History, The Kalmar Union and The Reformation
Gustav Vasa, Kalmar Union, Danish kings, Scandinavian Peninsula, Baltic islands
In 1380 Denmark and Norway were joined in a union under one king, Olaf II, a grandson of Waldemar IV, and with Norway came Iceland and the Faroe Islands. After Olaf’s death in 1387, his mother, Margaret I, reigned in his stead. In 1389 she obtained the crown of Sweden and began the struggle, completed successfully in 1397, to form the Union of Kalmar, a political union of the three realms. Denmark was the dominant power, but Swedish aristocrats strove repeatedly—and with some success—for Sweden’s autonomy within the union. The Kalmar Union lasted until 1523, when Sweden won its independence in a revolt against the tyrannical Christian II led by Gustav Vasa, who was elected king of Sweden as Gustav I in that year.
Also in 1523 Christian II was driven from the Danish throne
. There followed a period of unrest, as Lubeck, the strongest Hanseatic city, interfered in Danish politics. With help from Sweden’s king, Lubeck’s interference was ended and Christian III consolidated his power as king of Denmark. During his reign (1534-1559) the Reformation triumphed in Denmark, and the Lutheran church was established as the state church. At this time the Danish kings began to treat Norway as a province rather than as a separate kingdom. Commercial and political rivalry with Sweden for domination of the Baltic Sea resulted in the indecisive Nordic Seven Years’ War (1563-1570) and the War of Kalmar (1611-1613) between Sweden and Denmark.
The intervention of Christian IV in the religious struggle in Germany on behalf of the Protestant cause in the 1620s led to Danish participation in the Thirty Years’ War. Continued rivalry with Sweden for primacy in the north led to the Swedish Wars of 1643 to 1645 and 1657 to 1660, in which Denmark was badly defeated and lost several of its Baltic islands and all of its territory on the Scandinavian Peninsula except Norway.
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