Erik Gets Married
Erik had ambitious marriage plans. He sent his ministers to proposition every single queen and princess they could find. Both Queen Elizabeth, and Mary Stuart (Scotland) turned him down. He fooled around with mistresses while waiting for a wife, and fathered several kids. One of the peasants who took care of them was red-haired Karin Månsdotter. She also gave birth to one of his children, Gustav, when she was sixteen.
Erik became more and more paranoid. He thought some of the nobles were plotting against him and had them thrown into prison. Four of them were murdered there. Then Erik disappeared. They found him wondering the hills with some serious mental problems. Karin Månsdotter was the only person able to calm him down. She finally got him calm enough to marry her in the cathedral at Stockholm in 1568. It was a good career move for Karen. She was now eighteen, and queen of Sweden.
Erik’s family and high nobility did not accept the marriage. This turned into a revolt led by two of his brothers. (Paranoia is often a heightened state of awareness.) They surrounded the castle in Stockholm and Erik’s supporters decided it would be better to support someone else. Erik was force to hand over Jöran Persson (Erik’s Evil Genius – Chapter 9). The rebels had a good time torturing him, then chopped his head off. Jöran had it coming, then they killed his witchy mother for good measure. Erik was deposed and spent the rest of his life imprisoned in both Sweden and Finland.
Karen almost went to prison, but the new King, Johan III gave her a nice estate in Finland. Erik was poisoned while in prison almost ten years later, and son Gustav died outside of Moscow.
The fancy hat he’s wearing means he was a college grad, and had a doctoral degree. People still get doctoral degrees, but the hats have gone out of style. Johan was fairly weird. He kept a silver hammer hanging from his belt and threw it at anyone who came with bad news. Sometimes he hammered on the table with it. He was smart, but impractical and clueless about money.
Johan liked to build things. He assembled master architects and artisans and involved himself as much as he could in their work. They built castles in Stockholm, Kalmar, and Uppsala, and built churches everywhere. His wife, who was eleven years his senior, died when she was forty-six. He then married a sixteen-year-old, Gunilla Bielke.
Gunilla talked him into becoming a Protestant, and he made many new rules about religious services. Clergymen were forced to iron their shirts, and stop wearing boots and spurs to church. They were no longer allowed to throw their caps and mittens on the altar.
Johan built many monuments as well, and royal graves. He never worried about cost. The economy suffered. Inflation got as high as 100%, but nobody mentioned this problem to the Johan. They were probably worried about the hammer. He built more than any other king of Sweden.
When the Polish throne became vacant in 1587 Johan put forth his son, a crown prince named Sigismund, as a candidate. He was crowned in Cracow. Poles remember him as being stubborn, sluggish, and silent. Johan died in 1592, and Sigismund became King of Sweden.
Next Week – Sigismund and Civil War