Centre for Languages and Literature

The Joint Faculties of Humanities and Theology | Lund University

Selected Publications

Letters from Sir James Spens and Jan Rutgers

Letters from Sir James Spens and Jan Rutgers
The Works and Correspondence of Axel Oxenstierna

Arne Jönsson

The Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities in co-operation with the Swedish National Archives
Letters from Sir James Spens and Jan Rutgers

When Axel Oxenstierna, Chancellor of Sweden died in 1654, Sweden was a great power. In 1612, however, when Oxenstierna took office, Sweden was on the verge of collapse. One of the means to save the Swedish realm was through an active diplomacy that involved The Netherlands, Britain, France, The German States and Denmark, and the letters exchanged between the Chancellor and his diplomats are sources of unique importance for Early Modern European history. Two important figures in Oxenstierna's diplomatic network were the Scottish officer Sir James Spens (d. 1632) and the Dutch humanist and jurist Jan Rutgers (d. 1625).

Spens served as Swedish ambassador in London and as Stuart ambassador to Gustav II Adolf. He played an important part in the various rounds of negotiations in the 1610's and 1620's, in particular, in 1624–1625, when statesmen and diplomats were focused on bringing the British, the Swedes, the Danes, and the Dutch into a grand alliance to defend the Protestant cause against the Habsburgs and the Catholics.

Jan Rutgers, a trained philologist who turned diplomat, served as Swedish representative in the Dutch Republic and as emissary to North German princes. His most dramatic mission was that to Prague in 1620, from where he reported in a series of letters on the Bohemian adventure of Elector Palatine Frederick V. Rutgers' letters give us an insight into his varied diplomatic activities, and glimpses of Oxenstierna's policies and diplomatic methods.

Spens' and Rutgers' Latin letters are edited with introductions, summaries, notes and index in English. Two letters by Spens are in Scots.