The Kalmar Union (Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish: Kalmarunionen; Latin: Unio Calmariensis) was a personal union that from 1397 to 1523 joined under a single monarch the three kingdoms of Denmark, Sweden (then including most of Finland's populated areas), and Norway, together with Norway's overseas dependencies (then including Iceland, Greenland,[N 1] the Faroe Islands, and the Northern Isles). The union was not quite continuous; there were several short interruptions. Legally, the countries remained separate sovereign states, but with their domestic and foreign policies being directed by a common monarch.
One main impetus for its formation was to block German expansion northward into the Baltic region. The main reason for its failure to survive was the perpetual struggle between the monarch, who wanted a strong unified state, and the Swedish and Danish nobility, which did not. Diverging interests (especially the Swedish nobility's dissatisfaction with the dominant role played by Denmark and Holstein) gave rise to a conflict that would hamper the union in several intervals from the 1430s until its definitive breakup in 1523, when Gustav Vasa was elected as king of Sweden.
Norway continued to remain a part of the realm of Denmark–Norway under the Oldenburg dynasty for nearly three centuries, until its dissolution in 1814. The ensuing loose union between Sweden and Norway lasted until 1905, when a grandson of the incumbent king of Denmark was elected as king of Norway; his direct descendants still reign in Norway.
Arms of Eric of Pomerania
The Kalmar Union, c. 1400
|Common languages||Official use: Middle Danish, Old Swedish, Middle Norwegian, Renaissance Latin|
Also spoken: Middle Icelandic, Old Faroese, Norn, Greenlandic Norse, Middle Low German, Finnish, Sami, Greenlandic, Karelian
Religious disturbances (Roman Catholic/Lutheran) towards the end of Christian II's reign
|Margaret I (first)|
|Christian II (last)|
|Legislature||Riksråd and Herredag|
(one in each kingdom)
|Historical era||Late Middle Ages|
|17 June 1397|
• Gustav Vasa elected as
King of Sweden
|6 June 1523|
|Currency||Mark, Örtug, Norwegian penning, Swedish penning|
The union was the work of Scandinavian aristocracy wishing to counter the influence of the Hanseatic League. Margaret (1353–1412), a daughter of King Valdemar IV of Denmark, married King Haakon VI of Norway and Sweden, who was the son of King Magnus IV of Sweden, Norway and Scania. Margaret succeeded in having her son Olav recognized as heir to the throne of Denmark. In 1376 Olav inherited the crown of Denmark from his maternal grandfather as King Oluf III, with his mother as guardian; when Haakon VI died in 1380, Olaf also inherited the crown of Norway.
Margaret became regent of Denmark and Norway when Olaf died in 1387, leaving her without an heir. She adopted her great-nephew Erik the same year. The following year, 1388, Swedish nobles called upon her help against King Albert of Mecklenburg. After Margaret defeated Albert in 1389, her heir Erik was proclaimed King of Norway. Erik was subsequently elected King of Denmark and Sweden in 1396. Erik's coronation was held in Kalmar on 17 June 1397.
The Union lost territory when the Northern Isles were pledged by Christian I in his capacity as King of Norway, as security against the payment of the dowry of his daughter Margaret, betrothed to James III of Scotland in 1468. However the money was never paid, and in 1472 the islands were annexed by the Kingdom of Scotland.
One of the last structures of the Union, or, rather, medieval separateness, remained until 1536 when the Danish Privy Council, in the aftermath of the Count's Feud, unilaterally declared Norway to be a Danish province, without consulting their Norwegian colleagues.
Although the Norwegian council never recognized the declaration formally, and Norway kept some separate institutions and its legal system, this had the practical effect that the Norwegian possessions of Iceland, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands came under direct control of the crown. In principle this meant that the Norwegian crown, under the Danish union (the monarch lived in Copenhagen), was henceforth controlled from Denmark and not from Norway. And it had the effect that, while Norway passed to Swedish rule in 1814 and became independent in 1905, these territories were retained by Denmark (up to the present, in the case of Greenland and the Faroe Islands).
