The AD16 from Langton Miniatures Anglo Dutch range
here painted as Kronan.
The flagship Kronan (ENG: The Crown) was as its name implies the crown jewel of the Swedish navy during the late 17th century. Build at the Skeppsholmen Royal Wharf in Stockholm, and launched in 1668 weighing some 2.300 tons with its 105 guns and 800-man crew, this was one of the Worlds largest ships of its time.
The beautifully decorated stern of Kronan.
Kronan showed ambition, and was intended as a true testament to the military might of the Swedish Empire, which was at its pinnacle during these years. What tied together the Empire with its possessions in northern Germany, Finland and the Baltic states was the Baltic Sea. However Denmark, with it’s superior navy and naval tradition, had historically ruled the Nordic waves. But Sweden intended to change all that, as Kronan would outmatch anything that could be mustered by the Danes.
Kronan; 105 guns and 800-man crew.
With the outbreak of the Scanian War in 1675, it was time to finally teach the Danes a lesson in naval might.
Sweden’s expansion into Empire was fueled by a deep-rooted military tradition, and left it with a highly capable and innovative army staff, with commanders and tactical doctrines superior to their adversaries. At the same time, the expansion into Empire had also spawned a new race of government administrators with inspirational figures as Axel Oxenstierna (The Richelieu of the North) as their role model. One of these upcoming administrative career sharks was Lorentz Creutz.
Lorentz Creutz, 1615-1676.
Witch hunter and Admiral on Kronan.
Coming from noble decent, Creutz had made a career as regional administrator, at first in some of the Finnish territories but later, and more famously in some of the native Swedish areas.
In 1669 the witch hysteria broke out in the Swedish region of Dalecarlia. Around 90 people were pointed out as being in league with the Black Lord himself, and some of having abducted a score of children to Blåkulla (ENG: Blue Mountain). A few women were even pointed out and accused by their own daughters; others had their name added to the list by use of torture. A trial was arranged to test the dubious innocence of these foul Satanists, and the honorable Lorentz Creutz was appointed to lead it. He hastily left Stockholm to attend the proceedings.
The flames of a hot stake - sure to cleanse the body of any evil.
Out of this colorful bunch of peasantry amounting to 90 people on trial (many elderly women), some were completely freed, as they were children, while others simply had their execution delayed due to pregnancy. However the court managed to convict some 30 people, who were put to the stake – enough to give a good show.
30 people, mostly elderly women,
were put to the stake as a result of the witch trials executed by Lorentz Creutz.
The children who had so willingly acted as witnesses were all thoroughly whipped, in order to cleanse them of any “evil”. A black and ominous atmosphere hung over Dalecarlia in these days, and it is said that the women of the Mora Shire came together to cast a curse on the man leading these horrible proceedings, Lorentz Creutz.
An attempt to recreate the colorful stern in 1:1200 scale.
The King, so overly pleased with Creutz’s handling of the situation, promoted him to a seat in the Royal Council in 1673. Creutz was the man of the hour, and in the King’s eye a natural choice when looking for a capable man to lead the Swedish Navy in it’s coming test of strength with the Danes, with the main tactical objective of opening the seaway to Sweden’s German possession, badly in need of reinforcements.
Creutz proudly boarded his beautiful flagship Kronan in Stockholm mid-May 1676, and the impressive navy set sails out of the archipelago and on to a southwards and what would prove to be fateful course.
Claas Uggla 1614-1676.
Arguably one of Sweden's best admirals ever.
A Danish naval force of some 42 ships lead by the talented Dutch Admiral Tromp and assisted by Danish naval legend Niels Juel, awaited the Swedes at Öland in the Baltic Sea. Creutz directed a fleet of 57 vessels, and was assisted by perhaps one of Sweden’s most able naval commanders, Claas Uggla. The scene was set for an epic struggle.
The Battle of Öland 1st June 1676.
The Danes, upon seeing the huge silhouette of Kronan in the horizon, were naturally cautious, and left the initiative to the Swedes. Creutz, perhaps feeling extra empowered as he stood on the bridge of the massive Kronan, starting making a series of very complex manoeuvres. One such order was to turn up against the wind, and thus attain a better line at the awaiting enemy.
Kronan approaching the Danes at full sails.
The Danes watched in amazement as the giant ship started this alluring dance, and was subsequently tossed around in the waves. In all the excitement of finally getting to deal out doom to the Danes, Creutz and his second in command had forgotten to give the order to close the gunports, and Kronan started to take in a lot of water as the wind pushed it down on its side. This upset the balance of the giant ship, and it quickly capsized. This embarrassment would however turn into a catastrophe for Creutz.
Kronan's apocalyptical end.
With the Danish navy as a stunned audience, this now capsized goliath of the waves and pride of the Swedish navy suddenly exploded into a huge fireball, throwing burning bodies and wooden debris high up into the air.
All eyes, Swedish as well as Danish, turned in amazement towards the apocalyptic spectacle. The unthinkable had just happened.
The Swedish navy was all but decimated at Öland.
The ensuing naval combat was by all means lost by the now morally zapped Swedes, although testament must be given to the bravery of Claas Uggla, who fought to the bitter end on his surrounded and burning ship, Svärdet (ENG: The Sword), and duly went down with it.
1:1200 - bring out the thin brushes!
After the battle the completely scorched body of Admiral Lorentz Creutz was found floating amongst the debris, only identifiable by his nobility signet ring. I imagine one or two of the women in Mora Shire were not too surprised by his grim fate, and by the cast curse now manifest.
The Kronan wreck has been a rich source
for artifacts, uniforms and weaponry.
Kronan went down with only 40 survivors of its 800-man crew. Today the wreck is well preserved and many dives have been made, with finds of artifacts, uniforms, coins and weaponry constituting the core of the Kronan Exhibition at museum in Kalmar next to Öland.
Thank you very much for reading!