Kalmar Union

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Kalmar Union

Kalmar Union ca. 1400.svg
The Kalmar Union, c. 1400
Status Personal union
Common languages
Government Personal union
Eric III, VII & XIII (first)
Christian II (last)
Legislature Riksråd and Herredag
(one in each kingdom)
Historical era Late Middle Ages
17 June 1397
November 1520
  Gustav Vasa elected as
King of Sweden
6 June 1523
Currency Mark, Örtug, Norwegian penning, Swedish penning
Preceded by
Succeeded by
State Banner of Denmark (14th Century).svg Kingdom of Denmark
Royal Banner of Norway (14th Century).svg Kingdom of Norway
Royal Banner of Sweden (14th Century).svg Kingdom of Sweden
Denmark–Norway Flag of Denmark.svg
Kingdom of Sweden Sweden-Flag-1562.svg
Kingdom of Scotland Flag of Scotland (traditional).svg
Today part of
  1. Margaret I ruled Denmark 1387–1412, Norway 1388–1389, and Sweden 1389–1412
  2. Christian II ruled Denmark and Norway 1513–1523; Sweden 1520–1521

The Kalmar Union (Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish : Kalmarunionen; Latin : Unio Calmariensis) was a personal union in Scandinavia that from 1397 to 1523 [1] joined under a single monarch the three kingdoms of Denmark, Sweden (then including most of Finland), 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. Gustav Vasa's election as king on 6 June 1523 and his triumphant entry into Stockholm eleven days later marked Sweden's final secession from the Kalmar Union. [2]



The union was the work of Scandinavian aristocracy wishing to counter the influence of the Hanseatic League. More personally, it was achieved by Queen Margaret I of Denmark (1353–1412). She was a daughter of King Valdemar IV and had 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 Olaf recognized as heir to the throne of Denmark. In 1376 Olaf inherited the crown of Denmark from his maternal grandfather as King Olaf II, with his mother as guardian; when Haakon VI died in 1380, Olaf also inherited the crown of Norway. [3]

Margaret became regent of Denmark and Norway when Olaf died in 1387, leaving her without an heir. [4] She adopted her great-nephew Eric of Pomerania the same year. [5] The following year, 1388, Swedish nobles called upon her help against King Albert. [6] After Margaret defeated Albert in 1389, her heir Eric was proclaimed King of Norway. [4] Eric was subsequently elected King of Denmark and Sweden in 1396. [4] His coronation was held in Kalmar on 17 June 1397. [7]

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. [8] 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 starting in the 1430s. Charles Bonde, for example, was made king of Sweden three times by nationalists there, in 1440, 1464 and 1467.

End and aftermath

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, so in 1472 the islands were annexed by the Kingdom of Scotland. [9]

The Kalmar union fell apart when Sweden rebelled and became independent on 6 June 1523 and Gustav I of Sweden was elected as king there.

One of the last structures of the Union remained until 1536/1537 when the Danish Privy Council, in the aftermath of the Count's Feud, unilaterally declared Norway to be a Danish province: this did not happen; instead, Norway became a hereditary kingdom in a real union with Denmark. [10] [11] Norway continued to remain a part of the realm of Denmark–Norway under the Oldenburg dynasty for nearly three centuries, until it was transferred to Sweden in 1814. The ensuing union between Sweden and Norway lasted until 1905, when a grandson of both the incumbent king of Denmark and the late king of Sweden was elected king of Norway.

See also


  1. Nominal possession. There was no European contact with the island during the Kalmar Union period.

Related Research Articles

History of Sweden aspect of history

The History of Sweden can be traced back to the melting of the Northern Polar Ice Caps. From as early as 12,000 BC, humans have inhabited this area. Throughout the Stone Age, between 8,000 BC and 6,000 BC, early inhabitants used stone-crafting methods to make tools and weapons for hunting, gathering and fishing as means of survival.

Gustav I of Sweden 16th century king of Sweden

Gustav I, born Gustav Eriksson of the Vasa noble family and later known as Gustav Vasa, was King of Sweden from 1523 until his death in 1560, previously self-recognised Protector of the Realm (Riksföreståndare) from 1521, during the ongoing Swedish War of Liberation against King Christian II of Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Gustav rose to lead the rebel movement following the Stockholm Bloodbath, where his father was executed. Gustav's election as king on 6 June 1523 and his triumphant entry into Stockholm eleven days later marked Sweden's final secession from the Kalmar Union.

Margaret I of Denmark Queen regnant of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden

Margaret I was the queen who founded the Kalmar Union of the kingdoms of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, spanning Scandinavia for over a century. Margaret was known as a wise, energetic and capable leader, who governed with "farsighted tact and caution," earning the nickname "Semiramis of the North". She was derisively called "King Breechless", one of several derogatory nicknames invented by her rival Albert of Mecklenburg, but was also known by her subjects as "the Lady King", which became widely used in recognition of her capabilities. Knut Gjerset calls her "the first great ruling queen in European history."

Olaf II of Denmark King of Denmark

Olaf Haakonsson was king of Denmark as Olaf II from 1376 and king of Norway as Olaf IV from 1380, reigning in both kingdoms until his death. Olaf was the son of Queen Margaret I of Denmark and King Haakon VI of Norway, and grandson of kings Magnus IV of Sweden and Valdemar IV of Denmark.

