Blanche of Namur

Last updated
Blanche of Namur
Blanche of Sweden & Norway bust 1330s (photo c. 1910).jpg
Contemporary bust of Queen Blanche
Queen consort of Sweden
Coronation 22 July 1336
Queen consort of Norway
Died1363 (aged 4243)
Spouse Magnus VII of Norway/IV of Sweden
Issue Haakon VI of Norway
Eric XII of Sweden
House Dampierre
Father John I, Marquis of Namur
Mother Marie of Artois

Blanche of Namur (Swedish and Norwegian: Blanka; 1320–1363) was queen of Norway and Sweden as the wife of King Magnus VII / IV.



Blanche was the eldest daughter of John I, Marquis of Namur and Marie of Artois. On her father's side, she was a member of the powerful House of Dampierre, being a grandchild of Count Guy of Flanders. On her mother's side Blanche was related to the French royal house, as her mother was a daughter of Philip of Artois, a patrilineal great-grandson of Louis VIII of France, and thus a member of a junior line of the House of Capet.


It is unknown why a marriage was arranged between the king of Sweden and Norway and a member of the House of Namur. In June 1334 king Magnus travelled from Norway to Namur to propose. They were engaged in Namur and Magnus returned to Sweden in the fall of 1334. Blanche left Namur in the fall of 1335 and the wedding took place in October or early November 1335, possibly at Bohus Castle. As a wedding gift Blanche received the province of Tunsberg in Norway and Lödöse in Sweden as fiefs; Tunsberg was exchanged in 1353 to Bohus, Marstrand, Elfsyssel, Rånrike and Borgarsyssel. Blanche's coronation took place in July 1336, possibly 22 July, in the Great Church in Stockholm. [1] She was accompanied to Sweden by an entourage which included her brothers Robert and Louis, who came to be in service of her spouse: it is known that Louis remained in the king's service as late as 1354.


After her coronation, Queen Blanche was given her own seal with the inscription: "Blanche, by the Grace of God Queen of Sweden, Norway and Scania", [2] in which she is depicted with a crown and holding a scepter: unusually for a married woman of that period, she did not cover her hair with a veil. [3]

The queen was described as wise and as an extraordinary beauty. [4] At this point, Sweden did not have an official capital, and queen Blanche accompanied the king in their travels between the royal residences. In 1345, her brothers Louis and Robert were made vassals of her spouse.

Blanche and Magnus had two sons, Eric and Haakon, plus at least three daughters who died as children. In 1343, it was agreed that the two kingdoms of Sweden and Norway should again be divided, and that their eldest son Eric should inherit Sweden and their second son Haakon Norway. [5] The same year, Haakon was invested as King of Norway at the age of three. At this occasion, the members of the Norwegian council guaranteed the right of Magnus to govern Norway during the minority of Haakon and to resist all attempts from Haakons' elder brother to take over Norway: they swore their promise not only to Magnus, but also to queen Blanche. [6] On 18 November 1343, the archbishops and bishops of Sweden swore an oath to assist queen Blanche in the case king Magnus died when prince Eric was still minor. [7]

The seal of Blanche of Namur as Queen Blanche of Sweden & Norway seal c 1350.jpg
The seal of Blanche of Namur as Queen

The future saint Bridget of Sweden served as magistra or mistress of the robes to the queen at an unknown period, and regularly socialized with the royal couple before she left Sweden for Rome in 1349, and Bridget left descriptions of them and their court. [8] In the will of the royal couple from 1 May 1346, they made large donations to Bridget's planned Vadstena Abbey and asked to be buried there. [9] Bridget, however, opposed to their burial in her convent, and describe the royal couple in a negative fashion. She accused queen Blanche of having been a negative influence on state affairs by discrediting capable advisers before the king; "She is a snake with the tongue of a harlot, the bile of dragons in her heart and the most bitter poison in her flesh. Therefore all her eggs became poisonous. Lucky are those who never experience their burden". [10] Bridget expressed great dislike over the fact that the king and queen decided to live in a marriage without intercourse after the queen's 7th pregnancy; she claims that this was the reason for the king's rumored homosexuality, that queen Blanche had been responsible when Magnus made his controversial favorite Bengt Algotsson, Duke of Finland, and that Algotsson was the lover of them both. [11]

