, 163 were burnt down, as were the City Hall and the city archives - it was a close call for the Cathedral as well!

"The Academic Village" (ca. 1700-1850)

During the 18th and early 19th century Lund remained a sleepy little town. The famous Swedish poet Esaias Tegnér (1782-1846) lived in Lund, and unkindly but correctly characterised the city as an "academic peasant village". However, it was not all that quiet. In 1709, during the Great Nordic War (1700-21), the Danes made one last abortive attempt to recapture Scania. In the 1740s Lundagård was turned into a park, and in 1768 the first county hospital was established in Lund -- a modest beginning to what is today the enormous University Hospital.

The definitive turning point in the development of Lund came in 1856, when the railroad between Malmö and Lund opened. Thanks to this, Lund industrialised rapidly and could achieve powerful economic growth.

The 1900s

The city's industrialisation continued throughout the 1900s and several leading Swedish companies have been founded in Lund. Industries in Lund share a common concentration on modern, high-tech ideas and products. Famous companies include Sony Ericsson, Alfa Laval, Gambro, Tetra Pak, Astra Zeneca and Ericsson Mobile Plattforms.

Lund University is today the largest university in the Nordic countries, with about 34,000 students. The university and the city's trade and industrial sectors work in close co-operation at the Ideon Science Park. Here, large and small companies alike carry out research and development in collaboration with researchers from the university and Lund Institute of Technology.

The question of when, exactly, Lund was founded, appeared to have been finally answered when the city's 950th anniversary was celebrated in 1970. This, however, turned out to be a somewhat hasty decision: after new archaeological discoveries it was time to celebrate Lund's 1000th anniversary in 1990!

(This text is taken from a now defunct webpage "Touchdowns in the History of Lund")

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