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Margaret I (of Denmark)

From: Denmark, Norway, Sweden
Fields: Government and Politics
Key Words/Phrases: Queen of Denmark, Norway and Sweden
Margaret I (1353-1412), queen of Denmark and Norway (1387-97) and of Sweden (1389-97), and founder of the Kalmar Union. She was born in Søborg, Denmark, the youngest issue of King Waldemar IV Atterdag, and as a child she was married (1363) to King Håkon VI of Norway. After her father's death, she had her young son, Olaf, elected king of Denmark (1376) and governed in his stead, as she also did in Norway after her husband's death in 1380. When Olaf died in 1387, she was elected head of state in both countries; at the same time she had her grandnephew, Eric of Pomerania, acknowledged as her heir. Margaret faced opposition abroad from King Albert of Sweden and the count of Holstein, as well as from the encroaching Hanseatic cities. Many of the Swedish nobles, however, supported her against Albert, who was finally defeated and deposed in 1389; the Swedes then accepted Margaret as their queen. As head of the three realms, she had Eric crowned king of Denmark and Sweden in 1397 (he had been accepted as king of Norway in 1389) and had a treaty signed at Kalmar that created a union of all three countries. This was the first time the Scandinavian lands were joined under one king. Even after Eric came of age, however, Margaret retained the reins of government. She made great efforts to amalgamate the three realms, ruling with a firm hand that strengthened royal authority. She died at Flensburg on October 28, 1412, while campaigning against Holstein. The Union of Kalmar lasted nominally until 1523, when Sweden broke away. Denmark and Norway, however, remained united until 1814.

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