Skåne's history – a bitter fight between Swedes and Danes, with a happy ending

Evidence of more than 7,000-year-old deciduous and evergreen forests was found on the bed of the Øresund sound during the construction of the Øresund Bridge between Sweden and Denmark at the end of the 1990s. This constituted further proof that Skåne in southern Sweden and Själland in eastern Denmark were once a single area of land. 7,000 years ago, a heatwave swept over the whole globe, causing the inland ice that covered the entire Nordic region to start melting. The sea level rose and created the Øresund sound, a narrow stretch of water between the two northern European countries.

The Øresund region has been the battlefield for many conflicts between Sweden and Denmark, and Skåne has been an attractive area in the eyes of Swedish and Danish sovereigns for many hundreds of years. Both sides have had their victories, and Skåne has been part of Denmark or Sweden during different periods in history. However, Skåne has remained Swedish since 1658.

Skåne was originally Danish

About 1,000 years ago, Skåne was described as a central part of the Danish kingdom and included the Danish Mint producing money in Lund. In 1060, Lund became a see and in 1103 the city became the seat of the archbishop for an archdiocese that in early days covered the entire Nordic region.

Between 1100 and 1220, Skanör and Falsterbo on Skåne's southwest coast constituted an international trading centre with important herring markets. In the early 1300s Skåne was destroyed during a war between Sweden and Denmark, and the province became Swedish in 1332 – for the first time. In 1360 Skåne became Danish again, and the Danish nobility chose to build their estates in the eastern part of the Øresund region, i.e. in Skåne.
Skåne became Swedish for the second time in 1658, and the province's inhabitants underwent a period of comprehensive transition to become more Swedish during the following 150 years – not least regarding language. The Danes tried to reclaim Skåne twice more (in 1676 and 1710) but failed on both occasions.

Better contact across the Øresund sound

The contacts between Skåne and Själland (on the west shore of the sound) have been intensified in modern times. Students in Lund and Copenhagen have had exchanges for the past 150 years, and art and theatre in the two countries have been relatively unhindered by their national borders. The business world as well as research and development function through networks that have been connected between the countries for many years.
Sweden was neutral during World War Two (although the Swedish government permitted rail transports including war materiel between Germany and Norway to pass through Skåne and West Sweden).

Many inhabitants of southern Sweden became involved in the Danish fight for freedom against the Nazis, and many men and women in the resistance movement were able to hide on farms in Skåne. The many lights that lit up Skåne's coastline became beacons for those who had fled from Denmark to Skåne in rowing or fishing boats.

© 2017