Sweden’s Coronavirus Knights Battle COVID-19 at Gotland Tourist Mecca
Sweden’s coronavirus knights battle COVID-19 at the tourist mecca of Gotland, Sweden. The island of Gotland was first inhabited by early Neolithic farmers between 8000 and 6000 years ago, depending on which paper you read. By the Viking Age , Gotland had become a major center of northern European trade with an estimated half of the 20,000 Viking Age silver coins found in Sweden discovered on this island. Sweden’s coronavirus knights are a band of medieval styled knights who have been hired to guard Gotland, an extremely popular tourist destination, against the spread of COVID-19.
Sweden’s Coronavirus Knights Fight The Spread Of COVID-19
Gotland is a 3,140 km2 (0.8 acres) island in the Baltic Sea , about 90 km (56 miles) from the Swedish coast, and 130 km (81 miles) from the Estonian coast. The island is currently home to about 58,000 inhabitants but during the summer Gotland’s beaches and towns attract roughly 500,000 domestic and international visitors. And under normal circumstances these numbers are welcomed, but this year they are causing concerns due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. In response to this public health threat, the officials have taken a novel approach to keep the virus from spreading by hiring a group of mounted medieval knights .
According to an article on Gotland.net by historian Eve Astrid Andersson, who is a Director for Google, Gotland was initially an independent sovereign entity that fell under German rule in 1398, Danish rule in 1408, Swedish rule in 1645, Danish rule again in 1676, and ended up as part of Sweden in 1679, with a brief 23-day occupation by the Russians in 1808.
A scene on Gotland, Sweden where the knights are protecting tourists from COVID-19 ( Torneamentum)
Now, mounted on battle-stallions and armed with lances, a troupe of knights from Torneamentum will battle the coronavirus by patrolling popular hotspots spreading the message that we “are all in this together.” According to a report in RTL this will “encourage holiday makers to take responsibility to ensure they minimize the risk of the virus spreading.”
Gotland: A Treasure Laden Island of Viking Fame
The Torneamentum knights are modern-day specialists in making and wielding brutal medieval weapons of war, such as: spears, swords and lances, and the sands of Gotland will now rumble under the hoofs of their mighty horses and brightly colored schabrak saddlecloths once again. And while many similar “Viking Islands” have been pillaged for their archaeology, Gotland is an exception. Notably, on 16 July 1999, a metal detectorist found the largest-ever Viking silver treasure, the Spillings Hoard , discovered in a field at Spillings farm northwest of Slite.
Torneamentum knights on patrol on Gotland, during peak tourist season, to keep COVID-19 at bay ( Torneamentum)
This immense silver treasure hoard was divided in two caches weighing a total of 67 kg (148 lb). The largest cache weighed 27 kg (60 lb) and the smaller 40 kg (88 lb). The two caches consisted of about 14,000 foreign coins (mostly I slamic) and about 20 kg (44 lb) of bronze artifacts, alongside numerous everyday objects such as nails, glass beads, parts of tools, pottery, iron bands and clasps. And for this single find the farmer who owned the land was awarded a 2 million kronor (about US$308,000) finder’s fee which he split with the metal detectorist.
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Sweden’s Coronavirus Knights Fight The Invisible Covid-19
A common pattern in world history is that where treasure was buried blood was spilled. In 1361 AD violence among feudal knights began escalating out of control when Valdemar Atterdag of Denmark invaded Gotland, slaughtering about 1,500 farmers. This violence on Gotland continued when the piratical Victual Brothers took control of the island in 1394 AD. However, in 1398 AD, an invading army of Teutonic Knights conquered the island and drove the Victual Brothers from Gotland. In 1409 AD, Grand Master Ulrich von Jungingen of the Teutonic Knights guaranteed peace with the Kalmar Union of Scandinavia by selling the island of Gotland to Queen Margaret of Denmark, Norway and Sweden.
It is great to see that from such a blood thirsty past a group of medieval knights have now risen to a new challenge, and rather than fighting for control of an island with immense maritime and naval importance, their weapons are aimed at another violent enemy, the invisible coronavirus.
Top image: Torneamentum knights are Sweden’s coronavirus knights that “guard” Gotland to stop the spread of COVID-19 on this extremely popular tourist island. Source: Torneamentum
By Ashley Cowie