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Margaret I of Denmark

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Title: Margaret I of Denmark  
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Subject: Olaf II of Denmark, List of queens regnant, Haakon VI of Norway, List of Swedish monarchs, List of Norwegian monarchs
Collection: 1353 Births, 1412 Deaths, 14Th-Century Danish People, 14Th-Century Female Rulers, 14Th-Century Monarchs in Europe, 14Th-Century Viceregal Rulers, 15Th-Century Danish People, 15Th-Century Female Rulers, 15Th-Century Monarchs in Europe, Burials at Roskilde Cathedral, Burials at Sorø Abbey, Danish Monarchs, Female Regents, Female Rulers of Finland, House of Estridsen, Kalmar Union, Norwegian Monarchs, Norwegian Royal Consorts, People from Vordingborg Municipality, Queens Regnant, Regents of Denmark, Regents of Norway, Regents of Sweden, Roman Catholic Monarchs, Rulers of Finland, Swedish Monarchs, Swedish Monarchs of German Descent, Swedish Queens, Women of Medieval Sweden
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Margaret I of Denmark

Margaret I
Effigy of Queen Margaret from 1423 on her tomb in Roskilde Cathedral.[1]
Queen of Denmark
Reign 10 August 1387–28 October 1412
Predecessor Olaf II
Successor Eric VII
Queen of Norway
Reign 3 August 1387–28 October 1412
Predecessor Olaf IV
Successor Eric III
Queen of Sweden
Reign 24 February 1389–28 October 1412
Predecessor Albert
Successor Eric XIII
Consort Haakon VI of Norway
Issue Olaf II of Denmark and IV of Norway
Full name
Margaret Valdemarsdatter
House Estridsen
Father Valdemar IV of Denmark
Mother Helvig of Schleswig
Born March 1353[2]
Vordingborg Castle
Died 28 October 1412 (aged 59)
Ship in Flensburg Fjord.
Burial Roskilde Cathedral
Religion Roman Catholicism
Danish Royalty
House of Estridsen
Valdemar IV Atterdag
   Christopher, Duke of Lolland
   Margaret Valdemarsdatter
   Ingeborg, Duchess of Mecklenburg
   Catherine Valdemarsdatter
   Valdemar Valdemarsen
   Margaret I
Lady Margaret
   Olaf II & IV

Margaret I (Danish: Margrete Valdemarsdatter, Norwegian: Margrete Valdemarsdotter, Swedish: Margareta Valdemarsdotter, Icelandic: Margrét Valdimarsdóttir),[upper-alpha 1] (March 1353[2] – 28 October 1412), was Queen of Denmark, Norway and Sweden and founder of the Kalmar Union, which united the Scandinavian countries for over a century. She acted as queen regnant of Denmark, although in those days it was not the Danish custom for a woman to reign.[3] Her title in Denmark was derived from her father King Valdemar IV of Denmark. She became Queen of Norway and Sweden by virtue of her marriage to King Haakon VI of Norway.


  • Biography 1
    • Early years and marriage 1.1
    • Regent 1.2
  • Eric of Pomerania 2
  • Policy 3
  • Death 4
  • Ancestry 5
  • Seals 6
  • Notes 7
  • Citations 8
  • Bibliography 9


Early years and marriage

Margaret was born in March 1353.[2] as the sixth and youngest child of Øresund and soon had occupied Scania.[5] The attack was ostensibly to support Magnus against Erik, but in June 1359 Erik died, which meant that the balance of power changed and all agreements between Magnus and Valdemar were terminated, including the marriage contract between Margaret and Haakon.[5]

This did not get Valdemar to withdraw from Scania, but instead continued his conquests on the island of

Born: March 1353 Died: 28 October 1412
Royal titles
Preceded by
Blanche of Namur
Queen consort of Norway
Title next held by
Philippa of England
Queen consort of Sweden
Title next held by
Richardis of Schwerin
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Olaf IV/Olaf II
as king
Queen regnant of Denmark
with Eric of Pomerania (1396–1412)
Succeeded by
Eric of Pomerania
as king
Queen regnant of Norway
with Eric of Pomerania (1396–1412)
Preceded by
Albert of Mecklenburg
as king
Queen regnant of Sweden
with Eric of Pomerania (1396–1412)
  • Etting, Vivian (2009), Margrete den første, Nordisk Forlag A/S,  


