Rättegångsgudstjänsten i Sverige. Reglering och förändring 1684-1989.

Johan Herbertsson

Forskningsoutput: AvhandlingDoktorsavhandling (monografi)


The aim of the thesis The Court Service in Sweden. Regulation and Development 1684-1989 is to investigate the special church service which was decreed by Swedish law in connection with trials in law courts between 1684 and 1989.
The service was initiated by King Karl XI of Sweden in 1684 by a letter to the Bishop of Västerås Diocese. Initially, the service was held only within parts of the Diocese of Västerås, but in the following year of 1685 the Court Service was introduced in the whole kingdom by a royal letter to all the bishops. This order was codified in the Church Law of 1686, chapter II § XIII, and remained in force until the end of 1989. The church service, commonly called ‘Court Service’ or ‘Court Sermon’ (tingspredikan), implied that all involved in a trial was bound by law to attend a preceding Service of the Word. This order existed in Sweden for a period of over 300 years, but has not previously been researched in detail.
The historical background of the service has been disputed in the past; some have believed that it originates from a medieval Catholic custom of celebrating mass before a trial. However, the discovery of a previously unknown letter demonstrates that the Court Service was in fact initiated by King Karl XI in 1684. The service was motivated by the fact that the peasantry was careless concerning giving evidence and taking oaths. In the theocracy of the time this situation was considered to burden the conscience of the people before God and endanger their eternal salvation. Karl XI initiated the service with the purpose of priests preaching sermons to instruct the people on how to behave properly at trials, so that they testified and gave oaths in true fear of God. The prevailing theological worldview held the belief that the sins of each individual have the potential to incur God’s punishment on the whole nation. This had to be avoided and the people had to be saved from being eternally lost. This belief was the original context of the Court Sermon.
However, the custom of Court Services continued even with the change to the relationship between King, Church and state in 1718 and the decree remained in force until the end of 1989. The tradition of annual Court Services is still in existence in many places in Sweden, although there is no decree by law, nor is it regulated in current official service books of the Church of Sweden.
Tilldelande institution
  • Kyrko- och missionsstudier
  • Jarlert, Anders, handledare
Tilldelningsdatum2016 maj 18
StatusPublished - 2016

Bibliografisk information

Defence details

Date: 2016-05-18
Time: 10:00
Place: LUX, sal C:126.

External reviewer(s)

Name: Claesson, Urban
Title: Prof. i historia, docent i kyrkohistoria
Affiliation: Professor vid högskolan i Dalarna, docent vid Uppsala universitet.


Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Religionshistoria

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