Again, I read whatever I could find – history books, local books, such as Om Tider som Svunnit [About Times Past – author’s translation of title], by Wolmar Söderholm, 1973, produced locally in the town of Lycksele to celebrate its 300th anniversary.
I wanted one of the characters to have direct links to what was going on in a broad national context and the priest Olaus Arosander is thus someone who has been close to the king. Olaus would have been very influential in his local community. Priests taught, preached, punished, conducted national registrations (from 1686 priests were required to conduct yearly catechetical hearings and keep records of births, marriages and deaths in church books) and also played a vital propaganda role. They had to explain the necessity of the wars to their parishioners and draw links between the parishioners’ sins and poor war performance, and vice versa. The wars would later come to have another consequence for the church. Pietist tendencies were reinforced by Swedish soldiers who returned after having been prisoners-of-war in Russia with a more personal kind of faith, enjoying meeting at home, leading each other in worship and Bible study. In response, the Konvetikelplakatet, a law forbidding ’unofficial’ religious gatherings was passed, with fierce punishments for those who dared to defy it.