The History of Lapland

Written by John Scheffer
Oxford 1674

Of the second, or Christian Religion of the Laplanders.

Lapland among other Nations, after a long night of Paganism, was enlightened with the Christian religion: of which I shall now speak. In the first place we must enquire how and when they first began to hear’d of Christs name: but this will be very difficult, because all Writers are silent herein. Plantin indeed affirms from their report, that they first hear of the Christian Religion in the last age; from whence he concludes that they came out of Finland before the Finlanders were converted. But for all this we can hardly yield our assent to him; for it is certain on the contrary that they knew, and some of them embraced, the Christian Religion in the time of Ziegler, who lived in the very beginning of the precedent age, and was present at the destruction of Stockholm by Christiern the Tyrant, which he hath very well described: he affirms that they admited Christianity to obtain the favor of their Kings, which cannot be spoken of Christiern, or his immediate Predecessor, but of several others in former ages. And indeed it is very improbable that so many Christian Kings should take no care of propagating their Religion among the Laplanders, but permit them to live in heathenish impiety, without so much as ever hearing the name of Christ; especially since there are Letters of Ericus King of Pomerania extant, wherein he advises the Consistory of Upsal that they would send Priests to instruct the Laplanders; which Charles the IX afterwards made an argument of his title to Lapland against his neighbors. Besides they had adjoining to them the Birkarli, who were either Finlanders or Swedes, and were converted long before; with these they maintained a commerce, and paid them tribute even from the time of Ladulaus Magnus, who reign’d four ages ago. Therefore it is false what Plantin affirms of their being converted in the last age; on the contrary I presume that from the time of Ladulaus, there alwaies were some in Lapland who either were Christians, or pretended to be so: for then their Country was subdued and made a Province of Swedland, and it cannot be doubted but the Swedes propagated the Christian Religion together with their dominion in Lapland. Tho if our conjecture prove true of the Laplanders removing out of Finland, by reason of the wars of Ericus Sanctus, and the planting of the Christian Religion there, it will appear from thence that they heard of Christ, tho they neglected him. However no prudent man can suppose that their neighbors the Finlanders for so many ages should never mention any thing of the Christian Religion to them. And therefore my opinion is the more confirmed that the Laplanders had heard of Christ ever since Ericus Sanctus his time, even these five ages, tho they rejected his Doctrine, as long as they retained their own freedom: but after they became subject to the Swedes, whether on their own accord to please their Kings, as Ziegler would have it, or for other reasons, at length they took upon them the name of Christians, which happened in the time of Ladulaus Magnus, in the year 1277, from whence we must date the planting of Christian Religion in Lapland, which Religion they neither wholy embraced, nor wholy refused, but retained it with an inveterate, and as it were Jewish prejudice, not out of any zeal, or preferring it as more necessary for their welfare before their former Religion; but outwardly only and in shew, esteeming it the best means to gain their Princes favor, and to prevent those evils which threatened them, if they shoul persist in their obstinacy. Hence it was that they were married by a Christian Priest, and baptised their children according to the ceremonies of Christianity, which were the two chief things wherein their Christian Religion consisted; and the only things mention’d by Olaus M. For the use of cathechising, or preaching of the Gospel, and other information in the heads of Christian Religion were wholy unknown to them, as may be prov’d from the ancient records of Bishopricks, wherein there is no mention of any Lapponian Diocess, or Church, or of any Diocess to which Lapland might belong. Lastly, if it had not bin so, what need was there of Ericus his express to Upsal, that they would send Priests into Lapland? this, and whatsoever else Ziegler alledges for the slow advance of Christianity in Lapland, Olaus Magnus endevors to evade; but at length is forc’t to confess that the Northern parts thereof are not yet reclaimed, and therefore hopes for their conversion.

