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Eric of Pomerania KG (1381 or 1382 – 24 September 1459) was the ruler of the Kalmar Union from 1396 until 1439, succeeding his adoptive mother, Queen Margaret I. He is numbered Eric III as King of Norway (1389–1442), Eric VII as King of Denmark (1396–1439) and Eric XIII[a] as King of Sweden (1396–1434, 1436–39). Today, in all three countries he is more commonly known as Erik av Pommern.[b]

Eric of Pomerania
Eric VII the Pomeranian of Denmark (photo 2010) crop.jpg
King of Norway
Reign 1389–1442
(co-ruler until Margaret I's death 1412)
Coronation 1392 in Oslo
17 June 1397 in Kalmar
Predecessor Margaret I
Successor Christopher I
King of Denmark
Reign 1396–1439
(de facto from 1412)
Coronation 17 June 1397 in Kalmar
Predecessor Margaret I
Successor Christopher III
King of Sweden
Reign 1396–1439
(de facto from 1412)
Coronation 17 June 1397 in Kalmar
Predecessor Margaret I
Successor Christopher I
Regent Karl Knutsson (1438–40)
Born 1381/82
Rügenwalde, Pomerania
(now Darłowo, Poland)
Died 24 September 1459 (aged 76–78)
Darłowo Castle, Pomerania.
Burial Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Rügenwalde, Holy Roman Empire
(now Darłowo, Poland) [30]
Spouse Philippa of England
Cecilia (morganatic)
House House of Griffins
Father Wartislaw VII, Duke of Pomerania
Mother Mary of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Religion Roman Catholicism

Eric was ultimately deposed from all three kingdoms of the union, but in 1449 he inherited one of the partitions of the Duchy of Pomerania and ruled it as duke until his death.



Born Boguslaw, Eric was the son of Wartislaw VII, Duke of Pomerania and Maria of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. His paternal grandparents were Boguslaw V, Duke of Pomerania and his second wife, Adelheid of Brunswick-Grubenhagen. His maternal grandparents were Henry III, Duke of Mecklenburg and Ingeborg of Denmark. Their son, Albert of Mecklenburg was a rival of Olaf Haakonsson in regard to the Danish succession in 1375.

Ingeborg of Denmark was a daughter of Valdemar IV of Denmark and his Queen consort, Heilwig of Schleswig.

Claim to the throneEdit

A contemporary depiction of the king

Eric was born in 1382 in Rügenwalde (present Darłowo). Initially named Boguslaw, he was son to the only surviving grandson of Valdemar IV of Denmark and also a descendant of Magnus III of Sweden and Haakon V of Norway.

On 2 August 1387, Olav Håkonsson, King of Denmark since he was five years old and King of Norway since the death of his father, died unexpectedly at seventeen years of age. His mother the Dowager Queen of Norway had added the phrase "the true heir of Sweden" to Boguslaw's list of titles at his coronation. Boguslaw's claim to the Swedish throne came through his great-granduncle, Magnus IV of Sweden, who was forced to abdicate by the Swedish nobles. After the abdication, the Swedish nobles, led by Bo Jonsson (Grip), had invited Duke Albert of Mecklenburg to take the Swedish throne. However, when Albert attempted to introduce reduction of their large estates, they quickly turned against him. The nobles, including his former supporter Bo Jonsson Grip, Sweden's largest landowner who controlled a third of the entirety of the Swedish territory and had the largest non-royal wealth in the country, soon conspired to get rid of him, resenting his attempts to restrict the traditional privileges of the nobility, as well as his use of German officials to fill important administrative positions in the Swedish provinces.

The Rigsråd (Danish Thing) elected Queen Margaret as "all powerful lady and mistress and the Kingdom of Denmark's Regent". Just a year later, the Norwegians proclaimed Margaret the "reigning queen" and Albert of Sweden fought off an incursion from Norway. His respite was temporary — the Swedish nobility soon enlisted the Danish regent's help to remove Albert from the Swedish throne. In 1388, several of the Swedish nobles wrote secretly to Margaret telling her that if she could rid them of Albert, they would make her Regent. Margaret lost no time and sent an army into Sweden to attack Albert while the Swedish nobles raised their own army to drive him out of the country. In 1389, Albert's forces were defeated at the Battle of Falköping in Västergötland. Albert and his son Erik were captured when their horses became mired in mud so deep they could not escape. They were put into chains and sent by Queen Margaret to Scania, where Albert was imprisoned in Lindholmen Castle. It took until 1395 for Margaret to force Albert's supporters out of Stockholm. She made provisions for the three kingdoms in the event of her death. She wanted the kingdoms to be unified and peaceful and hence, chose the son of her father's surviving granddaughter, Boguslaw, to be named heir.

