THE HISTORY OF HALLAND
People have lived in Halland since the ice melted just over 10,000 years ago. Countless Stone Age settlements, stone chamber tombs, Bronze Age mounds and cairns and the Iron Age large burial grounds with their erected stones testify to this.
HALLAND’S HISTORY DURING 1000 YEARS
In Halland, there are over 15,000 permanent antiquities registered in the National Heritage Board’s antiquities register
The province of Halland belonged to Denmark from the formation of this country in the Viking Age. The 11th and 12th centuries were characterized by large new plantations and an increased population and settlements spread further inland and stone churches were built in every parish.
During the 13th and 14th centuries, the nobles separated from the rest of the population and began to build castles for themselves and their knights. Varberg and Lagaholm became royal castles. The cities of Laholm, Halmstad, Falkenberg, Varberg and Kungsbacka were all founded during the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries.
The period 1305-1365 became very uneasy in Halland. Northern Halland changed government eight times during these 60 years, and southern Halland changed government as many as ten times. For a time, Norra Halland belonged to its own West Coast.
From 1365, Halland was again part of Denmark. The cities developed in the 15th and 16th centuries. In Halland, Halmstad and Varberg in particular were expanded. Increased economic strength and new reformist ideas contributed to these cities being among the driving forces in the great Danish city uprising of 1534-1536 – called the “Count’s Feud”.
A very difficult period for the inhabitants of Halland occurred 1563-1718. At that time, a number of wars were fought between Sweden and Denmark, including Halland as a war scene. At the peace in Brömsebro in 1645, Halland became a Swedish province.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, a strong development took place in the Halland countryside – the agrarian revolution. The farmers became self-sufficient, large new plantations took place and the tools were radically improved. The parcels divided the 1000-year-old peasant villages.
Industries established themselves from the end of the 19th century mainly in Halmstad, Varberg and Falkenberg. But Halland was industrialized quite late and to a small extent. Halmstad, which became a city of residence in Halland as early as the 17th century, was further developed during the 20th century into by far the largest city.
In the last 50 years, Halland has increasingly become a tourist county where the many sea baths attract visitors from outside. The landscape, city life, events and cultural life have also been of great importance in creating the today very important tourism industry.
THE WAR ERA IN HALLAND 1563-1718
Five wars between Sweden and Denmark have affected Halland. These took place in 1563-1570, 1611-1613, 1643-1645, 1657-1660 and 1675-1676. Thereafter, Swedish-Danish wars continued outside Halland’s borders, including under the leadership of Charles XII, until 1718.
The wars hit the Halland farmers and city dwellers very hard. The warring armies took their food locally, where they pulled out. Therefore, the inhabitants had to give up their grain and livestock, regardless of whether it was Danish or Swedish soldiers who came. The Danish and Swedish armies that marched on Halland also engaged in burning farms and plundering the inhabitants – under the pretext that the enemy would otherwise take what was there. It is surprising that some Hallännings survived at all.
In addition to being directly affected by the war, Halland’s inhabitants were burdened by sharply increased taxes in the form of man-days on the large fortress buildings in Varberg and Halmstad. It has been estimated that the farmers of northern Halland had to spend two million man-days transporting stone and earth to Varberg’s fortress.
As a result of the wars, Halland became Swedish in 1645. At first they had to keep Danish law, but from about 1680 a Swedishization was carried out. Swedish was then introduced as the official language in, among other things, the service, and Swedish law would henceforth apply. However, the new government was quite mild towards the Hallännings, so the transition to Sweden was not as dramatic as, for example, in Skåne.
THE ENLIGHTENMENT IN HALLAND
When the wars ended around 1720, what is usually called the “Enlightenment” began. New ideas came from England and France with a critical thinking that focused on religion and superstition. A more scientific view took over, where the focus was to investigate everything and take advantage of the useful.
In this spirit, Linnaeus made his travels through most of Sweden’s landscapes and wrote extensive travel stories. However, he did not come to Halland, but several of his contemporary “colleagues” did. For example, Anders Tidström traveled in 1756, and Anders Gustaf Barchaeus in 1773 around the landscape.
But the enlighteners who have become most famous in Halland are the priest Gustaf Fredrik Hjortberg in Vallda and the priest Pehr Osbeck in Hasslöv. Both went around 1750 with the East India Company’s ships to China and took notes and collected oddities. Osbeck was the systematist who during his time as a priest in southern Halland wrote about these and other observations in several published books. Hjortberg was more of a multi-tasker: He did not get much published but spent all the more time inventing new medicines for humans and cattle and practically curing them.
HALLAND COUNTY AND PROVINCE
Until 1970, Halland County and province were the same area. And in the province there were about 90 parishes, which were the earliest municipalities. But with the municipal reform in 1970, many small municipalities were merged into large municipalities, which then sometimes came to contain parts from two provinces. Two parishes have thus ended up outside Halland County, and eleven have been incorporated.
Lindome parish belongs to the province of Halland but is now part of Mölndal municipality in Västra Götaland. Östra Karup also belongs to the province of Halland but is now part of Båstad municipality in Skåne. From Västergötland, Halland County has received Kungsäter, Gunnarsjö, Karl Gustav and Grimmared which is located in Varberg municipality and Älvsered which is located in Falkenberg municipality. From Småland, Halland County has been expanded with Unnaryd, Jälluntofta, Landeryd, Långaryd, Färgaryd and Femsjö – all in Hylte municipality.