Tre Kronor (Three Crowns) was a castle located in Stockholm, Sweden. It is believed to have been a citadel that Birger Jarl built into a royal castle in the middle of the 13th century. The keep may have existed previous to this, but in a much smaller form than on the pictures from the beginning and end of the 16th century and from the 17th century. The tower was then about the half of the height in the end of the 16th century. The castle consisted of two parts, the main castle (högborgen) and the walled in gardens surrounding it (ekonomigården) with the high tower in the middle. The name "Tre Kronor" is believed to have been given to the castle during the reign of king Magnus Eriksson in the middle of the 14th century.
When king Gustav Vasa broke Sweden free from the Kalmar Union (a series of personal unions between Denmark, Sweden and Norway since 1397) and made Sweden independent the Tre Kronor castle became the most important royal castle. This was the first time since it was built that it became the de facto royal castle for the independent country of Sweden. Gustav Vasa expanded the castle's defensive measures, while John III of Sweden later rebuilt and improved the castle aesthetically, turning it into a renaissance style castle and adding a castle church.
On May the 7th, 1697 a large fire broke out in Tre Kronor that completely demolished the majority of this now over 400 year old castle. 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 prohibited access to it. The royal family and court were forced to evacuate the castle. 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.
Shortly after the fire died out, the investigation into why it was not discovered before it was too late got underway. A royal court found three possible culprits. Sven Lindberg – the fire marshal for the castle – and Anders Andersson and Mattias Hansson, soldiers on fire watch for the night, reporting to Sven Lindberg.
The investigation into their whereabouts when the fire broke out revelead that Anders Andersson was running an errand for the fire marshal's wife, against current fire watch regulations. Mattias Hansson had left his post, going into the kitchen to get some food. Mattias claimed that the fire marshal's wife had given permission to do so – a statement she 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 labour at Carlsten fortress. Sven Lindberg died while running the gauntlet.
Most of Sweden's national library and royal archives were destroyed when the castle burned, making the country's early history unusually difficult to document.
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 castle, Stockholm Palace, was completed in 1754. Nicodemus died in 1728 and did not get to see his new castle completed.
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