This was the state of Christianity in Lapland till the times of Gustavus, differing from their ancient Paganism only in name, and a few external rites, whereby they labored to make the World believe that they were Christians; which gave Damianus à Goes (tho a friend and contemporary of Johannes and Olaus Magnus) very good reason to complain that there was no knowledg of God and Christ in the Land. From hence we may understand how to interpret Olaus M. when he saies that by the earnest and pious exhortations of the Catholic Priests, great part of these wild People were, and more were likely to be brought over to the Christian Religion. But when Gustavus came to the Crown, as he took greater care then his Predecessors for promoting of the true Religion in other parts of his dominions, so he did in Lapland also; and as the chief means to effect this, he took the peculiar charge of them upon himself. Whereas heretofore they were rather tributaries of the Birkarli then the Kings of Sweden; and consequently neglected by those Kings; now at some set times in the Winter, they were obliged to meet together in a place appointed, where they were to pay their tribute to the Kings Officers, and be instructed in the Gospel by the Priests, and also to give account of what they learnt the year before. This custom must needs have its beginning in Gustavus’s time, for he was the first King that demanded tribute of the Laplanders, and consequently that assembled them together for the paying of it. Besides Olaus M. mentions no such institution; which he would have don had it bin received in his time. Nay he confesses that if the Laplanders had a mind to have their Children baptised, they were forc’t to carry them on their backs two hundred Italian miles to a Christian Church, in some of their neighboring Countries, as Aongermannia, Helsingia, and the like, and if they neclected this duty, there was none to reprove them for it. This made Gustavus complain in a Letter dated at Stockholme, July 24. 1556, that there were many among them, who were never baptised, which proceeded from an opinion that those who were baptised in their riper years, would dy within 7 or 8 daies after; but when Gustavus together with his Collectors sent Priests into Lapland, their children were baptised, and they instructed at home. Nor were they obliged only to a bare hearing of the word, but to a diligent attention, because they were to be catechised afterwards, and give an account of their progress; so that now it was that they began to be Christians in good earnest, and in this respect it might with some reason be said that in this last age the Gospel began to be preached among them, and that before they were wholy ignorant of the means of their salvation. Now it was that they had certain Priests appointed to instruct them, the first whereof, or at least since the reformation, was one Michael, whom Gustavus in his before mentioned Letter earnestly recommends to them, giving him especial command by pious exhortation to reduce them to the true knowledg of God, and the Christian Faith.

But this was more effectually don in the succeeding times of Charles Gustavus Adolphus, and Christina; who first endowed Schools and Churches; those two firms supports, without which Religion can neither maintain its present strength, nor acquire more.

Charles the IX, about the latter end of his reign was the first that caused Churches to be built in every one of the divisions or Marches at his own peculiar charge; two of them are mentioned in Lapponia Tornensis, viz. Tenotekis and Jukasjærff, whereof one was built, ann. 1600, the other 3 years after. Christina having found a silver mine there, followed his example; and by a public Charter ordered the building of four more, in Arwitsieff, Arieplog, Silbojoch, and Nasafiell, ann. 1640. then were Christian Churches built in Lapland itself, and there are now reckoned in Lapponia Aongermannia one, called Aosalo; in Lapponia Umensis one called Lyæsala; in Lapponia Pithensis four, whose name are Graatræsk, Arwitsierfs, Stora sawgcks, and Arieplogs; there was also a fifth called Silbojochs, but this was long ago demolish’d and burnt by the Danes. In Lapponia Luhlensis there is one call’d Jochmoch. There was also another called Nafrilocht, but this was burnt accidentally not long since. In Lapponia Tornensis there are reckoned three, Juckochsierfs, Rounala, and Enotaches. In Lapponia Kiemensis only Enare. All of them being 13 in number, except Silbojochs and Nafrilochs, are kept in good repair, and frequented by the Laplanders. They all own their Kings, and especially Charles the IX, for their Founders, excepting only Kounala, which was built and adorned with a bell at the sole charge of 3 brothers Laplanders, whose piety herein is the more commendable because they were forc’t to fetch all the materials requisit for such a work thro long and troublesome waies, out of Norway with their Rain-dears. A memorable example which most men in our daies, tho desirous enough to seem pious and religious, are so far from equalling, much more from exceeding, that they never attemt to follow it. The manner of building their Temples was plain indeed, but fit enough for the use they were designed to, the matter of them is the same timber wherewith the Swedes usually build their houses. Adjoining to their Churches they have belfrys, and houses for the use of Priests and the convenience of those who living at a great distance from the Church, have the liberty of refreshing themselves here in the Winter time by the fire. This constitution was first made by Christina ann. 1640, commanding the Priests to be alwaies resident, whereas before they living a far off, came but at some set times of the year.

