Fullerö is a Swedish estate steeped in history. The oldest known mentioning of Fullerö comes from a deed signed by King Magnus III (Ladulås) in 1277. In the middle of the 15th century the Fullerö estate was given to Västerås Cathedral by Marshal of the Realm Sten Pedersson Stierna. Like many other Swedish estates it became the ownership of the King in the Great Reduction initiated in the 1520s.
Shortly thereafter, King Gustav Vasa traded it to the Tott family and in just a few years it passed through the families Bååt, Oxenstierna and finally came to Mårten Gavelius who was ennobled Cronstedt in 1686. Mårten did not have any children so his step-son Jacob Olderman Cronstedt inherited it. In 1739, Jacob Cronstedt and his wife Margaretha Beata Grundel together established Fullerö as a fideikommiss (see more below).
Jacob was replaced by his son Carl Johan Cronstedt, architect, inventor and and President of Kammarkollegiet. Both Carl Johan and his son Fredrik Adolf Ulrik made large contributions to the fideikommiss in the form of book collections, art and furniture from their travels to France and Italy. Because of the restrictions in the fideikommiss, the estate has passed more or less intact through the centuries. Today, it is under the care of Carl Johan Cronstedt.
The palace itself was built in 1656 by Erik Oxenstierna who commissioned the architect Jean de la Vallée. He later made the drawings for the The House of Nobility in Stockholm which was completed in 1674 and bears a striking resemblance to Fullerö. The Fullerö palace is made of wood and is said to be one of the most beautiful wooden buildings in Sweden.
The interior includes large collections of important Swedish furniture, paintings and items from Georg Haupt, Johan Tobias Sergel, David Klörker Ehrenstrahl and others. Parts of the collection from the first Carl Johan Cronstedt can today be enjoyed at the National Museum in Stockholm and many of the historically important books from Fullerö’s library have been transferred to Uppsala University.
The Swedish word fideikommiss (entail, estate in tail or fee tail in English) comes from the Latin term “in fidem“, meaning “in trust“. Simplified, this means that a property is received in exchange for the obligation to transfer it to the next generation in the same or better condition. The owner, or rather the tenant in tail, is not allowed sell any land, buildings or inventories listed in the fideikommiss. The assets in the fideikommiss are also not allowed to be used as security for loans. In many ways a fideikommiss resembles a foundation. A fideikommiss is passed on in accordance with the rules that the founders set out in the charter (see below). In the case of Fullerö, the rules of the 1739 charter gave preference to the oldest son to be the next tenant in tail. The current tenant in tail, Carl Johan Cronstedt, has applied to the Swedish Fideikommiss Board to change the charter rules and give women and men equal rights when passing the fideikommiss to the next generation.
In 1963 the Swedish Parliament passed a law intended to abolish fideikommiss in Sweden over time, but simultaneously gave the Swedish government the right to extend certain fideikommiss of “profound cultural importance”. In 1995, the government decided to prolong Fullerö as a fideikommiss based on the national interest to preserve the cultural heritage at Fullerö with the following motivation (translated from Swedish):
“The Fullerö estate, which is the prominent architect Carl Johan Cronstedt’s ancestral farm in the Age of Liberty, constitutes one of our country’s most important cultural environments. The estate’s great cultural values include the buildings and the park, as well as furniture, libraries and archives. The surrounding cultural landscape also has a value of national interest. The fideikommiss in question has been cared for and kept together for more than 250 years. It must be considered to have exceptional cultural-historical value and should therefore not be dispersed.“