Martha of Denmark

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Martha of Denmark
Queen consort of Sweden
Reign 1298–1318
Born 1277
Died 2 March 1341
St. Peter's Church, Næstved
Burial St. Bendt's Church, Ringsted
Spouse Birger of Sweden
House House of Estridsen
Father Eric V of Denmark
Mother Agnes of Brandenburg
Religion Roman Catholicism
Danish Royalty
House of Estridsen
National Coat of arms of Denmark no crown.svg
Eric V Klipping
Eric VI Menved
Christopher II
Martha, Queen of Sweden
Valdemar Eriksen
Richeza, Lady of Werle
Catherine Eriksdatter
Elisabeth Eriksdatter

Martha of Denmark, also Margaret, (Danish: Margrete Eriksdatter, Swedish: Märta; 1277 – 2 March 1341), was queen consort of Sweden by marriage to King Birger. She was regarded as a politically influential queen, and played a part in the Håtuna games and the Nyköping Banquet.


Märta was born the daughter of King Eric V of Denmark and Agnes of Brandenburg and sister of King Eric VI. Her father was murdered in 1286, and her mother, who was made regent, remarried in 1293. Märta was married to King Birger of Sweden in 1298. Two years before, her brother had been married to her husband's sister, Princess Ingeborg of Sweden, and her marriage was a part of a double alliance between Denmark and Sweden. The marriage was decided when she was a child; the necessary dispensation from the Pope was obtained in 1284, and she spent a lot of her childhood in Sweden. Engaged to the Swedish crown prince as a child, she was largely brought up at the Swedish royal court by her future mother-in-law, the queen dowager Helwig of Holstein. She is confirmed to have lived in Sweden permanently from at least 1295.


Märta and Birger grew up together, and their marriage is described as a happy one; she is also credited with a large influence over him and the affairs of state. In 1298, it was decided that it was time to celebrate their formal wedding. Their wedding was celebrated in Stockholm and was described as very grand, with processions of knights, theatre played by nobles, and the title of duke granted by her husband to his brothers. She herself asked for prisoners to be let free, which was granted. Martha was at her wedding awarded the city of Falköping and large territories as her personal fiefs.

Queen Martha had great political influence on her spouse and is described as politically active.[1] In 1299, she gave birth to a son, who was proclaimed heir to the throne in 1304. Martha was crowned queen in 1302. In 1306, however, the brothers of the king took the actual power away from the royal couple in the famous Håtuna games. Märta sent her son and heir to her brother and her sister-in-law, her husband's sister, the king and queen of Denmark.

In Swedish history, queen Martha had a bloodthirsty reputation, given to her by the chronicles known as Erikskrönikan. In the second of her husband's great conflicts with his brothers, the dukes, the royal couple invited the dukes to great festivities. This was the famous Nyköping Banquet, during which the dukes were captured and imprisoned, and left to starve to death. Märta received her brothers-in-law with assurances that she loved them as if they were her brothers by blood.[1] The festivities are described in the medieval Erikskrönikan: Everyone danced all the way from indoors to outdoors, the Queen had never looked so happy before. Her good mood was seen as a cruel sign of excitement that she and her husband were to have their revenge for the Håtuna games, as she was aware of the plan to capture the dukes in the middle of the festivities. Queen Martha is also suggested as the creator of the plan, together with minister Johann Brunkow.[1]


Margaret's and Birger's grave at Ringsted

In 1318, her husband was deposed and Nyköpingshus castle was taken. Martha fled to her brother in Denmark, where she spent most of the rest of her life. Her husband soon joined her, and she became a widow in 1321, after having lived through of her brother's death in 1319 and her son's murder in 1320. She negotiated for marriages of her daughters and spent the years of 1326-1329 in Germany. The last years of her life were spent as a nun in the convent of Saint Peter in Naestved. She was buried in the St. Bendt's Church in Ringsted.


  • Magnus Birgersson of Sweden (1300–1320)
  • Eric Birgersson of Sweden (-1319), Archdeacon at Uppsala.
  • Agnes Birgersdotter of Sweden (-after 1344), a nun at Slangerup Abbey.
  • Katarina Birgersdotter of Sweden (-after 1320).



  1. ^ a b c Christer Öhman (Swedish): Helgon, bönder och krigare. Berättelser ur den svenska historien (Saints, farmers and warriors. Stories from the history of Sweden)


  • Herman Lindqvist: Historien om Sverige. Från islossning till kungarike. (History of Sweden. From Ice break to kingdom) (1997) (Swedish)
  • Svensk Uppslagsbok, 1947 års utgåva. (Swedish dictionary, 1947 edition) (1947) (Swedish)
  • [1] Wilhelmina stålberg: Anteqningar om svenska qvinnor (Notes on Swedish women) (Swedish)
  • Ohlmarks, Åke: Alla Sveriges drottningar. (All the queens of Sweden) (Swedish)
  • Dick Harrison: Jarlens sekel. (The century of the jarl) (Swedish)
  • Christer Öhman: "Helgon, bönder och krigare. Berättelser ur den svenska historien" (Saints, peasants and warriors. Stories from the Swedish history) (1994)


Märta Eriksdotter
Born: 1277 Died: 1341
Swedish royalty
Preceded by
Helvig of Holstein
Queen consort of Sweden
Succeeded by
Blanche of Namur