Schools were first instituted by Gustavus Adolphus, and I suppose in the town of Pithen, something before the year 1619, for in that year Nicolaus Andræ, Minister of Pithen, dedicates his Ritual to him, in token of thanks and commendation for this his piety. The reason why Gustavus Adolphus founded Schools, was chiefly because he saw the Laplanders profited very little under the Swedish Priests preaching in a forreign language, as they had hitherto don. Besides, the harshness of the air, and coursness of the diet killed great part of the Priests, who had bin used to a better climate, and made the rest more unwilling to undergo this hardship: therefore was the first School instituted in Pithen, and committed to the charge of Nicolaus Andreæ, who was also commanded for the better promoting of knowledg there, to translate the most useful and necessary books out of the Swedish into the Laplandish tongue. For the Laplanders before this were wholy ignorant of letters, and had not a book writ in their language: the first, which I suppose they had, was the Primer, such as children use to learn containing the chief heads of Christian Religion, viz. the ten Commandments, Apostles Creed, Lords Praier, and the like compiled by the aforesaid Nicolaus, as himself witnesses: he likewise was the first that published the Ritual in the Laplandish tongue, the book is now extant printed at Stockholm by Ignatius Meurer, with this title, Liber Cantionum quomodo sit celebranda Missa Sermone Lappico. These were the elements wherein they were first to be instructed, afterwards there were other books printed, amongst which was a Manual translated out of Swedish by Joannes Tornæus, Minister and School-master of Tornen, containing the Psalms of David, Song of Solomon, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Ecclesiasticus, Luthers Cathechise, sacred Hymns, Gospels, and Epistles, with the solemn Praiers. The history of Christs Passion, and destruction of Jerusalem, the Ritual, and Praiers of all sorts.

In the next place, for an encouragement to those that would send their children to school, Gustavus Adolphus allowed money, not only for their diet, but also for their clothes, and other necessaries, with a stipend for the School-master: with these helps the Laplanders began more seriosly to consider of the Christian Religion, which was now preac’d to them in no other language then their own: heretofore their Ministers using only the Swedish tongue, they learnt somthing but understood it not, and muttered some Praiers, but they knew not what: for somtimes there stood under the Pulpit, an Interpreter who explained to the People as well as he could what the Minister said at length. By the benefit of these aforesaid books they began to understand what they were praied for, and some of the Youth of Lapland having studied at the University of Upsal, made so good progress in the knowledg of the Liberal Arts and Sciences, and of the Christian Religion, that they were entrusted with the Ministery.

Hitherto we have taken a view of Gustavus Adolphus his first care for the advancement of Christianity in Lapland, but as all things in their beginnings find some opposition, so did the preaching of the word of God here; first of all it was a matter of great difficulty to maintain a School without the confines of Lapland, to which the Youth of that Nation should resort, therefore in the second place it was advised by that famous man Joannes Skytte, free Baron of Duderhoff, and Senator of the Kingdom, who to his immortal praise obtained that a School might be erected by the King in Lapland it self, in the Province of Uma, near the Church Lyksala, from whence the School took its name. This was the second School the Laplanders had, and by Gustavus Adolphus, then engaged in a tedious war in Germany, the charge of it was committed to the aforesaid Joannes Skytte, by a Roial Charter, and setled upon his Family for ever, allowing the School-master the whole Tithe, after the ordinary charges deducted; but still retaining to the Crown the superintendency of the benefaction. The form thereof is as follows,

