History of Western Theatre: 17th Century to Now/Late Scandinavian 18th
Gustav Fredrik Gyllenborg
The Swedish theatre could be said to begin with Gustav Fredrik Gyllenborg (1731–1808) who composed "Sune Jarl" (1795), a historical play during the reign of King Eric X of Sweden (1180-1216) in conflict with the nobility.
Time: 1190s. Place: Sweden.
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In a fight for the monarchy, Sverker III killed Eric's brothers and has a result, lost his crown in a revolt of nobles. Though a mere youth, Eric X becomes the new king, with Folke Jarl as the chief magistrate of the realm. During the fighting, Folke's son, Sune, was captured by Sverker but then regained his liberty. In turn, Sune captured Sverker III's daughter, Helen, and, though she pleaded to return to her father, he kept her as the present king's prisoner. To maintain peace, Eric X proposes to marry Helen, which astonishes Sune, who intended to marry her himself after her father's approval, since the latter still cherishes hopes of regaining his crown with Sune's help. Helen loves Sune, but now feels abandoned by the luckless youth. Feeling that it is up to her father to dispose of her, she asks Sune again to send her to him. To foster more friendly ties with Sverker, Sune attempts to convince the king to release her, but he refuses. Folke scolds his son for this attempt. To many of the nobles, Sune's sentiments seem suspicious, appearing more loyal towards Sverker than towards Eric X. To free his daughter, Sverker arrives at court disguised as his own messenger. He reiterates his intention of making Helen Sune's wife should the latter revolt against the king. Sverker's disguise is rapidly discovered. In answer to Eric X's plan, he says he promised Helen to another. For his ambiguous role in this affair, Eric has only hard words for Sune, who angrily draws his sword. As a result, Folke does not hesitate to order his son's removal from the court. Late at night, Sverker returns with conspirators to meet Sune once more. "You have me in your power," Sune says, still smarting from the king's suspicions, "you have armed me. Let not my anger time to cool, but guide my steps." With Sune's help, Helen escapes. On discovering this, Folke is incensed against his son, who yields his sword to him. Folke presses Sune's condemnation, but, in view of his past services as well as those of his father, the king pardons him. The king abandons the idea of marrying Helen, now convinced that this will not bring peace to their two houses. When the king asks Sune to become his friend, he exclaims: "Your friend and Sverke's son-in-law!" convinced the two cannot be reconciled. Yet the king gives Sune his own sword to fight his enemy. Feeling Sune to be in mortal danger in his own party, Helen returns to the king to plead on his behalf while the nobles raise arms in open revolt. In the conflict, Sune encounters Sverker and stabs him. Despite the blow, a dying Sverker requests a remorseful Sune to unite with his daughter.