November 30 In Swedish History
1495: The "Viborgska smällen" (the Vyborg bang or the Vyborg explosion) takes place. Viborg (or Vyborg in English) is a city currently situated in Russia, near the Gulf of Finland. It was founded in 1293 when the Swedish marshal Torgils Knutsson let build a castle during the so-called “Third Swedish Crusade”. This castle was then fought over for decades between Sweden and the Republic of Novgorod.
The “Viborgska smällen” is an incident that supposedly took place during the end of the Russian siege. Its memory has survived in Finnish as well as Russian folklore, and a contemporary poem narrates the story of the blast.
The defense of Viborg was led by its castellan, Swedish general Knut Posse. Russian invaders were just about to conquer the town, when Knut Posse caused the “smäll” or blast, with some sort of exploding mixture. Some stories allege that the phenomenon was a figure shown against the sky depicting an X-formed cross of St. Andrew.
There are different opinions of the historicity and the real events of this phenomenon. There were only a couple of thousands soldiers on the Swedish side and defenders attempted to recruit peasants to add to their number. The first Russian attacks were successfully repelled, but in late November, the Russians attacked with all their forces. The battle seemed lost. The attackers had succeeded in reaching tops of walls and several towers were in their power. After that, something happened which caused Russians to retreat. The Russians are said to have fled believing Posse was in alliance with the devil. However, contemporary letters written by Posse feature no information about any blast at all.