Young Boguslaw was the grandson of Margaret's sister. In 1389 he was brought to Denmark to be brought up by Queen Margaret. His name was changed to the more Nordic-sounding Erik. On 8 September 1389, he was hailed as King of Norway at the Ting in Trondheim. He may have been crowned King of Norway in Oslo in 1392, but this is disputed. In 1396 he was proclaimed as king in Denmark and then in Sweden. On 17 June 1397, he was crowned a king of the three Nordic countries in the cathedral of Kalmar. At the same time, a union treaty was drafted, declaring the establishment of what has become known as the Kalmar Union. Queen Margaret, however, remained the de facto ruler of the three kingdoms until her death in 1412.


Eric of Pomerania with Margaret I of Denmark at his coronation

In 1402, Queen Margaret entered into negotiations with King Henry IV of England about the possibility of an alliance between the Kingdom of England and the Nordic union. The proposal was for a double wedding, whereby, King Eric would marry King Henry's daughter, Philippa of England, and King Henry's son, the Prince of Wales and the future King Henry V, would marry King Eric's sister, Catherine of Pomerania.

The English side wanted these weddings to seal an offensive alliance between the Nordic kingdoms and England, which could have led to the involvement of the Nordic union on the English side in the ongoing Hundred Years' War against the Kingdom of France. Queen Margaret led a consistent foreign policy of not getting entangled in binding alliances and foreign wars. She therefore rejected the English proposals.[citation needed]

The double wedding did not come off, but King Eric's wedding to Philippa of England was successfully negotiated. On 26 October 1406, he married the 12-year-old Philippa in Lund. The wedding was accompanied by a purely defensive alliance with England.[1] After Philippa's death later in 1430, King Eric replaced her with her former lady-in-waiting, Cecilia, who became his royal mistress and later his morganatic spouse. The relationship was a public scandal and is mentioned in the royal council's official complaints about the King.[2]

King Eric was described by the future Pope Pius II as having "a beautiful body, reddish yellow hair, a ruddy face, and a long narrow neck … alone, without assistance, and without touching the stirrups, he jumped upon a horse, and all women were drawn to him, especially the Empress, in a feeling of longing for love".[3]


Royal seal of Eric of Pomerania (1398) depicting: (Centre): a lion rampant crowned maintaining an axe (representing Norway) within an inescutcheon upon a cross over all; Quarterly: in Dexter Chief, three lions passant in pale crowned and maintaining a Danebrog upon a semy of hearts (representing Denmark); in Sinister Chief: three crowns (representing Sweden or the Kalmar Union); in Dexter Base: a lion rampant (Folkung lion) (representing Sweden); and in Sinister Base: a griffin segreant to sinister (representing Pomerania).
Eric's grave at St. Mary's in Darlowo
Statue of Eric at Darłowo Castle

During the early period of his reign, King Eric made Copenhagen a royal possession in 1417, thereby assuring its status as the capital of Denmark. He also usurped the rights of Copenhagen Castle from the Bishop of Roskilde, and from then on, the castle was occupied by him.[4]

From contemporary sources, King Eric appears as intelligent, visionary, energetic, and a firm character. That he was also a charming and well-spoken man of the world was shown by his great European tour of the 1420s. Negatively, he seems to have had a hot temper, a lack of diplomatic sense, and an obstinacy that bordered on mulishness.

King Eric went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. After arriving there, he was dubbed Knight of the Holy Sepulchre by the Franciscan Custos of the Holy Land, and subsequently himself dubbed his pilgrim fellows, among them, Ivan Anz Frankopian.[5]

Almost the whole of King Eric’s sole rule was affected by his long-standing conflict with the Counts of Schauenburg and Holstein. He tried to regain South Jutland (Schleswig) which Queen Margaret had been winning, but he chose a policy of warfare instead of negotiations. The result was a devastating war that not only ended without conquests, but also led to the loss of the South Jutlandic areas that he had already obtained. During this war, he showed much energy and steadiness, but also a remarkable lack of adroitness. In 1424, a verdict of the Holy Roman Empire by Sigismund, King of Germany, recognising Eric as the legal ruler of South Jutland, was ignored by the Holsteiners. The long war was a strain on the Danish economy as well as on the unity of the north.

Perhaps King Eric's most far-ranging act was the introduction of the Sound Dues (Øresundtolden) in 1429, which was to last until 1857. It consisted of the payment of sound dues by all ships wishing to enter or leave the Baltic Sea passing through the Sound; to help enforce his demands, King Eric built Kronborg Castle, a powerful fortress at the narrowest point in the Sound.[6] This resulted in the control of all navigation through the Sound, and thus secured a large stable income for his kingdom that made it relatively rich, and which made the town of Elsinore flower. It showed his interest in Danish trade and naval power, but also permanently challenged the other Baltic powers, especially the Hanseatic cities against which he also fought. From 1426 to 1435, he was at war with the German Hanseatic League and Holstein. The Hanseats and Holsteiners attacked Copenhagen in 1428, and King Eric left the city while his wife Queen Philippa managed the defence of the capital.

