- John III of Sweden
John III John III portraited by Dutch artist Johan Baptista van Uther in 1582. King of Sweden Reign 30 September 1568 – 17 November 1592
( 24 years, 48 days)
Coronation 10 July 1569 Predecessor Eric XIV Successor Sigismund Spouse Catherine Jagellonica
Issue Sigismund III Vasa
John, Duke of Östergötland
House House of Vasa Father Gustav I of Sweden Mother Margaret Leijonhufvud Born 20 December 1537
Died 17 November 1592(aged 54)
Burial Uppsala Cathedral Religion Lutheran
John III (Swedish: Johan III, Finnish: Juhana III) (20 December 1537 – 17 November 1592) was King of Sweden from 1568 until his death. He was the son of King Gustav I of Sweden and his second wife Margaret Leijonhufvud. He was also, quite autonomously, the ruler of Finland, as Duke John from 1556 to 1563. In 1581 he assumed also the title Grand Prince of Finland.
He was the second son of Gustav Vasa (1523–60). His mother was Margareta Leijonhufvud (1514–51), a Swedish noblewoman. As a Duke of Finland, he opposed his half-brother Eric XIV of Sweden (1560–68) and was imprisoned in 1563. After his release from prison, probably because of his brother's insanity (see Sture Murders), John again joined the opposition, deposed Eric and made himself the king. His important ally was his maternal uncle Sten Leijonhufvud, who at deathbed was made Count of Raseborg. Shortly after this John executed his brother's most trusted counsellor, Jöran Persson, whom he held largely responsible for his harsh treatment while in prison.
John further initiated peace talks with Denmark and Lübeck to end the Scandinavian Seven Years' War, but rejected the resulting Treaties of Roskilde (1568) where his envoys had accepted far-reaching Danish demands. After two more years of fighting, this war was concluded without many Swedish concessions in the Treaty of Stettin (1570). During the following years he successfully fought Russia in the Livonian War, concluded by the Treaty of Plussa in 1583, a war that meant a Swedish reconquest of Narva. As a whole his foreign policy was affected by his connection to Poland of which country his son Sigismund III Vasa was made king in 1587.
In domestic politics John showed clear Catholic sympathies, inspired by his Polish queen, a fact that created frictions to the Swedish clergy and nobility. He launched the Red Book, which reintroduced several Catholic customs. In 1575, he gave his permission for the remaining Catholic convents in Sweden to start receiving novices again. From time to time he was also at odds with his younger brother Duke Charles of Sudermannia (afterwards Charles IX of Sweden). John III was an eager patron of art and architecture.
John III as king
In January of 1569, John was recognized as king by the same riksdag that forced Eric XIV off the throne. But this recognition was not without influence from John; Duke Karl received confirmation on his dukedom without the restrictions of his power that the Arboga articles imposed. The nobilities' power and rights were extended and their responsibilities lessened.
John was still concerned about his position as king as long as Eric was alive. The fear of a possible liberation of the locked up king worried him to the point that in 1571 he ordered the guards to, in any suspicion of liberation attempt, murder the captured king. It is possible this is how his life ended in 1577.
John III was reported like his father in propaganda, with repeated claims to have "liberated Sweden" from the "bloodhound" Christian II, as well as rescuing the population from the "tyrant" Eric XIV; also violent, hot tempered and greatly suspicious.
Johan Kristiernsson (Vasa) Erik Johansson (Vasa) Birgitta Gustavsdotter (Sture) Gustav I of Sweden (Vasa) Måns Karlsson (Eka) Cecilia Månsdotter (Eka) Sigrid Eskilsdotter (Banér) John III of Sweden Abraham Kristiernsson (Leijonhuvud) Erik Abrahamsson (Leijonhufvud) Birgitta Månsdotter (Natt och Dag) Margaret Leijonhufvud Erik Karlsson (Vasa) Ebba Eriksdotter (Vasa) Anna Karlsdotter (Vinstorpa)
John married his first wife, Catherine Jagellonica of Poland (1526–83), house of Jagiello, in Vilnius on 4 October 1562. In Sweden, she is known as Katarina Jagellonica. She was the sister of king Sigismund II Augustus of Poland. Their children were:
- Isabella (1564–66)
- Sigismund King of Sweden (1592–99), and King of Poland (1587–1632), Grand Duke of Finland and Lithuania
- Anna (1568–1625)
He married his second wife Gunilla Bielke (1568–c. 1592) on 21 February 1584; they had a son:
- John (Johan) (1589–1618), firstly Duke of Finland, then from 1608 Duke of Ostrogothia. The young duke married his first cousin Maria Elisabet (1596–1618), daughter of Charles IX of Sweden (reigned 1599–1611)
Together with his mistress Karin Hansdotter (1532–96) he had at least four illegitimate children:
- Julius Gyllenhielm (1559–81)
- Augustus (1557–60)
- Sofia (1556–83), who married Pontus De la Gardie
- Lucretia (1560–85)
John cared for Karin and their children even after he married Catherine Jagellonica, in 1562. He got Karin a husband that would care for her and the children: in 1561, she married the nobleman Klas Andersson (Västgöte), a friend and servant of John. They had a daughter named Brita. He continued supporting Karin and his illegitimate children as a king, from 1568. In 1572 Karin married again, as her first husband was murdered by Erik XIV in 1563, to a Lars Henrikson, whom John ennobled in 1576 to care for his issue with Karin. The same year, he made his daughter Sofia a lady in the castle, as a servant to his sister Princess Elisabet. In 1580, John married her to Pontus de la Gardie. She later died giving birth to Jacob De la Gardie.
- History of Sweden: Foundation of Modern Sweden.
John IIIBorn: 20 December 1537 Died: 17 November 1592
- Signum svenska kulturhistoria: Renässansen (2005).
Regnal titles New creation Duke of Finland
King of Sweden
Duke of Finland
John, Duke of Ostrogothia
New creation Grand Duke of Finland
Swedish princes The generations indicate descent from Gustav I, of the House of Vasa, and continues through the Houses of Palatinate-Zweibrücken, Holstein-Gottorp; and the Bernadotte, the adoptive heirs of the House of Holstein-Gottorp, who were adoptive heirs of the Palatinate-Zweibrückens'. 1st generation 2nd generation 3rd generationWładysław IV Vasa, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania# · Prince Christopher# · Prince John Casimir# · John II Casimir Vasa, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania# · Prince Alexander Charles# · John Albert, Prince-Bishop of Warmia and Kraków# · Prince Charles Ferdinand, Duke of Opole# 4th generationPrince Sigismund Casimir# · Prince John Sigismund# · Charles XI 5th generation 6th generationAdolf Frederick* 7th generation 8th generation 9th generation 10th generation 11th generation 12th generation 13th generation 14th generation 15th generation *prince through adoption or election
**also prince of Norway
^lost his title due to an unequal marriage
#also prince of Poland and Lithuania
~also prince by marriage
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