Sweden: Act of 1734

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The Act of 1734 is recognized as the last full legal reform in Sweden. The Act of 1734 replaced the medieval laws of King Christopher (1441 – 1448) and the “Stadslagen” or City Law from King Magnus Eriksson (1319 – 1364). It was the end result of a comprehensive legislative reform that was initiated during the “Stormaktstiden” or Era of Great Power. The reform process was slowed down partly because of the Great Northern War. In contrast, the six year delay between the parliamentary sessions of 1728 and 1734 was due to a dispute whether the priests could hunt on Sundays or not, which was opposed by the nobility. After the 1734 Act was adopted by the National Parliament, it was ratified by the king on January 23, 1736 and legally in effect on September 1, 1736.

The 1734 Act preserved the medieval concept of “balk” to denote a larger section of the Act. There were nine sections: 1- Marriage Code, 2- the Inheritance Code, 3- Land Code, 4- Building Code, 5- Commercial Code, 6- Iniquity Code, 7- Penal Code, 8- Enforcement Code and the 9- Code of Judicial Procedure.

Very few parts of the law are still in effect today. In Sweden there is still the tradition of calling major and key laws for “balk –ar”. The term has no strict legal meaning, but indicates that these laws, even if they are not fundamental laws, are considered to be key. For example, the environmental legislation is known as “Miljöbalken” or the Environmental Code.


Nordlöf, Barbro. Rättshistoria för Släktforskare. Stockholm: Sveriges Släktforskarförbund, Svenska Kommunförbundet, 1998

1734 Års lag, Swedish Wikipedia, 2009