Margrethe I

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Nov 26, 2003
Name: Margrethe Valdemarsdatter

Birth: 1353

Child of: Valdemar Atterdag & Hedvig of Southern Jutland

Reign: 1387 -1412

Marriage: 1363 to Håkon 6 of Norway

Children: Olav/Oluf

Death: 1412

Throne passed to: Erik of Pomerania


Danish, Norwegian, Swedish regent, Queen of Norway.

Youngest daughter of Valdemar Atterdag.
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Margrethe's sarcophagus at Roskilde Cathedral. Picture taken by me.
I was right! She was only ten years old, when she got married!

Margareta wanted the three Nordic kingdoms to stay as one. But unfortuneately, that wouldn't happen.
This is one person it would be truly breathtaking if she would wake up and enter today's world !!!!!
I think it would be really interesting ;)
Btw, thank you for info and picture Norwegianne! :flowers:
p.s. I love your avatar ;)
Margrethe 1387 - 1412
Born 1353 at Söborg, Denmark. Parents: King Valdemar IV Atterdag of Denmark and Helvig of Sönderjylland.
Ruled Denmark from 1376 and Norway from 1380 in the name of her son Oluf. Defeated Albrekt 24 of February 1389 and was recognized as Queen of Sweden (a title she had used since 1375). She later ruled in the name of Erik, who in 1389 had been elected King of Norway and in 1396 King of Denmark and Sweden. She died 28 of October 1412 onboard her ship in the port of Flensborg.
Married 9 of April 1363 at Copenhagen's Palace to King Håkon VI of Norway. Child: Oluf.

book about Margrethe I
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This just reminds me of the TV show "Salve". It was about Sweden (or more correctly, the city of Kalmar) in 1397. (The show was made in 1997, so it took place six hundred years before that.) Eric of Pomerania and Queen Margarete were two very important characters in this show.
Queen Margarethe

I wonder why she didnt remarry after the death of her husband and son?
I think she might have just wanted to keep all the power to herself. But there might be another explaination too. Anyone knows?
Oh thank you for the info I have been trolling threads looking for info on her and didnt want to drag another thread of topic by asking.
Was she really the only Queen who ever ruled in Denmark? (well, of course except for Margrethe II)
I believe she was. I can't think of any queen ruling in Denmark except for the two Margarethes.
Was she really the only Queen who ever ruled in Denmark? (well, of course except for Margrethe II)

official she was, but I bet some of the queenconsorts have had a lot of influense in their husbands ruling.
Fun bonus info: in Sweden Margrethe I was (and still is) called "Kung byxlös" - "King 'without pants' " :)
Thanks for your answers, also for the extra information;)
Well, I can imagine as well, that there were Queen consorts who had influence on the politics. But it's some kind of sad, that there weren't any other ruling Queens. It's always the men. Hopefully the future will be fairer.
That sentence used in Sweden is good.

She must have been a good/successful ruler?
Margrethe I was never Queen of Denmark (she was Queen consort of Norway). She was regent for her son.

From 1259 -1264 another Margrete was regent for her son Erik 5. Glipping.

If we give these two queens numbers Margrethe I should have been Margrethe II, and the present queen Margrethe III.
If we don't give them numbers the present Queen are Margrethe I
Are there any good books about her?
Well, she was one of the most powerful women of her time, that's for sure.
She sure was! Here are a couple of historical "news articles" from my archive:

The false prince Oluf burned at the stake in the castle square of Kalmar. (*)

Kalmar, 28th of September 1402.
It will be known that some of the rumours going on since the death of the heir Oluf on 3. August 1387 have been deeply disturbing for the mistress of the Nordic realms (**) Margrethe Valdemarsdatter (daughter of Valdemar). And not least abroad have the rumours occasionally been insidious.

They got new nourishment when Norwegian citizens in Graudenz down in Preussia met a man whom they believed to recognise as the dead Oluf. One will remember that in Norwegian circles in particular it has been hard to accept that the old Norwegian royal line had really died out. (***)
The person in question who in German called himself Wolf, informed that he really was Oluf and that his mother had taken the realm from him. He travelled to Danzig, started to hold court and demanded his crowns back. (****)
For Queen Margrethe there was nothing else to do but to take firm action. She had the German grandmaster of the order (*****) send the alleged resurrected Oluf to Kalmar and here his case has now been investigated.