We Gustavus Adolphus by the Grace of God King of the Goths and Vandals, &c. declare that altho our dear Father Charles of blessed memory; as likewise we our selves, after we were by the Divine Providence placed in the Throne of this Kingdom, have earnestly endevor’d that our Northern Subjects called Laplanders should be instructed, in Arts and Letters; and be informed in the grounds of Christian Religion, yet the distraction of the present time, hath hitherto hindred our religious purpose: but least our attemt should be utterly frustrated, we ordain and appoint our faithfull Senator, Chief Governor of Livonia, Ingria, and Carelia, the illustious Lord John Skytt L. B. in Dunderhoff, Governor and Visitor of a School to be erected in Umalappmark, he having undertaken that Charge: We farther ordain that the Government of the said School, shall from time to time continue and belong to the Successors, in his family: and that the Master and Scholars in the school aforesaid, may have a constant maintenance, we grant unto them the Tithes which the inhabitants of that division, do yearly bring into the Storehouse of Uma, after the ordinary paiments are deducted. These Tithes, with other gifts and benefactions which the aforesaid Lord John Skitt shall by his diligence aquire for the said charitable use; shall be disposed by him for the benefit of the said School, reserving to our selves and successors the supreme regulation of the same. In witness whereof we have set our hand and Seal. Given in old Stetin in Pomerland, June 20. Ann. 1631.

This School had some peculiar advantages over others, because its setlement was firmly established, having for its Visitor, not the Minister of the Parish, but a Senator of the Kingdom. Besides here was not only a salary allowed to the Master and Scholars, but also an order to receive it out of the Tithes of Uma; whereas the other had indeed a set stipend, but because it was not certainly decreed where they should receive it, it was not duely paid as the time and their necessities required, which was no small disadventage and impediment to their design. But all incoveniences were here remedied and the salary most firmly setled; and not only so, but also full autority granted unto the Illustrious Lord John Skytte to find out and confirm any other means, which might conduce more to the good of that foundation. Neither was that eminent man wanting out of this singular piety to God, and love of learning, to make this his whole business, till at last he gathered a sum of five thousand Dollars, partly thro his own, and partly thro his friends liberality, which he delivered to the Queen Christina for the use of a Copper Mine, that in lieu thereof the School of Uma might yearly receive the whole revenue of the Crown, due from certain Towns in that Province. This request of his the Queen easily granted, and two years after issu’d out her Letters patents, and a new Charter by the Protectors of the Kingdom, whose worthy Commemoration is not to be omitted. The words of the Charter are as follow,

We Christina by the Grace of God Queen elect and hereditary Princess of the Swedes, Goths and Vandals, Queen of Finland, Esthonia, Carelia, and Ingria, do declare, that whereas our dearly beloved Father, somtimes King of Swedland, did out of his singular zeal and religious affection for the promoting of the Church of God, especially in the Northern parts of his Dominions, institute a Laplandish School in the Province of Uma, and did constitute our trusty and well beloved Senator the illustrious Lord John Skytte, Senator of the Kingdom of Sweden, President of our Roial Council in Gothland, Chancellor of our University of Upsal, High Commissioner of South-Finland, free Baron of Duderhoff, Lord of Grænsia, Stræmfrum and Skytteholm, Knight, to be superviser of this work, setling the same power upon his Posterity after his decease, and bountifully allowing to this design out of the stores of Uma the yearly Tithes due to the Crown; We therefore by vertue of these Letters patents to not only confirm that wholsom Constitution of our pious Father deceased, but do also certify that the illustrius Lord John Skytte hath brought in the sum of 5000 Dollars of silver given by himself and his pious friends for the use of the Laplandish School, which entire sum he hath paid to the Copper-Company, humbly intreating that the said sum may remain in that Company to Us and our Crown, and that We for the yearly interest of the said money allowing 8 per Cent, would give to the Laplandish School the use of certain Villages in Norlands, that the inhabitants thereof may pay their taxes to the aforesaid School; which We graciously approving, do give, as a security, the benefit and profit of these following Villages belonging to Us and our Crown in the Provinces of Uma and West Bothnia; Roebeck 12 Farms 5/8. Stæksive 2. 3/61. Clabbiler 3. 9/16. Baggaboelet 2. 27/32. Kuddis 2. 5/16. Bræneland 2. 11/16. These Farms shall yearly pay to the Laplandish School all their ordinary and extraordinary taxes which are hitherto imposed, which their inhabitants are hereby commanded to do without intermission, during the time that we retain the aforesaid sum of 5000 Dollars, paid to the Copper-Company, until We shall have restored the sum entire to the Laplandush School. Wherefore We command our Officers, and all whom it may concern, that they subtract not from the said School the aforesaid sum given in security, before such time as the money may be restored; and that they do not offer nor suffer to be offered any injury or prejudice to the aforesaid School, contrary to this our Edict, in confirmation whereof Ours and the Kingdoms Protectors and Administrators have hereto set their hands, and sealed it with the Roial Seal. Dated at Stockholm Novemb. 5. 1634.

