The Black Death
“Bring out your dead.”
A ship from eastern England carried the plague across the sea to Sweden, in 1350. Sweden was the last kingdom to feel the effects. The humans avoided each other and most of the cats left town. Nobody knows what the canines did. They probably spent their time wandering the streets and writing doggerel. People didn’t bother about their relatives and stopped visiting friends. Parents refused to tend their children. Bodies were shoved out of the house and left on the front porch.
The population decreased by a third, and the weather changed. It got colder and rained more. Crops failed. King Magnus imposed new taxes and pawned the crown jewels. Gotland got plundered by Valdemar Atterdag, the king of Denmark. It was the worst of times.
After a while Albrecht of Mecklenburg was made king of Sweden even though he wasn’t Swedish. All of this sounds so familiar somehow. Albrecht (Albert) didn’t do much of anything historical, except add three crowns to the Swedish coat of arms.
Sweden was being run by the foreigners that deposed Magnus Eriksson. The most powerful of these was, Bo Jonsson Grip, who is sometimes referred to as, Bo the Greedy. He owned all of Finland, more than half of Sweden, and the pawn tickets for the crown jewels.
When Bo died everything went up for grabs. Albecht said he was the rightful inheritor, but Sweden’s lords weren’t buying that. They were afraid the Germans would end up with Bo’s stuff and went to Demark to talk to Queen Margareta. Margareta had been married to King Haakon, the son of Magnus, and inherited Norway when he died. The Swedes asked if she would like to be Sweden’s, ‘chosen mistress and rightful lord’. She was happy to do that, but Albrecht was totally not happy. He called her, King Trouserless.
It wasn’t easy for Margareta. Battles were fought with German mercenaries, and firearms were used for the first time, but they were too heavy to carry and had to be propped up in order to be fired.
Margareta managed to hold on to the Faeroes, Shetlands and the Orkneys, but this never amounted to much because there weren’t that many people living in those places. She never littered and chose the six year old son of her sister’s daughter to be her successor. His name was Erik, almost everyone was named Erik back then. He was crowned in Kalmar, and became king of Norway, Denmark, and Sweden when he was sixteen.
Margareta wrote the Letter of Union, which said each country should be ruled by its own laws, and if they were attacked the other countries would come to help them. Nobody remembers if this became a law, but things went fairly well at first. The counties had a lot in common and they were all worried about the Germans.
* * *
I need a break. Writing history is tiring, I mean like, it takes forever. And the sun is out. It’s warm in Sweden. I’m going to take a long nap, or maybe a sunbath . . . maybe both at the same time. I’ll be back in a couple weeks with Chapter 6 and more about the Germans.