|Christopher II (Christopher I in Anglia)|
|King of Denmark|
|Reign||15th May, 1509 - 28th April, 1535|
|King of Svealand and Viken|
|Reign||15th May, 1509 - 28th April, 1535|
|King of Anglia|
|Reign||15th May, 1509 - 20th June, 1517|
|Spouse|| Inger Bille|
Elizabeth of Bavaria-Straubing
|Mother||Maria of Anhalt|
|Born|| 3rd September, 1473 |
|Died|| 28th April, 1535 |
Oslo, Viken, Denmark
Christopher II ruled over Denmark, Svealand and, for a time, was the titular King of Anglia. His reign is chiefly remembered for the triumph of the Reformation in Denmark and Scandinavia however mostly he presided over a slow shrinkage of the lands under his rule.
The eldest son of Eric IX and Maria of Anhalt, Christopher was born in 1473. Widely renowned as a chivalrous and handsome prince he commanded parts of the Danish army in the Low Countries during the War of Anglian Succession. He was thrown from his horse at Nijkerk in 1503, an incident which left him with a pronounced limp and which may explain his later health issues.
He would succeed his father in 1509 receiving the crowns of Denmark, Viken and Svealand. Eric IX had also ruled Anglia, not without dissent from some of the Anglian lords. Some of them wished that the Luxembourg Emperor should take the throne, however Anglia's regent, Anna of Norfolk, won over the Witenage for Christopher's cause, rooting out several 'traitorous nobles'. Christopher was crowned king in absentia and he would never set foot in Anglia itself. But it was soon abundantly clear that Denmark simply could not continue the war. Not only was its treasury almost empty but Christopher's territory was beginning to fray around the edges. Although more of a political realist than his father he still clung to the belief that all that he needed was enough money to recapture Flanders and that this would force an end to the war.
Actually raising this money was a different matter and plans to raise a general taxation across his lands only provoked unrest. In Anglia, the loss of the Low Countries had ruined the kingdom's finances anyway and Anna and its Witenage was largely allowed to maintain their own accounts. In Svealand the mere hint of increased taxation caused the rebellion which had bubbled under during Eric IX's reign to finally surface and Christopher was quickly forced to abandon plans, not only for taxes but also the transfer of Svealandic troops to the continent. From 1510 onwards Christopher's rule there was technical rather than actual, his preferred ministers locked out of the Svealandic Riksdag (often physically), though Finland stayed more or less loyal. Gothenland for so long a formidable player in battles with the Bohemian army in Brandenburg, Sorbia and the approaches to Prague, would redirect some of its energies to restore Danish authority in Svealand, with inevitable damage to the Kalmar position in central Europe.
All this only put even more pressure on the Danish treasury. To plug the gap Christopher would even briefly consider selling Estonia to Novgorod or Livonia, but the duchy, officially Danish and governed by a branch of the Estridsson family, was thought too important to Denmark's sphere to lose. Duke Christian I, himself having fought in Brandenburg and the Bohemian hills, managed to raise a large tax on the duchy's dairy exports which was used to pay for Livonian mercenaries, shoring up Pomerania and Brandenburg for a year or two.
Elsewhere, the Norwegian territories were restless. Lade had been governed by Denmark since the 1280s yet the kings tended to use it as a source of funds and boats rather than developing its own native wealth. Indeed Denmark largely usurped all of Lade's cross-Atlantic shipping routes, along with its primacy over the Norwegian church, leaving Trondheim/Nidaros to become poor and isolated. In 1512 its lords rose in revolt joining forces with Sami chiefs in Lapland, and also some disaffected Svealanders in the sparsely inhabited interior. The rebellion, much more unified and focused than the Svealandic revolt, had adopted tactics from the Swiss (its rough army was led by Håkon Solemdal who had served in the Icelandic Mercenary Company in Italia) and soon proved itself superior to the under-strength Kalmar forces sent against it, often fighting in deep snow along narrow passes. The struggle for independence would take eleven years but after the Battle of Ornskoldsvik in 1523 Christopher recognised there were other areas he could better focus his attentions. The Peace of Gavle abolished the Earldom of Lade and Denmark's rule, replacing it with a noble republic, at first focused on the Trondheim area but soon embracing much of the northern half of the peninsula.
