Margaret Leijonhufvud

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Margaret Leijonhufvud
Margareta Leijonhufvud.jpg
Queen consort of Sweden
Tenure 1 October 1536 – 26 August 1551
Spouse Gustav I of Sweden
Issue John III of Sweden
Catherine, Countess of East Frisia
Cecilia, Margravine of Baden-Rodemachern
Magnus, Duke of Östergötland
Anna Maria, Countess Palatine of Veldenz
Sophia, Duchess of Saxe-Lauenburg
Elizabeth, Duchess of Mecklenburg-Gadebusch
Charles IX of Sweden
Father Erik Abrahamsson Leijonhufvud
Mother Ebba Eriksdotter Vasa
Born 1 January 1516
Died 26 August 1551
Burial Uppsala Cathedral
Queen Margaret as shown on her grave monument.

Margaret Leijonhufvud (née Margareta Eriksdotter; 1 January 1516 in Ekeberg Castle, Närke – 26 August 1551 in Tynnelsö Castle, Södermanland) was Queen of Sweden from 1536 to 1551 as the wife of King Gustav I. She belonged to the early Leijonhufvud clan of Swedish nobility (the name meaning Lion's Head).



Margaret Leijonhuvfud was a member of one of Sweden's most powerful noble families, daughter of Erik Abrahamsson Leijonhufvud, a man executed in the Stockholm bloodbath, and Ebba Eriksdotter Vasa (a relative of the king). She was already engaged when the king decided to marry her after the death of his first spouse Catherine of Saxe-Lauenburg. Her family broke off the engagement for the sake of the king, and her fiance married her sister instead.

A story describes how her sister's marriage came about:

The king caught his new queen and her former fiancé together alone, with the young man, Svante Sture, on his knees before the queen. The king asked in a rage: "What is this?!" and Queen Margaret swiftly answered, "My Lord Sture is asking me for the hand of my sister!" At this, the king just as swiftly answered: "Granted!" And so, Svante Sture hastily married the queen's sister Martha Leijonhufvud. Unfortunately, she was a woman so dominating that she was nicknamed King Martha. It does not seem that Queen Margaret and Svante Sture ever again did anything that could be seen as improper. If they did, they were not discovered.

During the first years of their marriage, Margaret's mother Ebba played a dominating role in the royal court, and it was said that even the king did not dare to oppose his mother-in-law; her influence, however, was not political.


Margaret was described as intelligent and beautiful, and the marriage was considered a happy one. The king was not known to be unfaithful to her. Queen Margaret is credited with meaningful influence over the monarch. Her influence was of the kind accepted for a queen consort — that of speaking to the king on the behalf of others. She was very active in this regard and often successful, something Gustavus himself admitted, when he reduced a sentence at her request.[1] However, she is not said to have used her influence to promote any personal agenda of any kind, and did not pressure him more than was traditionally suitable for a queen consort. Her behavior contrasted with that of Queen Gunilla Bielke, who was said to meddle in politics. Margaret was not thus not considered politically active.[1]

Margaret allegedly had the ability to keep the monarchs temperament under control, and was a calming influence on him. She managed to get punishments he meted out reduced, and advised him to show mercy and leniency, all of which made her popular.[2] She made donations to the still active Vadstena Abbey, following the example of her family: her mother was also the benefactor of Vreta Abbey.[3] Margaret often used the services of a cunning woman, the peasant-wife Brigitta Andersdotter, whom she often hired to see to the health of herself, her sister Märtha and their children, and who was much appreciated for her skill. Queen Margaret devoted her life to domestic duties and family life. She remained a Catholic her entire life, and it was painful for her to make clothes and curtains of the textiles that the king had confiscated from Catholic convents.

