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THE SILVER ATTACK

THAT ENDED WITH THE KIDNAPING OF THE CHEF

In the middle of the 16th century, Sweden was a European superpower and was involved in a number of wars, even against the Denish-Norwegian Union. War is expensive, and when the looting of other kings' values no was longer enough, the Swedish king had to find other means to pay soldiers and officers. As a gift from above a report told Stockholm that a silver ore vein had been found in the Swedish-Norwegian mountains east of Mo  Rana, and after an inspection, the Swedish king's envoy could report that the ore was several miles long, and he writes to the king:

  "It is hoped here, next to God's help, that it will be the Caribbean of the Swedes, the pious as well as the king of Spain."

Mo i Rana, sølv, Nasa, historie

A hand-drawn map from around 1650

The ore vein was discovered in the Nasa mountain by the Sami Per Olofsson around 1630. In the autumn of 1634, trial operations were started under the auspices of the king, and the result was seen as very promising. The Swedish throne had major financial problems after many years of war, and the discovery of the silver ore vein was therefore of great importance to the armed forces.

The silver mine was run by forcibly recruited labor. The actual mining work was carried out by men from Sweden's coastal areas who had been discharged for military service, while the transport was carried out by Sami with sledges pulled by reindeer. The Sami were also forced to work. In the years that followed, nearly 900 kg of silver was taken out, far less than the Swedish throne needed, but the certainty that there was silver in Nasa gave the king necessary credit among his soldiers and officers.

Mo i Rana, Karl X Gustav, København

Karl X Gustav's attack on Copenhagen

In the years that followed, Sweden launched a series of wars, partly in the name of the minor queen Christina, daughter of King Gustav Adolf II. The wars were waged by the Chancellor, Axel Oxenstierna, after the king's death on the battlefield in Germany in 1632.

In Copenhagen they had to be defeated by the Swedish military many times, and in Norway they had lost large areas of land to Swedes, including Jemtland, Härjedalen and the whole of Trøndelag.

Mo i Rana, historie, Nasa, sølv, Preben von Ahnen, Kon Fredrik III

Amtmann i Nordlandene, Preben von Ahnen (tv) og dansknorske Kong Fredrik III

In Copenhagen the dissatisfaction was great. But the Danish-Norwegian king was aware of the Swedish king's debt problems, and became obsessed with the idea of being able to destroy the further operation of the silver mines in the north.

 

In 1657, the county governor of Nordland was called to Copenhagen, and it is assumed that it was during this visit the planning of a campaign began. Preben von Ahnen was not immediately thrilled. He is afraid that ordering young northerners for military service would affect access to crews for the very lucrative transport of stockfish to Bergen, but he eventually leaves Copenhagen equipped with a manned warship.

On the way north, the governor bunkered cannons, uniforms, weapons and officers. Three companies with untrained men are called out for duty, including the Helgeland Company of around 100 men. It is believed that military camps were set up at Rognan in Saltdal and at the hill east of today's center of Mo i Rana. Both at Rognan and in Mo i Rana, the local names Skansen (the fort) can be memories of these military bases.

Mo i Rana, historie, Nasa

Stately Danish-Norwegian uniforms from around 1650

In the autumn of 1659, the campaign is carried out. A company marches towards the Swedish mining village Silverjokki from Saltdalen, and there are many indications that the Helgeland Company is attacking the copper mines themselves from Randalen, not far south of where the Arctic Circle Center at Saltfjellet is located today. The campaign ends with the mining village being looted and burned down, and for the Danish-Norwegian king in Copenhagen, the looting and burning is described as a great victory.

The truth is probably more moderate. The silver mine was difficult to access, and it was demanding to obtain both labor and suitable technology. Dynamite was not invented, and the extraction of ore in total was less than a ton. When the Norwegian soldiers withdrew after the looting, they kidnapped the mining town's chef. He turned out to be more skilled than the one the soldiers had had before attacking the silver mine.

One of the mining tunnels in Nasa, autumn 2020

A visit to the silver mines is a nice day trip. Drive to the foot of Saltfjellet and go up Randalen to the east. The trip is about 7 km. Polarsirkelen Turlag organize guided tours to Nasa every summer in August, sometimes in collaboration with historians from the Swedish side.

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