Annika Åqvist lived during the 1700s and was one of the first women to be thoroughly interrogated under suspicion of being an insurgent in Sweden. It is however not clear exactly how she was involved in insurrectionary activities.
Annika Åqvist was probably born sometime around 1700. Not much is known about her life before her marriage to Olof Åqvist. Together they ran a well-to-do farm in Bro parish in Roslagen. It had the duty of providing a soldier and arms for the king in times of war. Her husband was politically active, and among other things collected applications and supplications to the authorities from other parishioners. These he took to Stockholm where they were handed over to a contact among the farmers’ representatives in parliament. It is not clear how much Annika Åqvist was involved in the political points at issue; according to herself, she could neither read nor write, and never listened when her husband had such visitors. Sometimes, her husband and his visitor even withdrew to discuss some matter or other.
After Queen Ulrika Eleonora the Younger had died childless in 1741, and King Fredrik I was therefore without an heir, Olof Åqvist took the side of the Danish crown prince Fredrik. The king and his council on the other hand chose the Swedish prince Adolf Fredrik as the heir, which aroused opposition among the farmers all around the country and was also the cause of the Dala uprising in 1743. Olof Åqvist sympathised with the insurgents and decided to join them, but heard at the last minute that they had been violently decimated by soldiers. After a description had been sent out of him as a wanted insurgent, he decided the flee to Hamburg, and at Christmas in 1743 he wrote a letter to Annika Åqvist begging her to follow him there.
Annika Åqvist left her home on 25 January 1744, aiming for Helsingborg, there to cross the sound to Denmark and thence travel on to Hamburg. With her the journey she had her maidservant, Margareta, her three children and a hired soldier, Henrik Håkman, who was there to protect them. She travelled under another name – Annika Dahlman – to avoid suspicion. The journey went first to Stockholm, where she failed to acquire a passport, and then across the ice on Lake Mälaren to Arboga. Thereafter they travelled south to Örebro, Eksjö, Växjö and finally Helsingborg.
The authorities in Helsingborg decided to arrest Annika Åqvist since it was discovered that she was Olof Åqvist’s wife. During the period February until June 1744 she was kept under arrest and interrogated repeatedly as a suspected insurgent. The protocol from the interrogations provides good insights into the aspirations of the early-modern state to control its citizens. However, the interrogations did not succeed in determining whether or not Annika Åqvist had been involved in her husband’s insurrectionary activities. She herself persisted in denying everything but was also caught out with several lies during the course of the interrogations.
After the interrogations had been concluded, Annika Åqvist was sent back to their farm in Bro parish. Nothing is known about what happened to her or her children afterwards.