Wizlaw IV
Wizlaw IV
King of Viken-Rugia
Reign 12th February, 1383 - 3rd May, 1424
Predecessor Olaf III
Successor Elizabeth of Viken
King of Svealand
Reign 12th February, 1383 - 3rd May, 1424
Predecessor Olaf III
Successor Elizabeth of Viken
Born 16th December, 1357
Died 3rd May, 1424
Stockholm, Svealand
Spouse Matilda of Brunswick
Issue Elizabeth of Viken
Full name
Wizlaw Olafsson
House Rugia
Father Olaf III
Mother Elizabeth of Namur

Wizlaw IV was the eldest son of Olaf III of Viken. Compared with 'the Great' Olaf Wizlaw can seem unambitious. However, he dealt with the hand he had been given well and is generally talked about with respect in the contemporary histories.

Born a few years after Olaf's seizure of the Imperial throne Wizlaw was brought up as a German prince. His younger brothers Jaromar and Niels were groomed to rule Viken and Svealand respectively whilst Wizlaw acted as Olaf's right-hand man in Germany whilst Olaf himself spent fruitless years trying to subdue and pacify Italia. During this time Wizlaw put down revolts, dealt with the disputes of the lords and worked hard to uphold the rule of his father. However, this was not enough to secure a smooth succession on his father's death in 1383.

While Olaf had been a considered emperor with good relations with most of the major lords, he had singularly failed to build a legacy in Germany or Italia other than debts and an escalating war with France. He did not take any lands or titles as they fell vacant and preferred to dispense them to nobles to curry favour. Other than his castle at Erfurt and its modest estates, Olaf, and by extension Wizlaw, owned no personal property in Germany. This meant their authority rested almost solely on personal patronage and military success. While Olaf could certainly deliver the military victories he had been less than successful in maintaining good relations.

Olaf had championed the rights of the nascent Swiss states, if only to keep the roads into north Italia open. This, of course, annoyed various southern lords who all felt they had dominion over the cantons, especially the Hapsburgs who had been so instrumental in his rise to be begin with. He also championed the Pisan popes, unnecessarily prolonging the tortuous papal schism. By 1380 most European states had realigned themselves back behind the Genoan or Roman claimants and it was only Scandinavian bishops whom still looked to Pisa. Even the Leifian bishops whom mostly owed their jobs to Pisa had reconciled to Rome. Therefore most of the electors were interested in giving the imperial title to someone who could end the schism, not keep it going.

That Olaf had extended the number of electorates also worked against Wizlaw. He may have been able to secure the ongoing support of the seven original electors but dealing with 13 was more of an onerous task. It was evident soon after Olaf's death that the electors were looking toward Wenceslaus of Luxembourg or Rupert of Wittelsbach to succeed. Wizlaw threw his lot in with Rupert but military success gave Wenceslaus the advantage. With his involvement now moot Wizlaw took his men and wealth back to Scandinavia. Wizlaw and Wenceslaus' son Charles would be publicly reconciled in 1402 and a marriage to seal the peace was arranged.

Although Wizlaw had not been expected to rule Viken or Svealand he had found himself handed those territories anyway. Jaromar had died in 1380 and Niels died in a peasant revolt in Finland in 1383 before the news of his father's death could reach his court. Therefore Wizlaw inherited both kingdoms. Although this was a more reduced realm than he may have expected his lords were pleased that they could deal with a monarch more or less at home than a far-flung emperor. He made an effort to reform taxes and justices which had been diluted and corrupted by Olaf's regents and generally helped reestablise the treasuries after being plundered to pay for German wars.

Wizlaw was not above war himself and led further Svealandic expeditions into Novgorod but this was apparently the only way by which Wizlaw seemed be able to keep Svealand loyal and he spent most of his efforts balancing competing factions. Viken, more loyal to Rugian rule, was often left to its own devices with Wizlaw secure in the knowledge a long history of good laws would keep it stable.

Wizlaw's only child, Elizabeth of Viken, was born in 1400. Originally betrothed to the future Sigismund I of Luxembourg she spent much of her childhood at the Luxembourg court in Prague. However, as it became increasingly clear that the aging Wizlaw would sire no more heirs a rethink to Elizabeth's future was required. Despite promises, successive generations of the Luxembourgs had singularly failed to divide up their unwieldy dominions (which had just been extended to include Hungary as well) and the Vikene and Svealandic lords had no desire to become yet another piece in the Luxembourg jigsaw. With papal help the marriage was annulled and a more beneficial marriage was sought with Prince Eric of Denmark.

On Wizlaw's death in 1424 Elizabeth duly inherited Viken, Rugia and Svealand and thanks to the early death of her husband was soon left in control of Denmark and Lade too. On her own death in 1443 all of the Rugian lands passed to her son Eric VIII and joined to those of Denmark.

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