Text Mats Persson


Allotment system


The Allotment System

At the end of the thirty year war it was obvious that Sweden could not afford a standing army powerful enough to defend the whole kingdom.

The solution was to set up "Indelningsverket", an army organization in which the soldiers were given small holdings to live on.

The whole countryside was divided into "Rusthåll" (a farm that arms a man) and "Rotar" (files). A "Rusthåll" was a farm big enough to support a cavalry man and his horse. A "Rote" was two, tree or four farms that together had to provide for, and support an infantry man.

Officers had a farm of the size equivalent to their rank.

The Navy was organized in a similar way.

"Indelningsverket" provided Sweden and Finland with a large army that kind of fed it self during peace time but still was ready to march within a week or so. Other advantages were that the officers lived right among their soldiers and knew them by name, furthermore soldiers in the same unit knew each other very well. The farmers were free from conscription and they did not have to pay taxes to the army, instead they paid the uniform and other equipment for their own soldier. Last but not least - each soldier knew for whom he was fighting for.

A regiment that got its soldiers from the "rusthåll" in the duchy was said to be organized in "Rusthåll". Most cavalry regiments were organized in this way.
A regiment that got its soldiers from the files in the duchy was said to be organized in "Rotehåll". Most infantry regiments were based on "rotehåll".
One of the few infantry regiments based on "rusthåll" was "Smålands Grenadiärregemente", because it used to be a cavalry unit.

A couple of regiments were still based on enlisted men - like the Artillery, some honourable cavalry regiments and the Guards. These regiments were called "Värvade" or "Stamregemente".

In peace time the soldier lived as an ordinary civilian, except for one month in the summer when the whole regiment gathered to exercise. "Rotesoldaten" (the file-soldier) normally had a small cottage, a couple of acres of land and a cow. He often had some kind of part time job as well - like tailor, bricklayer or clerk. He also had to work for a few days a year for each of his farmers, and the farmers had to assist the soldier in things he could not manage himself.
The rider of an "Rusthåll" could be the farmer himself, one of his sons or his farmhand.

Each soldier stayed in service for as long as he and his officers thought that he was strong an healthy enough. A retired soldier and his family had to leave the cottage so that a new soldier could move in, but retired soldiers always had priority for an employment in the public service. If a soldier died or was killed in action his family had to leave the cottage.

During some wars the King decided that the Army needed more regiments. In the year 1700 Karl XII ordered that every three "Rote" should raise an extra infantry man, the units made up from these soldiers were called "Tremänningsregementen" (third man regiments). Later there were also "Fyrmänningsregementen" (forth man regiments) and "Femmänningsregementen" (fifth man regiments).

At some times the need for more soldiers were so big that areas previously not divided in files had to raise extra soldiers, these extra regiments were called "Extraroterade regementen" (extra filed regiments).

In some mountain areas with rich ore-fields the inhabitants did not have to raise soldiers, instead they were obligated to work in mines and iron-works to provide the kingdom with the strategicly important iron. But at some periods of war they were still ordered to raise army units - these were called "Bergsregementen" (mountain regiments).

During the 19th century the defense system was modernized by an gradual increase in conscription. In 1892 it was decided to replace the old army organization with a larger conscripted army. The latter was completed through the defense reform of 1901, which introduced a conscripted army with a 240-day period of service.

Since an enlisted soldier of the Indelningsverket had a contract with the Crown he could not be dismissed as long as he was fit to fulfill his dutys. So even if the whole system with enlisted soldiers was abolished, some of the soldiers stayed in service for many years. The last one retired as late as 1964!

Mats Persson 990928
Latest changes March 16, 2000.
Allotment system


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(pron. Bevaering)

The major disadvantages of "Indelningsverket" (instituted in 1682), with its enlisted soldiers, were the low numerical strength and the difficulties to rise replacements and reinforcements in the event of war.

As a result of the inability to stop the Russian pillages of Finland and Sweden during the war of 1808-1809 a new organization called "Beväringen" was introduced in 1812.
This system constituted that all men fit for military service could be conscripted to defend the country or to replace casualties in the ordinary field-army.

In a way this was a step back to the times when the King would summon his subjects to arms to defend his kingdom. But during the 19th century the "Beväringen" was just a kind of back-up for the regular army based on "Indelningsverket".

In the beginning "Beväringen" was actually just a possibility to conscript soldiers that could reinforce and back up the regular army.
The exception was "Gotlands nationalbeväring", raised on the island of Gotland, which was fairly well organized right from the start in 1811. Some strange features of this defence unit were that all soldiers were volunteers and that all NCOs were elected by the men.

Later on during the 19th century "Beväringen" was organized over the whole nation and soldiers assigned to these units were trained on a more or less regular basis.
The provincial regiments were responsible for the training of "Beväringen" and they also had special arsenals of weapons for these soldiers.

In 1885 "Beväringen" was split in two parts - "Linjen" and "Landstormen" - where "Linjen" consisted of the youngest and "Landstormen" of the oldest soldiers.

In 1902 the "Indelningsverket" was abanded and a larger conscripted army with a 240-day period of service was constituted.

Mats Persson 000923
Latest changes September 23, 2000.
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Sweden have, to some extent, used conscripted soldiers since 1812 and has had an all conscripted army since 1901. Since allmost all male Swedes receive military training, most soldiers are dismissed from their units at the age of 30 or so, because they are not longer needed.

This would be quite a waste of trained personell, so they are used in smaller, defence only, units with less and older equippment. A kind of territorial army.

The conscripted soldiers were called "Beväringen".

Between 1885 and 1941 the conscripts were divided in "Linjen" and "Landstormen".
Sometimes the term "Beväringen" refferes just to "Linjen" (not including "Landstormen").
"Linjen" was the sixteen youngest classes and "Landstormen" the six too ten oldest classes.

"Linjen" was used for the Army's field units, as well as for the Navy and the Air Force.

"Landstormen" was used mostly for the Army's area defence.
In the beginning Landstormen was actually nothing but a list of names, they did not get a real organization nor proper training until 1914.

Each Landstormen unit was attached to an Infantry regiment, which was responsible for the training and the arment of its Landstormen units.
Landstormen units were not allowed lo leave the province where they were raised.

The word "landstormen" comes from the German "Landsturm".
The word "beväring" comes from the German "bewehren" which means 'to arm'.

Mats Persson 980530
Last modified: September 22, 2000.
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Allotment system