|Queen of Svealand|
|Reign||1212 - 1221|
Valdemar of Viken
Karin Knutsdotter was the first queen regnant of Svealand and ruled the kingdom between 1212 and 1221.
As her elder brother John I lay dying in 1212 the Svealandic nobles gathered to elect a new ruler. Unwilling to let the House of Sverker any leeway to return they sought to continue the House of Eric's rule, but John's lack of heirs left precious few options, either John's only direct family; Karin, or some more distant and possibly not legitimate relation. Eventually, following the example of Viken and Vinland, the nobles decided a ruling queen would be acceptable. This was possibly down to the urging of Karin's husband, the powerful Earl Knut Birgersson, but it worked.
The succession was not without dissent and peasant revolts and a re-eruption of coastal raids combining to briefly put her reign under threat. From 1212 to early 1214 the country was unstable but the loyal earls slowly regained control. To finally put a stop to the coastal raids the nobles launched a 'crusade' into Finland. Svealand had made excursions before but this time it was more of a conscious attempt to conquer and control the region and castle(s) would be established at Åbo (Turku) beginning 600 years of Svealandic rule.
Despite ruling as queen regnant her fate was to some degree still decided by the Svealandic nobles. After the death of Knut Birgersson in 1215 the nobles urged her to remarry, if only to put off the Gothenlanders from another invasion. Karin and Knut Birgirsson had only girls, another problem for the succession. Valdemar of Viken, son of Wizlaw I, was available and the marriage was soon completed. The alliance was good too; it dissuaded Gothenland from making trouble and shored up Svealand's western edge which had been somewhat ill-defined.
As tensions eased with Gothenland, the relationship with the church thawed too. The crusade in Finland had helped but the real breakthrough came when the Bishop of Uppsala, previously independent, submitted his authority to Bremen, helping a final rapprochement to the Papacy.
Karin's nine years on the throne marks a sudden shift in the historical record. Rather than just being the subject of skalds and their saga poems the church seems to have taken over the documentation of Svealand's history. Sources are therefore much more prominent for her rule than for any of her predecessors.
Dying in 1221 Karin was succeeded by her five-year old son John II under his father's regency, a period which once again was troubled by dissention and revolt. Valdemar would be exiled in 1223 leaving John and his regents in a desperate struggle to regain control. Her grandchildren, from both marriages, would tear the kingdom apart as they fought for the crown from the 1260s to the 1350s.