  1. ^ "Margrete Valdemarsdatter" (in Norwegian).  
  2. ^ a b c Colliers Encyclopedia. 1986 edition. p.386
  3. ^ Schnith, Karl Rudolf (1997). Frauen des Mittelalters in Lebensbildern (in German). Styria. p. 396.  
  4. ^ a b c d Etting 2009, p. 12.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Etting 2009, p. 13.
  6. ^ a b c d e Etting 2009, p. 15.
  7. ^ a b c Etting 2009, p. 16.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Etting 2009, p. 17.
  9. ^ Etting 2009, p. 19.


  1. ^ Margaret is known in Denmark as "Margrete I" to distinguish her from the current queen. Denmark did not have a tradition of allowing women to rule, so when her son died, she was titled "All-powerful Lady and Mistress (Regent) of the Kingdom of Denmark".(Huitfeldt, Arild. Danmarks Riges Krønike) She only styled herself Queen of Denmark in 1375, usually referring to herself as "Margaret, by the grace of God, daughter of Valdemar King of Denmark" and "Denmark's rightful heir" when referring to her position in Denmark. Others simply referred to her as the "Lady Queen", without specifying what she was queen of, but not so Pope Boniface IX, who in his letters styled her "our beloved daughter in Christ, Margaret, most excellent queen of Denmark, Sweden and Norway".("Carissime in Christo filie Margarete Dacie Suecie et Norwegie regine illustri" Diplomatarium Norvegicum (volumes I-XXI) number 344) In Norway, she was known as Queen (Queen-consort, then Dowager Queen) and Regent. In Sweden, she was Dowager Queen and Plenipotentiary Ruler. When she married Haakon VI of Norway in 1363, he was co-King of Sweden, making Margaret queen, and despite being deposed, they never relinquished the title. In theory, the Swedes' expulsion of Albert I in 1389 simply restored Margaret to her original position.




Margaret died suddenly on board her ship in Flensburg Harbor on 28 October 1412. Her sarcophagus, made by the Lübeck sculptor Johannes Junge in 1423, is situated behind the high altar in the Roskilde Cathedral, near Copenhagen. She had left property to the Cathedral on the condition that Masses for her soul would be said regularly in the future. This was discontinued in 1536, during the Reformation, but a special bell is still rung twice daily in commemoration of the Queen.

Okseøerne, literally ”the ox islands”, two small islands on the Danish side of Flensburg Fjord. Margaret I of Denmark is said to have died of the plague here in 1412.


In 1402 Margaret entered into negotiations with King Henry IV of England about the possibility of a double-wedding alliance between England and the Nordic Union. The proposal was for King Eric to marry Henry's daughter Philippa, and for Henry's son, the Prince of Wales and future Henry V of England, to marry Eric's sister Catherine. The English side wanted these weddings to seal an offensive alliance that could have led the Nordic kingdoms to become involved in the Hundred Years' War against France. Margaret followed a consistent policy of not becoming involved in binding alliances and foreign wars, and therefore rejected the English proposals. However, although there was no double wedding, Eric married the 13-year-old Philippa, daughter of Henry IV of England and Mary de Bohun, at Lund on 26 October 1406, sealing a purely defensive alliance. For Eric's sister Catherine, a wedding was arranged with John, Count Palatine of Neumarkt. Margaret thus acquired a South German ally, who could be useful as a counterweight to the North German Princes and cities.

In contrast with the foreign policy of her venturesome father, Margaret's was circumspect and unswervingly neutral. However, she spared no pains to recover lost Danish territory. She purchased the island of Gotland from its actual possessors, Albert of Mecklenburg and the Livonian Order, and the greater part of Schleswig was regained in the same way.

Margaret recovered for the Crown all the landed property that had been alienated in the troubled times before the reign of Valdemar IV. This so-called reduktion, or land-recovery, was carried out with the utmost rigour, and hundreds of estates fell into the hands of the crown. She also reformed the Danish currency, substituting good silver coins for the old and worthless copper tokens, to the great advantage both of herself and of the state. She always had large sums of money at her disposal, and much of it was given to charity.

