Albert II, Duke of Mecklenburg

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Albert II, Duke of Mecklenburg
Albert II of Mecklenburg.jpg
Portrait of Duke Albert II of Mecklenburg
Spouse(s) Euphemia of Sweden
Adelheid of Hohenstein
Noble family House of Mecklenburg
Father Henry II, Lord of Mecklenburg
Mother Anna of Saxe-Wittenberg
Born c. 1318
Died 18 February 1379(1379-02-18)

Albrecht II Duke of Mecklenburg (c. 1318 – February 18, 1379) was a feudal lord in Northern Germany on the shores of the Baltic Sea. He reigned as the head of the House of Mecklenburg, his princely seat located in Schwerin beginning in the 1350s.

Albrecht was born in Schwerin as the second (but eldest surviving) son of Lord Henry II of Mecklenburg (c. 1266-1329), Lord of Stargard (Stari Gard), of the old Vendic princely clan of the Obotrites, and his second wife Princess Anna of Saxe-Wittenberg (d. 1327), of the princely Ascanian House.

Duke Albert succeeded his father as reigning Prince (or Lord) of Mecklenburg in 1329. He was also keenly interested in obtaining some power in Scandinavia, e.g. fiefs or income. The Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund elevated Mecklenburg to the status of a Duchy on 1 July 1347, through which Albrecht (together with his younger brother John) became the first Duke of Mecklenburg.

On 10 April 1336, Albert married a kinswoman, the Scandinavian heiress Euphemia of Sweden and Norway. Her father was Eric of Sweden, Duke of Södermanland and Halland, her mother Princess Ingeborg of Norway, the heiress and the only legitimate daughter of King Haakon V of Norway. Through this marriage, Albert gained standing in Sweden by means of his wife's hereditary estates and ancestral connections. These enabled him to participate in the internal politics of Scandinavia. Albert acquired the nickname "The Fox of Mecklenburg" from the Swedes to evoke his scheming and avarice.

Albert arranged for his eldest son, the future Henry III of Mecklenburg, to marry Ingeborg, the eldest daughter and potential heiress of King Valdemar IV of Denmark. Prince Henry married her sometime around 1362, and their infant son was soon offered unsuccessfully as heir to the kingdom of Denmark in competition with Waldemar's youngest daughter, Queen Margaret of Norway, the future ruler of the Kalmar Union.

Albert's brother-in-law King Magnus IV of Sweden was drawn into grave difficulties beginning in the 1350s. Mighty nobles attempted to curb the concentration of royal power in Sweden and set up Magnus's own elder son Eric as a rival king. After young Eric's death, Albert's second son and namesake Albert became the next puppet claimant of the noble party in Sweden.

Duke Albert was deeply involved in trying to make his son king in Sweden, but himself the real power behind the throne. The younger Albert deposed his uncle Magnus IV from the Swedish throne and ascended it as King Albert of Sweden.

Already in Albert's and Euphemia's lifetime it was recognized that her genealogical position would become a pivotal point for many future claims to the Scandinavian thrones.

When his first wife died, Duke Albert married a second time to countess Adelheid of Hohenstein, daughter of count Ulrich of Hohenstein. That marriage apparently was childless.

Duke Albert had five surviving children born of the marriage with Euphemia: his sons Henry, Albert and Magnus and daughters Ingeborg and Anna. For more details on their issue, see the genealogical section in Euphemia of Sweden.

On the basis of his own ancestry, Albert felt himself entitled to assert political standing in Sweden as a descendant and heir of two women whom legends tied to Swedish royal houses as daughters of kings:

  • Albert's father's paternal great-grandmother, a Scandinavian noblewoman named Christina, who was the wife of Henry Borwin II of Mecklenburg, was claimed at least by later tradition to have been a daughter of King Sverker II of Sweden. Swedish sources attest, however, that Sverker II had a son John and a daughter Helena, who married a Swedish nobleman. No further children are documented in sources close to Sweden of that time. Christina was the mother of John I of Mecklenburg, whose son was Henry I of Mecklenburg.
  • Albert's father's maternal grandmother, a Scandinavian noblewoman named Marianna, the first wife of Duke Barnim I of Pomerania (d 1278), lord of Wolgast, was claimed to have been a daughter of King Eric X of Sweden and his wife Richeza of Denmark. Sources of the time are scarce, however, and there is not much attestation of marriages, fates and precise names of the daughters of Eric X. Marianna gave birth to an only surviving child, e daughter named Anastasia, who became the wife of Henry I of Mecklenburg and mother of Henry II.

The Sverker dynasty had long been extinct, having lost the throne ultimately to King Eric XI of Sweden. The male line dynasty of King Eric was also now extinct, and his other daughters had been sidestepped by Birger Jarl, the husband of his (possibly youngest) daughter Ingeborg, who took care to secure the kingship to his own sons. Duke Albert helped to embellish and disseminate the legends of his mother's Swedish royal connections and used them as pretexts for his own royal aspirations.

Albert II, Duke of Mecklenburg
Cadet branch of the House of Mecklenburg
Born: 1318 Died: February 18 1379
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Henry II
Lord of Mecklenburg
Succeeded by
Became Duke
Preceded by
New creation
Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Succeeded by
Henry III
Preceded by
Nicholas I
Count of Schwerin