The monarch trusted Queen Margaret. He gave her tasks, such as supervising the governors of royal estates and power holders such as bailiffs or landholders to prevent power abuse that could breed political unrest. In 1543, he asked her to send spies to Södermanland to investigate whether there was any truth in rumored plans for rebellion there.[1] In the early 1540s, he instructed the governors of the royal castles to keep them for her in her name until his son became of age, if he should die while his heir was still a child. In his succession order of 1544, he stated that if he should die when he successor was still a child, Margaret should rule as regent in a guardian government with representatives of the nobility.[1]


Margaret was almost constantly pregnant, which devastated her health.[2] In August 1551, she and her children made an excursion by boat on Mälaren between Gripsholm and Västerås, and on their return, she took ill with pneumonia. According to the chronicle of Aegidius Girs, Margaret thanked her consort on her death bed for making her queen, regretted that she had not been worthy of it, and asked her children not to quarrel. When she died, she was deeply mourned by the king. Tradition say that an eclipse took place upon her death. She died at Tynnelsö Castle.[4]

Grave monument to Margaret, Gustav and his first consort Catherine (far side) over their crypt in Uppsala Cathedral


Abraham Kristiernsson (Leijonhufvud)
Erik Abrahamsson (Leijonhufvud)
Birgitta Månsdotter (Natt och Dag)
Margaret Leijonhufvud
Erik Karlsson (Vasa)
Ebba Eriksdotter (Vasa)
Anna Karlsdotter (Vinstorpa)


  1. John III (Johan III) (1537–1592), Duke of Finland, King of Sweden 1567-1592
  2. Catherine (1539–1610), wife of Edzard II, Count of East Frisia
  3. Cecilia (1540–1627), wife of Christopher II, Margrave of Baden-Rodemachern
  4. Magnus (1542–1595), Duke of Västanstång (western Östergötland) and Count of Dal (Dalsland), mentally ill
  5. Karl (1544-1544)
  6. Anna Maria (1545–1610), wife of George John I, Count Palatine of Veldenz
  7. Sten (1546–1547)
  8. Sophia (1547–1611), wife of Duke Magnus II of Saxe-Lauenburg, who was nephew of Catherine of Saxe-Lauenburg
  9. Elizabeth (1549–1597), wife of Christopher, Duke of Mecklenburg-Gadebusch
  10. Charles IX (Karl IX) (1550–1611), Duke of Södermanland, Närke, Värmland and northern Västergötland, Regent of Sweden 1599-1604, King of Sweden 1604-1611


  1. ^ a b c d Karin Tegenborg Falkdalen (2010). Vasadöttrarna (The Vasa Daughters). Falun: Historiska Media. ISBN 978-91-85873-87-6 (In Swedish)
  2. ^ a b Wilhelmina Stålberg, P. G. Berg : Anteckningar om svenska qvinnor (Notes of Swedish women) (in Swedish)
  3. ^ Carl Silfverstolpe: Vadstena klosters uppbörds- och utgiftsbok (The account-book of Vadstena Abbey) (Swedish)
  4. ^ Söderberg, Bengt G. (1968). Slott och herresäten i Sverige. Södermanland. Första bandet. (in Swedish). Malmö: Allhems förlag. pp. 247–254. 


  • Herman Lindqvist (2006). Historien om alla Sveriges drottningar (History of all the queens of Sweden) (in Swedish). Norstedts Förlag. ISBN 91-1-301524-9. 
  • Carl Silfverstolpe: Vadstena klosters uppbörds- och utgiftsbok (The account-book of Vadstena Abbey) (Swedish)
  • Wilhelmina Stålberg, P. G. Berg : Anteckningar om svenska qvinnor (Notes of Swedish women) (in Swedish)
  • Karin Tegenborg Falkdalen (2010). Vasadöttrarna (The Vasa Daughters). Falun: Historiska Media. ISBN 978-91-85873-87-6 (In Swedish)
Margaret Leijonhufvud
Born: 1 January 1516 Died: 26 August 1551
Swedish royalty
Title last held by
Catherine of Saxe-Lauenburg
Queen consort of Sweden
Title next held by
Katarina Stenbock