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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Thirty Years War - 1989 magazine article

Review - Article

Came across a story from the 
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC - APRIL 1989 issue while studying the Thirty Years War


August 8, 1980
Wreck of the Swedish battleship Kronan discovered by remote-control television camera at the bottom of the Baltic Sea four miles east of the Swedish island of Oland. After a 30-year search by the article's author Anders Franzén he was hoping for proof of the wreck's identity. His crew raised one of the six-pounder ship's cannon bearing the inscription "VIVE LE ROI -1628. They had found the vessel, that year's largest of Sweden - the KRONAN or CROWN. It had sunk on June 1, 1676. King Karl XI's vessel had been nearly 200 feet long, weighed 2,350 tons and bore 126 guns. She had taken seven years to build. And she was destroyed in less than a minute. Close to 800 men died.

Crewman Anders Spaarfelt was blown sky high by the explosion, flew over two enemy ships and landed safely in the sail of a Swedish vessel.

Back in the 1650s the Danes had vowed to win back the Baltic provinces seized by Sweden.

The Kronan had been launched in 1668 and commissioned in 1672. Four years later she and 600 other Swedish warships were sent into action in the Baltic. Commanding the vessel was Baron Lorentz Creutz, also commanding admiral of the Swedish navy.  

The article's author, a naval historian and engineer had originally begun  searching the waters where the wreckage lay submerged. In 1956 he discovered the wreckage of the Swedish ship Vassa, sunk on her maiden voyage in 1628 out of Stockholm. In 1979 he resumed his search for the Kronan, almost three times the weight of the Vassa. And in 1980 it turned up on his crew's "device" (a remote control television camera, not a cell phone). The Geographic's article recounts some of the vast number of artifacts retrieved from the wreck.

The article ends:
"The recovery of Kronan off Hulterstad . . . is a major event and one of great significance even far outside the realm of marine archaeology . . . . This work and those fateful human events will remind us–despite everything–of our close contact with things past."

There could be no finer epitaph for Kronan.

David Minor

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