Peder Skram

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Peder Skram
Peder Skram painting.jpg
Portrait of Peder Skram by unknown artist
Nickname(s) Denmark's Dare-devil
Born Between 1491–1503
Horsens, Denmark
Died 11 July 1581
Horsens, Denmark
Allegiance  Denmark
Service/branch  Royal Danish Navy
Years of service 1518–1562
Rank Admiral

Peder Skram (died 11 July 1581) was a Danish senator and naval hero, born between 1491 and 1503, at his father's estate at Urup near Horsens in Jutland.

He first saw service in the Swedish war of Christian II at the battle of Brännkyrka, 1518, and at the battle of Upsala two years later he saved the life of the Danish standard-bearer. For his services in this war he was rewarded with an estate in Norway, where he settled for a time with his young consort Elsebe Krabbe.

During the Count's Feud (Danish: Grevens fejde), Skram, whose reputation as a sailor was already established, was sent by the Danish government to assist Gustavus Vasa, then in alliance with Christian III against the partisans of Christian II, to organize the untried Swedish fleet; and Skram seems, for the point is still obscure, to have shared the chief command with the Swedish Admiral Mans Some. Skram greatly hampered the movements of the Hanseatic fleets who fought on the side of Christian II; captured a whole Lübeck squadron off Svendborg, and prevented the revictualling of Copenhagen by Lübeck. But the incurable suspicion of Gustavus I minimized the successes of the allied fleets throughout 1535. Skram's services were richly rewarded by Christian III, who knighted him at his coronation, made him a senator and endowed him with ample estates.

In 1555, feeling too infirm to go to sea, he resigned his post of admiral; but when the Scandinavian Seven Years' War broke out seven years later; and the new king, Frederick II, offered Skram the chief command, he agreed to go. With a large fleet he put to sea in August 1562 and compelled the Swedish admiral, after a successful engagement off the coast of Gotland, to take refuge behind the Skerries.

This, however, was his sole achievement, and he was superseded at the end of the year by Herluf Trolle. Skram now retired from active service, but was twice (1565–1568) unsuccessfully besieged by the Swedes in his castle of Laholm. His estates in Halland were also repeatedly ravaged by the enemy. Skram died; at an advanced age, at Urup on 11 July 1581.

Skram's audacity won for him the nickname of "Denmark's Dare-devil", and he contributed perhaps more than any other Dane of his day to destroy the Hanseatic dominion of the Baltic. His humanity was equally remarkable; he often imperilled his life by preventing his crews from plundering.

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Further reading[edit]

  • Axel Larsen, Dansk-Norske Heltehistorier (Copenhagen, 1893)