The Persons that subscribed were, Gabriel Oxenstern, Gustavi F. R. Drotsetus. Jacobus de la Gardie High Marshal. Carolus Caroli Gyldenhielm High Admiral. Petrus Baner Deputy Chancellor. Gabriel Oxenstern Tresurer.

This is that School to which the Laplanders ow their Progress in the knowledg and love of Christian Religion, which appears from those many useful and eminent Persons who have bin there bred; also the success may be seen from the testimonials of the Examiners, who were constituted in the same year that the School was endow’d by the aforesaid Roial Charter, the words are related by Brazius as follow,

We, whose names are underwritten, do testify that we were called by the Reverend and Learned M. Olaus our Pastor of the Church of Uma, to be present at the examination of the Laplandish Youth frequenting the School of Lyksa in the Province of Uma; we do also testify that we did hear them examined by their Rector our aforesaid Pastor. First, they altogether sang the Psalms of David translated into the Swedish language, as they are now used in the Church: they next all, and singular repeted the Primer, containing not only the Elements of Speech, but the Lords Praier, ten Commandments, Apostles Creed, the words used in administring the Sacraments of Baptism, and the Lords Supper; also the Graces before and after meat, together with the Morning and Evening Praiers. This Book they all read according to the manner prescribed in other Schools, and the more ingenious of them did distinctly and without hesitation repete the little Catechism made by Luther: Besides this, they read the Gospels for Sundaies and Holy-daies as they are published in the Swedish tongue, this was the task of all the Scholars. Only 8 of them being of slower parts, did nevertheless emulate the more ingenious according to their abilities. Now they all begin to learn the Fundamentals in the Laplandish Idiom, that they may instruct their Country-men in their own mother tongue. This school exercise and the fruit arising from thence as it exceeded our expectation, to see the illiterate Youth in a short time by the blessing of God, learn the Principles of our salvation, which better Scholars have bin much longer in attaining to, so ought we to give singular thanks to Gods who hath made their endevors so successful. Nor must we omit the deserved Commendation of those pious men, who by their bountiful largesses founded and endowed the School, and at this time maintain it; altho for the reward of their piety they must expect the blessing of God, according as he hath promised. Witness our hands and seals. Dated in the place aforesaid Ann. 1634. Jacobus Andræ Buræus. Petrus Jonæ. Andreas Hacquini. Jacobus Nicolai. Olaus Olai.

From this testimony it appears that the School was frequented by no small number of the Laplandish Youth, also that they were not wholly unfit for the study of learning and Religion; making it their chief care to learn those things which are especially necessary to the improving of a Christian life. Last of all, the readiness of the Laplanders to send their children to School: so that now there appears another face of Religion in Lapland then what there was in former ages, because the Kings have taken greater care in providing for Churches, Schools, Books, Ministers, and School-masters. The Priests in like manner are more careful, being now for the most part Laplanders, or skilful in that tongue, whereof there is in Lapponia Umensis one, in Lapponia Pithensis 3, in Lapponia Luhlensis one, whose trouble is the greater, because the Country is large and the inhabitants dispersed.

