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Elizabeth of Viken (The Kalmar Union)

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Elizabeth of Viken
Elizabeth Viken (The Kalmar Union).png
Elizabeth of Viken
Queen of Viken and Svealand, High Queen of Norway
Reign 3rd May 1424 - 16th November 1443
Predecessor Wizlaw IV
Successor Eric VIII
Regent of Denmark, Duchess of Lade, Estonia, Pomerania and Finland
Reign 4th October 1426 - 1st August 1431
Predecessor Eric VII
Successor Eric VIII
Spouse Eric VII
Issue Eric VIII
Full name
Elizabeth Wizlawsdotter
House Rugia
Father Wizlaw IV
Mother Matilda of Brunswick
Born 18th April 1400
Oslo, Viken
Died 16th November 1443
Stralsund, Rugia

Elizabeth of Viken was the sole surviving legitimate grandchild of Olaf III the Great. Her marriage to the future Eric VII of Denmark would spur the union of their two inheritances; building a 'Greater Denmark', the Kalmar Union and, ultimately, Danish domination of Northern Europe.

Born in Arkerhus castle in Oslo in 1400 she spent most of her childhood at the Imperial court as a guest of Emperor Charles IV, sometimes at Magdeburg or Frankfurt but often at Prague which effectively acted as the Luxembourgs' capital. Betrothed at an early age to the future Sigismund I, Vikene and Svealandic lords became less enthusiastic about the match as it became increasingly apparent Wizlaw IV would not sire a male heir. Elizabeth was recalled to Oslo and a suitor closer to home sought out. The Svealandic lords were eager to marry her into one of their families, the Viken-Rugian lords happy to see a Pomersk or Polish match. Eventually in 1421 she was married to the heir to Denmark, Prince Erik.

On the death of Wizlaw IV in 1424 Elizabeth inherited the Vikene lands and, although resident in Odense, took a great deal of interest in her domain. Her careful balance of the interests of the competing nations would stand her in good stead for future events although she would have to put down a Finnish revolt only a month into her reign. A modest reform of Svealand's currency and patronage of several Viken and Svealandic ecclesiastic properties kept her in the lords' good books even though she was personally distant. The rule of her favoured marshals kept the lords on a tight leash however and their scope for independent actions was slowly limited.

Eric VII Den (The Kalmar Union)

Elizabeth's husband, Eric VII

In 1426 Erik succeeded to the Danish throne as Eric VII. Only a week later the desired heir was finally produced: Erik of Rugia. The lords perhaps thought that the domains would be split between the heirs as they came of age but it was not to be. Disaster struck with Eric VII's death after only three month's rule. There were to be no more heirs.

The Danish lords, faced with renewal of war in the south with the Empire had no desire for a period of potential ruinous instability and quickly proclaimed the infant Erik as Eric VIII. But Elizabeth was recognised as regent and she quickly grasped the reins of power in the Danish territories just as she had in the Vikene ones. She was Queen of Viken and Svealand, High Queen of Norway, Regent of Denmark, Duchess of Lade, Estonia, Pomerania and Finland. Her diplomacy put a quick end to the Imperial war and a policy of fortifying the Pomeranian and Schleswig border towns strengthened Danish grip on Northern Germany. Her rule was not unchallenged however. A huge peasant rebellion in Jutland in 1427 tested the allegiance of the Danes while the refusal to ratify several inheritances made her fall out of favour on more than one occasion. She largely abandoned the policies of her grandfather and father and attempted to limit the nations' selfish instincts rather than letting them do what they liked. Above all she tried to foster a union of the lands by choosing a personal council made up of trusted advisors from across her domains and pushing forward. Although some laws and policies were grudgingly accepted as sensible; such as preferential treatment for each other's vessels, a plan to amalgamate the Things of Viken and Svealand was a step too far.

Elizabeth-Eric Scandinavia

Elizabeth of Viken (blue) and Eric VII's (red) respective realms

Kalmar

Some of the lords had had enough of Elizabeth's policies of integration, generally disliking each other's interference in their own business and hoped a solution could be found to push her aside. The great lords from the scattered territories of Elizabeth's domains and their immediate neighbours forced her to negotiate and in Summer 1431 met at Kalmar in Gothenland. There they renounced all the various pretenders, acclaimed Eric VIII as the sole rightful heir and renewed their allegiance to Elizabeth. Meanwhile both Hordaland and Gothenland swore to uphold the union in return for guarantees for their own safety, accepting Eric as their overlord. Although the terms would be debated in time for now it meant Eric VIII was free to take the larger part of Scandinavia whilst Gothenland's interests in Prussia and Hordaland's in Britannia were underwritten by the Danish and Svealandic armies.

Elizabeth was gently pushed aside in Denmark for Eric VIII and her plans to align the laws and customs of her empire would never fully come to fruition. She continued to reign in her own inherited lands, however. This suited many (especially the Svealanders) who saw too much Danish influence in her actions.

Elizabeth died in 1443. Eric VIII tentatively toured Rugia, Svealand and Viken reinforcing the allegiance of his new lords and confirming the right for each portion to hold their own Things. A combined offensive against Hussites in Pomerelia sealed the alliance and the union of Danish and Vikene lands until the person of the Danish king would hold until they began to splinter during the War of Anglian Succession.

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