• Sweden's news in English
 

Swedish divers search mad king's warship

Published: 07 Jul 2014 16:16 GMT+02:00

Swedish diver and professor of maritime archaeology Johan Rönnby received a grant on Monday to investigate the wreckage of Sweden's largest warship, Mars the Magnificent - which has rested off the shores of Öland for nearly 500 years.

"King Erik the 14th, son of Gustav Vasa, built the ship when his father died as the new flagship of Sweden," Rönnby told The Local. "There had never been such a big ship built before. It was gigantic."

The massive warship was discovered by divers in 2011. The Mars went down during a fierce battle in 1564, during one of land-hungry King Erik XIV's many attempts to keep his acquisitions from the Danish-Lübeck armies.  

The first day of the battle went well, but on the second, the god-ship of war succumbed to the fruits of its own king's ambitions.
 
"Mars was surrounded by two Lübeck ships, and they latched on and sent two or three hundred soldiers on deck," Rönnby explained. "Everything was burning and everyone was killing each other. There are bones all over down there."
 
 
Out of about 700 Swedes on the Mars, only 100 survived the battle, Rönnby said - and those who did were taken captive. Only 30 ever returned home to Sweden. 
 
The king was not onboard the ship and escaped the battle. The grim, suspicious king continued to fight the war for seven years, during which he appeared to suffer "periods of pure insanity." He became infamous for murdering three members of the noble Sture family.
 
However, despite Erik's horrendous reputation, Rönny doubted if the king was really mad.
 
"It was the way princes behaved. Dangerous, kind, generous, cruel - they could be anything and everything just to gain power," Rönnby mused. "Erik the 14th was exactly that kind of person."
 
Mars, like her king, was dramatic to say the least. With 130 cannons and more than 600 men onboard, she was the "largest warship of its time", weighing 2,000 tonnes. That's 800 tonnes more than its gaudy descendent, the Vasa. 
 
The cold waters of the Baltic Sea have kept the Mars remarkably well preserved, and the team plans to study not just the ship but the undersea battlefield.

"In a way the ship is an alter ego for the king," Rönnby told The Local. "There are silver coins with his face on them, and his coat of arms is everywhere. You feel his presence on the field."

See video from the wreckage of Mars:

Rönnby's team has been granted support from the National Geographic Society to investigate and scan the entire ship over the summer, enabling them to create a virtual reconstruction using underwater photography and 3D technology. But a future replica is just one of many goals. Work has already begun, and will continue for years.

"We are working on many different things on this project," Rönnby said. "But thanks to the support from NGS we can expand and examine more of the total battlefield, and not just part of the ship. We're going to map the whole picture."

Researchers from Södertörn University, the Swedish National Defence College, Ocean Discovery, Västerviks Museum, and more will be participating in the exploration and research of the ship.

For more stories about Sweden, join us on Facebook and Twitter

Solveig Rundquist (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Lisa Holm murder
Hundreds mourn teen Swedish murder victim
Mourners remember Swedish teenager Lisa Holm. Photo: Thomas Johansson/TT

Hundreds mourn teen Swedish murder victim

UPDATED: Family, friends and community members have attended the funeral of Swedish schoolgirl Lisa Holm, who was found dead after disappearing a month ago. READ  

 Swedish spice recall after salmonella scare
A laboratory at Sweden's Public Health Agency (Folkhälsomyndigheten). Photo: TT/Sweden's Public Health Agency Folkhälsomyndigheten

Swedish spice recall after salmonella scare

A seasoning mix has been withdrawn from Swedish supermarkets after it was linked to one of the biggest salmonella outbreaks in the country in recent years. READ  

'You become a Muslim if you eat halal meat'
A Sweden Democrat politician has claimed halal meat has magical powers. Photo: AP Photo/Mel Evans

'You become a Muslim if you eat halal meat'

The leader of a local wing of the nationalist Sweden Democrat party has caused a controversy after he claimed that halal meat has magical powers that turns people into Muslims. READ  

Uber Sweden in hot water over driver checks
Uber is available in 57 countries. Photo: TT

Uber Sweden in hot water over driver checks

Car-sharing service Uber is facing questions about how closely it vets drivers after a Swedish newspaper reporter managed to enrol with the company without being given any training. READ  

Greece crisis
Stockholm market back up after Greece vote
Stockholm's stock exchange. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

Stockholm market back up after Greece vote

Despite dipping in the immediate aftermath of Greece's referendum, Stockholm's stock market rose again on Tuesday. Meanwhile Eurozone finance ministers and leaders are attending the latest EU crisis talks in Brussels. READ  

Refugees to Sweden face long wait for ID checks
Refugees to Sweden face a long wait to have their passports checked. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

Refugees to Sweden face long wait for ID checks

Tens of thousands of refugees who applied for asylum in Sweden before the new year are still waiting to have their identification documents processed by the Swedish immigration authorities. READ  

