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Christopher
King of Gothenland
Reign 14th March, 1416 - 30 May 1423
Predecessor Catherine
Successor Magdalena
Born 8th February, 1411
Gothenland
Died 13th August, 1463
Grabin, Sorbia
Spouse Kateřina z Vartemberka
Issue 8 children
Full name
Kristoffer Ericsson
House Lejonbalk
Father Eric Lejonbalk
Mother Catherine

Christopher was briefly King of Gothenland at the start of the 15th century. The only child of Catherine, and grandson of John IV he was in effect co-king with his father Eric Lejonbalk (usually styled Eric V) for four years and then, following Eric's assassination, was rapidly side-lined by events. Exiled, he would go on to a modest career as an officer in the Luxembourgois Bohemian army.

Queen Catherine's reign had exploded into civil war thanks to simmering tensions between the 'Herring' and 'Hook' factions at court. The Herring faction sought to reign in the power of the major lords and had issued a series of edicts in 1415, confiscating land and rights. This provoked a military response from the major landowners, the so-called 'Hooks' who soon proclaimed Catherine's cousin Magdalena as the rightful queen. It would be during a retreat from a Hook advance that Catherine would die in March 1416.

Her husband, Eric Lejonbalk, was victorious over the rebel nobles only hours before he received news of the Queen's death. Sending his brother to secure Jönköping, seizing the throne and treasury on behalf of his son Christopher, Eric proceded to engage the rebel armies in a series of victories which left the Herring party in firm control of Gothenland. Most of the Hook families either paid homage to the newly crowned Christopher, still a minor, or fled to Pomerelia which was still out of the crown's grasp.

At first Eric set himself merely as regent over his son, but the absence of many of the major nobles had left a power vacuum and he increasingly usurped his son's power as his own. He would marry Benedict's widow, Alexandra of Halshany (the Gothenlandic church exerting itself to prove her virginity), in 1418 which helped tie up loose ends and secure friends in Lithuania, but crucially, it appeared to show he was aiming for royal status himself and soon after he was mentioned in various documents as 'co-king'. Eric supposedly attempted to arrange the marriage of Christopher to Elizabeth of Viken, 11 years his senior, an event which would have changed the future direction of Scandinavian politics considerably, however only Gothenlandic sources mention the offer which suggests it never really was considered possible by the Vikene or Svealanders.

The rebel nobles in Pomerelia, meanwhile, were openly conspiring with Poland and the Teutonic Knights. Always eager to sow divisions between his enemies Wladyslaw II fostered the Hook rebels, welcoming the Hook figurehead, Magdalena at his court. Equally eagerly, as soon as it became feasible Eric was organising a campaign in Pomerelia designed to bring the province into line and if possible, give Wladyslaw II a bloody nose, too. In this he was surprisingly effective, sweeping the rebellious nobles away with a swift and it seems unexpected invasion, and the Hook families not already in Poland were forced to take refuge in Teutonic Prussia.

In April 1420, he returned to Kalmar to gather supplies for a siege of Gdansk and was met by a supposedly friendly group of nobles, but at a feast later that week he was murdered by one of their number, the young and impetuous Olaf Stenbock. Olaf himself was captured and executed for regicide following a trial presided over by the Bishop of Skara.

Thereafter, Eric's brother Karl Lejonbalk assumed the post of regent but quickly lost control of the situation in Pomerelia as Poland sent Hussite pikemen to storm the Pomerelian towns only just wrested back from the rebels. Many of the Hook families who had paid homage now openly defied the crown once more and by 1422 the focus had moved from Pomerelia back to Gothenland.

Magdalena and children arrived back in Gothenland in May 1423 to join her husband, Karl Tott, and to rally the Hook faction. Karl Tott provided the hammer blow to the Herring faction at the Battle of Hallesaker in October. Christopher was ousted and exiled, and along with his uncle's family, was given passage to Europe. Magdalena was crowned Queen and then in a ceremony on the 1st April 1424, her eldest son Nils was crowned co-king. The Lejonbalk lands were divided up between various parties; the seat of the family at Valle going to Magdalena's eldest daughter Ingeborg. The estate would henceforth be a possession of the 'crown-princess'.

Exile

Shorn of his throne Christopher, did not become the focus of any kind of anti-Magdalena/Nils feeling in Gothenland, mainly as Nils' first acts as sole ruler made great strides to pacify the country and cement his reign. The now landless Lejonbalks found employment in the army of Sigismund I of Luxembourg, soon to be Holy Roman Emperor. Sigismund may have thought he could use Christopher as a pawn against Poland and Gothenland but made no firm movements against either kingdom. Karl Lejonbalk, and eventually Christopher himself, were given command of men in Bohemia to fight against the Hussites.

Christopher would marry into the Bohemian Wartenbergs, namely Kateřina z Vartemberka, and the couple would have 8 children. The lands which Christopher earned through service of the crown were mostly unusable thanks to the depredations of the Hussites and/or the lack of peasants to actually farm them, and he would frequently complain of poverty. He would die in Sorbia in the summer of 1463 during the so-called Judge's War between competing factions in the duchy.

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