Sverker II of Sweden

Sverker II of Sweden

Sverker The Younger Karlsson or "Sverker den yngre Karlsson" in Swedish (Old Norse: "Sörkvir Karlsson") (born before 1167, probably already c. 1164 – died July 17 1210 in the Battle of Gestilren), was king of Sweden from 1196 to 1208.


He was a son of king Karl Sverkersson of Sweden and queen Christine Stigsdatter of Hvide [ [ - Person Page 11307 ] ] , a Danish noblewoman. His parents' marriage has been dated to 1162 or 1163.

When his father Charles had been murdered in Visingsö in 1167, apparently by (minions of) the next king, Knut Eriksson, the boy Sverker was taken to Denmark and grew up there in the clan of his mother's (Hvide, leaders of Zealand). Sverker also allied himself with the Galen clan (leaders in Skåne) who were close to the Hvide anyway, by marriage with lady Benedikte. The Danish king used him as claimant to Sweden, thus helping to destabilize the neighboring country yet more.

However, when king Canute I of Sweden died in 1196, (Knut's sons were only children at the time, as chronicles claim) Sverker was chosen, surprisingly without quarrel, as the next king of Sweden, and he returned to his native country, however being regarded quite Danished... his uncontested election was largely thanks to Jarl Birger Brosa, whose daughter Ingegerd he married soon after his first wife had died.

"Skáldatal" names two of Sverker's court skalds: Sumarliði skáld and Þorgeirr Danaskáld.


King Sverker had a church-friendly policy. He confirmed and enlarged privileges for the Swedish church and the archbishop Valerius of Uppsala. This privilege document of 1200 is the oldest known ecclesiastical privilege in Sweden.

In 1202 Earl Birger died and the late jarl's grandson, Sverker's one-year old son John received the title of Jarl from his father. This was intended to strengthen him as heir of the crown.

Around 1203, Canute's four sons, who had lived in Swedish royal court, began to claim the throne and Sverker exiled them to Norway. His kinship became unsecured from this forward. The boys returned with troops in 1205, supported by the Norwegian party of Birkebeiner, but Sverker succeeded in winning them in the battle of Älgarås, where three of them fell. The only survivor returned with Norwegian support in 1208 and in the battle of Lena Sverker was defeated. Sverker's troops were commanded by Ebbe Suneson, the father of his late first wife and brother of archbishop Andrew of Lund. King Eric X of Sweden drove Sverker to exile to Denmark.

Pope Innocentius III's attempt to have the crown returned to Sverker did not succeed.

Sverker made a military expedition, with Danish support, to Sweden, but was conquered and killed in the Battle of Gestilren in 1210. The ancient sources state that "he was killed by the Folkung clan".


With his first wife, Danish noblewoman Benedicta Ebbesdatter (Galen, apparently not Hvide as otherwise alleged, b. c. 1165/70, d. 1200), whom he married before 1190 when yet living in Denmark, Sverker had at least one well-attested daughter, Helena, as well as possibly further children, such as Karl (who died in adolescence at the latest, if ever lived; but his existence is from the record that he is alleged to have married a daughter of king Sverre of Norway), and possibly even two other daughters (if they existed, their names are given by reconstructive history research as Margaret and Kristina - however they may just have been Sverker's first wife's kinswomen). Later pretensions of the House of Mecklenburg claim that Sverker's daughter (if he had such) Christina was their ancestress, wife of Henry II of Mecklenburg ("Henry Borwin" in some later texts).

The second marriage in 1200 with Ingegerd of Bjelbo, daughter of the Folkunge Jarl Birger Brosa produced a son and heir, Jon (1201-1222), who was chosen king of Sweden 1216 as John I of Sweden.

His certain daughter Helena Sverkersdotter married (earl) Sune Folkason of the family of Bjelbo, justiciar of Västergötland. Their daughters Karin and Benedikte became pawns in marriages to gain Swedish succession after 1222, when the Sverker dynasty went extinct in male line. Catherine was married to the rival dynasty's heir Eric XI of Sweden (but they remained apparently childless), and Benedikte had several daughters, who married high Swedish noblemen. Through Benedikte descend a number of powerfuls of Swedish politics throughout centuries.


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