Eric X/Eric XI
Eric X (Eric XI in Svealand)
King of Denmark
Reign 28th April, 1535 - 22nd October, 1551
Predecessor Christopher II
Successor Cnut VIII
King of Svealand and Viken
Reign 28th April, 1535 - 22nd October, 1551
Predecessor Christopher I
Successor Cnut III
Born 17th August, 1501
Copenhagen, Denmark
Died 22nd October, 1551
Rye, Denmark
Spouse Margarete of Hesse-Kassel
Issue Elizabeth

Christopher of Rugia

House Estridsson
Father Christopher II
Mother Elizabeth of Bavaria-Straubing

Eric X ruled over Denmark, Svealand as the Reformation became entrenched in Scandinavia.

Born in 1501, Eric was the only legitimate son of Christopher II and would succeed his obese and exhausted father in 1535. Eric was the first Lutheran king of Denmark, having been brought up in the faith. While his father used the Reformation to strengthen royal control over the church and its lands he never converted. Eric meanwhile had had a Lutheran tutor and as a prince had received German Lutheran clergy to discuss finer points of the faith. He also helped extend the movement to Estonia sponsoring several preachers and corresponding with its Duke.

Only a month after his coronation religious strife broke out in Pomerania and Jutland as Catholic peasants attacked the property of Lutheran lords. Eric supported the Lutherans of course and would campaign for several years to restore order. During the course of the war, finding himself overwhelmed on mainland Denmark, he would be forced to call upon his German allies to assist, which they did with brutal efficiency. This seeming reliance on Germany to solve Danish problems (and also partly Eric's reliance on German advisors) led to the Riksdag to force several important provisions from the king, chief amongst them was the promise that only Danes could be promoted to the highest positions of state. Out of this the very able Jacob Johansen rose to control Eric's government for a decade, restoring the health of the treasury from the confiscation and sale of church land and establishment of a Danish Lutheran church. Any clergy unwilling to embrace the new faith were expelled and in a few cases burnt.

Meanwhile the Reformation was continuing apace in Germany. Disputes between the Catholic Emperor John I and the Protestant states had led to the creation of an armed Schmalkaldic League. Having already been in correspondence and alliance with several of the founding princes, soon after his coronation Eric formally allied Denmark and the Kalmar Union with the Schmalkaldic League. In part this was a signal that Denmark was willing to recover any prestige lost by its failures during the War of Anglian Succession but also a sincere wish to help out its co-religionists. That Denmark would end up so heavily involved in Germany was an unforeseen consequence.

The Kalmar Union would be called upon in 1546 with the outbreak of the First Schmalkaldic War. This pitted the Schmalkaldic League and the Catholic forces under Albert of Saxony against each other. Bolstered by troops from Scandinavia (and even Vinland) the Protestants would emerge victorious. Partially this was due to the absence of Luxembourg which was in the midst of the War of the Nassau Succession at the time, but also due to inspired leadership from Prince Christopher who managed to unite the disparate and occasionally fractious German forces under his banner. At the Diet of Oldenburg in April 1548 the host declared the League separate from Imperial authority. There would also be a motion to create a new Lutheran Emperor to govern the League. Prince Christopher campaigned against this however, cynically realising a German Emperor would mean ceding powers away from Denmark. Despite this the League voted to recognise Denmark's ownership of Pomerania.

John Leijonhufvud, soon to be King of Svealand in his own right

In 1551 Svealand rose in revolt for a final time. Whereas previous revolts had almost defeated themselves thanks to divided loyalties this time it was remarkably united behind the Leijonhufvud family. The Leijonhufvuds had out-competed its rivals through marriage and a secure hold on the Svealandic church. Eric had underestimated their support too; the Gothenlandic king Svenate II had fallen out personally with Eric, finding him overbearing, and supported the Svealanders. Eric duly sent a Danish-Vikene force to relieve besieged positions in Svealand whilst Ladish allies were organised to advance from the north, but crucially he left most of his army in the south in Germany. This force quickly found itself overwhelmed and in trouble with Christopher of Rugia dying at the Battle of Töreboda after foolishly charging an unbroken Gothenlandic pike formation. This was a deeply personal blow to Eric; not only had he lost a son but the Danish defeat had put Svealand's revolt on a knife edge.

Eric's health went into swift decline following this and he would die in October 1551. Denmark and its faltering grip on Svealand would be inherited by his second son, the more venal and power-hungry Cnut.


Eric married Margarete of Hesse-Kassel in 1519. They had four children:

  • Elizabeth (1523-1547)
  • Christopher of Rugia (1525-1551)
  • Cnut VIII (1528-1570)
  • Joanna (1535-1599)


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