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Agda Michelsdotter

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Agda Michelsdotter, known as Liten Agda and 'Olof Tyste' , (fl. c. 1523–1526), was couple in a legend which was to have happened in Sweden in c. 1523–27, during the very first years of king Gustav Vasa (1523–1560) and the last years of Catholic Sweden, just before the Lutheran Reformation in 1527. Their story was told in Förr och nu i Wadstena (Past and present in Vadstena) by Pontin.


Agda was the daughter of a wealthy merchant, Michel, in the city of Vadstena. She was in love with a young boy, Olof, who was turned away by her father. Olof was then known by the name Olof Tyste, Olof the Quite One, when the sorrow made him quite and detached. Michel presented Agda to a wealthy man and told her to chose to marry him or enter a convent; she chose to enter the Vadstena Abbey of Saint Bridget. This was not at all to her father's liking, as he had expected her to chose marriage, but: "He had offered her a choice; and she had chosen." She thereby entered the convent as a novice. This would have happened in 1523 or 1524. This bears similarities to the fate of Ingeborg Jönsdotter (d. 1524), a merchantdaughter from Vadstena who was forced to enter the same convent in 1495 after a love affair with a young nobleman.


A year after Agda had become a novis, a great scandal occurred, which was to be known thorough the country. Somehow, Olof and Agda had managed to met secretly during her time in the convent, and one night, Agda climbed down the wall of the convent to the beach of Vättern, where Olof waited with a boat, and then they eskaped together across the water to Västergötland. The scandal was great; a nun who broke the wow of chastity had committed the crime of heresy, and law of the church demanded that she be buried alive and that the man should be burned at the stake. The scandal of the convent abduction was reported to bishop Hans Brask in Linköping, who issued a ban over the couple and declared them outlaws. Henceforth, everyone was forbidden to give them food or water, to house them or to assist them in any way, and everyone was allowed to kill them without punishment.


Agda and Olof had traveled to one of Olof's friends in Husaby. They weres just about to be married, when their wedding ceremony was interrupted and the banishment declared for those present. They were immediately turned out of the church. People let them pass "as if they were contaminated by the plague". For months, until and past Christmas they fled, as the legend says, from farm to farm; first received in a friendly way, but turned away as soon as the news of the banishment reached their hosts. They were then reached by the news, that the king was in the city of Vadstena. Agda had heard that he sympathized with the Protestant religion, (which she had perhaps heard about in the convent), and suggested that they should seek him up and appeal to him directly. This would be in 1525 or 1526; the king allowed for the marriage of the priest Olaus Petri in 1525 and the translation of the bible in 1526, which made him known as a reformer.

The end

The king, Gustav Vasa, had given order that no one seeking audience should be turned away during his visit in the city, and the soldiers, though they stepped backwards from them in fright of the clerical ban, did not dare to turn them away when they demanded to see him. The king: "Received them with much goodness, folded their hands and promised to help them to the happy victory of their faithful love". The king wrote to the bishop to recall the banishment right away. He also sent Agda and Olof with a military escort to the house of Agdas father Michel with the order that he should welcome his daughter and future son-in-law. Michel answered that the king had no say in his private affairs and that he would welcome his daughter and Olof by letting his servants hunt them away with dogs. The king's chancellor Laurentius, who accompanied them, lost his temper and told him, on his own initiative, that the king had promised to cut of Michel's head if he did not kindly receive and nurse "his children". Michel believed him, and the next day, the king sent for him and reconciled him with Agda and Olof, and soon after, the king danced with Agda on her wedding.

It is hard to know how much of this legend is true. This was to have happened in the 1520s, after the accession to Gustav Vasa on the throne (1523), and before the reformation (1527).

See also


  • (in Swedish)
  • Herman Lindquist: Historien om Sverige (The History of Sweden) (in Swedish)
  • Pontin: Förr och nu i Wadstena (Past and present in Vadstena) (in Swedish)
  • Wilhelimna Stålberg: Anteqningar om svenska qvinnor (Notes on Swedish women) (in Swedish)
  • Edit Ahrenlöf: På underliga vägar (On Strange paths) (in Swedish)sv:Liten Agda

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