Christina of Denmark, Queen of Sweden

Christina of Denmark (Danish: Kirstine Bjørnsdatter, Swedish: Kristina Björnsdotter; c. 1120/25 – c. 1160/70), was Queen of Sweden as the wife of King Eric "IX" (r. 1156–1160), and the mother of King Canute I of Sweden.

Queen consort of Sweden
Bornc. 1120/25
Diedc. 1160/70
SpouseEric IX of Sweden
IssueCanute I of Sweden
Filip Eriksson
Catherine Eriksdotter
Margaret, Queen of Norway
Christina Björnsdotter
FatherBjörn Haraldsen Ironside
MotherCatherine of Sweden
ReligionRoman Catholicism


According to the Knýtlinga saga, Christina was the daughter of Bjørn Haraldsen Ironside, son of the Danish prince Harald Kesja, and his consort, the Swedish princess Katarina Ingesdotter, daughter of King Inge I of Sweden. It has been calculated that she was born no earlier than c. 1122, which fits with the approximate birthdate of her future husband Eric (c. 1120–25).[1] She was made fatherless in 1134, when her father Prince Björn was murdered by order of his uncle, King Eric II of Denmark. Her sole surviving close relative, Björn's brother Oluf Haraldsen, sought assistance in Sweden and was able to set himself up as king in Skåne in 1140–1143.[2]

In about the same time Christina married in Sweden with a man of non-royal origins, Eric Jedvardsson, later known as Eric the Saint. He probably came from the province of Västergötland which bordered to Denmark.[3] Since their son Canute was betrothed by 1160, the marriage of Christina and Eric probably took place in the early 1140s.[4] The marriage gave Eric the means to claim the Swedish throne; the House of Stenkil, to which Christina belonged on her mother's side, became extinct in the male line in the 1120s. The new king Sverker I did not have royal forebears. According to later tradition, Eric took royal titles in 1150.[5] Six years later, he became king after the assassination of Sverker, and Christina became the Queen of Sweden. Her queenship probably lasted for four years, from 1156 to 1160.


Queen Christina became notable for her conflict with Varnhem Abbey, Västergötland. She was in dispute with the monks about the ownership to the land upon which the convent had been founded, as she considered it as an inheritance after her relative, lady Sigrid. She is claimed to have harassed the monks: a chronicle accuses her of sending women into the convent to dance naked before the monks.[6] This forced the monks to leave the country and seek refuge in Denmark, where they founded Vitskøl Abbey (1158), a conflict for which the pope contemplated to have her excommunicated. After this, however, Christina and Eric became increasingly well-disposed to the Varnhem monks, who were able to return and reorganize monastic life.[4]

Later lifeEdit

There is no explicit mention of Queen Christina after the events in c. 1158. If still alive, she was widowed at the murder of the King outside the cathedral in Uppsala in 1160. Her son and his followers may have fled with Christina, with the crowned head of her husband in their possession.[7] Perhaps she spent the following years in Denmark where her kinsman Valdemar the Great ruled.

In 1167, her son was made King as Canute I. He promoted the veneration of Eric as a saint. It has been guessed that Queen Dowager Christina died in the beginning of Canute's reign, around 1170,[8] but neither the date of her birth or death is actually known.


  1. Canute I of Sweden, King of Sweden 1167–1196.
  2. Filip Eriksson [sv]
  3. Katarina Eriksdotter, married to Nils Blake.
  4. Margareta Eriksdotter, married in 1185 Sverre I of Norway, died in 1202.


  1. ^ Natanael Beckman, "Kungagravar och medeltidshistoria", Fornvännen 1921, p. 31,
  2. ^ Hans Olrik, "Oluf (Haraldsen)", Dansk Biografisk Leksikon, pp. 426-7
  3. ^ Sabine Sten et al., "Erik den heliges skelett", Fornvännen 111, 2016, p. 28, 33
  4. ^ a b Hans Gillingstam, "Kristina", Svenskt biografiskt lexikon
  5. ^ A.M. Strinnholm, Svenska folkrts historia, Vol. IV. Stockholm: Hörbergska Boktryckeriet, 1852, p. 120
  6. ^ Christer Öhman (Swedish): Helgon, bönder och krigare. Berättelser ur den svenska historien (Saints, farmers and warriors. Stories from the history of Sweden)
  7. ^ Sveriges hundra konungar. Stockholm: Biblioteksförlaget, 1956, p. 146.
  8. ^ Åke Ohlmarks, Alla Sveriges drottningar. Stockholm: Gebers, 1973, p. 44.


  • Hagerman, Maja, Spåren av kungens män (Traces after the King's men). Rabén Prisma (1996). ISBN 91-518-2927-4
  • Nationalencyklopedin, Bokförlaget Bra Böcker AB, Höganäs (1992)
  • Nordisk familjebok
  • Åke Ohlmarks: Alla Sveriges drottningar (All the queens of Sweden). Stockholm: Gebers (1973).
  • Christer Öhman: "Helgon, bönder och krigare. Berättelser ur den svenska historien" (Saints, peasants and warriors. Stories from the Swedish history) (1994).
Christina of Denmark, Queen of Sweden
Born: 1120s Died: 1170
Swedish royalty
Preceded by Queen consort of Sweden
Succeeded by