Lord High Chancellor of Sweden

Lord High Chancellor of Sweden

The Lord High Chancellor (Swedish: rikskansler, literally Chancellor of the Realm or Imperial Chancellor) was a prominent and influential office in Sweden, from 1561 until 1680, excluding periods when the office was out of use. The office holder was a member of the Privy Council of Sweden. From 1634, the Lord High Chancellor was one of five Great Officers of the Realm, who were the most prominent members of the Privy Council and headed a governmental branch each—the Lord High Chancellor headed the Privy Council Chancellery. In 1792, more than a century after the office's abolishment in 1680, it was revived. Seven years later, in 1799, it was removed once again.



Nils Gyllenstierna - Lord High Chancellor 1560-1590

During the Middle Ages, from the 13th century, the "chancellor of the king" was a close confidant of the king. The chancellor was in general a man of the church, and one part of his duty was to aid the king during negotiations with foreign powers. In 1561, during Eric XIV's reign, Nils Gyllenstierna became the first to receive the title rikskansler.[1]


Axel Oxenstierna - Lord High Chancellor 1612-1654

The Lord High Chancellor was appointed by the king and was assigned to ensure that the orders of the king and government were followed. Along the way, the assignments of the chancellor increased to the amount that a chancellery, the Privy Council Chancellery, had to be established. In 1634, the five Great Officers of the Realm was introduced as the most powerful among the Privy Council members. The chancellor was fourth in rank among these. Albeit fourth in rank, the Lord High Chancellor became the most important figure in the Privy Council. The chancellor was head of the relations with foreign powers and especially Axel Oxenstierna possessed massive influence during his time as chancellor (1612-1654), when he more or less had the role of a prime minister.[1][2]

Abolition and revival of the office

Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie - Lord High Chancellor 1660-1680

In 1680, king Charles XI abolished the office and inaugurated a new instead - President of the Chancellery (Swedish: kanslipresident). In 1792, Duke Charles (later king under the name Charles XIII) revived the rikskansler office, but it was removed once again in 1799.[1]

Lord High Chancellors of Sweden


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Nordisk Familjebok - "Rikskansler"" (in Swedish). runeberg.org. http://runeberg.org/nfam/0593.html. Retrieved 2009-05-03. 
  2. ^ "Rikskansler" (in Swedish). ne.se. Nationalencyklopedien. http://www.ne.se/artikel/1094972. Retrieved 2009-05-03. 
  3. ^ With the title överstekansler.

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