They have come to the result that the false Oluf couldn’t speak Danish at all, that he was born in Bohemia. And that the reason for him knowing so much about the childhood and youth of Oluf was that he just happened, or so it is said, to be a son of Oluf’s wet nurse.
That declaration has not been enough to stop the rumours going about, as it is not understood that the fact that the false Oluf should be son of Oluf’s wet nurse should explain his deep knowledge about Oluf’s childhood. Just as it is considered odd that he shouldn’t be able to speak a word of the Nordic languages, when Norwegians have presumed him to be Oluf. Lastly, it is difficult to explain, that the fact that he is supposed to be son of Oluf’s wet nurse can have the result that he oddly enough resembles Oluf in a remarkable way. But the case has now been ended. The false Oluf have been burned at the stake in the castle square here in Kalmar.

Written by late historian Palle Lauring in newspaper style.

(*) In present day Sweden. Then the place where the Nordic Union of the three kingdoms: Norway, Sweden and Denmark was founded.

(**) Queen Margrethe I could play on being a frail woman when it suited her. In reality she was as tough and ruthless as anyone around her. Which is of course the reason she is called Margrethe I, even though she really was just a regent for her son, later her adopted son.

(***) Oluf was the last male in that line.

(****) Being son of Margrethe and of legal age would mean that he would not only be king of Norway but of the entire Nordic Union.

(*****) The Teutonic Order.

A fascinating story. Anyone, woman or not, who could keep three kingdoms together and at the same time keep the nobles and various national fractions under control, had to be not only bright but also ruthless and sometimes seen to be ruthless.
There were a number of rumours about Margrethe quietly disposing of her son. Later to adopt another.
There could be several reasons for doing that. He was maybe not considered competent enough to take over or he had come under the influence of those who wished to see an independent Norway, with the king under their “council and guidance”. Or she may have seen him as a potential threat to her personally.
Personally I doubt that. The death of Prince Oluf put her in an awkward situation, which she eventually solved by finding and adopting another prince. Thus keeping the reins of power in her hands.
It is however very likely that a “new Oluf” was found who resembled the original one. He was to be groomed and trained so he could reclaim the thrones. In reality on of behalf of whom? Because someone (Norwegian nobles presumably) would have “counselled” him and probably later disposed of him, in order for someone else to become king instead.
This was in my mind an attempt to stage a coup.
Unfortunately for them Margrethe acted swiftly. She did not give her opponents time to gather more supporters and an army around the “resurrected prince”. He was apprehended and he would have told everything during the “investigation”. Oh yes!
- “Well, that’s just in impostor and he is son of a lowly wet nurse. He can’t even speak the lingo. Ha! Tie him to the stake”.
In that way those who had “found” him were only made to look as they had been fooled and were ridiculed. The alternative would have been for Margrethe to deal with them more firmly, and for them to lose big time.
So the impostor was burned, case closed, right!?! – If not, there is plenty of firewood around Kalmar for more fires.

Second "newspaper article":

Mistress of the North and Queen, Margrethe, dead from plague.

Copenhagen, 2th of November 1412.
According to recent message the Mistress of the North and Queen, Margrethe, died a few days ago. According to the preliminary message the Queen has died from plague.

