Trade was the reason
Trade was the reason that the city of Borås was founded. Already in the 15th century, peasants in the region extended their income by selling handicraft, which was then mainly wrought iron and woodwork. They travelled through large parts of the country to sell their goods.
This was prohibited, though. The law ruled that all trade should be within the borders of a city. The reason for this was to give income to the Crown through customs at the gates to the cities. The itinerant merchants from the region therefore sometimes were reported to the authorities, and sometimes they were beaten up by people from the nearby cities.
Complaints to the king
In the spring of 1620, the peddling peasants sent representatives to the king to complain of how they were treated, and to ask permission to go on with their practice. But the king gave them an ultimatum: You shall cease your itinerary trade no later than by midsummer - if you want to go on trading you must found a city.
The peasants decided to found a city by the parish Torpa, around the church we today know as Caroli. By next summer, the representatives went back to the king to ask for a city charter. But the king was not at home, he was in Germany to get aquinted to Maria Eleonora of Brandenburg in order to arrange a matrimony.
A unique privilege
In time, the citizens of Borås got their charter. And they also got the unique right to go on with the itinerary trade, as long as the goods were cleared through the customs in Borås. This right gave Borås an excellent opportunity to develop as a commercial city.
During the last two centuries, Borås has been strongly associated with textile products. This originates from wealthy peasants who started a business by leaving wool from their sheep to women in the neighbourhood, to get it back as yarn and cloth. One of those who started out like this was Sven Erikson, who in 1834 started the first mechanical weaving mill in the country. The first weaving mill in the city of Borås started in 1858. And the peddlers soon prospered from selling cloth throughout the country.
The textile industry made Borås one of Sweden's fastest growing cities in the middle of the 20th century. Production of textiles and ready-made clothing employed two thirds of the industrial workers in Borås into the 1960s. During the years that followed thereafter, a crisis for this line of business meant a dramatic change for Borås.
Intense foreign trade
Borås' position today as a commercial city with a very intense foreign trade comes from the combination of merchants and producers of textile goods. Almost all large mail order companies in Sweden are situated in Borås, where you also find the head office of many Swedish agencies and chain stores trading with ready-made clothing.
Borås has been devastated by fire four times; in 1681, 1727, 1822 och 1827. Therefore, hardly any old houses are to be seen in the city. A typical way to build was caused by fire regulations after the last fire; a few of those houses remain. The street system is as it was when the city was founded, but some streets have been added or broaded for fire protection, others have partly disappeared under modern-day commercial buildings.
The borders of Borås have been changed four times. In 1920, the Torpa parish was incorporated. In the 1970s, municipal mergers were carried out twice; with Brämhult in 1971 and with Bollebygd, Dalsjöfors, Fristad, Sandhult and Viskafors in 1974. In 1995 Borås became a bit smaller when Bollebygd again became a municipality of its own.
Coat of arms
The coat of arms for the city of Borås has always been as described in the charter that king Gustav II Adolf signed May 25th, 1622: "...two wool scissors, one pointing downward, the other pointing upward".
501 80 Borås