UN seeks new probe on Swede's crash death
Swedish former UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld. Photo: UPI/SCANPIX

UN seeks new probe on Swede's crash death

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for a fresh investigation into the mysterious plane crash that killed Swedish diplomat and former UN chief Dag Hammarskjöld more than 50 years ago. READ  

Opinion
'Russians don't think about Sweden's military'
Russian planes perform during the International Maritime Defence show in St.Petersburg earlier this month. Photo: TT/AP/Dmitry Lovetsky

'Russians don't think about Sweden's military'

While there's been much chatter in the global media about Russian military activity off the Swedish island of Gotland, most Russians have never even heard of the place, writes Stockholm-based Russian journalist Elena Bazina. READ  

Rude name stops house selling for 1,000 days
The property in Snorrslida, Sweden. Photo: Dansk Ejendoms Consult

Rude name stops house selling for 1,000 days

A home in southern Sweden has been on the market for more than 1,000 days, with many suggesting its rude-sounding name could be the reason it has failed to attract buyers. READ  

Greece crisis
Stockholm stock market falls after Greek vote
Stockholm's stock exchange. File photo: TT

Stockholm stock market falls after Greek vote

UPDATED: Sweden’s Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson has raised concerns about Greece’s future, while Stockholm's stock market has fallen as economic jitters are felt across Europe. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
Property of the week: Huskvarna, Jönköping
National
Boy rescues lost engagement ring
National
Jump in solo children seeking Swedish asylum
Sponsored Article
'Today's refugees could be tomorrow's Zlatan'
Sponsored Article
Sweden's 'incredible' chance to connect
Blog updates

3 July

Editor’s blog, July 3rd (The Local Sweden) »

"Hello from the Swedish island of Gotland! The Local’s editorial team has decamped from our Stockholm headquarters..." READ »

 

2 July

Som eller att (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hejsan! It happens quite often, that my students are confused over when to use “som” and when..." READ »

 
 
 
Gallery
People-watching: July 3rd-5th
Sponsored Article
'Swedish industry needs US trade deal'
National
Scary taxis lure Nordic Noir freaks to Sweden's capital
Sponsored Article
Crans-Montana: International expat hub
National
Oasis star calls Zlatan 'idiot'
Sponsored Article
‘I don’t feel Swedish, I feel international’
National
Learning Swedish: different rules for expats and refugees?
Sponsored Article
What can we learn from Swedish women's sex habits?
Sport
IN PICTURES: Thousands welcome home Sweden’s heroes
Politics
Almedalen: The Local's guide to Sweden's power players week
Sponsored Article
VIP Mingle at Almedalen's hottest event
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Your July summer snaps
Sport
Sweden celebrates greatest sporting victory in decades
Gallery
People-watching: July 1st
National
Swede battles slug invasion
National
VIDEO: Is this herring tasting clip an 'insult to Sweden'?
Gallery
Property of the week: Visby, Gotland
National
Sweden set for sunniest week of year
Gallery
People-watching: June 26th-28th
Features
The Local's essential guide to who's who in Swedish politics
National
More Swedish military exercises as Russia aggression fears grow
National
What's on in Sweden this week
Travel
Why Swedish camp sites are set for a bumper summer
National
Swedish summer's really on its way (at least according to forecasters)
Gallery
People-watching: June 24th
National
Why are southern Swedes angry about becoming 'Danish' again?
Society
Lifestyle: When to catch your favourite features on The Local
National
Is Sweden one of the world's most peaceful nations?
Sponsored Article
Harstena: Travelling to Sweden's secret islands
National
One in ten Swedish cats homeless
Sponsored Article
'I constantly evolve my Swedishness'
Gallery
Property of the week: Värmdö, Stockholm
Society
Would you eat this Swedish pizza?
National
Swedish royals' dream honeymoon
National
Swedish hospital opens first centre for male rape victims
Gallery
People-watching: June 20th-21st
Photo: TT
Lifestyle
Midsummer: The Local's guide to Sweden's craziest festival
Sponsored Article
Murder, myth and magic: Travelling to the birthplace of Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: June 17th
Sponsored Article
Gallery: Life in Sweden's secret archipelago
Society
Seven alternative names for Sweden's Prince Nicolas Paul Gustaf
National
FBI returns stolen Swedish books
National
Want to smell like Zlatan?
National
Royal joy over birth of new prince
Gallery
Property of the week: Brantevik, Simrishamn
National
How racy graffiti inspired a teacher's high school sex class
Gallery
People-watching: June 12th-14th
National
As it happened: Prince Carl Philip marries Sofia Hellqvist
Technology
Is Stockholm the world's creative capital?
Sponsored Article
KTH President: ‘Sweden’s success is because of its size’
Sponsored Article
Why expat women are choosing Swedish natural birth control
Bupa
Sponsored Article
Healthcare: Nine questions every expat should ask
Sponsored Article
The millionaire teacher who leads by tough love
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

2,917
jobs available
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
psdmedia.se