Alternate History

Eric VII of Svealand (The Kalmar Union)

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Eric VII
Eric VII Svea (The Kalmar Union).png
Eric VII/I
King of Svealand
Reign March 1261 - 8th March, 1267
Predecessor Cnut II
Successor John III
King of Finland (as Eric I)
Reign 8th March 1267 - 14th August, 1282
Successor Eric II
Spouse Ingrid
Issue Eric II


Full name
Eric Ericsson
House Eric
Father Eric Minnesköld
Mother Katarina Eriksdotter
Born 1241
Stockholm, Svealand
Died 14th August, 1282
Åbo (Turku), Finland

Eric VII was the first casualty of the civil war between the three distaff branches of the Svealandic House of Eric†. Losing his throne he would nevertheless successfully build a rival realm in Finland.

As Cnut II's health deteriorated followed his defeat in battle in Gothenland it appears he had left the running of the Svealandic government in the hands of his cousin Eric. Cnut travelled to Finland to direct a war against the pagan Karelians but died before it could begin. Eric was elected king by a group of nobles close to Cnut, mostly those along the eastern coast, however his authority soon faltered. Eric was the grandson of Karin's second daughter Rikessa and had a cousin, John, who considered the throne rightfully his as the eldest living descendant of Karin. John soon picked up support from Svealand's south and west, and rebellion and outright civil war did not take long to break out.

John's campaign gathered pace and in 1269 Eric was defeated. Fleeing, he and his family escaped to Finland where he still enjoyed considerable support. The Svealandic realm was therefore divided; Eric ruling the Finnish lands from Åbo (Turku) and John attempting to control the Svealandic territories from Birka. John's rule soon ran into the same problems of authority and he would be kept considerably busy with revolt and dissention.

Reduced to Finland, which at this point was little more than the coast between Åbo (Turku) and Helsingfors (Helsinki), Eric skillfully turned the small duchy into a substantial kingdom, fending off John's attacks and even launching raids back, especially amongst the islands of Aland and Stockholm. Other parties were happy to exploit the civil war in Svealand too and both Saaremaa and Novgorod would ally with Eric to make trouble for John. Moreover Eric led several crusades into Karelia, extending Finland's, and Christianity's extent and influence to the north and east. This crusading zeal received papal recognition and Pope Gregory X, though not exactly endorsing him as the rightful king of Svealand, bestowed a separate crown on Eric. The actual crown ended up at the bottom of the Ligurian Sea after a storm shipwrecked the Pisan vessel it travelled in but the title was more than enough.

While he would ultimately fail in deposing John from the Svealandic throne Eric left behind a much extended Finland, expanding it from the compact Duchy to incorporate Nyland, Tavastland and Satakunda. Eric would die in 1282 and was succeeded in Finland by his son Eric.

†Descended from Karin's three daughters Catherine, Rikessa and Ingeborg, technically they were distaff branches of the House of Eric but emphasised their connections, as opposed to any potential Vikene claimants.

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