Charles Ulvsson, Lord of Tofta

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Charles of Tofta, a.k.a. Karl Ulfson (died 1407) was a 14th-century Swedish magnate and High Constable of Sweden.

Lord Charles always signed himself as "of Tofta", which has given his whole ancestral lineage its later genealogical name, although his paternal grandfather for example did not possess Tofta manor. The manor of Tofta, in Adelsö, Uppland, was his main seat, and his other remarkable manor was Ekholmen, in Veckholm, same province.

He was born as the son of the first marriage of knight Ulf Abjörnson of Engso, justiciar of Tiohärad (d 1347) with Kristina Sigmundsdotter of the family of Tre Klöverblad. His and his father's Coat of Arms was a chevron ('spar') wherefore this family is regarded as one of numerous medieval Scandinavian families retrospectively named Sparre - probably this family was the most prominent of them all. Through his paternal grandmother, Charles was a descendant of the Ulv branch of the Folkunge (Bjelbo) clan and thus numbered some ancient Swedish earls among his ancestors. His birth year is unknown to us, but scholarly estimates point to 1320s or early 1330s at latest.

His uncle was Niels Abjörnson of Salsta, High Seneschal of Sweden. And Charles' grandfather and Niels' father knight Abjörn Sixtenson, Lord of Engso, also High Seneschal, had been Duke Eric's important ally.

As young, Charles studied in Paris, quite rare for a secular noble of his era. He was advertised as one of learned men in Sweden during his later caree. It is clear that he was literate. Charles was knighted between 1354–58, possibly Summer 1355.

He was summoned to the membership of the High Council of Sweden from 1356 at latest. He also acted as lawspeaker of Uppland.

Charles' stepmother Märta Sunadotter of Hultboda, heiress of Fogelvik, was sister of Erengisle Sunason of Hultboda, Earl of Orkney, with whom Charles generally was in same party in Swedish high politics. From 1356, they supported young king Eric's attempts to rise to equal rulership with, or to depose, his father king Magnus IV of Sweden.

Charles' half-sister Ingeborg Ulfsdotter of Engso was in early 1350s married to a young nobleman of the Nordhankaer family who were of the lion clan, Benedict, Duke of Halland and Finland, the favorite of king Magnus IV of Sweden. For some years, things went relatively cordially, but the royal favorite was under increasing attacks and dissatisfaction from the party of high nobility. Duke Benedict repudiated Duchess Ingeborg sometime in c 1356, which made Charles his enemy. In 1360, Charles was with troops in Scania guarding against the former favorite's attempts. Duke Benedict was besieged at the castle of Rönneholm, and according to tales, Charles personally took part in killing him.

Lord Charles supported Albert III of Mecklenburg to become king of Sweden. In Albert's reign, lord Charles was the High Constable (riksmarsk) of Sweden 1364-71. He however accepted queen Margaret's rule when she had deposed Albert in 1388-89.

Apparently Albert had appointed him as the castellan of Viipuri (see margrave of Viipuri) sometime in the 1380s. He continued in this responsible and very autonomous position over the change of ruler, up until 1399.

He was married several times, possibly as many as five, but had lousy success in siring surviving children.

With his first wife (wed 6 May 1352) Ingrid Eriksdotter of Boberg, daughter of Erik of Boberg (Erik Larsson), PC, and his wife Birgitta Knutsdotter who was a daughter of knight Knut Folkason of the Algotssöner, himself son of Ingrid Svantepolksdotter, the one with royal descent, Charles had son Knut Karlson of Tofta, the only son who survived to adulthood. Knut also was knighted, served as PC, and was from 1376 justiciar of Södermanland, but predeceased his father, dying probably in 1389 (possibly fell in battle), and was childless and apparently unmarried.

Charles' second wife, from 1363, was Helena Israelsdotter of Finsta, who died 1375 at latest, daughter of Israel Birgersson of Finsta, PC, last male of Finsta family, justiciar of Uppland, and Helena was sister of Charles' first cousin Philip Nielson of Salsta's wife Ramborg Israelsdotter of Finsta. There are no indications of any surviving children of either marriage.

His third wife was a Cecilia. The fourth, and the possible fifth, wife's names are unknown to us, but one of them bore him a daughter, Margaret, sometime around the 1380s or early 1390s.

Marshal Charles inherited in c 1389 his childless son who had inherited a sizable property from his maternal kin, the Boberg lords. Also in c 1389, Charles inherited his remaining half-sister, the childless Kristina Ulvsdotter, heiress of Fogelvik, widow of lord Peder Ribbing and of Niels of Rickeby, heiress of her sister Duchess Ingeborg of Halland and Finland, and her mother Märta Sunadotter, a daughter of Sune Jonsson, justiciar of Tiohärad, one of the first margraves of Viipuri.

When old, Charles had only one remaining issue, his young daughter Margareta Karlsdotter of Tofta (c 1380s - 1429), who presumably only after Charles' death was given to marriage, and in turn married twice, first knight Knut Tordsson Bonde from Penningby and secondly 1414 Steen Tureson, lord of Vik and Örby. Through his daughter Margaret, Charles became grandfather of Charles VIII of Sweden and Birgitta Steensdotter of Vik, heiress of Örby and Ekholmen, who made him great-grandfather of the long-time Regent Steen Sture the Old and Birgitta Gustavsdotter of Revsnes, who became grandmother of Gustav I of Sweden.

The retired Lord High Constable Charles died in November 1407, at a great age, narrated as 90, but likely not so high in truth. Chronological reasons do not easily allow his birth as early as in 1317, rather it had been something like a decade later.

Sources[edit]

Äldre svenska frälsesläkter, by Folke Wernstedt, 1957