So long as the union was insecure, Margaret had tolerated the presence of the Riksråd, but their influence was minor and the Royal authority remained supreme. The offices of High Constable and Earl Marshal were left vacant; the Danehof fell into ruin, and the great Queen, an ideal despot, ruled through her court officials, who served as a superior kind of clerk. In any event, law and order were well maintained and the licence of the nobility was sternly repressed. The Kingdoms of Sweden and Norway were treated as integral parts of the Danish State, and national aspirations were frowned upon or checked, though Norway, being more loyal, was treated more indulgently than Sweden.

The tomb of Margaret I in Roskilde Cathedral.


A few years after the Kalmar Union, the 18-year-old Eric was declared of age and homage was rendered to him in all his three kingdoms, although Margaret was the effective ruler of Scandinavia throughout her lifetime.

It had been understood that Margaret should, at the first convenient opportunity, provide the three kingdoms with a king who was to be a kinsman of all the three old dynasties, although in Norway it was specified that she would continue ruling alongside the new king. In 1389 she proclaimed her great-nephew, Eric of Pomerania (grandson of Henry of Mecklenburg), king of Norway, having adopted him and his sister Catherine. In 1396, homage was rendered to him in Denmark and Sweden, while Margaret once again assumed the regency during his minority. To weld the united kingdoms still more closely together, Margaret summoned a congress of the three Councils of the Realm to Kalmar in June 1397, and on Trinity Sunday, 17 June, Eric was crowned King of Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The proposed Act of Union divided the three Councils, and the actual deed embodying its terms never got further than an unratified draft. Margaret balked at the clauses which insisted that each country should retain exclusive possession of its own laws and customs and be administered by its own dignitaries, because in her opinion this prevented the complete amalgamation of Scandinavia. With her usual prudence, however, she avoided every appearance of an open rupture.

Eric of Pomerania

Stockholm, then almost entirely a German city, still held out. Fear of Margaret induced both the Mecklenburg princes and the Wendish towns to hasten to its assistance; and the Baltic and the North Sea speedily swarmed with the privateers of the Victual Brothers. The Hanseatic League intervened, and under the Compact of Lindholm (1395), Margaret released Albert on his promise to pay 60,000 marks within three years. Meanwhile, the Hansa were to hold Stockholm as surety. Albert failed to pay his ransom within the stipulated time, and the Hansa surrendered Stockholm to Margaret in September 1398 in exchange for commercial privileges.

At a conference held at Falköping, and Margaret was now the omnipotent mistress of three kingdoms.

Her first act after her father's death in 1375 was to procure the election of her infant son Jutish nobility lost the support they had previously enjoyed in Schleswig and Holstein. Margaret, free from fear of domestic sedition, could now give her undivided attention to Sweden, where mutinous nobles were already in arms against their unpopular King Albert. Several of the powerful nobles wrote to Margaret that if she would help rid Sweden of Albert, she would become their regent. She quickly gathered an army and invaded Sweden.


In the years after Margaret's wedding Scandinavia saw a series of major political upheavals. A few months after her wedding her only brother, Christopher, Duke of Lolland, died. This meant that Denmark was without an heir to the throne and her father without a male heir.[9] In 1364 the Swedish nobles deposed Magnus Smek and Margaret's husband King Haakon from the Swedish throne and elected Albert of Mecklenburg as king of Sweden.[8]

The marriage of Haakon and Margaret should be seen as an alliance, and Margaret probably remained in Denmark for a while after the wedding,[7] but before long she was taken to Akershus in Oslo Fjord, where she was raised by Merete Ulvsdatter.[8] Merete Ulvsdatter was a distinguished noblewoman and a daughter of Bridget of Sweden, as well as the wife of Knut Algotsson, who was one of King Magnus's faithful followers.[8] According to a chronicle Margaret was brought up with Merete Ulvsdatter's daughter Ingegerd.[8] That upbringing probably emphasized religion and things Margaret should know as a woman and a queen.[8] Her academic studies were probably limited, but it is assumed that in addition to reading and writing she also was taught the general political situation.[8]

[7] This meant that the marriage of the now 10-year-old Margaret and King Haakon was again relevant. The wedding was held in Copenhagen on 9 April 1363.[7] After this a truce was concluded with the Hanseatic States and King Magnus abandoned the war.[6]

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