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Sweden’s first king

King Eric the Victorious is the first Swedish monarch in a consecutive succession with a true written record. He was the first ruler thought to be accepted by both all Swedes and the Geats (a Germanic tribe) that resided in what is now modern Sweden.

There were monarchs in Sweden before Eric, but most lists of monarchs in Sweden begin with him. So, who was this first leader of Sweden?

Born around 945 AD, he was the King of Sweden from around 970 to 995 AD. He reigned over the area of Uppland and the nearby provinces. As records during this time were not well kept, the extent of his kingdom isn’t known. It’s thought he may have reigned over areas as far south as Blekinge.

Nordic tales also say he reigned alongside his brother, Olaf. When Olaf died, a new co-ruler was appointed, but the Swedish people refused to allow the King’s nephew, Styrbjörn, to assume the position. As such, Styrbjörn left Sweden and reportedly returned after gathering an army to defeat his uncle in the Battle of Fýrisvellir.

A sketch of King Eric. Photo: The Mechanical Curator collection/British Library, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

How did he get “the Victorious” added to his title? It came after defeating an invasion near Uppland during the Battle of Fýrisvellir. Eric the Victorious reigned over Denmark for a period, but how he got that power is debated between Nordic tales and Germanic sources. One says he took control as retribution for Denmark’s support of his nephew’s invasion, while another says he invaded Denmark for an unknown reason.

King Eric’s success has been attributed to the alliance between free farmers and the nobles, and he founded the town of Sigtuna (in Stockholm County).

He was Pagan and originally against Christianity; however, after many missionaries visited Denmark and Sweden, he was baptised – the first Swedish monarch to undertake the rite. King Eric’s time with Christianity was limited, and he eventually returned to his Pagan ways, calling into question his sincerity of the baptism or if the baptism ever really took place.

Eric was married to Queen Sigrid the Haughty – who was the daughter of a Viking. They ended up divorcing, and in the divorce, he gave her the area of Gothenland in Sweden. He married again to Norway’s King Haakon Sigurdsson’s daughter, Aud. King Eric had a son, Olof, born around 980. Different sources say he had four children with his wives, but there’s only a strong record of Olof.

King Eric the Victorious died somewhere around 992 and was succeeded by his son, Olof.

About author

Brittani is from Tennessee, USA. She is a political scientist and historian after graduating with a degree in the topics from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in December 2014. She also holds a master's degree from Northeastern University. She enjoys reading and researching all things regarding the royals of the world. She's been researching, reading, and writing on royalty for over a decade. She became Europe Editor in October 2016, and then Deputy Editor in January 2019, and has been featured on several podcasts, radio shows, news broadcasts and websites including Global News Canada, ABC News Australia, WION India and BBC World News.