Charles VIII of Sweden (1408 Uppsala - 1470 Stockholm, in reality Charles II), Charles I of Norway, also Carl (Swedish: Karl Knutsson), was king of Sweden (1448–1457, 1464–1465 and from 1467 to his death in 1470) and king of Norway (1449–1450).Christian II of Denmark
Christian II (1 July 1481 – 25 January 1559) was a Scandinavian monarch under the Kalmar Union. He reigned as King of Denmark and Norway from 1513 until 1523 and of Sweden from 1520 until 1521. From 1513 to 1523, he was concurrently Duke of Schleswig and Holstein in joint rule with his uncle Frederick.
Christian was the oldest son of King John and belonged to the House of Oldenburg. Denmark was then an elective monarchy in which the nobility elected the new king (from among the sons or close male relatives of the previous monarch), who had to share his power with them. He came into conflict with the Danish nobility when he was forced to sign a charter, more strict than any previous, to ensure his access to the throne. Through domestic reforms he later sought to evade being restricted by the provisions of the charter. Internationally, he tried to maintain the Kalmar Union between the Scandinavian countries which brought him to war with Sweden, lasting between 1518 and 1523. Though he captured the country in 1520, his slaughter of leading Swedish nobility afterwards (known as the Stockholm Bloodbath) made him despised and after a short reign in Sweden, where to this day he is known as Christian the Tyrant (Kristian Tyrann), he was deposed in a rebellion led by the nobleman Gustav Vasa. His problems grew as he tried to limit the influence of foreign trading nations in Denmark. His reign in Denmark and Norway was cut short in 1523 when his uncle deposed him and took the thrones as Frederick I.
Christian was exiled to the Netherlands, ruled by his brother-in-law, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. After attempting to reclaim the thrones in 1531, he was arrested and held in captivity for the rest of his life, first in Sønderborg Castle and later at Kalundborg Castle. Supporters tried to restore him to power both during his exile and his imprisonment but they were defeated decisively during the Count's Feud in 1536.In 1515, he married Isabella of Austria, granddaughter of Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor. However, he is most known for his relation with Dyveke Sigbritsdatter, a commoner of Dutch ancestry who became his mistress before his marriage and whose mother became his closest advisor. When Dyveke suddenly died in 1517, Christian had the nobleman Torben Oxe executed, on dubious grounds, for having poisoned her. Dyveke’s mother would follow Christian in exile but his in-laws forced him to break their friendship. As a captive, he was treated well and as he grew older he was gradually given more freedom. He died aged 77, outliving his uncle and his cousin, King Christian III. He was intelligent but irresolute (he could not decide between Protestantism and Catholicism for instance), which is also part of his legacy in literature.
His wife was invited to remain in Denmark rather than live in exile but declined and died in 1526, after which her family took Christian's children from him. Christian tried to have his son John recognized as heir to the throne; however, this was denied and John died a year later. His daughters, Dorothea and Christina, the children of his to survive childhood, also made claims to the throne on behalf of themselves or their children but likewise in vain.Christian I of Denmark
Christian I (February 1426 – 21 May 1481) was a Scandinavian monarch under the Kalmar Union. He was King of Denmark (1448–1481), Norway (1450–1481) and Sweden (1457–1464). From 1460 to 1481, he was also Duke of Schleswig (within Denmark) and Count (after 1474, Duke) of Holstein (within the Holy Roman Empire). He was the first Danish monarch of the House of Oldenburg.In the power vacuum that arose following the death of King Christopher of Bavaria (1416–1448) without a direct heir, Sweden elected Charles VIII of Sweden (1408-1470) king with the intent to reestablish the union under a Swedish king. Charles was elected king of Norway in the following year. However the counts of Holstein made the Danish Privy Council appoint Christian as king of Denmark. His subsequent accessions to the thrones of Norway (in 1450) and Sweden (in 1457), restored the unity of the Kalmar Union for a short period. In 1463, Sweden broke away from the union and Christian's attempt at a reconquest resulted in his defeat to the Swedish regent Sten Sture the Elder at the Battle of Brunkeberg in 1471.In 1460, following the death of his uncle, Duke Adolphus of Schleswig, Count of Holstein, Christian also became Duke of Schleswig and Count of Holstein.Christopher of Bavaria
Christopher of Bavaria (26 February 1416 – 5/6 January 1448) was King of Denmark (1440–48, as Christopher III), Sweden (1441–48) and Norway (1442–48) during the era of the Kalmar Union.Denmark–Norway relations
Denmark–Norway relations are foreign relations between Denmark and Norway. The countries have a very long history together: they were both part of the Kalmar Union between 1397 and 1523, and Norway was in Union with Denmark between 1524 and 1814.