Christian II of Denmark King of Denmark and Norway

Christian II 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.

Eric of Pomerania Duke of Pomerania-Stolp

Eric of Pomerania 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. Later, in all three countries he became more commonly known as Erik av Pommern, a pejorative intended to point out that he belonged elsewhere. 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.

Sten Sture the Elder Regent of Sweden

Sten Sture the Elder was a Swedish statesman and regent of Sweden 1470–1497 and 1501–1503. As the leader of the victorious Swedish separatist forces against the royal unionist forces during the Battle of Brunkeberg in 1471, he weakened the Kalmar Union considerably and became the effective ruler of Sweden as Lord Regent for most of his remaining life.

History of Sweden (800–1521) historical period of Sweden

Swedish pre-history ends around 800 AD, when the Viking Age begins and written sources are available. The Viking Age lasted until the mid-11th century. 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.

Christina Gyllenstierna Noblewoman of Sweden and leader of resistance to Christian II of Denmark

Christina Nilsdotter Gyllenstierna of Fogelvik was a Swedish noblewoman. She was married to the Swedish regent Sten Sture the Younger, and led the Swedish resistance against Christian II of Denmark after the death of her spouse. In her own lifetime she was simply referred to as Fru Kristina, but she has become known in history as "Kristina Gyllenstierna" because of the house of nobility to which she belonged.

Isabella of Austria Queen consort of Denmark

Isabella of Austria, also known as Elizabeth, was queen of Denmark, Norway and Sweden as the wife of King Christian II. She was the daughter of King Philip I and Queen Joanna of Castile and the sister of Emperor Charles V. She was born at Brussels. She ruled Denmark as regent in 1520.

Swedish War of Liberation rebellion and a civil war in which the Swedish nobleman Gustav Vasa successfully deposed the Danish-Norwegian king Christian II as regent of the Kalmar Union in Sweden

The Swedish War of Liberation, also known as Gustav Vasa's Rebellion and the Swedish War of Secession, was a rebellion and a civil war in which the nobleman Gustav Vasa successfully deposed King Christian II from the throne of Sweden, ending the Kalmar Union between Sweden, Norway, and Denmark.

Northern Seven Years War war (1563–1570) between Sweden and a coalition of Denmark–Norway, Lübeck and Poland, causd by Denmarks dissatisfaction with the dissolution of the Kalmar Union and Swedens wanting to break Denmarks dominance; ended in stalemate

The Northern Seven Years' War was fought between the Kingdom of Sweden and a coalition of Denmark–Norway, Lübeck and Poland-Lithuania between 1563 and 1570. The war was motivated by the dissatisfaction of King Frederick II of Denmark with the dissolution of the Kalmar Union, and the will of King Eric XIV of Sweden to break Denmark's dominating position. The fighting continued until both armies had been exhausted, and many men died. The resulting Treaty of Stettin was a stalemate, with neither party gaining any new territory.

History of Scandinavia aspect of history

The history of Scandinavia is the history of the geographical region of Scandinavia and its peoples. The region is in northern Europe, and consists of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Finland and Iceland are at times, especially in English-speaking contexts, considered part of Scandinavia.

Calmar can refer to:


Visborg (Wisborg) refers to a fortress in the town of Visby on the Swedish island of Gotland. Successive fortresses were built in Visby, though Visborg is usually in reference to the castle built here by King Eric of Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

The Treaty of Kalmar was signed on 25 September 1397 between representatives of the three Scandinavian kingdoms of Sweden, Denmark, and Norway. The accord established the Kalmar Union whereby all three realms were to be ruled by one monarch. However, the treaty did not unite the different legal structures of each kingdom. The agreement was broken when Gustav I of Sweden left the Kalmar Union on 6 June 1523.

Denmark–Norway relations Diplomatic relations between the Kingdom of Denmark and the Kingdom of Norway

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 a Union with Denmark between 1524 and 1814.

1523 in Sweden Sweden-related events during the year of 1523

Events from the year 1523 in Sweden


  1. Harald Gustafsson, "A State that Failed?" Scandinavian Journal of History (2006) 32#3 pp 205–220
  2. Anastacia Sampson. "Swedish Monarchy – Gustav Vasa". sweden.org.za. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  3. Karlsson, Gunnar (2000). The History of Iceland. p. 102.
  4. 1 2 3 "Margaret I | queen of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 5 June 2017.
  5. "Erik VII | king of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 5 June 2017.
  6. "Sweden – Code of law | history – geography". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 5 June 2017.
  7. "Kalmar Union | Scandinavian history". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 5 June 2017.
  8. For a somewhat different view see Steinar Imsen, "The Union of Calmar: Northern Great Power or Northern German Outpost?" in Christopher Ocker, ed. Politics and Reformations: Communities, Polities, Nations, and Empires (BRILL, 2007) pp 471–72
  9. Nicolson (1972) p. 45
  10. Moseng, Ole Georg (2003). Norges historie 1537-1814. Universietsforlaget AS. p. 27. ISBN   978-82-15-00102-9.
  11. Nordstrom, Byron (2000). Scandinavia since 1500 . University of Minnesota Press. p.  147. ISBN   0-8166-2098-9.

Further reading

Coordinates: 55°40′N12°34′E / 55.667°N 12.567°E / 55.667; 12.567