P for Political jewellery in the Blogging from A to Z challenge.
When you browse online jewellery collections, you come across all kinds of pieces. Here are two political ones. Different times, different scenarios.
So, it’s 1772 and you are the king and you have some new ideas you would like to implement in your kingdom (in this case Sweden). It would certainly improve how things run, at least from your point of view, because you would have much more control. But people around you are reluctant to pick up on your ideas. You have to find a way to win them over on your side. A way to make them feel more connected to you and your ideas. So that when you make your revolution, they will not struggle against it.
Eureka! Give them something little to show that you care about them. A personal present, from the king! Now, that is good PR, isn’t it?
King Gustav III of Sweden gave away revolution rings as presents and memory of his revolution in 1772. To people in the lower classes, he gave other gifts, for example pipes, that were handed out in the pubs in Stockholm. I have no idea in how far all these gifts helped him make his revolution, but he did make it.
If Queen Christina is my favourite queen character, then Gustav III is my favourite king in the Swedish history. He died in 1792 after being shot at a masquerade ball at the castle of Stockholm. It was a conspiracy to finally get rid of him. He had limited the influence of the parliament and aristocracy, to rule on his own. He did some good things too, like abolishing death penalty and establishing a number of cultural institutions, such as the Royal Opera, the Royal Theatre and the Swedish Academy. You can read more about Gustav III on Wikipedia.
Especially for readers in the US (but also elsewhere) I thought it could be interesting to share with you what this Swedish king said about the American revolution in October 1776:
“It is such an interesting drama to see a nation create itself, that I – if I now had not been who I am – would go to America to follow up close every phase in the emergence of this new republic. – This perhaps is America’s century. The new republic, which hardly has a population put together better than Rome had to begin with, may perhaps take advantage of Europe some day, in the same manner as Europe has taken advantage of America for two centuries. No matter what, I cannot help but admire their courage and enthusiastically appreciate their daring.”
In history class, you learn the data. In museums you have the chance to understand that there were real people behind this data. Two of the revolution rings are now at the Nordiska Museet in Stockholm. At the Royal Armoury, you can see the clothes that Gustav III was wearing the evening he was shot. I saw them for the first time as a child or young person, and it filled me with a giggly “wow, did men wear tights?”. There is also his death masque, another object that can make your mind spin, especially when you are still young (but actually, it still makes my mind spin quite a bit).
Fast forward 200 years, to 1994.
So, you live in this monarchy where the king has only a representative function, and politics are dealt with by democratically chosen representatives. Your country has been thriving for the last decades, but there is now this new idea to join a bigger alliance. To join a union with other countries, countries so different from your own. And what if we can not decide ourselves anymore? What if the central power will find that our strawberries are too small to be sold as strawberries, or that our beloved snus (a special kind of tobacco) will be forbidden? What is in it for us? Why should we pay money to Greece or Portugal? What if the central power will start telling us how to run our schools?
There is no one person who can decide on this. The people will cast its vote in a referendum. Newspapers fill daily with facts and fiction around this union. The population is split in two sides, it’s yes or no.
It’s clear what side this earring comes from, as it says “No to EU”.
In the referendum in 1994, yes won with a tiny margin (52,3 % over 46,8 %), and Sweden became member of the European Union 1 January 1995.
Also in this case, the impact of the earrings is unclear, although it’s obvious they were not enough.
If you made it this far, I want to thank you so much for reading! I know I took up a lot of your time here, but all of a sudden there was so much to say around the revolution rings and the no-to-EU-earrings.
I will make it up to you tomorrow, I promise!
By the way, do you know of any jewellery that was used in a political context?