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Eric II of Denmark (The Kalmar Union)

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Eric II
Eric II Den (The Kalmar Union).png
Eric II
King of Denmark
Reign 14th July, 1233 - 3rd October, 1252
Predecessor Magnus II
Successor Eric III
Spouse Matilda of Pomerelia
Issue Erik Eriksen

Christopher Eriksen
Katarina Eriksdotter
Marina Eriksdotter
Magnus Eriksen
Jutta Eriksdotter

Full name
Erik Magnussen
House Estridsson
Father Magnus II Valdemarsen
Mother Berengaria of Portugal
Born April 1218
Odense, Denmark
Died 3rd October, 1252
Verona, Italia

Eric II of Denmark had a troubled reign, and was severely hamstrung in his ability to reign effectively thanks to a long-running dispute with the church.

Eric's early reign was taken with attempting to expand the state's finances. The crusade against Estonia and continuing efforts there ate away at the treasury and Eric was steadfast in his resolve to replenish it. He would fight off two peasant revolts in 1235 and 1238 as a result of the stringent taxes he levied. However the second revolt may have involved the machinations of his brother Cnut. Accusations flew around and eventually Cnut was captured and executed To get himself out of the subsequent difficulties he found himself in he extended the powers of the Danehof in theory subordinating all economic decisions to the body's agreement. While Eric did not appear to defer to the chamber any more than his predecessors had, this seemed to keep Denmark peaceful for a few short years.

In 1241 as the Mongols bludgeoned their way into Central Europe Eric II was called upon by Henry II of Silesia to help defend his lands. Eric duly agreed and with Karl II of Gothenland journeyed southwards, confirming his friendship with the Duke of Sorbia who lent a force. With Krakow and Sandomierz falling by May Henry II and his allies were all that stood between the Mongols and Hungary. The alliance was, predictably, defeated at the Battle of Legnica however Eric, Karl and Henry all escaped death. However the knowledge that a force of Teutonic Knights had approached but not joined the battle earned Eric II's permanent hatred of the order. The Mongols soon passed into Hungary. Danish troops would subsequently assist Henry II in securing devastated Southern Poland under his rule. The two men became firm friends and Henry promised Denmark Poland's full assistance in future dealings with the Empire. He also offered his daughter Elizabeth as a potential bride to Prince Eric (the future Eric III) but Eric thought her too young†, and anyway, still held out for an imperial marriage.

Eric had left his young son Prince Eric as his regent but returned to find the kingdom in disarray. The church, and specifically the Archbishop of Lund, Jakob Vormordsen, had taken the opportunity to renege on their taxes, arguing they were immune from them. Eric raised an army and forcibly took various bits of property from the bishoprics to pay for what they had withheld. Vormordsen fled Denmark and would die soon after in Bremen. Eric then promoted Abel Vedel, a Holsteiner who had been at his court in Schleswig while he was duke. Assuming Vedel would now support him in his efforts to tame the church he would be sorely disappointed. Vedel received his palladium and then quickly upheld all of the church rights, refusing to pay taxes, and more besides; arguing that the crown had no jurisdiction over crimes committed by clergy either.

The two men argued throughout 1244 and eventually Vedel was thrown out of the kingdom. The threat of excommunication was dangled over Eric however and eventually Vedel was allowed to return to Lund and Eric paid homage to him. Though still at odds over taxes Eric felt confident enough to head to Estonia for further military action. He returned in 1246 to find once again Vedel had caused trouble, taking back all the church property Eric had taken earlier. Typically Eric II flew into a rage, demanding the head of Vedel. Two of his houseguard took the demand literally, tracking down to Lund cathedral and killing him as he was entering the cathedral. This caused outrage in the church and Eric was lucky not be lynched outright. To prevent the complete collapse of Demark Eric quickly took crusading orders, executed the murderers and kept a low profile, letting Prince Eric shoulder the burden of government. But still the issue refused to go away.

In 1250 he felt compelled to travel to Rome to put an end to the dispute. Donning the clothes of a penitent he was received by Innocent IV and forgiven. The threat of excommunicated was dropped On the return journey however Eric contracted Malaria and would die at Verona before he could cross the Brenner Pass over the Alps. Prince Eric would inherit the kingdom.

†She would go on to marry Przemysl I of Greater Poland becoming the mother of Przemysl II, the first king of the reconstructed Polish kingdom.

Family

Eric married Matilda of Pomerelia in 1234. They had six children:

  • Eric III (1235-1291), King of Denmark (1252-1291).
  • Christopher, (1236?)
  • Katherina (1237-1286), married Conrad of Anglia in 1256 and had one child, Matilda Conradsdotter.
  • Marina (1243-1280), married Duke Boleslaw III of Sorbia.
  • Magnus (1246-1260)
  • Jutta (1250-1253)

Ancestry

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