Olof Blomqvist

Olof Blomqvist


Visa sidan på svenska
Works at Department of History
Visiting address Universitetsvägen 10 D, plan 9
Room D 846
Postal address Historiska institutionen och Kulturvetarlinjen 106 91 Stockholm

About me

I was accepted to the possition of P.hd. student in the spring of 2016. Broadly speaking, my research interests concerns the early modern process of state building and in particular notions of national identity.

Besdie my research in the field of history, I develop historically themed board games.


I study how early modern perceptions of belonging and integration were expressed in the interaction between prisoners of war and civilian communities in the time of the Great Northern war (1700-1721). Throughout history, the treatment of prisoners of war have always been closely related to concurrent notions of war, morals and loyalty. Captivity therefore serves as a prism with allows for the study of social norms and how they change. 

In my thesis, I compare the situation in three towns in Sweden, Denmark and the electorate of Saxony, which were forced to accommodate prisoners during the course of the war. Using the accounts of government officials, court protocols and church records I investigate how the local community handled the presence of large numbers of strangers. I explore what social boundaries were created between prisoners and locals - and what was required of individual prisoners to traverse these boundaries.


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2017. Olof Blomqvist. Karolinska förbundets årbok, 147-150
  • 2018. Olof Blomqvist. Historisk Tidskrift (S) (3), 526-535
  • 2018. Olof Blomqvist. Historisk Tidskrift (S) (3), 391-420

    Migrant, officer and traitor to the motherland: the death sentence against Fredrich Sahlgård and perceptions of national belonging in Sweden during the Great Northern War

    In September 1717 a Swedish court martial accused the Danish officer Fredrich Sahlgård of treason, and during this trial defining Sahglård’s nationality was a focal question. Sahlgård had been born in Sweden, but had moved to Norway as a child and the defendant therefore claimed that he could not be considered a Swede. His judges, however, argued that Sahlgård was a Swede by birth and therefore bound by both god and nature to protect his native land. Based on this argument the court sentenced Sahlgård to death and a few days later he was shot.

    This court martial from the great northern war reveal the limitations of studying perceptions of national identity through normative sources. Student of national identity in early modern Sweden have primarily focused on what ideas of swedishness were communicated in state propaganda and elite discourse. Several authors have claimed that contemporary perceptions of loyalty were strongly centred on the person of the monarch and expressed through the politically potent term "fatherland" (sw. fädernesland). These sources, however, tell us little of how notions of nationality were applied in practice. During Sahlgård’s trial the military court defined swedishness in a way that not just ran counter to, but expressly rejected, contemporary norms. The judges disavowed the foundations of natural law, despite its status as contemporary legal dogma, and formulated an essentialist definition of nationality, based around the concept of “motherland” (sw. fosterland) – completely disregarding the royal propaganda.

    On the one hand, the case study suggests that the intense military mobilization in early 18th century Sweden had a significant impact on perceptions of national identity within the Swedish army, as the arguments of the court stands out from both contemporary Swedish and European norms defined by previous research. On the other hand, the study questions what actual role national identity played during the court martial. Sahlgård was sentenced to death for being a Swede, but notions of oaths and rank seem to have been just as important in defining bonds of loyalty as definitions of nationality – if not more so.

  • 2019. Olof Blomqvist. Aktuellt om historia
  • Olof Blomqvist. War and Imprisonment
Show all publications by Olof Blomqvist at Stockholm University


Last updated: July 15, 2020

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