A short time ago Queen Margrethe sailed to Southern Jutland and she had put extraordinary emphasis on that journey and she expected big results from it.
It will be remembered that her father managed to gather all of Denmark (1) but he did not manage to have Southern Jutland incorporated into the realm, or make the position of that land made clear. (2) He died just as he was about to finally solve the problem. It is both odd and thought provoking that Queen Margrethe dies just as she has decided to deal with the same problem. (3) Her ship went into Flensborg Fjord and as far as it is understood the Queen has been brought ashore on one of the Oxen Islands (in the fjord) where she has died.
With Margrethe Northern Europe has lost one of its strongest women.
When the Queen came to Denmark from Norway with her little son by the hand (4) no one expected the very young girl should be able to handle the very difficult political situation. But everyone soon thought otherwise. She immediately revealed herself as her father’s daughter. Bright, authoritative, determined and strong. But instead of King Valdemar’s wild inflexibility and ruthless purposeful activity, she had an flexibility and endless patience, which she soon used, soon didn’t use, always calm always with an eye on the smallest details in every situation.
When her son (Oluf) died she was probably in her most difficult situation in her life. Because she herself had no right or claim on anything of the realms. (5)
She handled the situation to her advantage in a remarkably short time (6) and then adopted her sister’s nephew. She could not use his difficult Slavic name, so she renamed him Erik. One of the very few names used by kings in all the three Nordic kingdoms. (7)
With him by her side she has carried on the rules of the realms and the work of her life is the unification of the three Nordic realms.
The final document of the union is however not yet finished, it is believed that Margrethe wasn’t quite pleased with it. But the countries are one and the young Erik of Pommorania has already been crowned as their rightful lord and king. So the succession and handing over of power contains no problems.

Written in newspaper style by late historian Palle Lauring.

Erik of Pommorania did not match his mother and the Kalmar Union did not survive. That however is a different story.

(1) After yet a period of turmoil King Valdemar Atterdag (Atterdag = day again) got control over the entire Denmark after one of the worst crisis in its history. Magrethe was daughter of Valdemar Atterdag.

(2) Palle Lauring here used the nationalistic term for the then independent duchies Slesvig & Holsten (Danish spelling). The duke of these duchies was always the Danish king, but he was not their king. And Schleswig & Holstein (German spelling) didn’t considered themselves part of the Danish realm. That fact naturally caused a lot of problems during the Danish history.
Modern Southern Jutland consist of the northern half of Slesvig.

(3) Far from all Danish monarchs died of old age. It is however not known whether Queen Margrethe really was assassinated.

(4) In 1376. She was married to the Norwegian King Haakon, they had a son, Oluf, who at that time was five years old. As she was a daughter of a Danish king, Margrethe’s son was in line for the Danish throne.

(5) That was after the forming of the Kalmar Union, amalgamating the three Nordic Kingdoms under her son’s sceptre. I.e. her sceptre.

(6) – “I, am in charge, right”!?! – “Yes, certainly, of course, naturally”.
- “The death of my son is not that big an issue, right”!?! – “Nope, not at all. Just a minor detail, we can solve it. No problem”.
Of course she did not only use intimidation. Most realised that Margrethe was the best for the job and most in power did not wish to see the Kalmar Union dissolved.

(7) For political reasons she had to use an outsider. She could not use one who was in direct line for say the Danish throne, that would have been unacceptable for Swedish and Norwegian nobles. It had to be her own son or an outsider. Erik. Who came from Pommorania.
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The only book on Queen Margrethe I I know is Vivian Etting's "Margrethe the First" (Margrete den forste).
A good and informative read, but too "factual" for my taste (I like a good twist). Not sure if it's available in English, but it is in German and I think French too.
The only book on Queen Margrethe I I know is Vivian Etting's "Margrethe the First" (Margrete den forste).
A good and informative read, but too "factual" for my taste (I like a good twist). Not sure if it's available in English, but it is in German and I think French too.

As my French is quite basic,I'd love to read an English version.I'll see if I can find one,many thanks for the heads up!
Vivian Etting wrote Queen Margrethe I, 1353-1412, and the Founding of the Nordic Union. :queen3:
The Kalmar Union was very much Margrethe I.

I suspect the reason for that was that she was such an intelligent ruler and a great diplomat - and at times ruthless.
But first and foremost because she was officially "only" Regent of Scandinavia and "only" a woman, who on top maintained control in her very capable hands and who had no qualms about adopting an outsider as her second son. (That he turned out to be incompetent is another matter.) She was thus palatable to the men in power.

Nevertheless a coup was attempted. Some Norwegian nobles (on behalf of whom we may wonder) managed to "find" her first and dead son "alive".
QMI had him seized promptly, "questioned" (the forlorn "son" would have talked like a parrot during his "questioning") and very symbolically had him burned at the stake at Kalmar.
The message was understood... There were no other serious rebellions or attempted coups during the rest of her reign.
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