During the 1430s, the policy of the King fell apart. In 1434, the farmers and mine workers of Sweden began a national and social rebellion which was soon used by the Swedish nobility in order to weaken the power of the King. King Eric had to yield to the demands of both the Holsteiners and the Hanseatic League. In Norway, a peasant rebellion, led by Amund Sigurdsson (1400–1465), rebelled against the King and his officials, besieging Oslo and Akershus Castle. When the Danish nobility opposed his rule and refused to ratify his choice of Bogislaw IX, Duke of Pomerania as the next King of Denmark, King Eric left Denmark in response and took up permanent residence at Visborg Castle (built by him) in Gotland, apparently as a kind of a “royal strike”, which led to his deposition by the National Councils of Denmark and Sweden in 1439. However, the Norwegian nobility remained loyal to the King, and in 1439, he gave Sigurd Jonsson the title of drottsete, under which he was to rule Norway in King Eric's name. But with the King isolated in Gotland, the Norwegian nobility also felt compelled to depose him in 1440.

For ten years, King Eric lived on Gotland and made his living by piracy against the merchant trade in the Baltic. Eventually, he returned to Pomerania, where he died on 14 September 1459.[7]

Duke of PomeraniaEdit

In 1440, King Eric, having been deposed in Denmark and Sweden, was succeeded by his nephew Christopher of Bavaria, who was chosen for the thrones of both Denmark and Sweden. After he had been deposed as king in Sweden and Denmark, the Norwegian Riksråd remained loyal to him, and wanted him to remain king of Norway only. He reputedly refused the offer. His nephew Christopher died in 1448, long before Eric himself.

The next monarch (reigned 1448–81) was Eric's kinsman, Christian of Oldenburg (the son of Eric's earlier rival, Count Theodoric of Oldenburg), who succeeded to the throne of Denmark, while Karl Knutsson Bonde succeeded to the throne of Sweden. Eric handed over Gotland to King Christian I in return for official permission to leave for Pomerania.

From 1449–59, Eric succeeded Bogislaw IX as Duke of Pomerania and ruled Pomerania-Rügenwalde, a small partition of the Duchy of Pomerania-Stolp (Polish: Księstwo Słupskie),[8] as "Eric I". He died in 1459 at Darłowo Castle (German: Rügenwalde Castle), and is buried in the Church of St. Mary's at Darłowo in Pomerania.[9]


Titles and stylesEdit

Eric's full title was: King of Denmark, Sweden and Norway, the Wends and the Goths, Duke of Pomerania[10]




  1. ^ Referring to Eric of Pomerania as King Eric XIII of Sweden — as on an 18th century monument in Landskrona stating that the town was founded by king Erik XIII in 1413 — is a later invention, counting backwards from Eric XIV (1560–68), who adopted his numeral according to a fictitious history of Sweden. Going back into prehistory, it is not known how many Swedish monarchs were named Eric before this one (at least six were).
  2. ^ Erik af Pommern in Denmark.


  1. ^ Erik af Pommern ca. 1382–1459 (Danmarkshistorien)
  2. ^ Higgins, Sofia Elizabeth (1885). Women of Europe in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Hurst and Blackett. pp. 169–171. 
  3. ^ Gyldendal og Politikens Danmarkshistorie, book 6, 1400–1500, by Troels Dahlerup
  4. ^ Lund, Hakon (1987). "Bind 1: Slotsholmen". In Bramsen, Bo. København, før og nu - og aldrig (in Danish). Copenhagen: Palle Fogtdal. ISBN 87-7807720-6. 
  5. ^ Fratris Felicis Fabri Evagatorium in Terrae sanctae, Arabiae et Aegypti peregrinationem, Felix Fabri
  6. ^ Donnelly 1984, p. 328
  7. ^ Flemberg, Marie-Louise (2014). Filippa: engelsk prinsessa och nordisk unionsdrottning (in Swedish). Stockholm: Santérus. pp. 341 & 434. ISBN 978-91-7359-072-3. LIBRIS 14835548. 
  8. ^ The Encyclopedia Americana. Grolier Inc. 1999.
  9. ^ Erik 7. af Pommern (Danmarks historie)
  10. ^ Diplomatarium Norvegicum

Other sourcesEdit

  • Haug, Eldbjørg (2000), Margrete – den siste dronning i Sverreætten (Oslo: Cappelen) ISBN 82-02-17642-5

External linksEdit

  Media related to Eric of Pomerania at Wikimedia Commons

Eric of Pomerania
Born: circa 1382 Died: 3 May 1459
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Margaret I
King of Norway
with Margaret I (1389–1412)
Succeeded by
Christopher (III)
King of Denmark
with Margaret I (1396–1412)
King of Sweden
with Margaret I (1396–1412)
Vacant King of Sweden
Regency held by
Karl Knutsson
Regency held by
Karl Knutsson
King of Sweden
Regency held by
Karl Knutsson
Title next held by
Preceded by
Bogislaw IX
Duke of Pomerania-Stolp
Succeeded by
Eric II