Sverker II of Sweden
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|House of Sverker|
When his father Karl had been murdered in Visingsö in 1167, apparently by minions of the next king Canute I of Sweden, Sverker was taken to Denmark while a boy and grew up with his mother's clan of Hvide, leaders of Zealand. Sverker also allied himself with the Galen clan leaders in Skåne who were close to the Hvide, by marriage through lady Benedikte Ebbesdotter of Hvide. The Danish king supported him as claimant to Sweden, thus helping to destabilize the neighboring country.
When King Canute I of Sweden died in 1196, his sons were only children. Sverker was chosen as the next king of Sweden, surprisingly without quarrel. He returned to his native country, however being regarded quite Danished. His uncontested election was largely thanks to Jarl Birger Brosa whose daughter, Ingegerd Birgersdotter of Bjelbo, Sverker married soon after his first wife had died.
King Sverker confirmed and enlarged privileges for the Swedish church and the Valerius Archbishop of Uppsala. The privilege document of 1200 is the oldest known ecclesiastical privilege in Sweden. Skáldatal names two of Sverker's court skalds: Sumarliði skáld and Þorgeirr Danaskáld. In 1202 Earl Birger died and the late jarl's grandson, Sverker's one-year-old son John received the title of Jarl from his father. This was intended to strengthen him as heir of the crown.
Around 1203, Canute's four sons, who had lived in Swedish royal court, began to claim the throne and Sverker exiled them to Norway. His position as king became unsecured from this point forward. The sons of Canute returned with troops in 1205, supported by the Norwegian party of Birkebeiner, but Sverker succeeded in winning in the Battle of Älgarås, where three of the sons fell. The only survivor returned with Norwegian support in 1208 and in the Battle of Lena, Sverker was defeated. Sverker's troops were commanded by Ebbe Suneson, the father of his late first wife and brother of Andreas Sunesen, Archbishop of Lund. King Eric X of Sweden drove Sverker to exile to Denmark.
Pope Innocentius III's attempt to have the crown returned to Sverker did not succeed. Sverker made a military expedition, with Danish support, to Sweden, but was defeated and killed in the Battle of Gestilren in 1210. The ancient sources state that "he was killed by the Folkung clan".
With his first wife, the Danish noble Benedicta Ebbesdatter (Galen, apparently not Hvide as otherwise alleged, b. c. 1165/70, d. 1200), whom he married before 1190 when yet living in Denmark, Sverker had at least one well-attested daughter, Helena Sverkersdotter, as well as possibly further children, such as Karl (who died in adolescence at the latest, if ever lived; but his existence is from the record that he is alleged to have married a daughter of king Sverre of Norway), and possibly even two other daughters (if they existed, their names are given by reconstructive history research as Margaret and Kristina – however they may just have been Sverker's first wife's kinswomen). Later pretensions of the House of Mecklenburg claim that Sverker's daughter (if he had such) Christina was their ancestress, wife of Henry II, Lord of Mecklenburg ("Henry Borwin" in some later texts).
The second marriage in 1200 with Ingegerd Birgersdotter of Bjelbo, daughter of the Folkunge Jarl Birger Brosa produced a son and heir, Jon (1201–1222), who was chosen king of Sweden 1216 as John I of Sweden.
His certain daughter Helena Sverkersdotter married (earl) Sune Folkason of the family of Bjelbo, justiciar of Västergötland. Their daughters Catherine of Ymseborg and Benedicta of Ymseborg became pawns in marriages to gain Swedish succession after 1222, when the Sverker dynasty became extinct in male line. Catherine was married to the rival dynasty's heir Eric XI of Sweden but they remained apparently childless. Benedikte married Svantepolk of Viby and had several daughters, who married Swedish noblemen. Several Swedish noble families claim descent from Benedikte.
- Lindström, Fredrik; Lindström, Henrik Svitjods undergång och Sveriges födelse (Albert Bonniers Förlag AB. 2006)
- Lagerqvist, Lars O. Sverige och dess regenter under 1.000 år (Albert Bonniers Förlag AB. 1982)
Sverker II of SwedenBorn: c. 1164 Died: 17 July 1210
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