The two countries established diplomatic relations in 1905, after Norway ended its union with Sweden. Denmark has an embassy in Oslo. Norway has an embassy in Copenhagen.
Both countries are full members of the Nordic Council, Council of the Baltic Sea States, of NATO, and of the Council of Europe. There are around 15,000 Norwegians living in Denmark and around 20,000 Danes living in Norway.Emblems of the Kalmar Union
The Kalmar Union was the personal union of the kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden during the 15th century. The first king of the Kalmar Union was Eric of Pomerania. His seal combined the coats of arms of Norway (center, as an inescutcheon upon a cross over all), Denmark (in dexter chief), Sweden (the Folkung lion, in dexter base) and Pomerania (a griffin, in sinister base), and in addition the Three Crowns symbol in sinister chief; the latter heraldic design predates the Kalmar Union, and is now mostly associated with the coat of arms of Sweden, but which during the 15th century came to represent the three kingdoms of the union.In two letters dated to 1430, Eric of Pomerania orders the priests of Vadstena and Kalmar to wear the "banner of the realms" on their robes. The banner is described as "a red cross in a yellow field".Engelbrekt Engelbrektsson
Engelbrekt Engelbrektsson (1390s – 4 May 1436) was a Swedish rebel leader and later statesmen. He was the leader of the Engelbrekt rebellion in 1434 against Eric of Pomerania, king of the Kalmar Union.Engelbrekt rebellion
The Engelbrekt rebellion was a rebellion in 1434–1436 led by Swedish miner and nobleman Engelbrekt Engelbrektsson against Eric of Pomerania, the king of the Kalmar Union. It resulted in the deposing of Eric and the erosion of the union.Eric of Pomerania
Eric of Pomerania (1381 or 1382 – 24 September 1459) was the ruler of the Kalmar Union from 1396 until 1439, succeeding his grandaunt, Queen Margaret I. He is numbered Eric III as King of Norway (1389–1442), Eric VII as King of Denmark (1396–1439) and Eric XIII as King of Sweden (1396–1434, 1436–39). Today, in all three countries he is more commonly known as Erik av Pommern.
Eric was ultimately deposed from all three kingdoms of the union, but in 1449 he inherited one of the partitions of the Duchy of Pomerania and ruled it as duke until his death.Gustav Trolle
Gustav Eriksson Trolle (1488–1535) was Archbishop of Uppsala, Sweden, in two sessions, during the turbulent Reformation events.
He was the son of Eric Arvidsson Trolle, a former regent of Sweden during the era of the Kalmar Union. After returning from studies abroad, in Cologne and Rome, he was in 1513 elected vicar in Linköping. One year later he became Archbishop of Uppsala. In 1515 he got into an argument with the Swedish regent Sten Sture the Younger, who spread the rumour that he was allied with the King Christian II of Denmark. True or not, it resulted in Trolle being removed from his office and put under siege in the archbishops mansion Almarestäket at lake Mälaren. In the winter of 1517, Almarestäket was demolished by orders from the Swedish government.