In the 1350s, a crisis occurred because of the Black Death in Sweden and Norway and the failed politics in the Baltic, followed by the division of the kingdom of Sweden and Norway when their second son Haakon VI of Norway was declared of legal majority and free from his father's regency, resulting in the end of the united kingdoms of Sweden and Norway. In 1356, the opposition supported their eldest son Eric in a rebellion against his parents, resulting in a mediation where king Magnus had to make Eric his co-ruler and divide Sweden between them. During this conflict, queen Blanche seems to have supported her spouse against their son. [12] When Eric and his spouse Beatrice of Bavaria died in 1359, Blanche was accused of having poisoned them, accusations that are however regarded to have been but a part of the propaganda against her. [13] It is now believed that they died from the plague.

Albert Edelfelt's romanticised painting of Blanche of Namur and her son Haakon, singing the children's song "Rida rida ranka, hasten heter Blanka... (Riding a horse named Blanche...)" Albert Edelfelt - Queen Blanche.jpg
Albert Edelfelt's romanticised painting of Blanche of Namur and her son Haakon, singing the children's song "Rida rida ranka, hästen heter Blanka... (Riding a horse named Blanche...)"

From 1359, she seems to have resided in Tønsberg Castle in Norway. Tønsberg was a part of her dower lands, and she ruled the area as her dower. It appears that her finances were somewhat strained during these years.

On 9 April 1363, she and Magnus attended the wedding of their son Haakon with Margaret, daughter of Valdemar IV of Denmark in Copenhagen. Shortly after the wedding, Blanche fell ill and died. The cause of death and the place where she is buried are unknown. [14]


  1. Eric XII of Sweden
  2. Haakon VI of Norway
  3. At least three daughters who died in infancy or early childhood, some buried at Ås Abbey.


Queen Blanche is one of the most well-known of the Swedish/Norwegian medieval queens. Apparently, she was very politically and socially active and noticeable, not only as a queen, as many stories and songs were written about her.

In Sweden, Queen Blanche is also remembered for the song: "Rida rida ranka, hästen heter Blanka" ("Ride, ride on my knee, the horse is called Blanka"), which has influenced the famous historical painting by Albert Edelfelt of her and her son Haakon.

A Belgian wheat beer produced by Brasserie du Bocq is named "Blanche de Namur" (and was named "world's best wheat beer" at the 2009 World Beer Awards).

Related Research Articles

Magnus IV of Sweden King of Sweden

Magnus IV was King of Sweden from 1319 to 1364, King of Norway as Magnus VII from 1319 to 1355, and ruler of Scania from 1332 to 1360. By adversaries he has been called Magnus Smek.

Haakon VI of Norway King of Norway

Haakon VI of Norway, also known as Håkan Magnusson, was King of Norway from 1343 until his death and King of Sweden between 1362 and 1364. He is sometimes known as Haakon Magnusson the Younger to distinguish him from his great-grandfather, Haakon V.

Dorothea of Brandenburg Queen consort of Denmark

Dorothea of Brandenburg was Queen of Denmark, Queen of Norway and Queen of Sweden by her marriages to King Christopher III and King Christian I. She served as interim regent during the interregnum in 1448, and as regent in the absence of her second spouse during his reign.

Euphemia of Sweden Duchess consort of Mecklenburg

Euphemia of Sweden was a Swedish princess, spouse of Albert II, Duke of Mecklenburg, Duchess consort of Mecklenburg, heiress of Sweden and of Norway, and mother of King Albert of Sweden.

Ingeborg of Norway Duchess of Södermanland, Halland, and Estonia

Ingeborg of Norway, was a Norwegian princess and by marriage a Swedish royal duchess with a position in the regency governments in Norway (1319–27) and Sweden (1319–26) during the minority of her son, King Magnus of Norway and Sweden. In 1318–1319, she was Sweden's de facto ruler, and from 1319 until 1326, she was Sweden's first de jure female regent.

Sudreim claim

Sudreim claim was an entitlement held among members of the powerful and influential Sudreim-Bjarkøy-Giske noble family in Norway during the late Middle Ages.

Martha of Denmark was Queen of Sweden by marriage to King Birger. She was given the name Margaret (Danish: Margrete Eriksdatter at birth, but in Sweden was called Martha, and has been known in history by that name. She was regarded as a politically influential queen and an important figure in the Håtuna games and the Nyköping Banquet.

