Gotland came under Swedish rule in 1288, Danish rule in 1361, Swedish in 1449, was "ravaged by constant wars" between them until 1526, which Denmark seems to have got the better of (conceded by Sweden in 1570), and finally passed to Sweden in 1658. Visby was a Hanseatic port.

The arms of the provinces (landskap) of Sweden date from the funeral of King Gustavus Vasa in 1560. Gotland, not yet ceded to Denmark, received a blue field with a Paschal lamb (a lamb carrying a flag). A Scandinavian cross flag, green upon yellow, has recently been proposed for Gotland, but not accepted.

As well as the island of Gotland, there is a region called Götaland in Sweden, south of Stockholm; the island of Gotland lies off its coast. The region includes two of the traditional provinces of Sweden, Östergötland and Västergötland. These names all seem to indicate that here, either on the mainland or on the island, perhaps both, was the original home of the Goths. At some unknown point before their first appearance in history they migrated to continental Europe, beginning at the mouth of the Vistula, before spreading widely.