Alternate History

Wizlaw II of Viken (The Kalmar Union)

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Wizlaw II
Wizlaw II Viken (The Kalmar Union).png
Wizlaw II
King of Viken
Reign 1st August, 1260 - 14th March, 1302
Predecessor Jaromar
Successor Interregnum, then Wizlaw III
Prince of Rugia
Reign 1st August, 1260 - 14th March, 1302
Predecessor Jaromar II
Successor Sambor
Spouse Agnes of Bavaria
Issue Sambor

Wizlaw III

House Rugia
Father Jaromar
Mother Gundrada of Anglia
Born October 1251
Stralsund, Rugian Pomerania
Died 14th March, 1302
Oslo, Viken

Wizlaw II, sometimes know by his epithet, 'the Lucky', pushed at the limits of Viken's power, frequently bluffing his enemies into accepting a disadvantaged settlement in return for peaceable relations.

Inheriting a healthy treasury and trade balance from his father, Wizlaw was unafraid to challenge Denmark and as Rugia was technically Denmark's vassal, found plenty of opportunities to test the boundaries of the two crown's relationship.

In 1274 Denmark levied the first of the Sound Tolls to plug gaps in its own treasury. As virtually all of Viken's trade passed through the Øresund its traders complained and Viken skirted close to war. Wizlaw backed down on this occasion however, a considerable Danish army had arrived in Pomerania, nominally to campaign against the Duke of Mecklenberg but the veiled threat was there that it could easily be turned against Rugia. The following year however this army was decisively routed by William of Holland who sought to crush Danish interference in Germany once and for all. The booming Rugian port of Stralsund was captured and Rugia itself only held out thanks to timely arrival of the Vikene and Gothenlandic navies. The loss of Rugia's mainland possessions pushed Wizlaw into decisive action.

Unable to regain Stralsund by diplomatic entreaties to Emperor William he turned to prise compensation out of Eric III. Wizlaw raised an army, crossed Gothenland's narrow western point and invaded Scania. Some saw it as a act of desperation and in the long run Denmark's advantage in would surely win out. The two kings would meet at the so-called 'Battle' of Orust. An actual battle was avoided however after the intense diplomacy of the bishops of Aarhus and Hamar. The bluff had worked. Rugia would henceforth be a freely held principality, i.e. it no longer held fealty to Denmark and Viken-Rugian ships were granted exemption from the Sound Tolls (which were only haphazardly collected anyway). Eric was formally granted the useless title of High King of Norway which the Danish Estridssons had held on to and took Wizlaw's daughter Sophie as his third wife.

Now formally reconciled Wizlaw promised to campaign alongside Eric in Pomerania with the promise of a share of spoils. By the close of his reign they had regained Stralsund but had been unable to push beyond this into the mainland.

In domestic politics Wizlaw showed the same ability for brinkmanship, often dangling the promise or threat of severe punishment over minor infringements by the nobles. However this occasionally overbearing position was offset by a strong line with the church, making it clear the crown had no business interfering in the church's business, a policy which tended to get the church's support. This allowed a comprehensive restructuring of the law codes, bringing justice into the crown's remit. Rather than a haphazard system of personal feuds and often quite brutal justice now the king or his appointed courts was responsible for hearing cases and dispensing justice.

He also increased his own coffers, not only by pocketing the revenues of his new system of justice but also by taxing his merchants too, bribing them with increasing municipal rights for the towns. For the majority of his reign Wizlaw was considerably popular and there was little unrest outside the Pomeranian frontiers. His one failure perhaps was to not challenge Denmark's snatch of Lade in 1289. Wizlaw had no real claim on the vacant earldom but then again neither did Eric III of Hordaland who was soon encamped outside Trondheim hoping its citizens would let him in peacefully without the need for a siege. Denmark therefore took the territory to 'keep the peace'. Perhaps Wizlaw thought a distant war on Danish territory was fine but a potential war on Vikene land was unthinkable.

When he died in 1302 Rugia quickly proclaimed his eldest son Sambor as their prince. He however had challenged the right of the Rugian abbeys to elect their own abbots and the Bishop of Oslo, probably realising that he would challenge the entire church's position, refused to crown him King of Viken, leading to an interregnum. The bishop's intransigence outlasted Sambor's brief rule and he died in 1304. Wizlaw's second son, also called Wizlaw would henceforth be crowned in both territories after making it clear he would not challenge the church.

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