Ingeborg Tott

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St. George and the Dragon in Storkyrkan in Stockholm. The face of the princess is believed to bear the face of Ingeborg Tott.

Lady Ingeborg Åkesdotter Tott (or Ingeborg Aagesdotter of the Thott), in her lifetime called Ingeborg Åkesdotter (1440s–1507), was a Swedish noble, the consort of the Swedish regent Sten Sture the elder (reign 1470–97 and 1501–03). She was also the fiefholder and regent of Häme in Finland. She functioned as the de facto queen consort of Sweden for over three decades. The marriage produced no heirs.

Background[edit]

Daughter of the Danish noble and knight Axel Åkesson (1405–1477), governor in the castle of Örebro, and Märtha Bengtsdotter (d. 1480). She was first married to the noble Sten Bielke. She was engaged to the Norwegian noble Hans Sigurdsen in 1464, but he died the same year. She married to Sture in 1467. Her uncle was the spouse of Princess Magdalena of Sweden, daughter of king Charles and queen Catherine of Sweden. Another relative was the infamous Brita Tott. Her spouse was made regent in 1470.

Wife of the regent[edit]

Fru Ingeborg ("lady Ingeborg"), as she was called, was what one might call a renaissance-personality; highly interested in science, theology and education, and known as the patron of the development in this issues. She encouraged the foundation of the first secular university in Sweden, the Uppsala Academy and the Uppsala University in 1477, and gave large and independent donations from her own money to print books and finance libraries. She also took an interest in religion and in the order of the Carmelites; she benefited the Carmelite convent of Varberg, founded by her father, and supported the foundation of the first convent of the Carthusian Order in Sweden, the Carthusian convent of Mariefred (1493). She financed the printing of Alanus de Rupes famous Latin book about the psalm of the Virgin Mary (1498). The court of Sten Sture and Ingeborg are described as being a jolly one.

Ingeborg is described as wise, brave, talented, and as the equal and match of her spouse in these areas. In their private correspondence, Sten Sture referred to her as "My dearest Combrade", and entrusted her with political tasks: in 1503, for example, he wrote that he had received her report that a ship from Lübeck had reported about a future meeting between the Hanseatic city of Lübeck and the Danish monarch, and gave her the assignment of trying to find out when and were this meeting was to take place.

In his absence, she was recommended for her wise rule over fortresses and counties. During her spouse's reign, the country was a de facto independent nation, though a union with Denmark in name. Despite her Danish origin, she became known for her loyalty toward her spouse and her new home country.

During the Battle of Brunkeberg 1471 she called the poor of Stockholm to the castle of Tre Kronor and fed them in exchange for their prayers for victory. She then joined her ladies-in-waiting, who watched the battle praying for victory from the castle-walls.

In 1483, when her spouse was absent in Gotland, a riot broke out on the streets of Stockholm: the noble Sten Kristiansson Oxentstierna murdered a commoner, and the public tried to lynch him. Ingeborg ventured out on the streets to try to calm down the riot, but was pushed to the ground and almost trampled to death in the crowds. When her spouse returned, he became very angry, and had to be prevented by the parliament from exacting revenge upon the inhabitants of the city; he did, however, lecture them so severely that the city remained calm during the rest of his reign.

In 1497, the union with Denmark was reestablished, and the Danish king made regent of Sweden. Ingeborg and her spouse left for Finland, where they held a grand court at Tavastehus Castle. In 1501, a rebellion broke out against Denmark, and her spouse was again made regent. Stockholm was taken after a siece from the Danish queen, Christina of Saxony, who at her surrender turned herself over to Ingeborg, who met her at the castle and followed her to a convent (1502).

By her participation in her spouse's rebellion against Denmark, she lost her Danish property: she had in 1476 been given equal inheritance rights with her brothers after their parents.

In 1503, Sten Sture died. He was at the time of his death not in the company of Ingeborg, and she was unaware that he had died. Hemming Gadh kept the news of his death from her and informed his relative Svante Sture. Svante Sture had the desire to be elected regent, which had caused a conflict with Sten Sture at the time. There were concerns that Ingeborg would oppose the new regime by refusing to turn over the strategic castles in Finland, which she commanded in the name of her spouse, as well as the castle of Stockholm and Kalmar, and that she would turn the garrisons on these castles toward the new regime, which could easily be done if they had not been paid by the state before the new regime was installed.

Hemming Gadh also reported, that the payment of the garrison at Kalmar was sent by Ingeborg and on the way. In fear of her resistance, Svante Sture gave the order that the death of Sten Sture should be consealed from Ingeborg until the payment had reached Kalmar, and that, in the event that Ingeborg herself were to travel to Sten Sture, she should be stopped on her way.

Informed about the death of her spouse, Ingeborg did turn over her command of the castles in Finland and Sweden, but kept the weapons and food supplies of the garrisons.

Later life[edit]

After the death of Sten Sture, Ingeborg withdraw to her estates. In 1504, she was given the fief of her late spouse, Häme Castle in Finland for life, where she ruled as an interdependently. In 1505, the castellan Folke Gregerinpolka tried to take the castle by force with the support of the council, but Ingeborg was supported by the public and by some of the nobility, and his troops had to retreat. Her rule only lasted two more years after this, however: she died at Jönköping in 1507.

The Princess in the group of sculptures "Sankt Göran och Draken" (Saint George and the Dragon) in the Storkyrkan in Stockholm, which were made in 1471-1475, are considered to bear the features of Ingeborg.

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