Monday, 12 January 2015

Episode 7: How Sweden got a 3-year old king and a constitution

When Magnus Birgersson died, his oldest son Birger became king. Unfortunately for him, he had two younger brothers of whom the duke Erik was very, very ambitious. Erik married the Norwegian princess Ingeborg, and was made heir to her fathers throne. Erik had what was in many ways his own kingdom in west Sweden. The third brother Valdemar was duke over Finland. Erik and Valedmar joined forces to get part of king Birger's power by imprisoning him after a feast. In 1317 Birger retaliated by inviting his brothers to a feast at Nyköping castle, from wich they did not return. According to legend, Birger locked his brothers in a tower and trew away the key - and the brothers starved to death. Birger then had to flee the country and go inte exile in Denmark.

 Duke Erik's young son, Magnus Eriksson, was chosen king in 1319. By then he had already inherited the kingdom of Norway. Since the king was so young, the nobility could put forward a programme limiting the powers of kingship - known in Swedish history as "The charter of liberty". King Magnus ruled over the largest Sweden ever - from Scania in the south (in effect bought from the Danes) to Greenland in the north, from the Shetland islands in the west to Finland in the east. Up until the middle of the century, king Magnus Eriksson's reign must be considered a happy one. That would change.

During the reign of king Magnus Eriksson, in 1350, Sweden got it's first common law that replaced the old regional ones. Here is the chapters regulating building activites in a copy from the 15th century.