In Lapponia Tornensis and Kiemensis they have both Laplandish and Swedish Priests, who once a year at their public Fairs in February visit the Country, baptising their children, and preaching to them in the Finnish language, which they seem to understand. For their reward they have one third part of the Rain-dears, which the Laplanders are bound to pay to the Crown: and whereas every Laplander was obliged to pay for a tax either two pairs of shoes, or a white Fox, or a pound of Pike, this is now equally divided between the King and the Priest; which makes not only the Priests more chearful in doing their duty, but the People also more diligent in their performances. Hence it is that they pay their Ministers so much honor and respect, saluting them at their first coming with bowing their head, giving them in token of Reverence the title of Herrai, i.e. Sir, conducting them upon their Rain-dears to their Cottages, adorned with birch bows, covered with their furrs, and shewing them all the civility they have. Upon a table or rather a plank laid upon the ground they set them meat, which is usually fish, or flesh of Rain-dear dried together with the tongue and marrow. They use neither Salt, Bread nor Wine, all which the Priests are forc’t to bring with them, the Laplanders drinking only Water, because the extremity of the cold spoils their Beer. They are careful in observing Sundaies, refraining both themselves and their Cattel from all work on that day, and somtimes on the day before; nay some there are who refuse to milk their Raindears on Sundaies. While the Sermon is preaching they attend diligently; and in singing of Psalms they are so zealous that they stive who shall sing best. They very much reverence and frequent the Sacraments, especially that of Baptism which they never defer; but the women themselves within eight or fourteen daies after their delivery do often bring their children thro long and tedious waies to the Priest. they likewise pay much reverence to the Lords Supper, and to the ceremonies of Confession and Absolution, which are alwaies used before that Sacrament, which they now are really partakers of, whereas in the times of Popery they received it without any solemn consecration. Neither do they neglect the other parts of Christian Piety. They most religiously abstain from swearing, cursing and blasphemy: they are very charitable to the poor, and just, insomuch that there are scarce any robberies ever heard of in the Country. Their mutual conversation is very courteous, especially among persons of the same Country or family, often visiting and discoursing with one another. This they learn from the precepts of Christianity, which requiring them not only to regulate their Faith, but their lives, teaches that tho there be three Persons, the Father, Son and holy Ghost, yet there are but one God. And as by the help of Christianity they learn the rule of true piety, so do they utterly abhor their ancient superstition. They pull down all their drums, and burn and demolish all their Images of wood and stone. A memorable example hereof is mentioned by Johannes Tornæus in this manner. A certain Laplander, just, pious, and wealthy, named Petrus Peiwie dwelling in Peldojærf, at a Village of Lappmarkia Tornensis, with all his family worshipped the Idol Seita: it happened upon a certain time that his Rain-dears died in great numbers; whereupon he implored the assistance of his Seita. But he praied in vain, for his Rain-dears died still. At length with his whole family and good store of dry wood, he took a journy to the place where Seita stood: round about the Idoll he strewed green bows of Firr, and offered sacrifice to him, the skins, horns, and skulls of Rain-dears; at last he prostrates himself with his whole family before the Idol, beseeching him that he would by some sign testify unto him, that he was the true God. But after a whole days praiers and devotions finding no sign given, he sets fire to the combustible wood, and burns down the Idol of the Town. When his offended neighbours sought to kill him, he asked them why they would not permit the God to revenge himself for the affront. But Peiwie became so constant an adherent to the Christian Religion, that when others threatned with their charms to mischief him, he on the contrary repeated the Lords Prayer, and the Apostles Creed. He burnt all the Seitas he could meet with, and at length sent his eldest Son Wuollaba to Enorreby to do the like there; for which he was forc’t to fly into Norway to avoid the Inarenses, who lay in wait for him. There was also one Clement, a Lappo-Jenabiensis whose Mother being grievously sick, he sought remedy from the Drum, but his Mother died notwithstanding; whereupon he cut his Drum in pieces, alledging that he saw no use of it.

Hitherto we have seen the Christian Religion much better received and improved by the Laplanders, and applied to their daily conversation, then what it was in ancient times. And from hence we may collect the care of those who by their authority, counsell or ministery did promote it; yet cannot we triumph over Pagan impiety wholly rooted out; as shall appear by the following Chapter.