July 17 in Swedish History
1210: Swedish King Erik Knutsson (around 1180 - April 10, 1216) defeats his rival Sverker (born before 1167 and died on July 17, 1210) in the Battle of Gestilren. The battle is fought between Sverker, the exiled King of Sweden and Erik, the ruling King. Sverker had already been defeated at the previous battle of Lena in January, 1208 (the battle took place near Kungslena in the municipality of Tidaholm in Västergötland). Sverker is killed in the Battle of Gestilren, and though the strength of the armies are unknown, they are believed to have been around 12 000 Danish soldiers and at least 8 000 Swedish.
The battle is a victory for the Folkung party of local autonomies against the centralizing forces of Catholic monarchy. The Folkungs would continue to rule Sweden until defeated at the Battle of Sparrsätra in 1247. The place of the Battle of Gestilren is the subject of a long and very heated discussion between Swedish historians. Traditionally, the location is believed to be Varv’s parish in Västergötland, where a monument was erected in 1910 to commemorate the seven centuries since the battle. Recently however, historian Lars-Otto Berg has claimed the battle took place at Gästre in Uppland, since he found the farm name “Gestilren” 15 times in the local church records during the years 1580-1630. This was also close to the strongholds of the Folkung party.
The Battle of Gestilren memorial in Varv’s parish, Västergötland. The text reads (in translation): "Seven hundred years after the Battle of Gestilren the people of Västergötland erected this stone in 1910 - God save the Kingdom of Sweden" Photo by Harri Blomberg