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Birger, King of Sweden

Birger's memorial portrait at St. Bendt's Church, Ringsted
King of Sweden
Reign 18 December 1290 – March/April 1318
Predecessor Magnus Ladulås
Successor Magnus Eriksson
Born 1280
Died 31 May 1321 (aged 40–41)
Burial Ringsted, Zealand
Consort Martha of Denmark
Issue Prince Magnus Birgersson
Prince Eric Birgersson
Princess Agnes Birgersdotter
Princess Katarina Birgersdotter
House House of Bjelbo
Father Magnus III of Sweden
Mother Hedwig of Holstein
Religion Roman Catholicism

Birger[1] (Swedish: Birger Magnusson; 1280 – 31 May 1321) was King of Sweden from 1290 to 1318.


  • Background 1
  • Reign 2
  • Children 3
  • Ancestry 4
  • Modern depiction 5
  • References 6
  • Other sources 7


Birger was the son of King Constable of the Realm, as the guardian of Birger. In 1293, Birger was crowned at Söderköping after marrying Princess Martha of Denmark, the daughter of King Eric V of Denmark.[2]


Birger was only ten years old when his father died, at which time Torgils Knutsson was the most influential statesman in Sweden. In 1293, Torgils Knutsson led the Swedes to a victory which won a part of western Karelia. This expedition has traditionally been dubbed as the Third Swedish Crusade. When Torgils Knutsson returned from leading the crusade in Finland, a feud had developed between the brothers. Torgils Knutsson supported King Birger.

Birger came of age when there was a conflict within the Håtuna games (Håtunaleken), Birger was taken captive by his brothers on the Håtuna royal estate in Uppland and taken as prisoner to Nyköping Castle (Nyköpingshus).[3]

Detail of Birger's and Martha's gravestone at Ringsted

In 1308, Eric and Valdemar were forced by the Danish king to release King Birger, but they did so under humiliating conditions. When King Birger was free, he sought aid in Denmark, and the strife began anew. Birger remained king in name, but had to give up the Royal Domain, exchanging it for eastern Viborg.

In 1312, Duke Eric married Eric II of Norway.[4]

Duke Erik also held Bohuslän from Norway as well as northern Halland and was creating a separate kingdom centered around Göta älv. In 1317 however, Birger captured his brothers during the Nyköping Banquet (Nyköpings gästabud), which led to their death. According to Eric's Chronicle (Erikskrönikan), the dukes were starved to death in a cellar of Nyköping Castle.

Birger was ousted by his brothers' supporters in 1318 and went into exile to his brother-in-law King

Birger Magnusson
Born: 1280 Died: May 31 1321
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Magnus III
King of Sweden
Regency held by Mats Kettilmundsson
Title next held by
Magnus IV
  • Barck, Sven Eric; Persson, ÅkeKungligt skvaller genom tusen år : En annorlunda bok om svensk historia (Sundbyberg: Semic, 2000)
  • Lindqvist, Herman Historien om Sverige. Från islossning till kungarike (Norstedts: 1997)
  • Harrison, Dick Jarlens sekel: en berättelse om 1200-talets Sverige (Ordfront. 2002)
  • Bergman, Mats Nyköpingshus. En rundvandring i historia och nutid (Almqvist & Wiksell. 1992)
  • Mannervik, Cyrus Sagor och sägner – Från Nordens forntid och medeltid (AV Carlsons. 1958)

Other sources

  1. ^ David Williamson in Debrett's Kings and Queens of Europe ISBN 0-86350-194-X p. 122-123
  2. ^ (Dansk biografisk Lexikon)Margrethe, Dronning af Sverige, −1341
  3. ^ (Berättelser ur svenska historien)Konung Birger Magnusson och hans bröder
  4. ^ (Store norske leksikon)Ingebjørg Håkonsdatter – utdypning
  5. ^ (Store norske leksikon)Magnus 7 Eriksson – utdypning


In 2003, the band Falconer released The Sceptre of Deception, a concept album based on this period of Swedish history. The album covers events during the reign of King Birger of Sweden and lengthy strife with his brothers, and the Danish and Norwegian crowns.

Modern depiction




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