Viken would also rebel but being closer to Denmark found it had less room for manoeuvre. The rebellion did not call for independence however and merely concerned itself with protests against taxes. The independent kingdom of Hordaland meanwhile was taking advantage of the war to further its own interests. It had already used Wessex's war against Anglia as cover to further entrench itself in Ireland and gain overlordship over the Faroes. In 1510 it sought to repeat the trick and take control of Iceland. This would provoke reaction from Vinland and eventually Olaf VII would be forced to accept Iceland's independence and pay a humiliating homage to Christopher, pledging Hordaland's army for use in Europe.
In June 1517 Christopher finally conceded he would never have the resources to secure Anglia and the Low Countries and renounced the throne. The revolt of most of Scandinavia had shaken him and instead of concentrating on the unwinnable war abroad looked to secure his own lands. Anna of Norfolk would die soon after this renunciation and under her son, William the crown would be passed to John III of Luxembourg. The war between Luxembourg and Anglia, now allied against France, Bavaria and Wessex continued, but now Christopher could concentrate on other matters. As it proved, the position in Lade would be irretrievable and Svealand was looking problematic. However the Svealandic rebellion was not unified and by 1523, ironically when it probably had the best chance to finally rid itself of all Danish influence, it had fallen into a poisonous civil war between various noble houses. Christopher duly took the initiative and re-entered Svealand with a large army, reinstalling Danish authority. Christopher was careful not to react against the nobles too harshly, a policy which at least gave him some breathing room. A second rebellion in 1533 was crushed with the help of Lade.
With his authority improving Christopher could look back at domestic politics, a sphere almost put on ice while the War of Anglian Succession had been waged. But again one subject above all would overshadow this. Spreading northwards from Germany were powerful new strains of religious thought challenging the catholic establishment and rapidly gathering adherents. Christopher was initially vehemently against the Lutheran ideas however the issue of taxing church lands earlier in his reign had caused a prolonged argument with Rome, wherein Christopher exercised his power to install his own men in various church positions. This had already given an initial impetus to a 'break' with Rome.
While his kingdoms were contested any embrace of the new religion may have made his job harder but with his position now more assured Christopher felt able to grant protection and support to the Lutherans. Money troubles are often laid as the real reason behind this apparent sudden conversion and his ministers made powerful arguments to convince him of its expediency and necessity. As it was, whilst he did not convert, after 1528 he made sure Lutheranism was given ample opportunity, and equality, within Denmark, Viken and Svealand. Catholic churches were forced to share their spaces with the Protestants and he sponsored Danish and Svealandic translations of the Bible. By 1530 he was closing down the Danish and Vikene monasteries, dispensing with the lands and filling his coffers. This of course provoked a reaction from Rome but the already strained relations, and a growing Lutheran bloc in Germany, meant Christopher was able to shrug off the threats.
Christopher died in 1535, reportedly severely obese and his health having been in decline for several years. Denmark, Viken and Svealand would be inherited by his only legitimate surviving son Eric.
Christopher married Inger Bille, the daughter of a Danish nobleman, in 1491 and they had three children:
- Hans (1493-1530)
- Katherina (1495-1554)
- John (1496)
After Inger died giving birth to John, Christopher would marry Elizabeth of Bavaria-Straubing in 1500. They had one child:
- Eric X (1501-1551)
Finally in 1516 Christopher would marry a Danish commoner, Sigrid Wedell, whom had probably been his mistress for at least a decade. They would have three acknowledged children but none were born after their marriage.
|Ancestors of Christopher II of Denmark (The Kalmar Union)|