Euphemia of Rügen was the Queen consort of Norway as the spouse of Håkon V of Norway. She is famous in history as a literary person, and known for commissioning translations of romances.

Sophia of Denmark Queen consort of Sweden

Sophia of Denmark was Queen of Sweden as the consort of King Valdemar.

Richeza of Denmark Queen consort of Sweden

Richeza of Denmark was Queen of Sweden as the wife of King Eric X, and the mother of King Eric XI.

Ingeborg Tott de facto Queen Consort of Sweden

Lady Ingeborg Åkesdotter Tott or 'Ingeborg Aagesdotter of the Thott', in her lifetime called Ingeborg Åkesdotter or simply Fru Ingeborg, was a Swedish noble, the consort of the Swedish regent Sten Sture the elder. She was the fiefholder of Häme in Finland. She functioned as the de facto queen consort of Sweden for over three decades and participated in state affairs during the reign of her spouse.

Beatrice of Bavaria ; Swedish: Beatrix ; was Queen of Sweden as the consort of King King Eric "XII", who co-ruled with his father King Magnus IV.

IngegerdBirgersdotter of Bjelbo was Queen of Sweden as the second wife of King Sverker II.

Maria Euphrosyne of Zweibrücken Swedish princess

Maria Euphrosyne of Zweibrücken, was a countess palatine, a cousin and foster-sibling of Queen Christina of Sweden, and a sister of King Charles X of Sweden. She was also, after the accession of her brother Charles X on the throne (1654), a titular Royal Princess of Sweden.

Ingeborg Eriksdottir of Norway Duchess of Finland

Ingeborg Eriksdottir was a Norwegian princess and a Swedish duchess. She was Duchess of Uppland, Öland and Finland. As a widow, she had a seat in the regency government of her nephew Magnus, who reigned as king of both Sweden and Norway.

Catharina Elisabet Grubb was a Finnish industrialist.

Canute Porse the Elder Danish noble

Canute Porse the Elder or Knud/Knut Porse was a medieval Danish nobleman and Duke of Samsø, Duke of Halland, and Duke of Estonia.

Rikissa Magnusdotter of Sweden was a Swedish princess. She was the daughter of King Magnus III of Sweden and his Queen consort Hedwig of Holstein. At the age of six, she was entrusted to the nuns at St. Clara Priory in Stockholm. The nunnery had been given large donations and lands upon its foundation by King Magnus. Rikissa was the abbess of St. Clara Priory from at least 1335 until her death in 1348.

Maria Magdalena Eek (1733–1800), was a Finnish pastry chef. Based in Turku, she had a successful career and was a notable artist within her trade, eventually being granted a Royal warrant of appointment.

Agneta Rosenbröijer was a Finnish-Swedish noblewoman and business person. She was a significant figure in the local history of Viborg, known for her pride, temperament and feuds, which has been the subject of many stories.


  1. Nordberg (2001), p. 69-72
  2. Biografiskt lexikon för Finland 1. Svenska tiden (2008).
  3. Biografiskt lexikon för Finland 1. Svenska tiden (2008).
  4. Blanka, urn:sbl:18364, Svenskt biografiskt lexikon (art av S. Tunberg.), hämtad 2016-09-06.
  5. Biografiskt lexikon för Finland 1. Svenska tiden (2008).
  6. Biografiskt lexikon för Finland 1. Svenska tiden (2008).
  7. Biografiskt lexikon för Finland 1. Svenska tiden (2008).
  8. Biografiskt lexikon för Finland 1. Svenska tiden (2008).
  9. Biografiskt lexikon för Finland 1. Svenska tiden (2008).
  10. Biografiskt lexikon för Finland 1. Svenska tiden (2008).
  11. Biografiskt lexikon för Finland 1. Svenska tiden (2008).
  12. Biografiskt lexikon för Finland 1. Svenska tiden (2008).
  13. Blanka, urn:sbl:18364, Svenskt biografiskt lexikon (art av S. Tunberg.), hämtad 2016-09-06.
  14. Nordberg (2001), p. 303
Blanche of Namur
Born: 1320 Died: 1363
Preceded by
Martha of Denmark
Queen consort of Sweden
with Beatrice of Bavaria
Succeeded by
Margaret of Denmark
Preceded by
Euphemia of Rügen
Queen consort of Norway