Picture of books

The Library

The Skokloster Castle Library: an aristocratic family library spanning four centuries

The Skokloster Castle Library occupies the top storey in the castle's eastern part, overlooking Lake Mälaren. The castle was built at a time when architects, true to classical tradition, recommended giving the library an eastward elevation where the morning light would be best for reading. Seven aristocratic libraries are now kept here. Carl Gustaf Wrangel had his own collection of books arranged in the castle in the mid-1660s. At his death in 1676 the collection numbered about 2,400 books arranged by subject and size. The Library consists of books which Carl Gustaf Wrangel inherited from his father Herman Wrangel, books which were given to him or taken as booty, but above all books he had himself bought.

Many different subjects

Purchases were made in the big European cities, sometimes after Wrangel had seen advertisements in newspapers or been tipped off by his commercial agents. The books cover a very wide range of subjects. Wrangel had many castles built in his lifetime, and so naturally he acquired books on architecture and illustrated works showing other castles in Europe. He was also keen on technical innovations in both building development and fortification.

Books in foreign languages

Books in French, Italian and Spanish make up a large section of the Library. Otherwise Latin and German are the main languages represented. At Wrangel’s death his books passed on to his children and grandchildren, and little more than a quarter of his extensive collection remained at Skokloster.

The lost books were made up for by Nils Brahe, Wrangel’s son-in-law and successor as lord of Skokloster. Nils Brahe inherited his uncle Per Brahe’s library from Visingsborg Castle on the island of Visingsö, and had it transferred to Skokloster.
Like Wrangel’s own library, this collection contains books on all thinkable subjects, printed in the 16th and 17th centuries. In the mid-18th century the collection was further augmented by the accession of the library from Salsta Castle, north of Uppsala. Before his death in 1754, Count Carl Gustaf Bielke had decided that his large collection of books, numbering over 8,000 volumes, would pass to his nephew Erik Brahe. Carl Gustaf Bielke had purchased books in large quantities on his travels in France, and he frequently attended book auctions in Stockholm and Uppsala. He marked his books with a bookplate and often made a note of where he bought them and how much he had given for them. 

The Skokloster library was yet further enlarged in 1800, again by inheritance, when Ulrik Scheffer’s 18th century library from  Stora Ek in Västergötland was brought here.

The present furnishings of the seven rooms on the Library floor date from the first half of the 19th century, when the walls and ceilings were painted in pastel colours and the book cabinets green grilles were installed. The walls are hung with beautiful large-format maps. Terrestrial and celestial globes – also part of the library milieu – stand on floors and benches. One of the rooms has a library- or reading chair (“swotting horse” in Swedish!) - the famous botanist Carl von Linnaeus had one like it.

The Library at Skokloster Castle is not included in the regular guided tour of the Castle, but group viewings can be arranged by appointment. Researchers and students may also visit the Library by appointment. All the books have been catalogued since Skokloster was acquired for the nation. In addition to book titles the catalogue also contains particulars on bindings, illustrations and previous owners. The catalogue is currently being made accessible online via the national Libris book database.