Lord High Chancellor of Sweden

The Lord High Chancellor (Swedish: Rikskansler), literally Chancellor of the Realm, was a prominent and influential office in Sweden, from 1538 until 1799, excluding periods when the office was out of use. The office holder was a member of the Privy Council. From 1634, the Lord High Chancellor was one of five Great Officers of the Realm, who were the most prominent members of the Privy Council and headed a governmental branch each—the Lord High Chancellor headed the Privy Council. In 1792, more than a century after the office's abolishment in 1680, it was revived but was then finally abolished seven years later in 1799.[1]

Lord High Chancellor of Sweden
Coat of arms of Sweden (shield and chain).svg
Count Fredrik Sparre.jpg
Fredrik Sparre, the last officeholder
ResidenceOxenstierna Palace
AppointerMonarch of Sweden
Formation1 August 1538
First holderConrad von Pyhy
Final holderFredrik Sparre
Abolished14 December 1799


During the Middle Ages, from the 13th century, the "chancellor of the king" was a close confidant of the king. The chancellor was in general a man of the church, and one part of his duty was to aid the king during negotiations with foreign powers. In 1560, during Eric XIV's reign, Nils Gyllenstierna became the first to receive the title Rikskansler.[1]


The Lord High Chancellor was appointed by the King and was assigned to ensure that the orders of the King and the Riksdag of the Estates were followed. Along the way, the assignments of the chancellor increased to the amount that a chancellery, the Privy Council, had to be established. In 1634, the five Great Officers of the Realm were introduced as the most powerful among the Privy Council members. The Chancellor was fourth in rank among these. Albeit fourth in rank, the Lord High Chancellor became the most important figure in the Privy Council. The Chancellor was responsible for maintaining relations with foreign powers and especially Axel Oxenstierna possessed massive influence during his tenure as Chancellor (1612–1654), when he more or less had the role of a head of government.[1][2]

Abolition and revival of the officeEdit

In 1680, Charles XI abolished the office and inaugurated a new position instead – "President of the Chancellery" (Swedish: Kanslipresident). In 1792, during the minority reign of Gustav IV Adolph the office of Rikskansler was revived, but it was removed once again in 1799.[1]

Lord High Chancellors of SwedenEdit

First creationEdit

Portrait Name Lifespan Term began Term ended Monarch(s)
  Conrad von Pyhy
? – 1553 1 August 1538 1543 Gustav I
  Nils Gyllenstierna
1526 – 1601
(aged 74–75)
1560 1590 Eric XIV
John III
  Erik Sparre
13 July 1550 – 20 March 1600
(aged 49)
1593 20 March 1600 Sigismund Vasa
Charles IX
  Svante Bielke
1567 – 2 July 1609
(aged 41–42)
1602 2 July 1609 Charles IX
  Axel Oxenstierna
(1583-06-16)16 June 1583 –
28 August 1654(1654-08-28) (aged 71)
6 January 1612 28 August 1654 Gustav II Adolph
  Erik Oxenstierna
(1624-02-13)13 February 1624 –
23 October 1656(1656-10-23) (aged 32)
28 August 1654 23 October 1656 Charles X Gustav
  Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie
(1622-10-15)15 October 1622 –
26 April 1686(1686-04-26) (aged 63)
13 February 1660 10 June 1680 Charles XI

Second creationEdit

Portrait Name Lifespan Term began Term ended Monarch(s)
  Fredrik Sparre
(1731-02-02)2 February 1731 –
30 January 1803(1803-01-30) (aged 71)
16 July 1792 14 December 1799 Gustav IV Adolph

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Nordisk Familjebok - "Rikskansler"". runeberg.org (in Swedish). Retrieved 2014-03-26.
  2. ^ "Rikskansler". ne.se (in Swedish). Nationalencyklopedien. Retrieved 2014-03-26.
  3. ^ With the title Överstekansler ("Supreme Chancellor").