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|John I Knutsson|
|John I Knutsson|
|King of Svealand|
|Reign||1196 - 1212|
|Spouse|| Helena Stigsdotter|
John I was the eldest son of Cnut I and successfully maintained Svealand's independence from Gothenland. However his lack of direct heirs would ultimately plunge the kingdom into a long protracted civil war.
Born in 1163, to Cnut I and his first wife Cecilia, John would succeed his father in 1196 in the first peaceful succession in Svealand for 80 years. Remembering his murdered grandfather John would spend much of his reign trying to get him canonized but to little effect. Although he extended various rights and laws to the church the official clerical line was that John and his entire family were usurpers. The papacy openly supported Gothenland's Sverker dynasty as the rightful rulers of Svealand and of course shut down any attempt to have a sainthood conferred on the dynasty's founder.
In 1208 John finally faced the threat he had spent much of his life expecting; invasion from Gothenland. John would meet Sverker II at the Battle of Lena. Sverker II had the support of not only the church but the Danish king Magnus II. Despite this John proved victorious, and would do so again in 1210, this time against Sverker's son Karl II at the Battle of Tidan.
Although he had saved Svealand from being annexed by Gothenland, permanently as it turned out, John was unable to produce an heir. His two wives, both daughters of prominent Svealandic nobles died in childbirth and the only surviving child died a week after the victory at Tidan. When John died of fever in 1212 with the succession still not decided the magnates took matters into their own hands therefore and elected John's sister Karin, the only remaining direct heir of Eric VI as queen.