Catherine Sunesdotter

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Catherine of Sweden (1244) effigy 1905.jpg
Tomb of Catherine
Queen consort of Sweden
Gudhem Abbey
Gudhem Abbey
SpouseEric XI of Sweden
HouseHouse of Bjelbo
FatherSune Folkason
MotherHelena Sverkersdotter of Sweden

Catherine Sunesdotter (Swedish: Karin Sunadotter or Katarina Sunesdotter), (c. 1215 – 1252), was Queen of Sweden from 1244 to 1250 as consort to King Eric XI of Sweden. In her later years she served as abbess of Gudhem Abbey.

Heir of the Sverker dynasty[edit]

Catherine was the eldest daughter of Helena Sverkersdotter and Sune Folkason. Catherine did not have any brothers, but a sister, Benedikte Sunesdotter of Bjelbo. Catherine's maternal grandparents were King Sverker II and Queen Benedicta. Descending from the families of Bjelbo and Sverker, she was a member of one of the Geatish clans. Catherine's father Sune Folkason was Lord of Ymseborg, lawspeaker of Västergötland, and in some literature he is referred to as Earl of the Swedish.

Queen of Sweden[edit]

Eric XI (1215–50) of the Eric dynasty became king in 1222 and was exiled by co-king Canute II of Sweden from 1229 to 1234. Eric returned to Sweden on Canute's death in 1234 and served as king until his own death in 1250. Young Eric was, according to semi-legendary material, physically lame and spoke with a stutter ("läspe och halte"), and he was reportedly of a kindly nature. Eric and Catherine were married in order to strengthen Eric's claim to the throne, as Catherine was of royal blood on her mother's side. The marriage took place in 1243 or 1244, at Fyrisängen near Uppsala. Catherine had received an immense dower upon the marriage: some legends speak romantically about "half the kingdom".

Since she immediately devoted herself to a sequestered religious life and not to family at Eric's death, the conclusion has tended to be that they did not have any surviving children. The underage Valdemar Birgersson, a nephew of king Eric, was chosen as the next King of Sweden.

Queen dowager and abbess[edit]

Upon the death of her husband, the now Queen Dowager retreated to Gudhem Abbey. Because Scandinavian customary law dictated that no clan property could be held by a member of a religious order, she transferred some lands, including her queenly dower, to certain relatives and gave others as donations to ecclesiastical institutions. For example, her sister Benedikta received as a gift from her the town of Söderköping. The Queen Dowager soon became the Abbess of Gudhem Abbey, and served in that position until her death in 1252.


  • Lars O. Lagerqvist (1982). "Sverige och dess regenter under 1.000 år",("Sweden and its rulers during 1000 years") (in Swedish). Albert Bonniers Förlag AB. ISBN 91-0-075007-7.
Katarina Sunesdotter
Born: 1215 Died: 1252
Royal titles
Title last held by
Helena Pedersdotter
Queen consort of Sweden
Title next held by
Sofia Eriksdotter