Printz, Johan Björnsson (yōˈhän byörnˈsōn prĭnts) [key], 1592–1663, colonial governor of New Sweden, b. Bottnaryd, Sweden. After serving as a mercenary in the armies of various European princes, he obtained a post in the Swedish army (1625) and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. After his defeat (1640) at Chemnitz in the Thirty Years War, Printz was court-martialed but exonerated; subsequently he was made governor of New Sweden, for which he sailed in 1643. He landed near the present city of Wilmington, Del., explored the territory, built forts, assigned land to settlers for farming, established trade relations with the Native Americans, the English, and the Dutch, and upheld Swedish claims to the land. However, continued Swedish disinterest in the colony and the alleged harshness of his rule brought Printz's resignation and return to Sweden (1653).
See biography by A. Johnson (1930, repr. 1969).