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John II of Svealand (The Kalmar Union)

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John II
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John II
King of Svealand
Reign 1221 - April 1256
Predecessor Karin
Successor Cnut II Jansen
Spouse Benedikte of Ymseborg
Issue Richeza Jansdotter

Cnut II Jansen

Full name
John Valdemarsen
House Rugia
Father Valdemar of Viken
Mother Karin Knutsdotter
Born 1216
Birka, Svealand
Died April 1256
Uppsala, Svealand

John II was the first Svealandic monarch from the Rugian dynasty. His reign, blighted by a long period of minority, would be a long struggle to recapture central authority from the local Svealandic lords.

Born in 1216 to Karin, Queen regent of Svealand and her Vikene husband Valdemar, John was only five years old when he mother died. He was quickly accepted by the Svealandic nobles as the rightful heir as the only other legitimate descendants of Eric VI were girls little older than he was. Karin had left a behind a relatively stable state with the beginnings of its future Finnish territories developing on the eastern shore of the Baltic, however Valdemar felt his position was unsure and looked for military glory to help cement his regency over John.

In 1222 the Danes had handed the whole of the Estonian island of Saaremaa over to the Bishop of Osel, rather than be forced to defend it from attacks from the Teutonic Knights. Venal and arguing they were pagans, the bishop wasted no time at all in taxing his new subjects to the hilt, resulting in an almost predictable rebellion whose leadership loudly and not entirely convincingly proclaimed their Christianity and petitioned the pope to become a papal fief. Thrown off the island the Bishop called for support against 'the pagans' finding support from Valdemar. Convinced this would be his ticket to win over the Svealanders, and hoping the island would be a beachhead for further glory in Livonia and perhaps Novgorod, he quickly raised an army and invaded Saaremaa. The operation was a disaster. The native Saamarese, though relatively few in number were well defended and Valdemar's desperate attacks culminated in the Battle of Leisi where the Svealanders were driven back to their boats.

Valdemar found a hostile welcome back in Svealand and revolt in 1223 forced him out of the country and he would soon after. The lords reaffirmed their allegiance to the seven year old John however and for the next fourteen years Svealand was effectively ruled by a succession of regents, most of whom were deliberately kept weak and toothless by the other lords so they could get on with the business of making themselves richer and more powerful. Finally in 1237 John took the full reigns of government for himself. Militarily weak he slowly built a reputation through good judgment and tact. In partnership with his grandfather Wizlaw I of Viken the two kings cleared the Baltic of pirates, greatly improving the trading potential of the sea and this too added to his prestige.

Eventually, with Vikene help he was able to face down his most strident critics and grabbed true power back for himself. The last decade of his life remained peaceful, with attention finally returning back to Finland to develop and expand the territory.

Dying in 1256 he would be succeeded by his son Cnut.

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