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Harald IV of Denmark (The Kalmar Union)

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Harald IV Kesja
Harald IV Denmark (The Kalmar Union).png
Harald IV Kesja
King of Denmark
Reign 10th July, 1103 - 3rd March, 1135
Predecessor Eric I
Successor Bjorn I
Spouse Ragnhild Magnusdotter
Issue Bjorn I Haraldsen

Eric Haraldsen
Magnus Haraldsen
Olaf Haraldsen

Full name
Harald Eriksen
House Estridsson
Born 1080
Died 3rd March, 1135

The illegitimate but of age son of Eric I Harald Kesja, the Spear, was chosen as regent when his father controversially left Denmark to go on pilgrimage to the freshly liberated Holy Land.

Although respected as a fine warlord his regency was controversial due to his rapacious attitude to his kingdom. His debauched antics and plundering of his own subjects made him several enemies and it seemed clear to the nobility he was a liability and should be removed. Fate however intervened.

In 1103 news filtered back to Harald of his father's death in Cyprus. His uncle Niels I of Viken took the opportunity to invade Denmark. Harald however had anticipated the move and mustering his forces beat Niels on the battlefield. A peace deal hammered to at the Flemish court later in the year ensured no Estridsson-ruled kingdom would go to war against the other. This meant the nobles could no longer rely on foreign members of the Estridsons to intervene and so they fermented revolt.

From 1104 to 1112 Harald spent his reign putting down revolts and carefully extracting promises from his magnates. This however made him a more calm and just king, finding that diplomacy was often better than blindly lashing out. His power base was in Scania however and it appears the nobles of Jutland had little time for him, often preferring the counsel of Harald's half-brother Cnut Lavard. Certain nobles wished to place Cnut on the throne instead however Cnut remained unwaveringly loyal.

Harald would spend much of his reign attempting to get his father canonized, unsuccessful during his own lifetime, and fending off the advances of the Slavic kingdoms of the Baltic. Whereas his predecessors would campaign on the continent, in Pomerania or Wendland, Harald was often forced to fight them on Danish soil. It would be during such an attack on Roskilde that Harald would inconveniently die. His supporters quickly elected his son Bjorn I whilst others rallied to the side of Cnut. Civil war was not far behind.

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