The Danish threat grew stronger, and Trolle was among those who spoke in favour of the Danish King. In 1520, Christian II of Denmark entered Sweden, and Trolle was rewarded by being reappointed Archbishop of Uppsala. He crowned Christian King of Sweden on November 4, 1520. This, and subsequent events, supports the notion of the two having made a deal previous to Christian's conquest of Sweden.History of Sweden (800–1521)
Swedish pre-history ends around 800 CE, when the Viking Age begins and written sources are available. The Viking Age lasted until the mid-11th century, when the Christianization of Scandinavia was largely completed when Sweden became the last Norse country to adopt Christianity. Scandinavia was formally Christianized by 1100 AD. The period 1050 to 1350 – when the Black Death struck Europe – is considered the Older Middle Ages. The Kalmar Union between the Scandinavian countries was established in 1397 and lasted until King Gustav Vasa ended it upon seizing power. The period 1350 to 1523 – when king Gustav Vasa, who led the unification of Sweden, was crowned – is considered the Younger Middle Ages.During this centuries, Sweden is considered to gradually have consolidated as a single nation.John, King of Denmark
John (Danish, Norwegian and Swedish: Hans; né Johannes) (2 February 1455 – 20 February 1513) was a Scandinavian monarch under the Kalmar Union. He was king of Denmark (1481–1513), Norway (1483–1513) and as John II (Swedish: Johan II) Sweden (1497–1501). From 1482 to 1513, he was concurrently duke of Schleswig and Holstein in joint rule with his brother Frederick.
The three most important political goals of King John were the restoration of the Kalmar Union, reduction of the dominance of the Hanseatic League, and the building of a strong Danish royal power.Kalmar
Kalmar (, also US: , Swedish pronunciation) is a city in the southeast of Sweden, situated by the Baltic Sea. It had 36,392 inhabitants in 2010 and is the seat of Kalmar Municipality. It is also the capital of Kalmar County, which comprises 12 municipalities with a total of 236,399 inhabitants (2015).
From the thirteenth to the seventeenth centuries, Kalmar was one of Sweden's most important cities. Between 1602 and 1913 it was the episcopal see of Kalmar Diocese, with a bishop, and the Kalmar Cathedral from 1702 is still a fine example of classicistic architecture. It became a fortified city, with the Kalmar Castle as the center. After the Treaty of Roskilde in 1658, Kalmar's importance diminished, until the industry sector was initiated in the 19th century. The city is home to parts of Linnaeus University.
Kalmar is adjacent to the main route to the island of Öland over the Öland Bridge.List of Finnish monarchs and Heads of State
This is a list of the monarchs of Finland until it became a republic in 1919; that is, the Kings of Sweden with Regents and Viceroys of the Kalmar Union, the Grand Dukes of Finland, a title used by most Swedish monarchs, up to the two-year Regent period following the independence in 1917, with a brief flirtation with a truly domestic monarchy.List of Swedish monarchs
This is a list of Swedish monarchs, that is, the Kings and ruling Queens of Sweden, including regents and viceroys of the Kalmar Union, up to the present time.List of wars involving Norway
This is a list of wars involving the Kingdom of Norway in some capacity, both the modern polity and its predecessor states.List of years in Norway
This is a list of years in Norway.Norway–Sweden relations
Norway–Sweden relations are foreign relations between Norway and Sweden. The countries have a very long history together. They were both part of the Kalmar Union between 1397 and 1523. The countries established diplomatic relations in 1905, after the dissolution of the union between them in 1905.
Sweden has an embassy in Oslo and 14 consulates, in Ålesund, Arendal, Bergen, Bodø, Hamar, Hammerfest, Kirkenes, Mandal, Moss, Narvik, Porsgrunn, Stavanger, Tromsø and Trondheim. Norway has an embassy in Stockholm and three consulates, in Gothenburg, Malmö and Sundsvall.
Both countries are full members of the Council of Europe and the Nordic Council. There are around 44,773 Swedes living in Norway and around 18,000 Norwegians living in Sweden.Three Crowns
Three Crowns (Swedish: tre kronor) is a national emblem of Sweden, present in the coat of arms of Sweden, and composed of three yellow or gilded coronets ordered two above and one below, placed on a blue background.
The emblem is often used as a symbol of official State authority by the Monarchy, the Riksdag, the Government of Sweden and by Swedish embassies around the world, but also appears in other less formal contexts, such as the Sweden men's national ice hockey team, who wear the symbol on their sweaters and hence are called "Three Crowns", and atop the Stockholm City Hall (built 1911–1923). The Three Crowns are also used as the roundel on military aircraft of the Swedish Air Force and as a sign on Swedish military equipment in general, and also on the uniforms and vehicles of the Swedish Police Authority.
Because of their common Scandinavian origin, the Three Crowns are also featured in the royal coat of arms of Denmark where they might be referred to as the "union mark".