Swedish Church Law 1686

The Swedish Church Law 1686 (Swedish: Kyrkio-Lag och Ordning) was a Swedish law which (with some alterations) regulated the relationship between the state and the church in Sweden from 1686 until the Swedish Church Law 1992, as well as in Finland (earlier a Swedish province) until 1870. It replaced the previous Swedish Church Ordinance 1571.

Title page of the first publication, 1687.


During the reign of Charles X Gustav of Sweden, two suggestions were put forward to replace the Swedish Church Ordinance 1571: one by Olaus Laurelius [sv], and one by Erik Emporagrius [sv]. In 1663, an investigation to change the law was formally issued, and in 1682, the two suggestions were merged. A commission was formed to process it, consisting mainly of bishops and superintendents, including Olof Svebilius, Haquin Spegel, Carolus Carlsson [sv] and Petrus Stjernman [sv]. Their revised proposal was adopted as the 1686 Church Law.[1]

The Swedish Church Law 1686 abolished canon law and the Law of Uppland church charter.[2] The state, represented by the monarch, by then the king of an absolute monarchy, was the head of the Church and thus had final say in matters of the Church, but there was to be no political administration or political bureaucracy between the monarch and the bishops of the Church. Attempts by the state to create an ecclesiastical office with political authority failed due to the resistance of the bishops and clergy.[3]

Among the notable reforms introduced were the husförhör and the parish register. Henceforth, the parish vicar of every parish of the nation was obliged to conduct a husförhör ('household interview'), an annual survey of the religious knowledge of every household in the parish to ensure all parishioners' knowledge of the Bible and Luther's Small Catechism. A consequence of this was the need for every parishioner, regardless of age and sex, to know how to read, as it would be necessary to read the Bible and the catechism to pass the annual survey. Since the predecessor law from 1571, children's schools for reading, writing and counting had already been an obligation in the cities, but this law resulted in the need for every village and rural community to organise basic schooling for their children, normally by paying a läromäster ('school master') or läromoster ('schoolmadam') to hold lessons in the local vicarage, and from this point forward, illiteracy was close to eradicated in Sweden.[4]

This law was in force until 1888. Furthermore, all parish vicars were also forced by law to keep a parish register and note every birth, baptismal and death in the parish.

The 1686 Swedish Church Law – with many changes and modernisations – was the standard for both the internal organisation of the Church of Sweden and its status under public law until 1 January 1993. Changes were made, for example, during the Age of Liberty, by Gustav III, through the 1809 Instrument of Government, the 1868 Church Council Regulation and the Dissenter Acts of 1860 and 1873. In the Grand Duchy of Finland, earlier a Swedish province, the law applied until the reformed church law of 1867 was passed by the Diet of Finland (enacted in 1870).

Doctrinal paragraphEdit

Doctrine in Sweden was defined between 1686 and 1992 as follows:[5]

With the 1686 Church Law, the rest of the Book of Concord was added to the older formulation from the Uppsala Synod, and until 1992 the following confessional writings were valid in Sweden:

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ Starbäck, Carl Georg; Bäckström, Per Olof (1902). Berättelser ur svenska historien (in Swedish). Vol. 7, Carl X Gustaf. Carl XI, (1885-1886). Beijer. p. 848. OCLC 831185407.
  2. ^ Sundberg, Halvar Gustaf Frederik (1948). Kyrkorätt. Svenska kyrkokunskap (in Swedish). Yngve Brilioth. Institutet för offentlig och internationell rätt. pp. 58–113. OCLC 604661417.
  3. ^ Lindegård, Sven (1957). Consistorium regni och frågan om kyrklig överstyrelse. En studie i den svenska kyrkoförfattningen i teori och praxis 1571–1686. Bibliotheca theologiae practicae (in Swedish). Vol. 5. Lund: C.W.K. Gleerups Förlag. OCLC 1100177607.
  4. ^ Du Rietz, Anita: Kvinnors entreprenörskap: Under 400 år. Dialogos, Stockholm, 2013.
  5. ^ Josefson, Ruben; Samfundet Pro Fide et Christianismo (1985). "Inledning". Svenska kyrkans bekännelseskrifter (in Swedish). Stockholm: Verbum. p. 13. ISBN 9789152613139.


  • Kjöllerström, Sven: Kyrkolags problemet i Sverige 1571–1682. Samlingar och studier till Svenska kyrkans historia, 11. Stockholm: Svenska kyrkans diakonistyrelses bokförlag, 1944.
  • Lizell, Gustaf – Lenfvén, Edv. (eds.): Kyrkolag og ordning af år 1686 jämte dithörande stadganden, som utkommit till den 1 jan. 1928. Stockholm 1928.
  • Kyrkolag in the Nordisk familjebok (2nd ed., 1911). (in Swedish)

External linksEdit